As if there were not enough right-leaning lobby groups out there, along has come Turning Point UK, a spin-off from a US original which self-describes as “Student movement. Freedom. Free markets. Limited Government. We’re community organisers of the right”. As so often, it’s all about FREEM and MOXY. Which we already have.
So what does Turning Point UK have to say for itself? “Turning Point UK is a grassroots organisation dedicated to educating students and other young people on the values of free markets and limited government”. Bullshit. This is another Astroturf group, this time peddling right-wing small-state propaganda to impressionable young people.
But do go on. “We seek to competently defend the structures of society that have both created one of the most competitive economies and oldest, most influential democracies in human history”. A democracy so old that universal suffrage for both men and women has been practised here for all of 91 years. Then they go totally gaga.
“It is now more important than ever to defend our values against a dogmatic left-wing political climate, education system and radical Labour Party which sympathises with terrorists, wishes to disarm the nation and whose Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer, if elected - would bankrupt the economy”. Aaarghh! Rotten Lefties™! Jibber! JIBBER!
The organisation wants to “Educate young people on ideas consistently ignored or marginalised by mainstream education”. Like I said, peddle right-wing propaganda - tell students not to believe what they are being taught. And they will “Debate, question, and argue all authorities and ideologies which have historically failed to provide freedom”. FREEM! FREEM! Which is, no doubt, defined by Themselves Personally Now.
They have a team - “Our team consists of new voices ranging from conservative to classically liberal young”. They also talk well, but lie badly. Their team is 100% Conservative. It includes such luminaries as Tom Harwood, replacement teaboy to the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines at the Guido Fawkes blog, Steven Edginton, gofer to mercenary hack Isabel Oakeshott (as well as being yet another congenital liar), and Darren Grimes, who’s not really a Conservative. He’s just a criminal.
But something is missing, and it’s not just credibility (their social media star Raphael Lachter has all of 45 Twitter followers). Who is backing this venture? Yes, those on the Tory right are endorsing it - Priti Patel, Bernard Jenkin, Steve Baker, James “saviour of Western civilisation” Delingpole - but who is putting up the money?
CEO Oliver Anisfeld - whose CV seems to go little further than having established YouTube channel J-TV - has just set up a company called Media & Activism, of which he is the sole director. And that’s the only clue. This matters: previous attempts by the right to infiltrate student politics include Student Rights, from the hard-right Henry Jackson Society, and of course the infamous Young Britons’ Foundation of Tory bullying legend.
The YBF was mainly about older people grooming the young. Turning Point UK looks rather similar. It is already well connected - Harwood, Grimes and Edginton ensure that - and it has the encouragement of the usual right-wing suspects (Steve Baker was, of course, one of the recipients of the YBF’s Golden Dolphin Award).
Turning Point UK is clearly aspiring to establish itself as a successor to the YBF, in that it can bring on yet more ideologically conservative young people. The schtick is the same: their ideas are being shut out, FREEDOM is being eroded. Young people should be FREE to learn all about these marginalised ideas. They are then, in the words of Professor Milton Friedman of the University of Chicago, Free To Choose.
That it is mere propaganda somehow fails to get a mention. Expect more from this group and those backing it in the near future. But maybe not so much on who pays the bills.
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