...Out To Dry in the 80s
Anyone with the briefest interest in politics and world affairs will be aware that Tory leader, David Cameron, is a hypocrite for marking Nelson Mandela as a hero.The viral memes (here and here) that have been doing the rounds on social media sites for a year or so refer to Mandela’s grave illness and continues "When he does die, and David Cameron jumps on the Mandela bandwagon, remember that in 1985 he was a top member of the Federation of Conservative Students, which produced the 'Hang Mandela' posters."
Some establishment apologists and reactionary, right-wing commentators are attempting to paint a picture that is a little more opaque.
Cameron and the current Tory head boys are acknowledged toffs, cast in the image of Harry Enfield’s ‘Tory Boys’ that the Conservative Party under William Hague tried in vain to rid itself of in the 90′s. Of course any attempt at a Blairite 'modernisation' of the Tories is doomed to failure because it is inherently a party of the rich, for the rich; much like the New Labour facelift which tired to deny, worse still sever the proletarian roots of the political wing of the trade unions.
But are Cameron and Co merely upper-class buffoons or is there a truly malevolent vein running through the clique? We must examine the post-war history of young Conservatism and also look back to their university years...
Following the Second World War and the Conservatives’ loss of power, the Young Britons Organisation was reformed to cater for boys and girls aged 6-16, whilst over 16s were accommodated by the creation of the catchily-named Federation of University Conservative and Unionists Associations (FUCUA), later rebranded as the Federation of Conservative Students (FCS), and the Young Conservatives (YC). The Federation of Conservative Students (FCS) was created as the official university-based student-wing of the Conservative Party, although many students were also members of the YC.
Those that seek to defend Cameron, such as the author of this misleading Buzzfeed piece, claim that Cameron can be absolved of any and all responsibility for the Hang Mandela and pro-Apartheid rhetoric of the time because our David was not even ‘political’ in University and there is little evidence he was a member of the FCS, although he likely was a member of YC. The FCS became well-known for its ‘Hang Nelson Mandela’ posters and badges, as well as, slogans such as ‘Execute Arthur Scargill!’, or ‘Smash the NHS!’ ‘Kill the Wets’.
|Hang Nelson Mandela, Federation of Conservative Students|
This from The Guardian, 31st May 1986:
Tory student leader in ‘ racist ‘ party link / Paul Delarie-Staines of FCS attempts to form pact with British National Party in Hull by David Rose a leader of the Federation of Conservative Students wrote to an organiser of the British National Party proposing joint ‘direct action’ to disrupt the meetings of leftwing students. Secrecy, he emphasised, was essential: ‘The Reds would simply go wild if they got to hear of a BNP-FCS link.
I would personally be in danger of being expelled from the Conservative Party.’ The author of the letter is Mr Paul Delarie-Staines, the chairman of the federation’s 50-strong branch at the Humberside college of Higher Education. Mr Delarie-Staines, who is in his first year of a degree course in business information studies, wrote on May 22 to Mr Ian Walker, a BNP organiser in Hull. He was, he said, against several of the aims of the BNP, which campaigns for the repatriation of black citizens.The Paul Staines in question is better known now as drunken right-wing blogger Guido Fawkes.
Mr Delarie-Staines said he did not share the BNP view on immigration: as a member of the ‘libertarian’ faction of the FCS he advocated the free movement of labour, albeit with the caveat that ‘you come here to work – or starve. ‘He went on: ‘I share a lot of your objectives.‘ These included a return to leadership and statesmanship, the abolition of the welfare state, and ‘the elimination of Communism in Britain – the mass media, the trade unions, and the schoolroom. ‘Mr Delaire-Staines continued: ‘Nevertheless, even though we have our differences, I know a lot of BNP people at college do support the FCS (some are members of the FCS). I can certainly envisage some degree of cooperation.
Norman Tebbit disbanded FCS in 1986 as he viewed it as too extreme; they had accused former Tory PM Harold Macmillan of war crimes in extraditing Cossacks to the Soviet Union.
Before this prominent members included – Michael Forsyth (member of John Major’s cabinet, knighted in 97 and appointed to the Lords in 99) and John Bercow (current speaker of the House of Commons and the last chair of the FCS. Bercow is something of a self-made man, and there is a simmering animosity between him and Cameron. Son of a taxi-driver, educated in state schools he is the ‘Loadsamoney’ Thatcherite compared to Cameron’s ‘Tory Boy’ descendant of King William IV. Cameron’s father was a stockbroker, mother served as a magistrate and he went to prep school before Eton). Matin Callanan (leading the Conservative European Parliament section and seen by analysts as one of the trinity really leading the Tories along with Tom Strathclyde and Cameron).
