Local Conservatives reject ‘unacceptable’ applicant

CONTROVERSIAL Some of Mr Elder-Brown’s social media posts

TUNBRIDGE Wells Conservative Association (TWCA) has rejected a membership application by a former United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) official following the emergence of his controversial social media comments and posts.

As the Times reported on March 8, TWCA issued a press release last week with the news that Alun Elder-Brown had resigned all his UKIP positions and membership and had applied to join the Conservatives.

Mr Elder-Brown had explained his desire to join the Conservatives as a desire to ‘unite the Right’ rather than ‘split the vote, if not the country’.

He was previously UKIP South East Regional Chairman, Kent Secretary, National Executive Committee member, and listed at Companies House as a director for the UK Independence Party.

However, concerns have been raised about Mr Elder-Brown’s publicly-available social media activity, which includes comments about Muslims and pictures of himself with Tommy Robinson, founder of the English Defence League (EDL), whose real name is Stephen Yaxley-Lennon.

The EDL is widely regarded as a far-right organisation.

The local Conservative Association has now rejected Mr Elder Brown’s membership, TWCA Chairman Andrew Hobart told the Times.

Mr Hobart said: “We took the view that these were clearly unacceptable. There is a centralised application procedure, but by the time that step had happened, we did have concerns.

“The officers (of the local Conservative Association) took a vote to accept or reject his application, and the officers were unanimous in rejecting it.

“Mr Elder-Brown will be written to by Conservative Central Office and told his application is rejected.”

Acknowledging that the rejection of an applicant was ‘not exactly common’, Mr Hobart said: “It is not unheard of. I am aware of previous applications to join the Tunbridge Wells Conservative Association which have been rejected.”

Although the Chairman cited Mr Elder-Brown’s ‘past pronouncements and historic publications on social media’ as the basis for their decision, he would not specify which posts had aroused most concern.

“I don’t want to draw attention to the detail.”

However, Mr Hobart stressed: “He did not bring any of this to our attention. Perhaps if he had said: ‘I said this in the past and I regret it’ … but there was nothing like that.”

“This is more than ‘distancing’ ourselves,” he said. “We have rejected his application to join.

“I perhaps naïvely took [the application] in good faith. The person who introduced him has apologised for doing so. The processes which are in place worked.”

Initially, Mr Elder-Brown was publicly defiant, posting on Facebook on Monday: “The Tory Party have declined my membership, apparently because of my ‘association with Tommy Robinson’ lol (more to follow).”

He added: “Apparently, it was because of a tweet and subsequent press article where I said, ‘Pull down the statue of the convicted terrorist Nelson Mandela on Parliament Square and replace it with a homegrown national hero, namely Tommy Robinson, who has never even been charged with hate speech, let alone terrorism’ lol”.

However, speaking to the Times yesterday (March 14), Mr Elder-Brown said he had not yet received any message from the party headquarters, but was aware his application had been rejected.

And he called the Times’s article following his 2018 tweet about the statue of Mandela ‘clickbait’.

“I am very, very disappointed because I wanted to get back into politics,” he told the Times. “I’m dumbfounded.”

He said: “I did have a friendship with Tommy Robinson, but back in about 2018. I’ve not spoken to him in – what, five years?”

Asked whether resurrecting an old picture of himself with Tommy Robinson – a picture he reposted on Twitter on February 23 – might be something the local Conservatives want to avoid being associated with, he said: “That’s fair enough. That is up to them.”

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