The Conservative Monday Club (usually known as the Monday Club) is a British political pressure group, aligned with the Conservative Party, though no longer endorsed by it, but it does have an interesting background worthy of note as it somewhat highlights the DNA of the Conservative party.
The origins of the group are closely connected to Le Cercle, a right-wing organisation whose activities include political subversion – and the clandestine arrangement of business transactions, especially arms deals and fraud. (Read Meet Le Cercle – Making Bilderberg Look Like Amateurs).
Its original founder was Robert Gascoyne-Cecil, member of the House of Lords and the 7th Marquess of Salisbury and member of a number of Eurosceptic and Neoconservative connected organisations such as Open Europe.
Founded in 1961, in the belief that the Macmillan government had taken the party too far to the left, the club became embroiled in the decolonisation and immigration debate for which it is most famous for. By highlighting the controversial issue of race, which dominated its image ever since, at its height in 1971 the club had 35 MPs, six of them ministers, and 35 peers, with membership (including branches) totalling about 10,000.
In 1982, the constitution of the Monday Club was re-written, with more emphasis on support for the Conservative Party, but subsequent in-fighting over the club’s ‘hard right’ agenda led to many resignations.
In 2001, the Conservatives formally severed relations with the club due to its continued extreme right-wing views.
Originally, it believed that the principles needing to be reasserted included the preservation of the constitution and existing institutions, the freedom of the individual, the private ownership of property, and the need for Britain to play a leading part in world affairs. It disliked what it regarded as the expediency, cynicism and materialism which motivated Harold Macmillan‘s government.
In addition it was concerned that during this period “the left wing of the Party had gained a predominant influence over policy” and that as a result the Conservative Party had shifted to the left, so that “the floating voter could not detect, as he/she should, major differences between it and the Socialists” and, furthermore, “loyal Conservatives had become disillusioned and dispirited.”
The group brought together supporters of White Rhodesia and apartheid South Africa; the main impetus for the group’s formation was the Conservatives’ new decolonisation policies. The club opposed what it described as the “premature” independence of Kenya, and the breakup of the Central African Federation, which was the subject of its first major public meeting in September 1961.
The club is notable for having promoted a policy of voluntary, or assisted, repatriation for non-white immigrants.
In 1969 the Monday Club launched a “Powell For Premier” campaign to make anti-immigration MP Enoch Powell Tory leader. However, despite complaints that it was trying to set up a separate organisation or even establish a separate party, it remained powerful on the right wing of the Conservative Party.
Oxford political scholar Roger Griffin referred to the club as practising an anti-socialist and elitist form of conservatism. In the 1970 Conservative Party election victory, six MPs who were club members were given government positions.
In September 1972, the club held a “Halt Immigration Now!” public meeting in Westminster Central Hall, opposite Parliament, at which the speakers, Ronald Bell, QC, MP, John Biggs-Davison, MP,Harold Soref, MP, and John Heydon Stokes, MP, (all club members) called on the government to halt all immigration, repeal the Race Relations Act (1968 Commonwealth Immigration Act), and start a full repatriation scheme. A resolution was drafted, approved by the meeting, and delivered to the Prime Minister, Edward Heath, who replied that
“the government had no intention of repealing the Race Relations Act”.
The playwright David Edgar described the Monday Club in an academic essay as “proselytising the ancient and venerable conservative traditions of paternalism, imperialism and racism.”
In the early 1970s it faced entryism from the National Front and other extremist organisations, while remaining the mainstream face of anti-immigration sentiment. In the 1970s and 1980s it campaigned heavily against immigration from the “New Commonwealth” (i.e. the non-white bits of the former British Empire) and protested the new wave of legislation protecting black immigrants from discrimination.
Its 1982 policy document called for the abolition of the Commission for Racial Equality, repeal of all race relations laws, an end to immigration from non-white commonwealth countries.
Various scandals has dogged the Monday Club over the years, such as Harvey Procter who had taken part in sexual relationships with males aged between 17 and 21, in his London flat. The age of consent for same-sex sexual relationships was still 21 in 1986.
During the period that Margaret Thatcher led the Conservative Party, the Monday Club were prolific publishers of booklets, pamphlets, policy papers, an occasional newspaper, Right Ahead, and a magazine Monday World .
The club was anti-communist and had an active Defence Committee chaired for over 15 years bySir Patrick Wall, MP, MC, and produced much literature on the perceived threat posed by Soviets and communists everywhere.
