Tony Homewood is a lawyer, musician and an adviser to Amjad Bashir MEP.
Up and down the country, Conservatives are working hard to beat Labour in the local elections on Thursday. We all know that Tory councils provide better value for money and charge less Council Tax than Labour ones. With council budgets still under pressure, we make less go further and give taxpayers better more innovative services. We typically build more homes, invigorate our town centres to attract new jobs and investments and, on a strictly local level, have far fewer potholes in the roads.
Conservatives also engage in positive politics, campaigning on issues that really matter to residents. Here in Wakefield a fierce campaigns rages over the Rugby League stadium, pork barrelled money to safe Labour seats and a now closed city market. Wakefield Conservatives are on the front line against the Momentum thuggery engulfing politics across the country.
Recently many Labour MPs including John Mann, Luciana Berger, and Ruth Smeeth railed against Momentum in parliament. Their case was not that Momentum were some random alter ego; a front of some marginal wing of the Labour Party, but rather that it was the new Labour Party. They recalled shocking instances where they and their families were attacked and abused by Momentum-affiliated Labour party members in their own constituencies. Good honest people thrown to the virtual wolves by faceless thugs, cowering behind anonymous Twitter and Facebook accounts.
We have this in spades in Wakefield.
The signs were there from way before these local elections. In the 2017 general election, the Conservative candidate for Wakefield, Antony Calvert, was pilloried by over 900 trolls, when a perfectly innocent tweet demonstrating how political bullying happens regularly outside of elections, was distorted. The person who instigated this cascade of online abuse was his opponent, Mary Creagh MP. But next she is complaining about online abuse directed at politicians.
Fast forward to 2018 and the selection of Nathan Garbutt-Moore as the Conservative candidate for the marginal Wakefield West Ward. Nathan, in common with many Conservatives (including another Conservative candidate in the Wakefield local elections) is a former UKIP activist. They now support Theresa May and her government in negotiating our exit from the EU and have returned to their political roots. Here in Wakefield we have a focused strategy of target seats. We have prepared a common election address and the Wakefield Conservative team, now spearheaded by Calvert, is fighting together on identified multiple fronts.
Amongst the many issues we have campaigned on in this election address is the thuggery and despicable anti-semitism of Momentum activists. We want Wakefield voters to realise that the modern Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn has descended into the rabble that Mann, Berger and Smeeth rightly called out in Parliament. In Wakefield the local Labour Party has been swamped with Momentum activists. Even Michael Graham, a councillor for Labour, admitted as much when he published a photo of a Momentum/Labour event with a senior Wakefield Labour councillor standing behind a Momentum/Labour branded banner – the two are indistinguishable in Wakefield.
And this brings us back to the abuse. Despite the groundless threat of legal action by Wakefield Labour/Momentum, against Wakefield Conservatives, no communication has thus far been received. Could it be to do with the rank abuse Nathan has got from troll Twitter accounts, set up just before the local elections started, being those from Momentum? Or perhaps because senior Labour people in Wakefield have a history of racist and homophobic campaigns against senior Conservatives?
Wakefield Momentum also seem to have gone remarkably quiet since a left-wing Labour councillor was suspended for online abuse directed at Theresa May, Lucy Allen MP, and Esther McVey MP, which employed the very worst misogynistic language possible.
Bullying and thuggery will not work in Wakefield, one of the most decent places you can ever find for inclusiveness and equality. Labour/Momentum in Wakefield may be a microcosm of the nastiness of Corbyn’s new Labour movement. But for Conservatives in Wakefield, we’ll fight them all the way. We simply don’t have any choice.