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Welsh Tory MP: Scouts asked me not to attend event due to ‘controversial incidents’

21 Apr 2022 3 minutes Read
Sarah Atherton MP. Photo by David Woolfall, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported

A Welsh Conservative MP said she was asked not to attend a Scouts event by one of the organisation’s district commissioners so its “non-political” message would not be “muddied by recent controversial incidents and policies”.

Sarah Atherton, who represents Wrexham, was speaking in the House of Commons, where a fellow Conservative backbencher could be heard saying Robert Baden-Powell, the founder of the Scout movement, “would be turning in his grave”.

Commons leader Mark Spencer said he was “disappointed” to hear Ms Atherton’s comments and said Scouts is a “non-political organisation that shouldn’t get involved and traditionally has not got involved in politics”.

Ms Atherton said: “I’ve always been a strong supporter of the Scouting movement, either as an MP and prior.

“Indeed, my son achieved the Queen’s Scout Award.

“But, however, last week the district commissioner asked me not to attend an event, and I quote: ‘The Scouts is a non-political movement. I would not wish this positive message to be muddied by recent controversial incidents and policies.’”

‘Contribution’

Backbench Conservative MPs could also be heard saying “outrageous” and “disgraceful”.

Ms Atherton was speaking during a session of questions to the Leader of the House of Commons and asked for advice on how she can continue to support the Scout movement.

Mr Spencer said: “I think colleagues across the House will recognise the great contribution that Scouting makes to young people in this country.

“As a former cub and scout myself, I thoroughly enjoyed my time.”

He added: “And I hope the leader who wrote to her will reflect upon his comments and encourage colleagues across the House to engage with the Scouting movement.”

‘Shocked’

Speaking to the PA news agency, Ms Atherton said she was “shocked” when she found out she could not attend the event, held to celebrate fundraising for a charity.

She said she has previously attended a Scout event in her area without incident.

Ms Atherton said she was planning to attend on April 14 to congratulate the Wrexham Scouts for helping the Maelor Voluntary Service, which she said is a charity she supports and which provides a cafe service at the Wrexham Maelor Hospital.

She said she intended to praise the fundraising effort and highlight the work of the charity, but “a few hours before I was due to go” she said she received an email asking her not to attend.

“I was absolutely shocked, floored, and really, really disappointed, particularly with our support for them in the past and all the years I’ve been supporting the Scouting movement. I suspect this is one person’s political bias spoiling it for everybody else,” she said.

Ms Atherton said she is not sure which incidents or policies were referred to, but said the email “made it political”.

“I think it’s a shame. I think perhaps the district commissioner should realise what the role of the Member of Parliament actually is, and recognise all the support I have given the Scouting movement not just in Wrexham but over the years. My son was in the Scouts, I was in the Brownies, and my husband was in the Scouts — we’re very pro supporting this.”

The PA news agency has contacted the Scouts for comment.


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The Original Mark
The Original Mark
29 days ago

When you align yourself with a xenophobic corrupt political party led by a proven liar, you get what you deserve, hopefully the YFC will also tell you where to go as well.

Fi yn unig
Fi yn unig
29 days ago

The Scout movement may be non political but fair dos to them. Sometimes you just have to tell the Tories where to go and pitch their tent.

Richard Jenkins
Richard Jenkins
29 days ago

I beg to question the assertion that the Scouts are apolitical. Really? Their adherence & loyalty to the monarchy says different. The organisation since arch imperialist Baden Powell is & always has been a conduit for Tory Englishness & empire values. Non political? Rubbish!

Llinos
Llinos
29 days ago

They are definitely Unionist and Royalist. And Baden Powell was a nasty piece of work. But despite Lord Huffington-Puffington Tories turning a bit gammony about this perceived slur, it is a wise organisation that distances themselves from this lying, criminal, worst possible incarnation of the nasty party.

Fi yn unig
Fi yn unig
28 days ago

You are entirely correct Richard which is why I find it very strange that they are snubbing a member of the pro Royal Union flag waving party. It speaks volumes that the current brand of Tory poison is way too X rated for the Scout movement. I should have put ‘non political’ in inverted commas. Their words, not mine.

Andrew Thomas
Andrew Thomas
29 days ago

Maybe she would be welcome to speak at the Jimmy Saville fan club

Kerry Davies
Kerry Davies
29 days ago

I once had to ask an MP to leave a community event because he was distributing party political leaflets and canvassing. He reported me to the police who agreed with me that party politics would have breached our licence and negated our insurance.

I have no idea whether that may have been the case in this instance but you can’t ever be too careful.

Y Cymro
Y Cymro
28 days ago

Even Scouts follow set of rules enshrined, unlike Tory turncoat Sarah Atherton & corrupt Conservative party. And the only badge they’d earn is a badge of dishonour.

Paul
Paul
28 days ago

The tories are really happy when non-political means no Labour, no Plaid here. But when they get banned they get sore, because tories aren’t political they’re just imperial liars

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