The Federation of Conservative Students, the student wing of the Conservative Party, was noted in the early to mid 1980s for extremist behaviour. It was reported in the Guardian (June 1, 1983) that a number of FCS members had worn badges to a NUS conference with the slogan, “Hang Nelson Mandela.” Stuart Millson was on the national committee of the FCS. He left the Conservative Party in May 1986 to join the British National Party. He subsequently told the Guardian (July 15, 1986), “I would describe myself as a fascist. My main aim at university has been to drum up as much support as possible for racialism.”
Part of the problem was that a number of libertarians had infiltrated the organisation to such an extent that they took control. Marc-Henri Glendening, as Chairman of the FCS, wrote a letter to The Times (April 9, 1985) where he confirmed that he was personally in favour of the legalisation of heroin.
The libertarians were, in some ways, a mirror image of the far-left they claimed to despise. They may have loathed the political views of the far-left, but they admired their methods. The libertarians inside the FCS referred to each other as “comrades.” At least one member of the FCS wore a t-shirt with an emblazoned slogan: “Blue Trotskyite.” Mark Dingwall, elected to the executive of the FCS in 1986, declared in his hustings speech: “I’m proud to be an admirer of Derek Hatton and the Leninist discipline.” (Guardian April 5, 1986).
Trotskyist organisations often reserve some of their most venomous attacks for other left-wing groups, those that do not adhere to their supposedly “correct” political line on every single issue. The right-wing inside FCS may well have paid attention and learned from this. Conservatives inside the FCS who did not follow the libertarian line were denounced, sometimes in offensive ways. David Rose, a Guardian journalist, correctly noted that an open display of prejudice is rare among libertarians. Despite this, he reported John Howells, from the FCS right-wing, as someone who referred to a leading non libertarian Conservative student at Oxford University as a “horrible little yid.” (Guardian April 5, 1986).
Below is an extract from an article that appeared the Guardian in 1984:
Red scum’ gibe inflames students
Guardian, December 10, 1984, p.1.
The National Union of Students’ conference at Blackpool was disrupted yesterday when angry delegates tried to rush the platform during an inflammatory speech by a Conservative student, in which he called NUS members “red, fascist scum.”
The phrase, used by Mr. Guy Roberts, a Leeds University student and a member of the Federation of Conservative Students, is identical to one quoted as an example in an unattributed pamphlet called Guide to Disruption of the NUS Conference which was circulated in the town.
The pamphlet outlines how repeated use of standing orders can “lead to hysterical leftwing reaction.”
It describes how to cause chaos and confusion and how to exploit disruption by shouting, heckling, throwing things and rushing the microphone.
It says: “Always be provocative. Remember, you are not here to persuade the closed-minded leftists. You are here to wind them up so much they lose control and disrupt the conference e.g.; ‘You red, fascist scum.’”….
A separate pamphlet, issued by the FCS makes its conference tactics clear. It says: “Some will say that we are here only to disrupt. This is entirely correct.”….
Mr Christopher Davies, the only Conservative member of the NUS executive …. blamed at least one Conservative student for being involved in Friday’s demonstration which silenced Mr Peter Brooke, the junior education minister. “I definitely saw one Conservative up on the balcony chanting ‘Tories out, Tories out.’ He was up there leading the chanting.”