Antisemitism in the UK Conservative Party

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Antisemitism has been present in the Conservative party (officially, the Conservative and Unionist Party) since its founding in 1834 from the previous Tory Party (Conservatives are still referred to as Tories). The following article is divided into sections corresponding to the periods of time Conservative party leaders led and under whose leadership antisemitism occurred.

Contents

Peel leadership (1834-1846)[edit]

Parliamentary level[edit]

Hostility to Jewish emancipation[edit]

Robert Peel established the Conservative party in 1834. In 1830, Peel had spoken in Parliament in opposition of the emancipation of the Jews.[1] During this time, a Jewish person could not open a shop within the city of London, become a barrister, graduate from university, or be a member of Parliament.[1] Peel commented:

The Jews is not a degraded subject of the state; he is rather regarded in the light of an alien - he is excluded because he will not amalgamate with us in any of his usages or habits - he is regarded as a foreigner. In the history of the Jews ... we find enough to account for the prejudice which exists against them.[1]

Disraeli's early political career[edit]

After Benjamin Disraeli became an elected in 1837, a number of his Conservative colleagues avoided him because of their antisemitism.[2] He was also was excluded from ministerial office in Peel's government, in part because of 'anti-Semitism and both patrician snobbery and bourgeois bigotry' within the party.[3]

Smith-Stanley leadership (1846-1868)[edit]

Parliamentary level[edit]

Hostility towards Jewish entrance to parliament[edit]

Prior to 1858, Jews were not allowed to become Members of Parliament (MPs) unless they were Christian, as was Benjamin Disraeli, who was baptised as a child.[4] In 1847, the Whig leader Lord John Russell introduced a bill that enabled Jews to become members of Parliament. The Jews Relief Act was passed a decade later, in 1858, 'after years of obstruction, mainly ... at the hands of the Tory party'.[5] Opposition to the Act would sometimes be accompanied by '[e]xtravagant praise' of Jews.[6] Conservative opposition to the Act included:

  • George Bankes 'expressed his horror at the possibility of seeing a Jew Premier in Parliament'.[7]
  • Alexander Beresford Hope opposed the bill 'on the ground that there was no pre-eminence or super-excellence in the Jewish race which would justify the house in relaxing' the rules about admittance.[7]
  • Alexander Baillie-Cochrane saw the 'apathy with which this Bill had been received in the country as no source of congratulation, but as a very terrible sign of the corruption of the times'.[7]
  • Philip Stanhope was of the opinion that 'Jewish emancipation would lower the tone of religious opinion in England'.[7]
  • Spencer Horatio Walpole said that the Jews were of a 'separate creed and interest' and were 'not a citizen of this country, but of the world'.[7]
  • Archibald Douglas said that Jews 'were unfortunately actuated by a love of money, which was highly discreditable'.[7]
  • Robert Inglis argued that Jews were 'a separate nation with a separate creed'.[7]

Overall, the Conservatives were against the Jews and had, according to George Bentinck, 'degenerated into a No Popery, No Jew Party' driven by bigotry.[6] The Conservative party deposed Bentinck as Conservative leader because of his positive stance on Jewish emancipation.[6] However, Bentinck himself also 'entertain[ed] hostile feelings towards the Jews', saying, 'as for the Jews themselves, I don't care two strokes about them and heartily wish they were all back in the Holy Land'.[6]

Disraeli leadership (1868-1881)[edit]

Parliamentary level[edit]

Antisemitic hostility towards Disraeli[edit]

Benjamin Disraeli suffered prejudice from his fellow Conservatives throughout his political career[5] and when he became leader of the party he continued to be subjected to antisemitism from fellow Conservatives.[9] Disraeli himself commented on the 'great anomaly' of being the Conservative 'chief' given the 'prejudices' held from within the party against his 'origin'.[6] Disraeli was described by other Conservatives as 'that hellish Jew', or simply 'the Jew'.[5] Robert Gascoyne-Cecil (Lord Salisbury), using barely disgused antisemitic tropes, described him as 'dishonest' and a 'mere political gamester'.[5] Edward Smith-Stanley (Earl of Derby) excoriated Disraeli 'for holding unEnglish beliefs'.[10][11] Another Conservative said of him, 'he bears the mark of the Jew strongly about him ... He is evidently clever but superlatively vulgar'.[5] Members of his party viewed his appearance as alien.[5] 'Disraeli's position [on Jewish emancipation] was deeply unpopular in his own party'.[5] 'The underlying current of antisemitism which coursed through sections of the Conservative party until well into the 20th century found an outlet in the persona of its long-serving leader'.[5]

Disraeli's antisemitism[edit]

According to Jonathan Freedland, 'Disraeli clearly internalised the anti-Jewish sentiment in which his society was drenched'.[9] This can be seen in Disraeli's novels, which contain antisemitic stereotypes[9] - he made a 'fundamental contribution ... to modern literary antisemitism'.[12] According to Hannah Arendt and historian David Cesarani, 'Disraeli almost single-handedly invented the lexicon of modern racial anti-Semitism'.[10] Cesarani adds: Disraeli 'played a formative part in the construction of anti-Semitic discourse'.[10]

Salisbury leadership (1885-1902)[edit]

First UK organised antisemitism[edit]

Organised antisemitism in the United Kingdom can be traced to the extraparliamentary,[13][11] proto-fascist,[14][15] paramilitary[16] pressure group[17] British Brothers League (BBL),[18][19] which was founded in 1901 by members of the Conservative Party,[14][20] including Howard Vincent (MP for Sheffield Central) and William Evans-Gordon (Stepney),[14] and drew its membership from sections of the Conservative Party.[21] The BBL, the 'largest and best organised of all the anti-alien groups' of its time[20] and the earliest British antisemitic group,[18] was 'Conservative-led and ... Conservative-dominated'.[22] It sought to pressure the government into stopping the arrival of poor Jews into Britain.[18] It was successful in that its pressure was instrumental in persuading parliament to pass the 1905 Aliens Act.[18]

William Evans-Gordon, who had a 'long-standing preoccupation with Jews and Jewish life',[23] was elected MP for Stepney in 1900 on an anti-alien platform[22] and began campaigning for changed to the government's immigration policies in his first year of office.[23] Within their parliamentary work, Evans-Gordon and other Conservative MPs obscured their antisemitism within advocacy for what might have been considered a reasonable immigration policy.[23] Within their discourse, 'immigrant' and 'alien' often meant 'Jew'.[24][23] With a number of Conservative MPs (Spencer Charrington (MP for Mile End), Thomas Dewar (Tower Hamlets, St George), Walter Murray Guthrie (Bow and Bromley), and Evans-Gordon) in support at its inaugural meeting, the BBL was officially and publicly founded on 9 May 1901[note 1] in Stepney Meeting House in the East End of London.[21] The next month (June 1901), Walter Murry Guthrie called a meeting of east London Conservative Associations and out of this initiative another group was formed with the aim of pressuring the government to restrict immigration: the Londoners' League.[21] The Londoners' League worked with the BBL at a lower tier, campaigning for recruits to the BBL during the autumn and winter of 1901 (at its peak, the BBL had 45,00 members[13]) and organised its first mass meeting at the People's Palace in January 1902,[21] which drew 4,000 people[25] and had a number of Conservative MPs and councillors as speakers, including Evans-Gordon, Samuel Ridley (MP of Bethnal Green South West), Harry Samuel (Limehouse), Thomas Herbert Robertson (Hackney South), David John Morgan (Walthamstow), and Arnold White[note 2] and David Hope Kyd (Conservative election candidates).[25] The BBL stirred up popular racism against Jewish immigrants who had moved to the city to find refuge because they had been displaced by pogroms in their home countries.[19][26] For example, after attending the BBL meeting at the People's Palace in January 1902, where they had heard antisemetic speeches ('"Who is corrupting our morals? The Jews", and the audience shouted "The Jews!"', to which the speaker added, "Shame on them. Wipe them out!"[25]), audience members chanted "Wipe them out!"[25] and attacked Jews and Jewish properties.[21] In the years that followed, 'BBL supporters organised parades and attacked migrants and Jews'.[27] Years later (c. 1934), the British Union of Fascists was able to tap into the 'street level' antisemitism left over from the days of the BBL.[17]

On the tier above the BBL was the Parliamentary Alien Immigration Committee.[21] The Committee was founded in August 1901 and comprised all the East End MPs (except the Liberal Party MP for Whitechapel, Stuart M. Samuel).[28] Based on the same ideas as those of the BBL, Evans-Gordon formed the Committee to work within parliament.[17] As a parliamentary pressure group, it urged the government to pass restrictive immigration controls.[28] In the BBL's second manifesto, released the same month the Parliamentary Alien Immigration Committee was formed (August 1901), the BBL stated its intention to work with the Committee.[28] The Parliamentary Alien Immigration Committee exercised control of the League.[21] 'The activities of the British Brothers League gave a wider prominence to the demand for control by Parliament, and agitation within Parliament made Jewish immigration a national political issue.'[13]

Balfour leadership (1902-1911)[edit]

Parliamentary level[edit]

Progress towards the Aliens Act 1905[edit]

In 1902, Evans-Gordon was instrumental in setting up a Royal Commission on Alien Immigration, of which he was the chair[25] and a 'key member', submitting reports to the Commission.[23] The Royal Commission was a 'Parliamentary platform against Jewish migrants'[29] and concerned itself almost entirely with Jews.[30] Sympathies for the BBL 'stretched into the secretaryship of the Royal Commission on Alien Immigration'.[21] Other members of the BBL gave evidence to the Royal Commission.[28] In February 1903, the antisemetic[31][32][33] Immigration Reform Association (IRA) was established, with Richard Hely-Hutchinson (Earl of Donoughmore) as president - a 'respectable' group within the anti-alien network; and MPs who had been involved with the BBL continued their work through the Association, which played a prominent role in putting pressure on the government to pass restrictive immigration controls.[21] The IRA directed its efforts both at politicians and the general public, circulating pamphlets among them.[34] Working with Harry F. Smith, a Conservative Party agent, the Immigration Reform Association organised a major demonstration in November 1903, again at the People's Palace, with the BBL providing a procession.[21]

