Conservatives branded ”hypocrites” for heaping praise on Nelson Mandela – the man they branded a terrorist
Tory politicians heaping praise on Nelson Mandela were yesterday accused of rank hypocrisy – after supporting a party that spent decades dismissing him as a “terrorist”.
David Cameron, George Osborne and Commons Speaker John Bercow hailed the anti-apartheid leader as an inspiration.
But throughout the 1980s, when they were young Tory activists, Margaret Thatcher was refusing to lift sanctions on South Africa’s racist government.
And as late as October 1987 she was dismissing Mr Mandela’s African National Congress party as “a typical terrorist organisation”.
Even yesterday former Tory Chairman Lord Tebbit was refusing to back down.
He said: “He was the leader of a political movement which had begun to resort to terrorism.”
Former Tory MP and serving councillor Terry Dicks went even further and compared Mr Mandela to an Al-Qaeda terrorist.
He said: “They were just terrorists. No different from the Irish terrorists. Perhaps no different to those we’re fighting now.
“Just a different background, maybe a different religion, but that’s all.
“And a terrorist is a terrorist. I don’t accept this view of freedom fighters one day – terrorists one day, freedom fighters the next. No. No.
“And if they had wanted to they could have executed him. Seriously. And then you wouldn’t have had all this fuss of ‘I can live 27 years in prison’.
He was asked by Channel 4 News if it might have been better if they had executed him. He replied: “Well he was a terrorist.”
The remarks will infuriate David Cameron, who hoped to bury the Tories’ anti-Mandela past.
In 2006, Mr Cameron apologised and denounced the Thatcher record on South Africa.
He said she was wrong to have branded Mandela’s African National Congress “terrorists” and to have opposed sanctions against the apartheid South Africa.
Yesterday Mr Cameron led tributes to Mr Mandela a “hero of our time”. The PM added: “Meeting him was one of the great honours of my life.”
But he did not mention how he had gone to South Africa as a 23-year-old in 1989 on a jolly while Mr Mandela was locked in jail fighting the country’s apartheid shame.
Peter Hain, the South African-born Labour MP, said at the time Mr Cameron’s trip emerged: “This just exposes his hypocrisy because he has tried to present himself as a progressive Conservative.”
Mr Cameron is not the only leading Tory with a shameful record fighting apartheid.
Commons Speaker John Bercow was the last ever chairman of a Tory youth wing which produced “Hang Nelson Mandela”badges
Yesterday Mr Bercow, showered praise on Mr Mandela.
He said: “He was Tata, father, to us all. His extraordinary commitment to democracy, peace and the fight against injustice has motivated generations to stand up for freedom.”
But in the 80s he was the chair of the Federation of Conservative Students, whose conferences were littered with anti-Mandela attacks.
Labour frontbencher Brian Wilson yesterday called on Mr Bercow to “make it clear that he deeply regrets the behaviour” of those young Tories.
He said: “Mr Bercow must now make it clear that he deeply regrets the behaviour of FCS members.
“Silence would only show that we’ve still got the same old Tories with the same old story of intolerance and bigotry.”
North West Durham MP Pat Glass added on Twitter: “Makes me mad 2 hear tributes from Tories now who called him a traitor when in prison.”
The ugly side of other right wing parties was also exposed yesterday.
UKIP poster girl Alexandra Swann retweeted messages calling Mr Mandela a “terrorist”.
Ms Swann, whose speech to their 2012 Spring conference was introduced by leader Nigel Farage, said: “Mandela is dead. Sympathy for his family but let’s not deify one who condoned terrorism.”
She added: “Imagine if we sang ding dong the terrorist’s dead. Death of Mandela is sad but he did condone violent, terrorist attacks. #Hypocrisy.”
Ms Swann then retweeted a message to her followers saying: #Mandela The dead terrorist.”
The messages relate to Mandela’s arrest in 1962 for leading a sabotage campaign against South Africa’s racist government.
And despite winning a Nobel peace prize Mandela remained on the US terror list until 2008 – a fact that the Bush administration described as “embarrassing”.
The Tory party’s bible, the Spectator magazine, also sparked fury with a blog claiming his death had been given too much TV coverage – less than an hour after it was announced.
At 10.32pm Rod Liddle wrote: “But for Christ’s sake BBC, give it a bloody break for five minutes, will you?
“It’s as if the poor bugger now has to bear your entire self-flagellating white post-colonial bien pensant guilt; look! Famous nice black man dies!
“Let’s re-run the entire history of South Africa. That’s better than watching the country we’re in being flattened by a storm.”
The British National Party leader Nick Griffin managed to plunge even lower saying: “Ding dong, the beatified Communist terrorist is dead.”
His remarks came after he sparked outrage earlier this year, as Mandela’s health worsened, when he called him a “murderous old terrorist”.
Source THE MIRROR