Harrington’s Watford Campaign Launch Descends into Acrimony

Guido readers will have been following the unusual goings-on in Watford where local MP Richard Harrington has been accused of launching a “coup” against the Conservative Association and replacing it with a new campaign organisation under his personal control instead. Harrington’s ‘Conservative Campaign Group’ had its official launch at the Watford Palace Theatre yesterday evening. From what Guido hears it wasn’t exactly an unmitigated success…

About 50 people turned out for the launch, Harrington reportedly wouldn’t address any questions on Brexit or his local machinations. Instead, Harrington managed to alienate many of the people there by effectively accusing local activists of not putting enough effort in to collect local canvassing data for him, using that as his justification for setting up his new group. Harrington himself is not exactly renowned for pounding the pavements of Watford…

Harrington’s announcement that he wanted his new group to take over all local campaigning hasn’t exactly filled local members with confidence after a lacklustre recent local election campaign where campaign literature was reportedly in very short supply and the Tories even failed to field candidates in four seats after a nomination papers fiasco under former agent Chris Baxter. Baxter resigned as the agent after the elections – to take over the running of Harrington’s new group…

One person in the audience told Harrington it was unfair for him to criticise the work of unpaid volunteers giving up their spare time while he had full-time paid campaign staff. The mood turned increasingly sour as an angry Harrington got into an open confrontation and accused them of contacting Leave.EU to try to organise a vote of no confidence against him.

There is zero evidence that Leave.EU or ‘entryists’ have been behind any of the votes of no confidence in Remainer MPs – Leave.EU sending out a few tweets trying to claim responsibility does not make it so. The basic facts on the ground in every case Guido has investigated are that long-standing local members are simply fed up of their MPs going rogue and trying to undermine their party and the policies they were elected on. Harrington has basically told his entire local party he has no confidence in them, it’s a bit rich of him to start throwing accusations the other way…

Seen Elsewhere

Tip offs: 020 7193 4041

Quote of the Day

Responding to Corbyn’s statement that the US should have arrested ISIS leader, al-Baghdadi, John Mann bluntly tweeted:

Baghdadi blew himself up with a suicide belt. An arrest might have been slightly difficult in these circumstances.”


Guidogram: Sign up

Subscribe to the most succinct 7 days a week daily email read by thousands of Westminster insiders.