Monday, July 28, 2014

Top Tory: Nothing Wrong With an MP Who Assaults His Girlfriend

Seven million listeners will have heard Jeremy Vine’s Radio 2 phone-in on David Ruffley this lunchtime, many in Bury St Edmunds. The discussion was most notable for the bizarre comments made by Bernard Sergeant, an important local Conservative figure. Asked if Ruffley should resign, Sergeant laughed and replied: “We do have these odd female organisations that look for equality and I think they’ve got it these days.” Pressed further by Vine on whether “you can have as a candidate a man who beats up his girlfriend”, Sergeant replies: “Well why not?”

Guido wondered if that is the official line, before he remembered there isn’t one…

Spooks and Tories Jet Off on Israel Junket

Fair to say the Conservative Friends of Israel trip this week might not be ideally timed. The latest conflict has not deterred a hardy half-dozen politicians, including former spy boss Baroness Neville Jones and Jack Lopresti, the army commando turned Tory MP, from jetting off to see what is going on for themselves. Also heading off on the junket are Edward Garnier, Andrew Percy, Guto Bebb and Bob Blackman. All expenses paid, natch.

It’s Official: Guido is a Feminist

Guido was tickled this morning by the words of Andrew Speed, the chairman of Bury St Edmunds Conservative Association, who has dismissed critics of David Ruffley as “minority feminist groups”. Guido has always believed that this is a minority feminist blog…

That said, you have to wonder what Refuge, the country’s leading domestic violence charity, think about being labelled “minority feminists”. Not to mention the growing number of Westminster staffers up in arms. Let alone the members of Ruffley’s own local party who are increasingly losing patience with their MP…

Friday, July 25, 2014

Refuge: Ruffley Must Resign

Leading domestic violence charity Refuge has called for David Ruffley to resign over his assault on his ex-girlfriend. Refuge’s chief executive Sandra Horley says she is “concerned that David Ruffley has so far been allowed to retain his position”, and demands the government “demonstrate to the public that men who abuse women will face consequences”.

“Earlier this year David Ruffley MP accepted a police caution for assaulting his former partner.  He has now expressed his ‘deep regrets’ about the incident and has explained that he has apologised to her.

Let me be clear – assaulting your partner is domestic violence, and it is a crime.  David Ruffley’s violent behaviour is all the more disappointing given that he has previously spoken out publicly against domestic violence.  Writing on his own website, he has asserted that, “One incident of domestic violence is one too many”.  Marking the White Ribbon Day campaign in 2005, he also wrote: “By wearing a white ribbon we are able to pledge never to commit, tolerate or ignore violence against women.”

Violent men must take responsibility for their actions. Apologies are all well and good, but at Refuge we know that perpetrators frequently use violence after apologising to their partners and making promises to change their behaviour.

I am concerned that David Ruffley has so far been allowed to retain his position.  This Government has stated that addressing violence against women and girls is one of its top priorities.  I sincerely hope it shows leadership on this issue by demonstrating to the public that men who abuse women will face consequences for their actions.”

Another loud, public call for Ruffley to go. The growing list of names demanding he step down will not have gone unnoticed by his association…

Tory Women Problem: Kevin Hollinrake Selected in Thirsk

estate

The selection to replace Anne McIntosh took place last night in Thirsk and Malton. Former Corby by-election candidate Christine Emmett was lined up by the Tories as the newspaper-friendly female successor. In an act of defiance towards Cameron’s desire to stop people saying the party has a woman problem, Thirsk and Malton Tories instead chose a man, Kevin Hollinrake. He’s a local estage agent. Which will do plenty to restore trust in politics.

There were three rounds of balloting and Hollinrake won in the final round so it was close all the way, though this was a local party which was never going to be told what to do. Voluntary party 1, Dave nil.

UPDATE: Sharon Hodgson has sobered up enough to approve this quote from Labour HQ:

“This sorry episode speaks volumes about the Tories under David Cameron – their sole woman MP in Yorkshire has been deselected amid suggestions of sexism and replaced by a man. For all his claims to be different, David Cameron has done nothing while his party has kicked out one of his most senior MPs. No wonder people think the Tories have a problem with women.”

Bury St Edmunds Tory Association Drops Support for Ruffley

Bury St Edmunds Conservative Association is now refusing to publicly back David Ruffley as he faces investigation by Michael Gove. On Wednesday the chair of Ruffley’s local party said of his apology: “I support David’s statement”. But Guido understands that the mood among its executive hardened yesterday in the wake of growing publicity, with several members now believing his position is untenable. Tory sources describe the day’s developments as “significant”. This is reflected in the statement given by the local party to BBC Look East last night, dropping their “support”:

“We note David’s acceptance of his responsibilities, the issuance and acceptance of an apology and his expressions of deep regret.” 