In 1903, Evans-Gordon wrote The Alien Immigrant[21] (which was an expansion of the reports he had made to the Royal Commission) with the aim of influencing public opinion on immigration.[23] In The Alien Immigrant, Evans-Gordon addressed the so-called "Jewish question", asserting that 'the settlement of large aggregations of Hebrews in a Christian land has never been successful',[35] and that the 'Hebrew colony ... unlike any other alien colony in [Great Britain], forms a solid and permanently distinct block — a race apart, as it were, in an enduring island of extraneous thought and custom', to the extent that 'east of Aldgate one walks into a foreign town'.[36]

The Royal Commission on Alien Immigration reported its findings in August 1903,[29] which would inform the Aliens Act of 1905,[28] recommending strong, restrictive laws against alien entry into Britain.[37] In December 1903, the Conservative Home Secretary Aretas Akers-Douglas gave a speech at a London Club in the East End on the "dumping of undesirable aliens" in London, 'concluding with the assurance that the Government was seriously contemplating stringent measures for checking the evil in time'.[34] A few months later, on 29th March 1904, Akers-Douglas brought a bill to parliament that would 'make provision with respect to the Immigration of Aliens, and other matters incidental thereto'.[34] Within the bill, 'alien' was 'an an implicit reference to "the Jew"'.[38] Evans-Gordon was a primary author of the 1904 immigration bill.[23] The bill did not have an easy ride through parliament: Liberal MP Charles Dilke, for example, warned that public opinion that supported the bill was antisemitic and that parliament were in danger of bolstering British antisemitism.[34] Liberal MP Charles Trevelyan concurred, expressing the opinion that the passing of the bill would take Britain in the same direction as that of the Russian and Romanian governments, countries from which the Jews were fleeing persecution.[34] In face of this opposition, the IRA 'announced its determination "to continue, and, if possible, to extend its work"' and, though articles in magazines and denunciations of members of Parliament in opposition to the bill by MPs in favour, 'no efforts were spared to influence' public opinion.[34]

In April 1905 Akers-Douglas brought a revised bill to parliament, which passed into law in the August.[34] In July, during debates on alien immigration, Claude Hay (Conservative MP for Shoreditch and Huxton) said, "the Huguenots brought their wealth and skill and were competent men. They formed no Ghettos and they sweated no labour", judging Jews against 'an unspoken racial hierarchy which implicitly deemed western European migrants of a comparably greater worth' than them.[38] Evans-Gordon's speeches were 'the primary catalyst for the final passage of the 1905 Act'.[23] He became known as the "father of the Aliens Bill".[18] The 1905 Alien Act, while not mentioning Jews outright, appealed to racial prejudice against the Jews and was designed to stop the arrival of Eastern European Jews into Britain.[18][30] The BBL had succeeded:[18] it largely was responsible, along with its supporting MPs, for passing of the 1905 Alien's Act[39] - 'A major ... reason for the implementation of this legislation [i.e., the 1905 Aliens Act] was the agitation of the British Brothers League'.[40]

After the 1905 Aliens Act passed into law, the BBL effectively ended.[25] The legacy of the BBL can be seen in support for far-right groups in east London and this was exploited by the British Union of Fascists, the British League of Ex-Servicemen and Women, the Union Movement and the National Front.[31]

During the 1906 general election, Arthur Strauss ran as the Conservative candidate in Paddington North. However, his selection proved controversial because Strauss was Jewish, and a committee of objectors to "foreign" candidates was formed which persuaded Sir Henry Burdett to run as an independent Conservative candidate.[41]

William Joynson-Hicks MP[edit]

In a 1908 by-election, standing against Winston Churchill (a Liberal at the time), an antisemitic Conservative candidate, William Joynson-Hicks (who became known as Jix), was elected to Parliament as MP for Manchester North West.[42] During his election campaign he took a stance against the Jews, which continued throughout his political career, announcing that 'he was not going to pander for the Jewish vote. He would treat those who were Englishmen as Englishmen, but as to those who put their Jewish or foreign nationality before their English nationality, let them vote for Mr Churchill'.[42] In Churchill's assessment, Joynson-Hicks was clearlt antisemitic and, by his comments, 'had indicated that the Jews have no right to their own sectional and communal life'.[42] At a meeting during the campaign Joynston-Hicks shouted himself horse trying to 'shout ... down' Jews in the audience.[42] He threw aspersions on his opponent, publicly saying Churchill's supporters were 'bogus deputations going to him from a few Jews who were not even on the register'.[42]

A few days after winning the vote, Joynson-Hicks gave a short speech to the Maccabeans, a Jewish dining society. During the speech he said it 'would not be true in the slightest degree' to say that the Jew were a 'delightful people' or even 'delightful opponents'. He 'strongly deprecated the position taken up by the great bulk of the Jewish community in Manchester' and he was not their 'servant'. Later, when confronted by Jews about his remarks he refused to apologise.[42] Over time, Joynson-Hicks because 'embedded at the heart of the Toryism'.[42]

Bonar Law leadership (1911-1921)[edit]

Parliamentary level[edit]

National League for Clean Government[edit]

The National League for Clean Government was a political reform movement, created partly in response to the Marconi scandal,[43] that directed antisemitism towards the Jewish plutocracy,[21] which it believed was conspiring to subvert British politics.[43] A number of its members and supporters were antisemites, including Conservative MP Rowland Hunt.[43][21] At a meeting of the group in 1913, Hunt spoke about the 'influence' which controlled Britain and, in a 'thinly disguised reference to Jewish financiers', said, "We are really in danger of being ruled by alien votes and foreign gold. ... The aliens and foreign plutocrats are driving out British blood'.[21][6] The cartoonist David Low commented on the meeting that the audience was left with the feeling of antisemitism.[21][43]

Antisemitism during World War I[edit]

During World War I, Joynson-Hicks associated with the ultra-nationalistic British Empire Union (formerly called the Anti-German Union). In a 'strongly anti-semitic' campaign, in which Jewishness and German origin were conflated, the Union demanded the internment and repatriation of "enemy aliens", many of whom were Jews.[42]

Jix and the Die Hards[edit]

After World War I, Joynson-Hicks (AKA Jix) became an important member of the Die Hards, who were united 'by their national chauvinism, verging on xenophobia, and anti-Bolshevism', with a number of members (e.g., Henry Percy (Duke of Northumberland), George Clarke (Lord Sydenham), and the MPs Ronald McNeill, Charles Yate, Charles Taylor Foxcroft and Henry Page Croft) believing the conspiracy theory of a Jewish world effort to subvert Britain and its Empire.[42] Jew baiting was known among them.[44] Joynson-Hicks 'exemplified the Die Hard position', involving himself in matters in which Jews were concerned.[42] For example, he was involved in the hunt for 'aliens', which led to many Russian Jews being expelled from Britain, and the Die Hard ousting of Edwin Montagu, the Secretary of State for India.[42] 'This crusade [to oust Montagu] was shot through with anti-semitism, and it was actually Joynson-Hicks who proposed the motion of censure which led to Montagu's downfall'.[42] When speaking against Jewish interests, Joynson-Hicks 'echo[ed] almost to the word speeches from turn-of-the-century English anti-alienism, direct against Jewish immigration'.[42]

Joynson-Hicks questioned the trustworthiness of Ango-Jewish MPs and civil servants. He spoke out against Sir Herbert Samuel when he was appointed High Commissioner for Palestine and against a Mr Abrahams, appointed to the civil service in Palestine.[42] Regarding Mr Abrahams, he asked if it had not been possible to find someone 'English-born ... rather than a gentleman who was not British-born, but who was born a subject of one of the enemy countries'.[42] Joyson-Hicks also continued his involvement in extra-parliamentary antisemitic agitation. He was involved with groups composed of a 'comprehensive cross-section of anti-Jews': for example, George Clarke (Lord Sydenham), G. K. Chesterton, Nesta Webster, Rosita Forbes and Arnold White.[42] Sir Charles Yate, George Clarke (Lord Sydenham), Henry Percy (Duke of Northumberland) and several other anti-Zionist MPs produced the publication The Conspiracy Against the British Empire, a 'boiled-down version' of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.[42] Joyson-Hicks was in hostile opposition to the idea of self-government in India and Ireland. In contrast to this, he was in favour of self-government by 'the majority in Palestine' and proposal of a resolution to that effect, which was perhaps a result of his antisemitism.[42] At some point in his career, he commented that the Jewish immigrants to Palestine were 'the sweepings of the ghettos of Central Europe', which far-right conspiracy theorist and antisemite Nesta Webster enthusiastically supported.[6]

Harold Macmillan wrote to a friend during the 1919 Paris peace talks that the government of Prime Minister Lloyd George was not 'really popular, except with the International Jew'.[45]

A. Chamberlain leadership (1921-1922)[edit]

Parliamentary level[edit]

Chamberlain's and Joynson-Hicks' antisemitism[edit]

Writing to his sister, Austin Chamberlain described former Conservative Party leader and prime minister Benjamin Disraeli as an 'English patriot [but] not an Englishman'.[46][41] During Chamberlain's leadership, the Jewish Chronicle (07/06/22) described Joynson-Hicks as 'the most avowed and determined anti-Semite in the House'.[47]

Bonar Law leadership (1922-1923)[edit]

Parliamentary level[edit]

Antisemitism towards Jewish 'aliens'[edit]

In February 1923, Charles Crook, Conservative MP for East Ham North, brought a motion to the House of Commons that it was 'the utmost importance that a strict control shall be maintained over alien immigration'.[41] Crook wished to maintain the 'racial integrity of Britain' and was seconded by the Conservative MP for Manchester Hulme, Joseph Nall, who particularly wanted to exclude the 'alien revolutionary agitator'.[41] Crook and Nall were supported by Herbert Nield, Conservative MP for Ealing, in whose opinion Stepney had been 'positively ruined by the incursion of these aliens', evidenced by the presence of advertisements and notices in Yiddish.[41]

Grassroots level[edit]

Antisemitism towards Jewish MP[edit]

