ToryBoy The Movie is a British documentary feature film directed by and starring John Walsh. It follows Walsh as he becomes a political candidate for the Conservative Party in the north east England constituency of Middlesbrough. A staunch Labour Party supporter all his life, Walsh had become disillusioned with the party. When David Cameron opened the door to allow non party members to run for the Conservative candidacy ahead of the 2010 General Election, John Walsh decided to do just that and document his experiences on camera. His film made the case that Stuart Bell should not be the Member of Parliament (MP) of Middlesbrough. As part of his campaign, he showed the finished film in a free showing a year after the election. He came in third in the election; Stuart Bell remained the MP of Middelsbrough. but increased the Conservative vote to its highest in thirty years with an 18.8% share of the vote.
In the film, Walsh claims that Sir Stuart Bell, the Labour Party's MP in Middlesbrough, is absent so often from Middlesbrough that he is an unsuitable candidate. According to Richard Moss, a BBC film critic, "some silliness aside, it is a thought-provoking insight into the way our political system works or doesn't work on the ground."
In 2011 the film was nominated for the Grierson Awards for "Best Documentary on a Contemporary Theme". Liberal Democrat commentator Mark Pack says "John Walsh portrays life on the campaign trail as it really is. It is a hugely enjoyable documentary, which mixes humour, drama and education". A sold out screening at the Frontline Club took place on 22 November 2011 followed by a Q&A with John Walsh. Empire Magazine called it a "shit stirring exposé of local politics that will make you cross". Samuel Scott from DVD Compare said "I found this documentary very intriguing and very honest. John is a very likable character, and I wouldn't hesitate in voting for someone with so much passion for a second.". Doc Geeks commented that the film was "ha blunt exposé combined with a tinge of lightheartedness. Satirical animation cleverly frames Britain in its political context" Award winning novelist Christopher Fowler said ToryBoy The Movie was "a snapshot of our country’s political apathy in microcosm. It’s heartbreaking to see people blindly supporting their own demise as if they’re playing some kind of long game they’ll probably never live to see the outcome of. Oh, and it’s also very funny.". The Gaudie writer Ben Kamal said "I was prepared for some careful sneering in the interview and subsequent write-up. This did not (and could not) transpire: firstly because of the film, which comes across as Frank Capra scripted by Evelyn Waugh; secondly because of Walsh himself. He is warm, patient and generous, to my own shock I liked him and if you watch the film you'll like him too."
60 Minutes With said "ToryBoy the Movie is a fantastic documentary and one in which you will be cheering for John despite what political party you follow. His journey from his Labour roots through to a Tory campaign is superbly documented and will have you both laughing and feeling his frustration in equal measure."
The film received positive reviews, with a high score of 8.8 on IMDb.
The claims made about Sir Stuart Bell became national news with some newspapers suggesting he may be "Britain's Laziest MP". This led to further local investigation Neil Macfarlane a report for the Teesside Gazette asked "Are Teessiders getting enough from Sir Stuart Bell?" when he failed to answer over 100 telephone calls made to his constituency office as outlined in the film ToryBoy The Movie. There were calls for Sir Stuart Bell to face formal party disciplinary procedures. The Labour Party decided to have an official investigation into the allegations. Other political public figures joined the debate. Lord Michael Ashcroft "I’d defy anyone with an interest in politics not to enjoy this film". He went on to say that "despite the zany tone of the film, it also has a hard-hitting message which questions whether one MP in his safe seat, and perhaps other MPs in similar situations, do enough to justify their salary and expenses."
Sir Stuart Bell did have a right of reply which appeared in the short film ToryBoy The AfterMath. The film's expose nearly forced a By Election.
The film's re-release in 2015 caused more controversy after it was banned (often now referred to as No Platform) from being shown in Middlesbrough by Teesside University. The film was booked in by their Student Union. Posters were printed and a venue confirmed. At the last minute the screening was abruptly halted.
"I think it's a shame really," said John. "It's a unique opportunity for students to hold me to account."
The Anti Cuts website reported about Teesside University banning the film in an article entitled "Our year with the ‘worst union in the country’". "A few weeks after the student elections, a planned screening of the film Tory Boy, made by the 2010 Tory candidate for Middlesbrough about his experience standing in the area was cancelled, despite having been screened at schools and colleges up and down the country without controversy."
The film received a re-release in cinemas in 2015 in the lead up to the 2015 UK General Election. The Radio Times film review by Jeremy Aspinall on the film's re-release says "A revealing and droll fly-on-the-wall documentary. It's a fascinating odyssey illuminated by pithily informative animations. Who would have thought politics could be so entertaining?". In an interview with Young In Politics in 2016, Walsh revealed the process involved in being selected as a Parliamentary candidate and why he switched from voting Labour.
After a digital download version of the film was made available during the United Kingdom General Election, 2017 the political website 'Guido Fawkes' publishes article entitled Inside The Greatest Election Scandal of all time.
ToryBoy The Movie was issued for the first time on DVD 1 October 2012 by FremantleMedia. It included extras on the making of the film and gave the controversial subject MP Stuart Bell a right of reply where he denied the allegations levelled against him in the film. Bell died on the 13th October 2013. The film was also made available as a high definition download on Vimeo