Tory Lord Feldman to face questions about allegations he described grassroots activists as 'swivel-eyed loons'

 

The Conservative Party Chairman, Lord Feldman, has privately admitted speaking to journalists who reported a senior Tory figure describing local party activists as “swivel-eyed loons”, it emerged on Sunday.

The Independent understands that Lord Feldman does not deny having an informal conversation with journalists at a restaurant in London last Wednesday. But he insists that he never described Tory grassroots members as “all mad, swivel-eyed loons” – words attributed to a close ally of David Cameron over the weekend.

Amid increasing anger from some MPs and members of the Conservative volunteer party about the alleged comments on Sunday night, colleagues of Lord Feldman rallied around him and insisted that he should not resign.

But he is expected to be questioned on Monday about exactly what he did say to journalists at a Conservative Party board meeting. Brian Binley MP, who is a member of the Tory ruling body, said he would “be wanting to know more about it” when the group met.

“If this was said, by whoever, it would not surprise me,” he said. “Certainly the gap between the party leadership and the party’s voluntary sector in the country is sizeable. I have made that complaint again and again. There has been a disdainful view of the voluntary party.”

But one senior Tory warned that without Lord Feldman’s fundraising skills, local Conservative Associations would not have the money to effectively fight the next election – regardless of what he might or might not have said.

They said the party’s ability to raise money to fight a national campaign depended on his contacts in the business world and that the Conservatives would suffer organisationally as well as financially if he had to resign.

They added that Lord Feldman was “not political” and if he had made the comments widely attributed to him, then he was likely to be “reflecting the views of others” rather this own. “He might have made some sort of joke but I honestly don’t believe he would have meant it in the way in which it has been interpreted,” said one senior Tory who knows him well.

“He is not political and not someone who is used to talking to journalists. I know he does not have that disdain for the voluntary party and if he did say anything he is likely to be repeating somebody else has said.”

They continued: “Frankly the party would not exist financially if it wasn’t for him. He is the man who has developed the contacts and has kept our donors with us, even when most don’t like the publicity. It would be deeply damaging if he is forced out.”

Another Tory source pointed out that since being appointed, Lord Feldman had cleared the party’s debts and balanced the books every year for eight years.

The peer, who has been friends with Mr Cameron since they studied together at Oxford, was one of his first backers – giving £10,000 to his leadership campaign and securing the support of other businessmen.

After the leadership election, Mr Feldman became one of the Conservatives’ deputy treasurers and was promoted to be the party’s chief executive in 2008, a key role preparing the Tories for the 2010 election.

Once in Government, Mr Cameron made him a member of the House of Lords and gave him an office in Downing Street – a privilege never before bestowed on a party chairman.

News
people
News
people And here is why...
News
peopleStella McCartney apologises over controversial Instagram picture
Life and Style
Laid bare: the Good2Go app ensures people have a chance to make their intentions clear about having sex
techCould Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Burr remains the baker to beat on the Great British Bake Off
tvRichard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
News
i100
Sport
footballArsenal 4 Galatasaray 1: Wenger celebrates 18th anniversary in style
Arts and Entertainment
Amazon has added a cautionary warning to Tom and Jerry cartoons on its streaming service
tv
News
people
News
The village was originally named Llansanffraid-ym-Mechain after the Celtic female Saint Brigit, but the name was changed 150 years ago to Llansantffraid – a decision which suggests the incorrect gender of the saint
newsWelsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
Arts and Entertainment
Kristen Scott Thomas in Electra at the Old Vic
theatreReview: Kristin Scott Thomas is magnificent in a five-star performance of ‘Electra’
Life and Style
Couples who boast about their relationship have been condemned as the most annoying Facebook users
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Hayley Williams performs with Paramore in New York
musicParamore singer says 'Steal Your Girl' is itself stolen from a New Found Glory hit
News
i100
Life and Style
The spring/summer 2015 Louis Vuitton show for Paris Fashion Week
fashion
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Associate Recrutiment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: SThree Group have been well ...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + OTE: SThree: Real Staffing Group is seeking Traine...

Year 6 Teacher (interventions)

£120 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: We have an exciting opportunity...

PMLD Teacher

Competitive: Randstad Education Manchester: SEN Teacher urgently required for ...

Day In a Page

Italian couples fake UK divorce scam on an ‘industrial scale’

Welcome to Maidenhead, the divorce capital of... Italy

A look at the the legal tourists who exploited our liberal dissolution rules
Time to stop running: At the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity

Time to stop running

At the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity
Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

The vintage series has often been criticised for racial stereotyping
An app for the amorous: Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?

An app for the amorous

Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid. Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?

Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid

Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

After a few early missteps with Chekhov, her acting career has taken her to Hollywood. Next up is a role in the BBC’s gangster drama ‘Peaky Blinders’
She's having a laugh: Britain's female comedians have never had it so good

She's having a laugh

Britain's female comedians have never had it so good, says stand-up Natalie Haynes
Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LED lights designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows

Let there be light

Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LEDs designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows
Great British Bake Off, semi-final, review: Richard remains the baker to beat

Tensions rise in Bake Off's pastry week

Richard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
Paris Fashion Week, spring/summer 2015: Time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris

A look to the future

It's time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris
The 10 best bedspreads

The 10 best bedspreads

Before you up the tog count on your duvet, add an extra layer and a room-changing piece to your bed this autumn
Stuart Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

This deal gives England a head-start to prepare for 2019 World Cup, says Chris Hewett
Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?