File spoon-archives/marxism-international.archive/marxism-international_1997/marxism-international.9710, message 628

Date: Thu, 30 Oct 1997 23:40:04 +0000
Subject: M-I: Conservative split widens

"Lance the boil" Michael Heseltine called twice on this morning's interview
on BBC.

Heseltine, the former vice Prime Minister under John Major, who bowed out
of the contest for his succession, and had business priorities which
prevented him attending this autumn's Conservative Party conference, has
more than any single figure in British conservatism represented the
interests of that wing of British capital focussed on Europe.

His resignation from Thatcher's government in the early 80's was on the
contest over whether to support a European consortium buying up the
Westland helicopter firm in Yeovil, in the West Country. Thatcher opposed
intervention and allowed the US based consortium to win. Heseltine resigned
on the principle, fought a guerilla war charming the consituencies, and was
instrumental in toppling Thatcher, only to be pipped to the succession by
Major who was backed by Thatcher's children. It was significant that in
this radio interview this morning he specifically expressed criticism of

It is clear that the Europhiles have decided to come out fighting,
possibilities of compromise having been closed off. One Europhile was told
by a close supporter of Hague earlier this year, "We're going to destroy
people like you after the election."

Heseltine avoided personal attacks but attacked Hague's claim to be
standing for the national interest:

"let us be absolutely clear. There is going to be a single currency. Short
of nuclear war, or some event of that scale, the Europeans are going to do
it. The only issue is when Britain joins, because join we will." 

"You can see that at the next election we might have a Tory party fighting
Britain's major companies over the issue of Europe." 

Heseltine has stepped forward to chair a new group "Conservative
Mainstream", with the clear objective of linking up with members of other
parties, to fight the Conservative leadership on a referendum campaign on

The London Evening Standard's editorial states

"The Conservative Party is likely to play a terrible price for supposing
that the right-wing rhetoric of a few Tory newspapers commands mass appeal
or possesses any resonance for a new generation. 

Today, Mr Hague and his front bench look like yesterdays's men. On their
present course, by next election day they will seem as relevant as veterans
of the Crimea. The reference books may say that Mr Heseltine is 64. But on
today's showing, he is the younger thinker by far."

I have not yet heard what tomorrow's press says.

Chris Burford


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