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Thursday, 18 October, 2001, 19:55 GMT 20:55 UK
Tories suspend link with Monday Club
David Davis
David Davis announced the suspension
Conservative chairman David Davis says the party has suspended links with the right-wing Monday Club.

The organisation has been told to amend its membership and constitution to avoid race and immigration issues or face permanent exclusion from the party.

The primary consideration here is to change the constitution to make it unconstitutional for them to promulgate any policies on the question of immigration and race

David Davis
The announcement comes 11 days after three Tory MPs - Andrew Rosindell, Andrew Hunter and Angela Watkinson - were told to quit the Monday Club by new leader Iain Duncan Smith.

The controversial group, made up of about 3,000 Conservative Party members and supporters, has called for the voluntary repatriation of immigrants.

Mr Davis announced the suspension at Conservative Central Office on Thursday.

Asked if it meant links between the Conservatives and the Monday Club were now at an end, Mr Davis replied: "That's a matter for them."

'Unacceptable views'

"They have to decide whether that's central to what they stand for.

"If it is and they can't have their constitution amended to stop them promulgating unacceptable views on race they will not be readmitted."

Mr Davis was speaking after an 80-minute meeting with club officials where his demands were spelled out.

Monday Club logo
The Monday Club has called for voluntary repatriation
Labour chairman Charles Clarke said the suspension of links was "a step in the right direction" but left "questions unanswered".

Membership of the Monday Club should be made incompatible with Tory membership "at all levels", the minister without portfolio added.

The Monday Club, which was set up in the 1960s over the decolonisation of Africa and seen in more recent years as a bastion of the Tory hard right, also lobbies on other contentious issues such as capital punishment.

Speaking on the eve of the Tory party conference in Blackpool last week, shadow chancellor Michael Howard said: "One thing is absolutely clear. There is no room for extremist views in the Conservative Party."

John Bercow, appointed shadow chief treasury secretary by Mr Duncan Smith, has also called for the party to be purged of Monday Club members.

Although the organisation has little of the influence it had in previous years, taking action against it would be a gesture in response to accusations from mainstream Tories that Mr Duncan Smith - from the Thatcherite right of the party - will fail to broaden the Conservatives' appeal.

'Not enough'

Tory peer Lord Taylor of Warwick had also called for all links to be broken off, saying: "Unless the Conservative Party engages with modern Britain and rejects its blinkered prejudice it will continue to lose the support of the British people."

But Andrew Rosindell, the Romford MP told to quit the group, warned last week that banning the organisation could be divisive.

"The symbolic action that the Conservative Party need to take is to prove that we as a party want everybody to support us and to join us and to be candidates," he said.

"I don't think we should single out one group or another group and say we don't want you or we want you."

The Conservatives pledged last week that their purge of extremists would not be a "witch-hunt".

Mr Duncan Smith suffered during his campaign to be party leader when it was disclosed that one of his campaign team in Wales, who was also a senior Tory, had close links to the extremist British National Party.

See also:

11 Oct 01 | UK Politics
No witch-hunt for extremists, says Tory
07 Oct 01 | Conservatives
Tory MPs quit far-right Monday Club
07 Oct 01 | Conservatives
Drop Thatcher, Duncan Smith urged
06 Oct 01 | UK Politics
Tories deny ignoring black vote
28 Aug 01 | UK Politics
Duncan Smith denies extremist support
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