Laurence Fox tells EVGENY LEBEDEV he’s on a mission to ‘regain British values’ … and become prime minister
Laurence Fox sips a pint of beer while talking passionately about politics and reminds me of someone I can’t quite impose.
Every word that comes out of his mouth is the launch pad for a controversial opinion piece.
I ask the actor, best known for his role on the ITV drama series Lewis, a simple question. How does it feel to be the most hated man in Britain?
“It’s a busy field,” he laughs.
Laurence Fox (pictured) sips a pint of beer while talking passionately about politics, reminding me of someone I can’t quite put my finger on
Indeed, he has become a hateful figure among many since he rose to prominence in January thanks to an appearance as a panelist at BBC1 Question Time.
During the program, he disputed claims that the Duchess of Sussex had been treated in a ‘racist’ manner by the British press.
He also clashed with an onlooker who called him a “privileged white man.”
And last month, he invited more obloquy by launching The Reclaim Party – to fight for freedom of speech, to ‘reclaim British values’ and to challenge what he sees as a ‘culture war’ taking place in Britain.
He brushed aside the vitriol and said, “You wouldn’t think I was ‘Britain’s most hated man’ if you walked the street with me. People come up and say, “God, that’s brave.” ‘
He makes short work of critics such as journalist Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, who called him ‘attention seeking’ and sarcastically said that he ‘finds it so difficult to be privileged, masculine and white’.
Fox says of another critic, “I don’t need to read why I have such an unhealthy amount of space in my [Guardian columnist] Marina Hyde’s thoughts. ‘
To me, Fox, 42, is an emblem of the new political divide, or ‘culture war’, between those who believe Britain, and more specifically ‘whites’, is at the root of all evil, and others who maintain it we can and should be proud of our freedom and our history.
It is part of a disturbing new form of authoritarian thinking in Western society, supported by online public shame similar to the ‘damnatio memoriae’ (condemnation of memory) that shamed the Roman emperor Commodus.
(His brutal mismanagement sparked civil war and ended when his advisers strangled him.)
It doesn’t matter if the political cause is noble – the flattening of dissent and disagreement is an existential threat to our freedoms.
Focusing on his theme, Fox explains, “This very small ‘progressive’ group of people is trying to make us all think a certain way and impose certain behaviors on everyone. They are a cult – and they have no forgiveness. ‘
He is still raging after a tense showdown on Wednesday with Alibhai-Brown on Jeremy Vine’s talk show on Channel 5.
How does it feel to be the most hated man in Britain? Evgeny Lebedev (photo right) interviews Laurence Fox (left)
She harassed him, calling him a “racist bully” and again calling him a “privileged white man.” According to him, her comments constituted racist abuse.
Fox readily admits that he is privileged, but sees no reason to refer to his skin color. “Bringing in variety does nothing but create division.”
For him, white privilege does not exist as a useful concept.
He says he found Alibhai-Brown to be extreme and bigoted. ‘When I was done with her on the program, I thought to myself,’ You really need to get more right ‘. But at the same time I said to myself: “She will hang herself anyway.” ‘
“If anything,” he adds, “the thing about leftists and awake morons walking around with their virtue is that they’re not nearly as smart as they think they are.”
But his real complaint is with the producers of the Jeremy Vine show. Channel 5 declined to pass the show on to their catch-up service.
“It doesn’t fit with the story of London where the leftists are really kind and compassionate people.”
Fox tells me he has consulted lawyers and plans to take legal action against Channel 5 to force it to release the show, and will file a complaint with the broadcaster regulator Ofcom.
Part of one of the largest family acting dynasties in Britain, Fox likes to take on the hugs to defend the diversity of thought and therefore, as he sees it, creativity and art.
Show business will get more black and white and monoculture and less exciting to be in. It’s so much less about art than about the constant pursuit of equality. ‘
He freely admits that his acting career has suffered from his candor.
Significantly, the actors’ union, Equity, was forced to apologize after calling him a ‘disgrace to our industry’ and claiming that he was given a platform to ‘bully and berate women of color’ for discussing the matter with a Question Time member.
