Conservative Monday Club

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The Conservative Monday Club (widely known as the Monday Club) is a British pressure group with its origins in the Conservative Party. It was founded in the early 1960s during the party's internal debate over decolonisation. Its published aims state that "The Monday Club stands for traditional Tory principles". The club is notable for having promoted a policy of voluntary, or assisted, repatriation for non-white immigrants [1][2] which mirrored the pledge made in the Conservative Party's General Election Manifesto of 1970.

After the 1997 General Election defeat, the Conservative Party began decisive moves towards becoming more centrist, its chairman, Theresa May describing it as "the nasty party". The then party leader Iain Duncan Smith subsequently 'suspended' the Monday Club's longstanding links with the party in October 2001[3] saying his party would have nothing to do with the organisation unless it stopped making "distasteful" remarks on race and immigration [4] even though the Club's policies had remained unchanged since the 1960s.

New full members of the club must be members of the Conservative Party, the Ulster Unionists or the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) though there is no such requirement for associate membership[5]. Monday Club observers, such as Denis Walker have attended DUP Party conferences.

Part of the club's agenda stresses support for what it claims are "traditional Conservative values", including "resistance to 'political correctness'". Most traditionalists who left or lapsed after 1992 have been refused re-entry to the Club and even to its occasional meetings. The current club chairman is Lord Sudeley.


Foundation and early years (1961 - 1979)

The club was founded on 1 January 1961, by four young Conservative Party members, Paul Bristol (the first Chairman - who left the Club in 1968), Ian Greig (Membership Secretary until 1969), Cedric Gunnery (Treasurer until 1992) and Anthony Maclaren. The club was formed as a reaction to Harold Macmillan's 'Wind of Change' speech made at Cape Town, South Africa, which many Tories saw as the last straw. The club stated that Macmillan had "turned the Party Left", and their first pamphlet opposed these policies, as indicative of the Conservative Party's move towards liberalism.[6].

The 5th Marquess of Salisbury (d.1972), who had resigned from Macmillan's Cabinet over the Prime Minister's liberal direction, became its first president in January 1962, when he stated "there was never a greater need for true conservatism than there is today" [7]. By the end of 1963 there were eleven Members of Parliament in the Club, which then only had an overall membership of about 300.[8].

The Club was courted by many Tory politicians, not least the Conservative Party leader Alec Douglas-Home who was guest-of-honour at the Club's annual dinners of 1964 and 1969, and Enoch Powell, in a speech in 1968, claimed that "it was due to the Monday Club that many are brought within the Conservative Party who might otherwise be estranged from it"[9].

By 1970 sixteen Members of Parliament were Club members[10]:

In the 1970 Conservative Party election victory, six club Members of Parliament (MPs) were given government positions [cf.Messina, p.138]. In addition, the following club members were elected that year[11]:

Among sitting M.P.s who joined the Club after the election were:

A number of other Monday Club members contested socialist-held seats, some of which had large majorities, and although the challenge was unsuccessful the majorities were reduced. These included Tim Keigwin, who almost unseated the Liberal leader Jeremy Thorpe at North Devon, and David Clarke who failed by only 76 votes at Watford.[12].

By 1971, the Club "undoubtedly had the largest membership of any conservative group and included 55 different groups in universities and colleges, 35 Members of Parliament with six in the government, and 35 Peers". [13].Enoch Powell was a constant supporter of the club until his death, although he never took up membership.

John Biggs-Davison, MP, in his Foreword to Robert Copping's second book on the history of the club[14], stated that "by its principles [the club] has kept alive true Tory beliefs and held within its ranks many who contemplated defecting from the Conservative and Unionist Party". Harold Wilson, twice Labour Prime Minister, described the club as "the guardian of the Tory conscience" [15].. The club's Chairman, David Storey, described it in June 1981 as "an anchor to a ship", referring to the Conservative Party.

The club's revised Constitution (21 May 1984) stated that "the objects of the Club are to support the Conservative & Unionist Party in policies designed

  • to maintain loyalty to the Crown and to uphold the sovereignty of Parliament, the security of the realm, and defence of the nation against external aggression and internal subversion;
  • to safeguard the liberty of the subject and integrity of the family in accordance with the customs, traditions, and character of the British people;
  • to maintain the British constitution in obedience and respect for the laws of the land, freedom of worship and our national heritage;
  • to promote an economy consistent with national aspirations and Tory ideals.
  • to encourage members of the club to play an active part, at all levels, in the affairs of the Conservative and Unionist Party."

