Over the years many have identified the early warning signs of fascism to try and avert a repeat of the horrors of the 1930s and 1940s. These signs are traits that are seen across far-right movements not only in the era of Hitler and Mussolini but more recently with the rise of Matteo Salvini in Italy, Victor Orban in Hungary and Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil.
It’s important to remember that the far-right don’t come in jackboots and waving a swastika.
These signs cover a wide variety of indications such as the rise of racism and misogyny, the utilisation of the media for propaganda, the demonisation of racial and religious minorities and an emphasis on nationalism.
The rise of Boris Johnson and subsequent election campaign has given rise to an alarming number of comments and incidents that fall squarely into these defined brackets of fascism, with many socialists and minorities feeling increasingly frightened by the rhetoric now being espoused by this Conservative government.
There can be little doubt that the conservatism of Macmillan, Heath, Major and even Thatcher is now dead, replaced by a far-right MAGA party in the shadow of Donald Trump.
An investigation has found that almost all of the Conservative Party’s adverts are “misleading” compared to 0% of Labour adverts as the Tories seek to ape the fake news propaganda that we see from Trump’s America.
First Draft – a non-profit organisation which works on debunking fake news – analysed every ad from the Tories, Labour and Lib Dems and discovered that 88% of the Conservative’s Facebook campaigning was false or misleading.
Two outrageous examples have been developing over the past few days and surround Health Secretary Matt Hancock.
The public reacted with outrage to the photo of Jack, who was admitted to hospital with suspected pneumonia, sleeping on the floor of an NHS hospital as due to funding cuts a bed couldn’t be found. His mother, Sarah Williment, was forced to cover her son in coats to keep him warm and comfortable. A Conservative voter, Sarah has pledged to change her vote to the pro-NHS Labour Party and given praise to the NHS for their efforts, staying that she is “frustrated about the system and the lack of beds, which I am presuming is due to a lack of funding to the NHS to deliver the services that are required.”
The scandal deepened when Prime Minister Boris Johnson refused to look at the photo of Jack laying on the floor, commentators decrying his reaction as entirely without empathy and “sociopathic” as he instead stole an interviewers phone to avoid looking at the sick child.
Instead of at least apologising, the Conservative Party has seemingly decided to attempt to brand the entire affair as “fake news”, despite management and staff at the hospital all confirming the veracity of the original story. Soon after the Prime Minister’s disgraceful reaction, online accounts began repeating the same message over and over, posting to their profiles, Facebook pages and Facebook groups, attempting to claim the incident never happened. The single repeated message over and over suggests the use of a bot network, either utilising premade accounts for the automatic spreading of propaganda or using hacked accounts.
The origin point for the story appears to be Sheree Jenner-Hepburn, a medical secretary to her GP husband. Interestingly Jenner-Hepburn has deleted her Facebook account and her son Oliver Hepburn is friends with Matt Hancock MP, the Health Secretary.
It was earlier in the day that Matt Hancock was at the centre of another fake news story as the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg, ITV’s Robert Peston, The Sun’s Tom Newton Dunn and others all printed an allegation on Twitter that an aide to Hancock had been punched in the face at Leeds Hospital. This allegation, given to these journalists by “senior Tory sources”, was reprinted without any kind of scrutiny or verification. The claim was entirely fictitious and the source has not been revealed.
2: Disdain for Human Rights
The United Nations has condemned the Conservative government on several occasions, stating in 2018 that the Tories have inflicted “great misery” on the British people with “punitive, mean-spirited, and often callous” policies of austerity that are driven by social engineering. Philip Alston, the UN’s rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights stated that child poverty in Britain was “not just a disgrace, but a social calamity and an economic disaster”.
In 2019, the United Nations compared Tory welfare policies to the creation of workhouses, stating that unless the Tories ended their policies of austerity is ended, the poor in Britain faced lives that would be “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short”.
Outside Britain’s borders, Britain’s reputation on Human Rights is atrocious. From supplying arms to Israel to the arms and training provided to Saudi Arabia for their genocidal war in Yemen, Britain has bloody its hands. The slaughter in Syria and Libya have made Britain less safe and it seems the Tories have little interest in the human rights of civilians if there are arms sales to be made.
