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Nigel Farage is Britain’s unofficial ambassador to the United States

On Saturday, late British time, former President Trump and presumptive nominee to be the Republican candidate for November, survived assassination by mere millimetres. A bullet, fired from an AR-15, aimed at Donald Trump’s head grazed his ear instead, thanks to an unbelievably lucky turn of the head as Trump looked at the graph on immigration statistics behind him.

A shooter on the roof of a nearby building, missed through a toxic combination of incompetence and lack of coordination between security forces, shot at the former President several times before being taken down by the security forces. The forces who, it has come to light, had the shooter in their sites for several minutes before he began shooting. Arguments have erupted over whether the threat should have been neutralised sooner, or by who, but in reality he should never have gotten that close. The entire security service should hang its head in shame.

While the world rushed to condemn – or, in the particularly nasty and degenerate corners of the internet, celebrate – the 20-year old shooter, the leader of the Reform party and newly-sworn in MP for Clacton, Nigel Farage, announced that he would imminently be travelling to the US to visit his friend and fellow traveller on the populist right, to lend his support.

The necessity of this move can be debated. Prime Minister Sir Keir Starmer has already rung Trump and offered his wishes, and the 78 year old Republican is already out and about, back on the campaign trail and preparing for the Republican National Convention in Milwaukee this week. This is without even mentioning the fact that, after being shot, Trump got back to his feet, raised his fist in defiance and chanted “fight!”

Some rushed to decry Farage’s decision, pointing to his responsibility as an MP, and no doubt using this as an example of his unprofessionalism and self-aggrandisement. Others said that there is no real need, and Farage should focus on issues closer to home, especially as the King’s Speech is on Wednesday – though Farage did say he would not go before the speech.

Such reactions ignore the humanity of this situation. A man nearly lost his life, and while Farage’s medical credentials are certainly questionable in this instance, the value of having a friend speak to you and visit you after such a shocking moment can be invaluable. And while there is a world of difference between the projectiles, Farage is almost certainly fearful that one day a milkshake might be something closer to what Trump faced. Never forget that Andy Ngo once had to attend the ER in America after a milkshake thrown over him was found to have concrete mixed in.

Moreover, Farage was more than likely going to attend the RNC in Milwaukee this week anyway; this simply makes his visit more personal.

Yet, whether you agree with his politics or not, Farage’s very close relationship with the once-and-probably-future President of the most powerful nation in the world should not be sniffed at. Farage, like him or not, is going to be an asset should Trump return to the White House in January 2025 – a prospect that, more than ever, seems likely.

Rather than criticising Farage for making a decision which, it must be remembered, is entirely his prerogative – senior Conservatives visited America during the election campaign, and Lisa Nandy was in Germany for the Euros final this weekend, and rightly so – the British government should recognise Farage’s value in the special relationship.

This is not even to mention the fact that many populist parties in Europe look to the architect of Brexit with great admiration, Nigel Farage’s international profile is greater than some members of the cabinet, and is certainly more amenable to some foreign political parties.

Nigel Farage’s role in the coming parliament is likely to be one of unofficial ambassador – to the United States, certainly, and more than likely many other nations. It would be a mistake to undervalue and underestimate that.


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Rishi Sunak: MP for Anywhere

In his 2017 book, The Road to Somewhere, David Goodhart sought to explain the Brexit vote, and the furore that followed, as a rift between two tribes in British life: ‘Somewheres’ and ‘Anywheres’.

Somewheres, Goodhart explained, are traditionally-minded and attached to place. By contrast, Anywheres are cosmopolitans and attached primarily to ideals. Somewheres are often provincial and typically live in (or nearby) the communities in which they were raised. Anywheres are primarily urban and often live far from where they were raised.

For Goodhart, Brexit was a revolt of the nation’s Somewheres. Alienated by the extraordinary rate of social change in the post-Blair era, they took a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to vote against the Anywhere-dominated political establishment.

Though nominally a vote on Britain’s membership of the European Union, the referendum was essentially a vote of protest against the cross-party consensus on immigration.

The frustration of Somewheres is exemplified by voters in ‘The Red Wall’, a patchwork of traditionally Labour-supporting northern constituencies, who voted Tory en masse in the 2019 general election in the hope that Brexit might finally be settled and migration numbers could be reduced.

Though no less baffled than the rest of the establishment, The Conservative Party – unlike many of their fellow Anywheres – was willing to implement the referendum’s result. Ultimately, however, the failure to capitalise on the opportunities presented by Brexit, the collapse of the Red Wall, and a major electoral realignment was to define our outgoing government.

None personified this failure to understand the significance of Brexit as much as the man who was destined to lead the Conservative Party into the most recent election. This would not surprise readers of Goodhart’s work, for Rishi Sunak is Anywhere incarnate.

The hyper-conscientious child of immigrant parents who, through hard work and talent, has risen to the very apex of his profession, Sunak personifies the cosmopolitan ideals of the contemporary western elite.

Sunak’s failure as Prime Minister does not reflect a lack of merit. Of the four Prime Ministers who succeeded Cameron, Sunak was probably the most capable and accomplished.

Sunak’s relationship with his heritage is interesting. Born to Ugandan-Asian parents, Sunak exemplifies the industry and drive of that entrepreneurial group of people. Teetotal and vegetarian, our erstwhile leader married outside both his caste and ethnicity – of Punjabi heritage, his wife is the only daughter of a fabulously wealthy family of south Indian origin. In this he typifies the subcontinent’s elite diaspora who, as Razib Khan writes, have globalisation ‘etched in their bones’.

His heritage aside, Sunak’s background is that of a stereotypical Tory frontbencher. A product of Winchester College (where he was Head Boy), Sunak progressed to Oxford (where he earned a 1st in PPE) and thence to Stanford (via a Fulbright Scholarship). 

Upon graduating, he pursued a career in high finance, first at Goldman Sachs and then at two hedge funds, the latter being based in California. Notoriously, Sunak filed US tax returns while serving as the Chancellor of the Exchequer, not relinquishing his Green Card until 2021.

Having joined the Conservative Party following an internship at Central Office, Sunak became an MP in 2015, replacing William Hague as the representative for Richmond. Parachuted into Number 10 in the aftermath of the Truss debacle, Sunak proceeded to dismay colleagues with displays of poor political judgement, choosing to announce the cancellation of a trainline to Manchester while in Manchester, to cite but one of several notorious examples.

Whereas for most the office of Prime Minister represents the culmination of a long and bruising career; Sunak’s brief tenure as Prime Minister will likely represent just another impressive (though relatively ill-remunerated) entry in a glittering CV. It is safe to presume that, before the Tories are again returned to power, he and his family will decamp to California in order that he might resume his career in finance.

For all the bluster about his supposedly reactionary politics, Sunak’s values align with the managerialist liberalism which dominates the contemporary Conservative Party.

The Economist describes Sunak as ‘the most right-wing Conservative leader of his generation’ and claims his ‘nerdy demeanour covers an overlooked fact… [o]n everything from social issues, devolution and the environment to Brexit and the economy, Mr Sunak is to the right of the recent Tory occupants of 10 Downing Street’, but this is merely relative.

Objectively speaking, similar to his background, Sunak’s politics are blandly Anywhere, believing that a modern economy cannot function without high levels of immigration – derived from his instinctive belief in entrepreneurial mobility – and extols ‘diversity’ as both a moral good and political virtue, even at the expense of factual accuracy.

Sunak’s support of Brexit, often cited as evidence of his right-wing convictions, is misconstrued. Sunak was no ‘Little Englander’ hoping to make Britain’s borders more restrictive. Rather, Sunak saw leaving the EU as an opportunity to further liberalise Britain’s immigration regime.

With Sunak gone, the Conservative Party is once again presented with the opportunity to reinvent itself.

For a generation or more, the Conservative Party has simply failed to take the concerns of Middle England seriously. Sunak, so removed from the concerns of ordinary British people that he didn’t think it worthwhile to attend ceremonies marking the 80th anniversary of D-Day, exemplified this detachment.  

If the Tory party is to regain political relevance, it must listen to the nation’s Somewheres – a constituency that remains in flux, and that the Labour Party does not speak for. The lack of enthusiasm for our incoming government is remarkable and telling. The electorate has grown tired of the Tories, but are dubious of a Labour Party who seem to offer nothing but more of the same.

So farewell, Prime Minister Sunak. We wish you well, Anywhere you go.


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Why We Shouldn’t Abandon Politics

Until a few weeks ago, I was thoroughly resigned to the fact that I would not be voting for the first time in my adult life.

This wasn’t a flippant or particularly natural decision for me. A fan of unfashionable causes from a young age, I had always bought into our democratic political system and believed that despite its faults, ours was preferable to the large majority of those around the world.

I’d argue with my sixth form college history teacher, a chain-smoking trade union crustacean, that the Cuban revolution was not a good thing actually. At university, I set up the local youth chapter of UKIP and was one of approximately three students who even signalled that they would vote for Brexit.

As one can imagine, this made me very popular amongst the kombucha-brewing techno-listening charity shop fashionistas who I stubbornly brushed shoulders with by insisting on frequenting their hipster coffee shop, where once a ‘trans’ person told me I should “stop reading the fascist Spectator”.

My earliest political instinct, that our foreign policy did not serve our interests and was based on lies (an instinct that has only grown stronger) was also, I thought, sufficiently represented in our media and political system. I voted, I got excited about elections, watched the BBC and took politics seriously.

Everything changed in early 2020. Watching the entire ‘free world’ engage in highly coordinated state propaganda, erect detainment camps, lock people in their homes for months at a time, and by hook and by crook inject the vast majority of the population with a substance they weren’t allowed to scrutinise in polite society because ‘The Experts’ told them to, changed how I look at politics forever.

I was always aware of the military-industrial complex and its influence, and of that of the financial system. What I have since learnt is that these forces of evil are joined by many other interest groups: Big Pharma, Big Tech, Big Food and the billionaire-foundation complex.

The mask-wearing millions even turned my anger towards them, the public as a whole, which was a very different feeling for a ‘power-to-the-people’, ‘silent-majority’ populist as I had up until then been. What morons, I thought.

How did I ever trust in the collective wisdom, the ‘common sense’ of the public, who had en masse accepted the (even then) clearly moronic behaviour of ‘stay-at-home’ rules and wearing chemical-laden Chinese face-nappies on while alone and outside?

When the Russians entered Ukraine in early 2022, this feeling was compounded. The Covid era had caught everyone off guard, but Ukraine was something I had seen coming for a decade.

In 2014, the year when the Russia-Ukraine war actually started, I had just started university studying, of all things, International Relations and Russian language. I had a large number of Russian and Ukrainian friends. I spent my summers volunteering at educational camps not far from the Ukrainian border. After graduating, I moved to Moscow and started working in TV.

This is my way of saying that I had followed the events since 2014 in detail, with interest, and understood the positions of both sides, the actors involved and like Nigel Farage, had a very strong feeling that this was a disaster in the making. Yet this was a position made paramount to treason. Putin was Hitler, and that was it.

Back living in London and working in UK media after riding out the worst of the pandemic in Istanbul, I had become fully cynical about politics.

How could our parochial, insular and frivolous party politics ever be a solution to the powerful global forces that had transformed the world within just a couple of years? How had I believed that the political fight I had been fighting actually had any chance of taking Britain away from corrupt globalist forces and ‘taking back control’ for the people? Brexit now appeared to be window dressing.

In fact, I had come to believe that I had been seriously deceived. Years of energy were given, and the country was seriously divided, and for what? To have more mass immigration and more economic decline under more Conservative government, with biomedical tyranny and continental war to boot?

In that time, I began to believe in the devil, which was then a stepping stone to believing in God. The world, it appeared, was the devil’s realm. The compounding increase in far-liberal and ultra-progressive ideologies, and the resulting destruction of the family and social degradation, made this clearer.

I concluded that the best way to fight in a world run by the devil, was not through politics, but through free will and faith, walking towards God through this darkness. I still hold that to be absolutely true.

Yet something has happened over literally a matter of weeks that has reignited my interest in politics, and it is more than the return of Nigel Farage, although that has been the catalyst.

The prospect of total Tory collapse was first enticing only out of pure spite.

I had been critical of Farage, one of my political heroes, for what I viewed as terrible positions taken by him and his party during the Covid era, and a perceived silence on our disastrous foreign policy, after years of being outspoken and having the right idea.

Though my disappointment in and disillusionment with politics did indeed make me cynical, nothing made me more cynical than working in British media.

After working with interesting, heterodox international and expat journalists abroad, I discovered that back home it’s staffed largely by mediocrities, as fickle and, frankly, basic as any KMPG graduate or marketing intern.

Outside of the narcissism of small differences, wholly adopted from newspaper op-eds and ‘journo Twitter’ in cyclical bouts of opinion bottom-feeding, they are often not the well-read intelligentsia that they present themselves to be.

Yet the depiction given by many in sceptic quarters, that narratives are tightly controlled by explicit political directives handed out from above, a view I have been sympathetic to in the recent past, does not seem to hold water.

Don’t get me wrong, the fact that there are a small handful of news wires which provide thousands of newspapers and news channels with the same stories, they decide to put out in the way they want, is far from ideal and does have the ability to influence the news cycle.

Yet on the day-to-day, factory-floor level, the reality is that the media, and politics, is largely made up of people who are subject to the very same waves of information warfare, perception manipulation and social acceptability that the general public and all of us are to an extent. 

If it is indeed the case, as I now believe, that the enemy is not only far weaker than it has led us to believe, but has never been weaker than it is now, we do not only have the possibility the shift the Overton window through politics, which the media have no way of hiding from, but that we have a duty to be happy warriors and believe that it is possible to effect change.

For those still rightly enraged about the collective amnesia over Covid era mandates and who therefore see Reform as invalidated by not choosing to campaign on that, the reality is that its leadership now hold the correct view of the lockdowns and the jabs, even with the benefit of hindsight.

This won’t satisfy everyone, and I am completely sympathetic to that, but as Bismarck famously said, politics is the art of the possible, and what is possible at the moment is to mobilise around our current problems. Immigration is the obvious issue that will galvanise serious support against the uniparty – and our demographics are our ultimate destiny.

The rise of Reform to neck-and-neck polling position with the Tories is indeed an impressive feat. In fact, the campaign of the Conservatives in this election, which suspiciously feels like it is being directly run by the Labour Party for their own benefit, has got many wondering if this is not an orchestrated handing over of the baton.