Ruffley has now led the bulletin on BBC Look East for three days running, with yet more constituents telling last night’s edition he must resign. The story is on national television and radio, and appears in every national newspaper this morning. Today’s Telegraph reports he could be suspended from the House of Commons. More concerning for Ruffley’s local party is the fact the publicity around the story is growing by the day…

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Farage’s Fillies
Nigel’s Top Team Has Higher Percentage of Women Than PM’s

women

Nigel Farage now has a higher percentage of women in his top team than David Cameron following UKIP’s reshuffle today. Of the six top jobs announced by UKIP, two are given to women – Louise Bours and Jill Seymour – meaning 33% of Farage’s senior posts are held by ladies. By contrast, just 5 of the PM’s 16 Tory Cabinet positions are held by women, a mere 31%.

farage

Paul Nuttall – Deputy Leader, Education, Skills & Training

Patrick O’Flynn – Economics Spokesman

Steven Woolfe – Immigration and Financial Affairs

Louise Bours – Health Spokesman

Mike Hookem – Defence Spokesman

Jill Seymour – Transport Spokesman

Nige has never had a women problem…

UPDATE: Guido brings you news of five more appointments, including three more women:

Diane James - Justice and Home Affairs

Jane Collins – Employment

Margot Parker – Small Business

Amjad Bashir – Communities

Ray Finch – Fisheries

Ruffley Speaks: “I Would Never Condone Domestic Violence”

David Ruffley has bowed to mounting pressure and released a statement on his caution for assaulting a woman, as the story goes mainstream on the Today programme and BBC Breakfast this morning. He says “I would never condone domestic violence under any circumstances,” presumably with the exception of when he is the perpetrator. Here is his statement in full:

“In March this year, an incident occurred between me and my former partner, resulting in inappropriate action on my part, which I deeply regret, in respect of which I accepted a police caution for common assault.

Some time later, I telephoned my former partner to apologise.

I am pleased to be able to say that she has accepted my apology. I have refrained from making any public statement on this matter as it is a deeply personal matter.

It is my understanding that my former partner wishes the incident to remain private.

I wish to stress that I would never condone domestic violence under any circumstances.”

Wonder what the woman he assaulted thinks about that.

Meanwhile, the Beeb’s Chris Mason reports that Tories at local and central level are now privately discussing his future, ahead of next week’s crisis summit. In Suffolk, Ruffley is topping the news agenda and is the only subject on this morning’s local radio phone-ins. The calls for him to go are getting louder…

See also: Gove Dragged Into Ruffley Assault Rap – Dean Tells Chief Whip Violent MP Must Resign

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Coalition Rift: Tories Ratchet Up Ward Rocket Row

This one is a kite, but the story is not going away. The Tories have grassed Ward to the old bill for “encouragement of terrorism as defined by Section 1 (2) of the Terrorism Act 2006.” In a letter to Bernard Hogan Howe, Nadhim Zahawi writes:

“I am writing in respect of a number of statements made by Mr David Ward, the Liberal Democrat Member of Parliament for Bradford East, on Twitter on the evening of the 22 July 2014. Mr Ward made a number of comments about the ongoing conflict in Gaza. Tragically the most recent flare up has caused deaths on both sides. However, Mr Ward went on to suggest that if he lived in the region he would wish to contribute to the violence saying he would ‘probably’ ‘fire a rocket’. I attach copies of the Tweets in question (Annex 1).

Freedom of speech is an important right, but it is not an unqualified one. This is especially true for public figures who have the capacity to influence the actions of others. Mr Ward’s tweets would appear to be prima facie evidence that he has committed the offence of encouragement of terrorism as defined by Section 1 (2) of the Terrorism Act 2006. Mr Ward may or may not have intended this statement to encourage others to fire rockets from Gaza into Israel, but regrettably he would appear to at least have been reckless as to whether others would be encouraged to commit such acts.

Of course Mr Ward must apologise for these statements, but this alone may not be enough. Mr Ward has encouraged the use of violence and may have put further lives at risk. I hope that you will begin investigating Mr Ward’s actions as a matter of urgency.”

While the letter is unlikely to come to anything, it’s interesting to see the coalition partners finally putting the boot into each other.

Gove Dragged Into Ruffley Assault Rap
Dean Tells Chief Whip Violent MP Must Resign

Michael Gove faces his first major test as Chief Whip after the Dean of St Edmundsbury Cathedral appealed to him over the David Ruffley debacle. The Very Reverend Dr Frances Ward has written to Ruffley, telling him “your position is untenable”, copying the letter to a number of senior local Tory figures, the Chief Whip and Lord Tebbit. Dr Ward recounts a damning conversation she had with Ruffley over the phone last week, revealing Ruffley tried to blame the victim for his violent assault:

“You tried to convince me that in the ‘incident’ back in March there was blame on both sides. When I visited ■■■■■■■■■■■■■■ in March a day or so after the event and went to hug her as my usual greeting, she winced in obvious pain. She told me as a friend and her priest of the events of the evening that had led to your arrest, and how frightened she had been of your rage and violent behaviour.”

Click below to read the letter in full:

The Dean is one of the most influential figures in Bury St Edmunds, so her intervention will concern the local and central party. Greg Hands wouldn’t put up with this…


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