The New Conservatives are a group of 25 MPs elected primarily in the 2019 General Election. The group was formed in May 2023, with an agenda to return to the Conservative Party’s 2019 manifesto promise on immigration. They are not lurking in the shadows, but are openly presenting on our TVs and radios, publishing in our newspapers and posting on social media, with rhetoric which was thought confined to the annals of history.
The group has a 10-point migration plan that wouldn’t seem out of place in the British nationalist movements of the 1930s. They “stand for the realignment of British Politics, a new era in which Westminster respects the views, values, and interests of the British people”, according to their website.
They invite comparison with historical figures who have made a living by fostering animosity and division. So, who should you be aware of?
Members of the group
Their current President is Sir John Hayes, a man not without controversy. A quick look into his voting record shows that he is fiercely anti-equality and human rights, going as far as to compare LGBTQ+ inclusive language to the language used in George Orwell’s 1984. He sits as a strategic advisor for BB Energy Trading Ltd, a Dubai-headquartered energy trading group, earning him a lucrative £50k a year. He has consistently voted against green energy policies.
Marco Longhi is the honorary president of a right-wing youth pressure group at universities called Turning Point UK (TPUK), an offshoot of Turning Point USA, which was founded in 2019 and is reported to have links to the far right, such as conspiracy theorists Infowars. TPUK has been criticised for having rhetoric closely similar to Generation Identity whose intentions are racist and Islamophobic.
Despite them having a website, information about TPUK and its backers is hard to come by. There is a veil of secrecy surrounding those that endorse them. Their key aim seems to be to influence politics by pushing conspiracy theories upon students when they are vulnerable to influence.
Other group members are no less intransigent in their views. Jonathan Gullis suggested that people using the term ‘white privilege’ should be reported to the Home Office as extremists, has described the Black Lives Matter movement as a “a Marxist organisation that wants to abolish the nuclear family and defund the police” and claimed that research by the National Maritime Museum into the Royal Navy’s links to slavery was “leftwing ideological nonsense”.
Gareth Bacon suggested that people who use foodbanks need to look at how they “manage their personal finances.”
Miriam Cates set up an app for foodbanks and then charged them to use it. She repeatedly refers to Cultural Marxism going as far as to suggest that Cultural Marxism-driven education is “destroying our children’s souls.”
Nick Fletcher suggested that men being replaced by women on TV and in films was causing a rise in crime, a sexist view he doubled down on when he blamed women requesting abortions for not using contraception.
Brendan Clarke-Smith made disparaging comments online about a woman after she posted about her own mental health experience, at odds with his concerns about closures of mental health facilities and for the mental health of farmers in his constituency. He has described food banks as a “political weapon”, saying it is “simply not true that Britain is some kind of country in crisis and in absolute poverty”. He added: “If you keep saying to people that you’re going to give stuff away, then you’re going to have an increase I’m afraid.”
Mark Jenkinson has been very outspoken against the transgender community, going as far as to question whether Essex Police (who were marking the Transgender Day of Remembrance), had planning permission to fly the Pride flag.
Tom Hunt claimed in a 2020 East Anglia Times article (linking crime to immigrant communities) that a “disproportionate number of crimes are committed by individuals from certain communities.”
Danny Kruger, an evangelical Christian, claimed that “The normative family, the mother and father sticking together for the sake of the children, is the only basis for a safe and functioning society.” His remarks drew harsh criticism from a wide range of groups, including the LGBTQ+ community, organisations that support victims of domestic violence, and even the leader of his own party.
The smaller fry of the group include:
Lia Nici, who suggested that people who do not love the flag should move to another country.
Jack Brereton, who wrote a sponsored article in 2021 “urging ministers to make sure the gambling review does ‘nothing to put the industry’s competitiveness at risk.’”
Robin Millar, who resigned his role as Parliamentary Private Secretary (PPS) so he could vote against sex education changes in Northern Ireland.
James Grundy, who had to apologise after a video from 2007 surfaced of him getting his genitalia out in a pub and flashing the patrons.
Paul Bristow, who pleaded guilty to speeding, his third offence in two years despite his campaigning for speed awareness on roads.
The Red Wall
Around 70% of the group’s members are part of the so-called ‘Red Wall’ Conservatives. The Red Wall region, especially in the Midlands area, once flourished with mining and manufacturing, but has been neglected and underfunded by government for a long time. The Conservatives declared they would invest in these regions. Despite these pledges they have not delivered. The Red Wall MPs were voted in by people desperate for change, and are now becoming ever more desperate in their attempts to connect with the same people who are seeing through their rhetoric and empty promises, as is evident from the latest polling.
Looking at the known members of this group, there is an overriding theme of intolerance, contempt, nationalism, xenophobia and promulgation of conspiracy theories. The normalisation of hate speech over recent years has emboldened them. As it stands, these New Conservatives are a small group but whether that will change and what power they will have over influencing policy remains to be seen, especially given the view that Rishi Sunak is perceived as a weak leader.
One thing is for sure; we are in the dawn of a new era, one that would make Enoch Powell proud. Their malign influence should not be underestimated.