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Lee Anderson: Let’s get this (new?) party started

As the currently whipless Tory MP Lee Anderson ponders whether to jump ship and pledge allegiance to the xenophobic upstart party Reform UK, STEPHEN ARNELL looks at a Blackshirted parallel from 93 years ago

“HE’S given our capital city away to his mates. I don’t actually believe that the Islamists have got control of our country, but what I do believe is they’ve got control of Khan, and they’ve got control of London.”

After his bigoted and patently false remarks regarding London Mayor Sadiq Khan last week, Lee Anderson was stripped (temporarily?) of the Tory whip — perhaps to his surprise, considering the unhinged conspiracy-mongering utterances of fellow right-wing headbangers like former PM Liz Truss and former home secretary Suella Braverman over the same period.

“The truth is that the Islamists, the extremists and the anti-semites are in charge now. They have bullied the Labour Party, they have bullied our institutions, and now they have bullied our country into submission,” wrote Braverman.

Anderson appears to be leveraging his increased notoriety by performing a Dance of the Seven Veils over whether he will decamp to the nationalist party Reform UK.

Anderson’s Tory MP followers (including the odious Jonathan Gullis and Brendan Clarke-Smith) are urging Rishi Sunak to end his suspension and welcome Anderson back to the Conservative ranks, in the hope of bolstering support from hard-right, intellectually challenged voters.

In the unlikely event that Lee has an interest in history, he may want to study the launch of Oswald Mosley’s New Party, 93 years ago on March 1 1931.

Mosley quit the Labour Party after its 1930 conference rejected his “Mosley memorandum” by a whisker. This left-leaning document, which later earned praise from economist John Maynard Keynes, called for state nationalisation of the main industries, raising school-leaving ages, and higher pensions, together with a programme of public works to eradicate unemployment and poverty.

More controversially, the paper aped Mussolini’s “corporate state” in aiming to combine business, workers and the government into one unified body to “obliterate class conflict and make the British economy healthy again.”

The memorandum attracted some serious political talent among its backers, including Aneurin Bevan, John Strachey, Miners Federation general secretary AJ Cook, William Cove and Harold Nicolson. Quite a contrast with the likes of Anderson, Truss, Braverman, Clarke-Smith, Gullis, Andrea Jenkyns, Scott Benton, Miriam Cates, and the preening Danny Kruger — the “half a brain trust.”

‘The Biff Boys’

But egotism, arrogance, and his desire to dominate soon fragmented Mosley’s support, as he swiftly drifted ever-rightwards, even forming his own militia, the Biff Boys, commanded by England rugby captain Peter Howard. Why Biff Boys? In Mosley’s own words, because they would “rely on the good old English fist.”

They soon morphed into the more organised grey-shirted New Party youth movement (“NUPA”), modelled on the Hitler Youth.

Mosley’s personality meant that no-one else was allowed to shine in any party he led, perhaps foreshadowing the likely “rats in a sack” scenario of Anderson, Richard Tice and Nigel Farage vying for prominence in Reform.

The Three Stooges

Anderson has already called Tice a “pound-shop Farage,” while Tice has said it was for him to decide whether Anderson could join Reform, not Farage. The prospect of an enjoyable Three Stooges-style slapping match beckons, with Anderson as perma-angry Moe, Farage as the infantile Curly, and the hapless Tice as put-upon Larry.

In less than two years and after little electoral impact aside from letting the Tories in at the Ashton-under-Lyne by-election, his New Party dissolved itself to become the British Union of Fascists.

Mosely’s European vacation

After Mosley’s enthusiastic fact-finding tour of Continental dictatorships, he converted publicly to full authoritarianism; a modern parallel might be seen in Liz Truss’s recent visit to the ultra-right Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC).

Speaking to a largely indifferent (and sparse) CPAC audience, Britain’s less articulate answer to the similarly dim US Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene proclaimed: “Conservatives are now operating in what is a hostile environment and we essentially need a bigger bazooka in order to be able to deliver.

“We have got to challenge the institutions themselves. We’ve got to challenge the system itself, and we’ve got to be prepared to take that on as conservatives. And yet every issue the left wins, they push it even more. They push it to even more extreme.

“We’ve got a new kind of economics in the West. It’s called ‘wokenomics.’ There’s going to be a by-election in the next few weeks, and it could be a radical Islamic party win in that by-election. So that is a possibility.”

Where next for La Truss? Bearing in mind she can barely speak coherently and the lettuce that outlived her premiership has more charisma, it’s difficult to see even GB News offering her a gig.

Famous last words?

Stephen Arnell is a writer and cultural commentator. His book The Great One: The Secret Memoirs of Pompey the Great is out now.

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