CCHQ Sends Lobby ‘Jeremy’s Frightened and Chicken’

Following Boris’s PMQs’ joke that Corbyn is a chlorinated chicken for u-turning on wanting an election, CCHQ has got creative today by sending journalists buckets and buckets of ‘JFC’ (Jeremy’s Frightened and Chicken).

In an accompanying letter to members of the Lobby, CCHQ wrote:

FOWL PLAY.

Move over Colonel. Jeremy Corbyn’s the new biggest chicken in town. He’s been saying he wants an election for nearly two years – but now he’s running scared from one.

Jeremy Corbyn and Labour don’t respect public votes, and their Surrender Bill means more dither and delay on Brexit. When it comes to Brexit, Jeremy Corbyn’s winging it.

The choice is clear. Does Boris Johnson lead negotiations with the EU on 17th October? Or does Jeremy Corbyn do eggsactly what Brussels says, meaning a bad deal for Britain, more uncertainty, and more delay?

People need the chance to make that choice, so we can move on as a country. Jeremy Corbyn needs to pluck up the courage to back an election.

Whilst members of the Lobby have derided the move as a PR cluck up, it’s certainly got everyone talking…

CCHQ has Unchecked Power to Deselect Hammond

Philip Hammond, the former Chancellor turned leading advocate of what Downing Street are terming “the Surrender Bill”, took to the airwaves this morning to whine about the possibility of being deselected for the mere misdemeanour of siding against the Government in an effective confidence vote. He made it clear that he thinks he is undeselectable…

“I don’t believe they [have the power to stop me standing], and there would be the fight of a lifetime if they tried to.”

“A legal fight if necessary?”

“Possibly.”

Unfortunately for Phil there are plenty of precedents in his party for senior MPs to be deselected by the central party. in 2005, Michael Howard controversially deselected former Deputy Party Chairman Howard Flight for harming the Tories’ electoral prospects. Hammond clearly doesn’t know the party rules as well as he thinks he does. Adrian Hilton took the party to court in a not dissimilar case and lost. The Conservative Party rules are very clear; the central party has the final say…

If Hammond is one of a dozen or so Tories who vote to neuter their Government and put a Marxist in Downing Street, the rules are clear. They’re out…

UPDATE: Runnymede and Weybridge is selecting a new candidate.

CCHQ Target Wollaston With Attack Ads

Now Sarah Wollaston has joined the LibDems she is fair game as far as her former party is concerned. CCHQ are talking, not unfairly, about betrayal and her failure to accept and respect the vote as she promised. She’ll have a fight to hold the seat, if she is even selected as the local Lib Dem candidate

Tory Associations Begin Hiring for General Election

Local Tory Associations are contributing to the worst-kept secret in Westminster – that we are soon heading for a general election – by posting a slew of adverts for campaign managers as they ramp up preparations for Britain going to the polls. Six vacancies have been posted in just the last 5 days…

Boris notably failed to rule out an election in his ‘People’s PMQs’ today, while Damian Hinds’s accidental email leak yesterday was another sign that election preparations are underway. While the Tories are ramping up, Jeremy Corbyn remains on holiday in Romania, while his followers are yet to begin their deselection campaigns against their “centrist” MPs…

Tories Push for Senior Campaigner’s Expulsion

On Saturday night, rising young Tory star Elena Bunbury tweeted a public statement accusing a senior Tory activist of the sexual harassment – including an incident of public masturbation during a discussion panel – she and other young women in the Conservative Party have experiencing from a senior party member over several years.

The letter addressed to Tory HQ – which complained that whilst she reported this individual over a year ago nothing had to date been done – anonymised the individual in question. Guido can reveal the man in question is Robert Winfield.

Since Saturday, dozens of fellow party activists have come forward to also accuse Mr Winfield of inappropriate and creepy behaviour – both on and offline; including over 150 young members co-signing a letter accusing the Conservative Party of having an “abhorrent complaints procedure” that prevents individuals from being held to account and treating young female members “with disdain”. 

