South Thanet MP Craig Mackinlay and his aide Sam Armstrong


ON THE STUMP: Armstrong (left) campaigning for Mackinlay

The arrest of his aide on suspicion of raping a woman in his Westminster office is only the latest development in the eventful career of South Thanet’s Tory MP, Craig “Macca” Mackinlay.

The aide, Sam Armstrong, is Mackinlay’s chief of staff and he’s now on bail until January pending police inquiries, so no more can be said about that.

But WHY Macca took Armstrong on in the first place is an important question in its own right which we can examine, and it may just provide us with a revealing insight into the mentality of our ambitious, tough-talking Member of Parliament.

Craig Mackinlay became MP for South Thanet in the general election in 2015.

He was brought in by the Tories to beat off a challenge from Nigel Farage, the odds on favourite.

It was a simple calculation – an attempt to out-UKIP UKIP by running right-wing Mackinlay who had himself been one of the founders of UKIP in 1997.

And it worked – though only, most believe, with the help of mass tactical voting by people who wanted anyone but Farage.

Whether it was also with the help of overspending on election expenses, as Channel 4 has alleged, is still being investigated by Kent Police.


VICTORIOUS: Mackinlay on election night with Al Murray and Nigel Farage

Macca has some form in swimming in electoral hot water.

Back in 2012 when he was battling to become Kent’s first elected police commissioner, around 50 people got mail-shots from him who hadn’t signed up to get them – a clear breach of data protection legislation.

There were complaints and Macca had to apologise. He said it was “an honest mistake” – but it’s still unclear how these people’s personal details ended up being added to the local Tory party’s database.

Despite his best efforts, Macca failed to win police commissioner – but struck it lucky with Thanet.

Now he’s working out his next advancement – high office in Westminster.

Looking at the penchant for army camouflage and military hardware he exhibits on his website, something in the defence ministry would be right up his foxhole.

But bog standard MPs don’t get to be ministers just by smiling and kissing babies. They need support in the right places. They need people who know Westminster. People who can press buttons, fix things, deliver results.

People like Sam Armstrong.

Armstrong is still only 23, but set himself on a trajectory for power early on, when he was a student of history and politics in Nottingham University.

It was the summer of 2014, when the words below, were written that saw his big breakthrough.

“Sam Armstrong, the Deputy Chair for Nottinghamshire Conservative Future [the Tory youth movement], is set to run as the East Midlands Chairman. Sam has decided to stand with only one purpose. To make sure the Conservatives are on top form in 2015…”

Eerily, these words are taken from the blog of a keen, 20 year old Consevative supporter called Elliott Johnson.

Tragically, just a year later Eliott was to trigger a huge scandal in the Tory party by committing suicide at Sandy railway station in Bedfordshire.

Sam Armstrong and Elliott were students together in Nottingham.

With Robert Halfon, MP.jpg

Elliott Johnson (left) campaigning with Tory MP Robert Halfon and Armstrong

Initially, at least, they were friends, united in their youthful desire to campaign for the Conservatives.

In his 2014 blog which he called #ThingsElliottSays Johnson wrote:

“Sam is tipped as the leader by #ThingsElliottSays in the race to become the next East Midlands Chairman. He has shown competence in organising campaigning not just in Newark but getting a coach load of students up from Nottingham to campaign in Lancashire for the day. Indeed Sam has helped in a plethora of 40:40 seats across the country from Chester to Croydon or Rosendale and Darwen to Sherwood.”

There was no question that Armstrong was showing his political mettle and gaining a reputation for delivering results. He told Elliott:

“I’m looking forward to the campaign, I have a background in putting the hard yards campaigning on the doorstep for candidates right across the East Midlands and beyond and I’m looking forward to bringing that experience, vision and drive to East Midlands Conservative Future.”

“Doing the hard yards” – means putting in effort to get success, often when it’s not noticed by other people.

But Armstrong’s efforts WERE being noticed by other people.

His track record led him inevitably into being allied with another “high achiever” in the Tory youth camp: Mark “Tatler Tory” Clarke.


Mark “Tatler Tory” Clarke campaigning with Sam Armstrong on Road Trip 2015

Clarke was called the “Tatler Tory” because back in 2008 the Tatler society magazine  tipped him as a future cabinet minister – but since then his controversial career has garnered him enough allegations and headlines to fill a year’s worth of tabloid newspapers.

In his time Clarke’s been accused of bullying and sexual harassment and more besides but has constantly denied all allegations against him.

When Clarke and Armstrong first hooked up isn’t clear but the pair were certainly working together on the now infamous Tory battle bus trips.

