By Tory Activist Simon Harley
I CAN'T CLAIM to have known Elliott Johnson well, but we were, of course, known to each other. My recollections of him involve a boyish, eternally happy, young man, coupled with the fanaticism of a zealot.
He’d been writing for years, and, boy, could he write. Along with TheBlueGuerilla, ThingsElliottSays was my port of call for news and gossip on Conservative Future. I was happy when earlier this year he got himself the job of Political Editor at Conservative Way Forward – in my experience some people just end up with bullshit titles at these thinktanks, but here was Elliott in a job which seemed to suit him perfectly. Many of us, I’m sure, enjoyed his Fast Forward! emails. And, I’ll be honest, I was surprised when I learned that his tenure at that institution was seemingly being cut short.
And so, here we are, a month later. All manner of rumours and allegations are swirling around in print, online, and in places where people congregate. I’ve been active with the Conservative Party for over a decade now. The things I’ve heard and witnessed over the years are enough to fill a book which would no doubt be in the Sunday Times bestsellers’ list and keep the Daily Mirror busy for a month And that was before RoadTrip2015. The number of stories emerging now is, quite frankly, shocking. Their nature even more so. The knowledge that complaints were allegedly made, and then, equally allegedly, not acted upon, is horrifying. How can this party claim to look after the country when it can’t even look after its own?
I know for a fact that many of us in the youth movement were aware of something rotten in the State of Denmark, so to speak. But what could one do? Complaints appear to have been rejected. A culture of fear, intimidation, and contempt seems to have cowed the rest of us into submission. Everything was made subservient to the all-encompassing RoadTrip project. We all went along with it, in the hope that possibly some good might come of this unsavoury servility, i.e. a Conservative victory at the general election. The victory was ours, but at what terrible cost to Elliott, and to our consciences?
The only ones who come out of this sorry mess are those who tried to do something about the injustices piled upon them – in every instance apparently without success. Most just endured the humiliation of rejection in silence. Elliott chose another course: he made a stand, and paid the ultimate price for it. Let us not allow Elliott’s tragic death to have been in vain. Hopefully a reformed, meritocratic, fair, youth wing for the Conservative Party will be his lasting legacy.
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