Toby Young Toby Young

Laurence Fox is a political force to be reckoned with

[Getty Images]

From the moment I started criticising the government’s handling of the coronavirus crisis people have been urging me to start an anti-lockdown party. The idea would be to run candidates in the local elections in May, particularly in those areas that have been under almost permanent lock and key for the past six months, such as Leicester. They might not win, but they could bleed enough support from the Conservative candidates to make the government think twice about its ‘forever lockdown’ policy.

But I’ve resisted. For one thing, I don’t have the time. Running the Free Speech Union and posting daily updates to my Lockdown Sceptics blog, as well as trying to earn a living as a journalist, means I’m already working 14 hours a day. Caroline would divorce me if I took on anything else. Then there’s the Electoral Commission. I’ve seen the way it has gone after friends who campaigned for Leave in the EU referendum. Above all, there’s the sheer nastiness of politics. Starting a new party is like sticking a big target on your back inviting the most vicious, malignant people in the country to take a shot at you. That’s not much fun, particularly if you’ve got four kids at school.

Laurence’s initiative has already had a backbone-stiffening effect on No. 10

So I take my hat off to Laurence Fox, who’s doing exactly what I’m too cowardly to do. The 42-year-old actor is starting a party called Reclaim that will stand up for liberty, particularly freedom of speech, and is unashamedly patriotic. It’s been described as the Ukip of the culture wars, but that’s not quite right, as Laurence voted for Remain and won’t be campaigning for less immigration. He’s less of a G&T-in-the-saloon-bar type, more an Aperol-Spritz-in-the-beach-bar man. If Nigel Farage is Terry Thomas, Laurence is David Niven.

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