Bill's Archived Comments

Monday, 8th October 2001

The Conservative Party - Out of touch and divided

The Daily Telegraph published today the results of an on-line poll suggesting that the Conservative Party has not begun to recover yet. I resigned from the Party immediately following the election of its new Leader, to distance myself from a Party which, despite its protestations that it wishes to reconnect with the British people, has signally failed to do so - words are all very well, but specific action is needed if the Party is to begin to earn the renewed credibility which is essential if it is to attract a wider range of voters than it does now.

Lord Taylor was correct when he characterised the Conservative Party as mean-spirited and xenophobic, referring to the enforced resignation of three Conservative MPs from the Monday Club as not enough - like him, I believe that an immediate announcement that membership of the extreme right-wing Monday Club is not compatible with membership of the Conservative Party is essential. Whilst the requirement that three MPs resign from the Monday Club is certainly a start, it is simply not enough. Similarly, the Party's continuing support for retention of Clause 28, the main reason I resigned, needs to be changed - quickly and without reservation. (see later article, October 2002, by clicking here.)

Until my resignation, I was a Vice Chairman of my constituency association, Secretary of our local branch and I was a candidate at the last local government elections - over the past couple of years it had become more and more difficult to say, with pride, that I was a Conservative. Mr Iain Duncan Smith has a lot of work to do to if my view is to change any time soon.

The 'war' has begun

Last night, UK and (mainly) US forces launched the first attack on the Taliban regime in Afghanistan and upon the forces controlled by Osama bin Laden and as I write this on Monday evening a second night of attacks by US forces is underway. Perhaps the response has been more measured (and delayed) than those who perpetrated the attack on the World Trade Centre in New York and the Pentagon in Washington on 11th September had hoped. They will realise in the months and years ahead that they have tangled with the wrong people. Perhaps bin Laden may have thought he could provoke a precipitate and disproportionate response, to further his other political aims; so far, this has been thwarted. The long-suffering Afghani people deserve a better government than the one they have at present and in the wider scheme of Afghani history the removal of the malign influence of Osama bin Laden and his al-qaa'aida organisation is relatively minor, but in the short- to medium-term it seems absolutely vital..

As an aside, whilst it is pleasing that British journalist Yvonne Ridley has been released and is now apparently in Pakistan, I imagine that the British and American authorities could have done without this complication in their planning for the attacks begun yesterday. It would certainly have been wrong to delay the action because a journalist, in search of ever more sensational stories, should choose to enter another country illegally. Imagine the reaction if an Iraqi journalist, for example, were to enter Britain illegally in search of a story?

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