- Arron Banks claims that he has led 8,000 people to the Tories
- Plan inspired by the Tea Party in the US.
- Many Tories are angry at the management of Checker's deal
When Arron Banks tried to disrupt the 2014 Tory conference with the announcement that he would donate £ 100,000 to the UK Independence party, he was mocked by William Hague, the former leader.
"I have never heard of him, so we will not get too angry[that]. . . someone we have not heard of has gone to Ukip, "he said.
Four years later, few claim that he did not hear from Mr. Banks. He has established himself as the largest individual donor in British political history and again tries to destroy the conservative party.
The insurance millionaire has set up a new movement called "Blue Wave", encouraging thousands of Eurosceptics to join the conservative party. He argues that once they are inside, they can influence the European policy of the government, try to remove Theresa May as party leader and play a role in choosing her successor.
Tory's leadership has dismissed Mr. Banks as "desperate for attention", but his initiative has stung the party.
Many remain-leaning MPs fear that his blue wave might turn into a right-wing version of the Momentum movement, in which Jeremy Corbyn defenders have flooded Labor membership over the past two years, turning the party into a much more leftist group. They are worried that this will allow the Tory party to talk harder about issues ranging from the EU to crime and punishment and government spending.
Stephen Dorrell, a former conservative cabinet minister, said the Banks campaign had to be stopped. "His approach would turn a big national party into a pressure group with a single problem without moral authority, more than a piece of Ukip," he said.
But Nadine Dorries, a Eurosceptic backbencher, said she welcomed new members to her chair in Bedfordshire: "Not in the last place because they are mostly former conservative members."
Plan modeled after the Tea party
Mr. Banks contributed £ 8.4 million to loans and donations to the Brexit campaign, mostly through Leave.EU, which he co-founded and co-funded. It has 90,000 members and 1.4 million followers on social media. From April, the conservative party had 124,000 members.
The Electoral Commission examines whether the financial contributions of Mr. Banks to Leave.EU have violated the law: one line of research is whether it is the & # 39; true source & # 39; of the money.
His complicated financial empire – including diamond mines in South Africa – has been the subject of repeated research.
The entrepreneur himself was rejected for membership of Tory on the basis that he is a former Ukip donor.
Banks told the FT that his intervention was loosely modeled after the Tea Party, the basic movement that the American Republican party has pushed to the right in recent years.
He said he already had an impact, with 3,500 people who clicked from his newsletter to the Tory party membership page on the first day of the campaign. "We have calculated that we have probably received 8,000 new people in the party over the past month," he said.
Three months after joining, new members would have control over every leadership match – which is expected in the coming year or two – with leading Brexiters Boris Johnson and Jacob Rees-Mogg likely to remain.
A senior Tory figure warned that the Conservative party would be more difficult to disrupt than Labor, not least because the Labor & # 39; s 2015 idea to get people in its leadership contest to vote as "registered supporters" for £ 3 never would repeat.
"As far as we can see, this is Arron Banks and a few others who are desperately trying to keep an eye on the headlines, this is all" look at me, look at me, "he said. "I know people are excited about the parallels with the specter of the takeover of the Labor party by the hardline left-wing players, but this is really not a thing."
But there are signs of unease in the party. Natalie Crosby-Jones, head of membership, has sent a reminder to remind her that they can refuse membership in certain cases.
People "whose opinions or behaviors are in their opinion inconsistent with the objects or financial welfare of the association or who can discredit the party" can be rejected on the basis of the letter that was first published on the Guido blog.
Banks wants to democratize the party & # 39;
Banks told the FT this week that he had been working on Blue Wave for months, but that Ms. May's Checkers deal, which presents a soft Brexit vision, was a catalyst for Tory anger.
"We have been promoting this in the background for quite some time," he said. "We know that the base of Tories is angry with the leadership of Checkers, we think that a number of things can be done to democratize the party."
The proposals include: allowing the members of the base to elect the party chairman; distribute the power of CCHQ to the region & # 39; s and let party associations choose their own candidates without any external interference.
The initiative comes when Nigel Farage, the former Ukip leader, revealed this week that he was considering being a candidate in the mayor convention in London in 2020. He told the FT that he was encouraged to do so by a "consortium" of people including some Eurosceptic Tories.
According to a survey, 42 of the 75 constituencies have responded to an increasing membership since the Checkers agreement in July, with a wave of new members after Brexiters had resigned Mr. Johnson and David Davis after the deal.
Membership rises – usually from 10 percent to 20 percent – is relatively modest compared to the increase in Labor membership under Mr. Corbyn, with some electoral districts tripling or quadrupled.
Bob Woollard, former chairman of the Wycombe Conservative Association, welcomed Banks 'initiative and said Tories was angry about Checkers' proposal.
"People are absolutely enraged, furious, I have my ear bent by people who say it's disgusting, the way this is merged, they want a real proposal, not a half-shocking thing," he said. "Frankly, Theresa May is a very determined and stubborn lady, but she has lost it, this has upset many people."
Despite concerns about Mr Banks' attempts to push the party to the right, some MEPs believe that the increase in the number of members should be celebrated and must say that the remaining tendencies of Tories must attract supporters from their party.
"We must be the only party in history who complain because we have more members," said Robert Halfon, MP for Harlow. "Even if they are Brexit people, the idea that Arron Banks has put a small chip into it is ridiculous."