In late March, Barack Obama, the man rumoured to be de facto running the Biden administration and campaign, dropped in to see Prime Minister Sunak, for reasons undisclosed.

In the following weeks there was talk by Andrew Bridgen MP that Sunak had been ‘told by the generals’ that we would officially declare we were at war against Russia in the summer ahead of a major escalation. The PM, it is alleged, responded that he did not want to be a wartime leader and a couple of weeks later had abruptly called an election.

All of this, alongside Rishi’s announcement in the rain, which bloggers have called a ‘humiliation ritual’, has led some theorists to believe the Tories are basically throwing the election. Reform, so the theory goes, is ‘controlled opposition’ designed to contain the Tory exodus.

There might be elements of truth to what I have just outlined but my personal experiences with Reform’s leaders do not lead me to that final conclusion. Farage and his team are genuinely running an anti-establishment revolt.

Not only is he running on the same issues which have only gotten worse since Brexit, our broken economy and the rapid demographic transformation of the country, but there is plenty of red-meat for sceptics; railing against the Tories for ‘taking away our freedoms’, hitting out against the World Health Organisation and the World Economic Forum, fighting against debanking, a cashless society and Net Zero lunacy. It’s not a bad platform.

The Andrew Breitbart doctrine is that ‘politics is downstream from culture’. It might then seem obvious that culture is therefore downstream from media, but as I have outlined, that is in fact not the case.

Our media is downstream from both politics and culture. Farage is very successfully using will to power to shift the Overton window and provoke the media into discussions they would ordinarily not have.

Whether you trust him to stick to these positions when push comes to shove almost doesn’t matter as much as his proven ability to act as a battering ram against our established political elite. In any case, he has been consistent on everything and on the Covid saga he has now come to the right place, which is more than can be said for others.

It has been Farage’s positioning on Ukraine, however, that has clinched it for me.

Despite the potential to alienate much of Tory Boomer-England who display their Ukraine flags with the same zeal that Corbynista students do with their trans-Palestinian-EU ones, Farage has stuck to his long-held position that this horrendous conflict was a long time coming.

The establishment, smelling blood, sought to use this to neutralise him, but he hit back harder and spent days making speeches outlining the failed wars of the uniparty, the lies they were based on and their horrific consequences. Labour in Iraq, the Tories in Libya and Syria and yes, Ukraine. “Foreign policy matters!” he’s been telling energetic crowds.

The power of taboos is a force more potent and yet more vulnerable than we imagine. A few hundred thousand of us silently crossing boxes in polling booths do have the power to change the parameters of acceptable discussion by the fallout it can cause for years to come. We should not scoff at that.

At a time like this, when all signs are that the most dangerous and corrupt elements of the collective West are itching for a global conflict, the man who proudly bellows to large crowds that “We only go to war as a very, very last extreme; I will campaign for peace wherever it is possible”, has my vote.

As it says in Psalm 146, Trust in God, Creator and Redeemer:

“Do not place your trust in princes, in mortal men who have no power to save.”

– Psalm 146:3

I won’t, but I will not abandon politics as a way of shifting the dial to expand public consciousness and as a way to take us off potential paths of ruin. Not yet.


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The Path of Reconstruction

As every British conservative writer, pundit, and academic will tell you, Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli once said:

“The Conservative Party is a national party, or it is nothing.”

How right he was! Having ceased to be a national party in both respects, dispensing with any meaningful concept of the nation and placing all its chips on a concentrated slither of the Grey Vote – a demographic which it’s managed to alienate after a completely avoidable PR disaster – the party is on track to be reduced to nothing come this year’s general election.

Based on recent polling, the Tories are competing for a distant second with the Liberal Democrats, leading many to suggest 2024 is going to be Britain’s equivalent of Canada’s 1993 federal election, in which a centre-left lawyer secures a majority after the unpopular centre-right government, headed by an unlikeable first-of-their-kind Prime Minister, was decimated by a vote-splitting right-wing populist upstart called Reform.

Given this, it is worth considering the possibility of a Canada ’93-style erosion of the Conservative Party over the next five years and what this will mean for the British right, assuming it’s going to be represented by Reform UK or a different party arising from a merger between the two. After all, by his own admission, Farage isn’t trying to win the general election, stating it won’t determine which party enters government (rest assured, it will be Labour) but will determine which party leads the opposition.

The collapse of the Progressive Conservative Party – Canada’s main centre-right party – coincided with the rise of the Reform Party of Canada (RPC); a right-wing populist party founded in the 1980s and led by Preston Manning. The RPC originated as a pressure movement for advancing the interests of Western Canada, whose inhabitants felt increasingly alienated by the central government, especially as constitutional issues increased in salience. The RPC was particularly suspicious of attempts to grant “distinct society” status to Quebec, believing Canada was a federation of similar and equal provinces united by a set of rights and obligations, rather than an essentially multicultural and bilingual state.

As the RPC sought to become a national party, it was required to expand its appeal and therefore its political platform. The party dispensed with its Western-centric agenda and outright rejected calls within its rank-and-file for Western Canadian independence. In its place, the RPC formulated a platform dedicated to shrinking the size of the central government, lowering taxes, making considerable cuts to government spending, pursuing free trade agreements, supporting Christian social values, promoting direct democracy, and advancing political reform.

After its electoral breakthrough in 1993, the RPC continued to broaden its appeal, softening its positions to attract more moderate-minded voters in Canada’s Eastern provinces. Whilst the 1993 manifesto provided an extensive 56 reasons to vote for the party – over half of which dealt with the party’s core concerns, treating areas outside their remit with scarce detail – the party’s 1997 manifesto condensed its list of policies, softened its position on tax-and-spend, made national unity a top priority, and generally provided more thorough proposals. The party also openly disassociated with views which invited accusations of bigotry, intolerance, extremism but retained a focus on family-oriented social conservatism.

In the 1997 federal election, the RPC would increase its vote share and total number of seats, becoming the largest party in opposition and solidifying itself as the main conservative party in Canada. The party held onto its Western support base and managed to strengthen its influence in the Prairies, but still struggled to find support among moderate Atlantic Canadians, many of whom continued to support the PCP, despite its greatly diminished political influence. For the most part, the RPC was still viewed (and still functioned in many ways) as a regional party, seen by many as the Western equivalent of the Bloc Québécois – a party dedicated to the interests of Quebec and another major winner in the 1993 federal election.

To complicate matters further, the Liberal government of Jean Chrétien pursued greater financial discipline in order to reduce the national deficit. This occurred during a period of “constitutional fatigue” which tail-ended a turbulent period of controversial proposals for reform. As fiscal conservatism and political reform were the RPC’s core concerns, the party often struggled to oppose government policy despite being the largest party in opposition, simultaneously trying to integrate its newfound responsibilities (and privileges) with its populist background.

Concluding it needed to broaden its appeal even more, the RPC merged with several provincial wings of the PCP into a new right-wing party: The Canadian Alliance.

Similar to the RPC, the party continued to adapt its image, refine its positions, and broaden its platform. However, unlike the RPC’s 1997 manifesto, which largely homed-in on the party’s approach to its core issues, the CA’s 2000 manifesto paid greater attention to issues beyond the RPC’s traditional remit, such as international affairs, environmental conservation, and technological change, all whilst carrying over RPC policy on tax-and-spend, decentralization, and family values.

Alas, despite these efforts, the Canadian Alliance (CA) was short-lived, existing for less than half-a-decade, and was widely viewed as the RPC under a different name. The party would place second in the 2000 federal election, increasing its share of the vote and its number of seats as the RPC had done in 1997, but not before playing host to a major change in the Canadian political landscape: the end of Preston Manning’s leadership. For most members, a new party required new management, so the bookish Manning was ousted in favour of the clean-cut (but also gaffe-prone) Stockwell Day, whose outspoken evangelical views often contrasted his own party’s efforts at moderation.

The Canadian right would remain out of power until 2006, in which the newly founded Conservative Party of Canada (CPC), led by Stephen Harper, a former policy advisor to Preston Manning, defeated the incumbent Liberal Party and formed a minority government. Founded in 2003, the CPC was created from a full and official merger of the CA and the PCP. Combining policies and aspects of their intellectual traditions, the merger reinvigorated the centrality of fiscal conservatism in the Canadian centre-right, and united Canada’s once-divided right-leaning voters under one national banner.

Although courting the Christian right, Harper displaced the last remnants of the RPC’s populistic social conservatism to the party’s periphery, entrenching economic liberalism as the backbone of the CPC’s electoral coalition whilst formulating stances on a variety of issues, from immigration to arts and culture, from constitutional reform to public transit, from foreign policy to affordable housing, from international trade to social justice.

As it took roughly five years and two election cycles for the RPC to destroy and absorb the PCP, it’s possible that Farage is banking on achieving something similar. However, what this implies is that Farage intends to oversee the destruction of the Conservative Party, but not the reconstruction of Reform UK – at least, not in a frontline capacity. Once the Conservative Party has been sufficiently diminished, a relatively younger and less controversial candidate will take the reins and transform it into a political force which can continue to fight national elections and possibly form a government; someone to move the party away from ‘negativistic’ anti-establishment populism – primarily acting as a vessel for discontent at the insufficient (if not outright treacherous) nature of recent Conservative Party policy – and fully towards ‘positivistic’ solution-oriented policymaking and coalition-building.

Assuming this is Reform UK’s plan, seeking to replace the Tories after beating them into the ground over the course of a five-year period, Reformers must internalise a major precondition for success; besides, of course, overcoming the perennial task of finding someone who can actually replace Farage when he stands aside.

In admittedly generic terms, just as the RPC/CA had to find support outside of Albertan farmers, Reform UK (or the hypothetical post-merger party) will need to find support outside of its core base of Leave-voting pensioners in East Anglia.

At some point, Britain’s populist right must become accustomed to acknowledging and grappling with issues it instinctively prefers to shy away from and keep light on the details; issues which remain important to much of the electorate and remain relevant to governing: the environment, technological change, the minutiae of economic policy, tangible health and welfare reform, foreign policy and international trade, food and energy security, the prospects of young people, broader concerns regarding economic inequality and social injustice, so on and so forth.

If this sounds similar to the criticism directed at the liberal-left’s aversion to immigration, demographics, traditional culture, and crime in a way that befits public concern and the national interest, that’s because it is.

There are many issues one could use to convey this point, but the environment is undoubtedly the best example. According to regularly updated polling from YouGov, the environment is a priority for roughly 20% of the electorate; only the economy, immigration, and healthcare are classed as more important by the general public, and housing, crime, and national security are considered just as important. Young voters emphasise the environment more than older voters. From the get-go, it’s clear that an environmental policy will be an unavoidable component of any national party and certainly one with a future.

Compare this to Reform UK’s recently released ‘Contract with the People’, which does not possess a subsection dedicated to the environment. Rather, it has a section dedicated to Net Zero and its abolition. On the whole, the subject is dealt with in a negativist manner, merely undoing existing measures, replacing them with nothing, all without reframing the issue at hand. At best, one can find some commitments to tree-planting and cutting down on single-use plastics. As most should have surmised by now, parties can’t afford to be meagre with environmental propositions – go big or go home!

Of course, none of this is surprising. After all, according to Richard Tice, Chairman of Reform UK, concerns about climate change are misguided because the climate has always been changing; it’s a process which can’t be stopped, but it’s OK because carbon dioxide is “plant food” anyway. It’s not happening, and that’s why it’s a good thing.

Indeed, leftists look stupid when they insinuate a similarity between a depoliticised process of post-war mass immigration to the Norman Conquest, so what does the British right have to gain by comparing manmade carbon emissions to the K-Pg extinction event? If not out of strong environmentalist convictions, any force eager to replace the Tories as the primary right-leaning party in Britain must be realise such issues cannot be left untouched – even those issues one might say the Tories have embraced too much or in ways which aren’t in the national interest.

As we look to other right-wing populist upstarts across the Western world, it’s clear that such a realisation is not optional, but a precondition for transforming fringe organisations into national parties.

Consider this in relation to Marine Le Pen’s National Rally, perhaps the most successful party to make such a transition, evidenced by the party’s unprecedented success in the recent EU elections and their gradual but near-total displacement of the Republicans, France’s official centre-right party.

Similar to the RPC, the National Rally’s evolution has involved more than a name change and moderating its less-than-palatable elements. Instead, it has retained its central issues whilst diversifying its platform.

Although Le Pen has undoubtedly been a key driving force behind readjustments to the party’s priorities and image, distancing itself from its origins and so on, much of this process stems from the influence of Jordan Bardella: the party’s young president and the current favourite to become the next Prime Minister of France.

Contrary to suggestions made by Britain’s vibes-oriented commentariat, who attribute Bardella’s relative popularity with young voters and the broader French electorate to the mere act of using TikTok, Bardella has gone to considerable effort in his capacity as president to identify and address issues which are important to voters, not just issues which are important to the National Rally, and incorporate them into the party’s platform; issues other than immigration which similarly influence much of the public, such as the environment, which Bardella views it as one of the three main challenges facing the younger generation (the others being demographic and technological change). Indeed, a far-throw from the perpetual handwringing over young, know-nothing eco-zealots which homogenises right-leaning boiler room commentary in Britain.

“France, no matter what they say, is the cleanest country in the world. But it is up to us to do even better.”

– Jordan Bardella (@jordanbardella on TikTok)

Going beyond criticism of existing policies, which is often connected to the party’s support for French farmers and poorer voters in provincial areas, Bardella encourages the party to take up the environmentalist mantle and formulate solutions in step with its own intellectual history:

“Our political family would be making a big mistake if it behaved as blindly on the environmental issue as the left has done on immigration for the past 30 years. We can no longer afford to deny it.”

– Jordan Bardella, Interview with Valeurs Actuelles (24/11/22)

Along with this readjusted approach, Bardella has also made very specific appointments in his capacity as president, such as promoting ideas put forward by Hervé Juvin, MEP and former ecological advisor, and appointing Pierre-Romain Thionnet as director of the National Rally’s youth movement, briefly described in Le Monde as:

“…a reader of the late Catholic integral environmental journal Limite and quotes the English philosopher Sir Roger Scruton…”

The National Rally typically views climate change through its longstanding endeavour of protectionism, noting free trade results in offshoring the sources of pollution, rather than getting rid of them altogether. As such, not only does France relinquish its industrial capabilities, it pushes pollution beyond its political control; offshoring depoliticises pollution, a process which is worsened by the logistical chains required to ship products made on the other side of the world, nevermind in other localities of the same country or continent.

