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Posts Tagged ‘Brexit Party

Spiked Network’s New Front: “Don’t Divide us” Exposing, “racial division being sown in the name of anti-racism. “

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Spiked, Brexit Party ex-MEPs, Learned Pundits, Minstrels and Wordsmiths, try to heal divisions over Race.

Some might say it’s odd, a new front set up on the issue of race, that says “don’t divide us” whose three main initiators are: a former Brexit Party MEP and ex-Revolutionary Communist Party stalwart, Claire Fox of the ‘Academy of Ideas’, a one-time Brexit Party candidate and author at Brexit Central, and Spiked, Inaya Folarin Iman, and “anti-woke” glee and mirth-man, and – do we need to say? – Spiked contributor Andrew Doyle.

But it is so…

The Spiked Network (for more on this group see SPIKED FOOTNOTES) has geared into action…

The Spectator.

Racial division is being sown in the name of anti-racism

….activists, corporations and institutions seem to have seized the opportunity to exploit Floyd’s death to promote an ideological agenda that threatens to undermine British race relations.

The power of this ideology lies in the fear it inspires in those who would otherwise speak out, whatever their ethnicity. But speak out we must. We must oppose and expose the racial division being sown in the name of anti-racism.

The consequences of this toxic, racialised agenda are counter-productive and serious.

  • Under soulless acronyms such as BAME and POC, all ethnic minorities are robbed of individual agency, and assumed to be victims of injustice.
  • Free speech is being eroded by a McCarthyite culture of conformity in which to question the new dogma means to risk one’s livelihood and reputation.
  • Calls for the wholesale destruction of historical statues, symbols and works of art are fuelling an unhealthy war against the past and stirring up culture wars in the present.
  • An obsessive focus on the impact of colonialism threatens to turn history into a morality tale, rather than a complex, three-dimensional understanding of the past.

People will instantly agree that what we need on the issues of race and colonialism, slavery and ethnicity and nationalism, is the kind of complex nuanced debate that this little lot promoted as members of the Brexit Party, united behind the calm, anti-racist, leadership of Nigel Farage.

Or indeed by their on-line magazine Spiked:

Or: ‘The left is turning into a Woke Taliban’

They are surely right to conclude that “We will not be divided – by reactionary racists or culture warriors – who refuse to see us as individuals beyond our skin colour.”

Our ace-reporters are working on this right now, but look at some these tasty anti-division names that have backed this new Spiked Front:

William Clouston, party leader, The Social Democratic Party.

Recent healing Tweet:

Ben Habib, businessman; co-founder, Unlocked; former MEP (Brexit Party, modestly not mentioned…).

Christina Jordan, former MEP, South West England (Also Brexit Party, unmentioned).

Mercy Moroki:

Ed Husain, author The House of Islam: A Global History

Helen Pluckrose, specialist in the appealing sounding “Academic Grievance Studies and the Corruption of Scholarship”.

Courtney Hamilton, Writer, (not mentioned: Author at spiked).

Another gleeman Simon Evans – he sounds a right laugh!

This all looks more like a Blue and Bluer Front than the previous Spiked initiative, The Full Brexit, which drew support from the Communist Party of Britain to the Brexit Party….
Perhaps closeness to Number 10 is altering the line…

 

Populocracy. The Tyranny of Authenticity and the Rise of Populism. Catherine Fieschi. The “Populist Moment”.

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Populocracy. The Tyranny of Authenticity and the Rise of Populism. Catherine Fieschi. Agenda Publishing. 2019.

Britain had no political and social upspring comparable to France’s May 68. But it did have a “cultural 68” in rock music and the Underground. The UK has not seen a populist party get near the levers of political power. At one point, with rallies, speeches against traitors, metropolitan elites, the new Brexit Party looked as if it would ride the anti-68, Europe-wide populist electoral revolt. This began in many countries before the end of the last century, and their success can be seen in Ed Balls documentary series, Travels in Euroland. Yet there was no break-through. After winning the 2019 European Elections, Nigel Farage’s alliance of former revolutionary communists, left and right sovereigntists, Tory nationalists, the remnants of UKIP, and the even further right, failed, in the December vote, to get a single seat in Parliament.

