Category Archives: Young Britons’ Foundation

Greg Smith For Kensington?

I spotted this story in the revived local paper, The Fulham Chronicle (confusingly titled London Weekly News and Fulham Chronicle). According to The Chronicle, Greg Smith, the “high flying” leader of the opposition Tory group on Hammersmith and Fulham Council, is being tipped as the front runner for the newly vacated Kensington seat. But “high flying”? Someone’s having a laugh.

As readers will be aware, the current incumbent, Malcolm Rifkind, stepped down a couple of weeks ago after being suspended by his party for being caught on camera offering his services to an undercover reporter for a nice tidy sum. Labour’s Jack Straw was also caught, thus proving there’s little difference between Nu Labour and the Tories. In the ensuing row, Rifkind complained that his MP’s salary was insufficient and he could make loads of money elsewhere. Then he flounced off.

Greg Smith is well-known to this blog for being a member and founder of the Young Britons Foundation and for offering little in the way of opposition to the ruling Labour Party. The only big idea the Tories have offered is an anti-litter campaign and, er, that’s it. Since losing last year’s local government elections, Smith and his party are still licking their wounds and crying into their Martinis (or whatever they drink).

Kensington as a constituency is the revival of an old constituency of the same name. It was joined with Chelsea between 1997 and 2010 and is usually the kind of constituency that selects a high profile, often flamboyant, figure. Smith is neither of those things. Previous MPs for Kensington and Chelsea include Alan Clark and Michael Portillo. It was considered to be one of the safest Tory seats in the country.

The Chronicle’s article closes with “Councillor Smith is highly regarded in Conservative circles”. Shrugs. Well, how about stating the obvious for a change? If Smith is selected, then who will take his place as group leader? Mark Loveday, who, coincidentally is also a member of the YBF? I can’t think of anyone else.

Smith is up against the likes of Toby ‘Helmet Head’ Young; former H&F councillor and fellow YBF founder, Donal Blaney; footballer, Sol Campbell and cricketer Andrew Strauss. Christ, what a shower.

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Aidan Burley To Resign Next Year

According to The Huffington Post, Aidan Burley, the genius behind the Nazi-themed stag party for which his pal, Mark Fournier, later copped a 1,500 Euro fine from a French court, is to step down at the next general election. Burley escaped a fine and got nothing more a light tap on the bum after a Tory party internal inquiry found him guilty of ‘hi-jinx’. Now he will be free to spend more time practising his goose-step.

Jessica Elgot writes:

Burley said in a statement: “After a difficult time I have decided to announce I will stand down at the next general election.

“I will continue to work for the people of Cannock Chase until that election, and look forward to supporting my successor, as soon as he or she is selected, to ensure that Labour have no chance of re-taking this seat.

“It was a wonderful surprise to win the seat of Cannock Chase in May 2010 with the biggest swing in the country and it has been a huge privilege to represent the people of Cannock Chase in Parliament over the past four years.

“I am grateful to all those who voted for me and supported our campaign which led to our famous victory.”

Does this mean he’ll be heading back to Hammersmith and Fulham, where he was once a councillor? I hope not. This borough has enough Tory headbangers as it is.

Bye, bye, Burley.

Burley, bye, bye!

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Weasel words from Phibbs

Foghorn Phibbs: apparently he never wore the T-shirt

This blog seems to have attracted a few views over the last several days. With Nelson Mandela close to death, perhaps it was inevitable. It was also inevitable that many people would remember the Tories’ attitude to Nelson Mandela and their support for South Africa’s apartheid regime during the 1980s. Many also recall that the Federation of Conservative Students (FCS) proudly wore ‘Hang Mandela’ T-shirts and referred to him as a ‘terrorist’ while they, not only supported the continuation of apartheid, but also gave their support to the Pinochet regime and the Nicaraguan Contras, a terrorist group that was financed by arms sales to Iran.

I was reading this article in The Independent when I spotted this:

Harry Phibbs, a Hammersmith councillor who was then prominent in the FCS, says: “A group of people at Warwick University made stickers that were a parody of the stickers people were wearing saying ‘Free Nelson Mandela and all ANC prisoners’, which said ‘Hang Nelson Mandela and all ANC terrorists’.

Foghorn continues:

“The motive was to disrupt the conference of the National Union of Students [NUS]. It was never proposed by the FCS officially. I suspect that it wasn’t even a view really held by the people who produced that sticker. It was a rather immature way to stir things up.”