In 2014 and 2015 the battle buses toured the country bringing eager young Tories to canvass in key constituencies for the 2015 general election. It was called Road Trip 2015 and was seen as an important factor in the Tories’ unexpected victory.

And in June 2014 Elliott Johnson was with Clarke and Armstong on a trip to Great Yarmouth. He wrote in his blog:

“Sam Armstrong …. was keeping his 100% of turning up to all of the Road Trips… Of course Mark Clarke, who runs the Road Trip, had to once again congratulate Sam on his hard efforts.”

“Hard efforts” not “hard yards” – so Sam was now definitely being recognised.


HAPPIER TIMES: Theresa May in 2014 praising Mark “Tatler Tory” Clarke

And even Theresa May, when she was Home Secretary, was impressed with Mark Clarke’s work to which Sam was contributing in a big way. During the 2014 Rochester and Strood by-election campaign, May told Clarke: “What you are doing is absolutely tremendous. Road Trip 2015 is great. Thank you Mark for all you are doing,” and led activists in a round of applause for Clarke.

But in August 2015 a train ran over Elliott Johnson in Bedfordshire and the wheels came off Mark Clarke’s battle bus bandwagon.

Elliott left three letters after his suicide. One of them claimed that Clarke had bullied him. Clarke strongly denied the allegation.

The bubbling rumours and reports of bullying and harassment in the Tory party now boiled over in the press.

One newspaper report even alleged that Sam Armstrong was involved in a plot to blackmail a cabinet minister by laying in wait for him in bushes with a camera.  Armstrong denied the story outright.

The Tory party took action. They banned Armstrong and Clarke from attending the Tory Party conference and announced an internal inquiry into the allegations to be carried out by big money lawyers Clifford Chance.

But Elliott Johnson’s father, Ray, fearing a whitewash, reacted angrily. He wrote to the chair of the Conservative Party claiming that the inquiry would look like an attempt to “cover-up the issue of endemic bullying, harassment and intimidation that seems to be seen as acceptable within the party.”

The Clifford Chance inquiry reported this summer. It identified 13 people alleged to be victims of bullying, harassment and inappropriate behaviour at the hands of Mark Clarke – including six accusations of “sexually inappropriate behaviour”.

Mark Clarke’s solicitor responded: “The police investigation into Elliott Johnson’s death and other enquiries are ongoing, and it is not appropriate to respond to allegations until the end of those processes. However, the allegations made against Mr Clarke in the Clifford Chance report are wholly untrue and unsubstantiated. Many are based on totally fabricated media reports. All these allegations are vehemently denied.”

Following the publication of the inquiry’s report Mark Clarke was banned from the Conservative Party for life.

But no action at all was taken against Sam Armstrong. Indeed, the report, which was only published in summary form, didn’t even mention him by name.

And what was the reaction of his boss, MP Craig Macca Mackinlay? He said recently that as the inquiry “didn’t finger” (Mackinlay’s words) Armstrong, then he was happy to continue to employ him.

But why was Macca so keen to take on Armstrong as his “chief of staff” in the first place?

One reason, of course, must have been the part Armstrong played in the campaign which helped Macca unexpectedly beat Nigel Farage and win him his place in the House of Commons.

But against this, Macca must have been aware of the stories circulating about Armstrong’s close colleague Clarke. And he absolutely knew that both of them were banned from the Tory Party conference in 2015.

So then, why, just six months after Armstrong’s ban from the conference, and BEFORE the Clifford Chance inquiry had reported, did he decide to take him on?

Let’s consider what our ambitious “man-in-a-hurry” MP was up to at this time.

Macca hired Armstrong at the beginning of this year. At about the same time he went to Israel on a “fact finding” trip financed by the Conservative Friends of Israel to the tune of £2,000.

A few months later Macca was publicly championing the cause of a company in his constituency called Instro Precision which is owned by Israel’s largest arms manufacturer, Elbit Systems.

Elbit specialises in making the drones which Israel uses both for the survelliance of the Palestinian people living in Gaza – and killing them.

It has been blacklisted by investors across Europe and Scandinavia on ethical grounds.

But undaunted by its parent company’s record, Macca has been singing the praises of Instro, which is based in a Thanet industrial estate.


Macca outside Instro Precision in Thanet

Instro plans to expand – and Macca has promised to help them with their plans.

And when in August he found people protesting against the company, he attacked them savagely.

But what’s interesting is the terms Macca used, declaring: “The protesters trying to bully this company from our area are shameful.  Frankly the action reeks of anti-semitism and I’ve had enough of it.”