Britain has, nevertheless, seen a cultural Populist Moment. If a re-forged UKIP “grass roots insurgency” failed to get MPs its ideas have walked right across the national stage. The Conservative Party’s use of national populist themes could be seen in attacks on the European Union, tapping into “traditional British identity and values” and dislike of “a remote and unresponsive political elite”. Anti-Parliamentarian threats to declare a State of Exception to override debate in the House of Commons and attacks on the Supreme Court resembled the populist demand that the will of the people trumps law-makers and the judiciary. Boris Johnson, with his 80 strong majority, was helped by the same political “dealignment” that has affected social democracy across Europe. His party may well have tapped into fear about the “destruction” of “historic identity and the established way of life” through “hyper-ethnic” change. The only ‘globalists’ by contrast, who got in their sights, were members of the European Commission and the liberal internationalists campaigning for a Second Referendum. (1)

What is left of this Moment? “Taking back control”, through getting “Brexit done” has shrivelled to mean, We are in charge, and We will do what we like. The populist content of the Tories’ stance looks mostly the gestures Catherine Fieschi calls “style”, and appeals to “authenticity”, although one would be hard pressed to find in the present Prime Minister much evidence of a populist “charismatic leader”. Some may see in his economics some tentative moves, but, as Sten Carver writes,  “Tory attempts to ride the two horses of neoliberal free trade and publicly funded infrastructure development are highly likely to come unstuck. Their ‘escape’ from the EU into the sunny uplands of deregulated international free trade is essentially an attempt to breathe new life into neoliberal globalism. ”  (Johnson’s Economic Populism) One can see further ideological  reverberations of this delayed culture war in the way that Laurence Fox has discovered a populist vein of anti-68 ideology, berating  the Western ‘Masochism” and guilt, a theme that has been exploited for decades by Pascal Bruckner (La Tyrannie de la penitence. 2006).

The Collective Will of the People.

Populocracy offers a good opportunity to stand back and look at the ““type, texture and feel”  of populism, the “blatant untruths” that fuel populism. Inspired during her MA studies to read the works o Stuart Hall on Thatcherism and ‘authoritarian populism” she continues to “take ideology seriously”. One starting point is the way the “people/elite division plays much the same the role as the capital/workers divide might have played in socialist politics.” (Page 13) The People’s “collective will” – a “holistic, organic – amongst metaphysical” conception of the people” is at the root. For ‘left populism’ citizens have also “inalienable (human) rights worthy of collective protection….the people are the expression of the collective will of sovereign citizens.” (Page 31) The right wing ‘organic’ people conception, grounded, one would say, on Edmund Burke’s contract of the living with the dead, or Charles Barrès’ idea of the bond between the nation, the people, la Terre et les Morts, can be rooted in “racial, ethnic homogeneity”. If the left populists do not share the anti-immigration implications of these ideas, there is little indication of how exactly the “collective will” of citizens” exists– a famous problem in Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s Social Contract, Represented. How sovereign nation of the ‘People’ will get rid of the ‘oligarchies’, the elites, and confront the globalised economy, is the first of many other difficulties for any kind of populism. Perhaps somebody has spoken to The People. Most of us have yet to meet it and get a response. .

Fieschi does not explore these abstractions. She focuses on “the new link between citizen demands for directness, immediacy and transparency, what we have called authenticity” (Page 137) This, grounded on the “digital transformation” a “fantasy of radical transparency”, lies behind the way “populist parties have turned one of the most powerful promises of the Enlightenment – and of democracy – against itself.” (Page 157)

In the Introduction Fieschi begins with France, where she in 1996 she had met Jean-Marie Le Pen, the founder of the Front National. A man who can switch from classical French to provocative vulgarity at the drop of hat, Le Pen “would, sing, dance, laugh, flirt. And lie. (Page 3) From federator of the post-Vichy extreme right, was a populist pioneer in “Being real”. Perhaps a key aspect of his daughter and successor, marine le Pen’s enduring presence on the French electoral scene is, Fieschi observes, her on-line presence, with 1,5 million Facebook followers and the creation of a ‘digital unit”. She concludes that the (renamed FN), the Rassemblement National has “written the handbook on populist politics in Europe” above all by promoting its version of “authentic politics”. Backing the Gilets Jaunes, she was “supportive enough without being invasive”. Marine, while facing competition on the far right with her niece Marion Maréchal le Pen, seems content to work within a “broad populist church”.

