KEN LEE reports on how the Conservatives have decided to block their usual mass debates
As new splits, divisions and dissent over Brexit rent the Conservative Party asunder at Westminster, here in Croydon, local Tories have shut down all discussion by restricting their WhatsApp group.
Alasdair Stewart, until last month the chair of the Croydon Conservative Federation, revealed as much last night, when he tweeted, “So, things have got so heated after May’s terrible speech that the Croydon Tories members WhatsApp group has been SHUT DOWN.”
Stewart used the capitalisation, presumably for emphasis, in case any of the ageing Croydon Tories who manage to use social media could not assimilate the meaning of the words in regular lower case.
Sounding somewhat like a latter-day Private Frazer from Dad’s Army, Stewart continued, “I can’t help but think this is an omen for the future of the Conservative Party. We’re doomed, might as well bring the shutters down now.”
Accompanying Stewart’s tweet was a screengrab from the WhatsApp group which showed the notification that the group’s settings had been changed and that only administrators could post messages.
Stewart thoughtfully anonymised the notification, with a splodge of orange. The administrators of the Croydon Tories WhatsApp group are thought to include Tim Pollard, the leader of the Tory minority group at the Town Hall, and Mario Creatura, the Coulsdon Town councillor whose day job is running Theresa Mayhem’s Twitter account from Downing Street.
Creatura counts as one of the “Croydon Cronies” working at No10, recruited there by the former Croydon Central MP, Gavin Barwell. As Mayhem’s chief of staff, Barwell carries much of the responsibility for the shambles that Brexit has become.
Even after sleeping on the matter, Stewart was off again this morning, chuntering at the parlous state of things. “Shame we now have a PM who doesn’t believe in sovereignty, democracy or freedom! Embarrassment to UK,” he tweeted.
Yesterday, by “May’s terrible speech” (Which one? There’s so many to choose from… ), Stewart was referring to the Prime Minister’s address given following a marathon, seven-hour-plus cabinet meeting with her desperately divided cabinet.
In her speech, nearly three years after the European Union referendum, she finally decided that they only way out of a mess created to solve decades-old division within the Conservative Party was to… reach out to Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour.
Stewart, for his part, is semi-detached from his own party, having declared his disgust at delays and dithering over the delivery of Brexit last month, when using the language of far-right extremists, he accused May of having “betrayed” her party.
Then, Stewart said that he would continue as a Conservative member and chair of the borough-wide party organisation.
Though how he, and his colleagues manage to discuss issues of national importance and cope without the use of their WhatsApp group remains to be seen, since Croydon Tories have long had a reputation for being a bunch of mass debaters.
* This article was amended on Apr 3 to clarify Stewart’s status within the local Conservative Party.
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