The Henry Jackson Society and the degeneration of British neoconservatism: Liberal interventionism, Islamophobia and the ‘War on Terror’

Tom Griffin, Hilary Aked, David Miller, Sarah Marusek

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Abstract

This report examines the history, activities and politics of the Henry Jackson Society
(HJS), which we argue is the leading exponent of neoconservatism in the UK today
grounded in a transatlantic tradition deeply influenced by Islamophobia and an open
embrace of the ‘War on Terror’.

Founded in 2005, the HJS based both its name and ideology on the interventionist US
Senator Henry Jackson, a Democrat with remarkably illiberal tendencies, and has followed a neoconservative trajectory not unlike the neoconservative movement’s counterpart in the United States. Thus while the society, initially based at Peterhouse College in Cambridge (UK) but later relocated to London, identifies itself as a bipartisan think tank, and a small number of Labour MPs did, in fact, sign up to the society’s initial Statement of Principles, Conservative male politicians and thinkers have long dominated its ranks. Furthermore, despite the founders’ refusal to identify as right-wing ideologues, the society’s agenda has repeatedly proven it to be just that.
This report details how the tradition of Henry Jackson inspired the neoconservative movement in the United States and Britain by bringing together interventionists from both sides of the political spectrum. However, it also shows how over time the movement eventually adopted a more conservative political agenda, especially in relation to its unflinching support for Israel and the promotion of increasingly Islamophobic policies, both domestically and internationally.

These tendencies became even more pronounced in the HJS when the society merged with the anti-Muslim think tank the Centre for Social Cohesion (CSC) in 2011, as well as absorbed many staff members of the now defunct pro-Israel media watchdog Just Journalism that same year. This consolidated the coup that led to the expulsion of most of the society’s more left-leaning or liberal members.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationGlasgow
PublisherPublic Interest Investigations
Commissioning bodyThe Cordoba Foundation
Number of pages80
ISBN (Electronic)978-0-9570274-4-2
ISBN (Print)978-0-9570274-4-2
Publication statusIn preparation - Sep 2015

Keywords

  • Neoconservatism
  • Think tanks
  • Islamophobia
  • Henry Jackson Society

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