Left Populism.

The ‘left populist” Jean-Luc Mélenchon does not fare so well. The leader of La France insoumise (LFI)  having spent many pages, books and articles, explaining how he passed from “traditional socialism” to the opposition between the “people and the elites. As Fieschi notes of his efforts to mobilise the feelings of “Liberté, Egalité et Fraternité”, and the “drapeau tricolore” that he fails the authenticity game. Many listeners to the LFI leader’s often hypnotic speeches, a traditional French politicians’ forte, would agree that he if he can “talk the talk” he cannot quite “walk the walk” His “citizens’ revolution” rallies – many will barely recall them – flopped. The LFI list  got only 6.3% in last year’s European elections. Unlike Marine Le Pen the Gilets Jaunes spurned him. Another block in his path to “federate the people” is that Mélenchon has kept up his long-standing hostility towards the rest of the French left during the mass strikes and protests against Pension Reform. His bold claim to not follow Jeremy Corbyn in apologising for offence to the Jewish Community is another bad sign. (2)

Populocracy looks at the Netherlands and Geert Wilders’ campaign against “elites and multiculturalism”, the “politics of offence”. Italy, she suggests has been “Populism’s Poster Child”. The Berlusconi years, the ascension of the 5 Star Movement, to Matteo Salvini of the hard right  Lega the rising star of Italian politics, at present out of office and challenged by the ‘Sardine’ movement, saw the wipe of out of the traditional socialist and communist left. Their successors on the centre-left have not resigned internationally, and appear closer to Emmanuel Macron than social democracy or democratic socialism. They indicate how the left-of-centre colours of the apparently radical 5 Star movement were washed away in the (now terminated) coalition with the far-right Lega. For Fieschi, who grew up in the country, it indicates, the tie between populism and “the political culture fostered by digital and its fantasy of radical transparency.” (Page 116)

A chapter on the UK Referendum on Europe offers many insights. Economic deprivation and cultural factors behind the Leave vote are bolstered by a look at how appeals to ‘authentic Britishness’ helped spur hostility to the European Union. The “lie” that British ‘independence” from Brussels would “bring back control” could be further explored. Left-wing supporters of Brexit believed that once free of the EU they could have their own “People’s Brexit’. Many went so far as to dream of a coming post-Referendum popular surge to take “control” of British institutions and the economy. They were virulently hostile to the only mass movement that did arise, the People’s Vote campaign. Many of them continue to justify their ballot box alignment with the Hard Right.

Ballot Box Movements.

France is not only the home of the “prototype” populist Rassemblement National. While not as dramatically as in Italy, the country has seen its traditional socialist and communist left marginalised, and the left splintered faced with President Macron’s centre party, La République en marche. In looking at how the working class left voters became “unmoored” from the left in the North of France, Didier Eribon suggested that a vote for the far right was part of the way people constructed their identity. (Retour à Reims 2018). In the past, with a strong labour movement, bound to the Parti Communiste Français (PCF) the ballot cast was an affirmation of solidarity with a social bloc that allied manual and public sector workers. The long march of labour halted in these de-industrialised regions people look at their life and interests completely differently. A protest against foreigners, against the Left or the Right, the parties that have been in government, increased the attraction of the far-right ‘anti-system’ message. There is no real movement, only the gesture of voting. (3)

Don Flynn suggests, something no too distant has happened in Britain.

The dispute over the UK’s membership of the EU suddenly offered people who had lost the habit of digging in and fighting back the chance to at least take sides in an argument that was driven by splits in the ruling class. Rebellion in pursuit of its own interests had ceased to be a part of the daily life of these communities, but at least they could now take on a foot soldier’s role in someone else’s revolt. The vicarious pleasures to be got from identification with other people’s victories, so strongly present in the fanaticism that goes with supporting football teams, was present in the backing given to the Faragist insurgency against Europe.