To his credit, Farage has hinted on some occasions at something similar in the form of reshoring emissions, and whilst this is a step in the right direction, it remains an underdeveloped afterthought in Britain’s right-wing, which (in the words of Dominic Cummings) remains mired in the “SW1 pro/anti Net Zero spectrum.”

At the same time, the National Rally engages in more universally recognised forms of environmentalism which aren’t predicated on immigration restriction, euroscepticism, or protectionism, especially at the level of local government; from tree-planting campaigns to ‘eco-grazing’ to installing LED lightbulbs.

“People feel that we have to get out of the fact that there’s only the issue of immigration.”

Hervé Juvin, as quoted in The New York Times

As a result, the National Rally maintains a monopoly on its bread-and-butter issues and claims ownership of issues which are not traditionally associated with the French right. Consequently, the French centre and left struggle to maintain control of the narrative surrounding their own key issues and remain stubbornly averse to the concerns of voters living outside the Parisian bubble.

Returning to the British political landscape, Reform UK can most likely afford to hammer its wedge issue of immigration into the Tories’ base at this election, possibly felling the party’s influence once and for all. However, as 2024 fades into the rear-view mirror, it will need to grow something in its place. The gains which once felt exhilarating will begin to flatline and seem anaemic if the party doesn’t aggressively pursue diversification (not the tokenistic kind, mind you). As the reality of living in a Labour-dominated one-party state sets in, many will begin to resent Reform UK unless it makes a concerted effort to adapt; the initial collapse of the right’s remit into the concentrated set issues it sought to politicise must be expanded as the issues which gave birth to its populist phase are moved from the periphery to the centre, and from thereon out, integrated alongside others to ensure their long-term electoral viability.

If it succeeds, it or it’s successor may very well replace the Tories as the main party of the centre-right. If it does not, the election and its aftermath is unlikely to follow the course of Canada 1993 or anything resembling it; the Tory Party may very well make a resurgence comparable to Labour’s post-2019 comeback. Nobody can afford to botch a murder, least of all in politics. Reform UK can’t stop at knocking the Tories down and it can’t be content with knocking the Tories out; it needs to smother the party to death with its own handkerchief and raid its carcass, pocketing both its right-wing and centre-right voters, even those who don’t have immigration as their number one priority and then-some.

At the same time, it needs to stay true to the promise of a nationalist approach to immigration, law-making, culture, and identity; at least, if it wants to avoid the same fate as the Conservative Party.

As various groups eye-up the collapse of the Conservative Party, looking for a chance to muscle-in and establish themselves as the dominant tendency of the right, it’s imperative that nation-first conservatism comes out on top. This will be particularly important as (unlike Manning, who wrote an entire book explaining his ideology) the specifics of Farage’s politics remain more ambigious than many would suspect; it’s entirely reasonable to suspect factions will claim him as their forebearer and themselves as his pure and true successors.

In my view, the right-wing cannot encumber itself with regurgitations of its past, whether it’s a form of neo-Thatcherism, which subordinates and uses socionational issues to reinforce a revealed priority for technical refinement and economic liberalisation, a misguided rehash of Cameronite centrism, which scarcely thinks about such matters in a conservative manner at all, or citizenist post-liberal projects, the artificial soldarities of which are unravelling in real-time. The right has already squandered one revolution, best not to squander another.

Of course, all of this is easier said than done, but it’s OK… Nothing Happens!


Photo Credit.

Bring Back Food Rationing!

Having never experienced food rationing myself I cannot say what it is like, but I am assuming the experience is not as bad as images suggest. My reasoning is straightforward and can be put in the form of an argument as follows: (1) The National Health Service (NHS) is good; (2) Food is more important than health; therefore, (3) A National Food Service (NFS) would be good. Is there anything wrong with this argument?

Let’s look briefly at the truth or falsity of the premises, before elaborating. A supporter of an NFS, along with many millions of others, would affirm with confidence that the NHS is a ‘good thing’. That is, it is a desirable if not indispensable institution, at the beating heart of our national life, a support and a lifeline for all of us, relatively free at the point of use, providing the full panoply of basic medical services, from care for minor ailments to treatment for serious illnesses and conditions such as cancer, heart disease, broken limbs, disfigurement, deadly infections, and so on. Yes, it is currently in the worst shape it has been in for decades, to the point that in the current election campaign the major parties do not even pretend to mouth slogans such as ‘Twenty-for hours to save the NHS’, so far gone is the patient.

That does not mean the NHS is undesirable, though, does it? Anyway, just suppose it is a good thing for the sake of argument and let’s revisit the premise later. Premise (2) says that food is more important than health, and the truth or falsity of this depends on what we mean by ‘important’. Think of it this way. Although both food and health are quite basic human goods, there is an asymmetry. Without food – by which I mean adequate nutrition, not simply fasting for a bit or going on a diet – you are guaranteed to be unhealthy. But if you are unhealthy, it is not guaranteed you will lack adequate nutrition. Some illnesses make it hard to keep food down. Some illnesses deprive a person of their appetite. But these are exceptions. You can be seriously unhealthy, headed for the grave, and yet still not be suffering from malnutrition. If you are malnourished, however, you will be unhealthy there and then, with no further steps required, no exceptions to be made.

Ask yourself this admittedly remotely hypothetical question: faced with the choice between inadequate food and inadequate health (short of death!), which would you choose? I’d go for inadequate health, thinking that with inadequate food I’ll be unhealthy anyway, so why not just have ill health but at least plenty of food, hoping that I can maintain my strength and give myself a fighting chance against my illness? Again, as a general rule if you have zero food you are dead in a few months. You’d have to have a pretty rare condition – pancreatic cancer, say – to be dead in a few months. If you add not having water to not having food – and I do want to add that since I am classing food and water together when I hypothesise about a National Food Service – you are dead in a few days. Very few illnesses or combinations of conditions kill you in a few days – maybe bacterial meningitis or necrotizing fasciitis.

So yes, of course health is important, but food is just that bit more important.  That said, by ‘important’ in premise (2) I am packing a little more into it than the asymmetry just outlined. I also mean that if there is such an asymmetry, then however society is structured so as to make health care readily available should be similar in key respects to how society should be structured so as to make food readily available. This is how the conceptual connection between ‘good’ in (1) and ‘important’ in (2) should be interpreted. (I could split the argument into sub-arguments to make this crystal clear, but it’s not necessary).

Now, does our conclusion (3) – ‘A National Food Service (NFS) would be good’ – follow from the premises? If so we have a valid argument, and if the premises are true then we have our ultimate goal, a sound argument – to lapse into philosophy-speak. Well, I’ve gestured at the truth of (1) but also said we should just assume it for the fun of the argument. A full defence of (1) would come from the endless literature doing just that – defending the goodness of the NHS. I’ve argued at greater length for the truth of (2) and its connection to (1). Suppose I’ve done the job. Then how could the conclusion not follow? It must, of logical necessity. There is no escape. We need a National Food Service.

Er, do we? The title of this article refers to ‘rationing’. Actually, food rationing is really not something you’d want to experience. Nobody in their right mind wants food rationing, except the crooks who make money off it and are not subject to the rationing themselves. I think I’d rather emigrate than have food rationing – at least as a way of life. So what I really think – and I’m sure you agree – is that food rationing is not something we’d want brought back. And so the prospect of a National Food Service should fill me – and you – with utter dread. If that is the case, then we must do what we philosophers call a modus tollens: I give you an argument pointing inexorably to a certain conclusion. But that conclusion is on its face absurd. You and I won’t accept it. So we are forced by logic to deny at least one of premises (1) and (2). Having already made a pretty good case for (2), we have to deny (1) after all, contrary to the initial ‘for the sake of argument’ assumption. The NHS is not good – not in concept any more than in current execution.

Wait a minute, you might object: I’m comparing apples and oranges. There is no rationing in the NHS! But there is, I insist. True, we don’t all walk around with health care ration books with quotas of medicines or treatments printed on each ticket. But health care is rationed nonetheless, as any fule kno. You get a precious ten minutes with your GP, then you are politely expected to leave (unless things are serious as judged by that GP alone). You cannot get any treatment you want, no matter how effective or promising; it all depends on cost and the voluminous guidance of the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE). Ultimately, who gets what is for the government of the day, acting on the advice of – sorry, I can’t resist – Twenty-First Century Science.™ The details of NHS rationing are there for all to see. This leads to very bad consequences for patients in a multitude of cases, with the example of breast cancer drug Kadcyla being instructive.

A critic of my argument might insist that food and health are dissimilar in important ways that undermine premise (2), the claim that food is more important than health. Recall that my argument is not just that food is prior to health in terms of human well-being, but that because of this its allocation in whatever way society allows should be the same as the way health care is allocated in that society. All things being equal, perhaps that is true. But all things are not equal, says the critic. There is a whole side to food provision that has no health care parallel. There are restaurants, gourmet dining, eating for pleasure, eating as a cultural pastime. Whereas health care is about meeting needs, there is more to food provision than simply meeting needs.

It is not clear to me that there is a disanalogy. Health care also has its niche, exotic, cultural, aspirational side. Think of purely aesthetic surgery – nose jobs, teeth whitening, skin lightening, Botox, hair removal, hair transplants, body modification, and so on. These are all far more about satisfying desires than meeting real needs. They are generally not necessary for health. The critic retorts: ‘then they are not about health care, so why are you bringing them into the discussion?’ My reply: ‘then neither is fine dining or wine tasting part of food provision, so why are you bringing them into the discussion?’ In other words, cheek filler and fine dining stand or fall together. Either both are on the table or neither are. I think it’s more plausible to say they are both on the table as quite remote parts of health care and food provision, respectively. Now, cosmetic surgery is not routinely available on the NHS, except for mental health reasons or if the cosmetic aspect is accompanied by a real functional need (e.g. to breathe clearly). This is well and good. Similarly, in my National Food Service regime, oysters and crab-flavoured ice cream would also not routinely be available (except perhaps if they were essential to nutrition!). These would have to be purchased on the private market.

The critic might try this gambit: health care, the kind of care that doesn’t just maintain health but that keeps you alive, can be astronomically expensive. People can’t generally afford it. Adequate nutrition can be had very cheaply. So people need help from the state with the former but can pay for the latter themselves. My reply is that if this point is a good one, it only favours restricting the NHS to the really expensive treatments, not retaining the kind of all-encompassing, womb-to-tomb NHS we have now. So the critic’s point undercuts their own idea that an NFS is not desirable but the NHS is. Moreover, some staple foods, which millions require for nutrition, are particularly expensive to produce, e.g. rice; these rely heavily on government subsidies, loans, and other price support mechanisms. So why not go the whole hog with food, so to speak, and bundle it into an NFS? Anyhow, the overall cheapness of food argues in favour of an NFS because it is really, truly, hard to believe that an NFS would cost more than the NHS – which is pushing £200 billion in annual cost, that is to say, about £3000 annually for every human being in England. I am having to stretch my credulity beyond breaking point to suppose that universal food rationing would cost anywhere near that much. But I have no method of estimating it. (The last I looked, by the way, £3000 would buy every human being in England a helluvalot of health insurance. Just saying.)

OK, how about the ‘black market’ objection? This says that just as we saw a lot of illegality during wartime food rationing, we would see the same the minute an NFS came into existence. And we don’t want that. In reply, this presupposes we do not see illegality as a result of having the NHS. I’m not talking about dodgy tattoo and piercing parlours or lunchtime liposuctions. I’m referring to ‘medical tourism’, where thousands upon thousands of UK citizens go abroad for medical treatment (234,000 in 2021, with 34,000 foreigners coming to the UK for treatments, stats here; gets the noggin joggin’ doesn’t it?). That in itself is legal, of course, but it is surely the case – data are hard to come by – that at least hundreds, if not thousands, of people are injured by negligent doctors, in dodgy or uncertified clinics, or by illegal procedures abroad. I am not thinking of cosmetic surgery (which is the number one reason for medical tourism) since that is not available on the NHS anyway, but rather of things like orthopaedic surgery and dental procedures (it being notoriously hard to get on the books of an NHS dentist).

It is tough to see a significant disanalogy between health care and food provision when it comes to the idea of a nationalised service – socialism, effectively. If there is none, then either we should go with food rationing or we should dismantle and privatise the NHS. As I said, I’m not a fan of food rationing and I doubt you are. I like my private supermarkets, the abundance of choice, the full range of pricing, the efficient delivery, and the reasonably pleasant shopping experience. (Things are going downhill, to be sure; thanks a bunch, America.) But that’s only the supermarkets. I live near an award-winning cheese shop, an award-winning butcher, an overpriced organic shop, and can get pretty much any food online that I can’t find locally. All in all, I can’t complain. Do I want all this to be turned into a bunch of Stalinist showrooms with tasteful lighting illuminating a few mouldy potatoes? All right already, I’m exaggerating. But you can bet that an NFS would be a sodding awful experience without end (unlike post-World War 2 food rationing, which ended in 1954).

And a privatised health service? I admit, my own experience with the NHS has been pretty positive. Our local surgery is clean, neat and friendly, the local hospital likewise, so again I can’t complain. But that’s my area. Stories abound of shoddy service: paint peeling off the walls, DNRs on anyone over 70 (at least during COVID), old people lying on trolleys in corridors for hours and days on end, people sleeping on the floor, half a day to get seen by accident and emergency, botched maternity care, murderous nurses, sepsis here and sepsis there, often woeful food, radical discontinuity of care, hospitals rated inadequate, a culture of cover-up, bullying, endless negligence payouts, bloated bureaucrats on golden pensions, and so on and on. The word on the street these days about the NHS is not exactly positive.

There is no room to rehash the endless debate over privatised health care. That said, I am not advocating for a fully privatised system anyway. Not even our private food system is without government supplementation, for example free school meals and financial assistance to food charities, not to mention government subsidies for agriculture. In a private medical system, there would be similar government assistance, safety nets, and the like. In addition, just as private food is heavily regulated so as to reduce the risk of contamination, food poisoning, and waste, so a private medical system would also be heavily regulated to ensure basic standards from top to bottom.

The worry that is perhaps most often raised is that whereas food products are commodities and hence subject to commodity pricing, many life-saving medicines and treatments are the result of decades of high-cost research and development, require intellectual property protection, and need to have their costs recouped through high pricing. The hope that I and many others have is that as long as technology progresses, prices will trend downwards and affordability will increase. This is particularly so with the mass production of generic medicines. A hundred years ago, hardly anyone ate steak. And hardly anyone had access to antibiotics. Still, there is a long way to go in light of the Big Pharma quasi-cartel, corrupt regulators and legislators (the old ‘revolving door’), and the artificial stimulation of demand due in large part to a woeful lack of government or private interest in preventive health care – the best health care of all.

