Depth of anger with MP and party headquarters revealed

Anne McIntosh on the campaign trail
Anne McIntosh on the campaign trail
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ANNE McIntosh’s opponents in North Yorkshire branded her “badly mannered and divisive” in a furious letter to Conservative Party headquarters as they fought to have her de-selected last year.

Peter Steveney, chair of Thirsk and Malton Conservative Association, revealed the depth of anger among grassroots Tories in North Yorkshire at both Miss McIntosh and Conservative Party headquarters in a furious diatribe to the central office last summer.

Mr Steveney, who has led the local Tory campaign to oust the MP, was responding to an internal Conservative Party inquiry into the Thirsk and Malton row last year which concluded he had broken party rules by bringing new members onto the local association’s executive board, shortly before it voted on Miss McIntosh’s readoption.

His letter insisted he had been acting entirely on the advice of regional party officials when he reorganised the association, and savaged the internal report for its conclusion that grassroots members had not fully understood the role of an MP when making their complaints.

“This section of the report is, quite simply, a whitewash,” Mr Steveney wrote, accusing Miss McIntosh of “a consistent pattern of non-co-operation, non-communication, bad manners and divisive behaviour.

“There is no mention at all of the past history... presenting a clear record of dissatisfaction and confrontation surrounding Anne McIntosh over a long period of time,” he wrote.

“The suggestion that complainants lacked a proper understanding of the role of an MP is extraordinarily arrogant and condescending towards association officers who have worked for many years as party volunteers – and merits a straightforward apology from the panel, which we look forward to receiving.”

Mr Steveney – who is due to stand down as association chairman next month – told the Yorkshire Post earlier this week the letter was never even acknowledged by CCHQ.

Miss McIntosh’s supporters have rubbished the claims, describing her opponents as “gentry” who do not want a female MP.

Her de-selection, following a ballot of local members last night, means David Cameron has now lost his fifth female MP going into the next election, with four of his 2010 intake having either announced plans to step down next year or having resigned already.

Mr Cameron is desperate to increase the number of female MPs in the party from its current level of just 16 per cent.

Speaking to the Yorkshire Post, Labour leader Ed Miliband said the Conservatives were “going backwards” with their modernisation plans. “I know Anne McIntosh reasonably well,” he said. “I have decent relations with Conservative MPs, sometimes better than the Prime Minister. I think she’s a decent person.

“I think there’s a wider issue the Tory party faces on the role of women and whether they are going forwards or backwards on that agenda. We are pushing forward with party reform, showing we can modernise the Labour Party, and David Cameron hasn’t really modernised the Conservative Party - they are going backwards.”

Jon Ashworth MP, Labour’s shadow Cabinet Office Minister, added: “What on earth is the Conservative Party’s problem with women?

“With Anne McIntosh de-selected, the Tories look set to lose their only female MP in the whole of Yorkshire.

“David Cameron has done nothing to stand up for one of his most senior women MPs. His silence speaks volumes at a time when many people are asking why the Conservative Party is so out of touch.”