Friday, March 24, 2023

Former Mayor “launches” scathing attack on Thurrock Tories

THE FORMER Mayor of Thurrock cllr Ian Harrison has launched a scathing attack on local Conservatives after his expulsion from the party last week.

In documents seen by YourThurrock, the Corringham and Fobbing councillor seems to believe that in-fighting and factionalism have cost the group power in Thurrock Council.

YourThurrock understands that cllr Harrison was expelled for refusing to campaign for Stephen Metcalfe and Jackie Doyle Price in the May general election as well as absenting himself from the chamber when Mayor Anne Cheale tabled a motion of no confidence in their leader, Garry Hague. All charges that, we understand, he continues to deny vigorously.

In a passionate defence of Tory principles, the statement refers to why he joined the party in the first place.

‘I am proud to have been a member of the Conservative Party for over fifty years. I have always believed in defending the liberties of our country, in working to defend the rights of individuals and communities under the law, in assisting those most in need of help without penalising everyone through excessive controls, taxation and regulation and in working with others inside and outside the party to make Britain a better place.”

The statement then goes on to assert that the in-fighting started just after the groups surprise victory in 2004.

“In 2004, efforts were made to undermine Anne Cheale’s authority and to advance the personal aims and ambitions of others, regardless of how far they served the interests of the people of our borough.

“Factionalism has grown and the group has become increasingly divided and ineffective. If we had done our work with proper respect for one another, we should not have lost credibility or control last spring.”

Cllr Harrison joins a long list of “Tory rebels” who have left the group. Terry Hipsey went to the Labour group; Kay Hipsey went to UKIP; Anne Cheale and Stuart St-Clair-Haslam went to the Concerned Conservatives. Ian Harrison may well join them.

YourThurrock contacted Tory leaders Garry Hague and Amanda Arnold but they have not replied at the time of going to press.

Editorial Comment

1. To make an omlette, first you got to break a few eggs……..

Chair of South Basildon and East Thurrock Assocation, Mike Revell is widely admired for his organisational skills. The present situation may appear to be a purge but it was Mike who made sure Pauline Tolson defeated Tony Benson in 2007, Danny Nicklen defeated Gordon Gambier in 2008 and Phil Anderson defeated Phil Smith in 2010.

With ambitious, able and astute candidates such as Mark Coxshall and Shane Hebb waiting in the wings, many believe that Mike’s “Perestroika” is the best chance of the Tories winning back power. With Labour struggling to even find candidates, a certain ruthlessness may be necessary.

2. The question is, what about the West?

Many will look at the charges levelled against Ian Harrison with respect of the General Election campaign and ask whether the same charges could have been considered appropriate for John Cowell, Amanda Wilton, Wendy Herd and Steven Veryard.

This particular reporter recalls the visit of Andrew Mitchell MP to Rates Ford in Hogg Lane. As Jackie Doyle Price stood there with only the hard working Charlie Key and Eddie Hardiman for company, we felt JDP didn’t seem to have much chance of winning the election. Clearly nor did most of those in the Thurrock Tory association.

At 4.56pm on that Friday, Jackie looked like a lost orphan. By 9am on Friday May 7th she appeared to have the biggest extended family in Thurrock. It is a comparison, not lost on Jackie.

Rob Gledhill, Joy Redsell and Ben Maney were staunch and loyal foot soldiers but others let themselves and the party down badly.

Indeed, since then, John Cowell has only attended one council meeting and many have questioned whether we will see a Aveley by-election before too long.

However what binds them together is ironically the heart of the problem: they are not, to a man, Conservatives. They may not know Edmund Burke, Robert Peel, Michael Oakeshott or Ian Gilmour if they hit them over the head with Maggie Thatcher’s handbag.

They may, as one Tory themselves described them as “simply fellow travellers bound together for a touch of social climbing and a new frock at the civic awards”. Harsh words indeed but that is a Tory describing Tories and not, we stress our own.

What is revealed in Ian Harrison’s statement is a fundamental understanding of Conservative principles. His problems is that he crossed the Machiavelli of Bulphan and has paid the price.

3. Who is next?

Mike Revell appears to have got it in his mind that “Nice Guy” Eddie Hardiman took away his chance of becoming Deputy Mayor this year and so ending  any chance of ending his political career as Mayor of Thurrock in 2011.

He may have in his mind that Eddie is at worst “not one of us and not to be trusted”. Eddie is up for re-election in Stanford next year. YourThurrock understands that the association are keeping him dangling and have yet to fully endorse his candidacy.

