Andrew Roberts

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Andrew Roberts (born 13 January 1963) is a British historian and journalist. [1] He is one of the founder members of the neoconservative Israel lobby group The Friends of Israel Initiative [2] and is a signatory to the Statement of Principles of the Henry Jackson Society Project for Democratic Geopolitics, a British neoconservative think-tank. In October 2015, Roberts signed a letter in The Guardian along with more than 150 people drawn from the arts and politics. The letter launched Culture for Coexistence, an organisation that opposes the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement.[3]

Early life and education

Roberts was born on 13 January 1963, the son of Simon and Katie Robert. [4] The Daily Telegraph describes Roberts' background as follows:

Roberts was born in 1963, the eldest son of a prosperous Surrey businessman, who inherited the Job's Dairy milk business. This he sold to Unilever in 1987, at the very top of the market. But, to the continuing glee of those who wish to mock Roberts, the other source of the family's fortune was a number of franchises for Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurants.[5]

He was educated at Cranleigh School, a leading independent day and boarding school in Surrey, and at a Cambridge crammer. [6]

He took a first class honours degree in Modern History at Gonville & Caius College, Cambridge, where he is an honorary senior scholar.[7] During his time as an undergraduate, Roberts chaired the Cambridge University Conservative Association and led demonstrations against the miners' strike.[8]

Banking and MI6 Approach

Following his graduation in 1985, Roberts joined the merchant bankers Robert Fleming. He told the Daily Telegraph that his time there was not a success: 'I was functionally innumerate. After two-and-three-quarter years there, I still couldn't read a balance sheet. All my investments were rubbish. The only time I ever made any money, it was by insider dealing.' [9] In an 'author's note' to his May 1987 AIDS Report Christopher Monckton thanked 'those who have read the manuscript and have made constructive comments' including Andrew Roberts, of Robert Fleming Securities Ltd.[10]

Roberts was approached in 1987 by a Cambridge contact to join the 'FCO Co-ordinating Staff', a euphemism for MI6. He went through the selection process, but decided not to join. [11] On the same day he was accepted by MI6, he was offered a £3,000 advance by Weidenfeld & Nicolson to write a biography of Lord Halifax. It was this opportunity which he decided to take up.[12]

Journalistic career

Since 1988 Roberts has worked as a freelance journalist, broadcaster and book reviewer. After leaving Robert Fleming, he became a leader writer at the Sunday Telegraph, also contributing leaders and articles to The Spectator. Between 1991 and 1994, he was a political commentator for the Daily Mail and a book reviewer for the Spectator and Sunday Telegraph. From 1996 to 1999, he wrote a political column for the Sunday Times. [13]

'Unionist study group' - Friends of the Union

Roberts has been linked to a group of right-wing unionists:

The things that don't matter to Roberts include everything from CrossRail to the conditions of the underclass. D'Ancona is a different creature, surprising for his liberal stance on many issues. He talks passionately about community, the need for improvement in state education and even about the fatwa against Salman Rushdie. But his liberalism does not extend to Northern Ireland. Two weeks ago he was revealed as being associated with a group called the Friends of the Union. Through one of the group's members, David Burnside, a hard-line Unionist who is well connected in Whitehall, he obtained a document that, after publication in the Times, nearly blew up the peace process in Northern Ireland. He was roundly criticised by the press and by Number 10 for irresponsibility.[14]

According to the Mail on Sunday the group was responsible for the leaking of a draft Framework Document in the early stages of the Irish peace process.

Last night it was becoming clear that a caucus of fervent Loyalists under the umbrella of a Unionist study group is closely associated with the leaker. It is made up of PR man David Burnside, D'Ancona himself; Dean Godson, a Daily Telegraph staff reporter; Paul Goodman, Northern Ireland correspondent on the Sunday Telegraph; Noel Malcolm, a historian and Daily Telegraph political columnist; Andrew McHallam, executive director of the Institute for European Defence and Strategic Studies; Charles Moore, editor of the Sunday Telegraph; Simon Pearce, a Conservative election candidate; company director Justin Shaw and historian Andrew Roberts. One of the group said last night: 'We didn't want the position when the framework document was published of being out in the cold as we were over the Anglo-Irish Agreement in 1985. There was a coming together of minds over what should be done.'[15]

Springbok Club

In November 2001, Roberts was guest of honour at a Springbok Club dinner to mark the anniversary of Rhodesia's unilateral declaration of independence. The Club's website gave the following account of the event:

The Springbok Club held a most successful dinner to mark UDI Day in November 2001, when we were most honoured to welcome Mr. Andrew Roberts, the acclaimed historian and author, as our guest of honour. Mr. Roberts gave an inspiring after-dinner speech in which he outlined the history of 19th century British colonial expansionism and the foundation of Rhodesia, detailing the events which made UDI inevitable in 1965, and bringing the story up to date by reminding everyone of the disasters of modern-day Zimbabwe. He finished his speech by proposing a toast to the Springbok Club, which he said he considered the heir to previous imperial achievements.[16]

