War of words as Tory party constituency association moves to select General Election candidate
Political warfare and skulduggery appears to have broken out over the selection of a Conservative candidate to stand at the General Election for the very safe Devizes constituency seat. One candidate in particular is now being discussed openly on social media.
The three candidates going before Saturday's closed selection meeting are Danny Kruger, Antonia Cox and Sir Ashley Fox. On social media Danny Kruger is referred to as being 'parachuted' into the constituency. His CV has been leaked and is being commented on and analysed.
Old Etonian Danny Kruger is currently Boris Johnson's Political Secretary: "As Political Secretary to the Prime Minister I am responsible for supporting his relations with the Party and with Parliament. I am part of the senior team at No 10 with a role in developing policy, strategy and communications for the Government."
He is 44 years-old. In his leaked CV for the selection process he says: "I love Devizes. Although not a local - I grew up 50 miles away in the Cotswolds - I know the area well having visited friends and family around Pewsey, Marlborough and Bedwyn for years. My wife and I would be overjoyed to buy a home here for our young family and to become part of the community."
Someone who is very cross about Tory HQ 'parachuting' him towards Devizes, has added notes - in capital letters - to his CV. For example: "Although not a local [NO KIDDING]....become part of the community [HOW NICE]."
In addition an anonymous analysis of his CV has appeared on Twitter - apparently by a constituency party member. It includes this:
"My contacts at Westminster say he's probably not a Tory and borderline Remainer...There's no doubt in my mind he's a wet Tory but he could be a Leaver for social reasons not economic. He worked for David Cameron and is definitely on the Nikki Morgan, Amber Rudd side of the party."
The tweets get pretty angry with one person tweeting: "Kruger is as Tory as Paddy Ashdown. There's no way he should be the candidate." Another person writes: "God he's never had a real job. Don't touch him Devizes."
Before joining the Johnson team, Danny Kruger was a Senior Fellow at the Legatum Institute think tank in London. He read History at Edinburgh University and received a DPhil in History from Oxford University in 2000.
First, we will get this out of the way: his mother is the celebrity cook and Bake Off judge Prue Leith. There was a bit of a 'jobs for the mothers' rumpus when in August Boris Johnson asked her to have yet another go at sorting out hospital food - a task nearly as risky as sorting out school food.
From 2001 to 2003 Danny Kruger was Director of Studies at the Centre for Policy Studies. He worked as a speech writer for Iain Duncan Smith for his last two months as Conservative leader and from 2004 until the 2005 General Election he worked in Conservative Central HQ's Policy Unit.
At the 2005 General Election he was the Conservative candidate in Tony Blair's Sedgefield constituency. But he was forced by the then party leader Michael Howard to stand down after he said the Tories planned to introduce "a period of creative destruction in the public services."
That year he became chief leader writer at The Daily Telegraph, but left in 2006 to be speechwriter for David Cameron - then leader of the Opposition. And he penned the famous 'hug a hoodie' line for Cameron.
After that he founded, with his wife Emma, Only Connect - a charity which works with former prison inmates to prevent reoffending through getting them into work and establishing stable personal relationships. He also founded the charity West London Zone for Children and Young People, a place-based early intervention project.
In the past he has been a vocal supporter of the legalisation of cannabis. In his youth, he had what The Daily Telegraph called a 'colourful past'. He once edited a magazine called Intercourse that included photos of three naked students and an advertisement for a massage parlour - which all caused him a bit of bother.
Back to politics: in 2007 he wrote a pamphlet for the Institute for the Study of Civil Society. It was titled On Fraternity: Politics Beyond Liberty and Equality.
This, in party political terms, was his call for the Conservatives to capture the concept of fraternity from the Labour Party - along with their fraternity based agenda and policies.
Where does he stand on Brexit? "I voted leave in 2016." And today he has the backing of former Tory MP Douglas Carswell: "Danny Kruger was for Brexit before the term was being used. I've known him for years and he's been a great supporter of the Leave cause."
The other two candidates are:
Since 2012 Antonia Cox has been a Conservative Councillor for the Hyde Park Ward of Westminster City Council.
