Michael Keith Smith

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Michael Keith Smith (1953 – 3 July 2010, Portchester, Fareham, Hampshire),[1] commonly known as Mike Smith, had been founder-chairman of the Conservative Democratic Alliance, a British right-wing pressure group.[2] He was also the successful claimant in Keith-Smith v Williams, a landmark English libel case in 2006 that confirmed that existing libel laws applied to internet discussion.[3] Michael Keith Smith died after falling from the keep at Portchester Castle on 3 July 2010.[1]

Early politics[edit]

Mike Smith was a Chartered Surveyor.[4] A member of the Conservative Party since 1970, he was Chairman of the Portsmouth South Young Conservatives 1972–76 and vice-chairman and Vice-President of the Wessex Young Conservatives between 1976–82; in 1984 he was elected President of the Portsmouth South Young Conservatives, and in the same year stood for Portsmouth City Council. From 1985 – 88 he was Vice-Chairman of Portsmouth South Conservative Association and in 1987 he was Deputy chairman. He gained the Conservative National Union (Wessex) Public Speaking Award for 1991.[5]

Monday Club[edit]

He joined the Conservative Monday Club in 1971. He was a member of its Hampshire branch before 1974, sometime its vice-chairman and elected chairman in July 1987. He was co-opted onto the Club’s National Executive Council in 1984, where he remained until 1993. When Dr Mark Mayall stood down as chairman at the Annual General Meeting in 1994, Michael Keith-Smith unsuccessfully stood for election to that post, losing to Lord Sudeley.[6] In 1995 he stood as National Club Political Meetings Secretary, again unsuccessfully, somewhat surprising for someone who had sat on the Club’s executive for a decade. In his 1994 nomination statement circulated to the membership he said:

"The Club’s decline in numbers and influence will be reversed under my leadership as we join with like-minded Conservative Party pressure groups and Parliamentarians to fight the EU threat to British sovereignty. Our opposition to all forms of 'political correctness' and a commitment to the re-introduction of Capital and Corporal Punishment will spearhead a massive membership drive commencing immediately."

He was subsequently involved in "Tories Against Sleaze".[7]

In 2001, the Monday Club's links with the Conservative Party were suspended because of its anti-immigration policies, which nevertheless had not changed for decades. After attempts by the Monday Club hierarchy to re-establish links with the Conservative Party,[8] Mike Smith proposed three motions at the Club's Annual General meeting in April 2002, reaffirming the its opposition to mass immigration, empowering Club officers to institute legal action against the Conservative Party, and calling for the sacking of former Monday Club member John Bercow, then shadow Chief Secretary, and now Speaker of the House of Commons, for "hypocrisy".[9] The first two motions were passed, with the one on Bercow being narrowly defeated.

Conservative Democratic Alliance[edit]

In response to the Conservative Party's treatment of the Monday Club and the Club's lack of will to fight it, Mike Smith founded, in 2001, the Conservative Democratic Alliance (CDA), a new traditional Tory pressure-group and immediately targeted Oliver Letwin's seat distributing leaflets saying that he was not a real Tory. In 2002, Iain Duncan Smith expelled Mike Smith from the Conservative Party[2] for threatening to stand candidates against Conservatives.[10] Smith responded with a High Court writ, and Duncan Smith was forced to reinstate Smith's party membership.[11] Iain Duncan Smith then reportedly said that he had "plans to make the Conservative Democratic Alliance a proscribed organisation, which would ban party members from belonging to it."[12] In the event, no such action was taken.

Mike Smith later left the Conservative Party and stood as a parliamentary candidate for the United Kingdom Independence Party in Portsmouth North in 2005. The Labour victory was claimed by the Conservative candidate to be a result of the UKIP candidacy,[13] a claim also made by Richard North of the Bruges Group.[14]

In early 2008 he attempted to move the CDA closer to the centre ground, warmly endorsing party leader David Cameron's "Agenda for Change" Smith declared in a speech that he wants to see more members of minority groups taking senior positions within the Conservative Party. This was greeted with disdain by the membership and supporters.[citation needed] In December 2008, he announced on the CDA's forum that he was disbanding the group so as to support the Tory party in the run-up to the next UK general election.[citation needed] The CDA committee met, and the group was wound up.[citation needed]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Tributes paid to political figure discovered dead, Chris Broom, The News, 7 July 2010
  2. ^ a b Tory expelled over rival election plan, by Marie Woolf, The Independent, 18 May 2002
  3. ^ Warning to chatroom users after libel award for man labelled a Nazi, Owen Gibson, 23 March 2006, The Guardian
  4. ^ Man who died at Portchester Castle named by police, Melanie Adams, Southern Daily Echo, 8 July 2010
  5. ^ Lauder-Frost, Gregory, Guardian of the Tory Conscience, London, 2010, Appendix: biographies
  6. ^ Monday Club News, Summer 1994
  7. ^ The News Portsmouth, Tuesday 12 March 1996.
  8. ^ Right-wing club appeals for Tory return, BBC, 10 May 2002
  9. ^ The Independent, 18 May 2002
  10. ^ Tory leader expels far right alliance chairman by Nicholas Watt, The Guardian, Saturday 18 May 2002
  11. ^ Looking down on Armageddon, Searchlight Magazine
  12. ^ The Independent, 18 May 2002
  13. ^ UKIP candidate wins £10,000 for internet libel
  14. ^ Election analysis: The effect of UKIP/Veritas, Richard North, The Bruges Group