27/11/2015 Newsnight


With Emily Maitlis. The latest on the Conservative Party bullying allegations, Labour splits on Syria and John Sweeney reports on the Oldham by-election.

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Tonight on Newsnight another conservative activist beak out about


the alleged bullying he faced at the hands of Mark Clark, is it credible


to believe those at the top of the party knew nothing? We hear from the


father of a young man who took his own life having complained of his


experiences with Mark Clarke. I think Mark Clarke was allowed to


carry on the way he was because he was being protected by people within


CCHQ and people were pulling his strings. Jeremy Corbyn reaches past


his MPs and asks Labour members what to do, is this new politics or is


the party now a pressure group? By undercutting his Shadow Cabinet want


senior leader MP told me this was the beginning of the Corbyn cool. --


Labour MP. The Labour's wells in Westminster be felt in Oldham? The


voters of Oldham go to the polls next Thursday, the question is, will


Jeremy Corbyn be getting an early Christmas present or will he find a


lump of coal in his sock? A Conservative MP and historian


looks at the artistic legacy of Empire. By looking at the British


Empire through the prism of cultural one can feel what it was like to be


part of the largest empire the world has ever known.


How much did those at the top of the Conservative Party


know of the behaviour of an alleged serial bully in their midst?


The party has insisted it wasn't aware of serious accusations against


Mark Clarke until weeks before a young activist Elliott Johnson took


his own life - having previously complained he was bullied by Clarke.


Tonight the party's position looks increasingly under pressure.


The former party Chair, Sayeeda Warsi, has revealed she wrote to her


successor, Grant Shapps, eight months ago - complaining


about Clarke and demanding action be taken against him.


Tonight, we hear from another man who says he


complained about Clarke's bullying back in 2014 - to no effect.


We'll be talking to Ray Johnson about his son's suicide in a moment.


First, the latest from James Clayton.


The Conservative bullying scandal is now planted firmly on the doorstep


of this building, Conservative Party headquarters. Allegations of


bullying, sexual harassment and blackmail by the former Conservative


activist Mark Clarke have been splashed across the nation's front


pages. Last week the Newsnight investigation heard from Ben Howlett


MP, he said he'd raised bullying allegations with Grant Shapps and


Lord Feldman as early as 2010. Five years before the suicide of Elliot


Johnson catapulted the murder accusations into the public domain.


That Newsnight report prompted the response from CCHQ that the current


chairman, Lord Feldman had been wholly unaware of Clarke's William


for a tranche of formal complaint had been received in August of this


year. A spokesman told us, we've been checking and checking again,


but we haven't found any records of complaints that were made that


weren't dealt with, but we are determined to get to the bottom of


what has happened. How exhaustive have these checks been? Newsnight


has had a look at how CCHQ has dealt with some of the complaints made


over the last five years. They show, at best, incompetence by


Conservative Central office, and at worst, an attempt to conceal how


much senior Conservatives knew about Clarke. Over the last week it has


emerged that warnings about Clarke stretched back as far as 2010.


Newsnight disclosed the official candidate report on Clarke included


detail of aggressive behaviour bordering on violence. Tonight


Newsnight has learned the then Tory chair, as well as Lord Feldman, were


handed a written account of an incident in which Clarke allegedly


threatened to destroy the career of Ben Howlett, the then chair of the


Tory youth wing Conservative future. Now MP for Bath, Ben Howlett


wouldn't comment on the account, an activist who saw it said it was one


of the series of allegations of bullying. Lord Feldman allegedly


said at the time the matter would be taken seriously. Clarke denies all


allegations of bullying. Today it emerged another complaint had been


made about Mark Clarke to CCHQ, before the official internal inquiry


in August. Baroness Warsi was the complaint tick complainant. She


handed a letter she had sent to Grant Shapps to the Guardian


newspaper. It cites a tweet by Mark Clarke that implies Aaron Swazi had


offended a Jewish member of a local Conservative Party. She claims


unfairly. Baroness Warsi said she received allegations of


anti-Semitism as a result. She asks Grant Shapps what action she intends


to take against Mr Clarke, she plans the matter wasn't properly handled.