To many it is not beyond the realms of possibility that Eddie may consider his position. If there is one word to describe Eddie, then is is “survivor”. You understimate him at your peril.


Where would we be without the Thurrock Tories? They may well come back. The east is under control. The west may well be sorted. There are winnable seats in May 2011 and they also have a threadbare Labour group who, as each meeting proves, have a few very classy performers followed by a very long tail indeed (and we haven’t even mentioned Belhus)

To be continued……


  1. This is an interesting collection of comments.
    Firstly we have:
    “With Labour struggling to even find candidates, a certain ruthlessness may be necessary”
    Surely, if Labour are struggling to find candidates now would be the time for the Conservatives to concentrate upon policy rather than personality, but apparently not.
    Then in the second section it becomes clear that the Conservatives are social climbers, with little interest in principles and public service, only interested in personal gain.
    Finally, it becomes clear that Mike Revell is working to an agenda of increasing his personal power so that he can remove those he thinks have done him wrong; rather than working constructively to improve life for the people of Thurrock.
    This is not a description of anyone I would want in charge of anything close to a public service, and I would like thank Michael for identifying so clearly why anyone with any sense of civic duty should not vote for these people ever again!

  2. How could Ian Harrison have been expelled from the South Basildon and East Thurrock Conservative Association last Friday when he had resigned from it weeks ago? Where is the evidence that he refused to work for Stephen Metcalfe in South Basildon? None has been produced. Why should he be required to work in another constituency for Jackie Doyle-Price? Where is the evidence that he was ever asked to do so? None has been produced. Why did Mike Revell and the other officers of SBET indicate in mid-August that an expulsion motion was to be moved on 1st October but give no details for over a month? Why were all the charges against Ian Harrison simply wrong in fact? I don’t know who thinks of Mike Revell as the Machiavelli of Bulphan but there are plenty of episodes in his and his wife’s political past he would not want discussed. Ask him about the press release on the front page of the old Thurrock Express on 25 February 1977 and who typed it? Ask him about his claims that he forced Thurrock Council to sell Council houses before legislation was passed when he was trying to become a European Parliament candidate? Ask her about how she joined the party in May 1977 and tried to get on the Parliamentary candidates’ list six months later? Ask him about his support for the independent candidate in the Chafford ward election in 2000? Not so much Machiavelli, more Clouseau!

  3. Let us be clear on the facts:
    1. Ian Harrison was not expelled from the South Basildon and East Thurrock Conservative Association because he had resigned from it well before its Executive Council met on 1st October.
    2. The charges Mike Revell and the other officers of the Association had intended to bring against Ian Harrison were wrong on the facts – for example, he was charged with having failed to vote on 19th May against the motion of no confidence in Gary Hague as leader of Thurrock Council. No such motion was moved on that date; no debate was held; and no vote was taken. The Essex Chairman, Tim Wilkinson, was not even there despite Mike Revell’s claims that he was. There was no evidence to sustain the charge that Ian Harrison had failed to help in either Basildon or Thurrock in the General Election campaign and none either that he had wrongly returned as members people who had ceased to be such. in any case, it was just as well for the officers that Ian Harrison could not get to the meeting.
    3. Corringham and Fobbing branch was the only one in the western part of the constituency that Revell and his allies have not been able to control. It was the base for Anne Cheale as Councillor and opponent of the Revells. It was also the home territory of Ian Harrison who has never been under the influence of the Revells. The aim of getting rid of the branch has been obvious ever since the Local Government Committee was created in 2009 with control over the selection of candidates and in formulating local election policies. Too few people in SBET realised the implications then or for the future. But they will understand in the near future.
    4. Many people who had done little or nothing in the General Election campaigns in South Basildon and East Thurrock or in Thurrock proper have been left completely alone. No recriminations have been uttered against them and no action has been taken in their cases. The reasons are obvious. This whole recent manoeuvre simply targeted Anne Cheale and Ian Harrison.
    5. The SBET has just over two hundred members. Only one branch (Orsett) has significant financial muscle. The Association depends on Orsett branch for its continuing existence. Stephen Metcalfe as candidate and now as an M.P. depends in the last resort on the Orsett branch to keep the Association going. Right now, the Revells and Orsett branch have a lot of influence. But whether this is going to last is quite another matter. I suspect not because the young Turks in Conservative Future are not going to become old Turkeys before they realise what is going on.


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