A couple of things: first, he claims that the ‘Hang Mandela’ T-shirts were ‘parodies’. Now that the FCS is dead and has been reincarnated as the Young Britons’ Foundation (YBF), it was only inevitable that Phibbs would employ the ‘youthful hi-jinks’ get out clause. There was nothing parodic about these people wearing T-shirts that demanded Mandela be hanged. They meant every single word of it. Second, he claims that this view “wasn’t even a view really held by the people who produced that sticker. It was a rather immature way to stir things up”. This is what The Cat refers to as the ‘Jeremy Clarkson defence’. The “it was all just a joke, honest” line, cuts no ice.  We only have Phibbs’s word that the FCS were just being, er, playful and frankly his word is schmutz at Nowhere Towers.

Hammersmith and Fulham Council is now home to former FCSers, some of them have gone on to join the YBF, even though they are no longer young. Some, like Aidan Burley, have become MPs and achieved notoriety through their boorish, oafish right-wing predilections for a certain kind of attire and their hateful denunciations of tolerance and equality .

Here, Phibbs reminisces about the good old days of the FCS. Perhaps the strongest indication of the FCS’s support for authoritarian regimes comes from Foghorn himself, when he writes:

Under the new regime campaigns took place in solidarity with those fighting Communism around the world, whether Eastern European dissidents or groups fighting civil wars in Africa and Central America. A shocking policy was adopted in support of a students loans scheme. The battle of ideas was fought for freedom and the free market, against socialism and state control.

Remember, authoritarian regimes are fine as long as they’re ‘anti-communist’. Right-wing terrorists are transformed into ‘freedom fighters’ on account of their anti-communism, and Pinochet’s and Suharto’s atrocities are casually waved away as mere inconveniences. Sometimes right-wingers will try and engage in a pissing contest by claiming that the Left has been more responsible for the deaths of millions more and will even try and aggregate Hitler’s atrocities with that number. The groups the FCS supported on the African continent were UNITA in Angola and RENAMO in Mozambique. The latter organization was founded in Ian Smith’s Rhodesia and supported by South Africa.

At the end of the article, he signs off by telling us:

Harry Phibbs is a journalist.

I can think of loads of things to call him and ‘journalist’ isn’t one of them. Cabinet Member for Propaganda is probably closer to the mark. Oh hang on, he’s no longer in that position but he still churns out propaganda on the Council’s behalf on Conservative Home, where he is the “the local government editor”. It tells us:

While he is not an anarchist, Harry is strongly on the libertarian/ classical liberal wing of the Conservative Party.

No! Really? Remember what I said about ‘classical liberals’? He also writes propaganda for the local Tory blog; the deceptively titled ‘Residents First’.

Here’s an interesting article from Suzanne Moore in yesterday’s Guardian. Naturally, the article has attracted knuckledraggers repeating the usual mush but they never dare to mention the atrocious apartheid years.  I wonder why?

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Tory youth wing ‘Conservative Future’ still singing “Hang Nelson Mandela” at meetings

Conservative Future (who look to the past) are still singing “Hang Mandela”. It’s interesting how this particular comment appeared on Harry ‘Foghorn’ Phibbs’ blog on Conservative Home. Phibbs, as you may recall, was once a member of the Federation of Conservative Students, the former rabid right youth wing of the Tory Party. Their mantle has been recently assumed by the Young Britons Foundation.

Pride's Purge

(not satire – it’s the Tories!)

Well at least until 2006 they were.

Let’s remind ourselves what the Tories used to openly say about Nelson Mandela.

‘Hang Nelson Mandela’ – Federation of Conservative Students

‘Nelson Mandela should be shot’ – Tory MP Teddy Taylor

‘The ANC is a typical terrorist organisation’ – Margaret Thatcher

‘This hero worship is very much misplaced’- Tory MP John Carlisle

‘How much longer will the Prime Minister allow herself to be kicked in the face by this black terrorist?’ – Tory MP Terry Dicks

etc etc etc

OK – that was a long time ago. Most people would say the modern Conservative Party has completely changed now.

Well , maybe.

Strange then that over at the Conservative Home website – a Tory supporter calling him or herself ‘Thatcher’s Stormtrooper‘ – states that members of today’s Tory youth wing ‘Conservative Future’ were still…

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What is the Liberty League?

This is your freedom, you can't afford the other kind.

This is your freedom, you can’t afford the other kind.