The Thatcher years (1979 - 1990)

During the period that Margaret Thatcher led the Conservative Party, the Monday Club were prolific publishers of booklets, pamphlets, policy papers, an occasional newspaper, Right Ahead, and a magazine, Monday World edited for some years by Adrian FitzGerald, Sam Swerling, and later, Eleanor Dodd. The September 1984 edition of Monday News carried the headline 'Kinnock Talks to Terrorists', quoting former Labour Party leader Neil Kinnock's declaration to the South African African National Congress's Oliver Tambo that the ANC in South Africa could expect financial and material assistance from a future Labour government. Other attacks were made upon then-Greater London Council leader Ken Livingstone inviting Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams to visit London in 1982.

Due to slack administration, inertia in recruiting, and the continuing Thatcher government, national club membership (as opposed to branch membership) plummeted in the mid-1980s, reaching just under 600 in 1987. Among them was Derek Laud, who was sometimes said to have been the only black member of the club, although in 1988, the Students' Group Chairman was Sanwar Ali. In 1988-9, a group of longstanding members led by Gregory Lauder-Frost, the club's Foreign Affairs Committee chairman, succeeded in getting elected to the key posts on the Executive Council, with Dr. Mark Mayall as Deputy Chairman, and Gregory Lauder-Frost as the Political Secretary. By 1992, the membership was over 1600 again.

Change of direction (1990s)

At the beginning of January 1991, the Monday Club News announced the abolition of the only salaried position, that of Director, (then held by the Club's Treasurer, Cedric Gunnery, one of the Club's founders), and the club's office was moved to new premises, belonging to W. Denis Walker, opposite Highams Park railway station, with new telephone numbers, and a new Post Office Box number in central London. The newsletter stated that "it is our long-term aim to relocate back to the very heart of London".

The chairman, David Story, lost an almost unanimous vote of no confidence on 17 January 1991, and his membership was terminated by the Club's Executive Council on 11 February on the grounds that "he has engaged in behaviour prejudiced to the best interests, reputation, objects, and other members of the Monday Club; by abusing his position as Chairman in encouraging members to leave the Monday Club and to join a new political group". [cf. Club's Minutes].

Personal and legal problems forced Lauder-Frost's departure on 31 May 1992 and subsequently the Club descended into in-fighting, with more departures and failed expulsion attempts resulting in huge legal bills. Control passed effectively into the hands of Denis Walker, a former Minister for Education in the Rhodesian government. He changed the role of the club from a pressure group to a Conservative Party support group, bringing in a rule that all members must firstly be members of the party, something that prior to 1992 had been constantly and unanimously opposed.

Suspension of links by the Conservative party (2001)

In 2001, Conservative Party chairman David Davis informed a deputation from the club's National Executive that links between it and the party were being severed until it stopped promoting several of its long-held views such as the voluntary repatriation of ethnic minorities. Davis later told the media: "I have told them that until a number of things are concluded - particularly some concerns about the membership of the club, and a review of the club's constitution and a requirement that the club will not promulgate or discuss policies relating to race - the club is suspended from any association with the Conservative party"[16]. Three MPs Andrew Hunter, Andrew Rosindell and Angela Watkinson, were ordered to resign from the club.

On the 10 May 2002, the British Broadcasting Corporation reported that the club sought to restore its links with the Conservative Party,[17]. The Times reported (2 June 2006) that as the club "is now slowly nudging back into the mainstream many members feel that it is time to return to the fold", but went on to claim that chairman Lord Sudeley had made what it considered to be racist and Hitler-sympathising remarks which, it asserted, would damage the club's reputation.

At the following Club Annual General meeting in April 2002 members approved two motions proposed by Michael Keith Smith, (also Chairman of the Conservative Democratic Alliance), one reaffirming the Club's opposition to mass immigration, and another empowering Club officers to institute legal action against the Conservative Party following the Club's 'suspension' by them. A third motion, calling for the sacking of John Bercow, then shadow Chief Secretary, and former Monday Club member, for his "hypocrisy" was defeated. (Refer: The Independent, 18 May 2002).

The Monday Club, now having changed its original raison d'être as a pressure group, and whose membership is now said to be back below 600, now has very little influence on the agenda of the Conservative Party. Many of its former members are now in the Conservative Democratic Alliance.


