8 NOVEMBER 2003, Page 40

Fascists and Falangists

From Robert Key MP (Conservative) Sir: In his trenchant review of the state of the Conservative party (The cult of treachery', 1 November), Peter Oborne makes two assertions that need qualifying.

He claims that in the 1930s the Conservative party, along with the monarchy and the established Church, helped Britain resist the murderous ideologies of fascism and communism. But he should not forget that while Mosley's Blackshirts marched through Salisbury (as I will be reminded on Sunday in the Royal British Legion club by those who watched them), Perthshire Conservatives deselected their brave MP, the Duchess of Atholl, because she supported the democrats in Spain while the official party line was to support the dictator Franco.

Secondly, far from being extraordinarily simple, the purpose of the Anglican Church is immensely complex. Following Elizabeth I's brilliant settlement with the Church in England, drawing together the traditions of the Celtic Church, St Augustine's mission, the acceptable face of the Roman Church and resistance to the extremism of Europe's hotter Protestants, the Church of England marched

forward in step with social change — and into the world of empire and the Anglican communion. Tolerance and flexibility are far from easy for theologians — hence the current difficulties of the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Leading from the centre, Michael Howard will regain our party's winning values of loyalty, discipline, tolerance and respect. Similarly, Rowan Williams is the right man for the job, even though the Church of England may have to go it alone again, until the rest of the Anglican communion catches up.

Robert Key

London SWl