A Week in the Life of a (Zionist) Tory Agent
The Conservative Party in Manchester has a very limited membership. We find ourselves running the affairs of four constituencies, with only a handful of those members actually willing to devote their time to the 2015 campaign in four parliamentary constituencies, in addition to running 27 local government candidates for Manchester City Council and two candidates running for Salford City Council.
Our chairman, Nick Savage, runs the master control panel between his full-time duties training as a medical doctor, and preparing for his end-of-year exams. Peter Schofield, the backbone of Manchester Conservatives, who has been working in the party for over fifty years, complains than Nick sends too many emails, but what else can he do when the powers-that-be in the higher echelons of the party keep asking Nick for updates? I imagine Nick arriving home late at night, sitting in his chair and petting his white cat, like Max Von Sydow as Ernst Blofeld in the James Bond film Thunderball, saying, “Number 2, what have you got to report from Withington Constituency?”
Number 2 is of course my fellow deputy chairman, the ever-resourceful and enthusiastic Rob Manning, who runs around the country from Manchester to Bristol to London and back to his home in East Didsbury, working as a management consultant and running for parliament as our candidate for Withington. Rob works every Saturday in two of the so-called 40/40, actually 60/40, target seats, Hazel Grove and Cheadle constituencies. And he’s been doing these two seats for over a year. Then down to Withington. Then off to do endless hustings. Peter Schofield is Rob’s agent. He thinks Rob might burn out. He did actually burn out for one day. That’s one day off in over a year. And Rob’s also running for the council in East Didsbury. Ah, the life of a Tory candidate, activist, officer!
I am also running for the council, as Rob’s neighbouring candidate, in West Didsbury. Wilmslow Road is our “Iron Curtain,” but unlike the Americans and Russians during the Cold War, we work together. Didsbury Detente at its best. The main focus of my activities during this election campaign, however, is my life as an agent in the constituency of Blackley and Broughton, where I represent Michelle Tanfield-Johnson, the parliamentary candidate, in addition to seven local candidates. Here is a brief description of the last week in my life as a Tory agent in Manchester and Salford.
Last Monday, I had to attend a hustings in St Paul’s Church in Kersal, a ward at the Salford end of my constituency. Michelle couldn’t make it up from Cambridgeshire, so I found myself entering this beautiful, leafy neighbourhood to face seventy people who are regular church-goers.
The vicar, however, was awkward about my candidate’s absence and asked the locals if anyone objected to my speaking in her place. English snobbery? One woman strongly objected and my freedom of speech was limited. I was only allowed to answer half the questions. It was not exactly a lively affair. But it was civilised. The Ukip and Green candidates got all the cheers, which I found very disturbing. Populist politics is in fashion during this campaign and it’s easy to promise the world to the public, but the trouble always begins after the election, when the elected government is forced to come down to earth and live in the real world. Unlike Ed “everything but the kitchen sink” Miliband, Labour’s Graham Stringer was surprisingly down to earth.
I offered words of caution to the audience in the church on the subject of budget deficits: “All parties will make promises to end the years of running budget deficits and borrowing money to finance government spending. I find it hard to believe that the next government, whether Tory or Labour, will reduce the deficit to zero. Had we done this during the parliament that has just ended, the Coalition would have faced even greater protests against austerity. In truth, government spending has reached an all-time high in Britain. Over £740 billion. There is no austerity. We have reduced government spending as a percentage of the gross domestic product, but it would have been impossible to reduce the deficit any further without drastic cuts or massive and dangerous increases in taxation. You, the voters, have to decide whether you want Britain’s government to go on living beyond its means. If you want more from government, then taxes have to rise or the national debt will continue to rise. Higher taxes would destroy our economy and undermine our national wealth. Perhaps you, the public, should also take responsibility for our national debt. You will have to decide what duties you want government to take on, and what should be left to individual people, to take responsibility for your own lives and not depend on government to run your lives. That’s your decision. Otherwise our debt will continue to rise. The more you want from government, the higher will be your taxes. It’s your money, not the government’s. But this borrowing can’t continue forever.”
On Tuesday, I finished off writing the election address of our candidate in Kersal, Rabbi Arnold Saunders, who knows more people in Manchester than everyone I have ever met. He’s introduced me to Labour’s Tony Lloyd, the deputy police commissioner, and fellow interfaith champion Mohammed Afzal Khan, one of Manchester’s MEPs. A day with Rabbi Saunders is a day filled with meetings and cultural events from one end of Manchester to another end of Salford. And he’s always being interviewed on TV and radio. Our master plan is to get a Tory victory in his home ward of Kersal and add another Tory seat to Salford Council. Let’s see what happens.
On Wednesday, I attended a hustings sponsored by the Manchester Users Network, the main topic being mental health. As I walked up the stairs to St Peters Church and Chaplaincy on Oxford Road, near the university, I was greeted with cries of “Free Free Palestine”. Oh, no! It was the BDS anti-Israel brigade, who support Hamas terrorism and demonstrate, week-in and week-out, against the existence of the State of Israel. This Jew-hatred is something I find very disturbing, and I have helped defend the Manchester Jewish community and Jewish businesses against their attacks for the last year. The BDS mob has a picture of me on their website, accompanied by the words, “Don’t talk to this man.” The Palestine mafia followed me down the stairs into the meeting, chaired by Elaine Dunckley of the BBC. The audience hated me. I was the target of abuse in a room filled with Marxist revolutionaries and Islamists.
