It seems that it is not merely UKIP, now with rather fewer elected representatives under new leader Adolf von Batten, that is lurching to the right: the Tories are, too. And the worst thing about this divergence from the political mean is that those taking it often seen unaware that their actions are anything out of the ordinary.
Two actions recently, seemingly independent of one another, merely confirm this worrying development, with the first being, as i News has reported, “A group of Conservatives pushing for a hard Brexit have been condemned for allegedly referring to themselves as the ‘grand wizards’. However, they later appeared to deny the name, which is associated with the white supremacist group, the Ku Klux Klan (KKK)”.
It’s as if being a member of the Tory right means having one’s self-awareness surgically removed. And there was more. “The alleged existence of the nickname was first revealed by the BBC’s political editor, Laura Kuenssberg, who tweeted that a group of Tories who met the Prime Minister at Chequers on Sunday had used it. ‘The “Grand Wizards” (the new name for the Chequer’s daytrippers apparently) also had another meeting this morning, where they discussed again whether they could get on board to back PM’s deal and there was no firm conclusion,’ she said”. Ms K., true to form, then rowed back.
But despite a sort-of-denial from the ERG’s singularly unsavoury enforcer Steve Baker, the impression is given that this is a deeply intolerant and disrespectful strain of The New Conservatism. It is surely no coincidence that Baker was one of those awarded the Golden Dolphin Award by the now-moribund Young Britons Foundation.
Then, as if to underscore that the problem is more widespread than the odd KKK resurrection, Brexiteer purist MP Suella Braverman went one better at a meeting of the Bruges Group, which celebrates Margaret Thatcher’s speech, although only the part of it that matches their agenda. The “Heart of Europe” part is binned in the retelling.
Peter Walker of the Guardian was there. “Next up is Tory MP Suella Braverman. She begins with a slightly off-piste condemnation of ‘cultural Marxism’ in the UK and moves to limit free speech and expression … Cultural Marxism is a very loaded term, one often used by the far right to propagate conspiracy theories”. Oh dear!
Snigdha Nag was unimpressed. “Suella Braverman MP talks of ‘cultural Marxism’; the right wing conspiracy theory favoured by Anders Breivik, which is also known to be Anti-Semitic. What is going on in British politics? How is this acceptable?” Tories veering across the anti-Semitism line and no outraged reaction? No change there, then.
You'll have to speak up, I'm a bit Mutt and Jeff
Emma Goldman was also not happy about Ms Braverman’s choice of language. “‘Cultural Marxism’ is a neo-nazi dogwhistle, directly derived from the Nazi term ‘kulturbolschewismus’ or Cultural Bolshevism. The fact that elected representatives are ignorant and stupid enough to use it is a damning indictment, especially in the wake of the Grand Wizard thing [my emphasis]”. Repeated incidents suggest it’s no coincidence.
The Tory Party is already riddled with Islamophobic bigotry. These latest incidents suggest that the malaise is both broader, and deeper. I’ll just leave that one there.
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