Anti-semitism? Really?

Let’s have a closer look at this protest.

Called Bikes Against Bombs, it was organised by the east Kent branch of the Campaign Against the Arms Trade, and they targeted FIVE arms companies across Kent in total. Only one of these had any conceivable “semitic” connection and that was Israeli-owned Elbit’s Instro Precision. The other companies were all British or US owned.

The anti-semitic charge was a foolish, unjustified accusation by Mackinlay – but the full significance of it was only to emerge a few weeks later.

It was now late August and news came through that Jeremy Corbyn, fighting to be re-elected leader of the Labour party, was going to appear at an outdoors rally in Ramsgate.


Jeremy Corbyn speaking in Ramsgate

But a day before the rally Mackinlay wrote a letter to Corbyn demanding that the Labour leader ban four of his constituents from the rally because they were “examples of anti-semitism.”

He then tweeted this letter to thousands of followers who in turn retweeted to Corbyn’s political opponents.

One of the four he “outed” was Watch film-maker Christine Tongue. She was surprised and horrified and totally denies the allegation of anti-semitism.


Christine Tongue: “Horrified”

“The allegation that I am in any way anti-semitic is utterly false and ridiculous,” Christine said. “The only evidence Mackinlay put forward was one of my old Facebook posts which has a link to an article by a US Jewish scholar. There is nothing remotely anti-semitic about this article, and what’s really disgraceful is that Mackinlay gave me no chance to defend myself or respond to the allegation before he published it. This was just an out and out smear.”

But it soon became clear why Mackinlay had picked on Christine.

She and two of the people he accused of being “examples of anti-semitism” had all taken part in the protest against Instro earlier that summer. (The fourth, high profile Momentum activist Jackie Walker Macca undoubtedly couldn’t resist throwing in because she’d already been smeared with a false charge of anti-semitism that year.)

Said Christine: “It’s all obviously bound up with Mackinlay’s strange idea that we were targeting Instro Precision because they’re owned by an Israeli-owned company, rather than because of their involvement in a very nasty industry. I think he subscribes to the peculiar idea that any form of opposition to Israel is a form of anti-semitism.”

Christine did in the end manage to get a meeting with Mackinlay, at which he harangued her for having “an unhealthy fixation” with Israel.

The MP, says Christine, was extremely insensitive.

“When I complained about the way his tweet had exposed me to personal danger from people attacking me for being anti-semitic, he told me I was a ‘big girl’ and I could ‘stand on my own two feet’. As I am disabled and have to use a walking stick this is, to say the least, deeply ironic.’”

Their meeting, however, was revealing if only indirectly, as it showed, she claims, how sketchy his knowledge was of the attack he’d launched on her.

“It became clear that he hadn’t read the article he had quoted as evidence of my ‘anti-semitism’. Also he seemed confused about the difference between Twitter and Facebook. In fact, as he eventually admitted, it wasn’t he who’d trawled through my Facebook pages at all but his aide, Sam Armstrong.”

Christine believes the attack was a calculated attempt to embarrass Jeremy Corbyn during his visit to Ramsgate “making use of the kind of spurious anti-semitism smears which Jeremy’s enemies have been resorting to since he became Labour leader.”

But Macca’s aide Sam Armstrong would have been only too well aware of the potency of tweeting charges of anti-semitism as a way of damaging anyone’s reputation.

In fact his associate Mark Clarke employed the same technique on Baroness Sayeeda Warsi – so viciously that she complained to the chair of the party.


Sayeeda Warsi: Resigned

In August 2014 Warsi had resigned from the government over the escalation of violence in the Israel–Gaza conflict, describing the government’s position as “morally indefensible.” Never popular with the right of the Tory party, this made her a special target of their wrath.

In January 2015 Warsi wrote to the then chair Grant Shapps accusing Mark Clarke of publicly abusing her on Twitter, implying she was an anti-semite, and demanding Shapps take action against Clarke – which he didn’t do.

Since then, of course, it’s the Labour Party which has been hammered for having problems with “anti-semitism” and the charge has been used to suspend numerous party members – especially supporters of Jeremy Corbyn.

We don’t know what the future holds for Sam Armstrong and we should pass no judgement on him while police enquiries are continuing

But we CAN pass judgement on our MP – a man who’s apparently been spying on his constituents’ social media, and employing Armstrong’s undoubted skills in the political dark arts to help him blacken their names.

What’s your verdict?