During the 1922 general election, the sitting MP for Putney, the Conservative Samuel Samuel, was opposed by an independent Conservative candidate, Prescott Decre. Samuel saw this opposition by Decre and his supporters as 'purely anti-Semitic'.[41]

Baldwin leadership (1923-1937)[edit]

Parliamentary level[edit]

Baldwin and Joynson-Hicks[edit]

Stanley Baldwin had strong ties to Joynson-Hicks, which can be seen throughout their political careers together - each vouched for the other in election campaigns; Joynson-Hicks was instrumental in the 'destruction of the coalition and the old Conservative leadership which opened the way to Bonar Law and then Baldwin' and supported Baldwin in the passing of policy; they worked together in the Treasury; Baldwin promoted Joynson-Hicks to Home Secretary; and Joynson-Hicks stood by Baldwin in defeat.[42] According to David Cesarani, Baldwin and Joynson-Hicks 'shared a discourse about England and Englishness' that included a definition of Englishness based around 'a common language, heritage and racial character', and, on the other side of the coin, a dislike of other 'races', seen as 'less illustrious ..., other and 'alien'.'[42]

Baldwin became prime minister in 1923 and gave Joynson-Hicks a place in the Cabinet as Financial Secretary to the Treasury. This was 'noted by the Zionist press with anxiety'.[42] In August 1923 he became Health Minister.[48] There were also causes for concern for Ango-Jewry in the way Baldwin's government came to power again in the 1924 general election.[42] That election saw an 'exceptionally dirty campaign' (most notoriously known for the Zinoviev letter, a forgery proportedly written by the Jewish head of the Communist International in Moscow, published by the Daily Mail to turn the electorate against the Labour party), and the Conservative campaign had a stream of anti-Jewish, anti-alienism underlying it.[42] Now and at other times in this period, 'anti-Jewish feeling was mobilized under the guise of anti-alienism, anti-Zionism and anti-Bolshevism by mainstream political figures'.[42] During the campaign, Baldwin and other Conservatives used the threat of aliens as one of their platforms.[42] In their campaigning, the term 'aliens' was 'used as a code for Jews'.[49] In speeches like his party political broadcast on October 16th, Baldwin gave the all clear to Joynson-Hicks and other extremists in the Conservative party who had been engaged in xenophobic campaigning for decades.[42] He said, 'we cannot afford the luxury of academic socialists or revolutionary agitation ... I think its high time somebody said to Russia "Hands off England" ... I want to examine the laws and regulations as to entry of aliens into this country, for in these days no alien should be substituted for one of our own people when we have not enough work at home to go around'.[42] Baldwin's allies could now exploit prejudices against foreigners, 'aliens' and 'agitators'.[42] For Hoynson-Hicks, the concept of 'alien' and 'communist' blended, and throughout his political career his 'anti-alienism, his anti-Zionism, [and] his anti-communism all brought him into conflict with the Jews'.[42]

Home Secretary Joynson-Hicks[edit]

After the Conservatives won the election, in November 1924, Baldwin made Joynson-Hicks Home Secretary (he was Home Secretary until 1929). David Cesarani ascribes this 'sudden [and] unexpected' political ascent - which, 'in the view of many at the time and since, [was] undeserved in terms of talent' - to the ideological affinity between Baldwin and Hoynson-Hicks.[42] Joynson-Hick's appointment worried the Jewish community, and not without reasons: his time as Home Secretary saw him in regular conflict with British Jews.[42] Joynson-Hicks became known as 'Mussolini Minor'.[42] His antisemitism caused him no harm during his time in office and he was emboldened in his antisemitism because he knew he had the general support of the Conservative party, 'the large majority of whom are anti-alien in the sense of generally disliking foreigners, and despising anyone who does not happen to have been born in this country with a long English lineage to boot'.[42] More specifically, too, the Conservative party contained a 'very noisy and active element' of antisemites.[42] '[A]nti-Jewish currents were evident at the centre of politics, even present at the Cabinet table'.[42] Writing to a friend shortly after the 1924 election, Chaim Weizmann commented, 'There is a new government ... the Cabinet contains two or three reactionaries, anti-Zionists and even anti-semites'.[42] Within the government ranks, there was no 'dissent against [Joynson-Hicks's] activity ... least of all from ... Baldwin'.[42] In fact, Cesarani says Baldwin chose the right-winger Joynson-Hicks for his government because he considered him 'a desirable representative of elemental Toryism', a 'representative figure' who would 'enhance, rather than detract from, first, his electoral team, and second, his government'.[42]

Towards the start of his Home Secretary career Joynson-Hicks was visited by the right-wing organisation the National Citizens Union.[42] Joynson-Hicks, in agreeance with them, told the group he would not allow a mass arrival of immigrants to Britain and that he would wouldn't hesitate to use his power to deport aliens.[42] Under Joynson-Hicks, the Home Office became 'the bane of the Jewish community' and 'the situation of Jewish aliens had deteriorated seriously'.[42] Jew who had not become British citizens were deported for misdemeanors but, when they applied for citizenship, were met with long, unnecessary delays with kept them in the precarious position of alien.[42] A group from the Board of Deputies of British Jews visited Joynson-Hicks at the Home Office in February 1925 to ask for an improvement to the regulations concerning aliens, 'the establishment of immigration boards to judge cases of aliens forbidden to land by immigration officers, some modification of the Home Secretary's power of deportation [and an] to end the delays in naturalization. Joynson-Hicks dismissed their requests.[42]

In November 1925, during Parliamentary debates about the renewal of the Aliens Act, Joynson-Hicks was confronted about his actions by Labour MP John Scurr and Jewish Conservative MP Samuel Finburgh. Scurr pointed out that the Aliens Act was being used 'against one section of the community, and particularly against the poorer members of the Jewish community'.[42] Samuel Finburgh highlighted that Jews who 'had been trying to get naturalized [were finding that] every possible obstruction was placed in their way'.[42] Joynson-Hicks responded by challenging Finburgh to give him a single example of when the Home Office had shown anti-Jewish bias, even though, Cesarani points out, Joynson-Hicks had entered and accepted a Home Office already discriminating against Jews in the applications for citizenship[42][47] and, during his time in office, had received a memorandum on naturalization from John Pedder, the Home Office Principle Assistant Secretary, who regularly processed complaints from the Jewish community about Home Office action.[42]

When asked by a Jewish journalist, Meir Grossman, about the 'impression [that] has gain ground' that Joynson-Hicks was 'in general antagonistic to the alien population' and, more particularly 'in the exercising [of] his discretion as Home Secretary', was 'discriminating against Jewish applicants' for citizenship, Joynson-Hicks replied that he was upset by the accusation of antisemitisim, insisted that he was fair.[42] However, his bias against the Jews was revealed when he went on to give the following example of the 'chief test' which he would apply before granting citizenship:

The chief test ... is whether the applicant has, so far as can be judged, become an Englishman at heart and has completely identified himself with English interests. I will give you an example. If two brothers came to this country and one of them settles in a district where only aliens live, continues to speak his native language, marries a woman from his own country, sends his child to a school where only foreign children are kept, keeps his account in a foreign bank, employs only foreign labour, while the other marries and Englishwoman, sends his children to an English school, speaks English, employs British labour, keeps his accounts in a British bank, it is the second brother and not the first who will stand to obtain naturalization.[42]

The anti-alien legislation, as described and used by Joynson-Hicks in this way, was antisemitic.[42][50]

In the 1930s, the Conservative Home Secretary refused to meet a delegation from organisations combating antisemitism.[46]

Winston Churchill's conspiracy theories[edit]

After the 1924 general election, Winston Churchill joined the ranks of the Conservatives (previously, he'd been a Liberal but ran as a Constitutionalist during the election). Churchill had various views on the Jews: some were Zionist, some antisemitic.[51][52] Even some of his positive views were based on antisemitic stereotypes.[6][51] In 1914 and 1920 he had been accused of Jew bating.[53] After World War I, Churchill held the irrational fixation that communism was under the control of 'International Jewry', 'a world-wide conspiracy' dedicated to 'the overthrow of civilization and the reconstruction of society'.[53] He expressed this in a 1920 Illustrated Sunday Herald article entitled 'Zionism versus Bolshevism: A struggle for the soul of the Jewish people',[53] which pitted good, Zionist Jews against evil of Jewish controlled Bolshevism.[51] In the article he cited favourably Nesta Helen Webster, the right-wing, antisemitic conspiracy theorist[6] and was 'tainted heavily with imagery' from the antisemitic fabricated text The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.[51] The Jewish Chronicle castigated Churchill for the article.[51] Churchill also had told Lloyd George that the Jews were 'the main instigators of the ruin of the Empire', that they had played 'a leading part in Bolshevik atrocities',[53] that the presence of Jews in radical groups was due (in Lebzelter's summation of Churchill's view) 'to inherent inclinations rooted in Jewish character and religion', and that a government should not have 'too many' Jews in it.[54] He said Britain need beware the 'international Soviet of the Russian and Polish Jew' and that he had found evidence of a 'very powerful' Jewish lobby in the country.[53] His antisemitism was shared by his wife, Clementine, who wrote to him in 1931 that she could understand 'American Anti-Semitic prejudice'.[53] It has been suggests that Churchill learned to keep his antisemitism quiet for political advantage.[53][55]

Involvement with Oswald Mosley[edit]

In 1933, Oswald Mosley formed the Fascist Defence Force (nicknamed the Blackshirts). Thomas Moore, Unionist MP for Ayr Burghs, wrote in the Daily Mail that there was 'no fundamental differences of outlook between the Blackshirts and their parents, the Conservatives'[56] and that the British Union of Fascists was 'largely derived from the Conservative Party'.[57] In the mid 1930s Moore, a Colonel in the British Army, wrote widely in the UK press in support of Adolf Hitler and the policies of Nazism.[58]

