Reclaim and Laurence Fox for Mayor: UnHerd Rebuttal
I’m fairly sure I’m allowed to do this, after all the original article is in the public domain, on a website noch, and is easily shared. I will apologise now for the lack of pictures because I don’t have editing software that would allow me splice a photograph of Laurence Fox on an image of Batman. This is also the first issue for the new little pocket of TFG: Cancel Culture Corner.
The London mayoral elections are so imminent that my writing this seems almost pointless. There are three independent candidates, one of whom is obviously Laurence Fox, and they all seem eminently more electable than the current mayor, but like as not it probably won’t matter, Khan will be re-elected, and we’ll say bye-bye to London and hello to more crime. 
I read this article on UnHerd on Laurence Fox and his campaign for London mayor, and swiftly formed the opinion that:
- Gavin McInnes was right (come at me, cancellers) and some women writers appear to be not very good at formulating arguments, and;
- This one in particular willfully missed the point of Laurence Fox’s decision to campaign for London Mayor in the first place.
So, to be clear. My thesis is this: “I believe that the author of this article went into the Laurence Fox interview with her opinions already so strongly formed as to render any journalistic integrity completely irrelevant, and ironically prove Fox’s point about the media.”
I should probably state the obvious: I’ve no affiliation with Fox’s campaign for London mayor. Shall we?
Batman and His Robins
Gold’s first quibble seems to be fashion-based. Laurence Fox is standing by his Reclaim bus wearing a cashmere bat cape that has apparently been chosen by his older, male advisors. These older, male advisors presumably don’t know the first thing about fashion, which explains the bat cape, or understand fashion too well, which still explains the bat cape. However you look at it, the first paragraph is awash with bats and capes and an underlying derision, which is intentional and designed to make Fox appear like a poncy, artistic actor who doesn’t know the first thing about politics.
Lest we forget: he is an actor. But lest we also forget: so are politicians. The concept of dressing for the role is hardly a new one, and if you recall any politician removing sis tie to appear more relatable to the public, then you understand why talking about a bat cape is a moot argument.
"I can't fake emotion. If you play the part of a crazed lunatic, you become a crazed lunatic, so it affects the way that you think." 
As a side note, if we’re meant to believe that women are just so exasperated with the constant focus on what they wear, and not what they say, then isn’t Gold just slipping into the same trap by focussing more on what Fox is wearing (a ridiculous cashmere bat cape) and painting an image of an out-of-touch actor? I’m not saying don’t describe what he looks like, but if you’re telling me about Laurence Fox in a bat cape, I’m gonsta want to see Laurence Fox in a bat cape. As it is, there is no such photograph of any such Fox in any such bat cape.
This is quickly going to turn into a word-by-word deconstruction of the article, but whatever, I’m doing that whole stream-of-consciousness thing. And it’s my blog, I’m not forcing you to read it. Anyway.
So, Gold says, “Most of the few volunteers are female, old to young, a piano scale.” Note that dismissive “few”, as though this lack of voluntary support is in direct correlation to Fox’s appeal as a mayoral candidate. Never mind the fact that for the past year we’ve been cudgeled by the media into not leaving the house for fear of indirectly murdering someone’s granny. I like the idea of a piano scale of women, though; I’ve never heard such a attractive way to describe women of different ages. I’d also like to point out that men eye-up women, and women eye-up men; we’re not in a totalitarian feminist society just yet. And forgive me for being so bold as to actually appreciate male attention when I rarely receive it. There’s such a thing called personal responsibility, and I would encourage more women to take it more often.
According to Gold, Laurence Fox is famous for two things. One of those is his acting, but naturally this comes second. The first thing is for having “called a black woman a racist for calling him a ‘white, privileged male'”. For clarity, it was a Question Time segment about the British media reaction to Meghan Markle, and was it racist. The woman in question said, “Let’s call it what it is: racism”, and was promptly applauded. Then Fox waded in with an exasperated expression and said, “No, it’s not.” He was also applauded. 
"It's so easy to just throw your charge of racism at everybody and it's starting to get boring now." 