British arms sales to Saudi were ruled unlawful by the court of appeal earlier this year, the judgment accusing Tory ministers of ignoring whether airstrikes that killed civilians in Yemen had broke humanitarian laws. Boris Johnson, Jeremy Hunt, Liam Fox and other key ministers were found to have illegally signed off on arms exports.
Amnesty International has also condemned the U.K. for the use of indiscriminate bombing in Syria that left tens of thousands dead and much more homeless or displaced. In 2018, a report by the human rights body stated that the United States, Britain and France had inflicted the worst destruction seen “in decades” during the coalition’s assault on the Syrian city of Raqqa. Charges of crimes against humanity were not ruled out.
3: Racism, Bigotry and the Identification of “Enemies”
The Conservative Party has long held to the belief that, when threatened, the best response is wrapping themselves in the flag and appealing to base nationalism. Sadly, it has often worked. The Party has relentlessly stirred the nationalist pot, throwing out slogans about “taking our country back” and making express attempts to identify the “enemies” of those attempts at “independence” from the EU.
Those “enemies of the people” and “traitors” have been predominantly socialists, immigrants and those from BAME communities.
The rise in extreme Islamophobic rhetoric from Conservative supporters, candidates and ministers has reached epidemic proportions, with Tory peer Baroness Warsi often seeming to stand alone in her attempts to expose and combat this rising hatred in her party.
Warsi has accused Michael Gove of being so Islamophobic that he “radicalised” David Cameron, stating that his views were as crazy as Donald Trump. But the rise of Boris Johnson has only caused the threat to become even more profound, the Prime Minister othering Muslim women as “bank robbers” and “letterboxes”. Despite dozens upon dozens of cases of Tory islamophobia, the Party has refused to hold any investigation into the claims and those who have been suspended have frequently been quietly let back into the party when the publicity has receded.
A tiny selection.
“It is said that the Queen has come to love the Commonwealth, partly because it supplies her with regular cheering crowds of flag-waving piccaninnies.”Boris Johnson
Travelling communities are also under threat, with Priti Patel promising to change the rules on trespass, a step that would criminalise any encampment of more than two vehicles, potentially resulting in Travellers being arrested and their property seized.
An investigation by openDemocracy found that:
- Cabinet Minister Michael Gove has listed cracking down on “illegal traveller incursions” as a key election priority.
- Tory candidates have promoted films on Facebook which single out and criticise the Traveller community, including one with Home Secretary Priti Patel suggesting communities live “in fear” of Travellers.
- Tory candidates have put opposition to Gypsy and Traveller camps at the centre of their campaigns – including support for new laws which Traveller groups say are designed to criminalise them.
- One Tory candidate, in Crewe and Nantwich, led a demonstration against the local Gypsy/Traveller community.
- Another Tory candidate in South West Bedfordshire has backed proposals which, according to a community spokesperson, amount to “forced assimilation”.
“They say he is shortly off to the Congo. No doubt the AK47s will fall silent, and the pangas will stop their hacking of human flesh, and their tribal warriors will all break out in watermelon smiles to see the big white chief touch down his big white British taxpayer-funded bird.”Boris Johnson
EU Nationals would be the next on the list as an increasingly desperate Tory party scrambled for last-minute nationalist votes, Boris Johnson stating that EU nationals who have settled in Britain have treated it like “their own” country for too long.
The Tories would go one stage further earlier today when Brandon Lewis branded the free movement of EU citizens as a “threat to our national security”.
Mainstream socialists have been branded as “Marxist” threats to security, “traitors” and “communists” ever since the beginning of Corbyn’s successful revival of socialism in the country. The demonisation of the left has led to violence against activists and ever more extremist rhetoric from the right.
This identification of socialist enemies reached a frightening peak when The Sun published an article identifying a “hard-left extremist network”, allegedly the work of “former British intelligence officers”. This work absurdly tried to link hundreds of mainstream democratic socialists such as Jeremy Corbyn and the journalist Owen Jones to terrorist groups and militants through six degrees of separation. The sources for the article were Aryan Unity and the antisemitic Millennium Report. Neither The Sun nor political editor Tom Newton Dunn have apologised or explained themselves.