Since Elena detailed her alleged experience with Winfield, many other young Conservative women and men have come forward with their own stories and experiences of the senior party activist, including:

“I may be wrong, but I have a really positive feeling that this is it for you-know-who. His time is up”

“I’m glad more Tories are openly criticising Robert Winfield for being a massive creep and I’d like to join in the call: Robert Winfield is a massive creep”

“Conservative young women, I’m with you. Whether we’re friends or whether I don’t know your name. He is nothing. You are everything”

“To the men in our party: you know what’s going on. Call it out, support us, tell people, make noise. Don’t just stand by as we try to make things better”

One young male party member recounted his experience at Conservative Party Conference, saying he was “informed that many Tory lasses were warned to avoid a certain individual. The first time I met said individual, he spent the reception chasing the only young Tory female present after their initial greeting, it was harassment”.

Winfield is the Secretary of the Yorkshire Conservative Policy Forum branch, where “extensive paragraphs circulated in emails on the topic of inviting young Tory women and praising their ‘twitter’ and prioritising the need to have them speak… it was obsessive”. Prominent young Tory Soutiam Goodarzi noted her similar experience, saying she “was only 15 when I joined that group, so not even at the age of consent”. 

In defending himself against this onslaught of accusations, Winfield retweeted a Tweet (since deleted), saying “It’s a real shame to see tweets today attacking a long standing hard working Conservative member”. 

It remains to be seen whether CCHQ will now act on these accusations…

UPDATE: A Conservative spokesman tells Guido: “We take any allegations of this type incredibly seriously and are investigating this matter in line with our procedures.” Guido understands that Winfield has been suspended pending the outcome of the investigation…

CCHQ Desperate for Boris Bounce Bank Balance Boost

CCHQ’s coffers have not been in the greatest of shapes since many of their big donors went dry in frustration at the party’s failure to deliver Brexit. The fact that the annual budget has ballooned from around £8 million per year to nearer £20 million per year hasn’t helped, largely due to vast staff increases as part of the Campaign Manager programme. It got so bad that Treasurer Mick Davis had to dip into his own pockets to fund the EU election campaign…

It’s fair to say that there aren’t that many big Boris fans in CCHQ, even so it’s now reached the stage where they’re so desperate for cash that they’re even joking that it #CantBeHunt if the party’s finances are to recover. As a member of the Treasurer’s department put it to one of Boris’s team earlier:

“While it’s clear Press and CRD hate Boris – the truth is the Party needs him. With the financial state the Party is in we need ‘Box Office Boris’, not a ‘straight to DVD also-ran’.”

Backing Boris to bring the big bucks back…

UPDATE: A CCHQ spokesman gets in touch to say: “CCHQ has been and continues to be strictly neutral in this contest.”

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

Tories Invite Parliamentary Candidates to First Official Leadership Hustings

Prospective Tory Parliamentary candidates have been emailed by CCHQ with details of the first of sixteen hustings for the final two candidates to take place over the next two months. The nationwide hustings tour kicks off in Birmingham on 22nd June before ending in London in the week of 15th July. They want as many docile happy-clapping people as possible to turn up…

Dear Candidate,

As part of the process for the party choosing our next Leader and Prime Minister, CCHQ are organising 16 hustings across the UK, with at least one in every region. The first hustings is taking place in Birmingham on 22nd June 3pm-5pm.

We would like to encourage all those on the candidates list to attend as many hustings as possible, particularly the event on 22nd June. We would very much appreciate your support to these important events for the Party.

You will receive an email with the details of the hustings dates tomorrow with a link to the website where you can reserve your place.

Thank you for your support.

Given that the Tories are creaming off £150,000 each from the final two candidates, will they actually be paying the PPCs’ expenses for traipsing all over the country?

CCHQ Staffer Breaks Rules By Promoting Cleverly

All CCHQ employees were told last week that if they wish to support a candidate they would have to take unpaid leave, but over the weekend one of three CCHQ ‘Youth Officers’ Ryan Stoneman has invited friends to like a Cleverly for Leader page and shared the ‘win with Cleverly’ website on his Facebook account.

