My post yesterday mentioned Tory MP for Windsor Adam Afriyie’s wish for ‘calm and considered discussions’ prior to a debate on his amendment for a 2014 EU referendum on November 8.
However, not every Tory sees it that way.
Winston Churchill’s grandson Nicholas Soames is one of them.
On Tuesday, October 15, Soames saw Afriyie in the Commons Tea Room and unloaded a torrent of abuse.
Mr Soames told Eurosceptic Mr Afriyie: ‘You are a chateau bottled nuclear powered ****. You are totally f***ing disloyal, a f***ing disgrace to your party, your fellow MPs, your Prime Minister and your country.’
‘Perfidious party stalwarts’, more like. Afriyie’s a bright light for our country and to those who value liberty.
He responded in a calm and considered way:
If you want to have a serious discussion, Nicholas, then I am prepared to do so. But this is not the way to go about it.
The paper went on to say that Tory whip Amber Rudd attempted to defuse the situation.
But Soames wasn’t having it:
This is nothing more than a grotesque f***ing vanity project to promote your absurd f***ing campaign to become party leader. You aren’t up to it, man!
The MoS reported one ‘onlooker’ described Soames’s tirade as one of
shouting and swearing from one end of the tea room to the other.
Later, Soames admitted to the MoS:
Yes, I was very robust in what I said to him, and yes, I did swear, but I have no regrets. I feel very angry about what Afriyie has done. He has made no secret of the fact that he is running a putative leadership campaign against the PM. Hardly a single MP supports him.
‘The Tory Party was totally united at its party conference a few weeks ago. But within days Afriyie tried to blow that unity sky-high with his nonsense referendum idea. What really worries me is all the hard-working Conservative MPs who could lose their seats as a result of his ludicrous and deeply irresponsible antics.
Yet, Afriyie is trying to save the party from losing in 2015 which it surely will if James Wharton’s half-hearted bill for a 2017 EU referendum passes without amendment. If that happens, the Tories will be out of power for years to come. They will have lost all credibility in 2015 and, seeing as most of them are career politicians, what are they going to do for a living?
It’s unclear whether a) those Conservatives opposing Afriyie’s amendment are really that stupid or b) whether there is some hidden alliance between them and opposing political parties.
I mentioned the second possibility because in 2012 there was a continuing rumour in the run-up to the US general election of collusion between the GOP (Republicans) and the Democrats. The Republicans had never offered a greater selection of oddballs from whom to choose in their primaries. They were an embarrassment to what used to be a normal party of conservatives with distinguished presidents, e.g. the two-term Dwight D. Eisenhower.
Furthermore, they piled on Mitt Romney in much the same way as many Tories are actively opposing Afriyie. Like Afriyie, Romney, although from a comfortable background (his father was CEO of General Motors for several years before becoming Governor of Michigan in the 1960s), is also a self-made man. George gave Mitt money only when the latter started up Bain Capital. When Mitt and Ann married as university students, they were very careful to pinch pennies. Mitt’s daughters-in-law said in interviews last year that he is still very frugal, disapproving of excess water usage, fuel consumption and household waste. The Romneys still buy their household items and clothes from department stores where most Americans shop.
The parallels between Afriyie and Romney are interesting, particularly the opposition from their own parties. The GOP leadership certainly didn’t stick its neck out for Mitt, far from it.
But I digress.
One wonders whether Afriyie wants to be a Tory leader at all. His detractors began accusing the MP for Windsor of attempting to dethrone David Cameron, but are they just saying that in order to discredit him in his push for a 2014 referendum?
Tory MP Mark Field backs Afriyie for leader when Cameron’s time is up. In January 2013, a letter supposedly circulated among Conservative MPs asking them to support Afriyie in the event of a leadership contest. But who organised and circulated the letter? It is unclear. Afriyie’s friends in the Commons deny its existence. Furthermore, is leadership Afriyie’s main goal or is it obtaining an earlier EU referendum to give more credibility to the party in 2015?
In the meantime, here are two interesting factoids:
1/ Afriyie’s wife Tracy-Jane was formerly married to London deputy mayor Kit Malthouse. She and Afriyie have four children.
2/ Soames’s colourful choice of words — ‘chateau bottled **** — comes from Anthony Powell’s Hearing Secret Harmonies, the last novel in his series A Dance to The Music of Time. They were said of Widmerpool, who would have fit in perfectly with today’s Tories.