Laurence Fox is known more for his acting in TV Shows like Lewis or Victoria or in films such as Elizabeth: The Golden Age and Becoming Jane than as a politician. He first politically came to the publics attention earlier this year, in January, after controversial interviews and debates on Good Morning Britain and Question Time over Sam Mendes’ 1917‘s choice to include Sikh soldiers in the WW1 film. He claimed that it was ‘forced diversity’ and continued to comment on Megan Markle’s treatment by the press and the ‘woke’ generation as well as saying that he would boycott the British supermarket chain ‘Sainsbury’s’ after it announced support of ‘Black History Month’.
Now he has announced that he is founding ‘The Reclaim Party’ due to his disappointment in the conservative party’s inability to ‘conserve’ and uphold British values. What these values are for Fox do not seem completely clear, although the main issue seems to be ‘respect’ and reclaiming Britains past – assuming a more nationalistic view perhaps. He also seems to be for diversity despite his appearance at previous interviews, urging for ‘progress’ rather than ‘stagnation’ which Fox claims is the case currently under Conservative government. The party already has its own Facebook and Twitter accounts and are using the slogan ‘Reason / Reform / Progress’.
Pitting this party against the conservatives seems like an interesting move for a former Conservative supporter. By potentially taking votes away from the conservatives they are increasing the chances of a labour majority. According to the party’s website though, they are calling themselves a movement perhaps suggesting that they want to bring about change by giving a platform for their ideas and opinions but maybe not for power.
The party are currently going through the electoral commission and Fox and his fellow party members have a few years yet to come up with a manifesto. What seems strange to me though is the lack of coverage of this story in the press. Originally the press were going to broadcast the party as in association with Nigel Farage (former leader of UKIP). Fox has said that they were forced to announce the Party sooner than they wanted to because they did not wish to be associated with this rumour. Perhaps this mix up is the reason for the lack of press coverage or, perhaps, it is because of the little information about it; there probably won’t be much given until the electoral commission has passed the name.
The party has already managed to raise £5 million for funding according to reports in The Telegraph suggesting that the party has already got much support. Additionally, Fox has said that many people contacted him after the controversial debates thanking him for giving them a voice that they were too frightened to use. Fox has put this down to the ‘Woke’ and cancel culture, saying that these movements are against freedom of speech.
On ‘Culture wars’ :
This term has been thrown about a lot recently with mixed opinions on how it should be used when talking about British society or, indeed, British politics. Many think of it as an American term, associating it with the extreme controversies and divides of religion, race and political stance (republican or democrat). Recently, it has been used in Britain to talk about the Brexit Polarisation and other increasing divisions. Many argue that although there is division in this country it has, on the whole, been less extreme. Others say that was, perhaps, until Brexit.
The main reason, Fox has said, for creating a party is to promote freedom of speech, taking a more individualistic approach and promoting unity rather than division in a statement on the party. Equally, Fox said that ‘I know we’ll be seen as a culture wars UKIP’ in an interview with The Telegraph1 .
On ‘Woke’ culture:
Originally this term meant ‘to be awake’ to injustice, especially racial as it was used throughout the 60’s. As ‘Woke’ has increased in usage, the word is becoming to cover more than that. Fox claims that being ‘woke’ means that too many people are finding injustices in everything. That does seem to be the case with increased protests and quick fire social media reactions to things shared that spark instant anger. For example, take the government advert about a ballerina with the slogan ‘her next job could be in Cyber but she doesn’t know it yet’. It was published before the pandemic and meant to encourage girls to work in Cyber. However, this image went viral on social media with people thinking the government was making an attack on the arts industry, claiming that this was clear proof that the government doesn’t value the arts. Perhaps the new rise goes hand in hand with fake news. However, it probably should not be put down to being ‘woke’, at its core it means that more people are caring and taking an interest in the world around them. Perhaps they just need to know how to find the truth, and sift through the rubbish. Fox’s take on what being ‘woke’ means to him remains unclear, as does his and the future Reclaim party’s thoughts on what should be done about it.
On top of accusations of racism from January, Fox has faced recent backlash for the use of the word ‘reclaim’ that has previously been used in charity organisations. For more visit The Guardian
What we need to know more about:
- The people involved in the founding of the party. Fox as an actor with little political experience is unlikely to have set the party up on his own. What if others are using Fox’s controversial and famous profile for its use?
- What specifically are the ‘British values’ that Fox thinks we should ‘reclaim’.
- Policy – what will the party’s policies be? This is a question we won’t get the answers to anyway at least until the electoral commission has granted the name of the party.
Sources & more information:
1The Telegraph Interview ‘Chopper’s Politics podcast’ & written interview by Christopher Hope (the video is free to watch but to read the article you have to be a Telegraph subscriber which I am not, I have taken the headline only due to this)
Peter Whittle Interview with Fox – The New Culture Forum Channel [Note: Whittle is a UKIP member]
Culture wars – The Economist
LSE recorded online event: Brexit and culture wars: is this the new normal? [This is a really interesting discussion about everything going on at the moment; from Brexit to Racial injustice to the pandemic, each speaker has their own views on ‘culture wars’ in this country compared to others.]
The conversation on ‘Woke’ origins and Marketing
The formation of a new Party, especially during these unprecedented times, is an interesting move made by Laurence Fox but does reveal what perhaps we already knew, that there are divisions and people feeling unrepresented. Whether these are the beginnings of a ‘culture war’ is uncertain but the platforms are forming to mix things up in Parliament – the shame is that party making is becoming the way to show unrest and want of change (or maybe going back into the past in Fox’s case?)
What do you think? Is Fox standing for division or Unity? How can we unite in these opposing times?