The face of innate racism


“No human race is superior; no religious faith is inferior. All collective judgments are wrong. Only racists make them.”

Elie Wiesel

THE subjugation of one human being by another is something which has eaten at me for as long as I can remember, and is the main reason why I am a socialist and a pacifist.

That abuse of power shows itself in so many ways in our ever expanding world and not least by the innate racism that exists in white Western society.

Here in the UK, UKIP and many Conservative politicians contrived to make the 2015 General Election and the Brexit referendum of last year revolve around the issue of immigration and fear of foreigners.

UKIP leader Nigel Farage, in particular, singled out Romanians, and immigrants from other former Warsaw Pact countries, as “scroungers” and “criminals” who are taking “British jobs from British people” and putting pressure on our NHS and housing supply.

And more recently, across the Atlantic, US President Donald Trump has daily blamed Muslims and Mexicans for every conceivable problem in the world.

It is the sort of racist scapegoating we have witnessed time and again in this country since end of World War 2.

Racism is the belief that characteristics and abilities can be attributed to people simply on the basis of their race and that some racial groups are superior to others.

Racism and discrimination have been used as powerful weapons encouraging fear or hatred of others in times of conflict and during economic downturns.

You only need to look at the rise of Nazi Germany in the 1930s or the atrocities meted out today by Zionist Israel to Palestinians, to see the dire consequences if racism is left unchallenged.

But here I am not talking about the overt racism exhibited by Bibi Netanyahu, Donald Trump or Nigel Farage, or even the so-called ‘institutional racism’ within some of our national institutions, such as the police. But I am looking at a deeper racism which exists within almost all of us born white and British.

It exists due to 800 years of our collective history as a colonial and Christian power, hell-bent on exporting our values, religion and control on other nations.

And it exists because our collective media does nothing to challenge it.

In 2001, I was working as chief investigative reporter on The Chronicle – a daily tabloid newspaper in Newcastle upon Tyne. On 11 September, I returned from a routine job in the town to watch in horror – on the newsroom TV – the atrocities of 9/11 unfold in front of our eyes, some 3,000 miles away in New York and Virginia.

The next day, the newspaper’s senior management determined that all employees should stand and observe two minutes silence for the innocent victims of the terror attack.

I refused.

Not because I did not feel pain or sympathy for those victims, but because my company had never observed even one minute’s silence for the hundreds of thousands killed by Allied military action in Iraq in 1991, the one million murdered in Rwanda, or the thousands killed in Bosnia, just a few years earlier.

Instead I went to the newsroom toilet, sat in a cubicle and cried.

The newspaper’s reaction to 9/11 – and the wall to wall media coverage over the ensuing months – typified everything I had witnessed in my previous 16 years in journalism.

Now, 16 years later, nothing has changed.

If I take Bosnia, Iraq and Rwanda out of the equation, a few other examples may clarify what I mean:

  • Three French skiers are lost in an avalanche in the Alps. The next day there are lengthy reports in most UK national newspapers. Each of the victims is named and in-depth family stories are written.
  • A lone gunman goes berserk and kills children in a US high school. The next day it is front page news in almost every newspaper in the UK and Europe. In depth analysis of the gunman and tributes to each of the victims and their families ensues.
  • A mad man kills hostages in an Australian restaurant. It is front pages news in every newspaper in the UK, USA and Europe. Extensive coverage about the killer and each of his victims finds itself across western media.
  • An earthquake in Northern Pakistan kills thousands of inhabitants. Over the ensuing weeks there is barely a mention in any UK or western newspapers.
  • Tens of thousands of innocent civilians are murdered by US and UK bombing in Afghanistan and Syria. But there are few reports of these atrocities in UK and western newspapers.
  • Flooding in Bangladesh kills thousands of people. Over the following weeks there are just a few lines in UK broadsheet newspapers.
  • Almost weekly we read of reports about African and Syrian refugees drowning the Mediterranean. There is often news about how the accidents happen and who is to “blame”, but no attempt by any British newspaper to name the migrants or find out a little about who they were and the grieving families they leave behind.

