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Friday, 10 May, 2002, 09:03 GMT 10:03 UK
Right-wing club appeals for Tory return
David Davis, Tory chairman
David Davis announced suspension of links
The right-wing Monday Club has expressed its hope that it can re-establish links with the Conservatives severed by Iain Duncan Smith.

The Tory leader said his party would have nothing to do with the organisation unless it can stop "distasteful" remarks on race and immigration.


We believe in the views of the Conservative Party and we want to embrace the Conservative Party

Martin Pritchard
Monday Club

But Martin Pritchard, of the club's executive council, insisted that members had overwhelmingly voted to oppose "any form of propagation of racial hatred".

And he hoped after "meaningful" discussions with Tory chairman David Davis, that the Conservatives would re-embrace the club once again.

Mr Davis announced the suspension of links between the party and the controversial club last October.

Extremism purge

The Monday Club, a 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.
The Monday Club
The Monday Club says it has changed its constitution

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.

Mr Pritchard, who admitted that while Tory MPs no longer made up the club's membership, as far as he was concerned the relationship was merely "suspended" pending "fruitful discussions" with Mr Davis.

'Embrace community'

"We are still having meaningful, cordial relations with Central Office and we totally support the Conservative Party which most of our members are members of," he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

"We are in correspondence with Mr Davis. We were asked by Mr Davis to look at certain of our policies, which we were very concerned about ... because as the Conservative Monday Club, we have always embraced all sectors of the community.

"In fact, we have members from Zimbabwe, that is black members, Muslims, Jewish members.

"We had a ballot of our members just to reinforce that we were doing the correct things.

"By an overwhelming majority, all our members agreed that we should be committed to oppose any form of propagation of racial hatred."

Belief

Mr Pritchard defended his club's voluntary repatriation stance as "government policy", although he admitted that perhaps the words "actively encouraging" financial assistance for the measure were "wrong".

Asked if he believed the Conservative Party would re-embrace the Monday Club, Mr Pritchard said: "I most certainly hope so because all our members are conscious of the views of the Conservative Party.

"We believe in the views of the Conservative Party and we want to embrace the Conservative Party and work with them to support the Conservative Party."

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.

See also:

09 May 02 | UK Politics
Right-wing Tories cry betrayal
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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