Fox on the Run

Patrick Scott predicts that the fox hunting season is not over just yet.

imageIt all started out as a trickle of allegations against Liam Fox and Adam Werrity. Very soon the trickle turned into a flood and on 14 October, barely more than a week after the allegations were aired throughout the media Liam Fox had resigned as Defence Secretary. And even now there could be a lot more political dirt to emerge from this affair. With the notable exception of The Guardian whose investigative journalism had unearthed all this, the response of much of the bourgeois press has been to put all this down to personal failings on the part of both individuals. Liam Fox so we are told allowed the distinction between governmental and personal boundaries to be blurred in his dealings with Adam Werrity. Adam Werrity so we are also told was a Walter Mitty character who used his political relationship with Liam Fox for personal gain. And so on. Whether true or false, all this secondary. What is most relevant are the politics behind all this.

Both Fox and Werrity are firmly on the right of wing of the Conservative Party and until his resignation Fox was arguably the most right wing member of the cabinet. As such Fox and Werrity are both committed Atlanticists, committed to Britain’s alliance with US imperialism as a junior partner of the latter. Not that within Britain Atlanticism is solely the preserve of the Conservative Party. Once in power New Labour showed that it could be just as Atlanticist when it joined forces with the US to invade Iraq in 2003. The Atlanticism of Liam Fox though led him to be instrumental in the creation of the organisation, Atlantic Bridge in 1997. Though ostensibly non-political its purpose was to facilitate co-operation through conferences, seminars etc. between the Conservative right in Britain and the Republican right in the US. But this was no fringe organisation; Margaret Thatcher served as its honorary patron and Atlantic Bridge received lavish funding from wealthy benefactors. Furthermore the likes of Michael Gove, George Osborne, and William Hague had served on its advisory board. Though for all its ‘non-political’ aims Atlantic Bridge no longer exists In Britain. Originally registered as a charity it became subject to a Charity Commission inquiry and ultimately dissolved itself rather than confine its aims to strictly charitable objectives as ordered to do so by the Charity Commission.

In the US though Atlantic Bridge was formed as an offshoot of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC); a well funded lobbying organisation that campaigns for ‘business friendly’ legislation at the state and federal level. Amongst other things ALEC has in recent times opposed environmental and health care reform legislation so hardly surprisingly has received substantial funding from the oil and pharmaceutical industries. Generally speaking those in the US who have given financial support to ALEC and Atlantic Bridge are also those who are now giving the same support to the Tea Party movement. These are the forces in US politics that Liam Fox has aligned himself with politically, who even today make many in Britain’s Conservative Party look tame by comparison. Or to put it differently Liam Fox is in many ways a political conduit for US neoconservative politics into the Conservative Party.

Liam Fox may be down but he is not necessarily out. David Cameron and others stood by him almost to the very end and Fox only resigned when he had effectively been exposed as a liar. But Fox’s crime in the eyes of his peers may only be that he allowed himself to be found out. In the last government Peter Mandelson could be rehabilitated politically not once but twice after having resigned from the cabinet in disgrace. Assuming no further political dirt is uncovered involving him there is no reason why Liam Fox might not undergo a similar rehabilitation and return to the cabinet in a few years’ time. The saga of Liam Fox and Adam Werrity is far from over.

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