The Tories using extremist platform Parler

18th January 2021 / United Kingdom
The Tories using extremist platform Parler

Analysts from the London-based Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD) said that Parler had become a platform where the ideas of mainstream Conservative MPs coalesced with those of political extremists.

Milo Comerford, senior policy manager at ISD, said: “By positioning themselves as a safe haven for free speech, platforms like Parler attracted a motley crew of ultra-libertarians, violent extremists and conspiracy theorists, as well as more mainstream ‘free speech fundamentalists.”

In the UK, you might have thought that MP’s and elected officials whose job it is to ensure the safety of British citizens would not actively engage in a messaging social media service that encourages extremism and violence. You might think that because the national threat level, set by the Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre (JTAC) warns that ‘an attack is highly likely.’ Just three months ago, the head of MI5 warned that violent right-wing extremism is now a major threat facing the country, with more than a quarter of serious terrorist attacks stopped in the final stages linked to neo-fascist and racist groups.

Ken McCallum was giving his first public assessment last October of the threats facing the UK, from terrorist groups and hostile states, after taking over as the director-general of the security service last April. In his address, McCallum singled out right-wing extremism as a significant threat to life and that the trend was likely to continue.

McCallum went on to say that – “Extremists in the UK may not be in touch with their American counterparts in a structured, organised way … but they are in contact because a lot of this poison is being spread online. People draw inspiration, and share links and use online to chat. We see connections to the US and UK and also to the US and Europe.”

It should be a surprise to see some of the most prominent political figures in the UK gathering on a social media platform that encourages right-wing extremism in the name of ‘free-speech’ – but somehow it isn’t. You would not be surprised that, for instance, that Darren Grimes features or that toxic far-right provocateur Katie Hopkins joined Parler on the same day after her Twitter account was permanently suspended. Hopkins, who last Thursday joined Ukip in time for the party’s leadership contest, owned Parler’s largest UK account with 435,000 followers when it was taken offline.

However, what should make us all think a bit harder about how politics has become more toxic than ever is that at least nine of the Tory MPs on Parler joined the platform in an apparent show of support following Donald Trump’s clashes with Twitter and the insurrection on Capitol Hill.

The Independent reports that Foreign Office minister James Cleverly along with Brexiter Steve Baker MP and Ben Bradley MP, who was recently accused of linking free school meals with “crack dens”, had joined Parler. Bradly who was also forced into making an apology unreservedly for falsely claiming that Jeremy Corbyn’s had links to cold war spies.

Michael Gove, Minister for the Cabinet Office since 2020 is an active Parler user.

Tory MP Mark Jenkinson, who last year alleged that food parcels were sold or traded for drugs in his Cumbrian constituency without offering any proof, and trade minister Ranil Jayawardena are also Parler members.

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Health minister Nadine Dorries obviously enjoys the company of these extremists on the messaging service. She was reprimanded by Downing Street for sharing a video from a far-right Twitter account that falsely claimed Keir Starmer blocked the prosecution of grooming gang members when he led the Crown Prosecution Service.

Comerford added: “Platforms like Parler must be understood as part of a broad online extremist ecosystem, ranging from mainstream social media platforms, imageboard sites like the chans, to encrypted-messenger apps like Telegram, all of which play roles in helping extremists to mobilise, organise and propagandise.


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