Thanet is the only council in Britain under UKIP control. Here council leader Chris Wells explains the party’s purpose by launching a blistering attack on previous Conservative and Labour Party administrations. After the meeting Labour’s Iris Johnston accused Wells of distorting the truth about her, while Tory leader Bob Bayford pointed out that Wells was until recently a senior member of the Conservative council he attacked in his speech.

During the election of last year UKIP made much of promising to reopen Manston Airport. But now they seem happy to see it closed. Chris Wells hasn’t ruled out running for leader of UKIP.




Momentum Thanet’s organiser Jackie Walker was suspended from the Labour Party for comments secretly filmed at a training session held by the Jewish Labour Movement at the Labour Party Conference. The day before the training session she spoke at a meeting held by Free Speech on Israel, a group of mainly Jewish activists . This is a full, uncut recording of her speech made with her permission.


On Monday 3 October the steering committee of national Momentum announced it had decided to remove her from her position as vice chair for remarks she made at meeting at the Labour Party Conference. The following is the response of Momentum Thanet


We note that the national Momentum steering committee has voted to remove Jackie Walker from her position as vice chair of the committee but allowed her to remain on the committee.

We note that the committee has taken this decision on the basis of remarks made by Jackie at a meeting held by the Jewish Labour Movement, a predominantly right-wing organisation, and on secret filming, the source of which has not been revealed.

We note, too, that, while stating that they did not believe she had said anything anti-Semitic or anything that justified the Labour Party suspending her (which it had already done), the national Momentum steering committee in a statement said:  “However, the committee does consider her remarks on Holocaust Memorial Day and on security of Jewish schools to be ill-informed, ill-judged and offensive.”

We note, however, that none of the members of the national Momentum steering committee were present at the meeting in question and so can only have based their decision on reports of the meeting or the short extract of unattributed secret filming of the meeting.

On the other hand, three of our own Momentum Thanet were actually present at the meeting and can categorically deny that Jackie said anything “ill-informed, ill-judged or offensive” or indeed anything which warranted taking disciplinary action against her, whether by national Momentum or the Labour Party

Regarding her remarks on Holocaust Memorial, Jackie simply expressed her wish that the day should open to people who had suffered in other holocausts. (According to its website Holocaust Memorial Day commemorates genocides since and after the Nazi period). When other people at the session said that in fact it already was open to other groups, Jackie replied that it didn’t seem to be widely advertised as such.

In terms of the discussion of security of Jewish schools, it’s alleged that Jackie doubted the need for increased security for Jewish children. This is again a complete distortion of what she actually said, which was that anti-Semitism wasn’t the sole cause for increased security levels in British schools.

Having pointed out the lack of substance in the evidence used to take action against Jackie, we must also question how the decision was taken. Was a thorough investigation of the reliability of the information undertaken? Was it asked who undertook the secret filming or the context in which Jackie made her remarks? And perhaps, most importantly, why were no members of Momentum who were actually present at the meeting not questioned before the steering committee took their decision?

Along with our deep concerns about how the decision was taken, we also strongly doubt that the decision reflects the democratic will of Momentum in the country at large. And we are greatly concerned the message it sends to the outside world about Momentum’s attitude to free speech, natural justice and solidarity with its own members.

We, therefore, call for Jackie Walker to be immediately reinstated as vice chair and be provided with an official apology from the steering committee for the action taken against her.

As agreed at a meeting of Momentum Thanet on October 4 2016

Norman Thomas, Chair of Thanet Momentum.



Momentum’s Jackie Walker has been suspended from the Labour Party for comments secretly filmed at a training session held by the Jewish Labour Movement at the 2016 Labour Party Conference. The day before the training session she spoke at a meeting held by Free Speech on Israel, a mainly Jewish group of labour, green and trade union activists in the UK. This is a full, uncut recording of her speech made with her permission.


jackie walker subtle

It’s been reported by the BBC that the Labour Party has suspended Thanet Momentum’s Jackie Walker for “controversial remarks” she allegedly made at a training session for dealing with anti-Semitism held during the Labour Party conference.

This is the second time Jackie’s been suspended by the Labour Party. Earlier this year she was suspended for alleged anti-Semitic remarks on her Facebook page. At that time the case against her was investigated and dismissed by the party. 

The national Momentum steering committee is also considering removing her from her position as vice chair. It is due to come to a decision on Monday.

Norman Thomas, chair of Momentum Thanet, was at the training session which is at the centre of the allegations and strongly refutes that anything she said would warrant any action against her from either the Labour Party or Momentum.  Below is his detailed account of the controversy.  


