Text of a letter dated 26th September 2001, sent to Mr Iain Duncan Smith in response to a request for funds:
Rt. Hon Iain Duncan Smith MP Leader of the Conservative Party Conservative Central Office 32 Smith Square London SW1P 3HH
Dear Mr Duncan Smith
I have received your letter asking for money (copy attached - see the 'PS' at the end of my letter); I regret I shall have to disappoint you as I resigned from the Conservative Party on 17th September 2001, principally to mark my extreme anger that you had been elected Leader, although even if your rival had been elected I doubt I would have remained for more than a few months, his views on homosexuality (and a number of other social issues) being just as outdated as those of many others within the Conservative Party.
In an interview you had with Gyles Brandreth, published in 'The Sunday Telegraph' shortly prior to the announcement of the Leadership election result, but (very significantly) after it was likely that most Party members would already have despatched their voting papers, you seemed to indicate that you might be willing to look at the Party's outrageous (my description, obviously) policy on supporting retention of 'Clause 28'; reaction to this from supporters of your rival and, from what I can gather, some of your own supporters was, shall we say, less than glowingly welcome. Since then, nothing has been heard.
Of course, since then we have had the truly awful terrorist murders in the United States, the economic, political and social fallout of which will be with us for many years, I expect. Naturally, I welcomed the support you gave to the Prime Minister during the recent session in the House of Commons, specially your offer to 'suspend' party politics. Then, of course, I receive your letter asking for money; seemingly your suspension of party politics is purely for public consumption.
Some have suggested, in newspaper and internet articles on the subject, that the concerns of homosexuals, and certain other minorities seeking equal treatment under the law, are relatively minor compared with the threat posed to civilised society as a whole by the wanton and cruel terrorism of two weeks ago. There is some virtue in such argumentation, I would have to admit, but as one of our greatest military commanders of recent times, Viscount Bernard Montgomery, is quoted as opining, there is little (or at least, less) virtue in making hard decisions in easy circumstances, than having the strength of character to make these hard decisions in the most difficult of circumstances. I have heard Conservatives (in my former Association and elsewhere, for example MPs and MSPs) say that 'Human Rights' are less important than 'really important' matters such as health, education and matters that concern 'real people'; the crassness of such views is only excusable (and then only allowing for a great deal of latitude) because people who make these remarks have the good fortune to inhabit a country where, in general, basic human rights are usually respected. Much of the world is not so fortunate; I have lived in a number of countries at both extremes of the political spectrum, so am much less complacent about matters of basic freedoms and rights (not forgetting responsibilities) than it appears those who make the comments I refer to above are.
As so often in such incomprehensibly horrific circumstances as occurred in the United States two weeks ago, there appear to have been many acts of bravery, compassion and kindness, some of greater or lesser degree, but all flowing from a common belief that the virtues of the free societies we inhabit far outweigh the flaws, coupled with a determination that our societies will not be defeated. It seems that the fourth flight, which crashed in Pennsylvania, may have been diverted from the course set by the terrorists on board by a small number of (perhaps four or five) brave Americans who, knowing that they were most probably doomed, may well have succeeded in helping to spare the real target (perhaps the Capitol or the White House); one of these, as well as being a patriotic American, happened to be gay and a rugby player and a Republican of long standing. Senator John McCain (R-Az), not noted for his 'liberal' views, spoke a few days ago at a memorial service for Mark Bingham at the University of California at Berkeley, handsomely recognising the goodness of the man, as well as all the others, who had been so needlessly lost.
In summary, if and when I hear you have changed the political profile of the Conservative Party by abandoning certain of the unacceptable policies that exist at present, I may consider once more supporting it. Until such time as this occurs I have no intention of doing so. I make no criticism of anyone else, but for the record I have no desire to or intention of joining any other Party - I remain at heart a 'Conservative'; perhaps one day the Party I love will realise that its pledge to become more 'inclusive' must entail more than just words - action is needed to back up this fine goal. I joined the Party in August 1997 (having only a few years before returned to live in the United Kingdom permanently, having lived elsewhere for most of my adult life until then), as the new Leader of the day seemed to support a more 'inclusive' agenda, although he succeeded only in taking the party further to the [unelectable] right during the course of the ensuing four years. During the period I was a member, I served as a Vice Chairman of our Association, as the Secretary of our Inverness branch, as a local government candidate at the last local elections in 1999, as well as taking a leading role in drafting much of the election and other materials we used in the constituency and helping with fund-raising.
Incidentally, I wrote to you (by mail to the House of Commons and electronically through your Leadership election website) during the Leadership contest, but received no response from you or on your behalf from any of those who helped your campaign; I recognise that this was a busy time for you, but it is a telling commentary on you in my view, specially as most (not all) other candidates in the Leadership race to whom I wrote, managed to do so; the other exception was the new Chairman of the Party. I apologise for the frankness of my tone, but I see no point in dissimulating.
PS/ I attach a copy of your letter so that my details may be removed from future mailings; no doubt it is because my resignation was so recent that I was still in the database when this mailing was being prepared.