Tories axe right-wing group over race issue

 By Nigel Morris Political Correspondent

 The Independent, 19 October 2001

 The hard-right Monday Club was suspended from the
 Conservative Party last night and told it would only be
 readmitted if it abandoned campaigning on immigration.

 David Davis, the party chairman, announced the tougher than
 expected move after a tense 80-minute meeting with officers of
 the organisation.

 He ordered the group to review its constitution to include a
 promise not to "promulgate or discuss policies relating to
 race". Mr Davis also told it to expel members who champion
 racist opinions.

 Speaking outside Conservative Central Office, he said: "Until
 we're satisfied with their response, the Monday Club is
 suspended from any association with the Conservative Party."

 He said that if the group was not prepared to amend its rules
 "to make it unconstitutional for them to promulgate any
 policies on the question of immigration and race", its
 suspension would be made permanent.

 The showdown came after Viscount Massereene and Ferrand,
 its president, Lord Sudeley, its chairman, and Denis Walker,
 and Denis Walker, a member of the executive, were
 summoned into Central Office.

 The order means that the organisation will no longer be able to
 describe itself as the Conservative Monday Club.

 The newly elected Tory leader, Iain Duncan Smith, has been
 dogged by reports of links between his leadership campaign
 and far-right groups.

 Just six weeks ago, before his election, Mr Duncan Smith
 described the Monday Club as a "viable organisation with the
 party and they are, in a sense what the party is about".

 However, in a swift about-turn, three Conservative MPs, Andrew
 Hunter, Andrew Rosindell and Angela Watkins, were earlier
 this month instructed by the new leadership to sever their links
 with the Monday Club.

 Mr Hunter had been its deputy chairman and associate editor
 of its Right Now! magazine, which described Nelson Mandela
 as a "terrorist".

 The Monday Club, set up 40 years ago to oppose liberal
 policies within the Tory party, has pursued strong
 anti-immigration views and as recently as six weeks ago, its
 website was backing financial assistance for repatriation. The
 view has since been excised from its list of policies.

 Mr Davis told Radio 4's PM programme: "The Monday Club had
 a number of things on its website which we didn't like and
 reflected badly .... We want to clear this up once and for all."

 The suspension will cause tension in the party, both among
 grass-roots members and right-wing MPs who fear that Mr
 Duncan Smith's decision was driven by "political correctness".

 However, he was urged by several senior colleagues, including
 David Willetts and Tim Yeo, to take decisive action as a first
 step towards reaching out to the political centre-ground.

 A Tory spokesman said there were no plans to extend the
 action to any other right-wing organisation affiliated to the

 The Labour chairman, Charles Clarke, said: "The reality is that
 the Tories have lurched further and further to the right in recent
 years. They will be judged on their record, not their rhetoric."

 The move came hours after two MPs resigned from Mr Duncan
 Smith's frontbench team, just a month after being awarded
 their posts.

 Nick Gibb stood down as a spokesman on Transport, Local
 Government and the Regions to take up a seat on the Public
 Accounts Committee, while James Cran gave up his post as
 deputy to Eric Forth, the shadow Commons Leader.

Full article at:

Michael Keaney
Mercuria Business School
Martinlaaksontie 36
01620 Vantaa


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