Laurence Fox’s New Political Party: “Reclaim”

Thoughts

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.

Recent controversy:

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?

POETRY COLLECTION: Protest #2

Poetry

In these times of rapid change, uncertainty and unprecedented crises people have united and divided. Tomorrow (15th) in England shops will begin reopening again and with them a moment in time comes to a close. With this in mind, I am releasing a poem a day, each one my responses to the times as they unfolded- beginning right back to March as lockdown was about to begin to the present moments of anger and injustice.

This is the seventh poem in the ‘In This Time Collection’ and the second half of the poems about protest. Written at the beginning of this new wave of activism, this is important over this weekend as protests continue in London.

Protest #2
Anger
into hate
Anger
into Love

People stood in opposition
People stood together
Championing what is right.

Stood with a sign
Do you know the full story
Stood with a sign
What is the history
Stood with a sign
This isn't a trend

No excuse for fire with fire
Set the example you wish to lead
for others to follow

Prejudice is age old
Prejudgement.
Stereotype.

Lets break it down.
Set a new one.
Take down the wall.

Brick by brick.
Love by Love.
Change by Change.

Do we & Should we have Freedom Of Speech?

accaliasmith.com, Thoughts

Scrolling through Twitter earlier this month I saw this tweet from Stig Abell which Comedian Ricky Gervais replied to, and after having seen the video of the ‘nazi’ comments being shouted at to one of our MP’s, It really got me thinking about freedom of speech. Gervais, in this scenario, seems to be an advocate for this freedom whereas Abell does not. And this situation with this MP certainly does add to the argument of the latter, as it is awful that someone can be bombarded with such insults on live TV or on Social media.

This is a topic which is widely debated, freedom of speech means that we are free to make any comments we like without there being any sort of punishment if we go against the consensus; in short, it allows us to openly share our opinions.

So do we have Freedom of Speech now?

I don’t think we do. Yes, we have this freedom to a certain extent, however, increasingly there are campaigns for certain topics or phrases to be banned. Such as talking about ‘Hitler’ as Abell mentioned or racist words, parts of history that we can reflect on and learn from the past.

Should we have freedom of Speech?

I think we should. Being able to express our own individual opinions is part of it and weather we think someones opinion is right or wrong it is completely subjective and so we can either have the freedom or not have the freedom. Personally, I cannot think of a world worse than one in which we cannot express what we think.

In my opinion, banning words and phrases – even if they have negative connotations should never be banned as otherwise we are banning certain aspects of history, it is a respect which we should be trying to cultivate so that this kind of bullying does not occur. For example with the Hitler comments, there will always be other ways to insult somebody – if talking about Hitler and Nazi regime is banned then there will only be another person that they will be compared to. In other words, it should not be freedom of speech which is restricted but freedom of individuality which needs to be accepted.

One of the campaigns I have seen recently is to get phrases like ‘Bringing home the bacon’ banned – a vegan perspective that meat should not be used in our language like this. But these kinds of phrases have been used for such a long time, they should not be simply banned with people needing to consciously remember which common phrases are not allowed to be used anymore. And this particular phrase is not hurting anybody. To me, when I hear of these kinds of campaigns, It makes me think of ‘Newspeak’ in Orwell’s ‘Nineteen Eighty-four’ which was used by ‘the party’ to constrict peoples thoughts by making it impossible for people to have the words to articulate their thoughts and feelings.

By banning parts of our language we are essentially restricting it, yes, many phrases are offensive to people – no matter who you are, we all often experience bullying, whether that is for your race, your gender, your hair colour or anything else, unless we are all identical bullying is likely to always exist – bullies pick the part of you that makes you unique and different and spin that quality on its head. Bullying is difficult to prevent, it has always been around and restricting our language will only make it worse.

People come up with new phrases all the time to express something they want to say, sometimes it’s a different meaning of a word, sometimes it’s a new word entirely – expanding language is an amazing thing, if Shakespeare never made up all those new words and phrases, imagine how different our world would be now, Restricting language is restricting our freedom.

What do you think? Should we have freedom of speech? Do you feel as though you have freedom of speech? Are the issues we are talking about with freedom of speech actually about bullying in general?

Fact Or Fiction

Thoughts

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‘Fake news’. I by no means mean to quote Trump here, but certainly much of the ‘truth’ has been contorted by journalists and social media in recent years.

We have, now, got most information at our finger tips. With thanks to the internet we can find out the breaking news and the height of your favourite celebrity; any kind of information that will satisfy your curiosity and allow you to figure out how to build that Ikea coffee table. The internet has been an incredible invention that I doubt many of us can imagine life without. However, as with all things, it has its downsides. We can get brand new information quicker then ever before which means journalists are biting at the bit to get out the next news story; this often means that much of the information has not been backed up and that it could, in fact, be just a rumour. And it’s not just the information we are given, it’s the information that news broadcasters can choose not to give us. After all, as Sir Francis Bacon once said ‘ipsa scientia potestas est’ – Knowledge itself is power.