Today the official Young Conservatives Twitter account (which  Stoneman runs) shared a James Cleverly video, although as of this afternoon all posts promoting Cleverly have now been deleted. Uh oh…

CCHQ Phone-a-Friend

Some say CCHQ are having trouble getting Tory activists to do Euro-canvassing, not true, look that at chap on the right having fun at a CCHQ phone canvassing session cajoling people to vote for his wife. CCHQ has summoned all staff to a meeting this evening. Expect them to be pressured to toil for Tory votes in the Euro elections. Good luck with that…

It’s not just CCHQ, West Midlands Tories are so desperate for volunteers that Regional Chairman Jim Cooper has sent everyone on the local Westminster Candidates list an “URGENT” email begging them to help out their Euro counterparts. Cooper complains that the “response so far has been less than we had hoped” before giving the candidates a veiled threat motivational thought to take away:

“Our views on these Elections are irrelevant – this is about loyalty to the Conservative Party. As a member of the Party’s Candidates Committee I know how much loyalty is valued.”

How many Tory candidates will even be voting Tory this time round?

Cash Strapped Tories Advertising for New Members

Donations to the Tories have been drying up, with both big Remain and Leave donors unhappy with the party’s leadership. Now CCHQ has started a new mainstream media ad blitz to recruit more members. If the comments section of MailOnline is anything to go by they might be wasting their remaining money…

Tories Finally Increase Membership, CCHQ Officials Complain About It

After years of decline, The Sun is reporting that Tory membership is finally on the up again, with 30,000 new members joining in the last twelve months to push the numbers to a seven-year high of 150,000. Labour are still estimated to have over half a million…

Naturally, senior Tory officials are stoking fears of ‘entryism’ rather than celebrating the fact that the Tories finally have slightly more than a quarter of Labour’s membership numbers. One panicked CCHQ insider told The Sun: “We’re not going to be able to stop people joining up just to vote for a new leader now… the danger is it will become a free for all.” How will CCHQ deal with the horror of taking £25 each from people who support Tory Party policy?

There has been no evidence that a ‘Purple Momentum’ actually exists, in fact Tory Remainers have been just as overt at trying to encourage entryism among their own supporters – who don’t even support Tory policy. Where deselection bids have occurred they have been led by longtime disgruntled Tory members, not new arrivals…

As Prof Tim Bale notes, “leadership contests make brilliant recruiting sergeants”. Over 13 million people voted for the Tories in the last election. Why are paranoid CCHQ officials so sure that the relatively tiny number of 30,000 joiners aren’t simply natural Tories who allowed their memberships to lapse in the past but are determined to have a say over who the next leader is now? Particularly after how disastrous the current one has turned out to be…

UPDATE: One Tory source tells Guido: “Not only are CCHQ annoyed there’s so many people joining, they seem keen to see the back of members as well”. Existing members are reportedly just being unceremoniously dumped off mailing lists when they write in to say they’re considering quitting, rather than being persuaded to stay as would have happened when membership was managed locally in the past. How not to run a voluntary party 101…

Grieve Loses Local Support After Breaking His Word

Dominic Grieve, Beaconsfield’s current Tory MP, lost a local constituency association confidence motion by 182 to 131 against him. The Beaconsfield Conservative Association chairman says that, “He remains our Conservative MP but I will be speaking as soon as possible to my fellow officers and the Executive Council.” A vote of no confidence is not a deselection.

Grieve is a decent man, we all agree, courageous even. To ignore your supporters and act against their wishes has consequences in a democracy. Deselections are always unpleasant, without them or at least the threat of them, MPs would be completely untethered from their supporters. MPs of all parties often arrogantly detest their activist members, who generally tend to be politically further away from the mainstream and their own ordinary voters. This tension is always there, sometimes the link snaps. This is such a time.

Grieve’s arrogance was that he thought he could shift from promising his members – in writing – that he would respect the outcome of the referendum, to leading the efforts to thwart Brexit, without cost. Breaking your word to voters, particularly the ones who get out the vote for you, is risky.

George Osborne tweeted this morning that Dominic Grieve had been “deselected”, going on to say “The Tory leadership can stop any deselection if it wants – we frequently did. CCHQ should suspend the local party. Otherwise we are heading for a huge, historic split in the Tory Party.” As a matter of fact Osborne has got it wrong, Grieve has not been deselected – yet. It is a bit rich Osborne, who has been campaigning to get rid of the leader of the Conservative Party since 2017, now calling for party unity. It is also more than galling when a Tory grandee says the little people who deliver leaflets, raise funds, vote for the party should be ignored and steam-rollered. Assuming of course that Osborne is still even a Conservative Party member…

UPDATE: Some groups like Leave.EU have been trying to claim the credit for Grieve’s deselection – local members strongly dispute the idea that they had anything to do with it, although Guido understands that the grassroots Campaign for Conservative Democracy was involved. A local Tory source tells Guido:

“Last night was a case of local members, most of whom have been members for years, finally getting organised and rising up. It has nothing to do with so-called “blue wave entryism” which isn’t even a thing. We’ve seen no real rise in membership numbers at all to suggest it could have any sort of impact.

