Centre for Contemporary Studies

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Group.png Centre for Contemporary StudiesRdf-icon.png

The Centre for Contemporary Studies was an allegedly 'independent' London based think-tank headed by Eric Moonman after he lost his seat in the House of Commons in the 1979 General Election. It seems to have been an early nexus of terrorology in the UK as it included Paul Wilkinson on its advisory board[1] and published reports by Yonah Alexander. The organisation was officially formed on 11 January 1983 and dissolved on 3 March 1992.

Origins and personnel

The Centre for Contemporary Studies was set up as a UK company on 11 January 1983, but was active prior to its incorporation. Eric Moonman’s profile on Who’s Who states that he was Director of the Centre from 1979; and it had already developed a media presence by 1981.[2] Another source which confirms its earlier existence is the CV of Peter Bradley, who says he was the Centre's research director from 1979 until 1985. Peter Bradley went on to direct the PR companies Good Relations and Millbank Consultants[3] and later became a Labour MP in 1997.

At its official incorporation in January 1983, the organisation had six executives: Eric Moonman, a former MP and Zionist activist; Frederick Willey, a former chairman of the Select Committee on Race Relations and Immigration; Hilde Himmelweit, a German social psychologist considered an expert on the social impact of television; Philip Mishon a board members of the Board of Deputies of British Jews; David Price, a Conservative MP, and John Friend, a university professor.

Activities

The Centre published a number of reports on violence and social disorder in the early to mid-1980s. It had a particular preoccupation firstly with race relations and later with football hooliganism and terrorism. Moonman recalled in 1987 ‘a series of reports...dealing with football violence, and Fascist recruitment in schools and at rock concerts, undertaken by the Centre of Contemporary Studies, all stressing the seriousness of such action committed against a background of public interest and viewing participation.’[4]

The group’s first activities appear to have been Eric Moonman’s investigation of the riots of 1981. He later recalled visiting ‘trouble centres’ immediately after the riots where he interviewed young people and became convinced of the role of television in spreading the disturbances.[5] In November when Lord Scarman published the report on the Brixton riots, the Centre for Contemporary Studies was listed as having provided written evidence to the inquiry.[6] Scarman would later author a foreword to Moonman's book The Violent Society, which included a contribution from Paul Wilkinson, a member of the Centre for Contemporary Studies' Advisory Board.[7]

In May 1981 the centre published a report 'The Nazi's are in the Playground' According to BBC Nationwide it 'claim[ed] extreme right-wing groups are recruiting school children & authorities are unable to control the situation.' The BBC interviewed Moonman on this on Nationwide. BBC archive records state that he 'discusses young racism increasing 50% in 2 yrs; subtle strategies used; importance of process for future of N.F; accuses N.U.T of indifference, and gives Centre's proposals.[8] Later in 1981 a further report on the role of neo-fascist groups in music led to an interview with Joan Bakewell on Newsnight. According to BBC archives Moonman 'welcomes declaration by group "Madness" that they have nothing to do with National Front and British Movement; extreme right see concerts as a potential market for their magazines.[9]

Several of the reports published by the Centre appear to have been the result of seminars and conferences.

Funding

The Centre had a relatively low budget of around £15,000 a year (although obviously that would have been more in the 1980s). Little is known about how the group was funded although the London property tycoon Nam Dangoor is known to have sponsored a seminar on Federalism in the Middle East held by the Centre for Contemporary Studies at Anthony’s College Oxford in 1985.[10]

Members and associates

Note on Enoch Powell

The Papers of Enoch Powell stored at the Churchill Archives Centre include correspondence between Powell and Eric Moonman in his role as head of the Centre. The correspondence occurred some time between October 1981 and December 1986 and was probably an offer by Moonman for either an interview or an article which Powell rejected.[12]

Publications

  • Eric Moonman, Copy-cat hooligans (London: Centre for Contemporary Studies, 1981)
  • Yonah Alexander, Centre for Contemporary Studies, University of Aberdeen.; et al, Terrorism and the news media: conference papers (London: Centre for Contemporary Studies, 1983)
  • Anti-semitism, Zionism: the link: a report of the 1984 London and Oxford symposium
  • Football as a focus for disorder (London: Centre for Contemporary Studies, 1984)
  • Peter Bradley, Eldon Wylie Griffiths and Gerald Kaufman, A review of community policing: a special report (London: Centre for Contemporary Studies, 1984)
  • E G H Joffé and Jonathan Frankel, Beyond the Middle East conflict: a future for federalism? (London: Centre for Contemporary Studies, 1985)
  • Yonah Alexander, State sponsored terrorism: low intensity warfare (London: Centre for Contemporary Studies, 1986)
  • Sir Raymond Hoffenberg, The health service and race: the CCS winter lecture 1985 presented at the Royal Society of Arts (London: Centre for Contemporary Studies, 1986)
  • Eric Moonman, Stars of today: talking, living, working and playing together (London: Centre for Contemporary Studies, 1986)

Terrorism

United Press International on publication of State sponsored terrorism in 1986:

If left unchecked, international terrorism may succeed 'in altering the balance of power on the international level,' a strategic studies research professor warned Wednesday. Yonah Alexander of Georgetown University in Washington accused the Soviet Union, Libya, Syria, Iran and Cuba of running full-fledged terrorist networks, 80 percent of which are 'Marxist-Leninist in their political thinking.' In a publication entitled State-sponsored Terrorism, compiled for the London-based Center for Contemporary Studies, Alexander contended Cuba backs terrorists to try to bring down existing regimes in Latin America and said its 'major role in promoting trans-Marxist terrorism ... is expanding.' 'Many of the important functions of Havana, the regional headquarters, now are being transferred to Nicaragua. From here, an expansion is being consolidated into El Salvador and other neighboring countries with a view toward eventually covering all of Latin America,' said Alexander. He gave no sourcing for the statements.[13]


References

  1. Notes on Contributors in Eric Moonman, The Violent Society (London: Routledge, 1987)
  2. NATIONWIDE May 11, 1981 Archive : BBC Item Title : NATIONAL FRONT IN SCHOOLS Item Duration : 00:05:10 Catalogue :LONPROGCatalogue Page : 10221453
  3. BBC Vote 2001, Candidate:Peter Bradley, (accessed 18 July 2008)
  4. Eric Moonman, The Violent society (London: F. Cass, 1987) p.6
  5. Eric Moonman, The Violent society (London: F. Cass, 1987) p.6
  6. 1981/82 Cmnd. 8427 Home Office; Brixton Disturbances Inquiry: The Brixton Disorders 10-12 April 1981. Report of an inquiry by the Rt. Hon. Lord Scarman, p.157
  7. Notes on Contributors in Eric Moonman, The Violent Society (London: Routledge, 1987)
  8. NATIONWIDE May 11, 1981 Archive : BBC Item Title : NATIONAL FRONT IN SCHOOLS Item Duration : 00:05:10 Catalogue :LONPROGCatalogue Page : 10221453
  9. NEWSNIGHT, Aug 03, 1981, Archive: BBC Item Duration: 00:10:30.000+01:00 Item Title: ROCK & THE RIGHT Catalogue Page:966372
  10. Naim Dangoor, ‘Peace is not enough’, The Scribe, January 1992
  11. Notes on Contributors in Eric Moonman, The Violent Society (London: Routledge, 1987)
  12. The Papers of Enoch Powell 1968–1998
  13. ‘Researcher predicts terrorism increase’, United Press International, 25 June 1986