Committee for a Free Britain
The Committee for a Free Britain was a right-wing political pressure-group in the United Kingdom. Its introductory letter to all MPs, and others, states that it was formed in the run up to the General Election in 1987 by Baroness Cox, Downing Street Policy Unit member the Christopher Monckton, and novelist and journalist David Hart. In 1988 Colin Clark and Betty Sherridan, joined the Committee.
Activities of the CFB
The CFB's first public act was to place "anonymously published savage advertisements against Labour" in national newspapers warning the country of the consequences of a Labour victory in the 1987 General Election. Subsequent research conducted by National Opinion Polls showed that these advertisements achieved the highest recall percentage of any in the election campaign.
David Hart, the CFB's chairman, was active in the miners' strike, supporting non-strikers and advising Ian McGregor. The Committee for a Free Britain boasted that it paid the legal costs of groups taking on left-wing councils, and it invited Adolfo Calero, the Nicaraguan Contra leader, to visit Britain. The visit attracted considerable publicity and, the CFB said, "helped to ensure that Parliamentarians and the media were properly informed of events in Nicaragua, as well as the position of the Nicaraguan Resistance".
The CFB launched a number of policy campaigns and initiatives during 1988. The CFB supported the Thatcher government's controversial Education Bill, which enabled parents to exercise choice. It also called for fundamental reforms of the NHS, and attacked the "Marxist-dominated National Union of Students", calling for an end for compulsory membership; they offered students advice and legal fees to fight the NUS. It also supported the Community Charge (Poll Tax) and produced several posters and leaflets backing "this progressive measure".
In time for the October 1988 Conservative Party Conference, the CFB published a glossy and expensively produced booklet entitled British Foreign Policy - The Case for Reform, featuring a huge photo on the front cover of Geoffrey Howe giving the Communist clenched-fist salute at a political meeting in southern Africa. In the 'Conclusion' it stated that "The Foreign Office is one of the last of the great British institutions that has escaped the refreshing breath of Thatcherism."
The London magazine City Limits (October 20, 1988) gave extensive coverage to what they called the "Tories' Loony Fringe" activities at the Conservative Party (UK) Conference at Brighton that month, and reported extensively on the CFB's extravagant reception, called a 'celebration' on the invitation, but on pamphlets the "Margaret Thatcher Birthday Spectacular". Hart, as well as Richard Perle, former US Assistant Secretary of Defense, addressed the packed audience of conference delegates and M.P.s, which included Lord Young and Malcolm Rifkind. Perle described the December 1987 INF Agreement between Reagan and Gorbachev as a stunning rebuke to the unilateralists, and expressed scepticism about Gorbachev. Hart attacked Geoffrey Howe and the Foreign Office's attitude to the Soviet Union as "appeasement". The City Limits reported remarked to Hart that his binge is even better attended than last year's, to which Hart replied "This is the Conservative Conference".
The Committee for a Free Britain were still active in 1991, when a full-page advertisement for them, opposing the European Union but supporting free markets, appeared in the glossy magazine of the Conservative Graduates', Commentary, (Conference edition).
- "Who's Afraid of Laissez Faire?" by David Hart, 1980. (Published & distributed by The Monday Club) ISBN 0-903900-05-X.
- End Compulsory Membership of the National Union of Students, Policy Paper for the Committee for a Free Britain, 1987.
- Czarnecki, Richard, The Democratic Opposition in Poland, published by the Committee for a Free Britain, 1988, (P/B).
- "Hart's Desire", interview in The Spectator magazine, London, 15 October 1988.
- British Foreign Policy - The Case for Reform, Policy booklet produced especially for distribution at the Conservative Party (UK) Conference by the CFB, October, 1988, (P/B).
- City Limits magazine, London, 20 October 1988.
- Britain's National Health Service - Terminally Ill, Policy Paper for the Committee for a Free Britain, October 1988.
- Speaking to the People - Communicating the Conservative Message, Policy Paper for the Committee for a Free Britain, October 1988.
Richard Norton-Taylor and David Pallister, 1992, The Guardian, February 20