Friday, 23 July 2010

"Would You Like A Chicken Supper Benny H?"

And so to Mahiki last night for the first of the Conservative Future chairman hustings that was piggy-backing on the Young Britons' Foundation Summer Party. Cocktails were flowing, though compared to years passed it was a relatively sober bout.

That wasn't to stop a howler though...

Questions began with an in-depth discussion on Europe. The floor probed the candidates far deeper than David Cameron was on the issue on the election campaign. Answers ranged from "No" to "Maybe" to "sort of in and out?" Other questions on reform were all rather dull and the usual lines about communications were pushed out.

It wasn't until a cheeky grenade was lobbed in that there was the night's only shocking incident. Candidates were asked "Which politician do you most relate to and respect... in Northern Ireland?"

Given that he was speaking in a room of Thatcherite right-wingers, Ben Howlett's attempt at getting the Fenian vote look spectacularly inappropriate. He cited Gerry Adams as "a conviction politician". Some were left speechless that Howlett, who had used a photo opportunity just 48 hours previously with Lady Thatcher to promote his campaign, endorsed the man who chaired the IRA Army Council that sanctioned the assassination attempt on her at the 1984 Conservative Party Conference in Brighton that left senior Tories dead and disabled for life.

After that the rest of the hustings seemed a little subdued and low-key. TB liked Cox's "Policy not Petrol" sound-bite and Cavalier-Jones did well to hold his own outside of his northern comfort zone and bloc.

Howlett has the chance to try to redeem himself tonight as the candidates will come together again for 
another hustings
at the Barley Mow on the Horseferry Road at 7pm. The event is in aid of Help the Heroes. Once again questions in the comments if you can't make it.  

Memo to Howlett - tread carefully. 



If he comes back after that I'll be shocked.

writingutraged member said...

In 1984, my mother was heavily pregnant (with me) and at Conference in Brighton. A bomb went off, she was in the conservatory at the front of the venue, she woke up two days later in hospital, 15 broken bones and lost an eye. She nearly died but was saved, it was touch and go if I would survive. My mother has lived the rest of her life with these injuries, a constant reminder of what evil can do.

To hear a Young Tory praising Jerry Adams is one of the most disgusting things I have ever heard! This man should pull out of the race now, I am angry writing this, that somebody could be so stupid. I have a vote in the CF election and I will make sure everybody I know, is aware of this mate and his hate filled existence.

Anonymous said...

Simon clearly won! It was not his audience, but he did not lose, if you can go into a debate with a hostile audience and win them over that's a real skill! He is the next chairman and I think he proved that to a lot of people last night.

Anonymous said...

As a political party and a youth wing shouldn't we encourage blue skies thinking?

Thinking outside the box is what will win us elections, if Howlett can defend his choice then, I may not agree with him, but it shows he's more of a Boris than a Hazel.

Anonymous said...

he should at least have the balls and decency to apologise for this disgusting comment.

how he can look people in the eye form now on is beyond me.. why he is still a member of the party i is beyond me this needs action from the top, especially when people have been pulled up on far less serious crimes..

Howlett you may as well have said to the surviving families of the Lockerbie bombing victims that you respected Al Megrahi! dick head!

Anonymous said...

@ anon- clearly the first attempt at a Howlett spin. The only Blue sky thinking that guy can muster is praise for Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi.

Anonymous said...

terrible news about howlett, he should apologise. as i was there last night, i think cox won it on points. stong messages and charismatic, with cavalier jones a good second. howlett blew it.

Reza Shah said...

My view on the Hustings last night. You had 3 Candidates:

Howlett: All I can remember was his line on Jerry Adams, the rest of the time he just droned on without saying very much.

Cox: Was ok, clearly comfortable with his crowd, but to be his politics seemed a bit formulaic and predictable, nothing I would not expect/could not hear in any Student Uni, around the country.

Cavalier-Jones: I feared from him before hand, but from his excellent opener denouncing Labour, he seemed a different class. He won over an audience that where not pro him and a couple of his one liners got the biggest laugh of the night.

Interesting thing was Both Cox and Howlett where using notes and reading through them/from them. C-J did not use notes at all, did not even bring any with him. That made him sound more natural and look more professional.

All I want is a sound CF chair, somebody who can hold there own in any environment and win respect for CF, there is only one man for the Job from last nights showing.

Anonymous said...

I was there last night, Cavalier-Jones clearly won on points, if you took that debate to the real membership and looked at real politics he was head and shoulders above.Cox was a decent second, Howlett must have wanted the ground to open up and swallow him.

