'Marxism, Narcissism And Paganism' Among Tory Fears During Bizarre Gathering

Figures on the right of the party line up for some "woke"-bashing – and warn of John Lennon's “dystopian fantasy” – at the National Conservatism conference.
Home secretary Suella Braverman speaking during the National Conservatism Conference at the Emmanuel Centre, central London.
Home secretary Suella Braverman speaking during the National Conservatism Conference at the Emmanuel Centre, central London.
Victoria Jones - PA Images via Getty Images

Conservatives brought a jumble of ideas to a three-day gathering in London – with one MP warning of the perils of “Marxism, narcissism and paganism” during a bizarre few hours.

As Labour leader Keir Starmer mocked the Tories for “holding a series of mad hatters’ tea parties” in the aftermath of their local elections drubbing, the National Conservatism conference opened in London – with high-profile Conservative Party figures in attendance.

The meeting brought together right-wing politicians, journalists and thinkers to discuss the potential of “national conservatism” to provide a path towards renewal for the party.

The conference is a project of the Edmund Burke Foundation, a “public affairs institute” based in Washington DC which has held conferences across Europe and America since 2019 to promote the ideas of national conservatism.

Between two separate protests, with one speech was interrupted early on by a someone warning about “fascism”, and the conference chair suggesting they’ve been “communing” with Margaret Thatcher, here are a handful of the most eye-catching comments.

“The unexamined drive towards multiculturalism” is a “recipe for communal disaster”.

Home secretary Suella Braverman was arguably the “star” turn. Despite being in charge of the UK’s immigration policy, she took a number of swings at the UK’s immigration policy.

She deployed her own background as the daughter of migrants to argue it’s “not racist for anyone, ethnic minority or otherwise, to want to control our borders”.

The cabinet minister also argued that “you cannot have immigration without integration” and “the unexamined drive towards multiculturalism” is a “recipe for communal disaster”.

Braverman said that people who come to the UK “must not commit crimes”, “need to learn English and understand British social norms” and “cannot simply turn up and say: ‘I live here now, you have to look after me’”.

Young radicalised by “Marxism, narcissism and paganism”

Tory backbencher Danny Kruger blamed the country’s problems on the “new religion” of “progressive liberalism” – which is a mix of “Marxism, narcissism and paganism” and is causing a “radicalisation of a generation”. He even hit out at the “dystopian fantasy of John Lennon”.

“As Russell Crowe says in the film Gladiator ...”

Multiple speakers decried the impact of “wokeism” on British society, particularly Katharine Birbalsingh, who was once dubbed “Britain’s strictest headteacher”.

She urged conservative parents to take their children out of schools that were “too woke”, and criticised private schools for being even more “woke” than their state-funded counterparts.

In a speech that included lines from the film Gladiator, Birbalsingh bemoaned children “leading” schools, attacked private schools for being more “woke” than state providers, and claimed children at some schools are allowed to wear ears and tails because they “identify as cats”.

“Woke” teaching is “destroying our children’s souls”

Tory MP Miriam Cates identified falling birth rates as the “overarching threat” to UK and western society.

She also said society had ceased to value children and parenthood properly: “You cannot be socially liberal and economically conservative. If you think that government and society should have nothing to say about the conditions that promote strong families, don’t be surprised if you end up with a high-tax, high-spend economy, with a nation of broken people dependent on the state.”

She also criticised “woke” teaching for “destroying our children’s souls” and causing self-harm and suicide among young people.

The Conservative MP faced criticism for hitting out at “cultural Marxism”. John Mann, the government’s antisemitism tsar, said the term has its origins in a “conspiracy theory with anti-Semitism at its core”.


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