A Croydon Tory activist, who was a Conservative candidate for the council in 2014, has been told to apologise and his party urged to act for calling rail union members “scumbags” over the Southern Railways dispute.
Veteran Labour councillor Pat Ryan called out Andrew Stevensen for his remarks, and now says that the reaction of Stevensen and his party colleagues shows that “the Nasty Party is alive and well and active here in Croydon”.
Ryan’s calls for Croydon Tories to take some form of disciplinary action against one of their prominent members for online abuse was met with the now familiar diversionary responses, with questions about the local Labour group’s support for the industrial action by the RMT and ASLEF unions.
Croydon Tories have a poor track record when it comes to taking action over its members’ abuse and racism on social media: the Conservatives have never publicly rebuked Anne Piles, of Selsdon, for her public expressions of prejudice against travellers and gypsies and her use of the “N” word.
Stevensen was a first-time candidate in 2014, when he was very active across social media for what the Tories called the “Broad Green action team”. Stevensen attracted fewer than 600 votes – barely one-quarter of the votes that went to the three Labour candidates who were returned to the Town Hall.
Stevensen and Croydon Tories, led by Croydon South’s anti-strikes MP Chris Philp, have opted to ignore their Government’s part in the continuing decline in rail services provided by Southern, and have instead been attempting to make some political capital with anti-union rhetoric. Which all sort of breaks down somewhat in weeks such as this, when there is no industrial action and yet Southern is still incapable of running a railway.
Today, in a commentary column written for Inside Croydon, Pat Ryan, an active trades unionist during his working career with BT, says: “It surprised me to see a young Conservative, Andrew Stevensen, referring to the RMT and ASLEF trade union members as ‘scumbags’.
“Some may call this ‘locker room talk’, but I believe it is very strong, abusive and rather hateful word. Andrew clearly feels strongly about the strikes, but he went too far. Working people who are fighting for a better future for the next generation do not deserve to be called scumbags. I raised this with Croydon Tories on Twitter and they have refused to condemn Stevensen, implying that they agree with him.
“Rather naively, I expected Mr Stevensen, the son of a Filippino nurse, to reflect on his tweet and express a different attitude. No such luck. Instead, I received a lot of nasty bile back from him. It worries me that hate, anger and bitterness motivates many Conservative activists today.
“It does confirm to me that the nasty party is alive and well and active here in Croydon.”
- Southern Failways: The train driver’s story
- Southern Failways: The Tories’ role in Croydon’s commuter chaos
- Southern Failways: Civil servant wants ‘to break’ rail unions
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