No, I don’t want to stand in a queue outside a state-run food dispensary. And I want more than ten minutes with my GP. The logic of not bothering about the latter leads to not being fussed about the former, at least if my reasoning is correct. I think we should reject rationing altogether, outside of war and national calamity. If I want a National Food Service, I’ll head over to North Korea. Thanks but no thanks; I’m off to Tesco for a sirloin.

David S. Oderberg is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Reading; [email protected]; www.davidsoderberg.co.uk; davidsoderberg.substack.com. All opinions expressed are personal and not associated in any way with my employer.


Photo Credit.

Relatability and Envy

At the Sky News Q&A, both Rishi Sunak and Keir Starmer were asked to reveal something about themselves that would show the real them. Starmer was also accused of being a robot by a voter. Sunak waffled on about his love of sugary food. Starmer basically went on autopilot.

Did it work? No. Both just looked stupid.

It was an unfortunate question really. The problem is that politicians have become obsessed with being relatable. They’ll shed their political image like a snake in order to win a few votes. It can be talking about TV shows, playing sports or just mentioning something from popular culture. They have to look like they’re one of us.

It also ties in with a politics of envy. A number of politicians who are wealthy or come from good families play down their backgrounds or hide from it. The idea that someone from a privileged background can reach the level that they do without envy or scorn is somehow unrealistic in today’s society.

It’s All About the PR

For decades, politics has been a PR game. Who would you have a drink with? Who seems nicest? Who has the best family values? Who is funniest? Policies are put aside in favour of a good photo op and a one-liner that does the rounds on social media.

We’ve seen that in this election, particularly from Sir Ed Davey. He’s had fun going paddle boarding and riding roller coasters. There is no substancing in his messaging, despite the fact that he could make gains from the two major parties collapsing. Whilst the Lib Dems do have a manifesto and probably actual policies, it’s overshadowed by Davey’s antics.

It’s not new either. Even Margaret Thatcher was not immune to it. Aides had her hold a calf for photographers, the poor thing died not long later. David Cameron hugged huskies in snow. Neil Kinnock walked down the beach with his wife. Tony Blair met with Noel Gallagher. Everyone has a gimmick.

The problem is that it is clearly not authentic. Margaret Thatcher wasn’t an animal cuddler. David Cameron isn’t a fan of huskies. Neil Kinnock probably doesn’t do long walks on the beach. Tony Blair doesn’t listen to Oasis. Voters don’t want to see their politicians being hip and cool. They want to see them tackling the issues that we elect them to do.

We all know that the Prime Minister has a job to do. They oversee wars, economic crises, terrorist attacks and natural disasters among other things. The real test of a PM is their response to said issues. Nobody cares about what their favourite book or TV show is when such issues arise. Interviewers often like to throw in a soft question, just like a backbench Member of Parliament mentions a new animal sanctuary in their constituency. It just doesn’t fit.

It also assumes that every politician is one of us. Who cares if they don’t watch much TV? Who cares if they speak Latin or Greek? Boris Johnson, a man with a great love of the classics, would often recite Ancient Greek, but he also showed an affability and relaxed nature that hid this. Meanwhile, David Cameron struggled to look authentic when he wanted to ‘hug a hoodie.’ One lasted six years in office, the other three.

Rich or Poor?

This brings me nicely to my next point. Our nation, or at least the media, seems to not particularly like politicians being open about their privilege. If a politician came from a wealthy family or went to a private school, they are expected to flex their working class credentials.

Take Rishi Sunak and Keir Starmer. Sunak is the son-in-law of a billionaire and wears very expensive items, and is thus wealthy. When asked about this, he points to the fact that his father was a GP and his mother a pharmacist, two respectable middle class professions. Starmer waxes lyrical about the fact that his father was a toolmaker (cue laughter) and his mother a nurse. What he fails to mention is that his father apparently owned the factory and he attended a private school, though through a bursary.

David Cameron suffered from a similar image problem, as did Boris Johnson in some quarters. Meanwhile, Margaret Thatcher was proud of being a grocer’s daughter and John Major left school at sixteen. Clement Attlee came from a comfortable background, attending a private school and Oxford. James Callaghan came from a working class family and did not attend university. Each of them have varied reputations as politicians.

Contrast this with that of America. Whilst Americans love the idea of the American Dream and pulling yourself up by the bootstraps, they also don’t care as much about class, whether upper or lower. Donald Trump has not once hid that he’s from a rich family, and yet he does not see shame from voters over this.

I frankly do not care if a politician came from a northern council estate like Angela Rayner or was the grandson of a duke like Winston Churchill. I don’t care if they went to a comprehensive or Eton, just as I don’t begrudge a parent for wanting to send their child to a grammar or private school. If they can afford private healthcare, then good for them.

If a politician from a comfortable background is asked about this, they should not downplay it. Instead, they should simply say that their parents worked hard and that they want all people to have the same opportunity.

That is not to say that I think the country would be a perfect place if every MP went to Eton and Oxford. I don’t think it would be perfect if every MP went to a normal school and didn’t go to university. We’ve had good politicians from all backgrounds, and we’ve had bad politicians from all backgrounds.

It does not serve us well to be envious of the rich, or assume that all working class people are good ol’ folk. We should not be desperate for a politician to be a big fan of Game of Thrones or like the same sweets as we do. Politicians should not pretend to be something they are not. I’m not voting for a person’s school or their favourite beverage. I’m voting for who I think has the best ideas.

Which, to be frank, seems to be none of them. Hey, at least I know that Rishi Sunak loves Haribo.


Photo Credit.

Kino

Is it Possible to Live Without a Computer of Any Kind?

This article was originally published on 19th May 2021.

I am absolutely sick to death of computers. The blue light of a screen wakes me up in the morning, I stare at another computer on my desk for hours every day, I keep one in my pocket all the time and that familiar too-bright glow is the last thing I see before I close my eyes at night. Lockdown undoubtedly made the problem much, much worse. Last year, a nasty thought occurred to me: it might be the case that the majority of my memories for several months were synthetic. Most of the sights and sounds I’d experienced for a long time had been simulated – audio resonating out of a tinny phone speaker or video beamed into my eyes by a screen. Obviously I knew that my conscious brain could tell the difference between media and real life, but I began to wonder whether I could be so sure about my subconscious. In short, I began to suspect that I was going insane.

So, I asked myself if it was possible to live in the modern world without a computer of any kind – no smartphone, no laptop, and no TV (which I’m sure has a computer in it somewhere). Of course, it’s possible to survive without a computer, provided that you have an income independent of one, but that wasn’t really the question. The question was whether it’s possible to live a full life in a developed country without one.

Right away, upon getting rid of my computers, my social life ground to a halt. Unable to go to the pub or a club, my phone allowed me to feel like I was still at least on the periphery of my friends lives while they were all miles away. This was hellish, but I realised that it was the real state of my life – my phone acted as a pacifier and my friendships were holograms. No longer built on the foundation of experiences shared on a regular basis, social media was a way for me to freeze-dry my friendships – preserve them so that they could be revived at a later date. With lockdown over though, this becomes less necessary. They can be reheated and my social life can be taken off digital life support. I would lose contact with some people but, as I said, these would only be those friendships kept perpetually in suspended animation.

These days large parts of education, too, take place online. It’s not uncommon now in universities, colleges and secondary schools for work and timetables to be found online or for information to be sent to pupils via internal email networks. Remote education during lockdown was no doubt made easier by the considerable infrastructure already in place. 

Then there’s the question of music. No computers would mean a life lived in serene quiet; travelling and working without background sound to hum or tap one’s foot to. An inconvenience, maybe, but perhaps not altogether a negative one. Sir Roger Scruton spoke about the intrusion of mass-produced music into everyday life. Computer-produced tunes are played at a low level in shopping centres and restaurants, replacing the ambient hum and chatter of human life with banal pop music. Scruton believed that the proper role of music was to exalt life – to enhance and make clear our most heartfelt emotions. Music today, though, is designed to distract from the dullness of everyday life or paper over awkward silences at social events. He went so far as to say that pop consumption had an effect on the musical ear comparable to that of pornography on sex.

The largest barrier, however, is the use of the internet for work. Many companies use online services to organise things like shift rotas, pay and holidays and the entire professional world made the switch to email decades ago. How feasible is it to opt out of this? Short of becoming extremely skilled at something for which there is both very little supply and very high demand, and then working for a band of eccentrics willing to accommodate my niche lifestyle, I think it would be more or less impossible. Losing the computer would mean kissing the possibility of a career goodbye. 

Lockdown has also sped up the erosion of physical infrastructure required to live life offline as well as accelerated our transformation into a ‘cashless society’. On average, 50 bank branches have closed every month since January 2015, with over 1000 branch closures across the country in the last year alone. It also seems to have wiped away the last remaining businesses that didn’t accept card payments. The high street, already kicking against the current for years, is presently being kept alive by Rishi Sunak’s magic money tree while Amazon records its best quarter for profits ever. It’s no mystery to anyone which way history will go. 

I’m lucky that my parents were always instinctively suspicious of ‘screens’. I didn’t get a smartphone until a good way into secondary school and I got my first – and only – games console at the age of 16. I keenly remember getting a laptop for my birthday. I think my parents gave it to me in the hopes that I would become some kind of computing or coding genius – instead, I just played a lot of Sid Meiers Civilisation III. My dad would remind me that nothing on my computer was real, but that didn’t stop me getting addicted to games. If it wasn’t for my parents’ strong interventions I would likely have developed a serious problem – sucked into the matrix and doomed to spend my youth in my bedroom with the blinds down.

All year this year I have wrestled with my media addiction but been unable to throw it off. I told my friends that I was taking a break from social media, I deactivated my Twitter account, I physically hid my phone from myself under my bed, and yet here I am, writing this on my laptop for an online publication. When I got rid of my phone I turned to my computer to fill the time. When I realised that the computer was no better I tore myself from it too… and spent more time watching TV. I tried reading – and made some progress – but the allure of instant reward always pulled me back.

I’m not a completely helpless creature, though. On several occasions I cast my digital shackles into the pit, only to find that I needed internet access for business that was more important than my luddite hissy-fit. Once I opened the computer up for business, it was only a matter of time before I would be guiltily watching Netflix and checking my phone again. It’s too easy – I know all the shortcuts. I can be on my favourite time-absorbing website at any time in three or four keystrokes. Besides, getting rid of my devices meant losing contact with my friends (with whom contact was thin on the ground already). Unplugging meant really facing the horrific isolation of lockdown without dummy entertainment devices to distract me. I lasted a month, once. So determined was I to live in the 17th century that I went a good few weeks navigating my house and reading late at night by candlelight rather than turning on those hated LEDs.

And yet, the digital world is tightening around us all the time. Year on year, relics of our past are replaced with internet-enabled gadgets connected to a worldwide spider web of content that has us wrapped up like flies. Whenever I’ve mentioned this I’ve been met with derision and scorn and told to live my life in the woods. I don’t want to live alone in the woods – I want to live a happy and full life; the kind of life that everyone lived just fine until about the ’90s. I’m sick of the whirr and whine of my laptop, of my nerves being raw from overuse, of always keeping one ear open for a ‘ping ’or a ‘pop’ from my phone, and of the days lost mindlessly flicking from one app to the other. Computers have drastically changed the rhythm of life itself. Things used to take certain amounts of time and so they used to take place at certain hours of the day. They were impacted by things like distance and the weather. Now, so much can occur instantaneously irrespective of time or distance and independent from the physical world entirely. Put simply, less and less of life today takes place in real life. 

The world of computers is all I’ve ever known and yet I find myself desperately clawing at the walls for a way out. It’s crazy to think that something so complex and expensive – a marvel of human engineering – can become so necessary in just a few decades. If I can’t get rid of my computers I’ll have to learn to diminish their roles in my life as best I can. This is easier said than done, though; as the digital revolution marches on and more and more of life is moved online, the digital demons I am struggling to keep at arm’s length grow bigger and hungrier.

I’m under no illusions that it’s possible to turn back the tide. Unfortunately the digital revolution, like the industrial and agricultural revolutions before it, will trade individual quality of life for collective power. As agricultural societies swallowed up hunter gatherers one by one before themselves being crushed by industrial societies, so those who would cling to an analogue way of life will find themselves overmatched, outcompeted and overwhelmed. Regardless, I will continue with my desperate, rearguard fight against history the same way the English romantics struggled against industrialisation. Hopeless my cause is, yes, but it’s beautiful all the same.


Photo Credit.

What I’ve Learnt as a Revolutionary Communist

This article was originally published in November 2021.

I have a confession to make. 

A few months ago I was made an official member of the Revolutionary Communist Group after being involved as a participating supporter for about a month and a half. The RCG are, in their own words, Marxist-Leninist, pro-Cuba, pro-Palestine, internationalist, anti-imperialist, anti-racist and anti-capitalist. They believe that capitalism is causing climate change, which they refer to as the ‘climate crisis’, and that socialism/communism is the only way to avert catastrophe.

They believe that the twin forces of imperialism and capitalism work today, and have been working for hundreds of years, to enrich the Western capitalist class by exploiting the labour of the proletariat and plundering the resources of the ‘Global South’. They publish a bi-monthly newspaper entitled ‘Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism!’ which acts as an ideological core around which centre most of the groups discussions.

After two months of twice-weekly zoom calls, leafleting in front of busy train stations and protesting in front of embassies, I was finally invited to become an official member. I rendezvous-ed with two comrades before being taken to a door which was hidden down a dark alleyway and protected by a large iron gate – certainly a fitting location for a revolutionary HQ. Inside was an office and a small library stocked with all manners of communist, socialist and anti-imperialist literature including everything from Chavs by Owen Jones to The Labour Party – A Party Fit For Imperialism by Robert Clough, the group’s leader. 

I was presented with a copy of their constitution, a document about security and a third document about sexual harassment (the RCG has had issues with members’ behaviour in the past). It was here, discussing these documents for almost three hours, that I learnt most of what I know now about the RCG as an organisation and the ecosystem it inhabits. 

The RCG is about 150-200 members strong with branches across the country – three in London, one in Liverpool, Manchester, Norwich, Glasgow and Edinburgh and possibly more. In terms of organisation and decision-making they use what they call ‘democratic centralism’ – a sprawling mess of committees made up of delegates that appoint other committees that all meet anywhere between once every two weeks and once every two years. They’re also remarkably well funded, despite the fact that their newspaper sells for just 50p. They employ staff full time and rent ‘offices’ up and down the country. They draw income from fundraising events, members dues, newspaper and book sales and donations (both large and small).

