From Dudley North to botched grubby Commons coups, the Tory party campaign remains in an utter mess. Tonight this will be underlined. We will see the ludicrous spectacle of a Prime Minister turning up to the same studio at the same time as Ed Miliband yet refusing to debate him face to face. He’s running scared because he won’t and can’t defend his record. It’s symbolic of a Tory campaign that is in chaos.
The Tories have just used their last day in the Commons in a grubby failed attempt to oust the Speaker, and are now more focused on their preferred leadership candidates’ prospects for the next five years rather than those of working families. We know that Michael Gove was moved from his post as Education Secretary at the insistence of Lynton Crosby – and after today’s performance Lynton should get Mr Gove moved out of government all together.
This embarrassment for David Cameron and Michael Gove comes on the back of one of the strangest stories in British politics regarding the man at the helm of their campaign, their beleaguered chairman Grant Shapps, who admitted that he had in fact held a second job while being an MP, using his bizarre alter ego Michael Green, despite repeated denials. On 25 February 2015, Grant Shapps was asked on LBC radio whether he ever had a second job while being an MP and said: “I have never had a second job whilst I being an MP. End of story.” In November last year Mr Shapps used legal action to extract an apology from a constituent who referred to his previous job and forced his constituent to say his past job was held “prior to entering parliament.” There is now irrefutable evidence that this was simply untrue.
Since then we have seen the full vulgarity of Mr Shapps’ double life, with boasts including how he loved flying “but I just hate to rent…So I took out my pocket-book and bought a plane.” Mr Shapps now faces legal action against him from his constituent. Most shocking has perhaps been the reaction of the Tory party and David Cameron, who appears perfectly content to have a man who bullies his constituents running his campaign.
The Tory campaign has also seen Afzal Amin, PPC in the key seat of Dudley North, resign after appearing to pledge to be the “unshakeable ally” of the English Defence League, purposefully playing cynical nasty divisive politics in a bid to win the election. This was swiftly followed by Foreign Office minister Hugo Swire caught at a lavish Tory fundraiser encouraging a bid by saying “£60,000 … He’s not on benefits is he? Well if he is, then he can afford it … £55,000?” He also said it was “naff to have Bentleys and Rolls Royce and Ferraris because anybody could have them.” Even Tory ministers don’t need to pretend “we are all in this together” anymore.
This week we’ve seen the Prime Minister booed at Age UK. As David Cameron sought to defend his record on the NHS he was unable to do so by an unbelieving and incredulous audience, whose experience of a rapidly deteriorating service did not match the Prime Minister’s other-worldly claims.
As the Prime Minister prepares to officially launch his campaign, with half a mind on launching his post-PM career, he will see a country and an argument moving away from him. Their chaotic campaign is symptomatic of the Tories’ failing plan which prioritised those at the top and failed working families. Whether taking the voters for granted by assuming victory or bullying them with falsified legal threats, the Tories have again shown that they do not understand that our country succeeds with working people succeed. Labour is the only campaign with a clear message to deliver a better plan for a better future.