YC, which shared members with FCS before their respective disbandments, was not as extreme as FCS – at least overtly – and it was suffered until William Hague’s decision to disband it in 1998. With less emphasis on political fundamentalism it was something more of a social club or marriage bureau, although responsible to a large extent for Churchill’s re-election in 1951, akin to Ireland’s Young Fine Gael or Ogra Fianna Fáil.
However this is not to say that Cameron was oblivious of the right-wing nature of his political allegiance.In the Buzzfeed article defending Cameron we only have the word of his official biographer that he wasn't "political" as a student; despite the fact he took Politics at 'O' level, 'A' level AND Degree; that he did work experience with his godfather, who was Tory MP for Lewes; and that most of his ancestors sat in the House of Lords. Are we really to believe he was not involved in politics until he finished his degree...and then walked straight into a prestigious job at Tory Party Central Office? For some reason, and I have no idea why, I smell a rat. There is no reason why Cameron could not have been a member of FCS whilst studying his 'A' levels, a full two years before he went to University...where the apolitical [sic] Cameron went to study...Politics. Of course this is all speculation, as are most of the "facts" cited in the Buzzfeed piece.
In 1989, 23yr old Cameron was working at the Conservative Research Department and was seen as future leader material. We do know for certain that he accepted an apartheid-lobbyist trip to South Africa, whilst Nelson Mandela rotted in prison, on what was called a ‘sanction-busting jolly’ by critics. His host was Strategy Network International (SNI), created in 1985 specifically to lobby against the imposition of sanctions on South Africa. Thatcher at this time had called Mandela a terrorist and the Conservatives were defiantly anti-sanctions. While this is circumstantial it can be noted that Cameron has surrounded himself with former FCS and YC members, the very people that regarded themselves as more Thatcherite than Thatcher.
If I said "Adolf Hitler was a diamond, stand-up bloke with fab policies" [he wasn't, obvs] could you infer from that that I, at this moment in time, supported Hitler, his beliefs and his manifesto? Yes, I rather think you could. Ergo, when Cameron praises and worships Thatcher that is exactly what he is doing.
Did Thatcher call Mandela a terrorist? Yep. Did Cameron support Thatcher's anti-sanctions, pro-Apartheid policies? Yep. (he was actually a "rising star" of the Conservative Research Department, lest we forget!). Did Tory MPs like Teddy Taylor and the FSC call for Mandela's execution? Yep. Did Cameron attend a sanction-busting all-expense jolly to Apartheid South Africa whilst Mandela was incaerated on Robin Island by that very same regime? Yep. Are leading members of the Cameron's Tory Cabinet - his personally hand-picked colleagues, including leader of the House John Bercow - those responsible for the Hang Mandela propaganda of the FSC in the 1980's? Yep.
Whether Cameron was actually directly involved in the production of the Hang Mandela material is pretty irrelevant; he was was complicit with the campaign. It depends how pedantic you want to be but the key point, backed with evidence, really is the fact that behind Cameron's platitudes lies someone who helped the Apartheid state to continue for far longer than it should have. It's his hypocrisy that is the issue, not his use of a photocopier in 1985.
Unless Cameron condemns Thatcher's pro-Apartheid, anti-sanctions, Mandela-is-a-terrorist rhetoric he must still either complicitly support it or be trying to whitewash it from history, because last time I checked he still has his slimy little tongue lodge up Maggie's maggot-infested arse.
The Bullingdon Club and Monday Club influence on Cameron, his cabinet, speech writers, advisors and supporters is more relevant than whether or not he wore a ‘Hang Mandela’ badge or tie like so many of his colleagues. The select few that came through the YC, FCS and the two example clubs are in charge and largely share the same platform. They were anti-communist, pro-apartheid, anti-immigrantion or straightforwardly racist (although Libertarian and other peculiarities muddy the water here eg this account by Derek Laud), anti-republican, anti-Irish, fanatically pro-privatisation and defiantly upper class.
Cameron sports fifteen old Etonians in his cabinet.
The privilege is strong and the sense of entitlement is natural.