Reigate's shocked middle classes learn to love a rebel
Sunday 25 July 1993
Sir George, convenor of Thatcherite Maastricht dissenters, last week carried his Conservative association with him through the lobbies. 'He represents his local party's unhappiness with the federal implications of the treaty, and supports the Government when it has to be supported,' said Richard Bennett, leader of Reigate Tory councillors.
It was a neat summary of the Gardiner voting record, implicitly critical of a Government which many Conservative voters in the constituency want punished, if not ditched. Money talks in Surrey; Maastricht is an irrelevant misdemeanour and the local MP is unlikely to lose much local support. 'He voted to stop the social contract, didn't he?' one man said. 'He was in favour of us having the same rights as employees in Europe,' said another.
Sir George anticipated last week's quarrels more than a year ago when he asked each of the 24 members of the Tory association executive for their views. Some told him that the 17,664 majority in the 1992 general election sent him to Westminster to support the Government. It was his duty as MP to maintain that support.
But a majority of executive members were critical of the treaty and the Government's handling of the European issue. Too little information had caused indifference and ignorance of the significance of Maastricht. 'At Westminster, Sir George has passed on the views of his constituency party,' one activist said.
'He's not going to be in any trouble, but the party has got problems in Reigate. Everybody now knows somebody who has been made redundant, and everybody knows somebody with negative equity in their house.'
The unemployed are professional, managerial and profoundly upset. This was never meant to happen to solicitors or accountants, and the culture shock is potentially disastrous for the Tories. Dissent has rediscovered its voice in middle class Surrey. Yesterday, Greenpeace was expecting a record attendance at its fair in Redhill.
- 1 Tourist films plane's descent just metres above packed Caribbean beach
- 3 World Book Day: Boy 'excluded' from school after dressing up as Fifty Shades' Christian Grey
- 4 Bad Jews poster 'censored' on London Tube
- 5 Have sex with your iPad thanks to the new sex toy no-one asked for
Tourist films plane's descent just metres above packed Caribbean beach
Indian woman creates 'Marriage CV' after parents put her on dating site: 'Definitely not marriage material. Won’t grow long hair, ever'
Isis 'bulldozes' Nimrud: UNESCO condemns destruction of ancient Assyrian site as a 'war crime'
Professor Brian Cox brands astrology-believing Tory MP David Tredinnick an 'outlier on the spectrum of reason'
Lynch mob kills suspected rapist in India after dragging him naked for four miles through city
Nearly 100,000 of Britain's poorest children go hungry after parents' benefits are cut
Durham Free School: 'Creationism taught at' free school facing closure
End of the licence fee: BBC to back radical overhaul of how it is funded
Elif Shafak: Turkish author warns against rise of British nationalism
Ex-head of MI6: 'We shouldn't kid ourselves that Russia is on a path to democracy'
Most people think legal tax avoidance is just as wrong as illegal tax evasion, poll suggests
£65000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Technical Presales Engineer - central London ...
£20000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Physiotherapist / Sports Ther...
£8 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives / Advisors are required...
£14000 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for a...