Conservative Family Campaign
The Conservative Family Campaign was created in 1986. In 1987 The Times described it as follows: 'Critical of Conservative failure to protect family on a variety of issues (though absolves Margaret Thatcher of responsibility). Launched in March 1986 by aspiring Tory candidate Graham Webster-Gardiner (chairman), along with Robert Whelan and Antonia Hopkins. Active in lobbying on parents' rights on sex education in this year's Education Bill. Supporters include Peter Bruinvels' MP.
History and Orientation
According to the political scientist Martin Durham it was the CFC which ‘rejected the argument of both CARE and Family and Youth Concern that the traditional family needed to be defended from a position of political independence. It argued that although the Conservatives were not yet properly supportive of the family, the greatest danger lay in a Labour return to office and that Christians needed both to work and pray for the re-election of Margaret Thatcher. As with other ‘pro-family’ groupings, the Conservative Family Campaign devoted considerable energy to abortion, homosexuality and other of the facets of what might be described as an old pro-family agenda. However in its denunciations of single-parent families, above all in its 1988 pamphlet, ‘’A Tax on Marriage’’, in which it called for the tax and social security system to “discriminate” in favour of married couples, it anticipated what in the 1990s would become the social agenda of significant sections of the New Right’.
1999 - Closure?
In 1999 the discontinuation of the Conservative Family Institute was mooted following the defeat of the avowedly homophobic Adrian Rogers at the 1997 General Election by Ben Bradshaw who was publicly out as a gay man. According to a BBC report in 1999:
- Dr Adrian Rogers, who is a GP, lost the Exeter seat at the last general election to Labour's Ben Bradshaw. Dr Rogers told BBC News Online he had now decided to close the Conservative Family Institute, which campaigned against homosexuals and abortion. The 1997 Exeter election contest was marked by bitter attacks by Dr Rogers on Mr Bradshaw, who is openly gay. But it was the intervention of his own party that has forced the disbandment of the Conservative Family Institute.
- Dr Rogers acted after Gay News reported that Conservative Party Chairman Michael Ancram was looking at ways to force the organisation to drop "Conservative" from its title. The party's chief executive, Archie Norman, also condemned Dr Rogers' views on gay candidates. Dr Rogers insists gays and lesbians - people who practise what he calls "deviant lifestyles" - should not be allowed to stand for the Conservatives.
- Dr Rogers wrote to his members to explain his decision. "Most of the institute members are all keen or extremely experienced Tory activists, some have promising careers ahead of them," he says. "I do not want to let any association with me spoil their political chances. Neither do I wish to embarrass the party which, probably going through libertarian times, will still eventually survive and remain the pro-family party. "For this reason, unless I hear from you with profound compelling argument, I propose to close the Institute."
Though not without influence the CFC, like the rest of the UK Christian right has been less successful than in the US. As the Church Times noted in 2007:
- Despite common platforms on nationalism, free-market economics, and civic order, the Republicans and the Conservatives pitch at different audiences with different priorities.
- British Conservatives seek to preserve the monarchy, constitution, and Established Church, along with the family and the country’s broad Christian heritage. Their goal is to preserve social stability and the organic cohesion of British society. Central to this process is its orderly evolution, which requires accommodations with secularism — itself a fact of the past 60 years.
- So, while the voices of the Conservative Family Campaign’s Dr Adrian Rogers and pro-lifers such as Ann Widdecombe, Jill Knight, and the Wintertons continue to be heard, and, more recently, that of Nadine Dorries, in her challenge to the 24-week limit on abortion, the party has secularised — as has mainstream British society.
According to the Daily Telegraph:
- Dr Adrian Rogers, chairman of the Conservative Family Campaign, said in 1991 that homosexuality was "a sterile, disease-ridden and God-forsaken relationship".
- Martin Durham 'The New Right, moral crusades and the politics of the family', Economy and Society, Volume 22, Issue 2 May 1993 , pages 253 - 256
- Spectrum: Who's who in the drive for a moral resurgence The Times (London) January 5 1987, Monday SECTION: Issue 62657.
- Martin Durham ‘The Conservative Party, New Labour and the politics of the family’, Parliamentary Affairs, 54 (3): 459. (2001)
- http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/249309.stm 'Family values' group to close] BBC Online, Wednesday, January 6, 1999 Published at 19:21 GMT
- Britain’s Christian Right has reason to feel blue Christians in the Conservative Party are outgunned — unlike their Republican counterparts in the US, says Vincent McKee, Church Times Issue 7548 - 9 November, 2007
- Daily Telegraph, Obituaries: Professor Peter Campbell Published: 12:01AM BST 15 Jun 2005
- Conservative Party Julian Brazier, accessed 22 August 2010