If it’s one thing that the Right loves to do, it’s to lecture the Left and anyone who’ll listen on the nature of freedom. They’ll wrap their semi-feudal ideas in economic jargonese and present them as unassailable truths, telling anyone who dares to disagree with them and their muddle-headed views that they “hate” freedom. They would deny that they are superstitious but their unquestioning belief in The Invisible Hand of the Market is naive at best and dangerous at worst. It’s another way of saying “We’ll just let the Lord decide this one, shall we”?

I only came across the Liberty League fairly recently and as is always the case with groups that use the word “liberty” or “freedom” in their name, they work to deny others of their freedoms. As it turns out, the Liberty League is not the name of one particular organization but an umbrella name for a network of, some would say, the usual suspects but with one or two names added. At first glance it would appear that they have taken their name from the American Liberty League, an anti-New Deal group of businessmen who were involved in the alleged Business  Plot of the 1930s, but they haven’t.

Have a look at this list, you’ll see some familiar names and some not-so-familiar names. One such name is the Legatum Institute, whose parent company is Legatum.  I can tell you that Legatum is based in Dubai, that free-market paradise in which migrant workers from places like India and Pakistan are treated appallingly. Legatum is an international investment company that was founded in 2006 by New Zealander, Christopher Chandler, who was president of Sovereign Asset Management. It has also created The Legatum Center at the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Techonology or MIT.

The Legatum Center for Development and Entrepreneurship was founded on the belief that economic progress and good governance in low-income countries emerge from entrepreneurship and innovations that empower ordinary citizens.

The Center was founded at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2007 through a multi-million dollar gift from Legatum, a global investment firm.

The Legatum Institute has something that it calls its “Prosperity Index”, which it says

is a unique and robust assessment of global wealth and wellbeing, which benchmarks 142 countries around the world in eight distinct categories: Economy; Education; Entrepreneurship & Opportunity; Governance; Health; Personal Freedom; Safety & Security; and Social Capital.

I had a look at the first video and was led to this site, which gives details of how they measure “prosperity”. It also ranks countries in order of their relative “prosperity”. Some countries don’t figure because of “insufficient data”, these are countries like North Korea and Somalia. The colour green indicates “high prosperity”. Guess which countries are listed? You guessed it. The UK, USA and all the Northern European countries plus Australia, New Zealand, Japan the UAE and some others.

While this all sounds rather reasonable and indeed plausible, the fact that Legatum is part of this Liberty League says more than their charts or their methodologies could ever say. Rest assured that when it comes to prosperity, it is clear that they’ve ignored certain factors in order to advance a thesis of ‘liberty’ through laissez-faire capitalism. The UK, for example, is by all accounts, not as socially mobile as Legatum would have us believe. Social capital plays a large part in how power is exercised politically. Those who possess the social capital inherited from aristocratic, landed families and the rest of the old establishment is not considered in the analysis. Money in Britain stays with the same group of people. Prosperity exists for some and not for all.

Freedom, contrary to the claims of the Right, cannot be measured by a set of indicators or benchmarks. Freedom is much more personal and is arguably a more a state of mind than a word or a set of principles that have been decided upon by the high priests of this economic cult or that. No matter how many times they’d like to tell us, capitalism is not congruent with freedom.

The President and CEO of the Legatum Institute is Jeffrey Gedmin, a former president of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, the international charm arm of the US Congress (it was funded by the CIA until 1972) that once beamed music and messages of “liberty” to the so-called Iron Curtain countries has now turned its signal towards Iran, Central Asia and the Middle East. Gedmin was also a resident “scholar” with the American Enterprise Institute, a neoconservative think-tank that boasts the talents of Richard Perle, who was one of the principal architects of the Iraq Invasion. The use of the word “scholar” to describe these people is flattering to say the least.

Legatum also organizes Democracy Lab, which appears to be part of its magazine, Foreign Policy.  Here’s the Facebook page for Democracy Lab. It tells us,

Democracy Lab covers the political and economic challenges facing countries trying to make the transition from authoritarianism to democracy.

Why do I get the feeling this has nothing at all to do with democracy? Since the collapse of the Berlin Wall over 20 years ago, neoliberals have have rushed into the former Eastern Bloc countries in their droves. The economic vacuum that was created in the wake of the collapse of European Stalinism was the ideal opportunity for groups like CATO and others to reshape these nations into model free market economies. They have done this through a network of economic think-tanks and pressure groups that share the common goal of free market capitalism. The new leaders of these countries were the antithesis of their predecessors, and threw themselves lovingly into the arms of neoliberalism’s carpetbagger-priests.

