Conservative Democratic Alliance


Conservative Democratic Alliance

The Conservative Democratic Alliance (CDA) was a United Kingdom pressure group. The CDA referred to itself as the "authentic voice of conservatism".[1] It closed down in December 2008.

Contents

Foundation and organisation

The CDA was formed mostly by disaffected members of the Conservative Monday Club, another right-wing pressure group, who disagreed with the club's response to the Conservative Party's severing of links with the Club in 2001. A journalist writing in The Daily Telegraph described the CDA as "a hardline offshoot of the Monday Club".[2]

The group was described as "ultra-right" by opponents.[3][4]

The group's Chairman was Michael Keith Smith, who had been a member of the Conservative Monday Club since the early 1970s,[5] and served on its Executive Council, 1986 - 1993.

Original members of the CDA's steering committee included:

  • Sam Swerling, lately a British National Party activist who was formerly a Conservative Party parliamentary candidate and Councillor on Westminster City Council;
  • Stuart Millson, an independent councillor for East Malling and Larkfield Parish Council,[6] founder of the short-lived Revolutionary Conservative Caucus.
  • Gregory Lauder-Frost, former Political Secretary, and Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman, of the Monday Club.

Millson and Lauder-Frost are both former members of the Conservative Party, the Monday Club's Executive, as well as the Western Goals Institute, and both were members of the council of the Traditional Britain Group, of which Lauder-Frost remains Vice-President.[7][8]

Politics

On 27 June 2002, The Daily Telegraph carried a letter from the CDA, signed by Mike Smith, attacking the Conservative Party and its Chairman Francis Maude for "the sleaze, double-dealing, arrogance, incompetence, Europhilia, indifference and drift with which the party is still associated. "Voters", he said, "deserve a real alternative to Blairism and his 'straight kinda guy' chicanery. Mr. Maude and his C-Changing Tories are incapable of providing it." ("C-Change" was a now-defunct Tory modernising pressure group headed by Maude.)

The CDA often criticised free-market economics and Americanisation in the United Kingdom, both of which it perceived to be after-effects of Thatcherism. That may be seen as istinguishing it from Iain Duncan Smith's Conservative Party leadership, which CDA members often criticised as neoconservative. The CDA was also fervently opposed both to the European Union and to close links with the George W. Bush administration.

Activities

The CDA fringe meeting at the Conservative Party conference in October 2002 was addressed by Roger Knapman, leader of the United Kingdom Independence Party; Ashley Mote, prominent UKIP MEP and author of "Overcrowded Britain - Our Immigration Crisis Exposed" (2004); John Gouriet, a founder with Norris McWhirter of the Freedom Association alongside Derek Turner, editor of Right Now! magazine; and Adrian Davies, chairman of the fledgling Freedom Party, a barrister, and prominent critic of the British National Party.[citation needed]

On 6 October 2004, the Conservative Democratic Alliance held a rally in tribute to Enoch Powell as a fringe event at the Conservative Party Conference in Bournemouth.

The CDA planned to field its own candidates against Conservative MPs with small majorities at the 2005 General Election,[9] concentrating on Oliver Letwin, the then Shadow Treasury Spokesman, and MP for West Dorset, whom they described as "simply not a Conservative at all".

No candidates actually stood for the CDA at the 2005 General Election, and Letwin held his seat. However, CDA Chairman Michael Keith Smith stood as the United Kingdom Independence Party candidate for Portsmouth North. Both unsuccessful Tory candidate Penny Mordaunt and political commentator Richard North blamed Smith's intervention for the Tories' failure to win back the seat.[10][11]

The CDA's June 2005 Summer Dinner in Fleet Street, London, was addressed by the 'metric martyr', Neil Herron, who led the campaign against the adoption of the metric system in the UK. The CDA produced a regular bulletin, and formerly maintained a website with discussion forums.[12]

Controversies

An anti-Conservative Party advertisement for the CDA was published in Right Now!, containing the statement that the CDA was "horrified by Tory frontbench spokesmen advocating gay lifestyles and New Labour ideas". Andrew Hunter MP withdrew his patronage from the magazine due to the appearance of the advert, saying that he was 'appalled' by the "antics" of the CDA and that he no longer wanted to be associated with the magazine "in any way".[13][14]

Michael Keith Smith later described the advertisement, penned by former CDA supporter Peter Gibbs, as "regrettably homophobic". Smith branded the incident "an untoward event" and promised that CDA will take a more "forward-looking and inclusive role in future".

In 2002, Iain Duncan Smith expelled CDA Chairman Michael Keith Smith from the Conservative Party[15] for threatening to stand candidates against Conservatives.[16] Mike Smith issued a writ claiming Breach of Natural Justice and the party was obliged to re-admit him to membership.[17]

Soon afterwards, Smith resigned from the Conservative Party, and stood as a parliamentary candidate for the United Kingdom Independence Party in Portsmouth North where the Labour victory was claimed by the Conservative candidate to be a result of the UKIP candidacy,[18] a claim also made by Richard North of the Bruges Group.[19] During 2008 Mike Smith rapidly changed his stance and announced on the CDA's forum that he had rejoined the Conservative Party: "After wide-ranging initial doubts, Mike Smith has now enthusiastically accepted David Cameron's reform agenda and returned to the Conservative Party from UKIP".

As a result, the CDA Committee met in September 2008 and agreed that it would be best if the CDA was wound up. In December, Mike Smith announced on the CDA forums that the CDA would be disbanding as he himself had now come to support the Tories again and wanted to campaign for them in the run-up to the next UK general election and circulated a letter to all members and supporters saying that the CDA would be effectively replaced by the Traditional Britain Group and urging their support.[20]

Michael Keith Smith died unexpectedly at Portchester, Fareham, Hampshire, on 3 July 2010.[21]

References

  1. ^ CDA homepage
  2. ^ The Daily Telegraph, 24 August 2004
  3. ^ The Guardian - Tory leader expels far-right alliance chairman
  4. ^ The Commission for Racial Equality
  5. ^ IDS and Le Fascist, Sunday Mirror, 11 November 2001
  6. ^ East Malling and Larkfield Parish Council website
  7. ^ Searchlight magazine, London, January 2006, p.23
  8. ^ http://www.traditionalbritain.org/
  9. ^ Tory expelled over rival election plan, by Marie Woolf, The Independent, 18 May 2002
  10. ^ Election analysis: The effect of UKIP/Veritas, Richard North, The Bruges Group
  11. ^ UKIP candidate wins £10,000 for internet libel
  12. ^ Conservative Democratic Alliance
  13. ^ MP severs tie with far-right magazine, by Paul Waugh, The Independent, May 17, 2002
  14. ^ Gay Life Magazine article
  15. ^ Tory expelled over rival election plan, by Marie Woolf, The Independent, May 18, 2002
  16. ^ Tory leader expels far right alliance chairman by Nicholas Watt, The Guardian, Saturday May 18, 2002
  17. ^ Looking down on Armageddon, Searchlight Magazine
  18. ^ UKIP candidate wins £10,000 for internet libel
  19. ^ Election analysis: The effect of UKIP/Veritas, Richard North, The Bruges Group
  20. ^ http://www.traditionalbritain.org/
  21. ^ http://www.portsmouth.co.uk/newshome/Tributes-paid-to-political-figure.6404791.jp

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