The national club established itself in offices at 51-53 Victoria Street, a few minutes walk from Westminster Palace. The club was, however, always a pressure group, remaining separate from the Conservative Party organisation. Around 1980, the Victoria Street building was cleared for demolition, and the club moved its offices to 122 Newgate Street, London, EC1, opposite the Old Bailey.

In addition to the national club, which operated through an elected Executive Council and numerous policy groups or committees, there were semi-autonomous county branches, a Young Members Monday Club, and numerous university Monday Clubs, the most prominent and active being at Oxford University. The Oxford branch no longer exists.

Policy committees

The Monday Club had various study groups (later renamed policy committees) including:

Political activities

Decolonialisation and Africa

The club opposed what it described as the "premature" independence of Kenya, and the breakup of the Central African Federation, which was the subject of its first major public meeting in September 1961 [18]. It was fundamentally opposed to decolonisation, and defended white minority rule in South Africa and Rhodesia.

During the Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI) period in Rhodesia, the club strongly backed the white minority rule government of Ian Smith and the Rhodesian Front, being seen as its strongest supporters in Britain. In November 1963, the club had hosted a large reception for Smith at the Howard Hotel in London. That was followed the next year by receptions for Clifford Dupont and Moise Tshombe.

Northern Ireland

Following an Irish Republican Army (IRA) bombing at Aldershot, Hampshire, in February 1972, club member and MP Jill Knight called for legislation to outlaw the IRA and its political wing, Sinn Féin. The club was opposed to the dismantling of the Stormont government in Northern Ireland and the imposition of direct rule.[19],

On 7 September 1989, the club denounced "the disgraceful Anglo-Irish Agreement" in The Sun.


In September 1972, the club held a "Halt Immigration Now!" public meeting in Westminster Central Hall, opposite Parliament, at which the speakers, Ronald Bell, QC, MP, John Biggs-Davison, MP, Harold Soref, MP, and John Heydon Stokes, MP, (all club members) called on the government to halt all immigration, repeal the Race Relations Act (1968 Commonwealth Immigration Act), and start a full repatriation scheme. A resolution was drafted, approved by the meeting, and delivered to the Prime Minister, Edward Heath, who replied that "the government had no intention of repealing the Race Relations Act". When Reginald Maudling resigned from the Cabinet, the Liberal leader, Jeremy Thorpe, commented that "Mr. Heath has been left to wrestle with the Monday Club single-handed."[20],

In October 1982, the Monday Club published its latest, slightly revised, policy on immigration. It called for:

  1. Scrapping of the Commission for Racial Equality and Community Relations Councils.
  2. Repeal of the race relations laws.
  3. An end to the use of race or colour as criteria for the distribution of state benefits & loans.
  4. An end to positive discrimination and all special treatment based upon race or colour.
  5. An end to all further large-scale permanent immigration from the New Commonwealth and Pakistan.
  6. An improved repatriation scheme with generous resettlement grants for all those from the NCWP countries who wish to take advantage of them.
  7. The redesignation of the Ministry of Overseas Aid as a Ministry for Overseas Resettlement.

Controversies and criticism

The club has frequently been described in the media as "far-right"[21][22][23]. and, in 2002, as a "bastion on the Tory hard right" by the British Broadcasting Corporation[24]. However, the club for decades had campaigned against what they said was bias at the BBC. Gregory Lauder-Frost was interviewed by Garry Bushell in The Sun on 27 March 1991 when he stated, on behalf of the Club, that "the BBC does not support the British people" and of "history being rewritten by left-wing trendies". The playwright David Edgar described the Monday Club in an academic essay as "proselytis[ing] the ancient and venerable conservative traditions of paternalism, imperialism and racism."[25] Roger Griffin [p.161] refers to the Club as practising an anti-socialist and elitist form of conservatism.

It was claimed by opponents of the club that many members had drawn closer to the National Front, it being reported as early as 1973 that NF members were moving to take over branches of the club[26].

On 24 February 1991, The Observer ran a lengthy article entitled "Far Right takes over the Monday Club", stating that a number of senior members had tendered their resignations in protest at the Club's "takeover" by "extreme right-wingers" some of whom were associated with the Western Goals Institute. The Club's solicitors, Rubenstein, Callingham & Gale, sent a formal letter of protest to the editor of the Observer about the article, and demanded a right-of-reply for the Club. The editor agreed and Lauder-Frost, writing on behalf of the Club, subsequently challenged the article's accusations in a Letter to the Editor, which was published the following Sunday. He denied that a takeover had occurred, and claimed that none of the Club's policies had changed and that its direction was consistent with its aims and historical principles.