Oswald Mosley founded the January Club, a social and dining club, in 1934 to attract Establishment support for his British Union of Fascists movement,[59] which had increasing levels of antisemitism.[60] A number of Conservative MPs were wined and dined by the organization,[59][60] and many Conservatives joined the Club.[56] Conservative MPs and peers who were members included John Erskine, William Montagu-Douglas-Scott, Stafford Northcote (4th Earl of Iddesleigh) and Edward Spears.[14]

In 1935, Winston Churchill took Adam Marshall Diston into employment as a ghostwriter.[61] Diston had 'close affinities' to Oswald Mosley's British Union of Fascists (BUF):[51] in the 1931 general election he had stood as one of the prospective parliamentary candidates for Mosley's New Party;[62] he wrote literature for Mosley's movement, including a work co-authored with the Robert Forgan,[63][note 3] one of the organisers of the January Club; and he held 'a high position in the Publicity Department' of the BUF.[65]

The Conservative led government of the 1930s responded with a lack of concern to Nazi Germany's persecution of Jews, looking on the 'Nazi actions as an internal affair of a foreign country', even after the Nuremberg Laws were enacted in September 1935.[66]

N. Chamberlain leadership (1937-1940)[edit]

Parliamentary level[edit]

In the run up to World War II, 'within the ranks of the governing Conservative party and its allies in the press (especially the pro-Nazi Daily Mail) there was an at-times ill-disguised noxious mix of snobbery and anti-Semitism'.[67]

Chamberlain's antisemitism and Truth[edit]

Conservative leader and Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain had a dislike for the Jews.[66][68] According to R. B. Cockett, 'it is in the pages of Truth that Chamberlain's real political sympathies and prejudices can be found; political sympathies that were often in striking contrast to the official political postures adopted by his own government'.[69] The Conservative newspaper Truth,[70] secretly bought and overseen by Chamerlain's friend and former MI5 officer Joseph Ball (now director of the Conservative research department), had been obtained as an attempt 'by a caucus within [the] British government to influence events anonymously via the control of a newspaper'.[69] The paper was a 'Conservative propaganda organ',[71] pro-Chamberlain, antisemitic and racist.[69] The paper praised Hitler and attacked Chamberlain's enemies, 'a collection of persons and ideologies that would have closely resembled any hate-list that Hitler might have cared to draw up. Chief among these were the Bolsheviks/Communists and Jews'.[69] Both Truth and Chamberlain accused people who questioned Chamberlain's attempts at appeasement with Nazi Germany of being 'unEnglish', 'Jewish/Communist traitor[s] of the true English cause', or having been mislead by 'Jewish-Communist propaganda'.[69] The Daily Mirror, which was a critic of Chamberlain, was accused in Truth of being manipulated by a secret, subversive Jewish interest; and Fleet Street at large was said to be a 'Jew-infested sink', led by the Jewish publisher Victor Gollancz.[69]

Truth also attacked Jewish figures directly. George Strauss MP were accused of cowardice because they did not join the armed forces during World War I (Truth paid Strauss damages for this libel), and Truth carried out an antisemitic character assassination on Leslie Hore-Belisha after he resigned from office as Minister of War in 1940 at Chamberlain's request.[69] The paper had been attacking Hore-Belisha since 1937.[69]

Truth saw the potential war with Germany to be a "Jewish war", fought in Jewish interests, which it opposed.[69] It became the voice of those of had argued with Chamberlain for appeasement with Nazi Germany.[69] It employed Major-General J. F. C. Fuller (Oswald Mosley's former military adviser), who wrote against claims that the Germans were using concentration camps. The paper ignored the antisemitic pogroms carried out by the Germans in November 1938.[69] In November 1938, after the Kristallnacht, Chamberlain wrote to his sister, saying, 'No doubt the Jews aren't a lovable people; I don’t care about them myself; but that is not sufficient to explain the Pogrom'.[66][72]

Churchill's Liberty article[edit]

In June 1937, Churchill was commissioned to write an article for the American magazine Liberty on the so-called Jewish problem.[51] Churchill gave Diston some suggestions on what to write and then Diston ghostwrote the article for Churchill,[73] for which Churchill paid him in full.[51] Churchill made some handwritten marks on the draft[62] and the article was sent for typing without correction.[51] The article repeated the popular idea that Jews brought antisemitism on themselves by remaining distanced and separate from the rest of society,[62][74][75][51] and it repeated offensive stereotypes of Shylock and his "pound of flesh", Jewish usurers, and "Hebrew bloodsuckers".[51] In part, the article, entitled 'How the Jews can Combat Persecution',[51] said:

The Jew in England is a representative of his race. Every Jewish money-lender recalls Shylock and the idea of the Jews as usurers. And you cannot reasonably expect a struggling clerk or shopkeeper, paying forty or fifty per cent interest on borrowed money to a "Hebrew bloodsucker" to reflect that, throughout long centuries, almost every other way of life was closed to the Jewish people; or that there are native English moneylenders who insist, just as implacably, upon their "pound of flesh".[51]

In the end the article was not published, despite Churchill's repeated efforts to sell it.[51] Collier's, a US magazine Churchill was already contracted to write for, objected to one of Churchill's article potentially appearing in Liberty, a rival US publication, so it was withdrawn from its original outlet.[74][76] Following this, Churchill tried to have the article published in the British Strand Magazine, but it had already recently run a similar article by former Prime Minister David Lloyd George and declined.[74][76] According to Richard Toye, based on this string of events, 'Churchill was entirely happy to put the article out in his own name and thus take responsibility for the views it expressed'.[73] In 1940 Charles Eade, Sunday Dispatch editor, who was republishing some of Churchill's older journalism, came across the article and approached Churchill on the 7th March about publishing it,[76] saying, 'I see no reason why Mr Churchill should not agree to [the article being printed in the Sunday Dispatch], but the question of Jews is a rather provocative one, and I thought I should ask his permission before going ahead with this particular contribution'.[74] Churchill declined the offer,[51] his office writing to the newspaper that it would be 'inadvisable to publish the article 'How the Jews can combat Persecution' at the present time'.[74]

Archibald Maule Ramsay MP and the Right Club[edit]

On 13th January 1938, Archibald Maule Ramsay, the Unionist MP for Peebles and Southern Midlothian, gave a speech to the Arbroath Business Club in which he observed that Adolf Hitler's antipathy to Jews arose from his knowledge "that the real power behind the Third International is a group of revolutionary Jews".[77] His United Christian Front (formed in 1937) aimed to combat attacks on Christianity from 'the Red Menace' - he believed that Bolshevism was Jewish.[78] Ramsey was influenced and made use of The Rulers of Russia by a Roman Catholic priest from Ireland, Father Denis Fahey, which contended that of 59 members of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in 1935, 56 were Jews, and the remaining three were married to Jews.[77] Ramsay was sympathetic to Nazi Germany: in September, he wrote to The Times to defend the right of the pro-German Sudetenland to self-determination.[77] On 15 November 1938, Ramsay was invited to a luncheon party at the German Embassy in London, where he met British sympathisers with Nazi Germany, including Barry Domvile.[79] In December he introduced a Private Member's Bill called the "Companies Act (1929) Amendment Bill", which would require shares in news agencies and newspapers to be held openly and not through nominees.[77] In his speech promoting the Bill, Ramsay claimed the press was being manipulated and controlled by "international financiers" based in New York City who wanted to "thrust this country into a war".[77] In December 1938, The Fascist (journal of the Imperial Fascist League) declared that Ramsay had 'become Jew-wise'. On 10 January 1939 Ismay Ramsay, Archibald's wife, gave another speech to the Arbroath Business Club,[77] at which she claimed the national press was "largely under Jewish control",[80] that "an international group of Jews ... were behind world revolution in every single country"[78] and defended Hitlet's antisemitism,[80] saying he "must ... have had his reasons for what he did".[77] The speech was reported in the local newspaper and attracted the attention of the rabbi of the Edinburgh Hebrew Congregation, Dr Salis Daiches, who wrote to The Scotsman challenging Mrs Ramsay to produce evidence.[80][78] Ramsay wrote on her behalf citing Father Fahey's booklet,[78] and the resulting correspondence lasted for nearly a month[80] - including a letter from 11 Ministers of the Church of Scotland in the County of Peebles repudiating the views of their MP.[77] Some members of Ramsay's local Conservative Association in Peebles were not pleased by what they considered negative publicity; however, the Peebles Conservative Association expressed its 'colidarity and unanimity' with Ramsay and he received an 'enthusiastic welcome' at local Conservative meetings.[78] On 27 April he spoke to a branch of the (antisemitic) Nordic League (of which he was a member[78]) in Kilburn, attacking Neville Chamberlain for introducing conscription "at the instigation of the Jews" and claiming that the Conservative Party "relies on ... Jew money".[77]

In May 1939, Ramsay set up the Right Club, to fight so-called Judeo-Bolshevism.[78] Ramsay said that "The main objective [of the Right Club] was to oppose and expose the activities of organised Jewry".[81] The logo of the Right Club, seen on its badge, was of an eagle killing a snake with the initials P.J. (which stood for "Perish Judah").[82] Members of the Right Club included well-known antisemites like William Joyce (AKA Lord Haw-Haw),[83] Arnold Leese, A. K. Chesterton (who had left Mosley's BUF in 1933 because Mosley had not been antisemitic enough for him[51]),[82] along with Conservative peers and politicians, like James Graham (at the time, Marquess of Graham), William Forbes-Sempill (Lord Sempill),[51] David Freeman-Mitford (Lord Redesdale), Gerard Wallop (Lord Lymington),[82] and John Hamilton Mackie).[83] At its early meetings, Arthur Wellesley (Duke of Wellington) (one of Churchill's friends[51]) took the chair.[82] The Right Club held closed meetings in the House of Commons.[51] Ramsay distributed copies of the antisemitic periodical The Turth to MPs. The paper was a Conservative Party publication and was edited by an antisemite.[51]

During the time Ramsay was launching the Right Club, he spoke at a meeting of the Nordic League at the Wigmore Hall at which a reporter from the Daily Worker was present and reported Ramsay as saying that they needed to end Jewish control, "and if we don't do it constitutionally, we'll do it with steel" – a statement greeted with wild applause.[84] The popular magazine John Bull picked up on the report and challenged Ramsay to contradict it or explain himself. Ramsay's local constituency newspaper, the Peeblesshire Advertiser, made the same challenge and Ramsay responded by admitting he had made the speech, citing the fact that three halls had refused to host the meeting as evidence of Jewish control.[77]

On the second day of the Second World War, 4 September 1939, Ramsay sat in the library of the House of Commons and, on House of Commons headed notepaper, write a parody of Land of Hope and Glory, which contained the following lines:[51]

Land of dope and Jewry
Land that once was free
All the Jew boys praise thee
While they plunder thee ...
Land of Jewish finance
Fooled by Jewish lies
In press and books and movies
While our birthright dies.