Jack said...

I went along last night, having been involved in the party for a number of years, but for numerous reasons never got involved with CF. I came with a small group of friends who are all members but no CF's.

Interesting thing we picked up on was the Answers we liked came from Cavalier-Jones, he spoke beyond the audience. But the crowd only reacted to certain lines, i.e praise for Thatcher. Cox was lazy in his answers, it was a 101 of uni politics.

The crowd where clearly on Cox's side at the beginning, but by the end even Cox supporters where sucking up to Simon. If it was a natural audience, i.e not driven by a singular group simon would have knocked them out, He was Cameron, Cox was Alan Johnson and Howlett was Jerry Adams.

Anonymous said...

From last nights showing I would say that Cox won it on points with an impressive showing. SCJ was a close second. Howlett all things considered was pretty much a non starter, and should drop out the race quietly now while he still has some dignity remaining. I for one would not like to be in his shoes this morning. Currently I cant think of a more suitable example of a 'Gaffe man' than Howlett.

Anonymous said...

Draw- tbh I can't see Craig or Simon screwing up/beating each other in the course of the hustings.

Anonymous said...

Clearly Ben won, he was the only honest candidate. So what if he likes Jerry Adams more than any other Northern Irish Politician, Ben has his own ideas. Ben will win this because he has the best ideas, is his own man and is not scared to speak his mind.

Anonymous said...

Cox won clearly.

Anonymous said...

An interesting night. I think it's become a clear two horse race: early bath for Howlett.

Anonymous said...

Cox was the clear winner. Engaged with the audience, on top of the policy. I went in with an open mind last night but am now fully backing Cox!

Anonymous said...

More anti-Howlett bear


Woah! Hahaha

Anonymous said...

Cox showed he is a true heavy weight last night, pure class. Howlett on the other hand needs to jog on, poor performance. C-J deserves an honourable mention for being better than I thought he would be.

Anonymous said...

I went with an open Mind, Howlett who I was going to support was useless. Cox was ok but very contrived, Simon was the heavyweight and came across more orginal and credable in my opinion.

Anonymous said...

Interesting if you read the comments above, it would seem it was a two horse race, some Craig some Simon supporters. Team Howlett seem to have disappeared today, withdrawal imminent?

I was expecting a Cox victory on what was in effect home soil, although was not there to see it, would seem that was not the case.

Anonymous said...

by the host's reaction at the end and few comments i heard later and what i saw... Cavalier-Jones did indeed win, Cox meerely graduated from high school and Simon put on the cap and gown of his Doctorate.

i was going to vote Cox but he blew it. Simon you have my vote.

Everything Simon said he can and will do coz lets face it he is a ''shining star of future politics -times newspaper'' he has the connections and is taken seriously already.

good luck simon.

Anonymous said...

I felt sorry for Ben, it was hard to watch him flounder and I was waiting for the coup de grace which I think might come tonight. It's a shame, he's such a nice guy.

Anonymous said...

Craig had it. Simon was good but he's too old and out of touch. It seems that Craig has got a grasp of the important issues and is a solid represenative for the often under represented right wing.

He's also really fit.

Lauren said...

So, 16 Anonymous' and Reza Shah (SCJ's campaign manager) and he wasn't even there...not a pinch but a shovel of salt. Vote Cox!

Anonymous said...

Funny you always Know when Craig Cox writes about himself, as he finishes every post saying how "fit" he is!

Also just a little fact check for you, Reza Shah is not involved in Simon's campaign, he was there last night. Philip Smith and Hamish Stewart are Simon's campaign directors.

@ Lauren, Simon is younger than Craig, lol! And is much closer to average member as he is a normal guy.

Anonymous said...


How can someone so young already demonstrate being 'not fit for purpose'?


If this comment is regarded in any way as libelous, idiotic, bigoted or insensitive to the naïve, bordering on ignorant, eager Conservative that is
and anyone else feels that he should be protected, then please feel free to let me know.


Room 101
The Grand

Anonymous said...

The point is that Gerry Adams's main aim in life is fundamentally opposed to the political ethos of the Conservative and Unionist Party.

He's a socialist and advocates breaking up the United Kingdom. You see, it's not just his means (which he has never admitted were wrong in the first place) that are the problem, but his aims as well.

You see, his aims have not changed, he simply believes there are more pragmatic ways of achieving them.

Ben Howlett should be truly ashamed of what he said. I really doubt he understands NI politics much anyway.

