I have to admit that I hesitated momentarily before publishing an earlier blog post with the title Resist Brexit: it’s a fascist coup. I knew exactly why I needed to write that, but I also knew the word fascist would probably play badly with readers as it is often used in a histrionic way and lends itself to hyperbole, or simply used so loosely that it becomes a mere term of abuse.
I bit my lip, shrugged and hit the publish button. I was not going to water it down. Before Brexit this was merely a quirky blog about life in Spain with four donkeys, with occasional observations about teaching and sometimes articles on Catholic spiritual themes. I certainly have fewer readers now, particularly in the USA where donkeys have more appeal than Brexit!
My own blog post warning of Brexit fascism was yesterday echoed in an opinion feature article (The Guardian 31 October 2018): “The unelected Banks is now displaying a consistent pattern of behaviour where he constantly seeks to abuse and intimidate politicians and journalists – and he is not the only one. This is partly just attention seeking, but it also has a more sinister edge. Unchecked, this is the kind of behaviour that allows the virus of fascism to seep into democracy.”
I added the above emphasis but these are the concluding words of an article by Conservative Damian Collins MP who is now being bullied by Arron Banks, one of the self-named ‘Bad Boys of Brexit’. Banks’ abusive letter about Collins has been systematically mailed to each of Collins’ constituents in Folkestone and Hythe. Collins is the Chair of the Digital Culture Media and Sport (DCMS) Select Committee investigating 2016 referendum irregularities. In July Banks walked out of a hearing of that committee chaired by Collins because the questions were getting too close to the hidden Brexit fraud.
The same bullying tactic has been employed against Conservative Sarah Wollaston MP, the Chair of the Commons Health Select Committee. Her constituents in Totnes, Devon, have received similar abusive comunications from Banks, in an attempt to deselect her.
I feel a particular need give clear support to Sarah Wollaston – who is both MP and a general practitioner – as she herself wrote on Twitter last week on the subject my blog post regarding the British Consul promoting private health care in Costa Blanca. She called my report “worrying”.
The growing sense that British democracy is under threat due to Brexit, with unaccountable people taking control, is very closely tied in with the threat to health services. The Brexiters have an agenda and every indication points to less democracy and the demolition of services that people rely on post-Brexit. Killing our right to public healthcare is a target in the cross-hairs of the Brexit wreckers.
But, you ask: am I right in taking a short step from saying democracy is under threat, to naming it with the f-word: the key promoters and backers of Brexit are fascists.
Oh come on, you say, please…!
A commenter on this blog just a few months ago dismissed the use of the word fascist in relation to Jacob Rees-Mogg as too loose and unhistorical, presumably because Rees-Mogg does not go around dressed in jackboots and a black shirt. But how many readers of my previous blog post Resist Brexit: it’s a fascist coup troubled to read the Umberto Eco essay on fascism I linked to?
I know how many. Out of thousands of tweet likes and retweets of the blog article, and hundreds of blog page views, just three readers over the space of a week took the time to follow the link to Umberto Eco’s essay “Ur Fascism” in the New York Review of Books (1995). The most powerful tool in the fight against fascism is always political theory. You don’t need to be a Marxist: liberals need political theory too!
And now just one little footnote for the Brexitrots surrounding the Eurosceptic Jeremy Corbyn MP. You should notice something instructive in the stance taken by Collins, Wollaston, Grieve, Soubry and other remaining Conservative voices for democracy in this ideological Brexit fight.
These Conservatives are fighting fascism. So, Brexitrots, ask yourselves why is the Labour leadership siding with the Brexiter fascist enemy?
Jeremy Corbyn will tell you he has a proud record as an antifascist campaigner. He says quite a lot about fascism in South America and once, when asked to name a historical figure with whom he most identified, Corbyn named Salvador Allende, the former socialist Chilean leader who died during the 1973 coup that put General Pinochet in power; a classic old-style fascist dictator admired by Margaret Thatcher and other right wing Conservatives.
I do not doubt Jeremy Corbyn’s antifascist record. Not for a moment. But he is not very clever at understanding the subtleties of fascism in relation to the way the British establishment really works. And on Brexit in particular. In every sense, Corbyn is lagging far behind his young party members who are better up-to-date with antifascist mobilisation than he is!
I know just a little bit about it from experience. When the coup happened in Chile – exactly 45 years ago this autumn – the poet Pablo Neruda was murdered on Pinochet’s orders. The last political statement from Neruda – a call to socialists to defend Allende’s Chilean revolution – was brought into the offices of the communist Morning Star newspaper in 75 Farringdon Road, London. It was just two days after the poet was murdered. Editor George Matthews asked me to translate it urgently from the Spanish and take it by hand to the headquarters of the British Communist Party (CPGB) at 16 King Street, Covent Garden. I spent the rest of that September day working on it, both in the office and a five minute walk away, in a Young’s pub in Smithfield market – because that was quieter than the office – I remember the beer but not the pub name!
There were no mobile phones in those days, so I went to a phone box to tell Detective Chief Inspector …. at Scotland Yard the important translation job I had been given. He came over to the pub in Covent Garden, paid for more beers and looked at my near complete handwritten translation – near ready for typing back at the office. He pronounced Neruda’s statement of little interest to Special Branch but was pleased the translation job was raising my profile in both the Morning Star offices and at King Street. That would be good for future undercover work. (Neruda’s last message – in my English translation – was published in the next edition of Marxism Today.)
I was 22 years old, recently out from five years service in HM forces. Undercover work for Special Branch in the communist newspaper was my first proper civilian job. Now 45 years on and retired from teaching in Spain, it amuses me to wonder if I happened to be in those days, shoulder to shoulder with Jeremy Corbyn in one of those antifascist demonstrations in London; the two of us waving our placards and shouting protest in Trafalgar Square or at the US Embassy? Two years younger than him, however, as a Special Branch undercover worker I was probably getting a much closer view in 1973 of the way the British establishment worked. And still does.
Now he needs to catch up and fight the Brexfascists. The withdraw from the EU goes right to the heart of the British establishment’s interests. It’s no longer about waving placards at South American dictators, Jeremy! It is closer to home now!
I have never made the above public before. I do not wish to answer any additional questions on the matter, but comments on the blog are welcome as usual. I will be writing a further blog post eventually about the experience of working in the circumstances mentioned above, because I am recalling those days now that I am retired and have time for reflection. No government secrets are involved in the above account and DCI … is very long retired (and possibly no longer alive?) As a member of HM forces, I did sign the Official Secrets Act; but recruited as an ex-forces person by Special Branch, I was not asked to sign it again for this work, oddly. So I am breaking no state commitment.
My motivation for speaking now is the appalling naïveté today of opposition politicians like Jeremy Corbyn who are unable to see the reality of the fascist elements in the British establishment nor the serious lurking danger consequent to leaving behind all European constitutional democratic safeguards that ordinary British people have enjoyed.