Unpleasant Tory campaign vignettes

This week in the Guardian’s diary column Esther Addley is standing in for Hugh Muir, and she’s chosen a book of the week, True Blue: Strange Tales from a Tory Nation, by Chris Horrie and David Matthews.

Very unpleasant trends are emerging in two vignettes that paint Tory activists as racist and anti-Semitic. Who knew?

The first scene takes us to Richmond:

During the election campaign of 2005, when the book’s undercover authors were canvassing for the local Tory candidate against the Lib Dems’ Susan Kramer. Given a telephone cold-calling script, they were puzzled to find instructions to tell voters that Kramer was an “outsider” and, perplexingly, Hungarian (Kramer was born and raised in London). Why? “She’s a Jewess,” said a party activist, “but we aren’t allowed to say that. We get told off if we say that. So all we can say is that she got off the train from Hungary.”

And then in the London mayoral campaign, we have a charming anecdote:

[Ray] Lewis insisted he had a good idea of what the new job would involve, “which is more than you can say about Boris!”, before doing an impression of his new boss: “Crikey, Ray! What are we going to do? Gosh! Crumbs! Have you got any ideas? Golly!” Cue raucous hilarity, topped only when Lewis joked about a conversation about the local Conservative candidate, Shaun Bailey, who was also present and, like Lewis, is black. “I’ve just been speaking to a lady and she asked: ‘Which one is Shaun and which one is Ray – it’s hard to tell you apart.'”

The book is available on Amazon – and if you use this link you’re helping raise funds for the Liberal Democrats: True Blue: Strange Tales from a Tory Nation. Perhaps a kind reader out there would care to buy a copy and review it for us in greater detail?

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This entry was posted in Books.


  • Having read the book it is strangely redolent of all the main political parties these days – hollowed out shells, largely reliant on top-down messages and national media campaigns, with virtually dormant local parties comprised of elderly former activists in many places. One gets the feeling reading it that for younger people the action is elsewhere, either on the net, in single-issue politics, or mostly not in politics at all. It is a truly fascinating but unsurprising read, that i can recommend for the sense of deja vu it brings (such as the endless round of raffles at local party events). I thought though that the book is extremely ageist – I bought it at the same time as the new Julia Neuberger book which is excellent on the activism of older people, where i guess i am headed myself now. Oh, and while I am recommending paperbacks, Anna Minton’s book on the surveillance society is a truly insightful and stimulating read. I would like to hear her views sometime soon at a conference fringe meeting.

  • Daniel Bowen 22nd Aug '09 - 8:21pm

    And anyone’s surprised the Tories do this sort of stuff?

    They do it, day in, day out, everywhere.

  • ‘And anyone’s surprised the Tories do this sort of stuff?’

    Jenny Tonge ring any bells?

    And the Lib Dem homophobic campaign in Bermondsey or were you too young to remember the ‘straight’, choice?

    People in glass houses.

  • Daniel Bowen 26th Aug '09 - 9:41am

    Hello Mr Troll, I know Jenny Tonge who is a fantastic campaigner and worth a million of you.

  • Lib Dems complaining about dirty campaigning? Pot = kettle

2 Trackbacks

  • By Liberal Conspiracy » True Tory colours revealed in new book on Sat 22nd August 2009 at 2:25 pm.

    […] Tory colours revealed in new book by Sunny H     August 22, 2009 at 2:24 pm LibdemVoice highlights a Guardian diary column which has extracts from the book True Blue: Strange Tales from a Tory […]

  • By Top of the Blogs: The Golden Dozen #131 on Sun 23rd August 2009 at 6:02 pm.

    […] Unpleasant Tory campaign vignettes by Alex Foster at Lib Dem Voice. Alex highlights a review of the book True Blue: Strange Tales from […]

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