Mark Clarke contradicts this description of events, claiming


Baroness Warsi has a personal vendetta against him. Six months


before the letter in summer 2014, a Young Conservative activist who had


been on a number of road trips was threatened with political ruin by


Clarke. Clarke told him he would never work at CCHQ and if he tried


to ever get a job with an MBE, Clarke would personally intervened


to prevent such promotion. -- with an MP. He wrote that Clarke had


threatened to ruin him, attending to damage my reputation, trying to


remove me from politics, he said. The Conservative employee sent a


response, saying, height, are you content if I shared your e-mail with


other colleagues? I was hoping to hear somebody


telling me how to move forward, how to get past it, what options I had


in terms of making a complaint, speaking to someone about to


overcome the and problems I had had. But there was nothing and it was


just very disappointing, I think, and upsetting. Newsnight knows of


other complaints made to CCHQ in 2014. In a statement given to us to


night, a Conservative spokesman said that an investigation is currently


underway... Ray Johnson, the father of Elliot


Johnson who took his own life, I began by asking him if, after


fighting for nine weeks to get his son's story heard he felt like


things were starting to change. Things have been changing day


by day, week by week, I think, from when we first heard of


Elliott's unfortunate tragic death. We couldn't get to grips


with what had happened. But within a few days evidence


started to appear that suggested something was


untoward, very untoward. And we picked up the story and


decided we had to dig deeper because we weren't getting any answers out


of Conservative Central office. And we needed to find out what


the truth was behind Elliott's death As events unfolded over the days


and weeks, it became sort of like a quagmire, almost like dry rot,


affecting the Conservative Party in many ways with many people being


affected adversely and other people who were doing the bullying and


intimidation. It became very clear By what Mike Clark and people


were doing in the Conservative Those at the top


of the Tory party say they were wholly unaware, they said they had


checked and checked again Why do you think that was? I think


Mark Clarke was allowed to carry on the way he was because he was being


protected by people within CCHQ. He was getting the results they


wanted leading up to the general Because of that they were quite


happy to overlook what he was doing. In some respects it's too late


for some of the young activists who have been


badly treated by the Conservative But what needs to be done now, CCHQ,


and I think it's endemic in other political parties too,


they really need to look at their practices and processes and make


sure that when young activists... Because they are young people,


we're talking about some of these activists may be 16,


17 years old, they are youngsters. They've been managed and manipulated


by people in their 30s. We have to make sure that


when these young people make By sweeping their issues under


the carpet and ignoring their complaints doesn't solve problems


for them, it makes things worse. Grant Shapps was the one who brought


Mark Clark back into the fold in 2014, what do you think should


happen to Grant Shapps now? Grant Shapps has to look to


his position. It's undoubtedly true that he


knew was going on, I think. They are conducting an inquiry at


the moment, do you have the confidence that will get to the


bottom of this quiz, absolutely not, I can't see how the inquiry will


have any voracity at all. I wrote to Lord Feldman I heard they were


conducting their own internal enquiry. Headed by another


Conservative insider. And inquiry won by themselves... Without


independent oversight can't possibly be considered to be valid. -- run by


themselves. I put it to Lord Feldman this would be another cover-up. Are


you surprised this was allowed to happen in a mainstream political


party? I'm shocked, you know, these people are effectively the lawmakers


in this country, they pass laws to ensure people are protected from


bullying and harassment in the workplace, yet they seem to feel


they are above the law and they can continue in a way that must be


endemic within the political party process in this country. You were


worried about Elliott going into politics? I was concerned, I thought


getting involved in politics is one thing, it might not be a long-term


career. I did say on many occasions to Elliott, quite often the bottom


line would always be, get a proper job. I was keen for him to get a


career outside of politics. As he developed and matured, as his skill


sets grew, he could come back into politics. And take it from there.


But I must also say when he came back to us in early June of this


year, and told us, announced to us, I suppose, he'd been offered a job


as a political editor, I was very proud. How does it feel for you now


to be thrown into the spotlight? You've turned detective in a way,


trying to figure out what happened. It's changed our lives, it will do


for ever, we lost our son, he was a wonderful chap. Lots of potential,


lots of friends. It all seems it is all to zero, in some respects. I'm


not the sort of person who would put it to one side and forget about it,


I want to get to the bottom of what happened to my son and I will fight


for his cause, fight for justice for him and the other activist. As the


days and weeks pass, I've realised many more youngsters were coming out


of the woodwork and saying they had also complained and nothing had been


done. This fight is for Elliott and his friends, many were his friends,


who have been intimidated, harassed, blackmailed, subjugated to sexual


abuse for a long time. Ray Johnson, thank you very much. Thank you.


