The Conspiracy party conference has finally drawn to a shambolic close. The day after the Tory party conference ends always feels a bit like the first time you go outside after being ill with projectile vomiting and diarrhoea for a few days. Your head is slowly clearing but you still have a foul taste in your mouth and still feel sick to your stomach.
What the conference proved in the starkest terms is that the Tories are unfit for office and pose a very real danger to the fragile democracy which exists in Britain. The Conservatives have abandoned truth, factual evidence, and rational reality based debate in favour of extreme right wing conspiracy theories, scaremongering, the demonisation of vulnerable minorities and worshipping at the shrine of a disgraced former Prime Minister whose insane economic policies almost crashed the economy, costing the public purse billions as the Bank of England desperately tried to prop up a plummeting pound and causing interest rates to soar leading to large increases in housing costs for hundreds of thousands of households. Liz Truss would have been booted out of office in under a month had it not been for the two week long suspension of Parliament due to the death of the Queen.
Yet despite this Truss was the darling of the Tory party conference, touting her discredited right wing menu of tax cuts for the rich to a packed audience of adoring fans at a conference fringe event. The unapologetic Truss has evidently learned nothing, and neither have the Tory fan boys and girls who lapped up her every word. Truss still maintains that her economic nostrums were brought down to earth, not by the weight of their own ridiculousness, but by those well known socialists in the Bank of England and the international money markets. A large part of the Conservative party buys into this conspiracy theory bullshit.
Truss’s aim was to set markers for the party in its inevitable period in opposition following the next general election, which most observers believe is now unwinnable for the Tories – this is not because of any widespread public faith in Keir Starmer’s woeful Labour party, but because of generalised revulsion at the corruption, cronyism, incompetence and authoritarianism that the Conservatives embody.
Truss and her many allies in the Conservative party want to take the Tories even further down this extreme right wing path towards lunacy and anti-democratic authoritarianism.
But it was not just Liz Truss who was peddling conspiracy theory madness. Transport secretary Mark Harper chose the conference as the perfect opportunity to make a fringe far right conspiracy theory go mainstream. There is currently an urban planning proposal called the fifteen minute city, the aim of which is to ensure that cities are as pedestrian and cycle friendly as possible and to develop public transport rather than roads and cars. The concept sees more cycle lanes and footpaths and public parks and green spaces instead of the asphalt deserts of huge parking lots and highways. Ideally everything a city resident requires should be reachable by walking, cycling or public transport within a fifteen minute radius of their home. Proponents hope that in this way cities can be made into more pleasant, livable and healthy places in which to live.
However the far right conspiracy theorists on social media hold that fifteen minute cities are all part of a globalist plot to lock us all in our homes so “they” can better control us and to limit our freedom of travel and the amount of times we are allowed to venture outdoors.
You might have thought that the job of a responsible politician in a mature democracy would be to debunk such arrant nonsense, but the modern Conservative party seeks instead to spread it further in order to pose as the champion of the motorist. The Tories narrowly avoided defeat in the Uxbridge by election due to their opposition to the extension of London’s Ultra Low Emissions Zone and see this as a potential path to avoiding a wipe out at the next general election. In pursuit of this they have no compunction about blatantly lying and scaremongering and in the process bringing a nonsensical far right conspiracy theory into the mainstream, in the process debasing political debate.
This is classic fascism. Fascism arrives by inventing an enemy and then asserting that only the fascists can save society from this imaginary foe.
More overtly fascist was the deplorable and despicable conference speech of Home Secretary Suella Braverman. Fresh from standing on the tail of a blind conference goer’s guide dog, Braverman took to the podium to give a speech that was to all intents and purposes identical in content and tone to Enoch Powell’s infamous “rivers of blood” speech in which Powel gave an apocalyptic warning of the supposed dangers of immigration which stoked the fires of racism and gave succour to the fascist far right. Braverman did exactly the same, warning of a “hurricane” of migrants poised to descend on Britain’s shores.
The difference is that Powell was swiftly sacked as Shadow Defence Secretary by then Tory Leader Ted Heath. Braverman’s appalling speech saw her become the darling of the Tory conference.
It’s not just Braverman, Priti Patel and Kemi Badenoch and other senior Conservative figures are now openly espousing the language and rhetoric of the fascism which plunged Europe and the world into tragedy 90 years ago.
This conference focused on attacking trans people, migrants and asylum seekers, pandering to all the very the worst racist instincts and tropes of the Anglo-British nationalist extreme right wing.
Lewis Goodall of Sky News remarked: “You could have been at a UKIP or Brexit party conference. The way in which in policy terms, and the way in which the Conservative party talks about politics. The move to the Farage agenda has been extraordinary. This is the story of 13 years of Tory government.”
The conference closed with a speech from Sunak which was as fact free and fantasy based as the rest of the conference. Sunak complained that for the past 30 years British politics has been dominated by a short term consensus, without any acknowledgment that the Conservatives have been in power for the past 13 years and that Sunak himself has held senior posts in those governments. He’d like us to believe that the Conservative government prior to last year has nothing to do with him. He included an adolescent jibe at Nicola Sturgeon which if I repeated here would leave me potentially open to criminal prosecution for contempt of court. If anyone else had made that remark they’d have been taken off air immediately. Sunak has been reported to the police, but don’t go holding your breath that he’ll have to face any consequences.
This conference did not just prove that the Conservatives are unfit for office, it also proved that they are unfit and dangerous as a party of opposition, peddling conspiracy theories and blatant racism and bigotry. The Tories represent a threat to democracy and put out the welcome mat for authoritarianism and fascism.
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