Tories haven’t changed, defector warns

By Alex Stevenson

A former Conservative campaigner who abandoned the party earlier in the campaign has said senior Tories’ comments about gay issues show “they don’t understand society”.

David Heathcote had been responsible for masterminding the get out the vote campaign for the Conservatives’ candidate Jason McCartney in three-way marginal Colne Valley.

But he switched allegiance earlier this month after shadow home secretary Chris Grayling said he backed bed and breakfast owners who refused to accommodate same-sex couples. He was interviewed by politics.co.uk while canvassing on behalf of the Labour party.

Mr Heathcote said David Cameron’s refusal to punish him or shadow defence minister Julian Lewis – who equated the dangers of gay sex with the dangers faced by armed forces serving on the front line – showed that the Tory party “hasn’t changed at all”.

“I think the fact he says he’ll let it lie is absolutely what they’ll do with so many different issues,” Mr Heathcote said.

“When it comes to putting your head up above the parapet and saying that is wrong – they’re not prepared to do it. That was actually my point.

“I think they don’t understand society. If they’re trying to create this big society, and they don’t understand it then I think we’re in trouble.”

Mr Heathcote was a Tory for around 20 years and said he had viewed himself as an “instinctive Conservative”.

He became an approved parliamentary candidate in 2008 but has quickly realigned himself. Having reconsidered which party best suits his outlook he has chosen Gordon Brown’s Labour – “to my very great surprise”.

“The Conservative party, as I spotted, have a lot of good values but they tend to leave you on your own,” he explained.

“I think we saw that with the closure of the mines in the 80s. I think we’re going to see it with this do it yourself government.”