Stafford Tory Chair Calls Theo Clarke’s Maternity Leave Claims “False and Abhorrent” mdi-fullscreen

Stafford Conservatives Chairman Duncan Sandbrook has hit out at Theo Clarke’s claims that her failure to be re-selected stems from constituency “unhappiness” with her decision to take maternity leave. After failing to gain the approval of the selection committee on Friday, Theo pledged she would seek to refer the decision to the membership. A move which the Stafford Association chair is “fully supportive of”…

In Stafford Conservatives’ latest newsletter, the Chairman went further:

“Stafford Conservative Association would like to make it unequivocally clear that it fully supports a woman’s right to take maternity leave, and rejects the implication that it, or its members failed to support Ms. Clarke during her maternity leave.”

Duncan added that there was “widespread and long-standing dissatisfaction” with Clarke and that it was “false and abhorrent” to say this was related to maternity leave. Ouch.

Read the full text of the newsletter in full below:

Theo Clarke MP for Stafford fails in her bid for re-selection

“During a meeting held at Stafford Conservative Association on Friday 24th February, it was decided that Theo Clarke MP would not be re-adopted as the parliamentary candidate for the new Stafford Constituency. The decision was made by a properly constituted Selection Council consisting of appropriately elected representatives of the new Stafford Parliamentary Constituency, in compliance with guidance mandated by the Party Board as a result of the upcoming boundary changes. Ms. Clarke has announced her intention to challenge the outcome and refer the final decision to the full membership of the local party, which is her right. Stafford Conservative Association is fully supportive of this process being followed. Unfortunately, the newspaper interviews following Ms. Clarke’s rejection, include a number of allegations which are contentious. In one article, it is alleged that there has been ‘unhappiness from a minority’ in the constituency party about her
decision to take maternity leave. Your Association is not party to any information that proves there is a factual basis for this claim. Should evidence be presented to the Association supporting these allegations, these instances will be dealt with commensurately.

Stafford Conservative Association would like to make it unequivocally clear that it fully supports a woman’s right to take maternity leave, and rejects the implication that it, or its members failed to support Ms. Clarke during her maternity leave. Furthermore, the Association is aware that one of its officers was quoted in the same article in the national press. The Association wishes to make it clear that the officer was speaking without the approval of the Association and the views provided were her own. The officer’s interpretation of the conduct of the meeting might suggest to a casual reader that Ms.Clarke was abused for taking maternity leave at the meeting. This would be a false interpretation. At no stage during Friday’s meeting did any participant raise the issue of maternity leave, other than Ms. Clarke who mentioned it briefly, in passing, in her opening address to the meeting and in the context of having recently returned to work following maternity

Let me be perfectly clear, the idea that the widespread and long-standing dissatisfaction with Ms. Clarke as MP for Stafford that has led to her failure to be re-adopted, is the result of her decision to take maternity leave, is both false and abhorrent. In another recent interview, Ms. Clarke has also criticised Friday evening’s meeting as “not representative” as it involved less than 10 per cent of members. In common with every single Constituency Association throughout the land, your Association is subject to rules that govern how we operate. The re-selection of candidates is subject to a process set out by the Party Board.

In January’s newsletter we announced Ms. Clarke had announced her intention to stand for re-selection and the article outlined the Selection Process. The Party verified the correct procedures were being followed prior to Friday’s meeting and sent 2 observers to the meeting on Friday evening when Ms. Clarke was rejected by a constitutionally correct panel of representatives.

The Association is committed to ensuring fairness. Although Ms. Clarke was not selected during the Selection Council meeting, it is only equitable to allow her the opportunity to present her case to the wider membership. Stafford Conservative Association would like to thank Ms. Clarke for her contributions and service to the Party and the constituency.”

Duncan Sandbrook
Stafford Conservative Association

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