Dean Godson

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Dean Godson, Newsnight, 12 December 2007

Dean Godson is the Research Director for the Policy Exchange, a United Kingdom think-tank. He attended St Paul's School Gonville and is a graduate of Caius College, Cambridge.


  • 1983-1984, Special Assistant to John Lehman, Secretary of US Navy
  • 1985-6 ?
  • 1987-1989 Research Fellow, Institute for Defence and Strategic Studies (since no such organisation exists in the UK, it is likely that this was the Institute for European Defence and Strategic Studies.
  • 1987 publishes a study on public diplomacy with the Institute for Foreign Policy Analysis in the US.
  • 1990-92 Librarian to Sir James Goldsmith,
  • 1997 'Currently, Mr. Godson serves as the Chief Editorial writer of the Daily Telegraph, the Associate Editor of the Spectator and Special Assistant to Conrad Black.'
  • His political career includes Joint Deputy Chairman of Kensington and Chelsea Conservative Association.[1]
  • 2004 He is the author of Himself Alone: David Trimble and the Ordeal of Ulster Unionism. *After his departure from Hollinger, he has been the Research Director of the Policy Exchange, a neo-conservative think tank.


Dean Godson has a long history with neoconservatism, starting out as assistant to John Lehman, a signatory to the Project for a New American Century and Conrad Black. Bringing the ideas of neo-conservatism to the UK, Godson has compared Britain's 'late-imperial defeatism' with America's 'self-confident liberal interventionism.'

In his own words:

" the Cold War, organisations such as the Information Research Department of the Foreign Office would assert the superiority of the West over its totalitarian rivals. And magazines such as Encounter did hand-to-hand combat with Soviet fellow travellers. For any kind of truly moderate Islam to flourish, we need first to recapture our own self-confidence. At the moment, the extremists largely have the field to themselves." [2]

To that effect, he has (at the Policy Exchange) patronised the publication of When Progressives Treat with Reactionaries and Living Apart Together: British Muslims and the paradox of multiculturalism.

New Right of the New Right

From the outside it is not always easy to see the novelty in the various mutations of conservative thinking that well-up out of the party's troubles. Successive generations of young Tory thinkers appear much the same - well spoken Oxbridge graduates, astir with the decline of Britain and the conservative establishment. Is there anything really so new about Roberts, or indeed Matthew D'Ancona (Times and Fellow of All Souls), Niall Ferguson (Telegraph and Don at Jesus College, Oxford), Michael Gove (BBC and former president of the Oxford Union), Anne Applebaum (Yale and deputy editor of the Spectator), Paul Goodman (Telegraph and former chairman of the Federation of Conservative Students) and Dean Godson (Telegraph)?
Well, yes. The first obvious distinction is that its members come from widely different backgrounds and that most of them were literally children of the sixties. Gove and D'Ancona were products of standard middle-class families and although Roberts has the whiff of the grand Tory about him, he picks his friends, according to one of The Group, "to find the same mindset and congenial companions, rather than attempt to create a young England clique". Most of them have links with, or were at, Oxford - unlike their predecessors in the seventies who had strong connections with Peterhouse College, Cambridge. Quite a number are Jewish - Goodman, Godson, Applebaum and Danny Finkelstein, who was originally a member of the SDP but is now regarded by his friends as veering rapidly to the right. "One thing you can say about us," said Roberts, "is that we are extremely philo-semitic."
There are other members - banker Oliver Letwin, Steve Hilton who used to work for Saatchi & Saatchi and is now a prospective Tory candidate, Sheila Lawlor, an historian and education expert for the Centre for Policy Studies and Martin Ivens of the Times. The important thing is that most of them met after university and have come to know each other because of the congruity of their views. In this sense, The Group is a network which is spread through history departments, journalism, advertising and, in one instance, radio. As you would expect its main outlets are the Times, but more important is the Telegraph Group, which also in-cludes the Spectator.[3]

Hardline unionist

In his biography of David Trimble, Himself Alone, Godson noted that the former Ulster Unionist leader was "influenced in his opinion of the Cold War by the London-based monthly journal of culture and politics, Encounter, in which contributors often urged a tough line on the Soviets." [4]

Even stranger goings-on in the Daily Telegraph conference room this week. Dean Godson, one of the paper's star leader writers, was bemoaning the fact that Michael Portillo was reluctant to back its "Save the RUC" campaign. "I don't understand it," said Godson, David Trimble's biographer. "He's afraid to put his name to our campaign but not ashamed to admit he's had homosexual experiences (except that Godson used a more descriptive phrase). Is he mad or am I?" [5]
The conspirators wore surgical gloves. The document they were handling was so politically explosive they dared not leave a single smudged fingerprint or speck of grease to show it had been touched. And, last Monday, as he studied the leaked framework of the London-Dublin proposals for the future of Northern Ireland, Matthew D'Ancona, a 26-year-old assistant editor at The Times, was not even allowed to photocopy it. The paper was believed to be in ink containing a secret masking agent preventing duplication and was imprinted with an identifying code. That code would have shown which of the 25 copies circulating at the highest Government levels had been leaked.
But as the original slim folder of papers was returned pristine and swiftly to the Government office it came from, it now seems highly unlikely that the senior politician or civil servant who connived at the leak will ever be identified. 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.'[6]