The other speakers came mostly from the extreme Left, including a fellow from the Communist League, who called for open borders and worldwide revolution. Nobody from the audience asked him why communism killed 100 million people during the 20th century and why his revolution would be any different. This communist actually praised the totalitarian dictatorship of Cuba as a “light unto the world.” The Green Party woman condemned Israel. Another extreme lefty condemned devolution for Greater Manchester as a conspiracy to undermine the working class. Capitalists and Jews were the villains in this room filled with Marxist revolutionaries. I supported DevoManc and the idea of an elected mayor of Greater Manchester, to cries of “Tory scum” from the room.
When asked if Muslims were persecuted, I was the only one who said this was not true. I condemned the Muslim hate-preachers in England who call for the destruction of Western civilisation and call for the introduction of sharia law. The Muslims in the audience did not like it when I pointed out that members of their community refuse to condemn the anti-Western message from the hate-preachers in the Wahhabi mosques. The audience went wild and yelled at me. I held my ground.
On the question of Trident, like the Labour and Ukip speakers, I came out in defence of our nuclear deterrent: “Russia has nuclear bombs. China has them. North Korea has them. And thanks to Obama, Iran (the most dangerous terrorist regime in the world) will soon go nuclear. So Trident should be renewed.” The communist rag-bags in the audience went wild when I mentioned Iran. Now I knew how Melanie Phillips must have felt when she said “neutralise Iran” to the condemnation of a large BBC Question Time audience. Is the British public turning into supporters of regimes who want to wipe us out? Certainly, the people at St Peter’s Church were on the side of our enemies. Let’s hope the radical Left stay on the fringes of British politics. However, the rise of the Green Party and the Scottish Nationalists is a sign that we may have a struggle on our hands in defending traditional British freedoms in the near future.
As I left the event, a young fellow in khakis sneered at me: “Zionist.” Ha, the rise of British anti-Semitism out of the communist gutter, I thought. “Yes”, I replied, “I’m a proud Zionist supporter. And you’re a racist anti-Semite!”
Thursday was spent campaigning in Crumpsall for my parliamentary candidate, Michelle, and our local mover and shaker on Cheetham Hill, Sham Raja Ahktar, a local businessman who has spent years as a Tory activist helping out the people of East Manchester, as it used to be called when Arthur Balfour was both Prime Minister and the MP for the area 110 years ago. I had a team of four people out there to deliver leaflets for both our candidates, although everyone complained about the size of Sham’s leaflets, which were A3 in size and very heavy to carry in bulk.
On Friday I attended a hustings with our Beijing-born candidate for the Manchester Central constituency, Xingang Wang. Xingang, who comes up to Manchester every week from his home in Surrey, has run a lively campaign in the city centre, supported by members of the Manchester and London Chinese communities. His agent, our website and Facebook/Twitter guru, Daniel Kallmunzer, runs around trying to organise Xingang’s multimedia activities in Manchester. That night, Xingang had to brave the same communist fellow-travellers at Friends Meeting House that I had to brave on Wednesday. Xingang is a true gentleman. He politely and passionately set out our party’s case to the audience, but his words went above their heads. I loved it when Xingang bravely repeated the words “long-term economic plan” three times during his final statement as the audience jeered him. Go on Xingang! Long live the your long-term economic plan!
On Saturday, I joined Xingang’s followers on a tour of Chinatown, followed by lunch at the Sweet Mandarin restaurant in the Northern Quarter. BBC World Service and news reporters from China’s CCTV news channel followed us around and interviewed Xingang about his campaign. The climax of the day, indeed the week, came with our tour of the Piccadilly backstreets and the unveiling of Xingang’s giant billboards on Great Ancoats Street and near Piccadilly train station, the gateway to London. I had to admit to Daniel that his candidate had topped us all with the huge image of Xingang’s face staring out at the streets of Manchester with his defining message of “Support long term economic plan. Support Manchester Powerhouse”. David Cameron would love this.
And finally, on Saturday evening, the week comes to an end. Arian, my Persian-born bodyguard, driver and election assistant, takes me on a late-night journey through the streets of the Manchester Gorton constituency. We are in search of one of the local election highlights: the trademark posters of our parliamentary candidate for Gorton, Mohammed Afzal. At last, on Stockport Road at midnight, I find one of Mohammed’s lifesize posters on a wall near a late-night supermarket. I take a photo as a memento and ride off into the night, safe with the knowledge that the candidate for Gorton is keeping a watchful, protective eye on the sleeping citizens of Manchester.
David Semple is deputy chairman of the Manchester Conservatives and was the local candidate for Didsbury West .
[The opinions, facts and any media content are presented solely by the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Manchester Users Network who hosted the hustings on the subject of NHS mental health cuts]
This article first appeared on Jewish Media Agency Blog.
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