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12 November 2009

Kissinger has come to town

By Stephen Newton

For all David Cameron’s attempts to modernise his party, many Tories still hold a candle for the Reagan-Thatcher years. On 10 November, Henry Kissinger received the Margaret Thatcher Medal of Freedom from The Atlantic Bridge, a purportedly non-partisan charity founded by shadow defence secretary Liam Fox.

Dedicated to “the simple aim of strengthening the special relationship exemplified by the Reagan-Thatcher partnership of the 1980s”, The Atlantic Bridge advisory board includes several members of the shadow cabinet, including George Osborne, William Hague, Chris Grayling and Michael Gove. The charity has helped Tories meet their US allies, and came to prominence this summer when its US members launched scathing attacks on the NHS. Other activities have included supporting the US launch of one of William Hague’s books.

Baroness Thatcher, the charity’s patron, endowed the medal and the annual lecture in her name to the Atlantic Bridge in 2007. The cheap seats at this year’s event, at which Kissinger delivered a lecture, cost £400. Priority seating was available at an extra £350.

Yet the party may soon be over. Following allegations that it is not politically neutral, the organisation is being probed by the Charity Commission. One can only hope the Kissinger lecture boosted spirits. Things may be downhill from here.

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