One 12 September 1939, Hugh Grosvenor (Duke of Westminster) read out an antisemitic anit-war statement at one of the Right Club's meetings.[51] The statement said that the war (later known as the Second World War) was 'part of a Jewish and Masonic plot to destroy Christian civilization'.[51] The statement was circulated to a number of Cabinet ministers, including Winston Churchill and Neville Chamberlain.[51] The following day, after several minsters complained to Churchill about the Duke of Westminster's 'indiscretion', Churchill wrote a note to the Duke, but did not address the antisemitic elements of speech; rather, Churchill's concern was with the Duke's opposition to the war.[51]

The Right Club spent the so-called Phoney War period at the start of the Second World War distributing propaganda in the form of leaflets and "sticky-backs" (adhesive labels containing slogans), with Ramsay later explaining that he wanted "to maintain the atmosphere in which the "Phoney War", as it was called, might be converted into an honourable negotiated peace".[77] In addition to Ramsay's Land of dope and Jewry rhyme, the slogans included "War destroys workers" and "This is a Jews' War". Some of the leaflets asserted "the stark truth is that this war was plotted and engineered by the Jews for world-power and vengeance".[77]

On 20 March 1940, Ramsay asked a question about a propaganda radio station set up by Germany which gave its precise wavelength,[85] which was suspected by both his allies and opponents as a subtle way of advertising it.[77] On 9 May he asked for an assurance from the Home Secretary "that he refuses to be stampeded ... by a ramp in our Jew-ridden press".[41]

Nazi sympathizers[edit]

In April 1939, Ronald Nall-Cain (Baron Brocket), who joined various anti-Semitic organisations, attended Hitler's 50th birthday celebration.[81] He was accompanied by the Conservative peer and former MP Walter Montagu Douglas Scott (Duke of Buccleuch).[81] Charles Vane-Tempest-Stewart (Marquess of Londonderry), Winston Churchill's cousin, was also a supporter of Hitler.[81] Around this time he also made a number of visits to Germany, met Hitler and stayed with Hermann Göring at his hunting lodge.[81]

Antisemitism towards Leslie Hore-Belisha[edit]

Around the start of 1940, senior Conservative parliamentarians, including Harold Macmillan and Robert Gascoyne-Cecil (Viscount Cranbourne),[19] led an antisemitic[86] attack on Secretary of State for War Leslie Hore-Belisha, the influence of which led Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain to remove him from office in January 1940.[41][87] A week after Hore-Belisha was dismissed, Ramsay distributed in the House of Commons copies of Truth (a magazine connected to Neville Chamberlain[56]) which made allegations about Hore-Belisha's financial activities.[55] Ramsay also put down a motion which cited the regretful reactions of many newspapers to Hore-Belisha's sacking as evidence of Jewish control of the press.[77][66] Subsequently, Hore-Belisha was blocked from taking office as Minister of Information because of antisemitic[86] pressure led by the Foreign Secretary, Edward Wood.[87] Edward Stanley (Lord Derby) commented to the French Ambassador, "I hope you and your people do not take M[onsieur] Hore-Belisha to be a true Englishman". Henry "Chips" Channon, a 'great friend of Leslie Hore-Belisha', referred to Hore-Belisha as 'the Jew boy' ('[but] I am fond of him', the added).[86] Channon also described Hore-Belisha as 'an oliy man, half Jew, an opportunist, with the Semitic flair for publicity'.[41][88] During this time there was antisemitism 'in the corridors of power'.[86]

Grassroots level[edit]

Antisemitism towards Jewish election candidates[edit]

Daniel Lipson, Mayor of Cheltenham, was rejected by Cheltenham Conservative Association as their potential election candidate in the 1937 by-election because of antisemitism within the association.[89]

Churchill leadership (1940-1955)[edit]

According to Colin Shindler, during Churchill's political life, there was 'ingrained anti-Semitism in the Conservative Party'.[90]

Eden's antisemitism[edit]

One of Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs Anthony Eden's aid noted in his diary in 1942 that "Anthony is immovable on the subject of Palestine. He loves Arabs and hates Jews".[91]

1945 general election and the Hampstead 'anti-alien' petition[edit]

In August 1945 The Jewish Chronicle reported that 'antisemitism on the part of [Conservative] party supporters had led many local political associations not to select Jewish candidates'.[46] During the election campaign of that year, Conservative candidate Wavell Wakefield said that Jewish refugees should be repatriated to solve London's housing crisis.[92] During the capaign, too, the Daily Herald accused the Conservatives of making antisemitic remarks about Professor Harold Laski (political theorist of the London School of Economics and chair of the Labour Party's National Executive Committee).[92] In 1945, the local Hampstead Conservative group began agitation against Jewish immigration.[92] In October 1945, an antisemitic petition was drawn up, with the help of Waldron Smithers's (Conservative MP for Orpington) Fighting Fund for Freedom, by residents of Hampstead, requesting 'that aliens of Hampstead should be repatriated to assure men and women of the Forces should have accommodation upon their return' from World War II.[92] The petition was signed by the antisemitic Conservative mayor of Hampstead Sydney A. Boyd and four of Hampstead's Conservative councillors, with the rest of the Conservative members of the council in favour of the petition.[92] Hampstead's Conservative MP, Charles Challen, promised to give the petition his 'unstinting support'[92][38] and he asked a number of questions in the House of Commons on behalf of the petitioners over the following months.[92] When the petition was complete, Conservative Councillor J. A. Hughes passed it to Challen who, 'rather than repudiate the sponsors for their antisemitism', delivered it to Parliament.[92]

Rural and urban antisemitism[edit]

Surveying the period from 1945, after the end of the Second World War, until 1988, Geoffrey Alderman says that 'anti-Jewish prejudice was rampant in some Conservative associations in rural areas', and that 'it was by no means confined to the countryside'.[22] At a civic reception held in 1945 to confer upon Sydney A. Boyd the status of Honorary Freeman of the Borough, the Conservative Mayor of Hampstead made a number of 'cheap anti-Semitic gibes', including the suggestion that Swiss Cottage needed a 'British Consul'.[92] Sometimes after the Second World War, Ramsay called for the reinstatement of the 1275 Statute of the Jewry passed under King Edward I.[93] In 1946, Charles Challen led a protest against construction to turn a former Congregationalist church into a synagogue - it was 'a thinly veiled anti-Semitic attack which effectively objected to appropriation of a formerly "English" space by Jews'.[38] In October 1948, Douglas Peroni (former treasurer of the Hampstead branch of the British Union of Fascists and chair of the fascist Hampstead Literary Society, and leader of the Hampstead branch of Oswald Mosely's Union Movement) established 'an active fascist group’ within the Hampstead council which were in accord with members of the local Conservative group over Jewish immigration.[92]

Andrew Fountaine[edit]

Andrew Fountaine joined the Young Conservatives towards the end of the 1940s, becoming the lead member in his constituency.[56] He engaged with nationalist politics at a young age[94] and had fought for the Spanish dictator Francisco Franco during the Spanish Civil War.[94][56] In 1948[56] or 1949[94] he was selected as prospective parliamentary candidate by the Chorley Conservative Association. At the Llandudno Conservative Party Conference the same year, Fountain gave an antisemitic speech.[94][56] The Conservative's Standing Advisory Committee on Candidates disavowed him,[94] meaning he failed to gain approval at a national level.[95] However, come the 1950 general election, there was no 'London-sponsored' replacement for Fountaine[96] and the Chorley Conservative Association did not try to find a replacement either,[56] so he ran as a locally nominated Conservative candidate still.[56][25][19] Later, Fountaine left the Conservatives and became involved in a series of far-right organisations.[25][note 4]

League of Empire Loyalists[edit]

In 1954, the antisemitic, far-right ginger group the League of Empire Loyalists was founded and led by Arthur K. Chesterton, a former leading figure in the British Union of Fascists,[97] who had served under Sir Oswald Mosley. The pressure group was composed of 'right-wing Conservatives,[98] particularly retired military men, and a few pre-war Fascists'.[97] Conservative MPs who were part of the group included Edward Martell and Andrew Fountaine.