You don’t need a microscope to see the differences in the reaction and news reporting. It has nothing to do with distance from our shores. It is all to do with white western values.

So our news media – even enlightened newspapers like The Guardian – value the life and story of an English speaking suited, white, Western person quite differently to that of an African black or Urdu speaking Asian person.

We give ‘ours’ names, identities and lives, but the ‘others’ just nationality, religion and race. It is so much easier to avoid reporting the lives and deaths of these people if we don’t identify them as human beings the same as us.

This innate racism runs deep and has been entrenched more deeply with the Islamophobia which has perpetuated within Western society since 2001.

The white mass murderer, Norwegian, Anders Brevik is reported simply as a ‘madman killer’ – despite the fact he was a zealot Christian with a white supremacist agenda.

In contrast any killing carried out by a person of even dubious Muslim faith is reported as the act of an Islamist Extremist!

Sorry for the pun, but it is clear black and white racism.

But we have 800 years to overcome.

Britain, France, Spain, Belgium, Holland and Portugal have been colonialists since the so-called Holy Crusades to Jerusalem in the 13th century, the colonial exploitation of the Americas in the 16th and 17th centuries, to the dissection of Africa, South America and Asia in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Our imperialist ancestors conquered peaceful countries, imposed western values and Christianity upon them, murdered millions and took millions more into slavery.

And over the past 100 years we have been joined by our ‘allies’ the USA, which since the end of World War 2 has bombed: China 1945-46, Korea 1950-53, China 1950-53, Guatemala 1954, Indonesia 1958, Cuba 1959-60, Guatemala 1960, Belgian Congo 1964, Guatemala 1964, Dominican Republic 1965-66, Peru 1965, Laos 1964-73, Vietnam 1961-73, Cambodia 1969-70, Guatemala 1967-69, Lebanon 1982-84, Grenada 1983-84, Libya 1986, El Salvador 1981-92, Nicaragua 1981-90, Iran 1987-88, Libya 1989, Panama 1989-90, Iraq 1991, Kuwait 1991, Somalia 1992-94, Bosnia 1995, Iran 1998, Sudan 1998, Afghanistan 1998, Yugoslavia – Serbia 1999, Afghanistan 2001, Iraq 2003, Libya 2011 and Syria 2014-2017.

Our nations have sown war and hatred all over the world – now there is a heavy harvest.

As a white English father I despair for the future for my children and the children of Palestine, Africa, Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, Yemen and anywhere that is deemed by a Western government to be a target.

At the core of any working definition of racism is the unspoken ingredient of fear.

People around the world all belong to the same human race; they share the same tendencies to fear, domination, and subjugation.

We need to let everyone know, we are the same, no matter what language we speak, whatever the colour of our skin or the religion we follow.

Maybe, I am lucky.

I live in Wolverhampton in the English West Midlands. It is a city which basks in multi-culturism. It was the bed of much Afro Caribbean immigration in the 1950s. This was followed by immigration from Pakistan and India in the 1960s and 1970s.

Now decades later, those with black, brown and coffee-coloured skin mix, work, play and even marry those with white skin.

Currently there are 22,000 Sikhs, 11,000 Muslims and 7,000 Hindis in Wolverhampton. But there is no racial or religious tension.

Within a mile of my house there is a Hindi temple, a Buddhist temple, two Sikh temples, a central Mosque and at least nine Christian churches of various denominations.

Most of those with Asian or African ancestry are now third or even fourth generation immigrants and speak English as their first language, often with a thick Wolves’ accent, that Noddy Holder would recognise as his own.

But, I am not pretending it has always been like this.

I live in the parliamentary constituency which was once the seat of overt Conservative racist MP Enoch Powell (1950-74), and there has been a later history of National Front and BNP activity in the area.

But most of their racial fear, or as Powell put it: “the rivers of blood” of immigration, has now passed.

