Atlantic Bridge: the Tory ‘think tank’ that defies Cameron’s ‘modernisation’

On Tuesday, Margaret Thatcher honoured Dr Henry Kissinger with her eponymous Medal of Freedomsomewhere in Knightsbridge, the exact location having been kept secret for security reasons. In return, Kissinger delivered the second Margaret Thatcher Lecture.

Baroness Thatcher, the charity’s patron, endowed the Medal of Freedom, along with a lecture in her name, to the Atlantic Bridge in 2007. It is the main event in the Atlantic Bridge calendar, with seats priced at £400 and £750. The first recipient was Rudolph Giuliani, whose meeting Thatcher was regarded as an important stage in his ill-fated campaign for US president. His talk raised more than £50,000.

Founded by Liam Fox and with shadow cabinet members George Osborne, William Hague, Chris Grayling and Michael Gove on its advisory board, the Atlantic Bridge is one of the best connected Tory think tanks and is dedicated to “the simple aim of strengthening the special relationship exemplified by the Reagan-Thatcher partnership of the 1980s.”

It also stands in the way of Cameron’s attempts to modernise the Conservative Party.

In 2006, Cameron apologised for his party’s stance on apartheid. Defending South Africa from sanctions had been a flagship policy of the Reagan-Thatcher partnership. Many hoped he would go further, owning up to other Reagan-Thatcher mistakes such as sponsoring the TalibanSaddam Hussein and General Pinochet.

Oxymoronic at best, at worst the Margaret Thatcher Medal of Freedom is a grave insult to the victims of those regimes.

Top Tories also remain blind the corruption of the Thatcher years. It should be remembered that while many of us were giving pocket money to Live Aid, Britain’s aid budget was being used not to boost development, but to subsidise the arms trade and businesses who donated to the Conservative Party. And Thatcher went further, using overseas aid money to support the career of her arms dealer son, a man who may not enter the USA because he has been convicted of a terrorism-related offence.

Money raised by the Atlantic Bridge is used to help top Conservatives bond and plot with their allies on the Republic’s radical right. Yet this think tank, which has yet to publish a single thought, claims to be a charity and currently receives generous tax relief on donations.
This article was orginally published on Labour List
Posts on the Atlantic Bridge are collected here.

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