Eden leadership (1955-1957)[edit]

Antisemitism towards Keith Joseph[edit]

In 1956, Keith Joseph was elected as an MP but he faced challenges from antisemitic forces within the Conservative party, which at the time had a 'reputation for being unwelcoming to Jews'. One of the people who interviewed him 'for inclusion on the party's candidates list' commented, "As a Jew, I suppose he is not every constituency's man and, therefore, his placing would need care" and, indeed, Joseph faced 'local mutterings against picking a Jew to represent the party'. Within the parliamentary party, Joseph was considered 'something of an outsider' and 'lamentably exotic'.[99]

Macmillan leadership (1957-1963)[edit]

Parliamentary level[edit]

Macmillan's antisemitism[edit]

Harold Macmillan's diaries were 'spattered with abuse of other public figures, often tinged with anti-semitism'.[100] Gerald Kaufman was someone Macmillan referred to antisemitically in his diaries.[101] Macmillan 'often made snide jokes about Jews and Jewish politicians'.[45] On another occasion, he called Leslie Hore-Belisha 'Horeb Elisha'.[45]

Local level[edit]

Involvement with antisemitic groups[edit]

In 1958, the Conservative Party Council of the Bournemouth constituency nominated James Friend to be the constituency's prospective parliamentary candidate.[102] Jewish members of the council resigned because, they alleged, Friend had 'close links with the anti-Semitic League of Empire Loyalists and has engaged in anti-Semitic activities'.[102] Friend had given the inaugural meeting of the League of Empire Loyalists' local branch.[102] Douglas Hogg (Lord Hailsham), chairman of the British Conservative Party, reportedly made a personal inquiry into the matter.[102]

Grassroots level[edit]

Golf Club antisemitism[edit]

In 1957 'prominent Conservatives'[22] who were in control of the Finchley Golf Club were baring Jews from joining.[22][103] This, according to Alderman, was the 'most blatant example' of 'anti-Jewish prejudice ... rampant in some [parts of the] Conservative associations' in post-war Britain;[22] it resulted in 'an angry wave of Jewish anti-Tory protest' in the Finchley area.[103]

Douglas-Home leadership (1963-1965)[edit]

Heath leadership (1965-1975)[edit]

Parliamentary level[edit]

'Zionist influence' investigation[edit]

In 1971, when Edward Heath was Prime Minister and the Foreign Office was headed by Alec Douglas-Home, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office launched a secret investigation to 'evaluate Zionist influence in the US and Europe'.[104] The findings 'echoed anti-Semitic notions of Jewish financial power, dual loyalty and undue political influence'.[104] The report was concerned with power and influence of 'Jewish money' and the 'Jewish lobby' and 'appeared to treat the people and organizations involved in British Zionism not as British citizens exercising their democratic rights, but as agents of foreign pressure on the government', 'reflected a belief that Diaspora Jewish interests were separate from, and even inimical to, those of the countries in which they lived'.[104]

Antisemitism towards Gerald Kaufman[edit]

The Labour MP Gerald Kaufman was critical of the arms delivery embargo the Conservative government imposed on Israel during the 1973 attack by Egypt on Israel. Foreign Secretary Alec Douglas-Home told Kaufman that his (Kaufman's) 'loyalty appeared to be to Israel and not to Britain'. To Kaufman, 'It was a clear anit-Jewish insinuation'.[46][101] On another occasion, Charles Taylor told Kaufman to "Get back to Tel Aviv".[101]

Thatcher leadership (1975-1990)[edit]

Parliamentary level[edit]

Alan Clark MP[edit]

In 1981, Alan Clark (Minister of State for Trade, 1986-1989; Minister for Defence Procurement, 1989-1992) told Frank Johnson that he, Clark, was a Nazi. He wrote in his diary: 'I really believed it [i.e., Nazism] to be the ideal system, and that it was a disaster for the Anglo-Saxon races and for the world that it was extinguished'.[105] He thought of defecting to the antisemitic political party the National Front (NF)[105] and wrote, after two NF members came to his constituency surgery 'for a chat', about 'how good they were, and how brave is the minority, in a once great country, who still keep alive the tribal essence'.[105][106] In 31 March 1982 Alan Clark made the following diary entry:

Today I asked an offensive question about Jews. It is always thought to be rude to refer to 'Jews', isn't it? I remember that slightly triste occasion, watched from the gallery, of my father being inaugurated into the Lords and my rage at Sidney Bernstein, who was being ennobled on the same afternoon and would not take the Christian oath. As loudly as I could I muttered and mumbled about 'Jews' in order to discomfit his relations who were also clustered in the gallery.

I had hung it around the Forgeign Secretary's visit to Israel ... It is always fun to see how far you can go with taboo subjects...[46]

He was accused of 'being sympathetic to the ideology [of the Nazis] and was linked with Holocaust denier David Irving'.[107] In the opinion of fellow Conservative MP Keith Simpson, Clark had 'an unhealthy' or 'macabre' 'fascination with Hitler and the Nazis'.[107] Jewish journalist Dominic Lawson (son of Conservative MP Nigel Lawson) said Clark was a 'thorough-going admirer of Adolf Hitler' who was serious in his 'expressions of reverence for the Fuhrer'.[105] He would take delight in showing off his Nazi memorabilia.[107] On 26th December 1986, while Minister of State for Trade, Alan Clark described in his diary the colour of someone's gold Rolls-Royce as 'Jewish racing yellow', adding that apparently that is what 'the colour is termed in the Mess at Knightsbridge'.[108][109] Conservative MP Neil Hamilton recalls Clark saying, "I'm a Nazi. I've never made the slightest secret of it and so should you".[110] '[H]e was really right wing', Hamilton added.[110] According to Hamilton, 'he had an admiration for the displays of the Nazis, the Nuremberg rally and ranting speeches from a powerful and messianic leader'.[110] He told Charles Moore that he wasn't a fascist because "Fascists are shopkeepers who look after their dividends: I’m a Nazi!"[111]

Hamilton's Nazi salute[edit]

On an August 1983 parliamentary trip to Berlin, Neil Hamilton made a Nazi salute 'with two fingers to his nose to give the impression of a toothbrush moustache' when outside the Reichstag.[112] The salute was reported on 30 January 1984 in a BBC Panorama programme, "Maggie's Militant Tendency". Hamilton sued the BBC for libel, claiming that he had no recollection of making the salute.[112] The BBC pulled out of the case and Hamilton was awarded £20,000 in damages.[112] However, after the case collapsed, Hamilton admitted in a Sunday Times article to having made the Nazi salute.[112]

Antisemitism towards Jewish people in the cabinet[edit]

There were a number of Jewish people in Margaret Thatcher's cabinet, all of whom experienced antisemitism from their colleagues. The antisemitism lead to the resignation of a number of Jewish cabinet members.[113] Harold Macmillan commented that the Conservative cabinet 'was more old Estonian that old Etonian', which was 'a none-too-subtle way of putting Nigel Lawson, Leon Brittan or Michael Howard in their place'.[46] Brittan resigned as Trade and Industry Secretary in January 1986 over the Westland affair. Jonathan Aitken wrote of Brittan's resignation: "Soon after a poisonous meeting of Tory backbenchers at the 1922 Committee he fell on his sword. It was a combination of a witch hunt and a search for a scapegoat – tainted by an undercurrent of anti-Semitism. [...] I believed what should have been obvious to anyone else, that he was being used as a lightning conductor to deflect the fire that the Prime Minister [Margaret Thatcher] had started and inflamed".[114] In the discussion over who should replace Leon Brittan after he was removed from the cabinet, John Stokes[46] commented that the 'replacement should at least be a "proper red-faced, red-blooded Englishman"'.[103] The Jewish Board of Deputies sensed an antisemitic slur in the words, as did Brittan's non-Jewish wife Diana Brittan.[115] Other antisemitic comments were made about Brittan by his fellow Conservatives: 'But these came from members who would make slighting remarks about almost anyone with a background different from their own', Conservative MPs commented.[115] Edwina Currie also received antisemitic comments from 'certain red-faced, red-blooded Englishmen on the Tory backbenches'.[103] For example, she was labelled a 'pushy Jewess' (despite her being a member of the Church of England).[113] The Conservative backbenches were described at the time as 'riddled with prejudice of every kind', with 'anti-women and anti-Jewish' prejudice being chosen with which to attack Currie.[113] Like with Brittan, antisemitism within the Conservative party let to Currie's departure from the cabinet (she health minister at the time she exited office in December 1988) and, the following year, Nigel Lawson's, who resigned as chancellor of the exchequer in October 1989.[113] John Marshall and Anna McCurley confirmed that there was antisemitism in the Conservative party and a Channel 4 Dispatches investigation (airing October 1989) revealed that antisemitism within the Conservative party had been 'involved in the departure of several Jewish members of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's Cabinet' during her premiership.[113] R. W. Johnson has suggested that Thatcher appointed Jews to her cabinet partly because they were 'marginal' within the party and would therefore be 'properly grateful for their preferment and in all likelihood would never become rivals for the leadership'.[103]

Grassroots level[edit]

Antisemitism towards Jewish election candidate[edit]

In 1982 Michael Howard finally became election candidate for Folkestone after having been rejected by about 40 constituency parties because of antisemitism within those parties.[116]

Links to the BNP and NF[edit]

During the 1983 general election a Conservative Party candidate who had formally been a member of the National Front ran for election in a marginal constituency. The Board of Deputies of British Jews distributed flyers in the constituency to inform people of this.[6] When John Bercow (future Conservative MP and Speaker of the House of Commons) attended Essex University he became chairperson, in 1986, of the Federation of Conservative Students, which Essex University Jewish Society had concerns about because of its links to 'extremist right-wing organisations such as the British National Party or the National Front'.[117]

Major leadership (1990-1997)[edit]

Parliamentary level[edit]

Widdecombe's 'something of the night' comment[edit]

In 1997, during the Conservative leadership election of William Hague, Shadow Foreign Secretary Ann Widdecombe spoke out against Michael Howard, under whom she had served when he was Home Secretary. She remarked in the House of Commons that there is "something of the night" about Howard, who is of Romanian Jewish descent. This remark was considered by some to be xenophobic and possibly antisemitic.[116][118][119]

Hague leadership (1997-2001)[edit]

Antisemitism in OUCA[edit]

In 2000, four Oxford University Conservative Association (OUCA) members were expelled for making Nazi salutes.[120] The New Statesman reported that a member of the OUCA committee at the University's 2001 Freshers' Fair greeted new students by saying, "Welcome to OUCA – the biggest political group for young people since the Hitler Youth".[121] Another prominent member was dismissed from the Oxford University Student Union's executive for "marching up and down doing a Nazi salute".[121]

Johnson: editor of The Spectator and parliamentary candidate[edit]

A few months before the 2001 general election in which he first entered Parliament as a Conservative MP, Boris Johnson, then editor of The Spectator, published an article by Taki Theodoracopulos in which Theodoracopulos (usually known as Taki) wrote about the Jewish world conspiracy and declared himself to be a "soi-disant anti-Semite".[122][123][124] Johnson did not sack Taki.[122][124]

Duncan Smith leadership (2001-2003)[edit]

Parliamentary level[edit]

Antisemitism towards Lord Janner[edit]

When Greville Janner introduced as a peer the Archbishop of Canterbury, George Carey, two Conservative peers were overheard saying to each other: 'Who's that, introducing the Archbishop? Oh, just some Jew'.[46]

