Nick Cohen Nick Cohen

The English right’s Putinesque conspiracy theories

The right, as well as the left, is home to the kind of flaming conspiracy nut who, in Bertie Wooster’s words, make ‘strong men climb trees and pull them up after them’.

In another life, the activists for Vote Leave might have joined the thousands of hollowed-eyed onanists who post abuse under newspaper articles from their parents’ spare rooms, or become columnists for the Mail; fringe figures, best ignored.

But just as on the left of politics the fringe is becoming the mainstream, so on the right, brooding paranoids, who cannot face a hard fact or uncomfortable argument squarely, are moving in to take over the Conservative Party.

Vote Leave is not a fringe organisation, like UK Against Water Fluoridation, or The Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts. The Electoral Commission decided in its wisdom it was respectable enough to lead the official Brexit campaign. Whether it is Michael Gove or Boris Johnson, a Vote Leave politician will be the next leader of the Conservative Party one way or another, and hence our next Prime Minister. The darkness on the right of politics is about to cover the land, and it is worth peering into the murk before it descends.

Look at the email Vote Leave sent to journalists, after ITV said it would host a debate on Europe between David Cameron and Nigel Farage, and get a taste of what is to come. In one statement, it showed every facet of the paranoid mind.

First Vote Leave played the man rather than the ball. ‘ITV is led by people like Robert Peston, who campaigned for Britain to join the euro,’ it spluttered. Then the right imitated the far left and said all the broadcasting rules and impartiality codes ITV must follow were a sham; a whited sepulchre that hid the plots of designing men.

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