The University of Bath Tobacco Control Research Group has a site called “Tobacco Tactics” that “aims to provide up-to-date information on the Tobacco Industry, its allies or those promoting a pro-tobacco agenda”. It lists the Liberty League as one of those groups that acts as front for the tobacco industry.

Back to the Liberty League. They have six staff, all of whom look at though they’ve just walked out of university. Interestingly, two of them have degrees in War Studies.

The site says that three of its staff, Will Hamilton, Anton Howes and James Lawson, are members of the Adam Smith Institute’s (ASI) “Next Generation Project”. But the link is dead. However I have discovered Pete Spence, Operations Manager for the League is one of the project’s “key people”.

Pete Spence is Programmes Officer at the Adam Smith Institute, responsible for overseeing the ASI’s events and student programmes. He holds a BSc in Economics from the University of York.

Pete’s policy interests include agricultural policy, opposition of corporate welfare and internet freedom.

Away from work, Pete enjoys weight training, live music and volunteering as Operations Manager for the Liberty League.

Ah, so he’s only a part-timer at the League? This straddling of two or more groups is quite common. We should remember that Dan the Han is involved with Young Britons’ Foundation (YBF) and TFA. The YBF is, for all intents and purposes, the continuity Federation of Conservative Students.

The Liberty League has invited the Institute of Ideas (IoI), who are part of the LM network to join. Liberty, the civil liberties pressure group, has also been invited. The IoI produces propaganda in the form of ‘scholarly’ research for global pharmaceutical companies and agri-business companies like Monsanto.  The IoI has shared a platform with the League at their “Freedom Forum” events, which were also attended by The Institute of Economic Affairs, Spiked, TFA, Big Brother Watch and Liberal Vision. The latter is formed of Orange Book Lib Demmers.

This is liberty, dear readers. It’s the liberty of corporations and feral capitalists to exploit others for profit. It’s the liberty that holds most of humanity in bondage to the markets.  In other words, it’s an Orwellian idea of liberty.

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Pickles plays the Hokey Cokey with the YBF

Eric Pickles talks rubbish

In a Guardian article from March 2010, Eric Pickles, then the Tory Party Chairman, said that he was “distancing the party from the Young Britons Foundation”.

If that’s the case, Nowhere Towers would like to know why he still turns up to address the young and not-so-young shock troops of the rabid right? Presumably, he’d tell us that he’s attending such meetings in a “personal capacity”. Yeah, okay, if you say so.

The Sontaran  also has close contact with the Trade Union Reform Campaign led by Young Turcs (geddit?) Aidan Burley and Mark Clarke, the YBF’s  “Outreach Officer. In fact, as Political Scrapbook tells us he’s attending this evening’s relaunch of TURC.

Burley was involved in an embarrassing Nazi incident just before Christmas that cost him his job as Justine Greening’s bag carrier. Oddly enough, Nazis didn’t like trade unions either.

So is Pickles in or is he out? Will he shake it all about? Ugh. That’s one mental picture  that I don’t want to see again.

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Beyond fetishes? Union-bashing, Tories, Nazis and Aidan Burley

When it comes to truly barking right wing politicians, Hammersmith & Fulham knows how to produce them. In recent years it has churned out quite a crop of nutty right wingers, whose ‘philosophies’  intersect rather neatly with those of the far right.  While making a casual online search for updates on Aidan Burley… you know, he of the embarrassing Nazi incident, I came across this website.

After last month’s massive strike, Burley got the notion into his wee noodle to set up his own think-tank dedicated to smearing the trade unions.  He’s done this with the apparent blessing of Lord Snooty. The site’s “About Us” page says,

We campaign for reform of the laws and funding arrangements relating to trade unions. We do not oppose trade unions right to exist and to campaign on issues which are important to them. However, we do not believe that the hard pressed tax payer should be forced to pay for their campaigns either directly or indirectly. Furthermore, we believe that when trade unions take action which affects the wider public it should have a greater element of democratic legitimacy.

Burley has deliberately failed to spot the glaringly obvious: his party is funded by unaccountable millionaires and billionaires, none of whom are elected or accountable to anyone but themselves. 22 millionaires currently sit at the cabinet table. On the other hand, union leaders are elected by their members  and are accountable to their electors. Naturally we cannot expect someone of Burley’s character to understand something so simple. Let’s read on,

We provide quality research into trade union related affairs which highlight these issues. We welcome engagement from trade unionists, taxpayers, users of public services and the media who wish to engage with us. We are happy to provide media spokesmen or speakers for debates and public fora on these issues.

