You may recall that Staines himself is on record as saying that he visited Johannesburg and UNITA-held areas of Angola in the late 1980s whilst working for fun-lovin' zillionaire David Hart, where he met with people including UNITA, Afghans, and Nicaraguan Contras. More recently, in comments over here, he specifically denied having any truck with apartheid or John Carlisle MP and claimed to have been "working with the liberals". This was itself somewhat interesting, as the Liberal Party of South Africa had dissolved itself in 1968 rather than accept the demands of the regime.
Of course, there were people in South Africa who could have been described as liberal; Helen Suzman springs to mind. When this blog contacted a white ANC member from the period who was involved in organising meetings between white liberal groups and the ANC leadership in exile, he stated that he never had any dealings with David Hart, in terms that rather suggested neither party would have wanted to.
The various organisations involved seem to have been far more interested in the Inkatha Freedom Party; and this is where it gets really interesting. It was Buthulezi who Jack Abramoff - for it is he! - organised US rightwing student support for. This support was channelled through, among other things, the International Freedom Federation, which turns out (and which turned out during Abramoff's own disgrace) to be funded by the South African state. It in turn funded the "Mozambique Solidarity Campaign" (that's solidarity with Renamo, for the avoidance of doubt), which provided offices to the "International Society for Human Rights".
Further, Paul Staines' solicitor Donal Blaney's writings at Conservative Home throw some light on the continued relevance of these links; here we are, in February, 2006.
During 2001 and 2002 I visited the United States five times. I had a series of meetings with the Heritage Foundation, the Leadership Institute, the American Conservative Union and the Young America's Foundation after being inspired by seeing Chief Buthelezi, Dick Cheney, Jesse Helms, Charlton Heston, J C Watts, David Trimble and Benjamin Netanyahu at the 2001 CPAC conference...
One of Paul Staines' other gigs has been, in the past, the Globalisation Institute; it's therefore fascinating to see it cited as one of Blaney's examples of new front organisations for the Tory Right.
Since the founding of YBF in 2003, a genuine conservative movement has begun to develop and I for one find this exciting. I am delighted that Francis Maude understands its importance, as evidenced by his decision to send Tim Montgomerie to Washington to see what, if anything, the Party can learn from the US conservative movement. The formation of activist groups such as the Taxpayers' Alliance, blogs such as conservativehome.com and issue-based groups such as the Globalisation Institute is essential for the Party to win in 2009. Relying on a swing in the political pendulum or for the Party alone to secure a Conservative victory in 2009 is not an option. A true conservative movement is the only answer.
Returning to our theme, I can't imagine what possible purpose Buthulezi's appearance served, other than as a reminder of the good old days; he is now one of the world's most irrelevant politicians. But in Stainesworld, an obsession with Southern Africa, or rather its past, is a calling card; just check out how often commenters at order-order.com use terms like "ZaNuLabour" or otherwise accuse the Government of being something like as bad as Robert Mugabe. It goes deeper, of course; Boris Johnson made just this accusation against Stephen Byers back in 2001. They're addicted. You would have thought that someone as punctilious about legality as Staines would exercise a more stringent control of comments.
You'd also think the Conservative Party itself might have some doubts about relying for its web strategy on Blaney in his capacity as a director of Doughty Media Ltd. (as in 18DoughtyStreet.com). After all, this is the guy who asks
Maybe I drank too much rum when I was living abroad for the past two years?
Maybe in time I will wake up from this horrible dream, this nightmare, in which the political party that gave us Churchill and Thatcher – the political creed that gave us Reagan and is still adhered to by John Howard and Stephen Harper – have been discarded by David Cameron in what increasingly seems to me to be nothing more than a naked push for power at any price, without any regard for political principle or the true needs of the vast majority of voters.
Learning that the views of Winston Churchill have been discarded in favour of those of Polly Toynbee – who has been wrong on every single issue that’s mattered for the past quarter century – fills me with such a sense of dread that I am wondering more and more whether David Cameron is actually really a conservative at all.The Tories; reliably a snakepit of backstabbing.
Leave aside that Winston Churchill nationalised BP, introduced wages councils and unemployment insurance, commissioned the Beveridge Report, led the fight for the People's Budget against the diehard Tories, wanted to abolish the House of Lords and repeatedly refused a peerage, and spent most of his career in the Liberal Party; I don't see anything in that policy program Polly would disagree with. In fact, you could make a case that, indeed, the Tories under David Cameron are closer to Winston in terms of social policy than any Tories since Harold MacMillan.
And, having fought in the Boer War and drafted a democratic constitution for South Africa, you could also say that Winston was, indeed, a South African Liberal. Just not in the same way.