4: The Identification of “Undesirables”
The identification of “undesirable” elements in society, invariably leading to sanctions and purges, has all too frequently seen from far-right governments and movements. These “undesirables” will be blamed for the ills of society, the blame being placed on these groups as fascism fails to alleviate the problems within a society.
While the increase in racism and Islamophobia has already been covered, the Conservatives have also made increasingly alarming statements against women, the poor, the disabled and the LGBT+ community.
Boris Johnson himself has described homosexuals as “Tank-topped bum boys” and called the children of single mothers “ill-raised, ignorant, aggressive and illegitimate children”. Johnson’s quotes certainly don’t end there, describing the working class as “drunk, criminal, aimless, feckless and hopeless” and agreeing with Robert Mugabe when he described New Labour as ran by “gay gangsters”.
Johnson it seems is a believer in eugenics, believing that those with lower IQs deserve to be unequal in society.
The belief in the supremacy of intelligence was on full display by Jacob Rees-Mogg when he stated his belief that he would have been intelligent enough to escape the Grenfell Tower fire, essentially saying that the victims of the tragedy were too stupid to have escaped the fire.
During the campaign, Conservative candidate Sally Ann Heart stated her belief that disabled people and those with learning difficulties should be paid less as they “don’t understand money”.
5: Street Violence
The last year and this election campaign have been marked by an alarming upswing in political street violence, not only from the far-right but increasingly from Tory activists.
Left-wing journalist Owen Jones was attacked and beaten by three men outside a pub in August while in November two Labour activists in their 70s were attacked, both suffering severe injuries.
Bob Thomson, 72, was one of those being attacked, being set upon while canvassing.
“To be honest, I think it was the Brexit thing that did it… He was a Brexiter. He was very anti-Labour, his aggression was against Labour.”Bob Thomson
Likewise, another Labour activist in her 70s was attacked by a woman “ranting and swearing, using foul and abusive language” and calling the canvassers “Marxists”, telling a group of Labour canvassers to “get out” of Britain.
A further assault was caught on camera just days ago.
6: Controlled Mass Media
The mainstream media has come in for a rightful level of criticism at this election for their bias toward the Conservative Party, particularly from the state-run BBC.
This bias has been exposed as a result of many factors.
- Extensive links between those at the BBC and the Conservative Party
- Establishment links to the upper echelons of the media beyond the BBC
- A lack of media diversity with women and BAME journalists severely underrepresented
- The almost non-existent role of the working class in the media
- The far-right leanings of the likes of the rabid Daily Mail, Daily Express and Sun
- Billionaire ownership of the media where billionaires are to be taxed under Corbyn
- Following the sale of The Independent to the Daily Mail, an almost absolute right-wing monopoly
- The rise of entertainer “journalists” such as Piers Morgan
- A focus on emotive issues rather than facts
- The death of mainstream investigative journalism
- The Guardian’s adherence to neoliberalism and identity politics
- The lack of consequence for those publishing racist material such as Rod Liddle and Katie Hopkins
When Channel 4 replaced Boris Johnson with a block of ice during the climate debate, the Tories responded by threatening to remove the channel’s broadcast license, a repeat of threats that Donald Trump made to stations in the U.S. that were critical of his Presidency in the United States.
Just this Monday the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg, ITV’s Robert Peston, The Sun’s Tom Newton Dunn and others printed an allegation on Twitter that an aide to Health Secretary Matt Hancock had been punched in the face. This allegation, given to these journalists by “senior Tory sources” was reprinted without any kind of scrutiny or verification. The claim was entirely fictitious.
There was a time that journalists spreading fake news was a career-ending move, the sad case of Sky’s James Forlong being just one example. Yet there have been no consequences for Kuenssberg and her cohorts, nor should we expect one.
Earlier today Kuenssberg seemingly broke electoral law live on air when she revealed that political insiders have informed her about the content of postal votes and they looked bad for Labour, a statement that not only breaks the law in itself but is suggestive of a deeper scandal. Earlier in the campaign, Dominic Raab also seemed to suggest that he may have been privy to postal ballot information.