Officially, the RCG is against the sectarianism that famously ails the Left. However, one zoom call I was in was dedicated to lambasting the Socialist Workers Party who, I soon learnt, were dirty, menshevik, reactionary Trots. We referred to them as part of the ‘opportunist Left’ who routinely side with the imperialists. 

The RCG doesn’t generally maintain good relations with many other major leftist groups. Central to RCG politics is the idea of a ‘labour [small L] aristocracy’ – a core of the working class who have managed to improve their material conditions just slightly and so work against the interests of the wider working class, suppressing real revolutionary activity in order to maintain their cushy positions. The RCG sees the Trade Union movement as the bastion of the labour aristocracy. They see the Labour party also as their greatest enemy – ‘the single greatest barrier to socialism in Britain’.

The RCG takes issue with the SWP specifically over their attitude to Cuba. They believe that most Trotskyists are too critical of socialist revolutions that have occurred in the past and so are not real communists – after all, no revolution will be perfect. The RCG’s issue with the Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB) is that they resent how the CPGB claims to be the main organisation for communism in this country and uses its coziness with the trade unions as a signifier of legitimacy. However, the RCG believes that this makes the CPGB not much more than an extension of the Labour party, which it despises. 

The CPGB-ML (Communist Party of Great Britain – Marxist-Leninist), on the other hand, are much closer politically to the RCG. They also share the same view on the Labour party. However, the CPGB-ML has recently taken a loud anti-trans position and so the RCG wants nothing to do with them.

Socialist Appeal are a group that has organised with the RCG in London before but the two do not get along due to, once again, the former’s (until recent) support for the Labour party every election. The RCG also shares views with Extinction Rebellion but XR now no longer wants anything to do with the RCG because of the RCG’s insistence on selling its communist newspaper at every event its members attend. The RCG insisting on trying to recruit members at every event it attends, including events co-organised with other groups, is a major source of friction and one of the reasons nobody wants to organise with them. It’s also one of the reasons why the RCG has stopped organising with LAFA – the London AntiFascist Assembly. 

LAFA, I was told, are a chaotic bunch. They staunchly oppose all forms of hierarchy and make decisions on a ‘horizontalist’ basis. In true anarchist fashion, there are no official leaders or ranks at all in LAFA and decisions are made sort of by whoever takes the initiative. Unfortunately this means that those who become unofficial leaders in the group are accountable to absolutely no-one because they are not technically responsible for anything, and naturally issues arise from this quasi-primitivist state of affairs. Ironically, this makes the London AntiFascist Assembly kind of based.

Interestingly, one organisation with which the RCG has never had any problems is Black Lives Matter. The RCG and Socialist Appeal were (apparently) the only two groups out on the streets in solidarity with BLM last summer – BLM even allowed RCG members to speak at their events. The RCG enjoyed quite a close and amicable relationship with BLM right up until BLM decided at the end of last summer to effectively cease all activity, with the reason given to the RCG being just that ‘the summer has ended’. Presumably, the bulk of BLM’s activist base either had to go back to school or just got bored. 

Although the RCG strictly prohibits any illegal activity at any of its protests, one clause of the constitution is ‘a revolution clause’ requiring members to leave their jobs and move house at the discretion of the RCG. I was told this clause has never been invoked and isn’t expected to be invoked for decades at least but is there in case a genuine communist uprising were to take place somewhere in the country and RCG leadership decided that it needed members to move into the area to help. The RCG is intent on staying firmly on the right side of the law for the foreseeable future – supposedly until class consciousness is raised to such a level that the time for revolution arrives. Whether or not history will pan out the way they think it will, only time will tell.  

Perhaps most curious was the group’s confused stance on lockdowns. They are fiercely pro-lockdown and pro-mask, but also highly critical of the government’s approach for reasons that are quite vague. Why a communist organisation would want to place unprecedented power in the hands of a government – a Tory government no less – that it thinks operates as the right arm of global capital is beyond me. When I brought this up, a lone voice of dissent in my branch, I was told I had made a ‘valid point’ and that the group needed to discuss the matter further, but that was it. The only explanation I could arrive at was that unfortunately the RCG, and I think the Left generally, are deep in denial about being anti-establishment.

The RCG’s modus operandi is the weekly stall: three or four communists will take a table and a megaphone to a busy location and try to hand out leaflets and sell copies of the FRFI newspaper. The idea was that people whose values loosely align with those of the groups could be contacted and organised by way of these stalls. The law of large numbers means that these stalls are curiously successful – one two-hour stall at the weekend can sell a dozen newspapers and enlist a handful of people to be contacted by the group at a later date. The process of collecting people and funnelling them down the contact-member pipeline is a slow one with a low success rate, but they’re relentless.

Interestingly though, I believe their decades-old activist tradition is actually one of their biggest weaknesses. Ironically, so-called progressives are stuck in the past. The RCG has a very minimal online footprint – it uses its profiles on twitter and Instagram only to post dates for upcoming events. The RCG have so much faith in their traditional method of raising ‘class consciousness’ (translation: spreading communism) that they’re losing the internet arms race and thus their grip on young people – their traditional base. The fact that the group has a large proportion of older members might have something to do with it.

However, Leftists are good at street activism – they’ve been doing it for decades. Leftist activist groups have ingrained in their traditions social technology – sets of practices, behaviours and attitudes – that have developed over time and that their opponents would do well to familiarise themselves with, like looking at the homework of a friend (or in this case, an adversary).

The RCG believes that it is one of very few, maybe even the only, Leftist group in Britain today committed to maintaining a substantial street presence. One of the conditions for membership, after all, is promising to attend at least one street protest a week. The RCG no doubt take their activism seriously, with a comrade even describing the group to me as being made up of ‘professional revolutionaries’. They believe that they are growing and will continue to grow in strength, propelled by financial and then ecological crises. They are very excited for the collapse of the Labour party, which they believe is all-but imminent, because they think it will cause swathes of the Left to lose faith in a parliamentary means of achieving socialism and take to the streets, where the RCG will be waiting for them.

My time as a revolutionary communist has been challenging but what I’ve learned is no doubt valuable. I strongly encourage others to do as I have, if only just for a few weeks or so. Join your local leftist organisation – pick a sect, any sect! Expand your knowledge, see a different perspective and gain skills you might not gain anywhere else. Speak to people with a completely different viewpoint from yours and learn how they think, you’ll be a slightly better and more knowledgeable person for it.

Quote: Leftists are good at street activism. They have ingrained in their traditions social technology that have developed over time and that their opponents should familiarise themselves with.


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Britain’s Fifth Column

A fifth column is “a group within a country at war who are sympathetic to or working for its enemies.”

We have a problem that is acknowledged but gets little to no serious attention in the official political or media spheres; the growing Islamic base that has been imported into this country. Given the above definition, it might seem absurd to imply that these people are a fifth column, seeing as we don’t appear to be directly at war, but we are. I would not call this a cold war as there are many thousands of victims of its adherents living among us in Britain currently. To do so would be to diminish their experience, something our traitorous state has done more than enough of.

Islam is its own self-contained religion and civilisational structure. By allowing this population to grow, we are fostering an ideology that will only seek to grow and supplant our society because that is what their god demands. Islam has been allowed to run parallel to our society by our cowardly state permitting Sharia courts, turning a blind eye to polygamous marriages, and generally leaving these guests to their own devices as they overtake British cities. While deplorable and deeply distressing, this has so far been contained, not so much any more. The Islamic community is breaking out, it’s establishing a significant voting bloc and this heralds a dark omen for things to come. In a great twist of irony, it seems Labour will be the first to fall foul of this new political development.

Contrary to their minority position, the Islamic community in Britain has a relatively tight grasp on small businesses in corner shops, barbers, hot food takeaways, off-licences, and petrol stations. They’ve also got an increasingly large share in drug dealing, likely facilitated by these interconnect, all hours, businesses, where cash is king and electronic fraud is missed. HMRC doesn’t have the resources to deal with such matters effectively, often fearing accusations of bigotry and being threatened with violence whenever they try to conduct their investigations. This is where Mohammed Hijab’s (a real name I’m told) bizarre TV comments about blasphemy against Islam not being tolerated by “Muslim gangsters” likely come from. We’ve seen this before, from the murder of Kris Donald to the grooming gangs. The community sheltering the vile perpetrators, in my mind, damns them. The religious extremists and the cultural criminals go hand in hand.

The more odious elements of Islam in Britain claim they have conquered Britain – that is, being imported by our traitorous elite and living off welfare. Make no mistake, this is not Mohammed taking Mecca from the pagans, these people are arrogant welfare queens that the state protects and cajoles at every opportunity. Where is this arrogance coming from? Is it their status beyond criticism? The enshrining of Islamophobia as an ultimate crime against “Modern British Values” is certainly a problem. We have Muslim MPs almost brought to tears in Parliament for mean words while White children up and down the country are groomed and raped by adherents of their ideology and culture, fanatic or otherwise; crocodile tears from a vile community that not-so-secretly laughs about the modern woes of the native British.

Muslim gaslighting doesn’t end in Parliament. Pakistani actor Riz Ahmed put out a bizarre video a few years ago in which National Front types went door to door ethnically cleansing Muslims from England. I thought this to be a particularly bizarre thing to do when you consider the terrorism rate, per capita, of the Islamic vs British community. To me this was a tell in his thinking, it acknowledges that fundamentally they are at war with us. Riz also starred in the film Four Lions, which follows a hapless Jihadi’s attempt to carry out a terror attack in the UK. The film, while amusing, does paint these men (other than the grossly unsympathetic White convert) as sympathetic in their idiocy, with Ahmed’s character leading his less bright friends astray. Outside the context of the film, I find this portrayal to be unrealistic. The average second-gen or third-gen Muslim youth sincerely hates Britain, its history, and its people. They’ll prioritise and take the side of foreign conflicts over any domestic issue concerning the British nation. The most they’ll interact with British culture is through the superficiality of sport.

Moreover, there is a bizarre Africanisation of British Muslim culture, Ali G was a send-up of this, but Cohen seemed to back away from this obvious interpretation for whatever reason. Drug culture, speaking in a pseudo-Jamaican patois (to steal from Starkey) mixed with Muslim conventions, producing a particularly unpleasant and idiotic-sounding dialect. A glorification of crime, violence, and importantly terrorism pervades this culture. We’ve seen this play out across the pro-Palestine demonstrations happening over recent months. To quickly touch on drug culture, cannabis is a major drug among this group. People like Peter Hitchens get the relationship twisted. They assume that cannabis is the cause of terror, not that these people engage in drug culture because they are themselves a criminal and subversive element in society. Do drugs exacerbate their hatred? I wouldn’t doubt it, but the hatred is before the imbibing of wicked poisons.

This is all an incredibly dangerous mix that the state and security services seem to barely be able to keep a lid on. Despite their protestations that right-wing terrorism is the biggest threat, this is clearly nonsense. Islamic terror threats outstrip right-wing ones by miles, even with the vast population difference. This can also be seen in the police’s reluctance to police the entrenched Muslim community. What are they so afraid of? My guess is terroristic violence. To cow in the face of such a threat is basically to guarantee you will hand the country to Islamists.

What is to be done about this? Ideas have been floated about banning certain aspects of the religion to encourage them to self-deport but again, this relies on enforcement by the state which it is both unwilling and incapable of doing. I would propose a ban on the production, import, and sale of ritualistically slaughtered meat as that would be the easiest to enforce without confrontation. Businesses would be shuttered, products would be impounded at customs, and we would stand firmly on the side of animal rights. It’s reprehensible to me that Britain should take a step backward in this regard to placate alien desert religions. Naturally, this ban would affect the Jewish community, but that’s a sacrifice we will need to make for the future of Britain. The Jewish community is particularly robust and progressive when it comes to issues of wrestling with God, and I’m sure they’d find a way around our new law.

Less practical solutions have been offered; recently I’ve seen people saying that public prayer should be banned in response to mass Islamic worship in London. This is a nonsense approach that would only affect our beleaguered Christian community and would likely not be enforced fairly. Some have suggested banning cousin marriages. Whilst well-intentioned, the main thrust of my objection to such a policy is that we haven’t had to ban it for it to no longer be practised in this country (outside the Muslim community and presumable other outliers). Simply put, we’d be creating a nationwide law for an imported subset of the population. It’s not the thin end of the wedge of tyranny, but it does point to the ridiculous codification of a multiracial society.

Groups are so vastly different in outlook and disposition that you need to make the detrimental illegal for it to appear to function. Perhaps we should take it as a sign that people who willingly marry their cousins and as such have the largest disabled community in Britain shouldn’t be living among us. Britain does not exist to serve as a eugenic uplift scheme for foreign people who cleave to a religion that orders them to supplant us. On an entirely different and less targeted front, the deportation of economic net negatives would substantially reduce the Islamic population of Britain, but the problem of Islam would remain, albeit at perpetual minority levels.

Approaching last Christmas, we saw the usual warning of terror attacks rolled out for many festive markets and events that are happening across the country. If you attend any of these markets, you will likely notice the ethnic make-up of the security and the broken English with which they communicate. It’s not lost on me that many of these men are of African, non-Muslim, extraction however many are of Muslim origin and I find it entirely insane that threats from Islamic terrorism would be policed by fresh off-the-boat Muslims. We have a growing force of non-white imported security, increasingly used by businesses because they are cheap and a state which seeks to enforce anti-white laws, which is worrying. Their conduct is poor, and their obvious biases and unfamiliarity with Britain can’t be ignored.

In a recent clip, a piano player is aggressively harassed by foreign security. Is the proliferation of such people across the UK security sector related to the housing of fighting aged illegals now being overseen by two of the biggest private security companies Serco and G4S? It’s certainly a question worth asking. It is not without reason that it could be expected for such people to end up in the official police forces of Britain eventually. Standards in policing have been dropping for decades, if things are not reversed, I imagine we will start seeing these people transition into the force within the decade.