David Lindsay

I cannot see the story here, unless it is what a loyal Thatcherite this boy is. She, who first conceded joint sovereignty over Northern Ireland, had a continuous line of contact with the IRA.

Carved up between a bizarre fundamentalist sect with close ties to the 1980s Radical Right that is now “the Centre Right”, and a Marxist guerrilla organisation with close ties to the 1970s campus-based sectarian Left that is now “the Centre Left”, Northern Ireland is at the cutting edge of “centrist” politics. We all approve of that. Don’t we?

Anonymous said...

Clearly howler was never going to say Paisley, but what about that Tory Lord, you know the one who won the nobel prize...?

Bit more of a conviction politician I'd say!

Anonymous said...

For someone with degrees from Durham and Cambridge, Howlett is immensely dumb.

He clearly didn't think properly about his response and demonstrated a complete ignorance of history. In everything else he floundered and completely lacked clear ideas.

His campaign is now floundering and if he has any self-respect he'll withdraw, although of course he doesn't, and will probably continue humiliating himself.

Oh. Dear.


I've been led here from Iain dale's blog; I'm not entirely certain what the controversy is about. You can admire someone without agreeing with them. For example, I'm a classical liberal, yet I admire both Ann Widdecombe and Tony Benn as politicians for their honesty and integrity whilst vehemently opposed to both politically.

Adams somehow managed to convince hardline IRA terrorists to put down guns and enter mainstream politics - that must have been one hell of a political feat. The question isn't who this guy admires, but why. I won't condemn him until I see a full transcript.

Fred said...

I can't believe how anyone who wants to be chairman can say such a stupid thing! Imagine if he gets elected and says something else equally as ridiculous... then the whole of CF could become a laughing-stock.

Everyone on the Labour Party must be rooting for Howlett... he's our Ed Balls!

Tom said...

Favourite Ulster politician and a room full of right-wingers?

Surely the best answer would've been 'Enoch Powell'. Don't suppose any of the candidates said that, though.

Justin Hinchcliffe

My goodness, what a lot of fuss over nothing (see David Linsey's excellent post).

Lots of support for Cox and C-J (not meet either). Curiously, their 'supporters' with to remain anonymous - a bit like the made-up people who appear in 'Focus' newsletters. Such behaviour in not uncommon in youth politics. This is why I have never embraced it.

I will still vote for Ben - that’s if I get a ballot paper!

Justin Hinchcliffe

My goodness, what a lot of fuss over nothing (see David Linsey's excellent post).

Lots of support for Cox and C-J (not met either). Curiously, their 'supporters' with to remain anonymous - a bit like the made-up people who appear in 'Focus' newsletters.

I will still vote for Ben - that’s if I get a ballot paper!

Stephen Glenn

Wow!!! If the future of the Conservaitve Party is one that spells Gerry as in Adams as Jerry as in Tom and... it is indeed a sad day.

As someone who actually was born in Northern Ireland I would say that the movement from both Adams and Paisley after the last assembly election into a position where we have a DUP Sinn Fein led executive at first totally shocked me.

The fact that the two parties have since managed to keep that ship sailing onward does speak somewhat of the amount of work the respective leaderships have put into a common shared future for Northern Ireland.

I'm not endorsing Adams as my favourite Northern Irish politician. However, based on his current performance and not on his terrorist past there is some merit as a politician. I also happen to be old enough to remember the Tories calling Nelson Mandela a terrorist though.

Anonymous said...

That hustings tonight bought shame on CF, a total joke. Howlett and Cox gunning for Simon all night, both Howlett and Cox supporters behaved in an outrageous way all evening. Frankly anybody looking from the outside would think we where guilty of everything we are accused of.

Anonymous said...

It's funny, if you look though the "I don't have a problem posts" go onto Facebook account they all seem to have Ben Howlett support across their profiles! Odd that.

Just for those too slow or partizan, is: Jerry Adam's oversaw the targeting of our party, he killed innocent party members, oversaw the Brighton bomb and spent years trying to kill Thatcher, innocent party members and blew up the Carlton Club! He has never even apologised, whilst you could argue it's in the past etc, for somebody to praise his actions distasteful and offensive, for somebody to not realise this makes them a total idiot.

Anonymous said...

Umm, so thus far we have a guy who Praises Gerry Adams, a guy who wants the return of Slavery and the other guy. Who said the Conservative Party was in a mess.

Anonymous said...

Tory Bear please remind me in future not to go to the events you suggest on your blog. That hustings was so bad, I don't want to hang around with those people.

Anonymous said...

The hustings was a disgrace, can't certain people in the audience see they are a blight on CF?

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