The leader of the Conservative Party’s youth organisation has been called “patronising” and “snobbish” after insulting the diets of northerners, describing the party’s successes in the region as the “gravy revolution”.

The Tory website London Spin — previously the venue of appalling anti-gypsy racism — claimed that Conservative Future chair Ben Howlett has “committed to having chips and gravy with CF branches in the north”. Not for the first time, it was left to the blog’s readers to point out how out of touch this supposedly amusing campaign ruse is.

The comments from Howlett, who attended Cambridge University and lives in leafy Fulham, are redolent of long-standing Conservative attitudes to northern England. In 2010 the director of David Cameron’s favourite think tank Policy Exchange claimed the Tories required a “Yorkshire pudding offensive” to target “Greggs man”. This came two years after his wonks published a study suggesting that northern cities were “beyond revival” and residents should consider moving south.

Conservative attitudes to the regions clearly haven’t improved since Edwina Currie claimed northerners were dying of “ignorance and chips”.

  1. Steff,
    Perhaps you’d like to think things through before you post.
    His remark shows his, and his party’s ignorance of Britain’s regions.
    This is important as, you may know, these people are in power.

  2. As chairman of Hartlepool Conservative Future, I can assure you that you could not be any further from the truth when it comes to the Conservative Party and the north.

    In many cases the party and CF have been the voice or reason, honesty and common sense in Labour dominated areas. It is our duty to continue to challenge Labours complacency in the north and highlight that it was they who, in 13 years of government, failed to deliver real jobs, real investment and real prospects to the north.

    Trashy journalism like this does nothing bit help to keep less well off thinking Labour is the party that works for them, when in reality all they do is keep them down to secure their votes.

    P.S. You missed the part from Ben’s bio where he lived in Durham.

  3. @Shane Moore: We were perfectly well aware he went to university in Durham. As a graduate of Edinburgh, I can tell you its perfectly possible for people to cosset themselves in an academic, white, middle class bubble for years. Have you never heard of the town/gown divide?

  4. @Laurence, Ahh so you did know, you just chose to miss that part out to give the impression Ben is your typical Londoner who knows nothing of the north.

    It is reassuring to note that you do not disagree with anything else I said.

  5. This article really does scrape the bottom of the barrell.

    Geordie born and bred 22 years on a council estate, I can tell you that it’s one of my fathers favourite meals, and that most northeners would simply tell him to pull his head out of arse, if they found it offensive (which they probably as a group wouldn’t)

    I wonder who you are attributing your “patronising” and “snobbish” quotes to, because you can attribute these quotes to me on this story “Utter rubbish” and “waste of bandwidth”

  6. Thankfully, most northerners I know would never touch the Tories with a barge pole! They know very well where Cameron et al’s priorities lie – in leafy southern suburbia rather than traditional working-class northern cities.

  7. Shane, three years spent bedecked in the palatinate of Durham University doesn’t really count as living in the north, or at least not in the sense that many of us spend our lives up here. It’s certainly not the same as an existence licked to a splinter on a Doncaster council estate. That you adduce this in his defence makes me suspect the thinking of the political class is increasingly removed from the rest of us.

  8. Whilst this is a bit low, you should lay off Howlett. He is the best thing to happen for Labour youth in years. This guy single handedly demolished the national framework of CF and made the Northern regions breakaway, due to his behaviour and that of his “team”. The guy really has been a gift to Labour, whilst the Tories might be back in power the youth movement is in the worst days of 1997. Long may it continue.

  9. Mr Eric Creosote says:

    and I thought Harry Enfield’s Tory Boy was supposed to be social satire , not mini documentaries ! life imitating art ?

    there’s always been the same old Young Conservatives ” little problems ” , The Bullingdon Club , Maggie’s Militant Tendency the FCS , people allegedly going out to celebrate Hitler’s birthday – apparently the wrong side lost World War 2 , people wearing Hang Nelson Mandella T-shirt , Hang Alan Howarth , McMillan to be tried for war crimes . They were so embarrassingly right wing – Tebbit had them shut down – and that’s saying something .

  10. Fair & Proper says:

    Terrible bigotry from Conservative Future people (Steven George-Hilley) in your other article who seems to have a sense of superiority over gypsys and people who resemble his photograph of a black and white minstrel as a result of the colour of the skin they were born with.

    Now we have Howlett displaying a similar arrogance and sense of superiority against residents of these shores who live north of his abode in the afluent oasis of Fulham in London.

    We have another Conservative Future activist in Clare George-Hilley (wife of the bigoted and racist Steven) who is now promoting Conservative Future Women.

    If this is the quality of individuals the Conservative Future organsisation can attract for membership then there is NO Conservative Future, there is NO Conservative Women Future. With this bunch of bigoted, pompous and intellectully void individuals the Conservative party of the future is doomed to failure and oblivion….I am considering resigning from the Conservative party!!!!

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