It seems that the love-affair between BBC News and various on-air guests from Spiked, a right-libertarian magazine that emerged in the early 2000s from the debris of the United Kingdom’s decidedly hard-left Revolutionary Communist Party, has somewhat cooled in recent weeks. This might be down to the decision by the internet publication to tentatively move into online broadcasting via SoundCloud and YouTube. The latter in particular has given its videos a prominent position among the algorithmic recommendations for fans of the hard-right. Or perhaps someone higher up in the BBC echelons has had a word with the producers and researchers of shows like Politics Live and Newsnight recommending a slight distancing from the Spiked crew? After all the frequency of appearances on the BBC was beginning to look a little bit like RTÉ’s News and Current Affairs Department during the 1970s and ’80s when an entryist grouping associated with the Workers Party gained a not-so clandestine influence over the political reporting of our own public service broadcaster.
Speaking of which, it’s fascinating to chart how factions from two Marxist organisations in two neighbouring countries have taken very similar right-wing paths over the last five decades. In Ireland we had an elitist cadre of the WP and its precursors moving from support for the Official IRA, armed struggle and radical class politics during the 1960s and ’70s to some of the most reactionary opinions imaginable on this island. While in the UK they had similarly elitist members of the RCP and its precursors moving from support for the Provisional IRA, armed struggle and radical class politics during the 1970s, ’80s and 1990s to their current position somewhere on the quasi-liberal fringe of the Anglo-American libertarian-right.
Watching last month’s election of RCP-alumnus Claire Fox to the European Parliament for the Brexit Party is sort of stunning in its way, as are her now regular appearances in the British press. The former firebrand campaigner was previously denigrated by the political and media mainstream in Britain because of her support for the Irish Republican Army and Sinn Féin during the era of the Troubles, along with many of her ex-comrades in the RCP and the associated Irish Freedom Movement (though there is no hard evidence that the grouping provided the same levels of logistical and intelligence aid given to the IRA by some members of the rival Red Action group, despite both factions uniting during the short-lived Red Front electoral alliance of the 1980s). Now, like others in the Koch-funded Spiked network that grew out of the end of the Cold War in Europe and the Long War in Ireland, Fox happily consorts with Nigel Farage and the flotsam and jetsam of the resurgent nationalist-right in Britain. The same types of people she would have literally marched against on the streets of London thirty years ago.
For those of us who remember or have read about the British hard-left sea in which Irish guerrillas swam during the English campaigns of the northern conflict, the contemporary Spiked phenomenon is just surreal.