Henry Jackson Society
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The Henry Jackson Society (HJS) is a British neoconservative think tank devoted to protecting the west from China, Russia, and the menace of Islam. It is named after Henry M. Jackson (1912–1983), a hawkish, red-baiting US Democrat politician.
A 2015 paper from the University of Bath called the HJS "the leading exponent of neoconservatism in the UK today". It has links to the UK Conservative Party and government figures, particularly Michael Gove. It has been accused of Islamophobia, due to alarmist comments about Islamist infiltration of British universities and links with prominent anti-Muslim figures like Douglas Murray.
The society has been criticised for many things, including a lack of transparency about its funding and undemocratic organisation. One of its known sources of funding is that it received money from the Japanese government to publish anti-Chinese propaganda. Although registered as a charity in England, it has always been opaque about its sources of income.
Henry Martin "Scoop" Jackson was a Congressman and later Senator from Washington state, serving from 1941 until his death in 1983. He was known for two things: one was environmentalism, as a key figure behind the National Environmental Policy Act, with the other thing being his opposition to communism.
Henry Jackson Society
The think tank was founded in Cambridge, England in 2005. The details of its foundation are the subject of some dispute, but Matthew Jamison claimed the first meeting was held at Peterhouse College in late 2004. Its name was selected as signaling a bipartisan position, because Jackson was a Democrat who was nonetheless firmly anti-communist. It was formally launched in 2005, with an event in Cambridge on 15 June, and another at the UK Parliament on 22 November; the latter event was hosted by Michael Gove and Gisela Stuart (Stuart was then a Labour MP, and subsequently became known for her support for Brexit).
It was set up with a statement of principles which received 28 signatures, including four Conservative MPs, Gove, Michael Ancram, Ed Vaizey, and David Willetts, and three Labour MPs, Stuart, Denis MacShane, and Jackie Lawrence. Signatories also included several historians including Andrew Roberts, and various journalists mostly associated with The Times, plus top spy Richard Dearlove (of MI6) and Charles Powell (a key foreign policy advisor of Margaret Thatcher). International patrons included leading neocons Richard Perle and William Kristol, NATO General Jack Sheehan, and former CIA director James Woolsey.
In 2011 HJS merged with the Centre for Social Cohesion (CSC), described by Griffin et al as an "anti-Muslim think tank", and shortly afterwards with pro-Israel "media watchdog" Just Journalism, resulting in a move rightwards.
- Alan Mendoza is as of 2022 the Executive Director, a position he held since its founding. In 2015 he stood as a parliamentary candidate for the Conservative Party.
- Sam Armstrong joined in 2018 and as of 2022 is Director of Communications.
- Brendan Simms, co-founder and original President.
- Matthew Jamison, co-founder, former chairman of the Cambridge University Conservative Association and a researcher for pro-European Conservative MP Oliver Letwin.
- James M Rogers, co-founder, and assistant to two Labour MPs, Jackie Lawrence and Tony Wright.
- Gideon Mailer, a relative of Norman Mailer and himself a Cambridge historian.
- Douglas Murray served as associate director in the 2010s.
- William Shawcross, a former director, later at the Charity Commission.
Its funding is mysterious; in 2014 it was forced to stop funding groups in the UK parliament after it refused to disclose its sources of income. It is known to have received substantial sums from the pro-Israel Stanley Kalms foundation, and the American Nina Rosenwald, a Sears Roebuck heiress who also funded the Gatestone Institute which published material by Douglas Murray and Geert Wilders.
In the 2010s, it emerged that the HJS had been paid £10,000 per month by the Japanese government of right-wing politician Shinzo Abe to produce anti-Chinese propaganda. One article was placed in the Daily Telegraph and credited to former foreign secretary Malcolm Rifkind despite being largely written by the HJS. The article suggested that the Chinese could be planning to sabotage a British nuclear power plant for which they were providing funding. It was investigated by the Charities Commission, but they ultimately took no action; coincidentally the chair of the Charities Commission, William Shawcross, was a former member of the HJS.
The HJS has close links to the British Conservative Party. In 2020, Open Democracy reported that it had received £83,452.32 from the Home Office in 2015-17 to research Islamism in Britain, while it had since 2013 given £12,000 to politicians including £2500 to Priti Patel and £2764 to Michael Gove, and supplied a staff member to Sajid Javid.
