Last week, a Tory extremist burnt a £20 note in front of a homeless person.
Ronald Coyne, a communications officer of the Cambridge University Conservative Association, was filmed committing the atrocity after a night on the town with friends. He was expelled by the CUCA after the disturbing footage was circulated by the left-wing press.
At first, I tried to sweep the incident under the carpet. As a fellow Tory, I was afraid of retaliation. I was worried that some thug would rip off my blue rosette if I wore it in public. I thought pedestrians would yell “Tory scum!” at me as I walked by. I kept insisting to my peers that ours was the “Party of Peace”, that this event had “nothing to do with Conservatism”, that Coyne was a “lone wolf”.
Unfortunately, people aren’t that stupid. Coyne considered himself to be a Tory. He had a membership card that said he was a Tory. He socialised with other Tories. His snobbish antics echoed those of the ‘Bullingdon Club’, a vandalous Tory cell that once radicalised David Cameron, Boris Johnson and George Osborne. He might as well have been yelling “Maggie is greatest!” while he was doing it.
Desecrating the Queen’s face in front of rough sleepers is not condoned in our literature. But we cannot keep denying the problem exists when so many of our preachers have links to callous, toffee-nosed snobs. Everyone knows an extremist current runs through the very heart of our political faith.
Non-believers will think we’re all complicit if we don’t admit the facts. It will perpetuate the ‘us and them’ mentality, the suspicion, the idea that we are a fifth column. Moreover, we mustn’t ask for special laws to insulate ourselves, or refer to our critics as ‘racists’ just because Conservatives are overwhelmingly white. We are a voluntary, multi-racial, ideological group. Running away from reality only makes matters worse.
Instead of playing the victim, let’s be honest, open and balanced. Let’s point to the fact that Coyne was promptly disowned by his local sect. Let’s promote Conservative values whilst conceding to legitimate criticisms. Let’s denounce the concept of ‘Toryphobia’. As Conservatives by choice, we have a duty to clear the air.
I know it’s hard to speak out. I know the sensationalised reporting from Buzzfeed and Unilad doesn’t help. I know the anti-Tory comments on Twitter are distressing, and I know that hell hath no fury like an offended millennial. But we have to take the initiative and start building bridges. If we don’t, those who seek to divide us will win.
Charlie Richards is a political blogger
The views expressed in this article are that of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Conservatives for Liberty