Folly for Lolly


I can’t help but notice these days that some so-called freedom warriors aren’t so free minded themselves. There’s a strain of libertarianism that has strayed into slavish group-think: purity tests, routine denouncements and sensationalised exaggerations. Who are these people fooling, apart from the fools who fund their fledgling Patreon accounts?

So ineffably idiotic have some Covid measures been that anyone wishing to rant them away as the object of some vague evil rather than an incompetent government can find a ready audience eager to pay. But to ask exactly what these so-called evil elites stand to gain from lockdown is to ask the magician to reveal his tricks: unpack one of these ‘truther’s’ untruths and their magic collapses like a Jenga tower.

These Patreon Pied Pipers will often wail, ‘When will Covid measures end?’, but they do so with all the sincerity of an arms dealer calling for a ceasefire in Yemen. Why? The end of the measures spells the end of their gig. Or so you’d think…

When these sages promised their followers Trump would reclaim the presidency even after Biden had been sworn in, oddly their core disciples remained, even retaining the same wide-eyed trust despite their Great Disappointment. If people are prepared to forgive one lie, they’ll forgive a thousand more just to feel smarter than the person who fact-checks the lies they have bought into. No one wants to admit they’ve been lied to, fewer still that they paid for the pleasure.

While it shows a degree of creative intelligence to make a success from racketeering in lies, some of these great sages’ fans have been worked into such violent fury that everything they post and tweet now comes with the added threat of murder. These range from not-so-veiled threats to vividly wild ones of ‘burning down Parliament’ and ‘hanging its surviving members’. These people form a revolutionary Mojito of right-wing anarchism salted by a conspiratorial rim.

The degree to which some individuals have been radicalised was perfectly expressed on Monday’s anti-lockdown protest by that ranting harridan of an ex-nurse who, through foam-flecked lips, raged about ‘satanic vaccines’ and agitated for Nuremburg style trials against politicians.

That’s not the real world, dear. The real world is nuanced and chaotic and – in the case of anything emanating from Westminster these days – very much so on the hoof.

To see the celebrated journalist James Delingpole’s decline into the gutter of conspiracy and conjecture is a cautionary tale of how those who claim, as he does, to be ‘right about everything’ can only do so by questioning nothing. These days this hero of my youth leaps around from one outlandish conspiracy to another like an ADHD-afflicted squirrel. Not only that, but anyone who he thinks should be with him who is not thought to be behaving sufficiently radically can expect to receive an unprovoked tongue lashing from him as Claire Fox and I (and no doubt countless others) have done. For tweeting something completely anodyne, Dezza will appear out of nowhere to deliver some scathing put-down only to then disappear back into the Twitter ether like a trapdoor spider. I wish him well and hope he’s soon reacquainted with his natural soundness. It’s always a sad sight to see a good writer succumb to bad ideas. The romance of ‘revolution’ may seem exciting now, but Delingpole and others must soon decide if they want to write chiefly for money or for posterity. Alas, I fear some even believe they’re doing both.

James Bembridge is Deputy Editor of Country Squire Magazine.