AFTER the blog below about the fizzy party held at the Tory office in Hampstead at the end of the EU referendum, which Conservative councillor Oliver Cooper claimed was simply a wrap party for student campaigners on both side of the debate, a group selfie emerges of the event. And with raised drinks, Vote Leave sweaters and delighted smiles, you can see why the gathering has been viewed by some angry Remain supporters as more of a Brexit celebration. Cllr Cooper, at the front of the photo, insists it would be “bizarre” to suggest it was.
Andrew Marshall, one of Cllr Cooper’s colleagues on the Tory benches at the Town Hall, reports this afternoon: “Apparently, and I wasn’t there, at 4.30am things got very rowdy and there were complaints on Twitter, with one person actually coming into our constituency office to complain in person. The local Conservative association is having to apologise to neighbours in the street. Given that Cllr Cooper, as an association officer stressed for months that the party was neutral and no local association resources should be used in any way, it seems strange for him to have been involved in this. I supposed there may be a formal complaint within the party about this. Though it’s all very trivial, of course, in relation to the national crisis we now face.”
He adds: “Frankly, the Hampstead Conservative Association played an honourable role in the 1975 referendum in campaigning for a strong Yes vote in the area. It’s a shame – despite some individuals working very hard, that that was not the case this time.”
To recap, Cllr Cooper’s explanation on the original blog below, after the original claim that there had been a Leave party in the Heath Hurst Road offices: “A bizarre suggestion. Our youth officer organised a watch party for UCL Conservatives, at which there were people from both sides and none.” On the photo, a Leave supporter says it is not representative of the event as whole, and taken after the final result was known, at which point disappointed Remain backers had already headed home.
WHILE there may be doom and gloom among the 71,290 people in Camden who voted for the UK to stay in the European Union, the fizz was flowing in the Conservative office in Hampstead as the contest finally came to close.
Unsurprisingly, the apparent sound of fun times emanating from the association office on Friday was clearly the last thing that Andrew Marshall, the former leader of the group in Camden and one of the most passionately pro-EU councillors at the Town Hall, wanted to hear. He had been one of the few Tories at the count in King’s Cross, looking horrified in the knowledge that however many votes for Remain piling up on the table in front of us, there weren’t enough people in Camden to change the national picture. He said people were ‘surprised’ to hear of the party in Heath Hurst Road, which is in a ward, like most parts of Camden that voted heavily for staying in.
Cllr Marshall’s rueful Twitter timelinerueful Twitter timeline also includes a warning around the upcoming contest to find a new leader of the Tory Party – and Prime Minister – following David Cameron’s resignation. “Boris Johnson has shown himself unfit for office,” he wrote, garnering 15 heart likes so far. “Not in national interest for him to be Conservative leader or PM.” It will be interesting to see if he books a front row seat for Theresa May’s visit to Hampstead planned for next week, then.
It also raises the cheeky question as to whether, while sounding so downbeat, he would be comfortable serving as a councillor in a party potentially run by Johnson. The last thing the Conservatives in Camden would want is a by-election in Swiss Cottage, which is on Labour’s radar following good scores in the London elections in May.
This may be a reach too far; Cllr Marshall has been a thick and thin councillor who understands the way the role of local representative can, in parts, transcend party politics. And, besides, how many Labour councillors have served under leaders they don’t agree with. In fact, you wouldn’t have to rummage too hard right now to find a current Labour councillor who would use the word “unfit for office” about Jeremy Corbyn.
Meanwhile, having been publicly named as the organiser of the party, above, Hampstead Town councillor Oliver Cooper said this morning the idea that it was a Leave celebration was a “bizarre suggestion”, adding: “Our youth officer organised a watch party for UCL Conservatives, at which there were people from both sides and none.”