Accusations of downplaying the Holocaust, rants about Black Lives Matter, and odd musings on “total biomedical self-restraint” — the National Conservatism Conference has produced some surprising moments.
Touted by organizers as a venue that could chart a new direction in British politics, the conference attracted Tory party heavyweights.
Home Secretary Suella Braverman, Minister for Leveling Up Michael Gove, Jacob Rees-Mogg and Lee Anderson all agreed to speak.
So far, however, it seems to have caused nothing but controversy and confusion, thanks to the mix of far-fetched speakers and odd statements from the Conservative politicians in attendance.
Extinction Rebellion protesters also managed to storm the stage twice – but amidst the general oddity, those moments almost seemed like a sudden burst of normality.
In honor of this new intellectual fermentation pit, we’ve rounded up the five craziest moments from the conference.
Douglas Murray’s Mist Up
The earliest criticism was sparked by a speech by controversial public intellectual Douglas Murray, who was accused of downplaying Nazism and the Holocaust.
In a statement later tweeted on the official account of the conference, Mr Murray said:
“There was nothing wrong with nationalism in Britain. It’s just that there was something wrong with nationalism in Germany.”
“I don’t understand why nobody should love their country just because the Germans screwed up twice in a century.”
The statement drew condemnation and criticism from figures across the political spectrum, including Tory peer Lord Eric Pickles, co-chair of the UK’s Holocaust Memorial Foundation and special envoy for post-Holocaust issues.
David Starkey claims the left wants to ‘replace the Holocaust’
The historian David Starkey is no stranger to controversial statements.
Yet even by his standards, the statements he made were bizarre, including the claim:
“The reason the left is so angry with the Jews is because of jealousy.”
“They want to replace the Holocaust with slavery to use its legacy as a weapon against Western culture.”
Mr. Starkey also used the speech to attack the Black Lives Matter movement and “critical race theory,” claiming:
“They are attempts to destroy the entire legitimacy of Western political and cultural tradition.”
“The notion that they are there to defend the lives of black people is an absurd notion. They don’t care about black lives, they care only about the symbolic destruction of white culture.”
Jacob Rees-Mogg said Tories’ attempts to manipulate themselves ‘backfired’
Mr Rees-Mogg caused surprise when he appeared to be saying the quiet part aloud about the new voter ID laws the Conservatives introduced ahead of the local elections.
On Monday he said: “Parties that try gerrymander end up finding their clever plan coming back to bite them – and dare I say we’ve found that in elections we’ve insisted on a voter’s card.”
“We found that the people who didn’t have ID were older people and, by and large, voted Conservatives. So we made it difficult for our own constituents and messed up a system that worked perfectly.”
“Total Biomedical Self-Control”
While some of the statements made by the speakers at the conference were controversial, others were just plain weird.
According to Marry Harrington, a “reactionary feminist”:
“The movement, formerly known as ‘the left’, is part of a radical libertarianism of the body, sustained by a burgeoning biotech industry, and demands the right of individuals to seek full biomedical self-mastery.”
Ms. Harrington describes herself as a “sex realist”.
But the odd phrasing sounded like something out of a bio-punk sci-fi universe, which is perhaps fitting considering the title of her speech was the Disunited Posthuman Kingdom.