Malcolm Rifkind

26 Oct 2012 06:22:26

Who are Conservative Friends of Israel? A profile of the Conservative Party's most populous grouping

By Matthew Barrett
Follow Matthew on Twitter.

Conservative Friends of IsraelConservative Friends of Israel is an influential affiliate group of the Conservative Party which contains perhaps the largest number of Conservative MPs of any group in Parliament. It exists to promote understanding of and support for the State of Israel in the Conservative Party, and its membership reaches the highest echelons of power, including the Foreign Secretary, William Hague. In this profile, I examine its origins, membership, role, and activities.

Origins of the group

Conservative Friends of Israel (CFoI) is the oldest group of Conservative MPs I have profiled so far: it was founded by Michael Fidler, who was the Conservative Member of Parliament for Bury and Radcliffe between 1970 and the October 1974 election. After losing his seat, he decided to focus on building a pro-Israel group within the Conservative Party - there had been a Labour Friends of Israel group since 1957 - so Fidler launched CFoI in 1974, and served as its National Director. 

Sir Hugh Fraser served as the first Chairman of CFoI, from 1974. Sir Hugh was a Conservative MP of the old school: after a distinguished military intelligence career in the Second World War, he entered Parliament in 1945, and he missed out on being Father of the House to James Callaghan in 1983 by only a few days. Sir Hugh had an interest in oil and the Middle East and served a number of positions in the War and Colonial Offices, before entering Cabinet as the Secretary of State for Air in 1962. He might be best known to some readers as the outsider candidate who came third in the 1975 party leadership contest, behind Mrs Thatcher and Edward Heath, gaining only 16 votes.

Continue reading "Who are Conservative Friends of Israel? A profile of the Conservative Party's most populous grouping" »

12 Jun 2012 11:12:41

Rifkind calls for arms embargo to be lifted for Syrian rebels

By Harry Phibbs
Follow Harry on Twitter

The Foreign Secretary William Hague gave a statement on Syria in Parliament yesterday. He reported that as many as 15,000 may have died in that country over past 15 months. Hague expressed support Kofi Annan proposals for an end to violence and political change. The Russian Government was urged by Hague to use its leverage with the Syrian Government to advance the Annan plan. Hague also said that for the Annan proposals to work "requires the Syrian National Council and other opposition groups to puut aside their differences."

But Hague added:

"The Annan plan is not an open-ended commitment; it cannot be used indefinitely by the regime to play for time. If it is not implemented, we will argue for a new and robust UN Security Council resolution aimed at compelling the regime to meet its commitments under the plan, and requiring all parties to comply with it. So we have already begun discussions at the Security Council on the elements of a resolution.

"We do not want to see the Annan plan fail, but if, despite our best efforts, it does not succeed, we would have to consider other options for resolving the crisis and, in our view, all options should then be on the table."

Continue reading "Rifkind calls for arms embargo to be lifted for Syrian rebels" »