Since Britain’s historic 2016 vote to leave the European Union, commentators across the country – and on mainland Europe, too – have attempted to smear the motivations of Leave voters. Using their favourite tactic of guilt by association, the bourgeois liberal commentariat has used circumstantial and non-existent “evidence” to demonstrate that the vote has given the far-right in Britain a new lease of life, that it has lifted the lid on nationalist ideas, and that the centre ground in British politics has moved further to the right as a result.
I have never heard a more nonsensical argument in my entire life. This charge not only lacks foundation, but furthermore, the exact opposite of this allegation is the truth.
We can probably all agree that the best measure of the popularity of certain political ideologies is that of a General Election, where everybody in the country has the opportunity to nail their colours to the mast, as it were. We’ve already had one of those since Brexit and guess what? The ‘far-right’ saw its biggest loss of support for nearly two decades. UKIP, the only remotely right-wing party with any pre-referendum influence, saw its vote share collapse from 12.6% (2015) to just 1.8%, or 3.8 million votes to a new low of 590,000. The next largest ‘far-right’ party, the British National Party, received an almost humorous 4,600 votes, compared to the 500,000 votes it won at the 2010 General Election.
In reality, real far-right politics reached its peak in Britain towards the end of the last decade, when the Labour Party was still in power and talk of leaving the European Union was only seriously entertained by the fringe margins of British politics. In 2009, the British National Party won 2 seats in the European Parliament Elections, recording 943,000 votes. 2009 was also the year in which the BNP recorded its highest number of elected officials, having 55 local councillors. In 2010, the party had a candidate elected to the Greater London Assembly. Today, the British National Party has been reduced to a regional pressure group, with no elected officials, no money and hardly any members to speak of.
Similarly, UKIP’s peak was in 2015, when the party received almost 4 million votes at the General Election. This came on the back of the party’s 2014 European Election results which say UKIP emerge as winners, with 24 MEPs and 27.5% of the overall vote. Today, 2 years on from the referendum, the party has just 16 MEPs, no members of parliament and, as I’ve already alluded to, has seen a collapse in its support more spectacular than any collapse in British political history. Even if you were to count UKIP as ‘far right’ – which, by the way, would be a remarkable stretch – then you’d still be forced to admit that the ‘far-right’ has descended into electoral obscurity in the United Kingdom.
But what of the mainstream political parties? Another claim that’s often made, when the chattering classes discover to their disappointment that the far-right really did collapse electorally, is that the Conservative Party, presently in government, has ‘lurched to the right’. They use outlier examples like Jacob Rees-Mogg – who called Enoch Powell’s Rivers of Blood speech ‘evil’ – to demonstrate this alleged takeover of the Tory Party by extremist elements; some even say that the Prime Minister, Theresa May, has adopted far-right policies.
Again, in this, we find yet another baseless claim where, in actual fact, the exact opposite is true. The Tory Party’s 2017 manifesto was, without a shadow of a doubt, the most left-wing manifesto the party has ever stood on. It was decidedly to the left of anything the Liberals ever published during the 1980s, and was arguably to the left of much of what was done policy-wise during the Blair years of Labour’s 1997-2010 most recent stint in power. The 2017 platform preached economic interventionism, radical egalitarianism and tougher laws against ‘far-right hate speech. Under this “Conservative” government, we’ve seen more arrests and prosecutions of right-wing commentators than in all previous governments, throughout all of history, combined. At present, over 3,000 right-wing individuals are investigated for hate speech annually.
The final charge the liberal commentariat lays is that certain individuals or fringe groups are becoming more prominent and vocal in the wake of the 2016 referendum, as if to suggest that these people are somehow “emboldened” by the present political climate. Again, this is entirely baseless. Tommy Robinson, the left’s favourite boogeyman, has spent more time in prison since the Brexit referendum than in any given two-year period since the last Labour administration. He’s systematically no-platformed by all the conservative media, whilst Tory MPs line up in the Houses of Parliament to slander him (with parliamentary impunity).
The only remaining “evidence” they cite surrounding this ridiculous claim is that National Action, in the news again today, have been more visible in the last few years. Now let’s face it, National Action genuinely is far-right, or at least was until they were banned by the Tory government – immediately after the referendum! The only way in which National Action has been “more visible” in the last two years is through the courtrooms, as the group has been disbanded and its members imprisoned or mysteriously suicide’d in police custody. National Action’s zenith as a political force, which was rather insignificant in its size and scope, came in 2015 before the British government had even committed to an in-out referendum on Europe.
In conclusion, it is entirely unreasonable to claim that Brexit has somehow ‘fuelled the far-right’; as we can see from the evidence, the right generally has been suppressed and silenced since Brexit, whilst any real far-right elements have been imprisoned and completely shut down by the state. So in reality, the exact opposite is true. The only real conclusion we can draw from the evidence in front of us and the screaming hysteria of the media classes is that the centre-ground has shifted dramatically and decidedly to the left. The far-left and the radical liberals have been emboldened by Brexit, and yet they still claim the opposite to be true. Perhaps the secret of their success is the constant need for somebody to blame or scapegoat?