Sir Roger Scruton: 1944-2020

The term ‘conservative’ is now so much abused it has become almost meaningless, but Sir Roger Scruton – who died today aged 75, having suffered from cancer for the last six months – was a true giant of English conservatism.

Just over a month ago in London, Europe’s greatest conservative leader Viktor Orban presented Sir Roger with the Order of Merit of the Republic of Hungary, saying rightly that he had “foreseen the threats of illegal migration and defended Hungary from unjust criticism.”

Many H&D readers will best remember Roger Scruton for his eighteen years as chief editor and publisher of The Salisbury Review. Within two years of its launch, Scruton’s Review made headlines for publishing a controversial article by Bradford headmaster Ray Honeyford, ‘Education and Race – an alternative view’.

The March-April issue of H&D will include an obituary of Sir Roger Scruton: may he rest in peace and may his example inspire new generations of Englishmen to redefine and reinvigorate conservatism for our times.

Winners and losers as Europe’s populist tide ebbs and flows

Leading figures in ‘The Movement’, an alliance of European populists – (left to right) former Trump adviser Steve Bannon; Italian interior minister Matteo Salvini; and Brussels-based Jewish lawyer Mischael Modrikamen

While Nigel Farage’s new Brexit Party celebrated big victories in this week’s European elections, the much-advertised populist breakthrough proved to be at best a patchy affair.

Predictably the big populist winners included Italy‘s deputy prime minister Matteo Salvini, whose anti-immigration Lega party topped the polls with 34.3% and 29 seats – a huge increase on their 6.2% and five seats in 2014, when the party was known as Lega Nord (Northern League).

Also continuing to advance were the nationalist-conservative governing parties in Poland and Hungary.

Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban and his Fidesz party are suspended from the European conservative group EPP, but Orban had the last laugh this week. While most European conservative parties are in crisis, Fidesz increased their support to 52.3%, up from 51.5% in 2014.

Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban was among the big winners at this year’s Euro-elections

A very radical nationalist party polled exceptionally well in Slovakia. Marian Kotleba’s People’s Party Our Slovakia – a party that stands staunchly in the tradition of Slovakia’s wartime leader Monsignor Jozef Tiso – gained two MEPs after polling 12.1% (up from 1.8% in 2014).

By contrast some previously successful populist and anti-Islam parties suffered poor results. The once-influential Dutch Freedom Party led by Geert Wilders was wiped out, losing all four of their MEPs and polling 3.5% (down from 13.2% in 2014).

Also badly beaten was the Danish People’s Party who lost three of their four MEPs after their vote fell from 26.6% to 10.7%. Voters in Denmark showed the strongest evidence of a trend also witnessed in some other European countries: an anti-populist backlash with increased turnouts among previously apathetic voters.

Marine Le Pen, once Europe’s most successful anti-immigration politician, has been to some extent eclipsed by her Italian ally Salvini, but Le Pen’s National Rally (RN) – previously the National Front (FN) – again topped the poll in France with 23.3% (slightly down from the FN’s 24.9% in 2014). The more ‘moderate’ French eurosceptic party France Arise (DLF) led by Farage’s main French ally Nicolas Dupont-Aignan fell below the 5% threshold to obtain MEPs. DLF polled 3.5% (down from 3.8% under an earlier party name in 2014).

Marine Le Pen (leader of the renamed French National Front) stayed top of the polls, but her ally Geert Wilders saw his Dutch Freedom Party wiped out.

Le Pen’s former FN vice-president Florian Philippot broke away in September 2017 to form a splinter party called The Patriots, mainly on the European issue: unlike Le Pen he wants France to leave the European Union. Philippot’s party polled only 0.7% despite seeking to appropriate the name of the anti-establishment “yellow vest” street protestors.

Having lost one of her main European parliamentary allies with the demise of Geert Wilders’ Dutch Freedom Party, Le Pen will have been greatly cheered by the landslide gains for the Flemish nationalists Vlaams Belang. In simultaneous Belgian regional, parliamentary and European elections, VB’s young leader Tom Van Grieken (elected in 2014 as a 28-year-old) succeeded in turning round the party’s fortunes.

VB now have 18 seats in the Belgian Parliament (up from 3 in 2014) and three MEPs (up from one in 2014).

The other important Le Pen ally is the Austrian Freedom Party, who managed to hold on 18.1% (down from 19.7% in 2014) despite a financial scandal that has destroyed the career of party leader and former Vice-Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache. In fact these European elections pale into insignificance against the background of Austria’s political crisis, which has now brought down the government and provoked a general election to be held in September.

Rather than consistent populist/nationalist success, the main event of this year’s European elections in most of the continent was a dramatic increase in turnout: up from 42.2% to 50.1% in France; from 48.1% to 61.4% in Germany; and from 43.8% to 64.3% in Spain.

Golden Dawn supporters rally outside the Greek Parliament

The new Spanish anti-immigration party Vox elected three MEPs for the first time after polling 6.2% (up from 1.6% in 2014 but down from 10.3% at this year’s general election).

In Germany the civic nationalist and anti-immigration party AfD (Alternative for Germany) polled 4.1m votes (11.0%), up from 2.1m votes (7.1%) in 2014, increasing their tally of MEPs from seven to eleven.