Now most inhabitants of our city realise that under the skin and religion, we are all the same… we are all human beings struggling to make a living and make sense of our lives.

Then suddenly last week something quite wonderful happened… one young woman brought all these struggles into the light.

Her name is Saffiyah Khan and in the past 10 days a photograph of her smiling bemusedly at an incensed English Defence League (EDL) protester Ian Crossland has been seen by millions of people across the globe.

Her smile has become everyone’s totem of defiance in the face of racism and the far right.

Hands in pockets, Saffiyah, intervened during an EDL rally in her home city of Birmingham after members of the fascist group threatened Muslim woman Saira Zafar, who was wearing a hijab.

The two had never met before, but Ms Khan said that when she saw that Ms Zafar was surrounded by people and looked intimidated, she felt she had to step in.

Ms Zafar explained: “They were saying, ‘You’re not English,’ ‘This is a Christian country, not your country,’ and ‘Go back to where you came from.’ I was alarmed and worried for my safety.”

“I was born and bred in this country so for these people to be saying these things was very wrong.

“There was someone behind me putting an Islamophobic placard above my head and resting it on my head and another person was shoving an EDL flag in my face.”

Facing violence with a smile, Saffiyah said she was ‘not scared in the slightest’ as she faced down Ian Crossland.

“There’s no excuse to be doing nothing,” she said later.

“Even if it just means calling the police and saying I just witnessed this. Even if there’s no violence … just reporting it to the police means it comes up on their stats and they can look at it all and start working on ways to combat it.”

And to add greater hope to this one woman beacon of hope, even our right wing press – such as the Daily Mail and Daily Telegraph were embarrassed into calling her a hero.

Maybe, just maybe, the ugly face of innate British racism is beginning to unravel.

So thank you Saffiyah… and watch this space.


The brotherhood of hedge fund millionaires who fund the Conservative Party

FOUR filthy-rich tax exiles and hedge fund managers are part of a shadowy cabal of multi-millionaire donors to the Conservative Party.

Their millions are the life blood which keeps Theresa May’s government in power and directs their fiscal policy to protect the super rich.

In the past 10 years (since 1 October 2006) the Tory Party has received a staggering £247,426,722 in personal donations from some of the richest people in the world.

Top of these was a single donation of £2,990,582 in November 2001 from tax exile Lord Irvine Laidlaw.

Hedge fund manager Sir Michael Hintze was a short way behind with a donation of £1,503,500 in March 2014 and fellow hedge fund manager Sir Stanley Fink gave £1,080,500 in February 2009.

But they were all outdone by another tax exile David Rowland whose four single donations in 2009-10 totalled a staggering £3,774,000.

Small wonder that the Tories do not want regulation of the financial sector.

These figures only include those submitted to the Electoral Commission. We have no way of knowing whether these millionaires may or may not have also donated through other associated companies or agencies.

Lord Irvine Laidlaw is a former Conservative member of the House of Lords and has long been one of the largest financial backers of the Tory Party.

Laidlaw was made a life peer as Baron Laidlaw of Rothiemay in 2004.

In 2008 he was described by The Guardian as a “Monaco-based tax exile”.

He was widely criticised in the press for failing to become UK tax resident despite being appointed to the House of Lords.

The BBC said that, in a letter seen by them, Laidlaw “cites a variety of personal reasons” for non-compliance.

Criticism by Baron Dennis Stevenson, chair of the House of Lords Appointments Commission, on assurances given to the Commission by Laidlaw to become a UK tax resident by April 2004, were followed by Laidlaw taking leave of absence from the House of Lords.

In 2010 following the enactment of the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act 2010 he stepped down from his seat in the House of Lords to maintain his non-domiciled status and so be able to avoid paying UK residents’ taxes.

Sir Michael Hintze is a British-Australian businessman, steeped in the financial services industry having worked for Credit Suisse and Goldman Sachs.

In 1999 he launched his own hedge fund company, CQS and has been cited as one of the highest paid people in the City of London.