So, this this is a think-tank that’s also a union-busting service? It sounds like it. I’m not taken in by this promise of “quality research” either but then, dear readers, you wouldn’t expect me to be.

This organisation is run on a voluntary basis by people who work in both the public and private sectors, outside of their normal work hours. Just as trade unions should be.

I wonder who these volunteers are? More importantly, his view of unions appears to be a little, er, lopsided. How many of his fellow MPs are engaged on private business when they should be working on Commons business? Hmmmm? What about those expenses? The moats, the duck houses?

Helping Burley in his quest to further smash what’s left of Britain’s trade union movement is Harry Cole, Guido’s ‘news editor’.

The Tories are often quick enough to tell us how they loathe Nazis and, more recently, have been equally as quick to claim that Nazis were “socialists” because the word “Socialist” forms part of their name. In their haste to rush to such an untidy conclusion, they have ignored one rather important fact: Germany’s conservative Centre Party handed Hitler power of their own volition. Indeed, the German conservatives had many things in common with the Nazis: nationalism, law and order, crushing workers movements. Far from being supportive of trade unions, the Nazis saw them as enemies and banned them. I would wager that if Burley and other Tories had their way, they would doubtlessly follow the same path. Of course I am not saying that the Conservative Party is a Nazi party or a Nazi sympathizing party. That would be puerile.  Eh, Dan? But clearly there are individual members of the party who venerate Hitler and his vile party and we shouldn’t ignore this. After all, how many Labourites fetishize Stalin or Ceaucescu?

So it comes as no surprise to me that a young Tory, who was once a H&F councillor, should be seen associating with Nazi fetishists. His predecessor at H&F Council, Donal Blaney, made clear his thoughts about access to social housing that could have, quite easily, been spoken by a Nazi.

The Guardian said,

Conservative Central Office confirmed yesterday that it has opened an inquiry following a complaint from the Commission for Racial Equality about the Fulham Homes for Fulham People campaign led by Tory councillors Donal Blaney and Greg Hands.

One leaflet accused the London borough of Hammersmith and Fulham of denying a council house to a “local mum” whose place had been taken by “asylum seekers”.

The name Greg Hands should be familiar to most readers, he is now the MP for the newly created constituency of Fulham and Chelsea. Hands is an arch-Thatcherite, who was once the leader of the opposition Tory group before he was selected to stand for the old Hammersmith & Fulham constituency. He has also recently addressed the Young Britons Foundation.

In the week before Christmas, Burley apologised and was then promptly sacked from his position as Justine Greening’s PPS. According to the Daily Mail, Burley had even hired an SS uniform,

This veneration of the Nazis and their iconography is nothing new. Other Tories have been there before. The most notable example was the racist boor and self-styled rake, Alan Clark who, according to Socialist Unity, took the BNP’s John Tyndall out to lunch. That’s the same BNP that Hannan claims is “left-wing”.

Socialist Unity quoted this from one of Clark’s diaries,

‘Lunched with Frank Johnson [parliamentary sketch writer on The Times]. Frank pretended he wanted to talk about the Tory Party, but he really prefers to talk about the Nazis, concerning whom he is curious, but not, of course, sympathetic. Yes, I told him, I was a Nazi, I really believed it to be the ideal system, and that it was a disaster for the Anglo-Saxon races and for the world that it was extinguished. He both gulped and grinned, ‘But surely, er, you mean ideally in terms of administrative and economic policy you cannot really, er …’ Oh yes, I told him, I was completely committed to the whole philosophy. The blood and the violence was an essential ingredient of its strength, the heroic tradition of cruelty every bit as powerful and a thousand times more ancient than the Judaeo-Christian ethic.

The disgraced former MP, Neil Hamilton once made a Nazi salute while on a trip to Berlin in 1983.

The buffoonish image cultivated by Mr Hamilton in public has managed to gloss over his extreme views. Born in 1947 in a small Welsh mining town, he was a leading light in the Federation of Conservative Students and the ultra right at the university of Aberystwyth. A 1979 election flyer in Bradford, where Mr Hamilton was standing as Conservative candidate, espoused “coloured” repatriation, as did a speech to the Tory selection committee at the same time.

Oh yes, the FCS, I remember them and so does Craig Murray. The FCS is the predecessor of the YBF. Hamilton has recently joined UKIP.

I have previously quoted this blog from Dissembling Dan Hannan in which he claims that the BNP are a party of the “far left”.  His thesis looks even shakier now.

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