A GROUP of female Conservative activists have disbanded a key fundraising committee over the “appalling treatment” of Yorkshire’s only Tory woman MP.
In a move that has stunned party bosses, Thirsk and Malton Conservative Association’s Women's Committee voted to dissolve itself at its annual general meeting, following Anne McIntosh being deselected by her constituency association earlier this year.
The deselection followed a feud between the MP and the leaders of the association in the safe Tory constituency, in which Miss McIntosh’s supporters claim she was subjected to a campaign of dirty tricks, partly motivated by sexism and elitism.
Retired Army major Peter Steveney, the association’s former chairman, has denied the allegations, while other former association leaders claimed they had found it impossible to work alongside Miss McIntosh, a North Yorkshire MP since 1997.
Mr Steveney also scotched suggestions the chairman of the Commons Environment, Food and Rural Affairs select committee had been branded “a silly little girl”.
Some of Miss McIntosh’s supporters said today (Friday, May 9) they would no longer support the association or the party.
In a joint letter sent to numerous media organisations, leading officers of the women’s committee, which stages events to raise funds to fight elections, said the move to disband was “due to the appalling treatment of our hard working and very visible member of parliament Miss Anne McIntosh by most of the elected officers of the association”.
It stated: “We have served all our members of parliament over several decades without fear or favour for the benefit of the Conservative Party at local level, but have been horrified at the sheer nastiness of most of the officers over several years.”
The committee’s former chairman, Suzanne Everett, a lifelong Conservative activist, said the committee’s members were dismayed having devoted large amounts of time and energy over decades into supporting the association.
Mrs Everett declined to give an example of how Miss McIntosh had been treated, but said on learning the MP had been deselected, she had resigned from the party, a move which is understood to have been made by numerous other constituency party members.
Supporters of the MP, who remains undecided over her political future, are urging her to stand as an independent at the next general election.
A party source said the fresh row would cause further damage to the embattled association.
A spokesman for the association said: “We have received notification that the constituency Women's Committee wish to disband, and we thank them for their efforts and continuing contributions.”