One side-effect of AfD’s success was the defeat of the long-established German nationalist party NPD, who polled 101,000 votes (0.3%), down from 301,000 votes (1.0%) in 2014. The NPD’s sole MEP Udo Voigt consequently lost his seat. Two smaller German nationalist parties also contested the Euro-election. Die Rechte polled 25,000 votes for a slate headed by 90-year-old author and historical justice campaigner Ursula Haverbeck, who is presently serving a prison sentence for “holocaust denial”. The III Path (Dritte Weg) polled 13,000 votes.

Greek national socialist party Golden Dawn lost one of their three MEPs after polling 4.8%, down from 9.4% in 2014 (though in contrast to some populist parties Golden Dawn is disproportionately strong among young voters). Their Maltese counterparts Imperium Europa, a national socialist party led by Norman Lowell, polled 3.2%, up from 2.8% in 2014.



Former Trump adviser on European tour – plans to set up new European populist ‘Movement’

Leading figures in ‘The Movement’, an alliance of European populists – (left to right) former Trump adviser Steve Bannon; Italian interior minister Matteo Salvini; and Brussels-based Jewish lawyer Mischael Modrikamen

Steve Bannon, the controversial former adviser to President Trump and former executive chairman of Breitbart News, is touring European capitals this week and meeting a range of political leaders.

Bannon plans to develop a pan-European alliance of populist forces under the label ‘The Movement’. This was officially registered in January by a Belgian lawyer called Mischael Modrikamen, who is a well-known figure in the Jewish community in Brussels and leader of a tiny party called the People’s Party.

Modrikamen is a friend and ally of Nigel Farage, through whom he was introduced to Bannon.

The most important figures already signed up to ‘The Movement’ are Italian deputy prime minister and interior minister Matteo Salvini, leader of the anti-immigration Lega, and his ally Giorgia Meloni, leader of Fratelli d’Italia (‘Brothers of Italy’), the most significant of several groups that grew out of the former fascist party MSI.

Steve Bannon with Giorgia Meloni last weekend at the conference of her ‘post-fascist’ party Fratelli d’Italia

Bannon spoke at the Fratelli d’Italia conference in Rome last weekend. He told an enthusiastic crowd: “Trump and Brexit and [the Italian general election in] March 2018 are all inextricably linked: it’s a rejection of the way things are and it’s a way forward … it’s the little guy saying ‘we have a better idea’ … and the first thing is a rejection of what the elites have foisted on Western civilization.”

After Rome, Bannon went on to Prague where he met Czech President Milos Zeman, who comes from a very different political tradition to Bannon’s Italian hosts. While Salvini’s roots are in regional separatism and Meloni’s are in the postwar development of Italy’s fascist tradition, President Zeman is one of the last of the old Eastern European politicians rooted in a version of socialism. A Communist party member until 1970, Zeman created the Social Democratic Party and was a centre-left Prime Minister for several years, but more recently has moved towards a radically anti-immigration populism, winning re-election as President earlier this year.

Like Bannon’s other allies, Zeman is closer to Russia’s leader Vladimir Putin than to the liberal elites who control the European Union.

 

 

Gerd Honsik, 1941-2018

Poet and historical revisionist Gerd Honsik died on Saturday 7th April at his home in Sopron, Hungary, just across the border from his native Austria.

A political activist since the 1960s, Honsik had been a federal executive member of Austria’s National Democratic Party, which was banned in 1988 under increasingly draconian anti-democratic laws designed to protect the political establishment.

That same year Honsik wrote a book titled Freisprüch für Hitler? (Acquittal for Hitler?), questioning the historical orthodoxies that are now backed by the full force of criminal law in much of Europe.  This began thirty years of legal persecution.  In 1992 he was given an 18-month prison sentence by a Vienna court, having already been convicted in Munich: both the Austrian and German legal systems ruled that historical revisionism amounted to “incitement” and that, as under British race laws (which do not yet criminalise revisionism), the truth is no defence.

Honsik fled to Spain to escape this persecution, and while in Spain published further revisionist article in the magazine Halt.  He remained in exile until Spanish law was changed to permit his arrest and extradition to Austria in 2007, then began serving the 18-month sentence from fifteen years earlier, and in 2009 was convicted of additional offences and given a further five year prison sentence. This was reduced on appeal to four years, but an extra two year sentence was added in 2010.

Gerd Honsik (left) with Spanish patriot, author and publisher Pedro Varela in 2012

The famous 2006 Tehran Conference on the Holocaust was partly at Honsik’s instigation, after he had asked Iran’s Ambassador to Germany in December 2005 whether the Islamic Republic could provide legal or diplomatic assistance for the Canadian-German revisionist publisher Ernst Zündel.  Honsik was forbidden to travel to Iran, but the Tehran Conference was addressed by his attorney Dr Herbert Schaller. In 2011 Dr Schaller won his client an early release from prison, but nevertheless Honsik had served four years merely for the normal pursuit of historical enquiry.

Gerd Honsik took refuge in Hungary last year, as the Austrian authorities were threatening further legal moves against him. His death marks another heroic milestone in the pursuit of historical truth and justice. Within the last eight months we have lost Ernst Zündel, his widow Ingrid Rimland Zündel, Don Salvador Borrego, Dr Herbert Schaller, and now Gerd Honsik. They lit a flame that younger generations must now carry forward.

 

  • Find By Category

  • Latest News

  • Follow us on Twitter