DISGUSTING chatter about gassing “chavs,” conducting medical experiments on them instead of animals, shooting “peasants” and sterilising the poor have, since exposed by Guido Fawkes’s right-wing blog, shone a light on the class hatred that motivates some Conservative activists.
The revelations have sent the hapless organisers of the “Tory Momentum,” Activate, into a tailspin just days after they were deluged with mockery for their ham-fisted launching tweet.
Now we learn that “the ‘Whatsapp’ posts that are being connected to Activate by the media did not originate from Activate or any of our members.”
A day earlier all it could claim was that those responsible did not “currently” have “any seniority” within their organisation — which, they now claim, has not actually been launched at all and is “in no way, shape or form associated with the Conservative Party.”
Funny that, since the items on its home page’s “about” section commit the group to “work to get Conservative candidates elected to office at both local and national level through professional and modern campaigning” and to “foster links with Conservative University and Constituency Associations.”
The Conservative Party has simultaneously raced to distance itself from its new groupies, although denying links to Activate doesn’t get the party off the hook.
Questions remain over whether it has taken action against the purveyors of such hate, whether or not they are also part of the new “grassroots organisation.”
We can already predict the response: that these views were just jokes, admittedly in bad taste; that they illustrate the juvenile mindset of a few “bad apples” but tell us nothing about the Conservative Party more generally. It’s unfortunate these bad apples crop up with such regularity.
It is not so long since Cambridge University Conservative Association was forced to expel Ronald Coyne for burning a £20 note in front of a homeless person, displaying a sneering contempt for the poorest reminiscent of David Cameron’s chief whip Lord Young — who, in an earlier incarnation as housing minister, defined the homeless as “the people you step over when you come out of the opera.”
Comments like these are not harmless.
As detailed in Owen Jones’s landmark study Chavs: The Demonisation of the Working Class, the creation of a culture of contempt around working-class people helps justify policies that further impoverish millions.
This narrative fed the relentless cuts imposed by Conservative-Liberal Democrat and Tory-only administrations since 2010, as the idea that the poor were “shirkers” justified the transformation of the welfare state into a punitive regime that forces desperate families to jump through any number of shrinking hoops to keep the children fed and a roof over their heads.
Labour MP Laura Pidcock met a chorus of anger for her assertion that she was not elected to make friends with MPs on the Conservative benches and thus perpetuate the cosy Establishment consensus that keeps working people at the bottom of the pile in this country.
But principled socialists are quite right to refuse association with members of a party that provides a fertile breeding ground for such revolting attitudes.
There is no comparison with the occasional hotheaded comments from left-wing activists which drive the press into a frenzy against Corbyn, Momentum, Labour or whoever the target of the moment may be.
Young Conservatives ooze power and privilege and sorry incidents like this show how they abuse it. The anger of ordinary people at a class rolling in wealth while others starve has nothing in common with the poisonous hatred of those who have everything for those who have nothing — a hatred that ruins lives and disfigures our whole society.