Journalist Nafees Mahmud argues that those fearing a rise of the right post-Brexit should keep a close eye on one man – millionaire UKIP donor Aaron Banks.
The decision to leave the EU has brought about the worst fear of many: Britain is set to move further to the right. This is not just evident in the rise of hate crimes and Theresa “Snooper’s Charter” May being our new PM. No, something far more sinister is brewing.
It’s not the guaranteed re-emergence into the limelight of Gove and Johnson during May’s Brexit negotiations; it is the forthcoming onslaught of Banks-Gunster propaganda politics which will take the politics of fear to the next level.
Appearing on the Andrew Marr show on Sunday, Aaron Banks – millionaire donor to UKIP and co-founder of Leave.EU – said he has not ruled out standing to be UKIP’s leader, or even forming a new right wing party.
Why should this worry Muslims and those worried about a further shift to the right?
Firstly, Banks has praised Donald Trump’s nomination campaign and was advised by Trump’s strategists on how to position the Leave.EU campaign.
Hence, it is no surprise Leave.EU tweeted two particularly controversial, hyperbolic and Islamophobic tweets during their campaign. One was of a cartoon by Ben Garrison which depicts three obviously Muslim men on a beleaguered ship, the EU. One of the brown bearded men is holding a bag of cash up for another waving a scimitar. The other is trying to grope the mermaid figurehead. Atop the mast is a crescent and star flag.
The other tweet was posted two days after the Orlando nightclub shootings and included a poster which stated: Islamist extremism is a real threat to our way of life. Act now before we see an Orlando style atrocity here before too long.
You can see the Trump tactic in full force: triple F rated all the way; fear, fear and more fear.
Second, despite police forces declaring a rise in reports of racially motivated hate crimes, Banks denies any such thing is happening, even going as far as to say some people are making these crimes up.
And it gets a lot worse.
Earlier this year Banks met with members of hawkish think-tanks, American Foreign Policy Council, American Enterprise Institute and The Heritage Foundation to build support for his political ambitions. (Peace doesn’t seem to be high on his agenda, then).
He is likely to continue working with US political strategist Gerry Gunster who believes in winning campaigns by targeting the emotional self-interests of voters. Banks’ own self-interests are clear: with investments in and licenses for diamond mines in southern Africa, companies based offshore to avoid tax and a desire to see a fully privatized NHS, for him it’s all about (as the surname suggests) the money.
To protect those interests he will do what other power and money hungry megalomaniacs have done: use propaganda to distract people from the real issues behind social, political and economic decay in Britain. Expect more migrant and Muslim-baiting from Camp Banks, as has come from Rupert Murdoch, Jonathan Harmsworth and Lynton Crosby.
However, unlike the above-mentioned wealth magnets, Banks doesn’t just influence, fund or advise political parties, he may also soon be leading one.