Tuesday, January 18, 2011

What happens when you speak for England

Why has Dudley South MP Christopher Kelly found himself ridiculed at the hands of his own party?

The answer is that the Conservatives decided to bully him because he put his country before his party.

The newly-elected 32-year-old had the courage to stand up to intimidation from “Flashman” Prime Minister David Cameron and defy the Government whips over their decision to hand more of our dwindling sovereignty to the European Union.

Mr Kelly, who is well known as a Eurosceptic, was one of 37 Conservative MPs who tried to strengthen new laws to make it clear that ultimate power rests with Westminster not Brussels.

Yet having defied his party, Mr Kelly found himself branded a cry-baby and accused of being more frightened of his father than he is of his party leader.

Mr Kelly’s father is Chris Kelly, the owner of Keltruck, the highly-successful truck business which is headquartered in West Bromwich and famous for the huge flag of St George which flies proudly next to the M5.

There was so much nonsense in the weekend’s attack on Mr Kelly it’s difficult to know where to start.

But, of course, any young man starting out on a Parliamentary career is liable to be shocked when his leader warns him: “You’re making a bloody terrible mistake. It will do your career and reputation no good at all. And you can bloody well forget about being a minister.”

Nobody wants the boss to behave like the public-school bully Flashman when they’ve only been in their new job a few months.

It would have been a shocking and very upsetting encounter – yet Mr Kelly went ahead and voted with his conscience anyway.

This is, never forget, what Mr Cameron promised us we’d get from our MPs under his regime. He declared months ago that Tories would put their country before their party.

That’s what Mr Kelly did. And his reward? Ignominy.

Someone in the Conservative Party Whips’ office deliberately went to the papers with a twisted tale of how Mr Kelly’s encounter with Mr Cameron had left him in tears.
To add salt into the wound, they invented the story that Mr Kelly was too scared of his father – a long-standing supporter of the Conservatives – to toe the party line.

Mr Kelly says: “For the record I did not cry or even come close to crying. There is footage of me in the Chamber completely dry-eyed sat close to my colleague Bill Cash MP as he concluded the debate at the very time it is alleged that I was 'in tears'.

“The whole story is utterly bizarre. I always vote according to my conscience and what I believe is best for the residents of Dudley South – nothing else. I will always put my country first.”

We could do with more MPs like that and we could do with a Prime Minister who respects political differences rather than bullying and intimidating his own supporters while bending over backwards to accommodate his opponents in the Liberal Democrats.

It may be the animosity towards Mr Kelly is personal as much as political. He seems to be the subject of a malign campaign against him which, among other things, seeks to attack him through his relationship with his father.

It’s only natural that the MP shares some of his father’s views. But he is his own man and, as I understand it, he rarely if ever consults his father before making a political decision.

Mr Kelly is far more likely to consult his constituents and his conscience. And this is what he did over the EU legislation.

Alas, his noble deed has been swamped in the filth of day-to-day political reality. It wasn’t enough for the Government to stamp on the poor man, it has gone out of its way to humiliate him even to the extent of publishing lies about him.

Politicians of honour and integrity are thin on the ground these days. Mr Kelly has discovered the hard way that putting your country before your party is the ultimate crime among the sleazy greasy-pole-climbers and slippery placemen who run our governing party.

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