Tonight, inevitably perhaps, came the first calls for


Jeremy Corbyn to quit as Labour Leader after some of his MPs


felt he was unable to contain the splits emerging in his party.


Mr Corbyn had given the parliamentary party until Monday


evening to decide whether to back air strikes in Syria - but two hours


ago he sent out an email to party members which appeared to bypass his


own MPS and speak - almost in the manner of a plebiscite


He's asking them if they back airtstrikes in Syria


and has asked them for their reply by early next week.


Here's our political editor Allegra Stratton.


It has been an extraordinary day in the history of the party. Hmm, mad.


Two Labour MPs called on Jeremy Corbyn to go. Quite mild mannered


characters. The reason for their deep upset, they feel activities


yesterday. So you had the meeting of the Shadow Cabinet, people felt it


was a mature process and you had an e-mail from the leader saying that


this was his view and he believed the air strikes should be opposed.


The Shadow Cabinet felt it was disrespectful to the meeting and


they hadn't reached a conclusion. Now, what has happened tonight is


another ploy, this direct e-mail trying to find out from members what


their opinion is and Jeremy Corbyn would like to hear back by next


week, ahead of the Parliamentary vote. This is in the view of many


people that I have spoken to another way of undercutting the view of the


Shadow Cabinet. My view, speaking to people today, is they will end up


having to have a free vote. That is where they will get to. The two


extreme positions are mental and cannot happen and they would lead to


chaos. One thought on the particular thing about the free vote is David


Cameron has said he won't bring it to Parliament unless he is certain


he will win it. If Labour has a free vote, it is unclear which way the


numbers fall. This is not just about Syria, now it is about the Syria


vote, but it is about leadership. In the last few months I have talked to


people about what happens when you have a leader who thinks one thing


on a variety of issue, his party disagrees, but the wider membership


agree. They have said what will happen is we will have a series of


direct polls. We seeing what one described as the Jeremy Corbyn coup


and you ignore the cabinet and keep asking these things. One more thing


is the front of The Times that we have been told about, Labour


opponents of Jeremy Corbyn have consulted lawyers about the


following, which is for a long time people have felt they can't mount a


challenge to Jeremy Corbyn because he would be allowed to stand in any


contest and roll over. So there would be no point in mounting a


challenge and he come back with a bigger mandate. Labour's lawyers


have told Labour opponents of Jeremy Corbyn that is not the case, that he


would not automatically get another xhans and that emboldens the people


who think this can't go on. The secret bid to joust Jeremy Corbyn.


My sources had been saying that the earliest anybody could move against


Jeremy Corbyn was after May's election. Now, I'm hearing from


people who say it could be as early as after the result of next


Thursday's Oldham by-election. That takes us Toon interesting point.


Of course, it's the parliamentary Labour Party


that gets to vote on the issue of whether and how to go to war.


But if Jeremy Corbyn is right, then much of the party - away from


Westminster - would actually support HIS reluctance in this call to arms.


He will face his first electoral test in the shape of a


John Sweeney went there to test the political water and see what


the people of Oldham feel about Labour's fortunes right now.


The nation is on the edge of going to war. The security of the Middle


East and Europe is at issue. In the making of an MP, all politics is


local. Welcome to not so sunny Oldham. There is a by-election next


week and it is interesting, it is Jeremy Corbyn's first test as leader


of the Labour Party. It is also whether Westminster bubble collides


with ordinary British life. Oldham west was one of the safest Labour


seats in the country. Not any more. This time you will vote Ukip why?


Because of the... Just the country on a whole. I think they're letting


too many refugees in. Around the corner from Ukip's campaign HQ,


support seems strong. Are you concerned about Jeremy Corbyn's line


on Isis and suicide bombers and shoot-to-kill? Yes. I think the only


way to deal with people like that is like with like. You know, no


apeacement. Ukip's contender is John Bickley. Will you win? Why not? We


shouldn't be at the races here, neither should anyone else it has


been a Labour heart lapd for 70 years. Jeremy Corbyn is toxic here.


