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Thursday, 9 May, 2002, 15:18 GMT 16:18 UK
Right-wing Tories cry betrayal
Iain Duncan Smith, Tory leader
Iain Duncan Smith faces right-wing disquiet
Disenchanted right-wing Conservatives are accusing Iain Duncan Smith of "total betrayal" as they threatened court action over his decision to suspend links with their group.

Many of your own colleagues have longstanding and potentially embarrassing links with the Right

CDA's letter to Tory chairman

The Conservative leadership says it will have nothing to do with the ultra-right wing Monday Club unless it can stop "distasteful" remarks on race and immigration.

In a private letter, the group's members ask Mr Duncan Smith to remember that many of his colleagues "have longstanding and potentially embarrassing links with the Right".

This has been interpreted by some as a veiled threat to expose shadow ministers with extreme views on immigration.


The Monday Club, a controversial pressure group of about 3,000 Conservative Party members and supporters, calls for the voluntary repatriation of immigrants.

Last year, three Tory MPs, Andrew Rosindell, Andrew Hunter and Angela Watkinson, were forced to give up their membership as part of Mr Duncan Smith's purge on alleged extremism in the Tory ranks.

Earlier this week, Mr Duncan Smith dismissed Ann Winterton from his frontbench for making a racist joke.

Bad publicity warning

The latest row centres on the Conservative Democratic Alliance (CDA), which claims 700 supporters, including many Monday Club members.

In a letter to Tory chairman David Davis, quoted in the Times newspaper, the CDA said: "We are naturally alarmed by such accusations of extremism and hypocrisy as have resurfaced.

The Monday Club
The Monday Club says it has changed its constitution
"It is our desire to help you ensure that such damaging publicity is kept to a minimum."

Speaking to BBC News Online, CDA founder Mike Smith denied the group was threatening to expose senior Tories who had previous espoused similar views to the Monday Club.

But he cited Treasury spokesman John Bercow as a key Monday Club member who now "slagged off" his former colleagues.

Legal row looms

Mr Smith said: "The letter is asking that he should meet us.

"We want to know why they have taken such an unfriendly attitude towards the traditional wing of the party."

The CDA had legal advice showing the Conservative Party could not claim to have suspended the Monday Club.

That was because the club had never had any formal links with the Conservative Party, although many of its members belonged to both.

Oliver Letwin, shadow home secretary
Oliver Letwin says a responsible tone is needed about immigration issues
Mr Smith spoke of "total betrayal" by Mr Duncan Smith, seen as the candidate of the right during his leadership contest against Ken Clarke.

He accused the Tory leadership of going quiet on Euroscepticism, explaining his group wanted withdrawal from the European Union considered.

The right-winger said ethnic minority and women's involvement in the work of the Tory party should be encouraged.

Modernising the party

But he put homosexual relationships on the same level as adultery, although he was happy to see homosexuals working in the party.

He said Mr Duncan Smith's suspension of the Monday Club members would not 'modernise' the party because "Conservative voters do not go in for modern images".

The Monday Club was set up in the 1960s over the decolonisation of Africa and in more recent years has become a bastion on the Tory hard right.

It has recently removed its calls for voluntary repatriation of immigrants from its website.

Mr Smith accepted some of the club's members had behaved "inadvisedly" but he said its constitution had been changed to outlaw any encouragement of racial hatred.

Those moves do not seem to have been enough for the Tory leadership.

'Mainstream views'

Shadow home secretary Oliver Letwin told BBC Radio 4's World At One programme: "The Monday Club has to prove to the party that it is wholly non-racist if it wants to have anything further to do with the party."

Whatever their previous opinions, Mr Bercow and other shadow cabinet members now held views that were in the "mainstream of British politics", said Mr Letwin.

The Conservatives were determined to focus on the "real problems of people in Britain" rather than the club's agenda.

The success of extremist parties in France and Holland, and locally in parts of the UK, has raised fears that the main political parties could fuel such moves if they do not address such concerns.

But Mr Letwin argued the Conservatives were instead trying to address issues like immigration and asylum in a "responsible and rational" way.

Martin Pritchard, Monday Club Executive Council
"We are still having very meaningful cordial relations with Central Office"
See also:

18 Oct 01 | UK Politics
Tories suspend link with Monday Club
11 Oct 01 | UK Politics
No witch-hunt for extremists, says Tory
07 Oct 01 | Conservatives
Tory MPs quit far-right Monday Club
28 Aug 01 | UK Politics
Duncan Smith denies extremist support
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