To me, this is all part of the plan, the expansion of the police state. Contrary to Telegraph hacks, the police state is already here. This great panopticon of Modern Britain, with its pervasive speech laws coupled with the new ‘diverse’ religiosity, forms a tyranny of leftists and racial mafias over the native population. As with everything in Modern Britain, the “elite” have made a vast miscalculation. Creating such a system will be subverted and controlled by the most vocal, violent, and united community. Without a doubt, that community is the Islamic one. While they are still a minority, they will increasingly wield disproportionate, anti-democratic, power over us all. It’s a horrific reverse colonialism where we, the native British, have been entangled in a web of increasingly complex and restrictive laws that all but guarantee our disempowerment. The Tories are utter traitors and completely politically spent for not seeing this and not doing anything about it for their fourteen years in power. Hopefully, they’ll be destroyed at the next election and a new, vigorous, and unapologetically nationalist force can rise to lift us out of this predicament decades of political incompetence and deliberate malice have brought us to.

I do not believe Islam will take over Britain is guaranteed, I do not believe that things are too far gone. Britain is broken and while Islam is germinating in this environment it’s entirely imported. For the most part, the White British converts we see are the most broken of outsiders, with fringe academics constituting a bizarre exception. Most people in Britain look at the Islamic community with rightful derision. They may not express it openly but in their hearts, they see it as a thuggish religion of petty criminals and child rapists. This is the version of Islam that the immigrants have brought to our shores, the blame is squarely on themselves and they alone shame their Ummah. Indeed, Arab Muslims in states like the UAE or Saudi often wonder why we have let such people settle in our lands, a favour they do not permit to their “brothers and sisters.”

In order to prevent this growing Islamic problem in Britain, we must acknowledge the interconnected nature of this religion, from how drug dealers and home office employees are all working together to advance their faith and racial groups within that overarching religion. We are constantly told to take people on an individual basis, but time and time again in Modern Britain this has shown to be dangerously faulty reasoning. It’s outdated and only conceivably worked when the country was homogenous and dwelt under a Christian understanding. Those days are gone. In an irreligious and deracinated Britain, we are at the mercy of monolithic minorities who use the law to cudgel each other and especially the native population.

I had said in a previous piece that I was unsure of the civilisational war proposed by the counter-jihad movement, and I still hold that belief. I do not believe in siding with foreign interests outside of Europe that seek to interfere in the Islamic world instead of focusing on problems at home. The priority is removing Islam from Britain and more broadly Europe, not fighting Israel’s wars or throwing our lot in with Zionists. The European and Islamic civilisations should be separate and distinct.


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Nigel Farage is Britain’s unofficial ambassador to the United States

On Saturday, late British time, former President Trump and presumptive nominee to be the Republican candidate for November, survived assassination by mere millimetres. A bullet, fired from an AR-15, aimed at Donald Trump’s head grazed his ear instead, thanks to an unbelievably lucky turn of the head as Trump looked at the graph on immigration statistics behind him.

A shooter on the roof of a nearby building, missed through a toxic combination of incompetence and lack of coordination between security forces, shot at the former President several times before being taken down by the security forces. The forces who, it has come to light, had the shooter in their sites for several minutes before he began shooting. Arguments have erupted over whether the threat should have been neutralised sooner, or by who, but in reality he should never have gotten that close. The entire security service should hang its head in shame.

While the world rushed to condemn – or, in the particularly nasty and degenerate corners of the internet, celebrate – the 20-year old shooter, the leader of the Reform party and newly-sworn in MP for Clacton, Nigel Farage, announced that he would imminently be travelling to the US to visit his friend and fellow traveller on the populist right, to lend his support.

The necessity of this move can be debated. Prime Minister Sir Keir Starmer has already rung Trump and offered his wishes, and the 78 year old Republican is already out and about, back on the campaign trail and preparing for the Republican National Convention in Milwaukee this week. This is without even mentioning the fact that, after being shot, Trump got back to his feet, raised his fist in defiance and chanted “fight!”

Some rushed to decry Farage’s decision, pointing to his responsibility as an MP, and no doubt using this as an example of his unprofessionalism and self-aggrandisement. Others said that there is no real need, and Farage should focus on issues closer to home, especially as the King’s Speech is on Wednesday – though Farage did say he would not go before the speech.

Such reactions ignore the humanity of this situation. A man nearly lost his life, and while Farage’s medical credentials are certainly questionable in this instance, the value of having a friend speak to you and visit you after such a shocking moment can be invaluable. And while there is a world of difference between the projectiles, Farage is almost certainly fearful that one day a milkshake might be something closer to what Trump faced. Never forget that Andy Ngo once had to attend the ER in America after a milkshake thrown over him was found to have concrete mixed in.

Moreover, Farage was more than likely going to attend the RNC in Milwaukee this week anyway; this simply makes his visit more personal.

Yet, whether you agree with his politics or not, Farage’s very close relationship with the once-and-probably-future President of the most powerful nation in the world should not be sniffed at. Farage, like him or not, is going to be an asset should Trump return to the White House in January 2025 – a prospect that, more than ever, seems likely.

Rather than criticising Farage for making a decision which, it must be remembered, is entirely his prerogative – senior Conservatives visited America during the election campaign, and Lisa Nandy was in Germany for the Euros final this weekend, and rightly so – the British government should recognise Farage’s value in the special relationship.

This is not even to mention the fact that many populist parties in Europe look to the architect of Brexit with great admiration, Nigel Farage’s international profile is greater than some members of the cabinet, and is certainly more amenable to some foreign political parties.

Nigel Farage’s role in the coming parliament is likely to be one of unofficial ambassador – to the United States, certainly, and more than likely many other nations. It would be a mistake to undervalue and underestimate that.


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The Path of Reconstruction

As every British conservative writer, pundit, and academic will tell you, Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli once said:

“The Conservative Party is a national party, or it is nothing.”

How right he was! Having ceased to be a national party in both respects, dispensing with any meaningful concept of the nation and placing all its chips on a concentrated slither of the Grey Vote – a demographic which it’s managed to alienate after a completely avoidable PR disaster – the party is on track to be reduced to nothing come this year’s general election.

Based on recent polling, the Tories are competing for a distant second with the Liberal Democrats, leading many to suggest 2024 is going to be Britain’s equivalent of Canada’s 1993 federal election, in which a centre-left lawyer secures a majority after the unpopular centre-right government, headed by an unlikeable first-of-their-kind Prime Minister, was decimated by a vote-splitting right-wing populist upstart called Reform.

Given this, it is worth considering the possibility of a Canada ’93-style erosion of the Conservative Party over the next five years and what this will mean for the British right, assuming it’s going to be represented by Reform UK or a different party arising from a merger between the two. After all, by his own admission, Farage isn’t trying to win the general election, stating it won’t determine which party enters government (rest assured, it will be Labour) but will determine which party leads the opposition.

The collapse of the Progressive Conservative Party – Canada’s main centre-right party – coincided with the rise of the Reform Party of Canada (RPC); a right-wing populist party founded in the 1980s and led by Preston Manning. The RPC originated as a pressure movement for advancing the interests of Western Canada, whose inhabitants felt increasingly alienated by the central government, especially as constitutional issues increased in salience. The RPC was particularly suspicious of attempts to grant “distinct society” status to Quebec, believing Canada was a federation of similar and equal provinces united by a set of rights and obligations, rather than an essentially multicultural and bilingual state.

As the RPC sought to become a national party, it was required to expand its appeal and therefore its political platform. The party dispensed with its Western-centric agenda and outright rejected calls within its rank-and-file for Western Canadian independence. In its place, the RPC formulated a platform dedicated to shrinking the size of the central government, lowering taxes, making considerable cuts to government spending, pursuing free trade agreements, supporting Christian social values, promoting direct democracy, and advancing political reform.

After its electoral breakthrough in 1993, the RPC continued to broaden its appeal, softening its positions to attract more moderate-minded voters in Canada’s Eastern provinces. Whilst the 1993 manifesto provided an extensive 56 reasons to vote for the party – over half of which dealt with the party’s core concerns, treating areas outside their remit with scarce detail – the party’s 1997 manifesto condensed its list of policies, softened its position on tax-and-spend, made national unity a top priority, and generally provided more thorough proposals. The party also openly disassociated with views which invited accusations of bigotry, intolerance, extremism but retained a focus on family-oriented social conservatism.

In the 1997 federal election, the RPC would increase its vote share and total number of seats, becoming the largest party in opposition and solidifying itself as the main conservative party in Canada. The party held onto its Western support base and managed to strengthen its influence in the Prairies, but still struggled to find support among moderate Atlantic Canadians, many of whom continued to support the PCP, despite its greatly diminished political influence. For the most part, the RPC was still viewed (and still functioned in many ways) as a regional party, seen by many as the Western equivalent of the Bloc Québécois – a party dedicated to the interests of Quebec and another major winner in the 1993 federal election.

To complicate matters further, the Liberal government of Jean Chrétien pursued greater financial discipline in order to reduce the national deficit. This occurred during a period of “constitutional fatigue” which tail-ended a turbulent period of controversial proposals for reform. As fiscal conservatism and political reform were the RPC’s core concerns, the party often struggled to oppose government policy despite being the largest party in opposition, simultaneously trying to integrate its newfound responsibilities (and privileges) with its populist background.

Concluding it needed to broaden its appeal even more, the RPC merged with several provincial wings of the PCP into a new right-wing party: The Canadian Alliance.

Similar to the RPC, the party continued to adapt its image, refine its positions, and broaden its platform. However, unlike the RPC’s 1997 manifesto, which largely homed-in on the party’s approach to its core issues, the CA’s 2000 manifesto paid greater attention to issues beyond the RPC’s traditional remit, such as international affairs, environmental conservation, and technological change, all whilst carrying over RPC policy on tax-and-spend, decentralization, and family values.

Alas, despite these efforts, the Canadian Alliance (CA) was short-lived, existing for less than half-a-decade, and was widely viewed as the RPC under a different name. The party would place second in the 2000 federal election, increasing its share of the vote and its number of seats as the RPC had done in 1997, but not before playing host to a major change in the Canadian political landscape: the end of Preston Manning’s leadership. For most members, a new party required new management, so the bookish Manning was ousted in favour of the clean-cut (but also gaffe-prone) Stockwell Day, whose outspoken evangelical views often contrasted his own party’s efforts at moderation.

The Canadian right would remain out of power until 2006, in which the newly founded Conservative Party of Canada (CPC), led by Stephen Harper, a former policy advisor to Preston Manning, defeated the incumbent Liberal Party and formed a minority government. Founded in 2003, the CPC was created from a full and official merger of the CA and the PCP. Combining policies and aspects of their intellectual traditions, the merger reinvigorated the centrality of fiscal conservatism in the Canadian centre-right, and united Canada’s once-divided right-leaning voters under one national banner.

Although courting the Christian right, Harper displaced the last remnants of the RPC’s populistic social conservatism to the party’s periphery, entrenching economic liberalism as the backbone of the CPC’s electoral coalition whilst formulating stances on a variety of issues, from immigration to arts and culture, from constitutional reform to public transit, from foreign policy to affordable housing, from international trade to social justice.

As it took roughly five years and two election cycles for the RPC to destroy and absorb the PCP, it’s possible that Farage is banking on achieving something similar. However, what this implies is that Farage intends to oversee the destruction of the Conservative Party, but not the reconstruction of Reform UK – at least, not in a frontline capacity. Once the Conservative Party has been sufficiently diminished, a relatively younger and less controversial candidate will take the reins and transform it into a political force which can continue to fight national elections and possibly form a government; someone to move the party away from ‘negativistic’ anti-establishment populism – primarily acting as a vessel for discontent at the insufficient (if not outright treacherous) nature of recent Conservative Party policy – and fully towards ‘positivistic’ solution-oriented policymaking and coalition-building.

Assuming this is Reform UK’s plan, seeking to replace the Tories after beating them into the ground over the course of a five-year period, Reformers must internalise a major precondition for success; besides, of course, overcoming the perennial task of finding someone who can actually replace Farage when he stands aside.

In admittedly generic terms, just as the RPC/CA had to find support outside of Albertan farmers, Reform UK (or the hypothetical post-merger party) will need to find support outside of its core base of Leave-voting pensioners in East Anglia.

At some point, Britain’s populist right must become accustomed to acknowledging and grappling with issues it instinctively prefers to shy away from and keep light on the details; issues which remain important to much of the electorate and remain relevant to governing: the environment, technological change, the minutiae of economic policy, tangible health and welfare reform, foreign policy and international trade, food and energy security, the prospects of young people, broader concerns regarding economic inequality and social injustice, so on and so forth.

If this sounds similar to the criticism directed at the liberal-left’s aversion to immigration, demographics, traditional culture, and crime in a way that befits public concern and the national interest, that’s because it is.

There are many issues one could use to convey this point, but the environment is undoubtedly the best example. According to regularly updated polling from YouGov, the environment is a priority for roughly 20% of the electorate; only the economy, immigration, and healthcare are classed as more important by the general public, and housing, crime, and national security are considered just as important. Young voters emphasise the environment more than older voters. From the get-go, it’s clear that an environmental policy will be an unavoidable component of any national party and certainly one with a future.

Compare this to Reform UK’s recently released ‘Contract with the People’, which does not possess a subsection dedicated to the environment. Rather, it has a section dedicated to Net Zero and its abolition. On the whole, the subject is dealt with in a negativist manner, merely undoing existing measures, replacing them with nothing, all without reframing the issue at hand. At best, one can find some commitments to tree-planting and cutting down on single-use plastics. As most should have surmised by now, parties can’t afford to be meagre with environmental propositions – go big or go home!

Of course, none of this is surprising. After all, according to Richard Tice, Chairman of Reform UK, concerns about climate change are misguided because the climate has always been changing; it’s a process which can’t be stopped, but it’s OK because carbon dioxide is “plant food” anyway. It’s not happening, and that’s why it’s a good thing.

Indeed, leftists look stupid when they insinuate a similarity between a depoliticised process of post-war mass immigration to the Norman Conquest, so what does the British right have to gain by comparing manmade carbon emissions to the K-Pg extinction event? If not out of strong environmentalist convictions, any force eager to replace the Tories as the primary right-leaning party in Britain must be realise such issues cannot be left untouched – even those issues one might say the Tories have embraced too much or in ways which aren’t in the national interest.

As we look to other right-wing populist upstarts across the Western world, it’s clear that such a realisation is not optional, but a precondition for transforming fringe organisations into national parties.

Consider this in relation to Marine Le Pen’s National Rally, perhaps the most successful party to make such a transition, evidenced by the party’s unprecedented success in the recent EU elections and their gradual but near-total displacement of the Republicans, France’s official centre-right party.

Similar to the RPC, the National Rally’s evolution has involved more than a name change and moderating its less-than-palatable elements. Instead, it has retained its central issues whilst diversifying its platform.