Something is going on in Labour heartland they feel betrayed by the


Labour Party. You get elected, do we, o' do the British bomb Isil in


Syria? How would you vote? Well I would find out what my leadership is


considering to do. We have learned our lessons that in the Middle East


what looked to be the right idea has turned into something bad. Isil


arguably have been able to use the west's intervention in Iraq and


Afghanistan as a recruiting sergeant. This sounds a bit


wishy-washy to me. Where does Ukip stand? I said to be fair, it is


above my pay grade. Mr Cars Well and my leader will issue a formal


statement about our response. I will remember my position in the high


arky and defer to them. I'm the Conservative candidate. I won't be


voting Conservative. That is not a problem. Can I leave this? No Thank


you for opening the door. Goodbye. Am I trying to find somebody that is


in or just knocking on at doors. Blue anorak thing, canvas shoes. Is


this the look of a want to be Conservative MP? This I my look. For


good or for bad. The man is James Daley, the Tories came third last


time. Are you worried and Ukip. I want to help people and solve local


problems. If is that your motivation, what is what my mind is


concentrating on. Other parties will do what they want to do. I want to


say there is somebody here with a plan and who is representing those


issues and is concerned about those issues that mat tore you. If you


with are like me, I will act upon them. Labour's champ Jim McMahon


went to Labour college. A safe place for him to canvas you would think.


Hello you naughty smoker, who do you think will win? Ukip from what is


happening with Isis, what they're saying seems to be right. Ukip.


Possibly Ukip. I was lucky to get an apprenticeship as a technician


sl... . Have you a copy of chairman Mao's book. No but I have the Oldham


Tories guide. You supported Liz McKendal as leader. I haven't told


anybody I voted for. I voted for every candidate. Was Jeremy Corbyn


your No 1 choice. I like you a lot, but this is a new relationship. You


have to appreciate my point of view. Jeremy Corbyn is the leader and


providing a new sense of what politics should be and he is a man


of conviction. Would you vote in favour of bombing Isis? I'm clear


that the fundamental responsibility of government is to look after the


well being and safety of its sit zeps. I -- citizens. The bar has to


be high for the right reasons. The weight of military carries a massive


responsibility to make sure we use it in the right way. The Liberal


Democrats lost their deposit at the general election. We couldn't seek


to their candidate, but this MP who had just been out canvassing People


are saying they have been Labour, but don't like Jeremy Corbyn. Seeing


the chaos there is with his own Shadow Cabinet walking out when he


speaks in Parliament. Quite extraordinary stuff. But again


they're looking for an alternative and the people that are saying


they're coming forward in that role is the Liberal Democrat's candidate.