I don’t pay attention to most things the media has to say because usually it’s garbage anyway, but in this instance I’m not sure we’re comparing like and like, when you consider Catherine Middleton and Meghan Markle. I think that there is a collective cultural memory of the last time an American divorcée came to Britain and got married to a prince. I also think that laying the claim of racism upon the British mainstream media is giving them too much credit; they don’t exist to give us the truth, they exist to tell stories. I’m not suggesting for one minute that racism does not exist, nor that Meghan Markle did not, at some point in her life, experience racism. But there was a time when being called a racist was the most disgusting thing and you only called someone else a racist with proof. Nowadays, it appears to be used wantonly to discourage further interaction. But if you’re not a racist, then the words shouldn’t have any effect. 
Fox’s closing argument was as follows: “I can’t help what I am. I was born like this, it’s an immutable characteristic, so to call me a white, privileged male is to be racist.”  Could it be conceivable that racism actually operates in more than one direction? Could it be that some people are born into wealth, but it doesn’t have anything to do with the colour of their skin? I’m not sure what the stereotypical image for “white, privileged male” would look like, but I’m fairly sure it wouldn’t be a photograph of Laurence Fox; a man who was down to his last two grand not long before James Delingpole interviewed him in January of last year.  It’s in this interview that he also addresses the controversy surrounding his description of the appearance of a Sikh soldier in the film 1917, as “forcing diversity”.
Twitter Vs. Reality
First off, and it’s screamingly obvious: everyone is different on Twitter compared to “real life”. Some people are twats because they are keyboard warriors and never have to face their opposition in person, therefore they have mounds of intellectual flab. These are people to be challenged. Although you’ll have to block your ears when they start shrieking that you’ve offended them with your hate-facts. But, because Fox is more courteous in life than on the social media platform, this is grounds for Gold to distrust him. Just let that sink in.
Other issues concern his wearing of military-style clothing as he breaks lockdown rules to combat rising state authoritarianism in the UK, his having received £5 million in funding from mostly former Tory donors, and the fact that he voted for Corbyn in 2017. Perhaps that is the most bizarre aspect of all, but then people did vote for him. I live in Brighton; you’d have been hard pressed to find a handful of individuals who didn’t vote Labour back then. Because, if this past year has demonstrated anything, it’s that Tories hate the NHS.
The final nails in this particular coffin are Fox’s political aims, as summarised by the article, are:
- Freedom of speech;
- Reform of institutions to ensure the aforementioned, and;
- Realisation of Fox’s personal definition of national pride.
The phrase “national pride” does, of course, connote nationalism, which we are being told is racist. That aside, doesn’t every political candidate approach office with personal aims in mind? If we’re at the level of slating a candidate because he’s vehemently pro freedom of speech, surely, to quote Fox’s own song lyrics, “They have put something in the water”? Stop rewriting history, stop pulling down statues, stop redefining language. While we’re at it, reduce crime, because according to statistics, crime has increased dramatically year on year since Sadiq Khan entered office in 2016. 
So, how does the scion of one Britain’s greatest acting dynasties campaign? According to Gold, it equates “awkward, and slightly pitiable, flirting”. To her credit, she acknowledges that flirting is a necessary evil when campaigning, although I can think of worse men to be flirted by/at/from. His preference is to “dress up, rant, and flirt”, which, aside from being a thoroughly accurate definition of my own identity, to me perfectly sums up the campaign strategy of any politician or aspiring figure in the UK political landscape. But perhaps Fox does it better. He is, after all, an actor. The appeal of a non-political, non-institution figure on the ballot paper is, to quote a certain Orange Man, “‘uuuge”.
Will he decriminalise drugs? He doesn’t know. What’s his mayoral cigarette strategy? Bring back menthol. Take that last one with a pinch of, well, salt. In Gold’s view, and this may well be accurate, Fox doesn’t appear to be super articulate in person when it comes to his policies. But, perform a perfunctory search on the Reclaim Party website and you do find a document with his aims and strategies set out, so to accuse him of disinterest in the finer points of political engagement is a little fatuous.