By Norman Thomas, Chair of Momentum Thanet & Member of South Thanet Labour Party

I and other colleagues attended a training session held by the Jewish Labour Movement at the recent Labour Party Conference and we can all categorically deny that Jackie made any anti-Semitic comments whatsoever.

Various print and online publications have quoted three issues as being the basis for criticism of Jackie. Each one is without foundation.

First, it was alleged that Jackie had made comments suggesting additional security was not needed for Jewish children in schools. She said nothing of the sort.

The presenter of the session quoted the presence of increased security in schools in Britain as evidence of increased anti-Semitism in this country. Jackie simply pointed out that the increased level of security in schools was not necessarily down to the presence of Jewish children in those schools.

Second, it was alleged that Jackie had said that she had not been unable to obtain a definition of anti-Semitism she could work with – implying that she was in some way sceptical about the existence of anti-Semitism.

In reality, she said that she hadn’t heard a practical definition of anti-Semitism at the training session we were attending . Indeed several other people asked the presenter of the session for his definition of anti-Semitism – but he seemed unable or unwilling to give one.

In a training session which purported to help Labour Party members deal with issues relating to anti-Semitism a working definition of anti-Semitism was a fundamental lack.

Third, and perhaps most defamatory of all, it was alleged in the reports that Jackie had “criticised” Holocaust Memorial Day, as though she didn’t want people to remember the Holocaust.

Jackie certainly did not criticise Holocaust Memorial Day. Instead she expressed her wish that it was open to people who had suffered in other holocausts. This did lead to several other people in the session saying that in fact it already was. Jackie replied that it didn’t seem to be widely advertised as such.

Whatever anyone’s feelings about exactly who is and who isn’t entitled to be remembered on Holocaust Memorial Day, what she said could not be in any way construed as anti-Semitic.

Overall, I can say that the reports of this meeting, including a highly selective piece of secret filming, which have been circulated in the media, in no way fairly reflect what was said there.  Other individuals also present at the meeting, including Jewish people, agree with my comments and heartily deplore the fantastically distorted way it has been reported.

I note, too, some reports of this event quoted other examples of Jackie’s alleged “anti-Semitism”,  all of which were examined and dismissed at a previous inquiry by the Labour Party some months ago.

This is a blatant attempt to smear the reputation of a person who herself is of Jewish descent, whose partner is Jewish and who has spent a large part of her life campaigning against racism as well as suffering racist attacks on her own behalf.

It seems that Jackie has fallen foul of false allegations which have been used against so many of the people whose real crime has been simply to support Jeremy Corbyn.

For either Momentum or the Labour Party to take any action against Jackie Walker whatsoever on the basis of what she said at this meeting would constitute injustice on a grand scale.


If you want to express your support for Jackie Walker, contact Momentum’s Emma Rees on emma.rees@peoplesmomentum.com and  the Labour Party’s general secretary Iain Mcnicol via their website www.labour.org.uk.

See also momentumthanet.org.uk










According to a report on Channel Four news the steering committee of national Momentum is considering removing Jackie Walker from her position as vice chair of national Momentum.

This is based on “secret filming” at a fringe event of the Labour Party Conference at which, it is alleged, Jackie made some controversial remarks including criticising Holocaust Memorial Day.

Norman Thomas, chair of Momentum Thanet was present at the meeting and says the account of Jackie’s remarks were distorted and unfair.

Mr Thomas said: “I was at that meeting and can testify she said nothing whatsoever anti-Semitic. She did not in any way “criticise” Holocaust Memorial Day or imply that it was not possible to define anti-semitism.

“She did wish that Holocaust Memorial Day might be open to more groups who have experienced terrible suffering in the past, prior to WWII, and she did say, quite rightly, that the presenter at the meeting had failed, despite repeated requests, to come up with a coherent definition of anti-Semitism

“Jackie is a long-time anti-racist campaigner, is of Jewish descent and has a Jewish partner. She is not and never has been anti-Semitic. I have stood alongside her demonstrating against fascist thugs and bullies in Margate and Dover. To accuse her of anti-Semitism is disgusting.

“On Channel Four news her remarks were taken out of context and the short fragment of film shown on TV was totally unrepresentative of the full discussion which took place.This is an outrageous attempt to smear Jackie and so damage Jeremy Corbyn by association and it is utterly unfair and unjust.”

Added Mr Thomas: “Momentum is taking its decision this Monday — so people wishing to support her should act urgently”

Anyone wishing to express support for Jackie Walker should email emma.rees@peoplesmomentum.com stating if they are a member of the Labour Party etc.