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Andrew Feldman denies calling Tory activists ‘swivel-eyed loons’

18 May 2013

5:52 PM

18 May 2013

5:52 PM

What a strange day. Lord Feldman, the Tory co-chairman, appears to have identified himself as the unnamed Cameron ally reported by several newspapers as referring to party activists as ‘swivel-eyed loons’. He strenuously denies making the comments, and for good measure says he is  consulting lawyers. Here’s what he has to say:

‘I am very disappointed by the behaviour of the journalists involved, who have allowed rumour and innuendo to take hold by not putting these allegations to me before publication. I am taking legal advice.’

It’s not clear why he thinks the journalists should have put the allegations to him if does not think they were referring to him. Anyway, here’s what James Kirkup says in this morning’s Daily Telegraph:

‘The remarks were made by a senior figure in the Conservative Party who has strong social connections to the Prime Minister. “There’s really no problem,” the Conservative figure said about the parliamentary turmoil. “The MPs just have to do it because the associations tell them to, and the associations are all mad swivel-eyed loons.”’

Feldman and Cameron have been friends since they organise the May Ball of Brasenose College in Oxford. Feldman, who went on to be a lawyer, was one of the major figures behind Cameron’s 2005 leadership bid, helping him raise cash. He was made chief executive of Conservative Campaign Headquarters in 2008 and later made co-chairman. So it would be bizarre if he took this view of the foot soldiers he is supposed to be organising. As he has put it today:

‘There is speculation on the internet and on Twitter that the senior Conservative Party figure claimed to have made derogatory comments by the Times and the Telegraph is me. This is completely untrue. I would like to make it quite clear that I did not nor have ever described our associations in this way or in any similar manner. Nor do these alleged comments represent my view of our activists. On the contrary in the last eight years of working for the party, I have found them to be hard working, committed and reasonable people. They are without question the backbone of the party.’

James Kirkup responds thusly:

As The Spectator’s Matthew Parris observed earlier today, such comments are far-from-unknown. It’s utterly plausible that they could have been mentioned at a dinner: I have heard far worse in my time. Every Westminster party, aside from the SNP, has a cultural split between the leadership and the mass membership. There is, of course, a long tradition of Tory leaders disliking the Tory party. As Lord Lawson puts it in his memoirs:

Lawson Memoirs

‘At a more down-to-earth level, Margaret was unusual, for a Tory leader, in actually warming to the Conservative Party – that is to say, the party in the country rather than its Members of Parliament. Certainly, that had not occurred for many years. Harold Macmillan had a contempt for the party, Alec Home tolerated it, Ted Heath loathed it. Margaret genuinely liked it.’

God knows how this will end. But it’s a reminder: no one hates Tories quite like Tories.

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