With all the pages of copy that have been filed in the media about the Tory bullying scandal, it’s surprising how little has been written about the organisation at the heart of the bullying allegations – Conservative Way Forward.
CWF is a VERY important and influential organisation within the Tory Party. It is seen as the gatekeeper of Thatcher’s legacy. Here is its official list of presidents and patrons – a rollcall of Thatcherite luminaries, beginning with Thatcher herself:
The Rt Hon Baroness Thatcher of Kesteven LG OM FRS
Christopher Chope OBE MP
The Rt Hon Dr Liam Fox MP
The Rt Hon Greg Hands MP
The Rt Hon Lord Hague of Richmond FRSL
The Rt Hon Lord Parkinson of Carnforth
The Rt Hon Lord Tebbit of Chingford CH
Sir Gerald Howarth MP – Chairman
James Cleverly MP – Deputy Chairman
Conor Burns MP
Rt. Hon. Greg Hands MP
Charlie Elphicke MP
Rt. Hon. Liam Fox MP
Donal Blaney – Chairman
Cllr Paul Osborn – Vice-Chairman
Paul Abbott – Chief Executive
Just before Elliott Johnson tragically took his life, he had been suddenly made redundant as political editor of CWF, an event which Elliot’s father said his son had been in tears about.
Elliott received his notice of redundancy from CWF just days after he had made a complaint against Mark Clarke – the activist who has been suspended for life by the Tories in connection with the bullying allegations. Clarke denies all allegations against him.
But the fact Elliott lost his job after complaining about Clarke is not all that surprising if it’s known that not long before Elliott was sacked Clarke had visited the Chairman of CWF Donal Blaney to warn him that Elliott was a ‘risk’ to the organisation.
Clarke admitted this himself in a secret recording Elliott made and which was revealed after his sad death.
It’s also not very surprising Elliott was sacked if it’s known that both Blaney and the Vice-Chairman Paul Osborn were long-term colleagues and fans of Clarke.
Here’s a picture of CWF chair Donal Blaney looking very matey indeed with Clarke:
And here’s a tweet from Blaney the day after the general election – retweeted by CWF vice-chair Paul Osborn – praising Clarke for his part in helping the Tories win the election:
The indefatigable Tim Fenton from the excellent Zelo Street blog has also shown how Blaney is now trying to cover up the fact he once gave Clarke an award, for “those who merit particular admiration for their courage and leadership“.
All of this, of course, implicates the CWF leadership directly in the events that led to the tragic death of Elliott Johnson.
But should CWF ever be shown to be officially linked to the actual bullying – or the cover-up, or the leaks or even just turning a blind eye to it – then it’s safe to say those very important Thatcherite luminaries associated with the organisation would also be tarnished. And so could the very Thatcherite legacy CWF is sworn to uphold.
Expect a whitewash ….