I'll start with a minor confession - on occasion I have advocated positions and beliefs on certain historical events that might be deemed to have entered the realm of 'conspiracy theory', at least to some. Now I'm firmly at the 'sane end' of the spectrum when it comes to stuff like this and don't, for instance, believe that the moon landings were fake, Elvis never died or the earth is flat. Off the top of my head here are some that I definitely DO believe - JFK wasn't taken out by a lone wolf called Lee Harvey Oswald, the McCanns are aware of far more than they are letting on and almost certainly know exactly what happened to their daughter (RIP). Princess Diana was murdered.
For the avoidance of doubt, what I've just stated is merely the expression of an opinion based on the available evidence, just in case any lawyers were sharpening their pencils and seeing pound signs flash through their brain. What some regard as 'conspiracy theory' is simply the rejection of the 'official' narrative around a particular event, usually after a forensic of that basic storyline appears not to tally with the facts. Unlike those who seem to regard purporting such theories as a curious vocation, I don't arrive at such conclusions either lightly or automatically. The immediate subscription to 'alternative' explanations of events and incidents is of course sheep-like in its own way.
Two stories in the news last week had something of a 'conspiracy theory' feel to them. One concerned Britain First, the rabid bunch of nationalist headbangers led by Paul Golding and Jayda Fransen. I've always thought there was something not quite 'on the level' about Britain First - having been a prominent member of a minor political party myself I'm acutely aware of how nightmarish it can be simply getting some external acknowledgement of your existence. On the contrary, Golding was immediately promoted by the mainstream media as 'the new Nick Griffin' and given a sizeable profile overnight, despite consistently dismal performances in elections. This is highly suspicious.
A key indicator worth bearing in mind is that for all their Facebook exploits and relative 'success' within the social media sphere, Britain First have never had so much as 1,000 current active members. That's about half of what the Libertarian Party had at its peak, yet many of you will probably not be aware that LPUK even existed. This isn't sour grapes at all, for LPUK ultimately deserved its descent from obscurity of the relative variety to that of a more absolute one (we can tell that story another day). What I'm getting at is that all the documentaries, TV appearances and retweets from the president were fiat political currency, backed by precisely nothing.
Golding and Fransen have apparently been jailed for 'hate crimes', which is unfortunate in itself. By the sounds of it they were engaging in an ugly form of vigilantism which compromised a major police investigation into suspects who it would appear were guilty. They also harassed wholly innocent people, calling them 'rapists', provoking a horrendous backlash and forcing them to move house. This rattles off quite a few recognised criminal offences in one go, namely defamation, slander, sub-judice, incitement, perverting the course of justice. Take your pick and do the pair of absolute tossers for all of the above as far as I'm concerned. They're scum of the lowest order.
While I've no doubt whatsoever that they're some form of 'controlled opposition', the key question might be that regarding the extent to which they are aware of it. Given that they're demonstrably 40 watt and thick as mince it's quite possible that whoever has been backing and financing these shitheads has decided that they've served their purpose, withdrawn their 'privileges' and thrown them to the wolves without either working out what is going on. How many similarly criminal activities have they participated in previously and gone wholly unpunished? So the question has to be asked, why are they suddenly having the book thrown at them now?
Perhaps somebody else (like Anne Marie Waters) will be 'pushed' instead?
However, it's also possible that this is part of a stunt to promote Britain First and hail its leaders as 'martyrs' who were willing to 'sacrifice themselves' for the cause. If they get out of 'prison' in a few months and start presenting themselves in such a fashion then you can see how Toddler Rightists out there might be inclined to support and/or join them on the basis that "my enemy's enemy is therefore my friend". The inverted commas there are for a straightforward enough reason, namely because in this scenario it's not inconceivable that Golding and Fransen haven't actually gone to prison at all. They might simply go off-grid to a 'safehouse' somewhere and re-surface upon 'release'.
Meanwhile Henry 'Badger Strangler' Bolton (no relation to Michael, be assured I've checked) is back with OneNation, the political party whose USP is ostensibly that it's pro-Brexit while remaining on the right side of the psychiatrist's door. Now I found the whole Jo Marney story rather tedious and thought it somewhat suspicious that the personal (albeit moronic) tweets and Facebook messages of a private individual before she apparently met Bolton were given the airplay and media coverage that they were. There's no disputing that the self-styled 'traditionalist' Miss Marney is a strange girl who badly needs to stop huffing paint for the sake of her brain cells, but why the fuss?
As for OneNation, I find its presentation as some sort of 'magic formula' (namely pro-Brexit but not racist or xenophobic) to be somewhat insulting to the millions of reasonable people who voted to leave the EU. Scepticism towards the European Union aligned with sensible and fair-minded approaches towards 'difference' of all kinds along with subjects like immigration is not some sort of geopoitical Bermuda Triangle, but a perfectly sane and highly achievable position that UKIP once threatened to occupy before it descended into full-blown village idiot territory. That Bolton seems to be packaging this as a 'masterstroke' on his own part should set alarm bells off immediately.
It will fail dismally for two obvious reasons. Firstly, he has already explained that his new vehicle will be a sort of 'pick and mix' outfit, lifting bits from 'the left' on certain issues and pieces from 'the right' on others. That can't possibly work as a) policy areas invariably bleed into each other, with your solution to one problem basically determining your answer to the next question in advance and b) you've absolutely no chance of getting thousands of people to pull in the same direction in the absence of at least some sense of agreed core principles, even if you don't have an ideology as such. 'Believing in Britain' is just saying everything while saying nothing, magnolia politics by numbers.
But of course the biggest reason that all roads lead to oblivion in this case is Henry Bolton himself - with that we're back to the questions regarding Jo Marney, her Facebook history and the suspicious 'leaking' of her mad, alcohol-fuelled musings into the public domain. This is what I'll refer to as 'the David Icke effect' going forward. Now Icke has actually made intelligent and factually correct comments on many issues over the years but of course the nonsense about 'lizard people' ultimately discredits him and, well, that's his own fault really. Unfortunately, it also leads to the sane, sensible and even provable positions he has taken in the past being launched into the 'lunatic' category.
Similarly, the concept of a non-batshit replacement for UKIP is a highly logical and indeed necessary one within the system we have. It's just more than a tad suspicious that a highly discredited chancer like Bolton (who let's not forget appeared relatively recently and from absolutely nowhere) is ostensibly going to lead it down a cul-de-sac and quite possibly create the perception that support for further British independence is some sort of refuge for cranks, pub racists and soccer hooligans. Look, if you want to ruin an organisation, infiltrate it and get 'wrong uns' to join. Similarly, if you're seeking to discredit a line of thought, do the whole "agree with David Icke?" thing with it. Simples.
Henry Bolton is quite possibly an egomaniac with weaknesses who was in the right place at the right time and got incredibly lucky. It may also be the case that he has been 'pushed' by external forces and that UKIP's leadership election (while not necessarily rigged like Morrissey claimed) was at least 'managed' to a significant extent. He could very conceivably be 'controlled opposition' who doesn't even realise it, having deluded himself into believing he did it all through talent and hard work. Given his background resembles Swiss cheese and he had an apparently damascene conversion from LibDem to staunch Brexiter, a hefty dose of scepticism regarding his authenticity is fair enough.
Plenty within the ranks of UKIP thought something very similar and cited such reasons as those for voting to get rid of him.
Anyway I'm off to watch Fahrenheit 9/11 again - thanks for stopping by.
I'll leave you with some music and catch you all midweek.