Newsnight best guess is that local lad gym McMahon will squeak home for


Labour with a reduced majority. But it is possible that Labour could


lose here. The voters of Oldham go to the polls next week and the


question is will Jeremy Corbyn be getting an early Christmas present


or will he find a lump of coal in his sock? Five, four, three, two,


one! So will tonight be seen


as a key turning point for labour? The night


the party proved it wasn't scared of a new kind of politics in which


members, not members of Parliament Or is it now in danger of writing


itself off as a pressure group that looks in danger of falling apart -


under the first sign of pressure. Joining me now Shelley Asquith,


Corbyn supporter and campaigner, Phil Collins,


former Blair Speechwriter, Sorry Shelley Asquith is stuck in


traffic. First this e-mail. Gavin, is it good to be reaching not just


to his MPs, but to all those who have put him where he is now? Yes,


the only problem, of course we know what Jeremy Corbyn's position is and


the consultation won't change that. I think the concern will be that


consultation is trying to change the minds of people who on a matter of


principle can't see eye to eye. I would oppose military intervention,


but I think it is frankly untenable that we as a party can't express a


collective view on the issue. But an interesting perspective for somebody


who stay, yes, in this politic, I ask for Labour members not just the


MPs there is something in that? Jeremy Corbyn has two claims on the


Labour Party. First he is a man of principle and he has a clear view on


war. But that contradicts the other claim he has on the Labour Party


that we are going to have a big heated debate, because what happens


if that heated debate brings out something that contradicts your


principle. You can't hold both at the same time. He is finding this


contradiction, because he has entered politics for the first time,


is starting to tell on him and he has to come to a decision otherwise


the Labour Party will end up with no position on the question. There is a


possibility that the voices of Shadow Cabinet are overshadowing


other MPs like Gavin who doesn't support the air strikes. You don't


think you're one of ten, but 50%. Yes in politics you have to command


the support of the people your leading and my own view is that we


would be better to face up we have a fundamental disagreement in an area


where there is a history of people disagreeing and going when they have


to and facing up to people and being honest. That means whip it, say we


are not going to support the air strikes, and then what? Face the


resignations? Yes or abstentions of some of the front bench. This has


been coming for a long time. There are a number of disagreements and


Jeremy Corbyn needs to commands the support of the people around him or


we will be nowhere. I think they will end up with a free vote. The


only way to get through it is to have a free vote. The down side is


the Labour Party doesn't have a view on war. But that will fade. It


becomes a joke party on a major issue. But that is an improvement on


the current situation. The other option is that Jeremy Corbyn could


decide to lead and say this is my view, you know what it is, I have


held it for 30 years, and therefore you're going to have to walk


through. When you ends up it may be that the shadow cab net members vote


against it but don't resign. Shelley Asquith, it is unfair to pull you in


like this. You have jumped out of car. Where is Jeremy Corbyn now,


people are saying as soon as you're not listening to your MPs, you stop


behaving like a political party and look like a pressure group. Hundreds


of thousands of people voted for Jeremy Corbyn and I got an e-mail to


say what do you think as a Labour Party member we should be doing. It


is great that Jeremy Corbyn is opening up the party and picking up


what people think on this and showing leadership. If he wasn't,


people would be saying he is not showing leadership. You have got a


politician who has got principles and sticks to them and people say he


is not showing leadership. He is not sticking to anything yet. You know


he has stop the war and will be antiwar. We know exactly what he


this. But we don't know what he is going to do and he has to do things.


He has never had to do anything in his life and simply has to talk. Now


he has to act and make a decision. What is the position of the Labour


Party. It maybe that all the e-mails will come and say everybody agrees


with me, so we are going to whip it through the House of Commons. Fine.


He is the leader of the Labour Party and he has the right to do that. It


is unfair to say he hasn't had to do it. He has been an MP for many


years. In opposition to everything. Not everything but some Labour Party


MPs haven't learned from the mistakes that we made. Does it


matter when you see that Hilary Benn or Tom Watson or others in his


Shadow Cabinet don't support the leader. There is a a problem? If


they don't support him, should they resign? I'm not going to say they


should resign or be sacked. I don't know what will happen within the


Shadow Cabinet. But they need to listen to the will of their


supporters and not necessarily jshg coming down on them -- Jeremy Corbyn


coming down on them. Over 70% of Labour Party members don't agree we


should be bombing Syria and look what happened with Iraq and


Afghanistan. Seem seem to happily to have forgotten how much anger there


was about Iraq and it is becoming a judgment of whether Jeremy Corbyn


has leadership as opposed to whether it is about the war. I I don't think


they have forgotten. Iraq hangs over the whole thing. The reason it is


difficult to get a vote is about Iraq. I think Iraq is overall of


this. But it is still remains the case that the Labour Party is now in


a mess and Jeremy Corbyn has to finds a way out. How does it feel


from the inside, do you think it is overstated the idea of the chaos


within? Or do you think you're look fog leadership that isn't there. As


an MP I will make my judgment based on the evidence and the loneliest


place is making that decision to go to war or not. Which ever judgment


you make, you're going to make it on you own. Do you need a leadered who


tells you what you think. Or do you want to be left alone? I think there


is nothing wrong with walking away from a whipped position. Jeremy


Corbyn has done it for 30 years. But it is no tenable for us to be a


party of opposition, or a Parliamenty that wants to be in


government if we are not willing to express a collective view on


something as important as this. There will be resignations. I would


want to avoid it, but the only way to do it is count the number of MPs.


It would be remarkable if a shadow Foreign Secretary did not agree with


the whipped position of the party. It would be unprecedented. This


chaos is foreshortening Jeremy Corbyn's time as leader. You showed


the The Times that pointed out that there is already MPs looking for


legal challenges to see whether they can force him off the ballot.


Whether this a right or wrong, that is starting to surface. It is


starting to happen and he has to have a position that getses him


through Mondays with the Labour Party's cred ibiibility intact. We


will bring you back on mobds on Tuesday. - Mondays or Tuesday. Thank


you. And now for Artsnight - which this


week is presented by Conservative MP The author of the book Ghosts


of Empire, Kwasi explores how Britain's imperial expansion changed


the shape of art history. He talks to


the Booker Prize winning novelist Peter Carey about the Australian


colonial experience - while comedian Shazia Mirza explores the colourful


legacy of Indian fabric. London in the 21st century is


a metropolitan, multicultural city.


In-depth investigation and analysis of the stories behind the day's headlines with Emily Maitlis. The latest on the Conservative Party bullying allegations, Labour splits on Syria and John Sweeney reports on the Oldham by-election.

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