Fox’s real strategy

Column inches, not mayoral success, is the real victory of Laurence Fox’s political campaign

It’s hard not to admire the courage of a man who is willing to say everything he thinks. Laurence Fox, the former Lewis actor, is running to be mayor in “The cathedral of wokery” and today he launched his campaign in front of around 40 reporters and snappers in Westminster. He told us he is “not a politician and never wanted to be a politician”. And whilst this is not technically true, he’s as far from London Mayor Sadiq Khan as it is possible to be. By chance The Reclaim Party’s vintage red battle bus drove past Khan today as the sitting Mayor delivered a socially-distanced message to a couple of broadcasters in a London park.

From the top deck packed with reporters and snappers, Mr. Fox shouted “all right Sadiq-weaky! Hi! I’m nicking your house!” Before adding, “Oh dear, I’ve got to get much more statesmanlike, much more statesmanlike” and then when somebody pointed out that the BBC were attending Sadiq’s event but were absent from Mr.Fox’s, he said “I love it, BBC are over there, and we stole the rest Sadiq… With your size 5 feet.” Before remembering the statesman part again, and then saying quietly, with genuine contrition: “Sorry.”

In his speech before we boarded the bus, he said he was used to reading other people’s lines but not his own, and the analogy seemed to fit well for today’s event. A soap box was put out for him to stand on to deliver his message, he rejected it. He tried to reject a microphone and asked the audience of red t-shirt clad supporters if he needed one. “Do I need that?” “yes” came the reply. “I don’t need that. Do I need that?” “Yes” chorused the audience. He had to concede.

His tour bus carried the message “FREE LONDON” in mock-graffiti scrawl. In terms of Covid-restrictions it’s an easy message to grasp. Fox would remove all restrictions on London “some time last week” if he had the power. But the Mayor, (whom he calls Sadiq Khant) doesn’t have those powers. Would Mr. Fox issue any advice for things like social distancing or even vaccines? “I don’t think adults need to be told how to behave”. He would never tell somebody to get a vaccine: “it should be private like voting” and will only get one himself “the minute clinical trials finish in 2023”.

But freedom becomes trickier when it comes to bog-standard political issues like knife crime. He attacked Tory candidate Shaun Bailey’s plan to roll-out more CCTV across the transport network as “un-conservative” but he’s happy to push ahead with stop-and-search, promising London fathers that if he’s elected their daughters will be safe to walk the streets. Why is stopping and searching innocent people on the streets more conservative than CCTV? London has too much CCTV Fox told me. Does that mean profiling people? Yes but not racial profiling. It seems there is at least some political correctness in the avowedly anti-woke candidate.

But none of these policy details really matter because Mr. Fox isn’t going to win. The most recent polling suggests Sadiq Khan is on course to take over half the vote which would eliminate the need for second preference votes for the first time ever in London. The Tory candidate lags behind on 28% and recent stories suggest CCHQ has pulled his funding. The real point of all this is another log to throw onto the fire to the right of the Conservative party and stop that particular flame burning out after Brexit ceases to be its main fuel source. Packing a bus, and the papers, with news of the anti-lockdown, anti-woke party when their candidate is not even being mentioned by polling companies means he’s already been successful in his quest.

Enjoying The Critic online? It's even better in print

Try five issues of Britain’s newest magazine for £10

Critic magazine cover