She has a degree in philosophy and history from Cambridge. Her first job was in the City of London with Morgan Grenfell - and she worked for a while in their New York office.
She first campaigned for the Conservatives in 1983. She is co-founder of the Marylebone Boys' School, a Free School, and is Vice Chairman of its Governors.
She has lived - with her husband - in the Hyde Park Ward for nearly 20 years. They have three grown-up sons.
In 2004 she wrote a paper entitled The Best Kit for the Policy Exchange - arguing for better support for Britain's armed forces. And in February 2010, she published a pamphlet entitled More Bang For the Buck - How we can get better value from the defence budget. At the time she was a financial analyst, banking correspondent for The Daily Telegraph and a leader writer for The Evening Standard (2001-2010).
In 2011 she also wrote a papers for the 'independent, non partisan think tank' ResPublica (founded by Phillip Blond in 2009). One was on volunteering in the Big Society The other was Natural Policy Choices: Why trees and wood matter : "With the total economic, social and environmental value of UK woodland running to some £2bn a year, the report highlights new opportunities to capture and utilise that value for communities."
This report came just after the Coalition Government abandoned its controversial plans to privatise England's public forests. Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman admitted to Parliament "...we got this one wrong."
At the 2010 General Election, she stood as Conservative candidate for the Islington South & Finsbury constituency. We are told she increased the Conservative vote by 80 per cent. And so she did. From 4,594 votes in 2005 to 8,449 in 2010 - the Conservatives' share of the vote rising from 14.8 per cent to 19.4 per cent. But that was no match in 2010 for Emily Thornberry's 18,407 votes and the LibDems' Bridget Fox with 14,838 votes.
She grew up in a village south of Andover and in the last few days has been working hard to sort out her local connections in and around Marlborough. Her Twitter account has a pinned tweet with a photo:
"With my father in Marlborough reminiscing about a school trip there, and visiting the White Horse Bookshop. "
Another tweet shows she has visited a farm to meet "...some of Mueller Wiseman's best suppliers near Wootton Rivers (plus photo of herself with cows) and there's another tweet with a photo of her in front of a very green hedge: "Enjoying the autumn colours near Burbage."
Her Twitter account is headed with a photo of her standing beside Boris Johnson.
As a Councillor she has declared a beneficial interest in three leasehold properties - one in London W1 and two in London W2. Her husband is a minority shareholder in Iridium Topco Ltd which works in the distribution of television programmes.
She is a non-executive director of the Student Loans Company and declares income from 'occasional freelance journalism and public relations advice'.
Sir Ashley Fox was Conservative MEP for the South West of England & Gibraltar constituency from 2009-2019. He now runs a company called Ashley Fox Consulting Ltd which he set up in September 2018.
He was educated at The King's School Worcester and studied law at Bristol Polytechnic (or the University of the West of England - records differ) 1987-1990.. He sat his solicitors' final exams at Chester College of Law. He then practised as a solicitor in Bristol for fifteen years - specialising in insurance litigation.
He was the Conservative candidate for Bath at the 2001 General Election. He came second to Don Foster (Liberal Democrat) who took 50.5 per cent of the votes to Fox's 29.1 per cent. The Conservative share of the vote fell by 2.1 percentage points from the 1997 General Election.
He lives in Bristol and for eight years was a Councillor on Bristol City Council.
While he was an MEP he was Chief Whip of the European Conservatives and Reformists Group from 2010-2014 and he was leader of the Conservatives in the European Parliament fro 2014 to 2019.
After losing his seat as an MEP at the 2019 Euro Elections, he wrote a goodbye message to his supporters: "I am frustrated that so many MPs, elected on manifestos to respect the referendum, have in fact done everything possible to block our exit from the EU. The message from the voters is clear - get Brexit done."
He was knighted in Mrs May's resignation honours for political and public service. Her list infuriated Nigel Farage who ranted about it on his LBC radio programme in September. As he went through the names with real - or perhaps fake? - fury he let fly:
“Oh and Ashley Fox...leader of the Conservative delegation of the European Parliament, they came fifth in the election, they got 9 percent of the votes. The worst Conservative result in a national election for 200 years. They’re reduced to four MEPS, but that’s okay. Have a knighthood.”