Howard leadership (2002-2005)[edit]

Parliamentary level[edit]

Antisemitism on the frontbench[edit]

In October 2004, a Conservative frontbencher said, "The trouble is that the [Conservative] party is being run by Michael Howard, Maurice Saatchi, and Oliver Letwin - and none of them really knows what it is to be English".[125] Another report said 'a junior frontbencher ... was musing about how the party was now being led. Saatchi, Michael Howard and Oliver Letwin were in charge: could they know how Englishmen felt?'[126]

Cameron leadership (2005-2016)[edit]

Parliamentary level[edit]

Hostility to Friends of Israel[edit]

In the early years of Stephen Crabb's political career, a fellow Conservative MP made antisemitic remarks about a Conservative Friends of Israel trip to Israel. The MP said to Crabb, 'Be careful young man, wouldn't be the first gentile to be taken in'. The antisemitic MP was not challenged about his comment.[127]

Support of European antisemitic political parties[edit]

In 2009, Jews express concern over Conservative Party membership of the European Conservatives and Reformists group, to which the Conservative MEPs belonged.[128] The chair of the group was Michał Kamiński of Poland's Law and Justice party, who was 'widely seen on the Continent as anti-Semitic'.[128] Kaminski is a former member of the neo-Nazi National Revival of Poland party (NOP).[128] The NOP's manifesto quoted directly from Hitler's Mein Kampf, saying 'Jews will be removed from Poland, and their possessions will be confiscated'.[128] In 2001, Kaminski 'condemned his own president, Aleksander Kwaśniewski, for apologising over the Polish massacre of hundreds of Jews in Jedwabne in July 1941'.[128] Jews called on David Cameron to sever links with Kaminski.[128] However, during a meeting at the International Institute for Strategic Studies a Jew talked to shadow foreign secretary William Hague about the matter and he '"brushed aside" the concerns, pointing out that Kaminski [was] elected'; and, at a party in London, David Cameron approached Labour MP Denis MacShane and told him 'to stop asking questions' in the House of Commons 'about his new European alliance'.[128]

Dorries' 'Dr Death' comment[edit]

In Speptember 2011, Conservative MP Nadine Dorries, who largely takes an anti-abortion position, and ConservativeHome editor Tim Montgomerie independently called Liberal Democrat politician Dr Evan Harris, who opposes Dorries, 'Dr Death' - 'comparing one of their opponents to a Nazi concentration camp Doctor'[129] (i.e., Aribert Heim or Josef Mengele) - 'due to his support for abortion and euthanasia'.[130] Harris is Jewish and his family fled Nazi Germany.[129] During the 2015 general election, there were suggestions that a leaflet also calling Evans 'Dr Death', distributed during the previous election (2010) by members of the Oxford-based anti-abortion group LIFE, was connected to Dorries's election campaign - some local members of the Conservative Party, including Mark Bhagwandin, Chairman of Oxford East Conservative Association, were also members of LIFE (Bhagwandin was LIFE’s Senior Education and Media Officer).[131]

Burley's Nazi-themed stag do[edit]

In 2012, Conservative MP Aidan Burley was sacked from his role as ministerial aide because he organised a Nazi-themed stag do in 2011.[132] Burley supplied an SS uniform and insignia to the groom, who was fined £1,500 by a French court for wearing the costume and ordered to pay €1,000 to an organisation representing families of those who had been sent to death camps during World War Two.[132] A Conservative Party report on Burley's behaviour, authored by Conservative peer Lord Gold, released in 2014 said Burley was not racist or antisemitic but that he had acted in a 'stupid and offensive way'.[132] Prime Minister David Cameron and the Conservative leadership stood in support of Burley.[132]

Cameron and the use of 'yid'[edit]

During a 2013 row over Tottenham Hotspur fans' use of the slurs Yid and Yiddos, David Cameron defended the fans' use of the words, saying Spur's fans should not be prosecuted for using them.[133][134] This was in opposition to newly released guidelines from the Football Association and contrary to the Crown Prosecution Service's and the Metropolitan Police's use and defence of the Public Order Act 1986.[133] Cameron was seen to be giving an excuse for people to 'propagat[e] racial and ethnic slurs and stereotypes'[135] and he was condemned by lawyer Peter Herbert for condoning and legitimising antisemitism.[133][134]

Rees-Mogg and the Traditional Britain Group[edit]

In 2013, Jacob Rees-Mogg was guest-of-honour[136] and gave the keynote speech at a dinner of the racist Traditional Britain Group (TBG).[137] Before the dinner date, the anti-fascist magazine Searchlight contacted Rees-Mogg 'to try to dissuade him from speaking at the dinner', but it was 'to no avail'.[136] At the time, the vice-president of the group, who sat next to Rees-Mogg at the dinner, was Gregory Lauder-Frost (TBG founder[138]), formerly political secretary of the Conservative Monday Club (when Lauder-Frost was a member, the Monday Club was 'a pressure group within the Tory party' - it was 'later banned by Iain Duncan Smith [in 2001] because of its views on race'[139]).[137] Lauder-Frost is an antisemite.[137] Speaking to an undercover Hope Not Hate researcher in 2017 about Vanessa Feltz, Lauder-Frost said, 'She's a fat Jewish s**g, she's revolting, revolting. She lives with a negro. She's horrible'.[137] At the time Rees-Mogg spoke at the dinner, the TBG's President was Merlin Hanbury-Tracy (Lord Sudeley), a member of the Conservative Party, a Conservative peer, and former chairman of the Conservative Monday Club.[136]

Mercer's 'bloody Jew' comment[edit]

In May 2014, Conservative MP Patrick Mercer was recorded by journalist Daniel Foggo saying, during the course of an anecdote, that an Israeli soldier looked like a 'bloody Jew'.[140] Mercer stepped down as MP after an investigation and report by the House of Commons standards committee.[140]

Bridgen's conspiracy theory[edit]

On the 13th October 2014, Conservative MP Andrew Bridgen made antisemitic remarks in a speech in the House of Commons. He referred to 'the most insulting of tropes against Jews', saying, "the political system of the world's superpower and our great ally the United States is very susceptible to well-funded powerful lobbying groups and the power of the Jewish lobby in America".[141] The Conservative Party did not take any steps to address the incident.[142]

Fallon's stab-in-the-back myth[edit]

An illustration from a 1919 Austrian postcard showing a caricatured Jew stabbing the German Army in the back with a dagger, blaming the Jews for Germany's defeat in World War I. Michael Fallon was seen by some to be echoing the stab-in-the-back myth when he wrote that Labour leader Ed Miliband would 'stab the United Kingdom in the back'.[143]

Michael Fallon's wrote in a 2015 Times article that Ed Miliband had 'stabbed his own brother in the back to become Labour leader. Now he is willing to stab the United Kingdom in the back in order to become Prime Minister'. This led to Fallon being accused of antisemitism, perpetuating the stab-in-the-back myth that Jews are never truly part of the country they live in and betray that country when it suits them.[143]

Local level[edit]

Antisemitism following an antisemitic terrorist attack[edit]

In January 2015 a Conservative councillor for Bishop's Stortford West Division made an antisemitic tweet following the deadly Hypercacher kosher supermarket siege in Paris. Conservative MP Robert Halfon said the remarks were 'abhorrent', 'unacceptable, unnecessary and unsavoury'. The councillor apologised but not further action was taken.[144]

Antisemitism towards Ed Miliband[edit]

In April 2015 a Conservative councillor was suspended for an antisemitic comment about Labour leader Ed Miliband, saying she could never support "the Jew".[145]

Grassroots level[edit]

Antisemitism in OUCA[edit]

In 2011, when Margaret Thatcher was patron and William Hague was honorary president of their group, members of the Oxford University Conservative Association (OUCA) ('a conveyor belt for future leaders since it was founded in 1924' and 'the biggest single organisation within Conservative Future') were accused by their own officers of 'anti-Semitism, debauchery and snobbery'.[120] Antisemitism was seen at its 'alcohol-fuelled' weekly meetings, styled "port and policy meetings", where many association members would regularly sing a Nazi-themed song that included the lines 'Dashing through the Reich / killing lots of Kike'.[120]

Antisemitism in UCL Conservative Society[edit]

In October 2014 UCL Conservative Society, the oldest Conservative Society, of which Magaret Thatcher was Honorary President up until her death, was ordered by UCL's Student Union to apologise for creating a 'toxic environment' in which discrimination, including antisemitism, was the culture. Racist comments from members of the society included, "Jews own everything, we all know it’s true. I wish I was Jewish, but my nose isn’t long enough".[146][147] The Conservative Party did not investigate the incident.[147]

Antisemitism in voter base[edit]

A 2015 YouGov survey showed that Conservative voters were more likely to be antisemitic than Labour voters.[148]

May leadership (2016-)[edit]

Parliamentary level[edit]

May's "citizens of nowhere" speech[edit]

At the Conservative Party Conference in October 2016, Theresa May said, "If you believe you are a citizen of the world, you're a citizen of nowhere". A number of people, including Vince Cable[149] and Jewish journalist Benjamin Ramm,[150] saw similarities between May's words and those of antisemites, who view Jews as 'rootless', 'cosmopolitan' citizens from 'nowhere.[151] In February 2018, Theresa May's former aid, Nick Timothy (who authored May's 2016 arguably antisemitic "citizens of nowhere" speech[152]), was accussed of antisemitism following the publication of a Daily Telegraph article of which he was the principal author that claimed the existence of a "secret plot" to stop Brexit by the Jewish philanthropist George Soros.[153][152] In response, Timothy tweeted: "Throughout my career I’ve campaigned against antisemitism, helped secure more funding for security at synagogues and Jewish schools".[153] Timothy's article was seen to be repeating antisemitic conspiracy theories directed at Soros by 'increasingly authoritarian' governments in Poland, Hungary and Turkey.[152]

Steve Bannon[edit]