After the Deluge.

Populocracy is a valuable and stimulating study. It should stimulate further debate and investigation, For the moment would seem probable that far from creating a “new political subject” such ballot box dramas play, a different ‘relation’ to politics, mediated by the digital media, play central part in populist voting than just the search for “authenticity” and “transparency.” In both political and cultural populism the extreme right has flourished – and not always ‘virtually’ as its own branch of violence and terrorism has gained a foothold. 

 

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  1. Page 275. Revolt on the Right. Explaining Support for the radical Right in Britain. Robert Ford and Matthew Goodwin. Routledge. 2014. National Populism. The Revolt Against Liberal Democracy. Roger Eatwell and Matthew Goodwin. Pelican. 2018
  2. Page 265. Le Choix de l‘insoumission. jean-Luc Melénchon. Interviews with Marc Endeweld. Seuil. 2016. and L’ère du Peuple. Jean-Luc Mélenchon. Pluriel. 2017. France Unbowed leader Jean-Luc Mélenchon says the UK Labour leader showed weakness by apologising for antisemitism accusations. December the 16th. 2019.
  3. Pages 127 – 160. Retour à Reims. Didier Eribon. Champs Essais. 2018 (New Edition).

Brexit Party Charts Uncertain Future as National Populist Banner Taken by Tories.

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Brexit Party polls

Brexit Party Polls at 2% to 3%.

The Brexit Party were out in Ipswich yesterday, with a stall by the old Post Office building on the Corn Hill.

They were overshadowed by the much larger group of People’s Vote campaigners.

The Brexit Party is in the doldrums.

Polls put them at 3% to 2% of the vote.

The hard-right national populists in control of the Conservative Party have taken the wind out of their sails.

Farage’s Falange are now flailing around with stunts as former Revolutionary Communist (RCP) Claire Fox reminds us,

 

One hopes that they still do maximum damage to the Tory vote in the constituencies where they are running against Labour.

 

A once  leading cadre of the RCP tweets bitterly.

General election 2019: Farage promises Reform Party after Brexit

The Brexit Party will change its name to the Reform Party after the UK leaves the European Union, leader Nigel Farage has said.

It will campaign for changes to the voting system and the abolition of the House of Lords, he told Sky News.

Mr Farage, who has already registered the new party name, said it would “change politics for good”.

The announcement comes after a week in which the Brexit Party lost four Members of the European Parliament.

One of the MEPs, Annunziata Rees-Mogg, warned that “the Brexit Party are permitting votes to go away from the Conservatives, providing us with a Remain coalition that will do anything not to honour the Brexit referendum”.

And Conservative chair James Cleverly has previously said the party could “frustrate” Brexit.

Perhaps the Brexit Party’s work in drawing people to national populism is done.

Another former frothing Revolutionary Communist states,

Sorry, Hugh Grant, but the era of smug tossers is over.

Brexit is a revolt against this smug set; against that 1990s reduction of ordinary people to bit-part players in the cultural elite’s political fantasies; against Blairisim and Clintonism and Brussels and fucking Love Actually. No wonder Curtis, Thompson and Grant hate it — it rips up everything they stand for. Look, Hugh, I’m sure you’re a nice guy, and not a smug tosser at all, but the gig is up. The days when infinitesimally small numbers of cultural bigwigs could set the agenda are over. We all want a voice now. The millions matter. The tea ladies matter. Our votes matter. There’s a new force in town: it’s not love — it’s Brexit actually.

Brexit, Actually. Brendan O’Neill.

The brown side of the RCP red-brown front with the Brexit Party have become prominent.

There are still worries that pro-Leave ‘left-wing’ campaigners and ‘People’s Brexit’ groups may hurt Labour’s chances as they confuse the dividing line with the Brexit Party.

The far-right has become normalised as comrade Paul Mason reminds us,

But it looks as if the Brexit Party is no longer a real player in the election.