Down Among the Bohemian Right

Working for the Salisbury Review is rather like joining a friendly interest club

Working for the Salisbury Review is rather like joining a friendly interest club where everyone shares your fundamental beliefs so you are not afraid to speak your mind because there would be only aimiable criticism or agreement instead of a torrent of PC drenched disapproval. Our circle of friends expanded globally to meet believers (as Roger called them) and many of the contributors and subscribers we met were extraordinary ordinary people who had had interesting and adventurous lives. As my title suggests very few of them were conventional Conservatives of the rent- a-standing-ovation variety. A few made it to the obituaries column, notably Mervyn Matthews and Tristan Jones. David Twiston- Davies of the Telegraph’s obituaries remarked that the lives of the relatively unknown and eccentric should be recorded as they are often more interesting than the obviously eminent.

I started working for The Salisbury Review before the technology, especially email, attachments and so on, caught on and as a result talked and wrote to many more people by phone or letter. On my first day I had to photocopy a large bunch of articles which took the whole day but this apparent drudgery didn’t matter because interesting visitors came into the office and shared your concerns about the state of the nation and world. In those days the Salisbury Group had regular meetings which had been set up by the then Marquess of Salisbury and Diana Spearman, a formidable but wonderful eighty something who had worked in Central Office and had engaged Roger as Editor. Both Lord and Lady Salisbury were very supportive of the Review and Molly Salisbury, also a doyenne of causes, continued to read it until her death. Diana became my mentor in the bewildering world of the intellectual right and when she died in 1991, I wondered whether I would be able to cope without her. She introduced me to Enoch Powell who was the most courteous person I have met – he always personally answered telephone calls. He came to dinner to our home with others of the righteous and later on I organised a fund-raising dinner at which both he and Roger spoke on Decadence. The Salisbury Group promoted both Claridge Press and the magazine and meetings were held in the house of Richard Sykes who had been the solicitor at the Daily Telegraph. He was a very good friend to the Review and also to me when I was accused of racism by the Magistrates’ authorities – I had not long been one – when I had joined Ray Honeyford in setting up a ginger group to campaign against multi-culturalism in schools. My ‘crime’ was picked up by the Guardian, but I was eventually exonerated after 18 months of occasional columns in the Guardian and letters from the Lord Chancellor’s office which seemed to coincide with the arrival of the Guardian column. Ray was the first of several ‘martyrs’ who dared to air their contrary views in the Review and was followed by several other victims like Jonathan Savery who was sacked from teaching for daring to write an article in the Review entitled Anti- racism as Witchcraft; thereafter he became a taxi driver and then took up a teaching post in Saudi-Arabia. Roger of course was deprived of an Oxbridge chair because of his brilliantly articulated views.

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