Monday Club MPs 1970

References, Publications, Links, Notes

  • Copping, Robert, No Punches Pulled - Britain Today, Current Affairs Information Service (CAIS), Ilford, Essex, n/d but probably circa 1970 (P/B).
  • Copping, Robert, The Story of The Monday Club - The First Decade, (i) (Foreword by George Pole), Current Affairs Information Service, Ilford, Essex, April 1972 (P/B).
  • Copping, Robert, The Monday Club - Crisis and After, (foreword by John Biggs-Davison, MP), (ii) CAIS, Ilford, May 1975 (P/B).
  • Rose, Professor Richard, Politics in England - Persistence and Change, London, 1st published 1965. 4th edition 1985, p.301, ISBN 0-571-13830-6
  • Levitas, Ruth, (editor), The Ideology of the New Right, Cambridge, 1986, ISBN 0-7456-0190-1
  • Messina, Anthony M., Race and Party Competition in Britain, Clarendon Press, 1989, p.138, ISBN 0-19-827534-X
  • Griffin, Roger, The Nature of Fascism, London, 1991, p.161. ISBN 0-86187-112-X
  • Heffer, Simon, Like the Roman - The Life of Enoch Powell, London, 1998, ISBN 0-297-84286-2 (many references to the Monday Club).
  • Coxall, Bill, and Lynton Robins, Contemporary British Politics, Macmillan Press, Basingstoke, 1993 reprint, (P/B), Monday Club profile on p.239. ISBN 0-333-34046-9

External link


  1. Nicholas Watt, 'Tories cut Monday Club link over race policies', The Guardian, 19 October 2001
  2. Marie Woolf 'Five more names go in purge of Tory right', Independent, 29 August 2001
  3. BBC News Online - Tories suspend link with Monday Club
  4. BBC News Online - Right-wing club appeals for Tory return
  5. Monday Club membership application form
  6. Copping, Robert, The Story of The Monday Club - The First Decade, Current Affairs Information Unit, London, April 1972: 5
  7. Copping, Robert, The Story of The Monday Club - The First Decade, Current Affairs Information Unit, London, April 1972: 5
  8. Copping, Robert, The Story of The Monday Club - The First Decade, Current Affairs Information Unit, London, April 1972: 7
  9. Copping, Robert, The Story of The Monday Club - The First Decade, Current Affairs Information Unit, London, April 1972: 26
  10. Copping, Robert, The Story of The Monday Club - The First Decade, Current Affairs Information Unit, London, April 1972: 21
  11. Copping, Robert, The Story of The Monday Club - The First Decade, Current Affairs Information Unit, London, April 1972: 21
  12. Copping, Robert, The Story of The Monday Club - The First Decade, Current Affairs Information Unit, London, April 1972: 22
  13. Copping, Robert, The Story of The Monday Club - The First Decade, Current Affairs Information Unit, London, April 1972: 22
  14. Copping, Robert, The Monday Club - Crisis and After, Current Affairs Information Unit, London, May 1975
  15. Copping, Robert, The Story of The Monday Club - The First Decade, Current Affairs Information Unit, London, April 1972: 26
  16. The Guardian - Tories cut Monday Club link over race policies
  17. [ BBC News Online - Right-wing club appeals for Tory return ]
  18. Copping, Robert, The Story of The Monday Club - The First Decade, Current Affairs Information Unit, London, April 1972: 6
  19. Copping, Robert, The Monday Club - Crisis and After, Current Affairs Information Unit, London, May 1975: 5,6,9
  20. Copping, Robert, The Monday Club - Crisis and After, Current Affairs Information Unit, London, May 1975: 6 - 7
  21. BBC News Online - Tory MPs resign from far-right club
  22. The Independent - Monday Club predicts a quick return to Tory fold
  23. New Statesman - Il Duce's heirs
  24. BBC News Online - Right-wing club appeals for Tory return
  25. [cf.Levitas, p.60].
  26. Time - Bloody Monday
  27. Patrick Seyd, Factionalism within the Conservative Party: The Monday Club, Government and Opposition, Volume 7, Issue 4, October 1972, p.471.