In 2013, Hintze’s CQS received awards for the “Best Hedge Fund Manager Overall,” “Best Hedge Fund Manager in Credit,” and “Best Multi-Hedge Fund Manager” at the Financial News Awards for Excellence in Institutional Hedge Fund Management.

In 2006, at the time of the Cash for Peerages allegations Hintze voluntarily revealed he was one of the previously anonymous patrons who had made loans to the Conservative Party.

His known loans and donations to the party total around £4 million.

In the five months to September 2011 he donated £31,000, enough to grant him membership of the Conservative Treasurers’ Group, the second highest rung on the party’s donor’s ladder, which allows its members access to senior Conservative figures through a series of lunches, receptions and campaign launches.

In October 2011, it was revealed that Adam Werritty, a close friend and business associate of then Secretary of State for Defence Dr Liam Fox MP, was provided with a free desk by Hintze at CQS’s London base as part of his £29,000 donation to Fox’s charity Atlantic Bridge.

Hintze also supplied a private jet for Fox and Werritty to fly from the United States to London in May 2011.

These disclosures led to the resignation of Liam Fox and the dismissal of Hintze’s then-charity adviser, Oliver Hylton

Sir Stanley Fink is another hedge fund manager and the former CEO and deputy chairman of the Man Group.

He has been described as the “godfather” of the UK hedge fund industry and has been credited with building the Man Group up to its current status as a FTSE 100 company and the largest listed hedge fund company in the world.

In September 2008, he came out of retirement to act as the chief executive of International Standard Asset Management (ISAM) in a partnership with Lord Levy.

In January 2009 he was appointed co-treasurer of the Conservative Party.

On 18 January 2011, he was made a life peer, taking the title of Baron Fink of Northwood.

After the resignation of Peter Cruddas over a cash-for-access controversy, Lord Fink returned to the position of treasurer of the Conservative Party. Fink previously donated £2.62milllion to the Tories.

In February 2015 Fink was accused by Labour leader Ed Miliband as having undertaken “tax avoidance activities”.

He responded by stating that he had indeed avoided tax but stated “everyone does tax avoidance at some level”.

David Rowland is a UK property developer who has made a fortune in banking.

In 2009, Kaupthing Bank, affected by the global liquidity squeeze was divided into two entities, a ‘good, healthy’ bank and a ‘bad’ bank.

David Rowland and his son Jonathan, via their investment company Blackfish Capital, acquired and recapitalized the former and now manage the assets, on behalf of the interbank creditors, of the latter.

In the year before the 2010 General Election, Rowland donated £2.8million to the Conservative Party, making him the party’s major donor.

In 2010 he was announced as being the next Treasurer of the Conservative Party.

But following public criticism of his former status as a tax exile, Rowland resigned before taking the position.

Rowland had lived in Guernsey, but returned to full United Kingdom residency in order to make more donations to the Conservatives.

But these four millionaire donors are just the tip of a much darker side of the financing of the Conservative Party.

The Conservative Party’s close links with the hedge fund industry, coincides with research which shows that around half of the wealthiest fund managers in Britain have given money to the Tory party.

The based on public disclosures, finds that of the 59 wealthiest asset managers, 27 had made a combined £19million in donations to the Conservatives, with £10million flowing into Tory coffers since the 2010 general election alone.

Labour has previously drawn attention to the government’s abolition in 2013 of a stamp duty reserve tax on investment funds, which it described as an effective £145million “hedge fund tax cut”.

Labour claimed the hedge fund loophole had cost the country £100million a year over a five year period, and others have put the figure higher.

A similar analysis in the Financial Times found that the number of City backers for the Tories doubled during the last parliament compared with the period 2005 to 2010.

The FT found that 35% of all party funding comes from eight of the top 20 donors.

The eight are all from a City background and donated £12.2million to the Conservatives.

