Cameron on Mandela: the hypocrite speaks

Submitted by AWL on 8 December, 2013 - 8:24

After Nelson Mandela died on 5 December, Tory prime minister David Cameron was full of praise for Mandela.

Full of hypocrisy, too. In 1989, when Mandela was still in jail under the apartheid regime, Cameron went on an all-expenses-paid trip to South Africa, organised and funded by Strategy Network Internation (SNI), a group created in 1985 specifically to lobby against the imposition of sanctions on the apartheid government.

Asked about the trip by the authors of a book on Cameron about the trip, Alistair Cooke, who was Cameron's boss when he worked in 1989 at Tory Central Office, was "simply a jolly",

Cameron worked for Tory Central Office from 1988 (soon after he finished university) to 1993. At the time, Britain's Tory government, under Margaret Thatcher, was the biggest voice in international diplomacy for opposing sanctions on South Africa and branding Mandela a "terrorist".

There is no record at the time of Cameron dissenting from Thatcher.

Only in 2006, when both Thatcher and apartheid were irretrievably out of the way, and Mandela had been president of South Africa for five years and had then retired from public life, did Cameron consider it safe to sanitise the issue.

He went to South Africa, visited the aged and frail Mandela, and said he apologised for the "mistakes my party made in the past with respect to relations with the ANC and sanctions on South Africa".

The Tories would admit now that they were wrong to oppose votes for working-class men and for women in Britain, too.

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