This is a revised version of a previous post.
British society is presently engulfed in a ferocious debate about the infiltration of the Labour party by anti-Semites, and about the alleged indifference of the Labour Party leader, Jeremy Corbyn MP, to anti-Semitism. There is no doubt that social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter have enabled this baleful trend.
So has the notorious and yet disturbingly influential Holocaust denier and extreme conspiracy theorist, David Icke, recently banned from Australia as a danger to Australian society. Icke was issued a visa last September, but this was revoked in February this year, following protests from politicians and Jewish organisations.
Britain, in its post Brexit-referendum convulsions, presents a sorry sight. The flailing around, the lack of political direction, and the overall incompetence are dreadful. It’s unsurprising that the likes of Icke have gained increasing traction here, given the vacuum created by the failure of conventional politics in recent years.
It’s important to point out, however, that this infiltration is also occurring more subtly, and as a consequence of political actors, large and small, important and unimportant.
They take a tactical and, it must said, a cynically opportunist decision to overlook the menace of anti-Semitism, in order to pursue wider political objectives. It’s revealing to note who is prepared to cite Icke positively, on social media.
This is not helped by the evident reluctance of national newspapers in the United Kingdom, such as The Times, to acknowledge Icke’s anti-Semitism, using such weasel words as: “He has promoted alternative explanations for the Holocaust”. The reality is that Icke has almost single-handedly re-booted the notorious 19C anti-Semitic tract, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, in the past two decades.
One of Icke’s critics in Australia, the lawyer Alex Ryvchin, Co-Chief Executive Officer at Executive Council of Australian Jewry, has drawn attention to “just how unhinged Icke’s views really are”:
“[his] conspiracy theories always find favour in weak minds and his claims that Jews financed everything from the slave trade to the Holocaust, and carry out false flag attacks, appeal to all varieties of extremists.”
In my view, more critical attention should be paid to Icke and his corrosive influence. Icke is increasingly mainstreamed. The Pulitzer Prize-winning author Alice Walker is an influential fan. Last year, she endorsed his book, ….and The Truth Shall Set You Free, having previously selected one of his other books for her appearance on BBC Radio 4’s “Desert Island Discs” in 2013.
Writing for Tablet, Yair Rosenberg called Icke’s book “an unhinged anti-Semitic conspiracy tract written by one of Britain’s most notorious anti-Semites.” He comments that America’s elite cultural critics have never taken Walker to task for her repeated promotion of Icke, whom he calls “a self-evidently unhinged bigot”, or for her own anti-Semitism.
But as Will Offley had pointed out, as long ago as 2000 Icke had become embedded with Nazism and the far-right. In an insightful commentary, he described how Icke spliced modish New Age thinking together with neofascism.
Offley regards Icke as seriously mentally unstable (Icke has reported hearing voices), but as nonetheless dangerous, not least because he has attracted an ardent network of far-right promoters.
Icke’s work was taken up by violent neo-Nazi groups, such as Combat 18, for example. One wonders to what extent recent far-right extremist groups, such as Sonnenkrieg Division, might also have been influenced by Icke’s conspiracy milieu.
Icke has also been the subject of a comprehensive critique by the actor Marlon Solomon, who anatomises Icke’s anti-Semitism, and his links with Russia, in two lengthy articles “Forget the Lizards: David Icke is Dangerous and We Should Take Him Seriously” (January 2017), and “Is David Icke Britain’s leading AntiSemite?” (November 2017).
Solomon explains that Icke comes from the US millennialist tradition of the 1990s, when:
right-wing isolationist militia men and New World Order conspiracists coalesced with the New-age movement and ufologists to create a colossal galactic conspiracy.
Solomon argues that Icke’s appeal to, and endorsement by, white supremacists and neo-Nazi groups, is an ominous sign:
super-conspiracism is extremely dangerous
One point that has not been emphasised thus far, by Icke’s many critics, is that Icke is also an influential player in the promotion of theories of elite child abuse and Satanic Ritual Abuse (SRA). Icke’s The Biggest Secret (1999) describes the late Prime Minister Sir Edward Heath as a Satanic shape-shifter who engaged in ritual abuse. Here are some extracts from Icke’s ravings:
The Windors [sic] are part of this reptilian network of financial and political manipulators, Satanists and ritual child killers. Knowingly so. The network has among its number, via its countless secret societies, the leading judges, policemen, politicians, business people, top civil servants, media owners and editors.
Goodness. I hope Mr Murdoch is listening.
As for the Heath accusations, they read like the product of a diseased mind:
This man…used to hold her naked body to him by using hooks inserted into her flesh at the hip. She was just a little girl…She told me that this man was Edward Heath and his name comes up again and again in interviews with victims of Satanic abuse in Britain.
Another woman, “the wife of the Head Keeper at Burnham Beeches”, told Icke:
Late one night in the 1970s….she was taking her dog for a walk when she saw some lights….To her horror she saw that it was a Satanic ritual and that in the circle was the then Prime Minister, Edward Heath, and his Chancellor of the Exchequer, Anthony Barber. She says that as she watched him, Heath began to transform into a reptile and she said that what surprised her was that no-one in the circle seemed in the least surprised.
Another famous paedophile and Satanist in Britain is Lord McAlpine…..
And so on and on and on.
One of Icke’s sources for this delirious nonsense is the former Scallywag source, “on the run” convicted forger Andrea Davison, a BNP member who claims formerly to have worked for British intelligence. (Sadly, the British security services have been known to recruit crackpots on occasion, such as David Shayler – another Icke-fan).
Icke’s former associates include Richie Allen, who promotes conspiracy theories on his Internet radio show, and the self-styled “professional trouble-maker” Sonia Poulton. Both are evidently unconcerned by Icke’s anti-Semitism. Allen has hosted talks with Sandra Fecht and Rainer Kurz, who both promote belief in SRA. Poulton also displays a fascination with SRA.
In post-Brexit post-truth Britain we write off fringe ideas at our peril. It would be unthinkable a decade ago for Icke to be this engaged in mainstream politics but let’s face it, the world has gone a bit Icke. His output for the last couple of years largely emanates from Russia Today with plenty of links back to Iranian state broadcaster Press TV. With these outlets being avowedly anti-western and a hotbed of conspiracy theory it is a natural fit for Icke and Allen’s paranoid fare.
And while on this topic, guess who also had links to RT and Press TV? Step forward Mark Watts, the conspiracist and former Editor-in-Chief of Exaro. The infamous Exaro was a failed “fake news” agency, responsible for promoting conspiracy theories about imaginary Westminster paedophile “rings”. Watts’ Twitter circle includes a number of Icke fans, of course.
One is Alan Goodwin, whose day job is as a translator for the white goods company, Miele, at its Gutersloh HQ in Germany. Goodwin is hailed by a gaggle of lunatic fringers as a bona fide campaigner against child abuse when, in reality, he is a poisonous agit-prop merchant. And he is also a self-professed fan of Icke. He can fairly be described as a hardcore conspiracy theorist. He is also virulently homophobic. And guess what? He also professes to believe in SRA.
I have covered Goodwin’s brazen anti-Semitism (blogs passim). Eminent Jewish journalists have called Goodwin out, as well as the dubious Watts’ association with him. Watts and Goodwin appear joined at the hip, with Goodwin seemingly dictating to Watts on occasion.
Goodwin is obsessed with what he calls “paedobritain”. It’s pure Icke. His obsession with imaginary Westminster paedophile rings and elite sexual abuse is typical of this conspiracy theory milieu. Diseased minds? I’ll say.