The Conservative Party’s top 10 funders:

1 Michael Farmer

Hedge fund: RK Capital Management

Worth: £150million

Total donation: £6,556,092

2 Sir Michael Hintze

Hedge fund: CQS

Worth: £1,055million

Total donation: 3,221,027

3 Lord Fink

Hedge fund: ISAM

Worth: £130million

Total donation: £3,172,007

4 Chris Rokos

Hedge fund: Brevan Howard

Worth: £230million

Total donation: £1,344,850

5 Andrew Law

Hedge fund: Caxton Associates

Worth: £350million

Total donation: £1,226,411

6 Sir Paul Ruddock

Hedge fund: Lansdowne Partners

Worth: £300million

Total donation: £818,783

7 David Harding

Hedge fund: Winton Capital

Worth: £750million

Total donation: £593,765

8 Hugh Sloane

Hedge fund: Sloane Robinson

Worth: £185million

Total donation: £533,500

9 Sir John and Peter Beckwith

Hedge fund: RiverCrest Capital

Worth: £350million

Total donation: £520,996

10 Alexander Knaster

Hedge fund: Pamplona Capital Management

Worth: £1,266million

Total donation: £400,000


Suppression of the Truth – Part 3: The Hidden Power of the Freemasons

I FIRST met Bill Hodgson in February 1991, just four months after taking up my initial newspaper editorship at the Argyllshire Advertiser on the west coast of Scotland.

Bill, a former farmer and wine importer, had been selected in September 1989, as the Conservative parliamentary candidate in the Tory/Lib Dem marginal seat of Argyll and Bute.

In 1979, he had achieved the largest Conservative swing in Scotland in the safe Labour seat of East Kilbride. Eight years later he came within 916 votes of ousting Labour in Carlisle, after what supporters called “the best political campaign the city has ever seen”.

Bill was now touted to do well in Argyll against the incumbent MP Rae Michie.

He had already moved his family to a spacious detached villa in Campbeltown – at the southern end of this vast rural constituency which took in Oban, Lochgilphead, Inveraray, Dunoon and Bute and the Inner Hebridian islands of Islay, Jura, Mull and Gigha.

Although I admit to being a Tory activist as a teenager, my personal politics at the time were well to the left of Bill and I had no natural affinity for a Thatcherite Conservative government which had ruined Britain over the previous 12 years.

But Bill, 54, and his politically astute wife Eelan, were gregarious, self-effacing and above all, seemingly honest – rare in any politician.

After an initial meeting, both the Hodgsons were regular visitors to my newspaper office, usually sharing a newsworthy story or a tip-off over a cup of tea.

It soon became obvious that Bill was a bit of a maverick – a go-getting politician who was not afraid to speak his mind.

And I quickly became aware of his track record.

Within two months of his selection, Bill became involved in a bitter row with one of Argyll’s biggest landowners, Douglas Campbell, who had flouted planning orders and felled a forest of trees in order to build 40 luxury holiday chalets.

In the local weekly newspaper the Dunoon Observer, Bill was reported as saying the tree felling was the “misconduct of a barbaric Philistine”.

Mr Campbell was one of 13 applicants who had stood against Bill for the Conservative nomination for Argyll.

Douglas Campbell was also a prominent Freemason and close friend of Ian Campbell, the 12th Duke of Argyll, first cousin to the Queen and a Master Freemason in Scotland.

Bill’s words were ones which Douglas Campbell did not forget and they would soon come back to haunt him.

Just before my own arrival in Argyll, Bill had also fallen out with the Conservative Party’s constituency secretary Noel Facenda.

Facenda had placed Christmas adverts in the local press (including my own paper) which were a clear breach of electoral law and potentially threaten Bill’s candidacy.

Bill was livid with what he regarded as incompetence.

Then soon after my first meeting with the Hodgsons, Bill attacked Argyll and Bute District Council – in which the Tories shared power – for overspending and called for the council’s chief executive to be replaced.

This ruffled the feathers of some prominent Tories and a shadowy campaign to “get Bill out” began.

