"Hurrah for the Black Sharts..." Why I'm taking Laurence Fox's resistible rise seriously

He's only an actor? So was Ronald Reagan. So is Donald Trump.

In today’s Mail on Sunday, Laurence Fox, wannabe dictator, failed musician, and a hereditary acting star is interviewed by daddy’s little oligarch, press baron, and preposterous poltroon Evgeny Lebedev, a man with a beard like the iron filings in a Wooly Willy toy…

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… and if I were one of the semicomatose co-conspirators in the Spitting Image writers’ room, I’d write some toothless sketch about how both the Russian newspaper baron and member of English acting aristocracy are quite vain. Oh! The satire, it burns so good, like a whiskey you purchased in a pub to make yourself seem sophisticated when all you wanted was a lager and a little cry.

Instead, I’m quite frankly terrified. The double-page spread is less of an interview and more of a vigorous soapy tit-wank, in which Lebedev, who clearly endorses the ‘ideas’ — such as they are — of the arsehole’s Arturo Ui, gives Fox such a smooth ride it’s like they’re having a lovely afternoon on the Tea Cups.

The people that Fox chooses to quote are also interesting — Roger Scruton, Ronald Reagan, and Sunetra Gupta — because they betray how much coaching he has been receiving from Spectator magazine types, including his apparent girlfriend Madeline Grant, former IEA staffer and current Telegraph assistant comment editor.

Fox has had a fast education in the talking points of the British right. That is also clear in who Fox decides to swing at: Marina Hyde of The Guardian and Yasmin Alibi-Brown formerly of The Independent — where Lebedev was technically her ultimate boss at the time — and occasionally of the Evening Standard — where he still is the owner.

It would be easy to chuckle at Fox’s assertions that he could one day be Prime Minister — in the same way, that ludicrous claims like that from Jo ‘Swinzone’ Swinson were — but I take it seriously. He has money behind him from very rich people, the support of press barons like Lebedev, growing support from certain sections of the public and a media environment where he will be consistently given space on radio and TV.

I take Fox seriously, possibly even more seriously than he takes himself.

When the actor — and he is still an actor more than anything else — talks of “hunting down proto-communists”, I hear the echoes of jackboots and the ranting speeches of past strongmen now thankfully dead.

But I also hear the sound of comedians and actors turned politicians the world over. For all of his tediousness, Fox knows how to play a part. He once took on the role of Lord Palmerston and I can well believe that he could be coached into being not only an MP but a useful idiot Prime Minister for darker forces that do not wish to show their faces while they make their money and push their agendas.

Fox is becoming the face of a resurgent British fascism. Take it seriously. Organise and resist. It’s not too late but it won’t take long before that starts looking shaky.