Conrad Black's 'Special Assistant'

Godson, who was Conrad Black's Personal Assistant was part of the process of moving the Telegraph towards Black's right wing views. Here is a report from 1996:

hope that Moore, who was the prototype young fogey in his youth, would turn into a traditional fat-bottomed Conservative in his middle years was forlorn. Among his first moves was to import from the Sunday paper his two favourite leader writers, Paul Goodman and Dean Godson, whose style was vigorous, amusingly arch and very right-wing. The views of the couple (who swiftly came to be irreverently known as Pearl and Dean) opened up a gap between the new and old Telegraph camps. "I know that you think we're a bunch of homosexual fuckwits," said Moore to the paper's news editor David Sapsted, a robust hard newsman of the old school, "but we know what we're doing."
The result is a much closer reflection of the hard-right views of the Telegraph proprietor, the Canadian media magnate Conrad Black. This is what might have been expected. When Black bought the Jerusalem Post he turned its editorial policy on its head, transforming the line of the leading Israeli paper from a dove-ish to a hawkish one virtually overnight. The views in yesterday's leader - "cutting taxes, including capital taxes, and spending so that Labour would either limp behind them or be forced out into the open and declare its tax-and-spend philosophy" and abandoning the vision of Europe embodied not just in the single currency but in the whole of the Maastricht treaty - were pure Black.[7]

conservative candidate

In the 1997 election Godson stood for the Conservatives in Great Grimsby East:

Great Grimsby E 65,043 V 43,096 (66.3%) Austin Mitchell (Lab) 25,765 Dean Godson (C) 9,521 Andrew De Freitas (LD) 7,810 Lab hold Maj 16,244 Swing 11.5% from C to Lab 1992: Lab 25,895; C 18,391; LD 6,475[8]


He attended the memorial for Lord Stewart of Fulham in 1990.[9] Godson was best man when James Barnard married into the Guiness family in 1995:

GUINNESS and Guinnesses alike were in abundance at London's Claridges Hotel last Monday evening, brought together for a rare family celebration. For once, it wasn't a board meeting but a wedding that saw so many members of the extensive clan converge on the one place, as Lady Emma Guinness married barrister James Barnard. The couple first met early in 1993, brought together by a mutual love of music; Lady Emma plays the piano and is currently taking singing lessons. Eldest child of the late Earl of Iveagh, who died three and a half years ago, the bride wore a dark green velvet suit from Belville Sassoon for the earlier part of the day, which was marked by three separate ceremonies. After going first to the Kensington/Chelsea registry office, the party moved on to Rut land Gate's Kent House synagogue (the groom is Jewish) before an afternoon blessing at St George's, Hanover Square. [10]

Godson attended the memorial service for Lord Houghton of Sowerby in July 1996 along with other neocons/atlanticists such as Alan Lee Williams.[11]

Dean's brother, Dr Roy Godson, director of the International Labor Program at Georgetown University in Washington DC., organized "educational visits" for British trade unionists to visit the U.S. during the Reagan administration "to broaden international education about Western democratic values."[12]


Publications, further reading, notes


SDI: HAS AMERICA TOLD HER STORY TO THE WORLD? by Dean Godson. Washington, Pergamon-Brassey's International Defense Publishers (for the Institute for Foreign Policy Analysis), 1987. 73 pp. (Special Report.)[13]

Further reading


  1. Dean Godson: BBC 1997 Election Candidates Profile, BBC, Undated (Accessed: 13 December 2007).
  2. The Times, 5 April 2006
  3. The Guardian (London)February 22, 1995, 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, Henry Porter, SECTION: THE GUARDIAN FEATURES PAGE; Pg. T2
  4. Himself Alone: David Trimble and the Ordeal of Unionism, Dean Godson, Harper Perennial, 2005, p18.
  5. The Times (London) October 22, 1999, Friday 'Daily Telegraph'
  6. 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
  7. The Independent (London) April 19, 1996, Friday, 'With friends like this ...; The Daily Telegraph has turned on John Major. Paul Vallely charts his souring relationship with the Tory press barons' PAUL VALLELY, Page 17
  9. The Independent (London), May 18, 1990, Friday, Memorial services: Lord Stewart of Fulham, SECTION: GAZETTE PAGE; Page 15
  10. The Irish Times December 9, 1995, CITY EDITION '650 pints of plain, please' ROBERT O'BYRNE, WEEKEND; ON THE TOWN; Pg. Supplement Page 2
  11. The Times, July 18, 1996, Thursday, Lord Houghton of Sowerby, CH
  12. Thomas Kenny, A Review of Himself Alone: David Trimble by Dean Godson. Harper Collins, ISBN 0-00-257098-X, Irish Democrat, 10 March 2005.
  13. Foreign Affairs 1988, Spring, Edited by Janis A. Kreslins, Pg. 895