First Stop: Freedom
You know that the mainstream media doesn’t usually report an event in its entirety. I should call it selective reportage. So, you’ll understand my own distrust when Gold writes, “He was recently present at an anti-lockdown protest where policemen were injured.” Just for context, this article was published one day after the aforementioned anti-lockdown protest that took place on 25 April 2021 in central London.
There is so little that relates these two facts that one might go so far as to say that they are entirely independent of each other. Unless Fox threw the bottles at these officers, the conflation of these two incidents is disingenuous, and assumes that the reader is a complete imbecile. Fox said on episode 52 of the Delingpod that his father taught him two rules for showbiz: one, there’s no business like showbusiness, we smile when we are low; and two, always assume your audience is more intelligent than you.”  I might have misremembered that last bit but it was complimentary to the audience. As a writer, you do yourself a great disservice by assuming your audience is a bunch of thickos. I am in your audience, tell me something I don’t know. That’s a JBP quote: what you don’t know is more important than what you do.
Fox’s mayoral manifesto opens with the words, “I will unlock London,” so the fact that he attended an anti-lockdown protest can hardly come as a shock. Given that the past year has been rife with protests of various sorts (BLM; Extinction Rebellion; and something about abuse in schools, I think, which contained mostly girls and wove its way through Brighton last month) one more protest shouldn’t rock the boat. But since he was protesting the lockdown and removal of freedom by a bloated government, das ist verboten.
I know what you’re thinking, and it’s all right because I’m Jewish, so I get free reign when it comes to misappropriating language to suit my own ends.
There is a point in particular that irritated me, but because it comes towards the end of this article I actually had to write about everything that preceded it in order to maintain some semblance of writerly rectitude. This was the quote:
"We attempt a semi-formal interview, which is not easy with a man who is vicious on Twitter and polite in life, and whose followers gabble around him. Between these, I cannot fix him."
Well, I think I already answered the Twitter conundrum. So, now, name one celebrity or mildly famous individual whose followers don’t flock around him. Even if you ignore the fame aspect, some people just have an energy that is magnetic and therefore attracts people. It’s natural, and not problematic, and I don’t have it. This is such a dumb addition to an already floundering sentence.
Then, the most bizarre statement of all: “I cannot fix him.” Did Gold perhaps mean to use a different word? Did she mean to write, “Between these, I cannot understand him”? Because surrounded by a gaggle of impressionable young women (have you seen him?) it might be challenging to get a word in edgewise. But she is, after all, a journo, so she should be used to this tepid adversity. Instead, I can’t help but wonder whether she went into the interview with the mindset of a woman who believes she can convert the bad-boy from his wicked waywardness. But no one asked her to do this. Not us, and not Fox.
Ain't Nothing but A Hounded Dog
Gold writes that Fox says he was hounded out of acting, but because he’s a free speech absolutist he can’t really complain about it. Fair dos. But Gold rather misses the point here. If free speech is absolute, then all speech is free speech. What Fox is against is the cancellation (in itself a ridiculous term, although I do think that such a social phenomenon exists today) of individuals who speak their mind and suddenly find their careers under attack by the woke mob because someone’s been offended. Then comes the inevitable Soviet Union style public apology, followed by a period of self-proclaimed re-education, and then you’ve been rehabilitated, but you will forever be hounded by that one minute in your life when everyone else lost it.
You can take offence, but how weak-minded do you have to be to want to find offence in everything. I like to think myself as quite unoffendable. I experienced antisemitism at university (first year and last year, really bookended the higher education experience) but I don’t bring it up at every occasion and it doesn’t define me. Marisa Peer says criticism is like a gift; if you don’t accept it, it can’t hurt you. Or something along those lines. Why are we so quick to be offended? Why is it a virtue to be offended? Why would you want to be a victim? So that you can claim to have overcome it, this fake trauma?
We will never agree with each other 100% of the time. THIS IS FINE. And to be expected. But the Great Wokeist Priests of the High Temple of Virtue Signalling would have it so that it’s their way or the highway. It already is, and Fox is against it.