Roberts' attendance was strongly criticised by journalist Johann Hari:

When I first pointed out this connection, Roberts said he gave a "historical speech", hadn't realised the Springbok Club was a racist organisation, and didn't recall anyone saying anything racist. Wasn't the apartheid flag, and the fact they were there specifically to celebrate the anniversary of a white supremacist declaration, a hint?[17]

Conservative Party

Roberts was Chairman of the Cambridge University Conservative Association in 1984. It is reported that 'in the 1995 Conservative Party leadership election, Roberts ... was a close aide and spokesman for John Redwood.'[18] In 2005 he was appointed Chairman of the Conservative Party Advisory Panel on School History Teaching.


Salisbury biography

Roberts was commissioned by Robert Gascoyne-Cecil, 6th Marquess of Salisbury to write the Authorised Life of Robert, Third Marquess of Salisbury.[19][20] He was given free run of the Hatfield Archive at the family's ancestral seat.[21]

What Might Have Been

Roberts edited the 2004 volume What Might Have Been: imaginary history from 12 leading historians.[22] Tristram Hunt suggested that this was an inherently conservative exercise, focussing on the role of powerful individuals: "it is a story of what generals, presidents and revolutionaries did or did not do. The contribution of bureaucracies, ideas or social class is nothing to the personal fickleness of Josef Stalin or the constitution of Franz Ferdinand."[23]

History of the English-Speaking Peoples Since 1900

Roberts' History of the English-Speaking Peoples Since 1900 was the subject of a Heritage Foundation event in February 2007.[24]

The book was also the subject of a March 2007 seminar in George W. Bush's White House that was reported by Irwin Stelzer:

Among those joining the president and Roberts at last week's White House lunch were the distinguished Victorian historian Gertrude Himmelfarb, neocon intellectual Norman Podhoretz, Paul Gigot, editor of the Wall Street Journal's influential editorial page, theologian Michael Novak, and a smattering of journalists.[25]

Roberts' account of British concentration camps during the Boer War was strongly criticised by Johann Hari:

Anybody who wishes to can turn to page 31 of the latter book. There, they will find Roberts dismissing the "war crime" against the Boers in scare quotes and referring to the abuse that killed more than 35,000 people as "the supposed ill-treatment of the women and children in camps there."[26]


Jonathan Rutherford identifies Roberts as a successor to Enoch Powell's views on empire and the British geopolitical role:

In recent years a number of right-wing historians have adopted a Powellite, nationalist interpretation of postwar British geopolitics. Two in particular herald an attempt to assert a right-wing hegemony over the history of post war Britain: John Charmley in Churchill's Grand Alliance: The Anglo-American Special Relationship, 1940-57, 1995, and Andrew Roberts in Eminent Churchillians, 1994. This right wing intellectual offensive parallels the fortunes of the Tory right.[27]

Indeed Roberts cited Powell in an article in the Daily Telegraph in which he argued that the neoconservative principle of pre-emption was in fact a tradition of the 'English-speaking peoples':

Bush's foreign policy is denounced as neo-conservatism because of its reliance on pre-emption. Yet was George Canning a neo-con when he destroyed the Danish fleet to prevent it falling into Napoleon's hands in 1807? Was Churchill a neo-con for having bombarded the Dardanelles outer forts in November 1914, before Britain declared war on the Ottoman Empire? Or in June 1940, when he ordered the sinking of the French fleet at Oran?

The right of self-protection from Napoleon, Hitler and movements such as al-Qa'eda and its Taliban protectors is, as Enoch Powell pointed out during the Falklands crisis, "inherent in us", since it existed "long before the United Nations was ever thought of". [28]

Roberts used the same quote from Enoch Powell in a 2007 article for the Christian Science Monitor in which he argued that the 'English-speaking peoples of the world', (which 'stand for modernity, religious and sexual toleration, capitalism, diversity, women's rights, representative institutions') were fighting 'an existential war for the survival of their way of life' against 'totalitarian Islamic terrorism'. He wrote:

Since 1900, the English-speaking peoples have been subjected to four great assaults: first from Prussian militarism, then by Axis aggression, then from Soviet communism. The present assault from totalitarian Islamic terrorism is simply our generation's equivalent of our forefathers' successful struggles against the three earlier fascist threats. But in this fourth and latest contest, victory is not yet in sight. ... Today's struggle needs to be fought in radically different ways from the last three, of course, but ideologically it is nearly identical. Look at the common factors. [29]






  • The Holy Fox: A Biography of Lord Halifax, Wiedenfeld & Nicolson , 1991.
  • Eminent Churchillians, Simon & Schuster, 1995.
  • The Aachen Memorandum, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1996.
  • The Authorised Life of Robert, Third Marquis of Salisbury, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1999.
  • Napoleon & Wellington, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2002.
  • Hitler & Churchill: Secrets of Leadership, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2003.
  • Edited What Might Have Been: Imaginary history from 12 leading historians, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2004.
  • A History of the English-Speaking Peoples since 1900, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2006.
  • Masters and Commanders: How Churchill, Roosevelt, Alanbrooke and Marshall won the War in the West, Penguin, 2008.
  • Storm of War: A New History of the Second World War, Penguin, 2009.