“The principal reason Beaconsfield members voted against Grieve was that they felt he had been dishonest with them; promising at his last re-selection meeting to honour the referendum result, and then doing everything he could to thwart it. It’s his duplicity which has led to this motion passing.”

Tory Women on Social Media

Tory women have put this video out to call out abuse on social media ahead of International Women’s Day tomorrow. It’s all a bit hetero-normative though…

Brandon Lewis Writes to All Senior Tory Party Activists Following Suspensions

Following the suspension of 14 Tory members yesterday over Islamophobic and racist remarks, Tory Chairman Brandon Lewis has written to the party’s most senior activists to “re-affirm my commitment that discrimination, intimidating behaviour or abuse of any kind has absolutely no place in our organisation”. The letter has gone to everyone at the most senior level of the voluntary party – Regional Chairmen, Area Chairmen, Association Chairman and Conservative Group Leaders. Swift action from the Tories…

Tories Open Candidate Selections in Key Marginals

The Tories have opened up candidate selections in seven new seats, including several key target seats. Prospective candidates have been asked to put their CVs in by March 24th for:

  • Ashfield – Gloria de Piero clung on in 2017 with a majority of just 441
  • Bolsover – The Tories managed a 16% surge in 2017, Dennis Skinner’s majority was cut in half from almost 12,000 down to 5,288
  • Colne Valley – Held by the Tories from 2010-2017, Labour secured a very slender majority of 915 in 2017
  • Leeds North West – Safe Labour
  • Portsmouth South – The Tories won it from the Lib Dems in 2015 before Labour snuck in with a 1,554 majority in 2017
  • Sefton Central – Safe Labour
  • Wrexham – Ian C Lucas has scraped through with majorities smaller than 2,000 in both the last two elections

Tories ramping up for the next election…

SpAd Moves: Amy Fisher Quits CCHQ

Amy Fisher is leaving CCHQ, where she is director of external affairs, outreach and special projects. Amy was most recently SpAd to Amber Rudd at the Home Office and before that ran the Tory press office. She’s off to spin for lobbyists MHP Public Affairs…

Let Guido know any updates

Staffers Kicked Out of CCHQ After Valentine’s Fracas

Two Tory staffers were last night ejected from CCHQ after drunkenly shouting, stealing wine, and being abusive to staff. The staffers, who both work for John Hayes MP, allegedly stole wine, were shouting, and abusive to staff. Someone present at the event  told Guido that they “went to top floor where the managers were and shouted about.” CCHQ is expected to ban the staffers from future events. Guido doesn’t think they’ll be quaking in their boots at the prospect of not being allowed to telephone canvass…

Read what the main Conservative staffer WhatsApp chat said about it here:

You know things are getting sassy when the Rosindell gifs are brought out…

Perhaps this was to be expected. The previous day various staffer groups dropped some hints…

The Tory female staffers WhatsApp group was touchingly optimistic about the potential for romance before the event:

Wishing you better luck tonight ladies…

CCHQ Appoint Youth Vice-Chairman Who is Closer to Retiring than Graduating

Strange appointment of a Tory Vice-Chairman for Youth, Nigel Huddleston, who is 48 years-old and therefore closer to retirement age than his graduation. Usually the appointment goes to a younger MP, even stranger is that he is a divisive factional figure. He is on the wet side of the party, a patron of the TRG and an anti-Brexit campaigner. The youth wing of the party is very keen on Brexit and most young members would lean towards the free market rather than the Blairite end of the spectrum. An altogether bemusing throw-back appointment when right-of-centre millenials are attracted to the exciting and dynamic politics of the future…

Election Alert: Tories Open Candidate Selections in Swathes of Unwinnable Seats

Tonight the Tories have opened up three tranches of candidate selections for the least-winnable seats across the country. The ones that you’d only normally select right before a general election…

Although this decision was taken before the result of the confidence vote, this shows the Tories are firmly getting on an election footing.[…] Read the rest

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