On 25 May, the simmering row began to spill into open warfare with the resignation of constituency chairwoman – and close friend of Douglas Campbell – Margaret Forrest, who claimed she had been subjected to “verbal assaults” from Mr Hodgson.

It was at this point Bill became a personal confidante and began briefing me weekly about the shenanigans and moves to unseat him by some of his own party officials.

This was despite the fact that among party members in Argyll and voters at large, Bill was seen as being popular and positively electable… a Tory closer to the people than to the landowners who dominated the power plays in Argyll.

Then on 16 August 1991, Bill suffered a minor heart attack. But he was quickly assured by his doctors that a simple heart-by-pass operation would ensure a return to perfect health.

But, while he awaited the operation, rumours about his status as a candidate began to circulate.

His Labour opponent Des Browne (later to become Secretary of State for Scotland) went on the record saying: “Bill Hodgson won’t last long, his own party are out to get him.”

At a small dinner party at his home, Bill told me he had taken enough and was going to fight back.

On 9 September, as the rumours of a coup against him began to harden, Bill told 40 supporters at a meeting in Campbeltown that there was an inside plot to oust him as candidate.

He said the perpetrators were using his health as a smokescreen. “There has been an energetic commitment to apathy, disloyalty and the worship of incompetence,” he said.

It was true, but it was also pouring oil onto the smouldering fire.

His statement was discussed at a constituency meeting called the very next day. Tempers were roused.

But Campbeltown councillor Archie McCallum, who had replaced Margaret Forrest as chairman, denied there was any plot to oust Bill as their candidate.

“We are only interested in his health,” said Mr McCallum, who along with Mr Facenda were also active Freemasons.

But on 23 September, three days after Bill’s heart by-pass operation in Glasgow, the local party executive held an emergency meeting to discuss his future.

The Duke of Argyll – prompted by Douglas Campbell – proposed a motion calling for Bill’s resignation. It was passed by 27 to 17, despite the fact that many members who were entitled to vote were given late notice of the meeting and had been unable to attend.

I rang Bill the next day, and from his hospital bed he issued a press statement in which he said: “What has really annoyed me has been the sneaky, chicken-livered way in which the plotters have behaved. Now they have been rumbled, no doubt they will try to blame someone else.”

The local party was now about to split sharply down the middle.

At the executive meeting, Michael MacRoberts, chairman of the Colintraive branch of the party, demanded that no-one should speak to the press about what had been discussed.

But within 24 hours, more than half a dozen of those present had breached the ruling.

The gloves were now off and the fight was about to escalate to the highest echelons of British politics.

Bill was rarely off the phone to me with updates or advice and it was here that for the first time in my career as a journalist that my telephone was bugged and my calls with Bill were intercepted.

I have never found by whom, but the machinations which I am now about to tell may give powerful clues.

The first to show his true colours was Archie McCallum.

In a private letter dated 1 November to a party member, McCallum detailed the case against Bill.

“The whole blame lies with Bill,” he wrote.

At another executive meeting on 9 November, it was decided to try and take some heat out of the situation which was by now being reported by Scotland’s national press.

The decision of 23 September was rescinded and members decided to ask Bill to account for himself at the next meeting on 7 December.

But McCallum was quick to up the ante.

He claimed that at a private meeting in late November Lord Willie Whitelaw, former Conservative Party Chairman and Home Secretary, and leading Freemason, had recommended the constituency “ditch Bill Hodgson”, claiming he had run into problem in Carlisle in 1987.

It was a lie, but given the word of Lord Whitelaw the lie became fact.

McCallum was later coy about the meeting with Whitelaw and refused to repeat the words used in the meeting.

Later it was established that the private meeting was at Inveraray Castle – home of the Duke of Argyll – with the duke and Douglas Campbell also present.

The Masonic plot against Bill Hodgson was almost complete with a cousin of the Queen and a former Home Secretary at the hub.

(Ironically, last year it was revealed that detectives are now investigating claims of another Masonic conspiracy in which Lord Whitelaw ordered police to drop an investigation into a VIP paedophile ring.