Right from the start it was criticised as an attempt to bring neoconservative ideas into British politics: former Labour adviser David Clark suggested it was an attempt to preserve the section of the British Labour Party that had supported Tony Blair's involvement in the messy 2003 invasion of Iraq.
Marko Attila Hoare, a historian and former member, quit in 2012, noting that most of its founders had left or been forced out, and the remainder of HJS was highly undemocratic. He characterised it:
No longer is it a centrist, bipartisan think-tank seeking to promote democratic geopolitics through providing sober, objective and informed analysis to policy-makers. Instead, it has become an abrasively right-wing forum with an anti-Muslim tinge, churning out polemical and superficial pieces by aspiring journalists and pundits that pander to a narrow readership of extreme Europhobic British Tories, hardline US Republicans and Israeli Likudniks.
Hoare criticised the HJS's lack of democracy, accusing it of "cronyism and intrigue" with Mendoza holding sole power.
In 2017, co-founder Matthew Jamison produced a savage critique of what the Henry Jackson Society had become, calling the organisation "racist" and "corrupt", and "a far-right, deeply anti-Muslim racist organisation, run in the most dictatorial, corrupt and undemocratic fashion and utilized as a propaganda outfit to smear other cultures, religions and ethnic groups".
Jamison said of Executive Director Alan Mendoza:
It is well known to many in the London foreign policy community and Cambridge academic circles that Alan Mendoza is a deeply untrustworthy, compulsive pathological liar, who revels in lying and creating mischief. As Senator Bernie Sanders said of President Trump: "This guy lies all the time." Indeed, I and other former colleagues of the HJS had been warned about him by other Cambridge academics, as we became involved with the founding of the HJS. In a way I pity Alan Mendoza for it is clear to anyone with an understanding of human psychology that Mr. Mendoza suffers from deep seated insecurities and an extremely over-inflated and fragile ego; is power crazed obviously due to feeling powerless at certain stages of his life; and not someone who anybody of any integrity and sound judgement should have dealings with.
It has been accused of deeply anti-Muslim sentiment, including in 2015 by Spinwatch and The Cordoba Initiative. In 2011 it merged with the Centre for Social Cohesion (CSC), also condemned by Spinwatch as anti-Islamic. The HJS has produced a series of reports alleging Islamist infiltration of British universities, claiming in 2020 that "British university campuses are breeding grounds of Islamic extremism".
In May 2009 it hosted a speech by Siv Jensen, leader of the right-wing Norwegian Progress Party (Fremskrittspartiet), who made inaccurate claims about sharia courts being established in the UK. Around 2010 it set up an initiative called Student Rights supposedly to combat the Islamist influence on British campuses; this was led by Raheem Kassam, who was editor-in-chief of Breitbart News London from 2014-18.
- Griffin, T., Aked, H., Miller, D., & Marusek, S. (2015). The Henry Jackson Society and the degeneration of British neoconservatism: Liberal interventionism, Islamophobia and the ‘War on Terror’. Public Interest Investigations.
- Factsheet: Henry Jackson Society, Bridge Initiative Team, Georgetown U, 13 Jun 2018
- Rightwing thinktank pulls funds for Commons groups after disclosure row, The Guardian, 30 Dec 2014
- The racist corrupt Henry Jackson Society, Matthew Jamison, LinkedIn, 18 Feb 2017
- Alan Mendoza’s putsch in the Henry Jackson Society, Marko Hoare, 13 August 2012
- Revealed: UK Home Office paid £80,000 to a lobby group which has funded Conservative MPs, Open Democracy, 14 July 2020
- The neoconservative temptation beckoning Britain's bitter liberals, David Clark, The Guardian, 21 Nov 2005
- Meet the Team, Henry Jackson Society, accessed 20 May 2022
- Alan Mendoza, Henry Jackson Society, accessed 20 May 2022
- Mrs May and MI5, Matthew Jamison, Strategic Culture, 25 August 2016
- Charity Commission looking into the Henry Jackson Society, Third Sector, 15 Feb 2017