'THE BRITISH COUNCIL DEBATE'
Lymington Times – 1 August 1998
Your very full coverage of my controversial speech in Parliament, attacking the pro-Communist past of the new Chairman of the British Council, Helena Kennedy, needs to be set in context. The debate was an Adjournment Debate attended by only a very small number of members with a particular interest in the subject.
Of the four Conservatives present, only one, Nicholas Soames, criticised me for setting on record Baroness Kennedy's atrocious past support for pro-Soviet and pro-Communist bodies. On the Labour side, there was predictable criticism from people whose own record during the Cold War left a great deal to be desired.
Many Conservative colleagues who read the debate afterwards congratulated me on speaking out in this way, as did the Daily Telegraph, which ran a major article on July 18th.
There are some people who regard the House of Commons and the House of Lords as a glorified club in which it is "not the done thing" to attack another member for disreputable past political affiliations. This is the mentality which refused to believe that Stalin's Cold War spies in the Foreign Office could really be traitors because they had attended all the right schools!
I refuse to accept this type of attitude and am glad that those people who appointed a person with a pro-Communist past to head the multi-million pound, Foreign Office-funded British Council, are now aware of her political pedigree.
Dr JULIAN LEWIS MP