Hammond is re-writing history – the Tories he joined were already extreme right-wing

When Hammond joined the Tories, they were just as right-wing.

The former Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond recently had the Tory party whip taken from him after he voted against a no-deal Brexit.

In response, he said that Johnson and his allies were trying to turn the party into an “extreme right-wing faction”.

“It is not the party, I joined,” he said. Contrasting today’s right-wing Tory party with a mythical tolerant one of the past may make good headlines but it’s highly ahistorical.

According to the Scotsman, Hammond has been campaigning for the Conservative Party since Margaret Thatcher’s election in 1979.

Some of the party’s policies back then were extremely right-wing. This is perhaps unsurprisng as Thatcher used to attend regular dinner and discussion clubs with Enoch Powell, Roger Scruton and a group of hard right MPs.

While Hammond was a Tory activist, rising to become the chair of his local Lewisham East branch and then an MP, Conservative policies included:

  • Section 28 – which banned the promotion of homosexuality.
  • Support for Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet
  • Calling Nelson Mandela’s ANC a “terrorist organistaion” and opposing the boycott of and sanctions on South Africa.
  • The closing down of mines, with no plan to replace the jobs lost.
  • Regarding immigration as something “swamping” Britain.

Hammond himself supported re-introducing the death penalty, as late as 1994 and was accused in 2013 of comparing gay marriage to incest – which he denies.

Other Conservatives now being painted as moderate, “One Nation” Conservatives include Oliver Letwin, who once said that encouraging black entrepeneurs would only result in them investing in “discos and drugs”.

Another ex-Tory, now a Liberal Democrat is Philip Lee. He voted against gay marriage and tried to force asylum seekers to disclose their HIV status and demonstrate they do not have Hepatitis B.

To paint these people as ‘moderates’ or ‘liberals’ as a group is a huge over-simplification and, in some individual cases, an outright distortion.

In denouncing the modern Tory party, we shouldn’t whitewash the extremism in the Tory party’s past.

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4 Responses to “Hammond is re-writing history – the Tories he joined were already extreme right-wing”

  1. Cole

    Yes, I was around in the 1970s and remember how they swung to the hard
    right after Thatcher became leader. They’ve always been a nasty lot.

  2. John

    I also lived through the 1970´s as a then young adult. The Conservatives under Edward Heath were certainly NOT right wing (when comparing to the Hard right, Ultra right factions of today).

    After that 1978/79 winter of discontent, the political course of UK history changed with the then Labour government under James Callaghan losing the election to Margaret Thatcher.

  3. Blissex

    Hammond has a point: up to 5 years ago the Conservatives were a standard far-right party with a small right-wing minority. But already during G Osborne’s time they were already so far gone that I Duncan-Smith resigned as DWP secretary because he was opposed to how extreme far-right G Osborne’s policies were; and a party that is too extreme far-right even for Ian Duncan-Smith is pretty amazing.

    What Hammond may be missing is that the backers of the conservatives may have decided that a “broad church” (from right-wing to extreme far-right) approach may not be the most electorally appealing, as for some people the Conservatives may be too extreme, and for some others they may have too many “wets”. A clever blogger suspects that the backers of the Conservatives may have decided to split the right-wing to extreme far-right vote between extreme thatcherite “Leaver” Conservatives and thatcherite “Remainer” LibDems, so all thatcherites can be motivated to vote, and then Conservatives and LibDems become a permanent “Coalition”.

    This may be the strategy behind the expulsion of right-wing “thatcherites for Remain” MPs from the Conservatives, and their often joining the LibDems as the natural home of “thatcherites for Remain”.

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