South African-raised MP accuses Tories of ‘craven indulgence’ to apartheid rulers

But Labour’s Peter Hain praises David Cameron for apology over Conservatives’ record

Peter Hain pays tribute to  Nelson Mandela, in the House of Commons. “It may seem odd to a younger generation that apartheid survived as long as it did, given that now it seems to have been universally reviled the world over,” he said. Photograph: PA

Peter Hain pays tribute to Nelson Mandela, in the House of Commons. “It may seem odd to a younger generation that apartheid survived as long as it did, given that now it seems to have been universally reviled the world over,” he said. Photograph: PA

Tue, Dec 10, 2013, 01:00


The Conservatives in Britain showed “a craven indulgence” over the years to South Africa’s apartheid rulers, former Northern Ireland secretary and anti-apartheid campaigner, Peter Hain, told the House of Commons.

“It may seem odd to a younger generation that apartheid survived as long as it did, given that now it seems to have been universally reviled the world over,” said Mr Hain, during a day of tributes by MPs to the late Nelson Mandela.

Mr Hain praised prime minister David Cameron for apologising for his party’s record, but “it really does stick in the craw” to hear people such as former Cabinet minister, Norman Tebbit claim “that their complicity with apartheid – and that’s what I think it was – somehow brought about its end”.


Lip service
Meanwhile, former prime minister Margaret Thatcher accused Commonwealth countries of paying “lip service” to the anti-apartheid campaign with their call for sanctions in a letter in 1985 to the South African president, PW Botha.

Following a “bad-tempered” Commonwealth meeting in the Bahamas, Mrs Thatcher wrote a long and detailed letter to Mr Botha, though she began by emphasising the need to keep its contents to himself.

“I shall continue to resist sanctions because I believe they are wrong and because it is in Britain’s interest to do so,” she declared.

However, she pushed strongly for Mr Mandela’s release: “I continue to believe, as I have said to you before, that the release of Nelson Mandela would have more impact than almost any single action you could undertake.”

Meanwhile, former British prime minister Gordon Brown, in a rare speech to the Commons, said Mr Mandela had been “the man who taught us that no injustice can last forever”, but also “the greatest man of his generation”.

“As long as Mandela was alive, you knew that even in the worst disasters, there was someone there standing between us and the elements who represented goodness and nobility,” Mr Brown told MPs.