The Golden Dolphins
As The New Conservatives face increased media exposure, and questions over not only their modus operandi, but also their conduct, funding, and activity within the Conservative Party, it is perhaps a good time to look at those given the Young Britons’ Foundation Golden Dolphin award, which is in the personal gift of founder Donal Blaney. As has previously been noted, this was given in December 2014 to Mark Clarke, since accused of bullying and other instances of bad behaviour.
Clarke’s award has now been rescinded by Blaney, but he appears to stand by the other nine recipients. They are an apparently disparate bunch, but all have something in their citations that shows the kinds of values that the YBF promotes in their interpretation of modern Conservatism.
Steve Baker MP The Conservative representing Wycombe was awarded his Golden Dolphin “for being proud to stand as a libertarian and a Christian when the prevailing winds might favour a weaker, less principled course”. He has opposed same-sex marriage, is against British membership of the EU, against the HS2 project, and in favour of the UK retaining a nuclear deterrent. All of these positions are likely to find favour with the YBF’s head man.
Conor Burns MP, Conservative member for Bournemouth West, secured his award “for his stoic support for the Young Britons’ Foundation since its creation in 2003”. Is that all? No, it certainly is not: Burns is also the Parliamentary spokesman for the Margaret Thatcher centre, Donal Blaney’s pet project. He befriended the ageing former Prime Minister some years ago, something that has given him a certain cachet with younger Thatcherites.
Mark Clarke’s entry on the list has already been discussed.
Mallory Factor Here we encounter the only US citizen to receive the Golden Dolphin award, the citation reading “for his visionary role in partnering The Citadel with the Young Britons’ Foundation to foster ever closer Trans-Atlantic relationships”. The reference to “The Citadel” means The Military College Of South Carolina at Charleston, SC. Donal Blaney puts great store by the US armed forces, so this partnership is not surprising.
But that is not all that Mallory Factor brings to the table: he is a well-established contributor to Fox News Channel, which Blaney believes really is “fair and balanced”. Factor also cites an appearance on Rush Limbaugh’s radio show on his website, as well as another stance likely to find favour with the YBF’s head man: he is virulently anti-union. According to Factor, “Unions control America”. This is about freedom. And the YBF backs anyone when it comes to protecting its own definition of freedom.
Factor’s union phobia was brought to the UK when a group called the Trade Union Reform Campaign was launched. Its figurehead was the now former Tory MP Aidan Burley. Its head man was Mark Clarke.
Daniel Hannan MEP got his award “for the proud performance of his role as President of the Young Britons’ Foundation and for resolutely campaigning for British independence, the rule of law and democratic values”. As Britain is an independent nation, Hannan has an immediate problem with his citation. But being at variance with reality is something in which the merely nominally Conservative MEP revels.
Moreover, he has been all too willing to appear on media outlets like Fox News Channel to tell their viewers that legislation like the Obama administration’s health care reforms are A Very Bad Thing, somehow not realising that they are the culmination of those democratic values that he has supposedly been championing.
Worse, Hannan has made a number of statements about the Obama reforms, such as claiming that they amount to “A Government takeover of health care” and that they would herald the arrival of “death panels”, which are totally untrue. This is a problem for Hannan: he is claimed to be sincere in his claims, but so many of them turn out not to be true. Why Blaney should wish to honour this is most interesting.
David Jones MP garnered a Golden Dolphin “for having foreseen the disaster of Britain’s membership of the European Union by campaigning for a ‘no’ vote in 1975 and for proudly supporting the Young Britons’ Foundation from its earliest days to date”. For the YBF and Donal Blaney, the EU is anathema: he looks only across the North Atlantic to the USA. Hence his partnership with the likes of Hannan, and support for Jones, the latter also being opposed to same-sex marriage, another stance which finds favour at the YBF.
Exactly what campaigning Jones did prior to the 1975 referendum on Britain’s membership of what was then called the EEC is not clear: he did not hold elective office until after the turn of the Millennium.
Councillor Paul Osborn secured his award “for the sage advice in helping to shape the development of the Young Britons’ Foundation from its earliest days to date”. This is another way of saying that Osborn is Donal Blaney’s pal. That is all.
Eric Pickles MP, whose local Government revolution in Bradford went down so well that the Tories were booted out by the electorate at the first opportunity, with Pickles having to look 200 miles away to Brentwood and Ongar for his entry to Parliament, joined the Golden Dolphin club “for proudly standing by the Young Britons’ Foundation in its darkest hours and for his dedication to Thatcherite principles in public office”.
Pickles did indeed stand by the YBF when Blaney was first subject to the inspection of the press recently: the Guardian exposed many of the latter’s more interesting views, including the ritual rubbishing of the NHS, advocating US-style gun laws, approving of waterboarding, and the suggestion that protesters should be shot, although this last, we have since been told, was purely jocular in nature.
What “Thatcherite principles” Pickles is supposed to have dedicated himself towards is not known, although his populist streak, honoured more in word than in deed, may be what is being referred to.
Finally, Matthew Richardson was handed a Golden Dolphin award “for his unparalleled success as a fundraiser for the Young Britons’ Foundation and his dedication to the cause as Executive Director”. This will come as a surprise to those who heard Donal Blaney tell his friend, and LBC host, Iain Dale how he funded the YBF out of his own pocket. It will also provoke further questions as to where the fundraising takes place - whether in the UK, USA or elsewhere - and who is paying.
Richardson is also a contributor of legal advice to the YBF head, and is believed to have been behind the concept of serving an injunction via Twitter, this being used to stop someone who was trolling and spoofing Blaney. He has more recently been involved with UKIP, in which role he has been a controversial presence.
And those are the kinds of people valued most highly by The New Conservatism.