Although Le Pen has undoubtedly been a key driving force behind readjustments to the party’s priorities and image, distancing itself from its origins and so on, much of this process stems from the influence of Jordan Bardella: the party’s young president and the current favourite to become the next Prime Minister of France.

Contrary to suggestions made by Britain’s vibes-oriented commentariat, who attribute Bardella’s relative popularity with young voters and the broader French electorate to the mere act of using TikTok, Bardella has gone to considerable effort in his capacity as president to identify and address issues which are important to voters, not just issues which are important to the National Rally, and incorporate them into the party’s platform; issues other than immigration which similarly influence much of the public, such as the environment, which Bardella views it as one of the three main challenges facing the younger generation (the others being demographic and technological change). Indeed, a far-throw from the perpetual handwringing over young, know-nothing eco-zealots which homogenises right-leaning boiler room commentary in Britain.

“France, no matter what they say, is the cleanest country in the world. But it is up to us to do even better.”

– Jordan Bardella (@jordanbardella on TikTok)

Going beyond criticism of existing policies, which is often connected to the party’s support for French farmers and poorer voters in provincial areas, Bardella encourages the party to take up the environmentalist mantle and formulate solutions in step with its own intellectual history:

“Our political family would be making a big mistake if it behaved as blindly on the environmental issue as the left has done on immigration for the past 30 years. We can no longer afford to deny it.”

– Jordan Bardella, Interview with Valeurs Actuelles (24/11/22)

Along with this readjusted approach, Bardella has also made very specific appointments in his capacity as president, such as promoting ideas put forward by Hervé Juvin, MEP and former ecological advisor, and appointing Pierre-Romain Thionnet as director of the National Rally’s youth movement, briefly described in Le Monde as:

“…a reader of the late Catholic integral environmental journal Limite and quotes the English philosopher Sir Roger Scruton…”

The National Rally typically views climate change through its longstanding endeavour of protectionism, noting free trade results in offshoring the sources of pollution, rather than getting rid of them altogether. As such, not only does France relinquish its industrial capabilities, it pushes pollution beyond its political control; offshoring depoliticises pollution, a process which is worsened by the logistical chains required to ship products made on the other side of the world, nevermind in other localities of the same country or continent.

To his credit, Farage has hinted on some occasions at something similar in the form of reshoring emissions, and whilst this is a step in the right direction, it remains an underdeveloped afterthought in Britain’s right-wing, which (in the words of Dominic Cummings) remains mired in the “SW1 pro/anti Net Zero spectrum.”

At the same time, the National Rally engages in more universally recognised forms of environmentalism which aren’t predicated on immigration restriction, euroscepticism, or protectionism, especially at the level of local government; from tree-planting campaigns to ‘eco-grazing’ to installing LED lightbulbs.

“People feel that we have to get out of the fact that there’s only the issue of immigration.”

Hervé Juvin, as quoted in The New York Times

As a result, the National Rally maintains a monopoly on its bread-and-butter issues and claims ownership of issues which are not traditionally associated with the French right. Consequently, the French centre and left struggle to maintain control of the narrative surrounding their own key issues and remain stubbornly averse to the concerns of voters living outside the Parisian bubble.

Returning to the British political landscape, Reform UK can most likely afford to hammer its wedge issue of immigration into the Tories’ base at this election, possibly felling the party’s influence once and for all. However, as 2024 fades into the rear-view mirror, it will need to grow something in its place. The gains which once felt exhilarating will begin to flatline and seem anaemic if the party doesn’t aggressively pursue diversification (not the tokenistic kind, mind you). As the reality of living in a Labour-dominated one-party state sets in, many will begin to resent Reform UK unless it makes a concerted effort to adapt; the initial collapse of the right’s remit into the concentrated set issues it sought to politicise must be expanded as the issues which gave birth to its populist phase are moved from the periphery to the centre, and from thereon out, integrated alongside others to ensure their long-term electoral viability.

If it succeeds, it or it’s successor may very well replace the Tories as the main party of the centre-right. If it does not, the election and its aftermath is unlikely to follow the course of Canada 1993 or anything resembling it; the Tory Party may very well make a resurgence comparable to Labour’s post-2019 comeback. Nobody can afford to botch a murder, least of all in politics. Reform UK can’t stop at knocking the Tories down and it can’t be content with knocking the Tories out; it needs to smother the party to death with its own handkerchief and raid its carcass, pocketing both its right-wing and centre-right voters, even those who don’t have immigration as their number one priority and then-some.

At the same time, it needs to stay true to the promise of a nationalist approach to immigration, law-making, culture, and identity; at least, if it wants to avoid the same fate as the Conservative Party.

As various groups eye-up the collapse of the Conservative Party, looking for a chance to muscle-in and establish themselves as the dominant tendency of the right, it’s imperative that nation-first conservatism comes out on top. This will be particularly important as (unlike Manning, who wrote an entire book explaining his ideology) the specifics of Farage’s politics remain more ambigious than many would suspect; it’s entirely reasonable to suspect factions will claim him as their forebearer and themselves as his pure and true successors.

In my view, the right-wing cannot encumber itself with regurgitations of its past, whether it’s a form of neo-Thatcherism, which subordinates and uses socionational issues to reinforce a revealed priority for technical refinement and economic liberalisation, a misguided rehash of Cameronite centrism, which scarcely thinks about such matters in a conservative manner at all, or citizenist post-liberal projects, the artificial soldarities of which are unravelling in real-time. The right has already squandered one revolution, best not to squander another.

Of course, all of this is easier said than done, but it’s OK… Nothing Happens!


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Relatability and Envy

At the Sky News Q&A, both Rishi Sunak and Keir Starmer were asked to reveal something about themselves that would show the real them. Starmer was also accused of being a robot by a voter. Sunak waffled on about his love of sugary food. Starmer basically went on autopilot.

Did it work? No. Both just looked stupid.

It was an unfortunate question really. The problem is that politicians have become obsessed with being relatable. They’ll shed their political image like a snake in order to win a few votes. It can be talking about TV shows, playing sports or just mentioning something from popular culture. They have to look like they’re one of us.

It also ties in with a politics of envy. A number of politicians who are wealthy or come from good families play down their backgrounds or hide from it. The idea that someone from a privileged background can reach the level that they do without envy or scorn is somehow unrealistic in today’s society.

It’s All About the PR

For decades, politics has been a PR game. Who would you have a drink with? Who seems nicest? Who has the best family values? Who is funniest? Policies are put aside in favour of a good photo op and a one-liner that does the rounds on social media.

We’ve seen that in this election, particularly from Sir Ed Davey. He’s had fun going paddle boarding and riding roller coasters. There is no substancing in his messaging, despite the fact that he could make gains from the two major parties collapsing. Whilst the Lib Dems do have a manifesto and probably actual policies, it’s overshadowed by Davey’s antics.

It’s not new either. Even Margaret Thatcher was not immune to it. Aides had her hold a calf for photographers, the poor thing died not long later. David Cameron hugged huskies in snow. Neil Kinnock walked down the beach with his wife. Tony Blair met with Noel Gallagher. Everyone has a gimmick.

The problem is that it is clearly not authentic. Margaret Thatcher wasn’t an animal cuddler. David Cameron isn’t a fan of huskies. Neil Kinnock probably doesn’t do long walks on the beach. Tony Blair doesn’t listen to Oasis. Voters don’t want to see their politicians being hip and cool. They want to see them tackling the issues that we elect them to do.

We all know that the Prime Minister has a job to do. They oversee wars, economic crises, terrorist attacks and natural disasters among other things. The real test of a PM is their response to said issues. Nobody cares about what their favourite book or TV show is when such issues arise. Interviewers often like to throw in a soft question, just like a backbench Member of Parliament mentions a new animal sanctuary in their constituency. It just doesn’t fit.

It also assumes that every politician is one of us. Who cares if they don’t watch much TV? Who cares if they speak Latin or Greek? Boris Johnson, a man with a great love of the classics, would often recite Ancient Greek, but he also showed an affability and relaxed nature that hid this. Meanwhile, David Cameron struggled to look authentic when he wanted to ‘hug a hoodie.’ One lasted six years in office, the other three.

Rich or Poor?

This brings me nicely to my next point. Our nation, or at least the media, seems to not particularly like politicians being open about their privilege. If a politician came from a wealthy family or went to a private school, they are expected to flex their working class credentials.

Take Rishi Sunak and Keir Starmer. Sunak is the son-in-law of a billionaire and wears very expensive items, and is thus wealthy. When asked about this, he points to the fact that his father was a GP and his mother a pharmacist, two respectable middle class professions. Starmer waxes lyrical about the fact that his father was a toolmaker (cue laughter) and his mother a nurse. What he fails to mention is that his father apparently owned the factory and he attended a private school, though through a bursary.

David Cameron suffered from a similar image problem, as did Boris Johnson in some quarters. Meanwhile, Margaret Thatcher was proud of being a grocer’s daughter and John Major left school at sixteen. Clement Attlee came from a comfortable background, attending a private school and Oxford. James Callaghan came from a working class family and did not attend university. Each of them have varied reputations as politicians.

Contrast this with that of America. Whilst Americans love the idea of the American Dream and pulling yourself up by the bootstraps, they also don’t care as much about class, whether upper or lower. Donald Trump has not once hid that he’s from a rich family, and yet he does not see shame from voters over this.

I frankly do not care if a politician came from a northern council estate like Angela Rayner or was the grandson of a duke like Winston Churchill. I don’t care if they went to a comprehensive or Eton, just as I don’t begrudge a parent for wanting to send their child to a grammar or private school. If they can afford private healthcare, then good for them.

If a politician from a comfortable background is asked about this, they should not downplay it. Instead, they should simply say that their parents worked hard and that they want all people to have the same opportunity.

That is not to say that I think the country would be a perfect place if every MP went to Eton and Oxford. I don’t think it would be perfect if every MP went to a normal school and didn’t go to university. We’ve had good politicians from all backgrounds, and we’ve had bad politicians from all backgrounds.

It does not serve us well to be envious of the rich, or assume that all working class people are good ol’ folk. We should not be desperate for a politician to be a big fan of Game of Thrones or like the same sweets as we do. Politicians should not pretend to be something they are not. I’m not voting for a person’s school or their favourite beverage. I’m voting for who I think has the best ideas.

Which, to be frank, seems to be none of them. Hey, at least I know that Rishi Sunak loves Haribo.


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The Impossible as Motivation

“I’m a pessimist because of intelligence, but an optimist because of will.”

– Antonio Gramsci

Like all disaffected individuals who supported the Conservatives in 2019, I too find solace in the work of a certain Italian Marxist philosopher and his insights. The simplicity of that quote often speaks to a dormant impulse in the human condition, the belief that things really can change; that, when everything is said and done, we will win. We must, as President Trump once said: “…treat the word ‘impossible’ as motivation.”

In the history of Great Britain, this nation has faced many challenges and many dark days. Those dark days still lay ahead, for that can be assured. Those obstacles within our national politics seem numerous: civil servants, fifth columnists, various media establishments and even entire political parties which claim to represent the interests of the country. Out of this election, it is plain as day. Labour will win, through sheer dullness and the fact that Sunak has clearly given up and not even attempted to try during this race for his own premiership. The reason why people do not like Sunak is because, at his core, he represents ultimately why people do not like Conservatives or politicians in general. They are mostly losers who want to be liked and be seen as important by others; they want to be winner but have never fought truly for anything in their lives. It is for this reason, they are not worthy of any votes or seats. It is not because they have fought and failed, it is that they have never even tried or put up a fight.

From this, the only cure that needs to be given is that of Zero Votes and Zero Seats. Vote Reform now, Cummings later. This can be summarised as voting Reform now to give the Conservatives zero seats, thus ending them (at least, as much as possible) as a political force within Great Britain. Out of this, we should unite around a different right-wing party, one that genuinely seeks to change the direction of the country and prepared to ask and answer the questions that matter. Why are we having these problems? Why are people struggling to buy a house? Why is this country declining?

Following on from this, it is clear that Farage is here to stay and can become a massive nuisance for the administrative state, the state that is allergic to change and remains prestige-orientated. As such, Farage is not the man who will do these things; he is a media personality, not someone who is interested in the nitty gritty of continuing (starting with Brexit) a decade-long (if not century-long) process of fixing the foundational issues of this country. Farage is an Einstein in an Oppenheimer world, it would seem.

Farage understands the need for generating a new excitement around a political issue, he understands that nothing is impossible, even that the mere usage of the word should be taken as motivation. Indeed, his lifelong struggle to get Britain to leave the EU is one such endeavour which, even at the best of times, felt like an ultimately impossible task until it wasn’t. This is not dissimilar to Trump, a figure who isn’t sensitive to the nuance of details, but fundamentally understands the broad picture, why things needs to change, and how to go about doing it.

As such, one hopes that if Reform becomes akin to UKIP, they can become a political force that asks the big questions that the majority of the population want asked. Additionally, Reform should be able to shift the Overton window on a series of issues, bringing them to the forefront of politics from outside of the mainstream political parties. These should range from immigration, the economy, the housing crisis, and the need to dismantle the administrative state.

This being said, like UKIP and the Brexit Party before, when Reform has kicked through the door, it should again vanish. By the end of the decade, Reform should be as important as UKIP is in 2024. Reform should not be here to stay in the long term. Now that it seems possible that Reform will replace the Conservatives, just as the Labour replaced the Liberals throughout the 1920s, allowing them to fully turn their guns on Labour, exposing them as being no better. Of course, Labour is not up to the task of governing and will almost certainly do damage to Britain. Given that Starmer is a wet lettuce of a man, unlikely to last long in post, they’ll have plenty of material to work with.

From this, Reform can generate space for something to be built for the 21st Century, something with real long term vision and purpose. Insert “assorted weirdos” reference here. Indeed, it is rather fitting that the two individuals that are attempting to offer real alternatives to the current issues facing this country are the same two which brought Brexit home (twice if you count the 2019 general election). Now we could realistically see this occur again. Farage’s media personality pushing the core issues into the forefront of British political life, while Cummings dominates the nitty gritty of how to get from ‘A’ to ‘B’ and securing the real victories. Additionally, both men want the complete destruction of the gate keeping Conservatives and are radically anti-establishment and Westminster, something the vast majority of the electorate share.

