Who is Darren Grimes? Not even he knows

Confessions of a twentysomething mouthpiece.

Darren Grimes is 26-years-old. He was once a fashion student. Then he was a political cause célèbre. Now, he’s a miniature Milo Yiannopolous, with northern vowels and appeals to ‘traditional’ working-class values rather than Milo’s shifting names and shifting allegiances. But Grimes serves the same purpose as Yiannopolous; to anger the left and buoy up the right, to say things for others while claiming he says them for himself. Who is Grimes’ Steve Bannon? Look at the Companies House information and it starts to make sense.

TurningPoint UK and the IEA are where Grimes’ pay packet and the funding for the group he fronts, Reasoned UK, flow from. Darren Grimes is introduced during his appearances on stations like TalkRadio as ‘director’ of Reasoned UK. Now, this may simply mean he holds the job of running the video and audio production company which pumps out interviews and comment pieces, but if he intends to give the impression that he controls the business side, it’s erroneous. The one director of Media & Activism, the company — revealed by Private Eye — to be behind Reasoned UK, is Oliver Anisfield, son of the former Brexit Party MEP turned Conservative Party backer Lance Forman. He is the CEO of Turning Point UK, a franchise of a right-wing US pressure group targeted at students.

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Grimes, who has got lots of vocal support from people like Julia Hartley-Brewer (he appears on her TalkRadio show often), is an effective mouthpiece. He spent time working at the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA), after his time as the face of BeLeave, a student-focused campaign group during the Brexit referendum. His involvement in BeLeave led to him being subject to a huge fine for campaign finance irregularities, which was then overturned following a court battle.

Darren Grimes interviewed by Baron Von Greenback

The IEA, a think tank that exists to push a right-wing free-market philosophy has been found to have published reports that said what donors wanted them to put out there. Sucha report recommending more casinos was published after the casino industry put £8,000 in the IEA’s coffers. Another well-known example is an IEA report saying tax havens are good for the wider economy of the nation deprived of taxes. It was published after Jersey Finance paid for it. Beyond these examples — reported by the press — it is extremely hard to find out where the IEA gets its money.

The same thing is true of Darren Grimes. Who is funding him to spend all day making videos for Reasoned UK? How is his lifestyle bankrolled? He exists to push a specific agenda and there are people whispering in his ear to ensure that happens.

While Grimes offered a mealy-mouthed apology for an interview with David Starkey published yesterday, he had spent the preceding five hours crowing about how good the interview, in which Starkey makes a series of ahistorical and awful statements about slavery. I’m willing to bet, though he’d never admit it, that Grimes is simply delivering the updated message that his backers want him to put out there.

Why is Grimes on the front line of the culture war? Because his backers want to benefit from the chaos, not have to deal with it in their lives. They’re cowards. And while this 26-year-old is convinced he’s doing only what he wants to do, I’m here to tell you that’s just not true.

I was an opinion writer in my mid-twenties and experienced quite viscerally how fast you come to understand there are boundaries which the publication requires you to work within. “No one tells me what to write,” you cry, but that’s because it’s clear what they expect you to say.

Darren Grimes is being used as a puppet with a megaphone strapped to its mouth. He genuinely thinks he’s a radical firebrand, but he’s just a puppy with a flash collar on and some indulgent benefactors. He keeps saying, “I’ve set up this channel” during his interviews, but that’s clearly not true.

Want an example of when he’s obviously receiving briefings from others? One day he knew nothing about Irish politics. The next day he was on TV discussing it. And for all his tweets about how the BBC must go and how much the media lets everyone down, he is addicted to all those appearance fees.