What do Accrington Stanley F.C. and Laurence Fox have in common? “Who are they? Exactly.” So goes the famous 1980s advert for the Milk Marketing Board. However, Fox is more like cream than milk – thick, white and rich.
Fox is best known for his mediocre acting career. Older viewers may recognise him from ITV drama Lewis, and our generation may have seen him in the dismally bad Netflix series White Lines. Personally, I had never heard of him until doing a university course earlier this year. The tutor for the course showed us Fox’s performance on Question Time, in which he hectored a black woman as “racist” and “boring” for calling him what he is: a privileged, white male.
He crossed my path again in April, appearing on the front of the Sunday Times magazine. He attempted to explain, without apologising, what had happened on Question Time. He was baffled that people were interested in the thoughts of “some knobbish…half-educated t*** like me”. That’s exactly what Question Time and a front cover interview are, though: platforms on which people seeking the limelight express their thoughts. This irony was clearly lost on Laurence.
Or was it? Fox popped up again on talkRADIO in late August. He was enraged at the temporary cancellation of ‘Rule Britannia’ and ‘Land of Hope and Glory’ at the Proms due to Covid. How had someone I had gone 22 years without noticing, suddenly crossed my path three times in less than a year? It wasn’t a coincidence: he was building his profile.
This has come to the fore in the last two weeks as Fox paired the announcement of his new political party with two grotesque, headline-grabbing tweets. Fox announced his new party ‘Reclaim’ at the end of September, with the aim of fighting back against those he considers to be on the ‘woke left’ destroying Britain’s culture. It has been described as “UKIP for culture” and has received a donation of £5m already.
A week later he tweeted saying he was boycotting Sainsbury’s because their celebration of Black History Month was tantamount to racial segregation. In the ensuing uproar on Twitter, RuPaul’s Drag Race UK star Crystal has accused Fox of using the homophobic trope of paedophilia against her, in a now deleted tweet.
You might think this kind of publicity would be terrible news for a political party in its infancy. However, all of this suggests Fox prescribes to the old adage that there is no such thing as bad publicity. Perhaps this move into politics was all planned, starting with the Question Time appearance in January – the foundations of Fox’s profile building. Perhaps, as he struggled for acting jobs after the Question Time debacle, he decided to embrace his new found fame, becoming a caricature of himself, and spreading his message far and wide. Perhaps this is all far too conspiratorial and I should take my tin hat off.
It has happened before though: Boris Johnson used his multiple appearances on Have I Got News For You to great effect, and Nigel Farage holds the record for the third highest number of appearances on Question Time – becoming a household name of British politics as a result. This is the danger with Laurence Fox.
We must learn our lessons and not give him the megaphone that is our attention. By all means, he’s entitled to his opinion. It can even be good for society to occasionally hear opinions of that ilk so we can collectively lambast them. But he’s had his day in the sun now. It’s time to go back to the dark cave of obscurity, Laurence.
Image: UK Parliament via Flickr