Selected articles



  1. Andrew Roberts - Curriculum Vitae, accessed 30 December 2007
  2. PDF Copy of The Friends of Israel Initiative > About > Founder Members <> created 15 July 2010.
  3. Harriet Sherwood, 'Star authors call for Israeli-Palestinian dialogue rather than boycotts', The Guardian, 22 October 2015, accessed 23 October 2015
  4. ROBERTS, Andrew’, Who's Who 2010, A & C Black, 2010; online edn, Oxford University Press, Dec 2009 ; online edn, Nov 2009 [Accessed 8 Sept 2010]
  5. David Thomas, Churchill, Hitler and me, Telegraph, 11 February 2010.
  6. David Thomas, 'Churchill, Hitler and me', Daily Telegraph, 11 February 2010.
  7. Andrew Roberts - Curriculum Vitae, accessed 30 December 2007
  8. David Thomas, Churchill, Hitler and me, Telegraph, 11 February 2010.
  9. David Thomas, Churchill, Hitler and me, Daily Telegraph, 11 February 2010.
  10. Christopher Monckton, The Aids Report: An examination of public health policy on AIDS, London: Policy Search, 14 Tufton Street, Westminster, SW1, May 1987.
  11. MI6: Inside the Covert World of Her Majesty's Secret Intelligence Service, by Stephen Dorril, Touchstone, 2002, p.783.
  12. David Thomas, Churchill, Hitler and me, Daily Telegraph, 11 February 2010.
  13. Andrew Roberts, Capel & Land, accessed 4 April 2010.
  14. Henry Porter CHURCHILL'S CHILDREN; Out with Major, Europe, the Welfare State and political correctness - waiting in the wings are the 21st-century Tories whose gameplan for the future has little truck with the present. Henry Porter talks to The Group The Guardian (London) February 22, 1995 SECTION: THE GUARDIAN FEATURES PAGE; Pg. T2
  15. Mail on Sunday (London)February 5, 1995, Top-level conspirator who'll never be found HISTORIAN: Roberts DIRECTOR: McHallam CONSERVATIVE: Pearce; HOW ULSTER LEAK PLOTTERS BEAT SECURITY TO PROTECT SECRET SOURCE OF LEAK, BYLINE: Adrian Lithgow, SECTION: Pg. 6.
  16. The Springbok Club, accessed 5 April 2010.
  17. Johann Hari, Johann Hari: The dark side of Andrew Roberts, Independent on Sunday, 31 July 2009.
  18. Jonathan Rutherford 'Enoch Powell's Island Story', in Forever England: Reflections on Race, Masculinity and Empire London: Lawrence & Wishart, 2008, p. 138
  19. Andrew Roberts, Capel & Land, accessed 4 April 2010.
  20. John Barnes, The Marquess of Salisbury, The Independent, 19 July 2003.
  21. Jane Ridley, Seeing Salisbury plain, The Spectator, 18 September 1999.
  22. Parlour games, New Statesman, 26 April 2004.
  23. Tristram Hunt, Comment & Analysis: Pasting over the past: Far from being a harmless intellectual pursuit, 'what if' history is pushing a dangerous rightwing agenda, The Guardian, 7 April 2004.
  24. A History of the English-Speaking Peoples Since 1900, Heritage Foundation, accessed 7 April 2010.
  25. Irwin M. Stelzer, Reader of the Free World, Weekly Standard, 12 March 2007.
  26. Rule Britannia, The New Republic, 16 April 2007.
  27. Jonathan Rutherford 'Enoch Powell's Island Story', in Forever England: Reflections on Race, Masculinity and Empire London: Lawrence & Wishart, 2008, p. 138
  28. Andrew Roberts, 'English-speaking peoples still stand together against tyranny', Daily Telegraph, 23 September 2006
  29. Andrew Roberts, 'At stake in the Iraq war: survival of a way of life', Christian Science Monitor, 12 July 2007
  30. PDF Copy of The Friends of Israel Initiative > About > Founder Members <> created 15 July 2010.
  31. Advisory Council:Policy Council members, HJS website, undated, accessed 5 November 2014