Regardless (the word is tattooed on his forearm), Fox is sure he will act again. (He also has ‘freedom’ and ‘space’ – his late mother’s favorite words – printed on his hands.)
“ Once this is done and this fight is over, I will definitely take off the mantle, put it in the drawer in case it’s ever needed again, and I’ll be acting again. ”
And what is the coming battle?
For Fox, it’s nothing short of defending “Western Democratic values - which he describes as” the stuff we used to have around dinner tables when we were kids. “
These include the right to speak up and disagree with others.
He fights what he calls “permanently insulted millennials” and imagines that if there was ever a foreign attack on our country, they would just say, “I really find your submarine attack offensive.”
This is a funny point, but it masks a very serious problem. Insulting someone is not “violence” – it is the essence of democratic debate.
As Barack Obama wisely said last year, simply judging others for their opinion is “not activism.” That will not bring about change. ‘
He has become a hateful figure among many since he rose to prominence in January thanks to an appearance as a panelist at BBC1 Question Time (pictured)
Fox’s rebellious political party, tentatively titled Reclaim, wants people to be proud of this nation – which he has described as ‘the most tolerant, lovely country in Europe’.
On his website, his mission statement states emphatically, “We all have the privilege of being the custodians of our shared heritage.”
This new role as leader of a political party, he admits, is more of a change from his previous life.
‘I’m from a really well-paid guy who never actually went to work, walked into a room and someone said,’ That’s b ***** ks! You have to think about that again. ‘
The man who played two-time Prime Minister Lord Palmerston in the ITV costume drama Victoria hardly lacks ambition.
I ask him, does he want to become a Member of Parliament? “I will end up in parliament,” he confirms.
Reclaim, which already has 20,000 registered supporters, plans to list candidates in the next general election, and Fox does not deny his dreams of becoming prime minister.
The best thing about politics, he suspects, is that it’s about being the right man or woman, at the right time, in the right place.
His political idol is Ronald Reagan, because of his famous “Mr. Gorbachev, break this wall!” speech, in which he challenged the then Soviet leader in 1987 to tear down the Berlin Wall, a symbol of the repressive communist era in a divided Germany.
I suggest to Fox that he doesn’t have the same challenges as Reagan.
He is quick to disagree: “I hunt proto-communists – those people who would rather everyone have nothing.”
I am pushing him again on these values that he is so eager to protect. He objects. “It’s difficult to talk about values because they are innate.”
He cites the recently deceased right-wing philosopher Sir Roger Scruton’s statement about the ‘pre-political we’ – ‘a culture built around the things children learn at dinner tables.
“Good manners, respect, chivalry”. Fox goes on to talk about “being humble and honest in society,” and about “the parts that matter: your church warden, your caretakers, the people who really keep society going. No half-baked actors and media moguls. ‘
Fox voted for Jeremy Corbyn in 2017, before switching to the Conservatives last year, explaining that he could “ never vote for an anti-Semite. ”
But now, he says, neither side represents the “majority” he has “been living between for years.” “The establishment is constantly surprised by the majority – and the majority inevitably remains silent,” he says. So is the current government falling short?
As for Covid, he dismisses his strategy as “reactive.” He is very concerned about the impact of restrictions on the coronavirus. He is particularly concerned about the finances of families and small businesses: “The first lockdown required everyone’s savings to keep their businesses running.”
He quotes Sunetra Gupta, the Oxford professor of theoretical epidemiology, who believes that “130 million people will die as a result of these Third World lockdowns.”
What is his solution? ‘Protect the elderly and the vulnerable, and let the virus do its bit. The government keeps saying, “We’re beating the virus” – but I’d say, “Good luck with that guy!”
“The truth is, the virus is microscopic and it does its job much better than you.”
He finishes his glass of beer. I ask him how he managed to achieve such notoriety while being a victim of the so-called ‘cancellation culture’.
The actor, singer and now politician rejects such a thought. ‘I have not been canceled. I am qualified! ‘