7: Alliances With the International Far-Right
Boris Johnson and the Conservative party have sought alliances with the international far-right. While the Tories have always had flirtations with far-right politicians such as those of the Front National in France and extensive links to those who upheld apartheid through the vile Monday Club, never has the Tory party been so willing to engage with the international far-right movement.
Behind much of the movement is Donald Trump’s former Chief Strategist Steve Bannon, the former chairman of the extreme far-right Breitbart. Bannon is a known admirer of Johnson, having gone as far as writing speeches for the Prime Minister. Britain is actively engaged in talks with Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil, Victor Orban of Hungary and of course Donald Trump. We have close ties with the odious regimes in Israel and Saudi Arabia, British arms and training used extensively to carry out war crimes in Palestine and Yemen.
These links are extensively being seen on British streets with pro-Israel thugs disrupting Labour election meetings and Indian Modi supporters from the Hinduvita movement pledging to campaign in Britain for Johnson, essentially as they see him as an ally against Islam.
The international far-right has given extensive support to Johnson online this election, with Zionist, Hinduvita and MAGA trolls frequently leading online abuse against Labour supports and British Muslims in particular.
8: Absolute Power
Boris Johnson will seek sweeping changes to the British constitution to allow a future Tory administration to potentially operate outside the law.
Speaking on Newsnight [last week], Lord Falconer said that the plans outlined in the Tory manifesto were designed to ensure that any future Conservative government would not be constrained by the courts should it attempt to once again break the law as it was found to have done after the prorogation of parliament earlier this year.
Asked on the show whether he thought changing the constitution in this way was an “abuse”, Conservative MP Tobias Ellwood refused to comment, stating that the matter was one for the Justice Secretary.
Under the title of “Protect our Democracy”, which contains the level of alarming rhetoric seen from the Tory hard-right and Brexit Party about constitutional obstacles to Brexit, the manifesto states that a Conservative Government will “look at” the entirety of the British political and legal framework, including the “relationship between the Government, Parliament and the courts”, “the Royal Prerogative” and “the role of the House of Lords”.
The manifesto also pledges to remove fixed-term parliaments for the “paralysis” they have caused, make major changes to boundaries that critics believe is a cynical move to ensure Labour gain fewer seats in the future and rewrite human rights laws to “balance the rights of individuals, our vital national security and effective government.”
“The failure of Parliament to deliver Brexit – the way so many MPs have devoted themselves to thwarting the democratic decision of the British people in the 2016 referendum – has opened up a destabilising and potentially extremely damaging rift between politicians and people. If the Brexit chaos continues, with a second referendum and a second Scottish referendum too, they will lose faith even further. It is only by getting Brexit done that we can start the necessary task of restoring public trust in government and politics.”Conservative Manifesto
“After Brexit we also need to look at the broader aspects of our constitution: the relationship between the Government, Parliament and the courts; the functioning of the Royal Prerogative; the role of the House of Lords; and access to justice for ordinary people”.Conservative Manifesto
Pledging is to create a “Constitution, Democracy & Rights Commission” in the first year of a new Conservative ministry, the manifesto also pledges to ensure that judicial review “is not abused to conduct politics by another means or to create needless delays”.
Judicial Review is essential to democracy and allows individuals or organisations to challenge a decision or action by a public body. It ensures that the Government acts within the law.
Conservative opposition to judicial review is long-standing and precedes Brexit, consultation papers being issued in 2012 and 2013.
“In my view judicial review has extended far beyond its original concept, and too often cases are pursued as a campaigning tool or simply to delay legitimate proposals”Chris Grayling, 2014
The Conservative Government being found to have acted illegally in attempting to trigger Article 50 and prorogue parliament have amplified calls on the Government benches for Parliament to divest itself from judicial review. These calls have opened the way for blocking political challenges or even taking unilateral decisions outside the powers of the law.
The suggestions that the Tory government could end judicial review become all the more frightening in the context of further plans unveiled earlier this year in the “Memorandum concerning the Delegated Powers” and Withdrawal Agreement Bill.
The withdrawal legislation ramps up the so-called “Henry VIII powers” which would give ministers the power to change or repeal laws without parliamentary legislation, the powers being focused on Northern Ireland where restrictions as to what can be amended by the powers do not apply.