Whitelaw told a senior Metropolitan Police boss to quash a year-long investigation into a gang accused of abusing 40 children, the youngest of whom was six.

The intervention came in 1980, after a newspaper revealed the country’s chief prosecutor was considering 350 offences against the gang, including allegations it ‘obtained young boys for politicians, prominent lawyers and film stars’.)

So with the power brokers stacked against him, Bill appeared before the constituency executive on 7 December 1991. He was voted down by 36 votes to 33 and his resignation demanded forthwith or they would pursue his deselection.

McCallum defended the move saying: “Bill wanted everything done yesterday, and in an area where tomorrow is good enough, it was not good enough for him. I’m afraid that Bill has shot his bolt.”

But, Bill’s supporters claimed the meeting had been rigged to exclude delegates who supported him.

In a letter to Scottish Conservative Party Chairman Lord Sanderson, John Maclean, an executive member, claimed that branches likely to have backed Bill had been excluded from the vote.

Asking Sanderson to conduct a secret postal ballot, Maclean also alleged that other pro-Hodgson party members had been excluded on “various flimsy grounds”. Had those branches and individuals been allowed to attend, there would have been an eight vote majority in favour of Bill.

A week later, during a meeting with Lord Sanderson – another leading Scottish Freemason – and Michael Hirst, President of the Scottish Conservative Association, Bill refused to resign.

He had public opinion with him and was backed by four branches and hundreds of members who threatened to leave the party if he was forced to step down.

Two weeks later 205 party members signed a petition demanding a general meeting of the constituency party to discuss Bill’s candidacy. It was clear that they would win the day.

But always expect the unexpected.

Less than 24 hours after the demand for the meeting was tabled; with orders from Central Office, the Scottish Conservative Association stepped in and dissolved the entire constituency association in Argyll. Thus they deselected Bill as parliamentary candidate and excommunicated hundreds of Tory party members in one blow.

Michael Hirst said that the decision to disaffiliate the Argyll association was made with “considerable reluctance”.

“Not in living memory of those here has this ever happened before,” he added.

Donald Nicholson, chairman of the Ardchattan branch said what many were thinking: “What happened to Bill is a travesty. These things will never be forgotten as long as Argyll is a constituency.”

Argyll constituency vice chairwoman Sheena Dixon said: “Bill was a professional and worked incredibly hard in the two years he was here. It seemed he worked too hard for some and upset others whose power will not be upset.”

Another party executive member added: “Bill’s future was decided by a cabal of powerful people within our party. The one thing that unites them, other than being Conservatives, is they all belong to one secret society.”

Such is the power of the Freemasons, which I would come to witness many other times in my career as a journalist.

The final words I will leave to Bill: “I am saddened by the damage to the party. My abiding memory of the last four months is the callous and uncaring announcement of my dismissal while I was lying in hospital.

“I have a feeling of sickness for those who have campaigned so venomously for my deselection using lies, libels and vile innuendo as their weapons.”


Footnote 1: Bill’s successor as Conservative candidate for Argyll and Bute, John Corrie, failed to unseat Lib Dem MP Rae Michie in the 1992 General Election taking just 27% of the vote. By 2015, the Tory vote in the constituency had fallen to just 15%.


Footnote 2: Bill sadly died in October 2010. He left me with many happy memories of wine-fuelled chats by his fireside and his wonderful sense of humour.

He also left me a letter with the immortal words: “A man is known by his friends and not his enemies, I am grateful to count you as a friend.”

Lord Whitelaw died of natural causes at his home near Penrith, aged 81, in 1999,

Ian Campbell, the 12th Duke of Argyll died of heart failure during surgery at a London hospital in 2001, aged 63.

Douglas Campbell died in May 2015 aged 79. Ironically his obituary said he was: “One of the most innovative farmers of his generation, who diversified into tourism with holiday parks and leisure facilities.

“He and his family built up a considerable business from his base in Lochgoilhead, with hotels, shops and eight holiday parks.”