When it appeared that communism was failing in the Eastern Bloc, the club’s Foreign Affairs Committee called upon Members of Parliament to be ready and to argue for the German borders to be restored to the position they stood at on 1 January 1938, saying there must be no gains for communism.
The club continued its support for white minority rule in South Africa, and were actively against the release of Nelson Mandela. Right-wing MP Teddy Taylor even advocated the shooting of the Mandela.
By 1989 the club adopted a firm anti-European Union (EU) position.
After its 2001 General Election defeat, the Conservative Party made efforts to appear less of a racist, anti-gay, anti-poor, “Nasty Party”, and moved in a more centrist direction. Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith and chairman David Davis took steps to break the Monday Club’s links with the Conservative party.
John Bercow, now speaker of the House of Commons, formerly secretary of the Immigration and Repatriation Committee of the Monday Club, was a supporter of Enoch Powell. Despite being Jewish himself, Bercow was accused of racism by the Essex University Jewish Society in the 1980s over his links to the Monday Club and other far-right groups.
Derek Laud, a British lobbyist, businessman, political adviser, speechwriter, and journalist had known Bercow well over a 20 year period and although being former member himself eventually described it as an ‘absurdly nasty fringe group of lunatics’.
“Watching John in action could sometimes be stomach-turning. He was on the ‘edge’ and, with fellow ‘Thatcherite guerrillas’ Marc-Henri Glendening, Doug Smith and Mark MacGregor, made speeches about supporting the UNITA movement in Angola, in tune with the American Right-wing, despite the fact it had plunged that country into civil war.”
Tory big beasts Norman Tebbit, Peter Bottomly, Neil Hamilton and Alan Clark were all members as were many others. Former prime minister Alec Douglas Home and Enoch Powell were supportive or spoke at its events.
From 2001, a number of notable Tory MP’s were ordered to resign from the Monday Club as the Conservative party wanted to make it more attractive to people from ethnic minorities.
In 2013 The Telegraph ran a story about Jacob Rees-Mogg attending a dinner hosted by a man who advocates the repatriation of “non-indigenous” Britons, despite being warned of the group’s far-Right links.
“Mr Rees-Mogg was told by anti-racism campaigners that the Traditional Britain Group, a discussion group for “disillusioned patriots”, has links to the far-Right. But he was assured the claims were “smears”, and attended as guest of honour at the group’s annual black tie dinner at London’s East India Club. The group is run by Gregory Lauder-Frost, a former leading light of the Conservative Monday Club and a well-known figure within the British far-Right. He previously ran the Western Goals Institute, which had links to European neo-fascist parties.
He calls for the “assisted repatriation” of ethnic minority people whose families have moved to Britain since the Second World War, as advocated in the 1970 Conservative Party manifesto. He singled out Doreen Lawrence, Baroness Lawrence, the mother of murdered teenager Stephen Lawrence”. Lauder-Frost, 62, told the Daily Telegraph: “I feel this woman has done the British nation no favours whatsoever. If these people don’t like us and want to keep attacking us they should go back to their natural homelands.”
The group describes Chuka Umunna, the shadow business secretary, as “a Nigerian” and calls for the repeal of race relations laws. Its president is Lord Sudely, a former president of the Monday Club, who has praised Hitler. Previous after-dinner speakers include Frank Ellis, the university lecturer who was suspended for claiming black people have lower IQs than white people.”
In 2015, the aforementioned Derek Laud, who was also Baroness Thatcher’s ex speech-writer and David Cameron’s friend branded the party ‘ultimate racists’ for its 2013 anti immigration campaign saying further that – “They like keeping black people in one place – or in their place.”
The Monday Club website states on its home page
“We are the home of those members and supporters of the Conservative and Unionist Parties who represent traditional conservative values.”
Their values include policing with a zero-tolerance stance, including even minor crime such as shop-lifting, are strongly anti-European and immigration and continue to demand the Human Rights Act to be scrapped.
Since its inception dozens Conservative MP’s and members of the House of Lords have been active members of the Monday Club.
As the Conservative party has moved politically further to the right in recent years, there are rumours that the Monday Club has hopes to fully re-establish links with the Conservatives severed by Iain Duncan Smith and David Davis.
Featured image is Monday Club Booklet 1971 – Standing Room Only, The Population Problem in Britain.