Revolt over Surrey East Tory candidate 'secretly suppressed'
Have the Conservatives averted another local rumpus - this time in Surrey - over one of their Cameroon candidates?
I am hearing about a big revolt this week inside the Conservative association in Surrey East where they selected a candidate, Sam Gyimah, a few weeks ago.
On Tuesday evening the association held an emergency general meeting. The problem was an article which appeared recently in Private Eye making allegations about Mr Gyimah's businesses.
Two of his companies have gone bust, the magazine said, whilst another is badly in debt.
Local party members were furious that they weren't given this information at the time they selected Mr Gyimah, when he was presented to them as one of Britain's most successful young entrepreneurs.
But the Surrey East association was far from a happy ship to start with. Before they picked Mr Gyimah, who is black, as their candidate many local Tory activists were unhappy at the way they had been obliged to choose from a six-strong shortlist imposed on them by the party high command - a list which was notable (in conservative Surrey) for lacking any straight white men.
Some senior activists felt the shortlist was "too PC" and didn't adequately reflect the demographic make-up of the Surrey East constituency.
On Tuesday night, a Central Office official wielded the big stick with the Surrey East Conservatives, warning them that the local party would be disbanded if they tried to sack Mr Gyimah.
And local officers were told they would face strong disciplinary action if they spoke out about the crisis in public.
In particular, local and district councillors were warned they might lose the party whip if they breathed a word about the row to the media.
So the party decided they had better stick with Sam Gyimah.
In a statement about his business activities Mr Gyimah said: "Private Eye has inaccurately characterised my past business activity. I have been involved in two businesses as an entrepreneur. One company, Workology, was successfully restructured. The other company mentioned was Clearstone whose business difficulties began sometime after I relinquished management control.
"Sadly, the company had to sell off its assets and transfer staff and customers to a new company, at which point all of my links with the company were severed in full."
Whilst the situation at Clearstone was unfortunate, it happened after my involvement in running it. And, Workology is an example of successful, if not difficult, restructuring."