Change My Mind: Laurence Fox enables Hatred
When someone wants to reclaim freedom of speech; to teach children to be confident and not ashamed of their background; and to cherish history, rather than rewrite it, can you in good faith accuse them of enabling hatred? His manifesto states that, “Children will be taught about the good that Britain has done in the past as well as the bad.” That seems balanced enough. Gold also mentions that he’s called his “enemies” (dramatic) “race baiters”, which on the face of things sounds a touch outré, but when you think of the above-mentioned “white, privileged male” comment and understand that this was not an isolated incident, it’s not a stretch to appreciate that everything is now viewed through the lens of race, and instead of refusing it, we seem to be encouraging it. What. Even.
Gold goes on to damn Fox with faint praise. She graciously allows his complaint that the “Labour Party doesn’t speak enough about class and that the Conservative Party is barely Conservative”, but being an accurate description of the times in which we live and therefore complete anathema to the bent of the article, this is swiftly tempered by sharp criticism of his apparently totally unjustifiable “hatred for the ‘nasty religion’ he calls ‘wokeness'”. Presumably Gold apostrophised the word because she believes it doesn’t exist.
Have I been sleeping under a rock like a fuzzy, little grizzly bear? Did I miss the entire past year, past two years, three years? Are we not living in a society where virtue signalling your wokeness automatically guarantees you a Green Pass to foul-mouth, berate, lie about, and intellectually deceive your opponents with impunity? Okay, if you can’t be arsed to look up the ever-growing list of celebrities, politicians, writers, actors, editors, and commentators whose views have been deemed sufficiently taboo so as to authorise the utter destruction of their careers, but kindly don’t imply that they don’t exist. Cancel Culture is a hideous, cancerous growth on the limb of society, and it should be excised. Freedom of speech means freedom to offend. If you don’t like what someone says, you can make a positive decision to not listen to what they say. But nothing is absolute, and you’ll never find someone with whose opinions you agree 100%. Unless you’re looking in a mirror.
"He's Lewis, I'm Morse"
I would say this kind of bias is worrying, but then I’ve grown up with the BBC so I’m not surprised. I am a little surprised to see this on UnHerd, but whatever, maybe they needed to fill a quota. Is that cruel?
I’m not really sure what Gold’s problem is with Fox. Does she dislike him? What else could account for the petty jibes she throws his way? After all, Gold spent one whole day with him, and has presumably filled in the gaps of her knowledge with anything the mainstream media has spat out about him? She would thus appear to fall into the very category of infantile behaviour of which she accuses Fox.
As articles go, I really think it failed to live up to its thesis; it didn’t even answer its own question. If you want to be irritated, though, go nuts. It’ll strengthen your muscles. On the plus side, it did give me a lovely opportunity to listen to Fox’s gravelly voice again.
- Check the stats. All crimes have gone up and Sadiq Khan insists that London is safer with him in charge than before he came into office, in 2016.
- Tanya Gold, “What Does Laurence Fox Stand For?” in UnHerd, 25 April, 2020: https://unherd.com/2021/04/what-does-laurence-fox-stand-for/ [accessed 4 May, 2021].
- Laurence Fox quote, Jacob Jarvis, “Laurence Fox clashes with audience member over Meghan Markle racism row,” Video, in Evening Standard Online, 17 January, 2002: https://www.standard.co.uk/news/uk/laurence-fox-question-time-meghan-racism-a4336741.html [accessed 4 May, 2021].
- Laurence Fox quote, ibid.
- Joan Rivers did it best. I recall hearing an anecdote about how she was accused once of being racist and unleashed holy hell on her accuser because she understood that words are important; you can’t just change the meaning of them to suit you.
- “Laurence Fox clashes with audience member” video.
- James Delingpole, “The Delingpod 52: Laurence Fox,” on Youtube, 16 January, 2020: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y82n3Q6xrvU [accessed 4 May, 2021].
- London Crime Rate, Statista: https://www.statista.com/statistics/380963/london-crime-rate/ [accessed 4 May, 2021].
- Same thing.
- Free London, Reclaim Party Manifesto, PDF: https://laurencefoxforlondon.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/LFManifesto_FN.pdf [accessed 4 May, 2021].
- “The Delingpod 52: Laurence Fox”, on Youtube.