Although Cummings has modelled his work on Singapore’s People’s Action Party (I would encourage all to read ‘From Third World to First: The Singapore Story: 1965-2000’), and its stewardship under Lee Kuan Yew, it is another Southeast Asian leader that he should also look at too. Ho Chi Minh (hear me out), and his leadership of North Vietnam, can be summarised as that of revolutionary self-belief and determination. The clinical and principled nature of Singapore, combined with the zealous optimism of Vietnam, would propel the country back into a forward-thinking, functioning 21st Century nation state. It should be hoped that, when Cumming’s Party is ready and the door has been blown open by Farage’s Reform, it too should move into place. A tech-focused, big tent, anti-establishment party that seeks to radically fix the core issues within the country. Radically reduce immigration, tackle the wealth disparity and tax avoidance, and dismantle the permanent administrative state.

In conclusion, Politics is Never Over. Things have returned to being interesting – we could witness another realignment in our national discourse. This should be motivating for people like Farage and Cummings. We can smell blood right now on both Starmer and Sunak, so we must take this chance to end the declinist duopoly once and for all, and scramble to build something in its place thereafter. As Farage stated in a mere four words: “We’re just getting started.”


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The Century of Steel

Imagine a world in which there is no central structure, imagine a world where both the United States and China have fallen from a state of global hegemony to struggling to maintain any internal resemblance of order. This could occur independently of the other nation’s collapse or in tandem with it. What would the world look like? Would another world order emerge or would complete anarchy befall the world writ large? If there isn’t the time or conditions for another unipolar nation to fill this void, in part or in full, we must look for a more divided and unstable world structure. This core concept can be understood as non-polarity, where states cannot order themselves according to any traditional structure. Out of this concept, we could be entering a world of widespread turmoil and interstate violence. This can be understood as the Century of Steel (CoS), a term to help describe and articulate what we could be going through.

In order to understand the CoS, we first must look at Italian politics in the postwar years. The Years of Lead refers to a period of widespread social and political instability and violence in Italy. This period saw terrorism and assassinations become normalised from the 1960s to 1980s, the outcome of which saw government forces triumph and various far-right and far-left organisations disbanded. Notable and symbolic examples of this period include the Bologna Bombing in 1980 and the assassination of former Italian prime minister Aldo Moro. A lengthy explanation of this period can be found here.

Now, imagine a globalised version of the Italian Years of Lead taking place through a deglobalising world. Widespread interstate turmoil across nearly all regions of the world could occur. Following this, in the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic, we have seen the rise of old tensions occur once more from across the Eurasian Steppe and the Middle East. From the ‘Special Military Operation’ in Ukraine to the thinning of the Palestinian herd by Israel. The outcomes of this will look like Russia beating Ukraine, with them annexing half the country, followed by Israel becoming a pariah within the Middle East again, ending decades of peace efforts. With the collapse of the current ‘rules-based’ world order and the potential joint collapse of both major superpowers in the not-so-distant future, another avenue of what could happen needs to be explored. 

One of the most underrated academics currently working is that of Yi Fuxian, who has contributed considerably to the topic of demography, especially within the context of the Asia-Pacific. In a recent Diplomat article, Yi argued that any conflict will only exacerbate the ongoing demographic issues between the aforementioned warring nations. As noted with the ongoing Russo-Ukrainian War, both nations have seen their respective fertility rates drop substantially. Likewise, if war were to break out between China and Taiwan (both nations are in considerably worse demographic situations), this would have disastrous consequences for both nations, regardless of the outcome of the conflict.

“If a Taiwan war breaks out, it will hasten these trends, leading to global instability and even the collapse of the U.S.-led world order… Time is not on the side of China or Taiwan, nor on the side of the United States. The three parties need to show sufficient wisdom and courage to achieve permanent peace across the Taiwan Strait – and avoid dropping off a demographic cliff.”

-Yi Fuxian, The Demographic Costs of a War Over Taiwan, The Diplomat (10/04/2024)

With most of the world now residing in a ‘post-fertile’ world, being below replacement level, there are fewer ‘new’ people entering into this increasingly conflictual world. What a lot of nations have now in terms of manpower is all they will have for many years to come, and when it goes, it goes. If you choose to spend it on conflict, you must accept the fact you will most likely not have anyone to replace them, creating various problems down the line. Moreover, the potential conflicts will only further perpetuate the conditions that caused states to fall into such a demographic rut in the first place.

If we are indeed becoming truly deglobalised, we could see the emergence of a new epoch. Just as the Cold War defined much of the 20th Century, the CoS may define much of the 21st. A ‘century’ of no centralised control being exerted within the world, incapable of regulating and mediating beyond a very narrow and constricted sphere of influence. This will only compound the ongoing issues being faced across the planet. We are entering very dangerous and complex times ahead for every single individual in the world and more conflicts will most likely arise in the following years as a result.


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A Brief History of US Student Politics

‘Hey, hey LBJ, how many kids did you kill today?’

These chants outside of the White House haunted Lyndon B. Johnson throughout his presidency. He would sit in the Oval Office with his head in his hands as the chants wafted through the walls. When his son-in-law Charles Robb sent in a tape from Vietnam, Johnson buckled against the table and looked as though he was in tears. For the loud Southern Jackson, who took great pleasure in towering over and intimidating others, this seemed like quite a big deal. 

This is not about Johnson, however. This is about the students who protested him and the Vietnam War. This is about the students who protest now and any time.

An American Education

Harvard University was founded in 1636 and is classed by many as the oldest institute of higher education in the United States. Throughout history, the Ivy League colleges (Harvard, Yale, University of Pennsylvania, Princeton, Columbia, Brown, Dartmouth and Cornell) have been considered the most elite, though others have made quite the showing. Between them, the Ivy League colleges have educated fifteen US presidents. They’ve also educated many Supreme Court Justices, Governors and members of Congress.

Throughout early American history, the Ivy League and other elite colleges were almost exclusively for white, wealthy men. Colleges for women did exist, such as the female equivalent of the Ivies, the Seven Sisters, though they came far later. Colleges for African-Americans also came later, such as Howard and Tuskegee.

Cornell began to accept women in 1870, but it took until 1983 for all of them to admit women, with Columbia being the last.

Minority men were able to attend earlier and more frequently, with Yale being the last to accept black students in 1964.

Despite more diversity in terms of the student body, Ivy League colleges see students of the wealthy 1% overrepresented. One in six Ivy students have parents from the top 1%, and they are 34% more likely to be accepted than students with the same scores but from less wealthy backgrounds. The children of these parents are also more than twice as likely to attend elite universities- the Ivies, Stanford, MIT, Duke and Chicago.

The Times They Are A-Changin’

Whilst protests and activism were not unknown prior, the 1960s saw an explosion in it.

The decade was one of great social change, perhaps the greatest since the 1860s. Firstly, there was more of a focus on youth. TV, radio and movies began to cater to teenagers. Bands like the wholesome Beach Boys and sassy Beatles saw teenage screaming along. As incomes expanded, college enrollment doubled between 1945 and 1960, doubling once again by 1970.

There was also less social and cultural hegemony than before, something that Richard Nixon and his Silent Majority sought to exploit. The Civil Rights movement was at an apex as students sat at segregated café counters and took integrated buses to register African-American voters in the Deep South. Second-wave feminism saw women demand access to birth control, abortion and equality in the workplace. As students moved away from their generally conservative homes, many became embroiled in a more progressive political atmosphere.

Perhaps most impactful in terms of lives was the Vietnam War. Action in the Asian nation had significantly escalated, particularly after the Gulf of Tonkin incident in 1964.

Students in particular were opposed to the draft. College students could receive deferments, but they were in the target conscription demographic of being young and healthy and unmarried, though the marriage deferment ended in summer 1965. One of the most notable forms of protests saw students burning their draft cards.

They were also active in the protest movement as a whole. College campuses became hotbeds of political activity. Students also joined protests and demonstrations.

There were varied reasons as to why students in particular were opposed to the war. Some echoed the popular sentiment of many that it was war thousands of miles away that did not have anything to do with America. Others believed that American soldiers were killing innocent civilians. Some thought that the money would be better spent elsewhere or that war in general was wrong.

One college that became a centre of counterculture politics was UC Berkeley. The California university became a hub of activism and protests regarding Civil Rights, free speech and Vietnam.

Most of the decade saw passionate but peaceful protests in the area, but this changed. In April 1969, students at Berkeley set up an informal encampment in People’s Park, scuppering a plan to turn it into a public space. On the 15th May 1969, police arrived to turf the squatters out. This, combined with a nearby college protest, saw around 6,000 people turn out at the park. The police eventually opened fire, killing San Jose resident James Rector as he watched from the roof. Many others were injured; one man was blinded. California Governor Ronald Reagan called in the California National Guard.

There had been a notable protest at New York’s Columbia University a year before. Black student protestors had asked white protestors to protest separately, which they did, segregating it on racial lines. Some of the students occupied the administrative Hamilton Hall, holding Acting Dean Henry S. Coleman hostage.

In another protest that year, students at Morehouse in Atlanta held the board of trustees. One of those students was a young Samuel L. Jackson.

Sixties Assassinations

Adding to the students’ cynicism were the assassinations of four famous men, all of whom were generally admired by students.

The first was John F. Kennedy in November 1963. Kennedy had been a proponent of college education and had been a point of fascination for young people, mainly due to his relative youth compared to other politicians.

The second was Malcolm X, the firebrand minister for the Nation of Islam and advocate of civil rights. He was slain in February 1965.

The third was Martin Luther King Jr, the well-known minister who advocated for civil rights via peaceful means. He was killed in April 1968.

The fourth and final one was Robert Kennedy in June 1968. He had entered the Democratic race for president as an anti-war and liberal alternative to unpopular incumbent Lyndon B. Johnson.

Death At Kent State

One of the most tragic events of the student protest movement came in May 1970.

The Sixties was over and new president Richard Nixon had promised law and order. Meanwhile, America was expanding military operations in Vietnam by entering neighbouring Cambodia. This caused immediate controversy in the anti-war movement. Several hundred students at Kent State in Ohio were protesting this. Residents and police officers had been concerned about potential repercussions in the community, and the Ohio National Guard was called.

The National Guard attempted to disperse the crowd through tear gas and other means, but this failed. Protestors began to throw rocks and other projectiles at them before being herded away. Near a hill, some of the officers started to open fire. Four students- two men and two women- were killed. Nine others were wounded, one of whom was permanently paralysed.

Images of the event, including the famous picture of a horrified teenager standing over one of the bodies, caused even more riots and protests across the nation. 100,000 people marched on Washington a few days later, leading to Richard Nixon famously talking to protestors in the middle of the night at the Lincoln Memorial.

Post-Sixties

Whilst the chaos of the 1960s gave way to a relatively more peaceful 20th century, activism and protests still remained. College Democrats and College Republicans have both been popular hubs for the partisan-minded students. Politicians regularly attend speeches and rallies, especially when they’re supported by the students.

As a rule, colleges tend to be on the left of the spectrum, in both faculty and students. Exceptions to this tend to be religious institutions like Bob Jones and Liberty University.

Issues that have arisen include the Iraq War, climate change, school shootings, race, gender, sexual assault and rape and military engagement in general.

The Current Protests

On the 7th October 2023, Israel was surprised by an attack by Hamas. People were murdered, missiles were fired and civilians taken hostage. In response, Israel had gone all out on Hamas. As a result, there have been numerous deaths and injuries in Palestine. Many people have been made homeless or have needed to evacuate from their homes. Some have flooded into neighbouring Egypt. Neither Palestine or Israel are safe.

Sympathy for the deaths of innocents have been widespread, but there is a huge difference in opinion regarding Israel. Protests have happened in major cities across the world, with the pro-Palestine side occupying most of that space. London for example has seen weekly protests since October.

The issue has become a massive one in America. Historically, the American government has been a strong supporter of Israel. Joe Biden has given assistance to Israel, but seems to want incumbent Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu out. Internally, there is debate amongst the legislative branch. Pro-Palestine and anti-interventionist politicians have come together to stop aid to Israel. Others wish to help it more.

It’s also been dynamite for college campuses. Coast to coast, north to south, university students have been protesting non-stop since October. The Ivy League colleges have been the centre of the protests, but other elite and notable colleges such as Stanford, Berkeley, Northeastern, NYU, Ohio State, and Emerson have seen student activism.

Students have been calling for an immediate ceasefire in the area. Regarding their own colleges, they ask for the institutions to break all ties to Israel, especially regarding financial gifts.

The protests themselves have been controversial. The shouting of ‘from the river to the sea’ is seen as a call to action against Jews, as well as the calling of a global intifada. Flickers of anti-semitism have allegedly been seen in these protests, despite the bulk of participants proclaiming they oppose Zionism, not Jews. Some Jewish students have participated in the protests, whilst others feel unsafe. Classes have been called off and students have been forced to study online.

Encampments have been put up on several campuses. Some have been cleared by police whilst others remain. These encampments are made up of tents, donated food and other communal activities, all of which are subject to rules. Whilst the protests remain mainly about Israel and Palestine, they tend to bend towards anti-capitalism and progressive ideology.

New York’s Columbia University has been the establishment most in the news. On the 17th April, a number of Columbia students started an encampment. Whilst the encampment was torn down by police the next day, it was rebuilt and protests continue. Students report difficulty getting to class. Arrests and suspensions have also been made.

Student Kyhmani James became the subject of media attention following comments regarding the murder of Zionists. He filmed a video of himself talking to the administration in an attempt to get his views across. Unfortunately for Mr. James, he has been kicked out of Columbia.

The Response

America’s 1st Amendment is very strict on the freedom of speech and assembly. That being said, law enforcement and university officials are more than a little tired of it. Students have been arrested, suspended and even expelled. Three college presidents have sat before Congress- Mary Magill of UPenn, Sally Kornbluth of MIT and Claudia Gay of Harvard. Magill resigned in December 2023, and Gay followed in January 2024 after a plagiarism scandal.

Some presidents have been tough. The University of Florida sent out a very clear letter to protestors telling them which behaviour was appropriate and what would get them kicked out. Florida State turned on the sprinklers. Northeastern University got the police to clear the encampment, saying that the use of ‘Kill the Jews’ crossed the line. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis promised to expel any protestors who joined mobs. Even Columbia, the home of the most infamous protests, allowed the police in to tear down the encampment.

It doesn’t look like this is going to go away anytime soon. What some call a win for free speech is what others call going ‘too far’. As parents look away from the Ivy League to less elite but still reputable universities, one wonders if it’s a case of rich kids with too much time on their hands and no problems of their own. Is it that or a genuine example of solidarity with Palestine? Whatever the case, America’s campuses remain on metaphorical fire.


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