[ 12 September 2018 ]

On this day in 2018 Conservative MEPs, representing Britain’s largest political party, were among a small minority in the European Parliament to back the far right Hungarian government of Victor Oban, during a crucial vote.  Since he was elected prime minister in 2010, Oban had closed down opposition newspapers, eroded judicial independence, strongly opposed LGBT rights, incited hatred of refugees as “Muslim invaders” and led an anti-Semitic campaign against the Jewish businessman George Soros.

Despite Conservative MEPs voting to block any measure which might damage Hungary’s prestige and influence within Europe, the members nevertheless voted by greater than a two thirds majority,  448-197, in favour of initiating the Article 7 process, which could eventually mean that the country is stripped of its voting rights in the European Council. The British Conservative MEPs were among a small minority determined not to allow considerations of freedom and justice influence them, especially since Oban had promised to support the British government in its Brexit negotiations.[1]


Lieutenant Colonel Johnny Cooper of the Special Air Service had been sent as part of a covert military operation to North Yemen. It’s purpose was to draw Egyptian forces stationed there into a war of attrition and thereby undermine the prestige and influence of Nasser’s Egypt, which was seen as a dangerous example of an Arab country defying the will of London and Washington.  Cooper found himself in charge of what he himself described as “a gang of criminals now nine strong who will do anything for money.”

On 12 September 1963 he reported that “our mining (of a dirt road outside a town garrisoned by Egyptian troops) has got the Wogs angry with the tribes south of the Jihannah-Sana’a road,” apparently delighted that the murder of Egyptian soldiers had provoked them into carrying out revenge attacks on near by tribes entirely innocent of the British instigated attacks.

By 24 September Cooper was even more exuberant, boasting “confirmed now 32 (Egyptians) killed, 18 wounded, 4 vehicles destroyed, one road demolished.” His liaison officer,  Peter de la-Billiere, who 30 years later was to become commander in chief of British forces during the Gulf War, wrote back “How’s yourself ? No doubt well and causing chaos as usual. Your last letters were a tonic, especially the accounts of the mining.”(2) Within weeks, the number of attacks were increased so that by 21 November Cooper was reporting 65 Egyptians killed, explaining that “the tempo is quickening towards all-out attacks on the Wogs.”(3)


  1. Jon Stone and Joe Watts, “Conservatives back far right government of Viktor Oban in crunch vote in European Parliament,” the Independent, 12 September 2018 accessed online at https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/viktor-orban-conservative-european-parliament-theresa-may-a8534401.html
  2. Duff Hart-Davis (2012), “The War That Never Was: The True Story of the Men Who Fought Britain’s Most Secret Battle,” Arrow Books,  London p82-85.
  3. Ibid, p116.

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