Dead Men Left

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Tories "not very nice" shock

Every so often, when nothing more pressing is about, it seems worth taking a look at the Conservative Party. Whilst a Countryside Alliance mob besieges Parliament, and some pillock in tights climbs up Buckingham Palace, goings-on in the official Right opposition seem to have been equally peculiar.*

Item 1: Iain Duncan Smith, if people can remember him, apparently banned Tory members from also belonging to the far-right Monday Club whilst he was leader. "Far-right", in this instance, means exactly that: the Monday Club has historically supported "voluntary repatriation" of "immigrants" from the UK. It had affected a slightly cleaner image in recent years, but essentially still acted as bastion of the hard-right within the Conservative Party. Following this ban, three Tory MPs left the Monday Club: Andrew Hunter, Angela Watkinson and Andrew Rosindell. Rosindell oversaw the sole Conservative gain in the 2001 general election, winning Romford in south Essex from Labour on a 9% swing, after fighting an aggressive campaign featuring his pet bulldog, his Union Jack waistcoat and his strident views on asylum seekers.

All terribly admirable on Duncan Smith's part. Boo hiss to nasty far-right loons, hurrah for modern sensible tolerant Conservatism. Except...

Item 2: After making these announcements at the Tories' 2001 party conference, a small report appeared in the Telegraph at the end of 2002:

IAIN DUNCAN SMITH has been forced to reinstate a member of the Conservative Party expelled in a crackdown on alleged extremism.

Mike Smith had his membership "terminated" in May after he clashed with Mr Duncan Smith over the leader's ban on Tory MPs belonging to the far-Right Monday Club.

A High Court settlement last week, however, saw the Right-wing activist reinstated to the party, which has also agreed to pay his legal costs.


The case was settled after the Conservatives agreed to sign a document acknowledging Mr Smith "is a member of the Conservative Party".

Item 3: Both the Independent and Sunday Express reported on a firebomb attack on Andrew Rosindell's Romford Party headquarters in March this year. Rosindell is described by the Sunday Express, March 28th (not online) as follows:

Mr Rosindell has been outspoken on issues from asylum to the European Union. A member of the right wing Monday Club, he is in favour of the death penalty and firearm ownership.

The Independent (March 27th) also highlights his Monday Club membership:

The flamboyant member, who campaigned in 2001 with his bulldog Spike dressed in a union flag waistcoat, has criticised Government policy on asylum seekers, saying most should be kept under lock and key. He is also a member of the rightwing Monday Club and in favour of the death penalty and firearm ownership.

Andrew Rosindell is vice-chair of the Conservative Party. Is this shockingly poor reporting on the part of two national newspapers, or has the Tory far-right been neatly and speedily rehabilitated?