On the afternoon of the 9th of May, Theresa May announced at a visit to a factory in Leeds that she would like to bring back fox hunting and to hold a vote in Parliament on this matter. A bid to win back votes or another example of a darker edge to the Conservative Party? To elucidate this point we need only look at the case of Elliot Johnson.

 

You might not have heard of Elliot Johnson, a 21-year-old Conservative Party activist who believed in the good of his party. You will have heard of Mark Clarke however, the so-called ‘Tatler Tory’ and a former Conservative parliamentary candidate. On the 21st of September, 2015 Clarke was named by Elliot Johnson as the reason for taking his own life.

Elliot Johnson was one of the thirteen victims Mark Clarke bullied whilst he was director of the Conservative Future organisation and Young Britons Foundation. The act of bullying is despicable enough without it coming from the ruling party of the United Kingdom, but what makes it worse is how the party reacted and communicated at the time of the incident.

Ray Johnson was reportedly told by the Conservative Party at the time of his son’s suicide that they would do everything they could to assist him through his period of mourning alongside the inevitable police investigation, due to Clarke’s implication.

Yet when the British Transport Police, the body of detectives charged with investigating this case, requested information from the Conservative Party in the form of a report, the Conservatives refused to hand it over in spite of the number of requests from detectives investigating the suicide.

You might ask what this has to do with Theresa May and her election campaign? At the time of Elliot Johnson’s suicide Theresa May was Home Secretary, which under the definition of Home Secretary implies ‘overall responsibility for crime policy, counter-terrorism, immigration and passports’. The key words here being ‘crime policy’ which reflect the duty of the Home Secretary to actively engage with internal affairs issues.

Several questions then arise. What kind of Home Secretary would allow such bullying practices to thrive? and; what kind of party would allow thirteen of its junior activists to be bullied under its own roof by one of its own candidates? Crucially, is this the sort of party to which we want to relegate control over policies regarding the future of young people in this country if it treats those such as Elliot Johnson in  such an appalling manner?

This is not to say that every Conservative candidate is another Mark Clarke waiting to happen. Far from it. What is important to stress is that the Mark Clarke case should never have happened in the first place. For all the Conservatives’ talk of working for the next generation, it is important to remember that we should not abuse the current one.