I recently read an article from a couple of years ago by Katherine Viner (editor in chief at The Guardian) entitled ‘how technology disrupted the truth’ it was a fascinating read and really got me thinking about the society we live in now and our dependance on technology.

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Viner talked about how “In the digital age, it is easier than ever to publish false information, which is quickly shared and taken to be true”. Not only does this mean that some of the information is censored but that rumours can be quickly spread just like in high school movies. She is referring to the use of social media. It is easy for anyone to read a post and share it to let everyone they know about this information, or for anyone to make up information and share it without any evidence. And with our busy lives we tend not to have the time to check the facts, we just assume and trust that the information we are provided with is true.

Social media is not only a place to spread information but according to many articles the companies can censor what information we are presented with online. So unless we are actively searching for a piece of information, it won’t be shown on our social media feeds. Viner writes about how “Algorithms such as the one that powers Facebook’s news feed are designed to give us more of what they think we want – which means that the version of the world we encounter every day in our own personal stream has been invisibly curated to reinforce our pre-existing beliefs.” This can be particularly an issue in Politics. If we are given information about a campaign or about someone running for prime minister then that information may sway our decisions about what or who we vote for, if after the decisions have been made and we find out that that information was in fact false then we may look back on our vote and regret it – then we have the issue of whether there needs to be a revote. (Just like we are having now on the Brexit ‘vote leave’ allegations.)

Facebook has pledged to begin to do something about this ‘filter bubble’ (as Eli Pariser, the co-founder of Upworthy, coins it). Although some think even this is ‘Fake news’ too. (Facebook ‘fake news’ article here)

Many people now rely on social media to gain information on current affairs and to help construct opinions but how can we do that if that information may just be a rumour? We are unlikely to check these ‘facts’ and just regard them as the truth without any further investigation, after all the news should be something we can trust in.

Many writers in the past have talked about issues with misinformation, the most famous of all being George Orwell in his novel ‘Nineteen Eighty-Four’. The phrase Orwell uses to sum this up is “Freedom is the freedom to say 2 plus 2 equals four” in other words, freedom only exists if all the information we are given is actually true. He comments on how easy it is for those in power or those we trust to say that “two plus two equals 5”. The sales of his best selling novel he wrote in 1948 shot up when Trump ran for president, with people making links between society now and the dystopian world Orwell presents for us.

Also in Margaret Atwood’s ‘A Handmaid’s Tale’ she writes that ‘there are 2 kinds of freedom, Freedom to and freedom from’.

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Im not saying that all the information we are told is false only that perhaps we need to be wary of what allegations being made by the media are true. This can only be done by checking on the sources and by reading around – To ask ourselves if the information we are being provided with is Fact or Fiction?

Has Feminism Gone Too Far

Thoughts

I am a feminist. I believe that both sexes should be treated equally and that all people should feel empowered by their peers.

I don’t think that women are better than men, I think that we are all individuals with different strengths and weaknesses no matter what our gender or sex is. And that is the great thing about humans; our variation, how each person is unique, not identical to any other person. I think it would be crazy to make such a statement whether it be ‘men are better than women’ or ‘women are better than men’ or making comparisons between any group of people because we are all completely different in some way or another to other people. Not all women are the same, some are interested in science, some are sporty, some are arty. Each individual is unique. Not all men are the same. Some like sport, some don’t, some are academic, some aren’t. It would be crazy to make such a statement because we would then be labelling a particular group of people based on one aspect of who they are. Each person is unique.

Which is why I titled this post ‘has feminism gone too far’ – are some trying to turn it less into equality for all and more into women are more powerful? Yes I think that we should try and empower other women because women have been seen to be the weaker sex throughout history. I walked into Waterstones the other day and saw that they had done a table of children’s books that are all about incredible female protagonists and showing children that women can be strong and can do anything. And I thought that this is how the stereotype of women will be eradicated, the stereotype is all down to society and that is difficult to change when we have all had these stereotypes drilled into us in our childhood with phrases like ‘run like a girl’ ‘cry like a girl’ ‘ladylike’ etc.  But now I wonder if this ideal had gone far, forgetting about equality altogether.

People will always try and find something to comment on about someone else, as humans we seem to always be comparing, always judging. Pointing out something different about a particular group of people; weather that be sex, skin colour, body size, religion or even hair colour.

Have other issues gone too far? For example racism, Now white people are almost discriminated against with phrases like ‘such a white girl’ or ‘thats so white’. Whilst campaigning for equality for races the other side has been discriminated against. But its different all over the world, for many parts of America there is still significant segregation whilst in others it’s going the other way.

Overall, in an ideal world we would all empower each other and stop judging and comparing others so much. We are all unique and individual so cannot label people in the way we are beginning too. In an ideal world we would all respect the fact that we are all individual and unique. In an ideal world our biology wouldn’t change how others treat us.

Can we create this ideal world?