On 8th January 2017, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson met with the antisemite[154] Steve Bannon, at the time Donald Trump’s chief strategist and, in the words of shadow foreign minister Liz McInnes, 'a man whose website is synonymous with antisemitism, racism, misogyny, homophobia, hero-worship of Vladimir Putin and the promotion of extremist far-right movements across the world'.[155] The following week, Michael Gove defended Steve Bannon against claims of antisemitism, saying Bannon could not be antisemitic because he had a Jewish friend, Jared Kushner.[156] Later that year (July 2017), Boris Johnson met with Steve Bannon a second time, and Bannon had also been in contact with Jacob Rees-Mogg and Michael Gove.[157][158] He said Johnson, Gove and Rees-Mogg were 'a "deep talent bench" of potential anti-EU leaders for the Conservative Party'.[157] Of Boris Johnson, Bannon said, he "is one of the most important persons on the world stage today" and described him as "his own guy".[157] Johnson was condemned for 'courting those who have enabled right wing antisemitism to seep into the mainstream' and accused of being a hypocrite for doing so while 'attacking Jeremy Corbyn’s approach to antisemitism'.[154] In December 2017, Jacob Rees-Mogg met with Steve Bannon to 'discuss how conservative movements can win in Britain'.[159]

'Hypocrisy' over IHRA antisemitism definition[edit]

In July 2017, during the row over the Labour Party and the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism, Channel 4 FactCheck revealed that the Conservative Party rulebook did not mention antisemitism (in contrast to Labour's rulebook, which directly addressed antisemitism), despite Theresa May claiming that her party had adopted the IHRA definition.[160][161] Georgina Lee from the FactCheck team concluded that '[i]t is difficult for Theresa May to criticise ... Labour [about whether and how it defines antisemitism in its party rules] – as she did on Wednesday in parliament – when her own party has not specifically mentioned antisemitism in any of its official documents or rulebook'.[160]

Support of European antisemitic political parties[edit]

On 18th April 2018 a number of Jewish organisations called on the Conservative government to confront European political parties that had fuelled antisemitism, particularly those the Conservatives were affiliated in the European Conservatives and Reformists group with, like Latvia's National Alliance, Poland's Law and Justice Party, and Hungary's Fidesz Party, with its leader Viktor Orbán. The Jewish organisations asked the Conservatives to withdraw the their membership from the European Conservatives and Reformists Group until it is genuinely free from racism, including antisemitism.[162] In September 2018, British Jewish leaders condemned the Conservatives because, in a vote to remove Hungary's voting rights at the European Council, the party defended Hungary's far-right Orbán government despite its 'vivid antisemitism'.[163] Hungary was accused of corruption, 'violating press freedoms, undermining judicial independence, and waging an antisemitic campaign against a leading Jewish businessman' (i.e., George Soros).[164] The Conservatives were the only governing conservative party in western Europe to vote against the move.[164] The Conservatives were accused of 'cosy[ing] up to an antisemitic and racist strong-man regime', 'pandering to Jew-hate'.[165] They were seen, including by one of their own politicians, of defending Orbán 'in a bid for backing in Brexit talks',[163][165] of pretending not to recognise antisemitism 'in the hope of gaining some advantage in return'.[165] According to The Jewish Chronicle, the vote 'was truly shameful and a dark day for the party led by Mrs May'.[166] Later that month, Orbán wrote to the Conservative Party thanking them for their support in the vote.[167] Labour Party Chairperson Ian Lavery called on Theresa May to 'explain and apologise for her Party's behaviour'.[167] After the vote, 'a series of high-profile Conservatives' refused to condemn the vote, which, according to an editorial in The Jewish Chronicle, was 'even worse' that the vote itself, adding that 'it is vital that antisemitism is called out — wherever it is found'.[166] One of the Conservatives who refused to condemn the vote and Orbán's antisemitism was Michael Gove.[165] When asked to condemn Orbán, Gove said he would not "go down that route, play that game".[165] The following month, the Conservatives were condemned again by Jewish leaders because Conservative politicians continued to refuse to condemn Orbán. One of them was Brexit minister Martin Callanan. The Jewish Chronicle pointed out that this was occurring at the same time that the Conservatives were criticising Jeremy Corbyn over antisemitism in the Labour Party.[168]

Appointment of Roger Scruton[edit]

In November 2018 the Conservatives were condemned for appointing Roger Scruton as chair of a new Housing and Architecture Committee because, in the words of the critics, he 'pedall[ed] antisemitic conspiracy theories'[169][170] and made homophobic and Islamophobic comments.[171] Concerns were also expressed over Scruton's links with Viktor Orbán.[172] The government defended Scruton.[171]

Local level[edit]

Antisemitic councillors[edit]

In April 2017 it came to light that a Birmingham Conservative councillor had made antisemitic tweets during 2013 and 2014, claiming that "foreign Jew agents" were controlling people.[173]

A few days before the 2018 local elections (held on May 3th), three Conservative council candidates were revealed to have made antisemitic comments. The candidate for the Fen Ditton and Fulbourn ward, Cambridgeshire, had made anti-Semitic, homophobic and misogynistic posts on his Twitter account.[174] In 2013 he commented that he was 'Sweating like a Jew in an Attic'.[175] The candidate for Stevenage Borough Council said gay people 'should face the death penalty'. He also referred to the Jewish symbol the Star of David as the "Mark of the Beast".[176] The candidate for the Barnes ward of Sunderland City Council made a string of 'disgraceful' tweets. In one, the candidate wrote, 'I can honestly say that this morning was the first time I've had to scrub off a Hitler tash with a toothbrush after a night out'.[177] They were all suspended.[178][176][177] The next month (May 2018), a Conservative councillor was sacked because of his links with the (antisemitic) British National Party.[179] Initially, Councillor Meghan Gallacher, who leads the Conservative group on North Lanarkshire Council had defended the councillor.[179]

Grassroots level[edit]

Antisemitic activists[edit]

In March 2017, a Conservative activist tweeted that it was time for Europe-wide purge like the Spanish Inquisition. This cause concern for Jews because the Inquisition 'consisted of a state-organised pogrom predominantly targeting Jews with torture and cruel murder, for example being burned at the stake. The Alhambra Decree of 1492, commanded all Jews in Spain to convert to Catholicism or leave the country'. The Welsh Conservative Party released a statement distancing themselves from the activist, but took no further steps.[180][181]

In November 2017 it was revealed that Conservative Party activists were members of a Facebook group called Young Right Society, which was 'awash with antisemitic, Holocaust denying and racist material'.[182][183]

Antisemitism in voter base[edit]

In August 2017, the Campaign Against Antisemitism's Antisemitim Barometer report, using result from a YouGov survey, identified that, out of those voting for the UK's three largest political parties (Conservative, Labour, and Liberal Democrats), Conservative voters were the most likely to be antisemitic.[184][148]

Antisemitism in university Conservative societies[edit]

In October 2017, Amber Rudd paid members of the Oxford University Conservative Association (OUCA) to travel and campaign for her in Hastings, including a OUCA member who was photographed giving a Nazi salute.[185]

At a Plymouth University Conservatives party in October 2018, society members were pictured wearing a Hitler-style moustache, making what appeared to be white supremacist hand gestures, and wearing clothing with homemade slogans on them, like "Jude" (German for Jew) with a Star of David, and Enoch (thought likely to be a reference to the Conservative right-wing MP Enoch Powell).[186] Plymouth's Students' Union suspened the society pending an investigation; Conservative Campaign Headquarters launched an investigation and said it would suspend any party members involved.[186]

Conservative Future Scotland's and Bruges Group's conspiracy theories[edit]

The antisemitic conspiracy theory "Cultural Marxism" was evident in the Conservative party in during 2018. In Scotland in July, the chairperson for the youth wing of the Scottish Conservatives, Conservative Future Scotland, was accused of antisemitism after using the phrase. The Scottish Green Party MSP Ross Greer wrote to Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson asking her to treat the issue seriously because, according to him, the 'conspiracy theory [was] quite literally created by the Nazis to demonise Jews as the enemy within'.[187] The idea of "Cultural Marxism" emerged again at the Conservative Party Conference in October. Copies of a booklet called Moralitis: A Cultural Virus, by Robert Oulds (director of the Bruges Group) and Niall McCrae, were available at a Bruges Group meeting.[188] The booklet espoused right-wing conspiracy theories with antisemetic origins, including "Cultural Marxism" and the Great Replacement.[189][188] Two Jewish organisations, the Campaign Against Antisemitism and the Jewish Council for Racial Equality, called for an investigation into the 'racist' booklet.[189]

Turning Point UK[edit]

In December 2017, Turning Point UK, a right-wing non-profit organisation was founded, headed by George Farmer, a son of Conservative peer and former Conservative party treasurer Michael Farmer (Lord Farmer).[190] The organisation had links to antisemitic groups in the US[191] and was endorsed by Conservative MPs, including Jacob Rees-Mogg, Priti Patel, Steve Baker and Bernard Jenkin.[190] When asked about nationalism during a Q&A at the launch event (at which Andrew Rosindell MP was in attendance[192]), Candace Owens, Turning Point USA communications director, said 'If Hitler just wanted to make Germany great and have things run well, OK, fine. The problem is that ... he had dreams outside of Germany. He wanted to globalize ... that's not nationalism. ... I don't really have an issue with nationalism ... I think that it's OK'.[191] Owens was criticised for her words when they were reported on in February 2019[191][193] because people saw Owens as 'basically saying ... that Hitler's policies were acceptable as long as they didn't go beyond Germany's borders'.[194][193] Previously, Owens, who is engaged to George Famer, has come out in support of neo-Nazis.[190]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ The BBL was formed on 25 February 1901.[21]
  2. ^ In 1899 White had written an antisemitic book, The Modern Jew.[6]
  3. ^ Diston's output for Mosely's movement included The Sleeping Sickness of the Labour Party (1931) and, with Robert Forgan, The New Party and the ILP (1931) (written as an appeal to ILP members[64]).[63]
  4. ^ The organisations Fountaine was involved with were: the National Front Movement (founder), the League of Empire Loyalists, the National Labour Party (leader), British National Party (president), the National Front (founder and parliamentary election candidate), and the Constitutional Movement (founder).[25]

References[edit]

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