Monday, 9 December 2013

More than a whiff of hypocrisy?

There have been more than a whiff of hypocrisy  in  David Cameron, George Osborne and Commons Speaker John Bercow hailing   Nelson Mandela as an inspiration.
But throughout the 1980s, when they were young Tory activists, Margaret Thatcher was refusing to lift sanctions on South Africa’s racist government.
And as late as October 1987 she was dismissing Mr Mandela’s African National Congress party as “a typical terrorist organisation”.
Harry Phibbs, a Hammersmith councillor who was then prominent in the Federation Of Conservative Students  FCS, said.: 

“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’.
“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 wh
o produced that sticker. It was a rather immature way to stir things up.”
The FCS was disbanded by Norman Tebbit,  the party chairman. This was for publishing an article, penned by Harry Phibbs (above ), following Nikolai Tolstoy's accusation that former Conservative Prime Minister Harold Macmillan was complicit in war crimes for his involvement in the forced repatriation of Cossack prisoners of war to Soviet Russia in the aftermath of World War II.

Si it was disbanded not for backing apartheid but for attacking a former party leader. 

Defenders of  Cameron claim that in 1985 was just about to start university and never did become active in student politics – so was not a “top member” of FCS, nor involved in printing the slogan.
But my memories of the Conservative Students at one University during the period 1986-1989 was that they clearly had not changed  when "reformed".
Whilst s Student a a mature student at  Aberystwyth  I was generally shocked when Conservatives students 

  • Dressed in Springbok rugby jerseys in order to show their support for the South African apartheid regimes .Some of whom greeted each other with Nazi salutes claiming they were being ironic.
  • Racially abused a member of the Student Union Staff for which individual members were suspended from the Union.
  • Went on a drinking Binge to celebrate the rise of Adolf Hitler to power. Which was too much for the Conservatives 
  • themselves and they were disbanded.from the current association emerge.
I have no reason this was not replicated throughout the University system at the time.

Cameron et al may be innocent but some of those they associated with were guilty of supporting Apartheid  and if you can at least claim that Norman Tebbit  was not being hypocritical 

He said: 
“He (Mandela) was the leader of a political movement which had begun to resort to terrorism.”

But one wonders how many of those praising Mandela also condemned him in the past.
And how many preferred the Apartheid Regime that denied the majority of it Citizens the basic rights of democracy in being able to vote?

How many have really  changed?

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