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…

Richard Harrington Puffs His Troubles Away

Pugnacious Tory MP Richard Harrington managed to find enough time out from hijacking his local Conservative Association to take to the Thames for the Henley Royal Regatta over the weekend. Harrington channels Dick Dastardly as he puffs away on a cigar while the drinks flow on a private motorboat…

It’s not the only party he’ll be enjoying this week, he’s also got the big launch of his “Conservative Campaign Group for Watford” coming up – his own personally controlled rival to the local Association. Drinks and canapés provided if anyone from CCHQ happens to find themselves at a loose end in Watford on Thursday evening…

Richard Harrington Calls for Vote of Confidence in Himself

Vociferously anti-No Deal Tory MP Richard Harrington this morning hit out at his own members, saying that “I’m sure most MPs look at some members of their parties and think that I have very little in common with them.” He even encouraged his local members to launch a vote of no confidence in him, answering “I hope so, because I hope it’s totally defeated.”

Of course what Harrington didn’t reveal is that the reason why he can afford to be so smug is, as Guido revealed yesterday, he’s set up a parallel local campaign organisation under his personal control and frozen out the local party membership already. Local members have called it a “coup”.

All the Association staff including the Agent resigned en masse and jumped ship to his new personal campaign, seizing the office, records, website, email, social media accounts from the local Association without any clear legal basis for doing so, leaving it unable to function without him. No wonder Harrington’s so comfortable goading his members, he knows that even if they deselect him they’ll be left high and dry with no functioning local organisation whatsoever…

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:

Continue reading

George Eustice Tears Into Grandstanding Remain Ministers

Former Farming Minister George Eustice has laid into grandstanding Remain ministers for flaunting resignation threats around in the press, after his own principled resignation yesterday. Speaking to TalkRadio, he attacked them for “trying to buffet the Prime Minister around through threats of resignation”, adding “that’s no way to behave as a minister”. Cabinet Ministers who have happily sat in Government on a “no deal is better than a bad deal” platform for two years now publicly blackmailing the PM into reversing that policy is a truly shameful spectacle…

Eustice privately made his case to the Prime Minister and then simply submitted his resignation when he felt he could no longer continue. Without any highly embarrassing Richard Harrington-style media antics in advance…

Second Tory Minister on President’s Club Guest List

Fun-loving Tory minister Richard Harrington was due to attend the notorious President’s Club Dinner and sit on the same table as Nadhim Zahawi, Guido can reveal. Harrington’s office confirmed he was invited but didn’t attend. A spokesman told Guido:

“He definitely wasn’t there.”

Asked where he was, no alibi was forthcoming. Not sure why he was on the guest list if he hadn’t RSVP’d. Lucky escape…

Seen Elsewhere



Tip offs: 020 7193 4041
team@Order-order.com

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.”

Sponsors

Guidogram: Sign up

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