there was Suez, an experience Americans often underestimate.
When the Suez Canal was nationalised without compensating the
British and French investors, the governments of Britain, France
and Israel decided to launch a punitive expedition. Before the
war, this would not have been much remarked upon, this was gunboat
diplomacy. Eisenhower thought otherwise, seeing Third World
support as a bigger prize in the Cold War than Anglo-French
pride. There followed a run on the British pound and London
folded, taking with them the French and the Israelis. The majority
of the Conservative Party took this as a lesson that Britain
was nothing without America, but a small minority stuck to the
view of Enoch Powell and concluded that America was simply
not to be trusted.
also meant that Britain saw the decolonisation process that
had been going on fitfully since the 1920s should be stepped
up a gear. This was the undertone of a speech
made in Africa in 1960 by the then British Prime Minister Harold
Macmillan. The Winds of Change speech was an abdication
speech made on behalf of the British Empire. From that point
on there was to be no illusion of permanence about the British
Empire, everything had to go.
speech was almost designed to upset the maximum amount of imperialists
within the Conservative Party, and they soon formed themselves
into the Monday Club. This organisation became
a totem of the right organising around many domestic
issues, notably immigration and Europe. With the Cold War, it
was perhaps inevitable that the scepticism towards America would
take a back seat. While France was captivated by Gaullism,
the only prominent Tory who would criticise America from the
right was Enoch
the years, the membership of the Monday Club declined after
splits in the 1970s and the ameliorative effect of Margaret
Thatcher. However, it stood for a traditional conservatism that
could not be wholly defined by the party leadership. In the
last month, it has been told that it must effectively
place itself under the control of the professional party
or wind itself up. This independence frightens the Conservative
Party more than any views on race or immigration. An independent-minded
group within the Conservative Party would gravitate naturally
towards the traditional Conservative position of an independent
foreign policy, and Iain Duncan Smith's foreign policy is by
no means independent.
organisation that could create problems for the Atlanticist policy of Iain
Duncan Smith is the magazine Right Now!. Here I've
got to declare an interest, I have written two short columns
for the magazine on foreign policy, although I am not from their
milieu. Right Now is linked to the Monday Club, in that many
of the people who founded it were involved in the "Young Monday
Club", which was in effect the student arm in the late 1980s.
However, it is quite a different creature.
Young Monday Club deserves some attention, although it was an
integral part of the grown up Monday Club many of its
members started to question the diehard instincts and unquestioning
party loyalty of their parent organisation. The Young Monday
Club, at least in student politics, was shaped by its relationship
with the Libertarian
faction of the Federation of Conservative Students. The
Libertarian faction was brash, ideological and self-confident.
as they were known were often rather jealous of their sporadic
allies. This, together with a natural undergraduate yearning
for a clear ideological framework, drew some of them towards
the European "new right", whose calls for cultural preservation
made for a natural if unconscious suspicion
of American domination. Most lapsed back into Tory careerism
and the loyalist instincts of the "grown up" Monday Club, indeed
leaving the Monday Club altogether. Some went all the way into
far-right parties like the BNP, and others looked at trying
to reshape the political culture but without falling for the
failed policies or tactics of fascism.
of the first forays was supremely political. The Revolutionary
Conservative Caucus was a group that although it had its roots
in the Monday Club, was radically different from it. Modeling
itself on the Trotskyite groups that had taken over large chunks
of the Labour Party in the 1980s they consciously tried to infiltrate
Conservative associations and take them over. They also adopted
the language and the dubious associations of their Marxist counterparts,
in this case a close association with the Front National in
France. Conservative Central Office saw this as very bad news
indeed and promptly banned the ringleaders.
this fiasco some of the group
went on to form the more civilised, and far more broad-minded,
magazine called Right Now!. This magazine is in tone
and content rather like the London Spectator, although
restrained by the proprietor's whims. Right Now!
is a magazine that is growing in circulation and readership.
Its central argument is that the right, while rather good on
the economic front, is ignoring the cultural framework. This
does not immediately fit into any foreign policy framework,
however it does lead to a debate on the fitting Conservative
response to foreign affairs. This is precisely what Iain Duncan
Smith does not want.
Duncan Smith is no unthinking Atlanticist; he is fully paid-for.
trips to America are legendary in Parliament. His contacts
on the warmongering wing of the Republican Party are so good
that when he was the Opposition Defence spokesman he actually
managed to meet Dick Cheney before
the Government Defence minister did. He has also given evidence
to Congress on the European Defence Initiative
and given lectures to the Heritage
Foundation in Washington DC. The only other MP who comes
close to this level of transatlantic contact is Julian Lewis.
Mr. Lewis is in charge of the purge of "right wingers" within
is not that Iain Duncan Smith is in any meaningful way moderate.
He has made speeches on the pressures produced by the high number
of immigrants in his constituency and has asked questions on
voluntary repatriation. Although more liberal on social issues
than commonly credited, he is no libertarian. In short, he is
no man to preach on not upsetting polite society. Julian Lewis
is similarly on the hard right of the Conservative party, and
not the Libertarian right either. The campaign against Right
Now! and the Monday Club is likely to create trouble for
Duncan Smith in that it will draw attention to his previous
statements, identical in tone to those of the Monday Club. It
is a very odd fight to start, and it seems to be striking at
his allies on the non-Libertarian right of the party.
people see Duncan Smith's moves as a vain PR exercise to impress
the liberal media by showing that he shares some of their values.
There may be some truth to this, but there is another, far more
worrying motive. He intends to pre-empt discussion of foreign
policy on the right, at a time when his only criticism
is that they aren't committing enough to the war effort. I wouldn't
really mind, but its hardly got started.
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