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Brexit Party’s Red-Brown Claire Fox, “Fascist scum…you should be driven off the estate”?

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Image result for claire fox ann widdecombe

Claire Fox with Clenched Fist at the Red Brown Front.

“Si la signification d’un ‘nous;’ ainsi maintenu ou reconstitué se transforma au point de désigner ‘les Français’ opposés aux ‘étrangers’, plutôt que les ‘ouvriers; opposes aux bourgeois…. si l’opposition entre ‘ouvriers aux ‘bourgeois’ perdurant sous la forme d’une opposition entre ‘gens d’en bas’ et ’gens d’en haut…”

If the meaning of a “we” is kept in this way, or transformed to the degree to put the “French” against the “foreigners”, rather than the workers against the bourgeoisie, if the opposition between workers and bourgeois is still there, it’s between those at the “top” and those “down below”….

Didier Eribon. Retour à Reims. (1)

Claire Fox is unhappy. The former Revolutionary Communist Party activist now a Spiked stalwart and MEP for the Brexit Party, has suffered from name-calling. She is a “fascist”. She a” neo Nazi fascist apologist”. She merits threats. She is under the menace of potential physical violence. These claims look real and should be considered as such.

Returning home to my flat in Haringey recently, after a long trip back from Strasbourg, I was approached by a self-proclaimed Corbyn supporter I’ve never met, who screamed a torrent of abuse at me. “Fascist scum…you should be driven off the estate”. He kept on and on, screaming at the top of his voice, that I was a racist. (Just in case of any doubt – I’m not). He was on a bike, it was late at night in the dark and he cycled directly at me twice, to ensure his message was delivered close-up and personal. Eventually he cycled off yelling my name and inviting neighbours to get me kicked out of my house. I admit I was shaken and scared, but also frustrated and indignant at being accused of holding the type of political ideas I have spent a lifetime opposing.

An invitation to carry on insulting me and my fellow Brexiteers

The Moral Maze radio programme regular, and frequent television contributor has defended herself in other ways. Fox says that she is not only far from the extreme right but a  “lifelong anti-racist and anti-fascist.” Fox has even been known to self-identify as a “lefty”, however much she  recoils from “social justice warriors.”

The life-long anti-fascist is, as we’ve seen,  a MEP for the Brexit Party. Its  leader, Nigel Farage addressed in 2017 the far-right German AFD party and got a standing ovation. While he has other allies in Europe, and has backed a variety of causes, including the centre-right Catalan nationalists call to break up Spain, Farage’s best-known loyalty is to Donald Trump. Fox’s BP comrades include Anne Widdecombe, not widely regarded as on the left, and a host of more dubious characters. The party is the personal property of Farage, not a democratic organisation. His latest interventions include a defence of British Public Schools, which he sees as a private business success.

Fox’s defence of the rights of those who voted to leave the European Union knows few bounds, particularly against Parliament. She has cited Shelly’s Masque of Anarchy, comparing them to the Peterloo Martyrs. 

There is an ideology behind this. The former leader of the Revolutionary Communist Party, Frank Furedi wrote in 2014,

Until the ideals of popular democracy are reconstituted, the way ahead will be strewn with the casualties of the symbolic struggles of the dominant classes. More often the Culture Wars will not have direct physical and material consequences. Their main accomplishment is to exacerbate the fragmentation of social experience through the consolation of segmented lifestyles. (2)

Furedi and his comrades now claim that Brexit is demand for popular democracy.

Hoe can we understand this? In Didier Eribon’s Retour à Reims the biographer of Foucault talked of how class struggles had faded. The left had abandoned the workers in favour of diverse causes launched around the “sujet autonome” – which we may freely translate as a basis for the clashing demands of the Culture Wars. The socially liberal left even preferred indirect political participation and the professionalisation of politics rather than direct democratic control.

Erbion asserted that this turn of the left has opened the way for those “from below” to revolt through the ballot box. The tool a section of former left-wing voters from the working class sized on was to back a party, the Front National that stood for an “us” against the foreigners. This was the assertion of themselves as the legitimate inhabitants of the land, rooted in the “somewhere” where they lived rather than where they worked. It has resulted in a political – votes cast – convergence between the former industrial heartlands of the French Communist Party and Socialists, and the long-standing reactionary, Catholic traditionalist and fascist, constituencies.

It is not difficult to see a parallel with the Brexit Party vote, bringing together traditional middle Tories concentrated in the South and East of England, the patriotic working class and some of the Northern ‘left behind’.

In France the Front National, now rebranded as the Rassemblement National, gets the support of a majority of those defined as working class. This vote is not stable; it is not the result of any serious transfer of ex-Communist activists to the far right. The RN has a small  formal membership around 25,000), and nothing like the paramilitary strength of the pre-War extreme right. . The act of voting – in protest and in voicing an identity against those at the “top” and the foreigners” for the far right created a new “historical bloc” behind the RN. It is far from stable. The process of disengagement from formal democratic participation forms the backdrop to the Gilets Jaunes. This movement expressing popular discontent, led by figures from all over the place, from the Rassemblement National, some of the left, with a violent fringe spearheaded by post-autonomist black blocs and the hard-right arose in the political void – the collapse of the French left –  to confront Macron’s ‘progressivism’  

Erbion, unlike many who pontificate about the ‘left behind’ does not just outline a decline in traditional class struggle. He identified dismantling the welfare state, as a major cause. Taking apart legislation for social protection (hiring and firing) and the redistributive function of taxation weakened the social solidarity that held workers to the left. Macron, like Blair and Brown, is a proponent of welfare ‘reform’ to make France globally competitive.

