Tory Remainer MP Launches “Coup” to Seize Personal Control of Local Conservatives

Former business minister Richard Harrington enjoyed a fleeting moment in the spotlight earlier this year when he repeatedly threatened to resign over Brexit, directly denied he had ever threatened to resign, and then promptly resigned. Bye!

Now he’s on even more eccentric manoeuvres, this time in his constituency of Watford. According to local sources, Harrington has convinced all three employees of the local Conservative Association including agent Chris Baxter to resign en masse with no notice, and instead set up his own campaign organisation separate to the Association, personally controlled by himself and Baxter. Baxter has reportedly “gone rogue” and is no longer answering calls from activists. Local members are calling it a “coup”…

Local Tory members say that with no warning they suddenly found that they had no access to their office, records, website, email and social media accounts or VoteSource software. The Association has effectively ground to a halt as a result, they say they have no means to print leaflets, contact local members, or select candidates. Their website still presents itself as Watford Conservatives though it is is now in control of Harrington’s “Conservative Campaign Group” instead. One angry local member says “he’s basically stolen the Association”.

Harrington has mailed all the local Tories asking them to join his “new professional campaign team”, they’re having an official launch on 11th July. He claims that the purpose is to “put our operation on an election footing” and that his intention is to “work as closely as possible” with Watford Conservative Association. Furious local Tory members are not buying it at all – they say Harrington has pulled all the strings in the Association for years through tame Chairmen willing to do his bidding, he has reacted angrily to local members trying to exercise more influence in recent months and citing things like the Conservative Party Constitution. Instead of trying to win the Association back round, it appears that Harrington has effectively decided to dispense with it altogether…

There are also suspicions that it’s a deliberate plot from Harrington to pre-empt any possible deselection moves from members angry with his decision to vote with anti-Brexit rebels in Parliament. Any Tory candidate who the Association chose to replace him would find themselves effectively without any local infrastructure or ground campaign and, crucially, local canvassing data. Scorched earth from Harrington to leave any potential replacement high and dry…

Harrington’s campaign does not appear to be registered with Companies House or on the ICO’s data protection register for the address he lists. He still appears to be handing out leaflets saying that people’s personal data will be used by Watford Conservatives rather than his own group. If they are separate legal organisations – as he says in his letter – they can’t both be controlling the same data. Which raises pretty serious questions about what legal basis they’ve used to justify taking all of the Conservative Association’s existing data…

He won’t have any trouble raising funds for his new organisation, he’s personally managed to raise almost £200,000 for himself since 2017, he has extensive contacts from his previous career in property development which can’t hurt. What might hurt a bit more is if CCHQ decide to step in, Guido understands they have been in discussions with Harrington and the Association over the issue already. The current Association Chairman has now told members that he is resigning with effect from 12th July, local members believe there is no way Harrington could have carried off his coup without his connivance. Jumping before he was pushed when the CCHQ counter-revolutionaries come down hard on the nascent Harrington insurgency…?

Read Harrington’s letter to members in full below:


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