Furedi, by contrast, has already (2014) accepted that social security was a drag on society. The left had been confronted with the “realisation that an ever-expanding public sector deficit was a burden that could not be indefinitely ignored.” Spiked, which we can safely treat as a political tendency, is in favour of lifting this ‘burden’ still further, to foster the virtues of courage and experimentation, not welfare. The “risk-taking” that they promote is transparent code for the entrepreneurs of the self that Nigel Farage finds in Trump’s America. The string of their bow, from which they shoot out attacks on young environmentalists, is made from the same pro-business cord. (3)

Claire Fox, and her friends publicly indulge in the identity politics of Blue Labour, mourning the erosion of working class community. But they rail against ‘intersectionality’ which tries to create a community of movements for the rights of oppressed groups. There is, it seems, an exception, 

So-called anti-Brexit anti-racists are creating a moral distance between those who they proclaim to be righteous and those stereotyped as inferior creatures. They are legitimising the perception of other types of people as less than human.

There is only one communal focus which they really favour, nations, “National sovereignty is not simply about waving the flag, it’s about understanding that only through the institutions of a nation state can you have a sense of control over your destiny and hold your leaders and politicians to account. It is only in this terrain that democracy has any real meaning.” (4)

Spiked go further. This is the ground of national populism – the belief that the people, in a nation – stand ready to seize control over politics, against the “elite”, which frustrates sovereignty through ‘globalism’. Fox is prominent amongst those who mobilise what Eribon calls the “negative passions” of those who find in the Brexit Party’s anti-EU politics against the “oligarchs” which deny democracy. But as Retour à Reims discovered, at the author’s place of birth and inside his former Communist voting family, the xenophobic hatred that lights their fervour, is never far away. NObody could possibly ignore the hatred of foreigners, from the Top (‘Brussels’) to migrants,  that stood behind a big slice of the Brexit vote. Nobody can ignore that the Brexit Party’s plans to ;take back control’ meant taking something from ‘them’ and giving it to us, the crew of rich business people and their mob followers, as well as the “folks” that Farage talks of. 

In its alliance with the Brexit Party and its other vehicles, such as the Full Brexit, Spiked is a Red-Brown Front, a bloc that draws on left-wing sounding rhetoric (borrowed in part from their own Marxist past) about the privileged elite and class, only to bring their audience to the fold of extreme right national populism. The cure for everything is sovereignty, an abstraction floating in the air, captured by demagogues. Fox has no cause to complain if people dislike her prominent role in this manoeuvre. We accept her invitation, ” you have my permission: carry on insulting me and my fellow Brexiteers. It is an ugly, necessary reality, but it is preferable to censorship.”

We will.

 

****

  1. Page 135. Retour à Reims. Didier Eribon. Champs. 2009/2018 Edition.
  2. Page 243. First World War. Still no End in Sight. Frank Furedi. Bloomsbury 2014. . First World War
  3. Pages 169 – 70
  4. Sovereignty post Brexit: an interview with Frank Furedi  ANDY SHAW & FRANK FERUDI   /  7 SEPTEMBER 2017

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Written by Andrew Coates

October 6, 2019 at 12:07 pm

3 Responses

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  1. What’s Fox bleating about? I thought threats didn’t matter to the ex-RCP: https://www.spiked-online.com/2019/10/01/thigh-gate-and-death-threats-the-sad-spectacle-of-victimhood/

    Jim Denham

    October 7, 2019 at 12:22 pm

  2. Considering they called for riots to back Brexit, what banter do they expect?

    Andrew Coates

    October 7, 2019 at 1:23 pm

  3. […] Also here the Trotskyite, 1970’s flashback goes wild about the red brown front that is the Brexit Party. He seems delighted that  former Revolutionary Communist Party activist  Clare Fox has been called ‘fascist scum’. Apparently a neighbour of hers said “Fascist scum…you should be driven off the estate”. Typical socialists! They are so intolerant. How can a communist be a fascist? Of course, what might be getting the bourgeois left’s guile is the fact that amongst Brexiteers Communists and Capitalists can get on and work together for the common good while the pro brexit, elitists of the left can’t help but fight amongst themselves. Which is why Labour are unelectable. Of course once we’re out of that poverty creating, big business supporting, exploitative, anti democratic, dictatorship that bears down on the workers from their ivory towers in Brussels, the Brexit Party won’t have a common course, start fighting amongst themselves and be seen as much of an incohesive rabble of the misfits they are as the Labour Party is. Therefore it is imperative that the next General Election leads to a Conservative majority. […]


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