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“”These people are the establishment. White privilege and casual sexism is the sea they tend to swim in. Attention-seeking haters such as Katie Hopkins and strangely bitter successes such as Piers Morgan help spawn these posh understudies. Their side has won, so why are they such losers? Why are their egos so fragile?
Laurence Fox (1978–) is a British actor, singer, TV personality, anti-anti-racist loudmouth, and wannabe politician who is opposed to Black Lives Matter and is a defender of the greatness of the British Empire and white British people. Since first speaking on the subject of race in January 2020 he has created a series of public controversies, culminating in plans to launch his own political party, Reclaim.
He is the son of Posh British actor James Fox (Performance, A Passage to India, A Question of Attribution, etc), and nephew of fellow actor Edward Fox. Laurence attended Harrow School and the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, taking various minor acting roles before getting his big break as Kevin Whately's sidekick on TV detective show Lewis, itself a spin-off of the detective show Morse. Lewis ran from 2006 to 2015, and in 2016 he released his debut album of singer-songwriter folk-rock, Holding Patterns, which failed to trouble the charts. He was formerly married to Doctor Who/Secret Diary of a Call Girl actor Billie Piper and his brother in law is actor and filmmaker Richard Ayoade.
Question Time and race
His political views first crawled into daylight when he was selected as a panelist on BBC1 political discussion program Question Time: the show's panel largely comprises politicians and journalists, but they sometimes have a gimmicky non-professional-politico to make up the numbers and inject some new perspectives. A (Black, female) member of the audience asked a question about the sometimes racist attitude of the media to Meghan Markle, the mixed-race wife of Prince Harry. Fox denied that there was any racism involved in the way certain sections of the media took a pathological hatred to Markle, and when it was suggested that Fox as a wealthy white person might enjoy a certain amount of privilege, he said it was "racist" to call him a "white, privileged male". He also said, "It's so easy to throw the card of racism at everybody… and it's really starting to get boring now." Fox's boredom at the subject of racism produced a certain media storm.
In the aftermath he emphasized his cluenessness on race by criticising the 2019 film 1917 (directed by Sam Mendes) for including a Sikh character, saying it "felt incongruous" and referring to "oddness in the casting". Fox was unaware that 130,000 Sikh soldiers served in World War One as part of the army of British India. After criticism, Fox apologised.
He has criticised Black History Month for "indoctrination and divisive ideologies", tweeting a link to an article by Calvin Robinson with the same message. Robinson is a Senior Fellow at the right-wing think tank Policy Exchange, which has close links to the British government, and personally believes "#BlackLivesMatter is a dangerous mix of Marxism and Critical Race Theory, which poses a fundamental threat to race relations in Britain."
He claims to have been ostracized by the acting world for his beliefs. He caused a massive argument at British actors' union Equity: after his Question Time appearance, ethnic minority union reps accused him of acting to "berate and bully women of colour attempting to discuss issues of race and gender discrimination", "playing to the gallery, a populist tirade, with women of colour being used as cannon fodder", and said he had been trying to conceal his privilege and "damn any recognition of that privilege as the very racism he claims is exaggerated when people of colour try to discuss it". Fox threatened to sue Equity for libel, and the union's leadership apologised, but in response its entire race equality committee resigned in protest at the apology.
In a bizarre stunt to prove that he wasn't a racist, he set about insulting people on Twitter by (falsely) calling them paedophiles, believing this was recompense for being accused of racism. However he seemed to quickly realise this was a bit stupid, and deleted the tweets. Despite this, two of his victims brought cases for libel: Simon Blake (of LGBT charity Stonewall UK and Mental Health First Aid England) and Crystal (a performer from Ru Paul's Drag Race UK).
Working on his music
He released his first album, Holding Patterns, in 2016, and followed it up with A Grief Observed in 2019. These met with general indifference: Holding Patterns reached 89 in the UK charts in a 2-week chart run, and the follow-up failed to reach the Top 100 despite a large media campaign and a lot of press (based entirely on his acting success and family, and none of it in newspapers' music sections, according to music journalist Michael Hann). Hann said of its merits: "Fox’s music isn't terrible. ... Its single biggest weaknesses is Fox’s voice, which almost touches good, but is also just far enough away to be oddly disconcerting. He hits all the right notes (and in the right order), but it’s a blunt instrument, unvarying in tone and timbre. He always sounds as though he is making a point in a pub argument, whether he is professing his love, pondering the state of the world, or confessing his sins."
Most of his songs are about his divorce from Billie Piper, but his anthem and statement of principles is "The Distance". This includes the classic complaint of the privileged white male media personality who somehow thinks he's censored despite never being out of the newspapers:
The first to fall is laughter
Just to quell the unoffended
They seek to murder your opinion
He improbably promotes himself as a last light of The Enlightenment standing up for reason against intolerance: "The light has been turned down on the age of reason / Replaced by blinding fires that burn wild across the region".
Working on other people's music
On 19 November 2020, he tweeted a typically inflammatory article from the Daily Mail about the 1987 Christmas song "Fairytale of New York" by The Pogues. The article claimed that the song was being censored by the BBC due to the homophobic slur "f*****" in the lyrics, although versions without the slur have been played for some years. The article was updated later that day to include the events below. Fox tweeted
Here we go again. The cultural commissars at the @bbc are telling you what is and isn’t appropriate for your ignorant little ears. Wouldn’t it be nice if we sent the (proper) version to the top of the charts? #DefundTheBBC
Minutes later, The Pogues memorably responded
Fuck off you little herrenvolk shite
Herrenvolk, meaning "master race", was a concept in Nazi ideology.
It's my party and I'll cry if I want to
In September 2020, he announced he was forming a new political party, and claimed to have received £5 million (US$ 6.4m) in donations. The party is provisionally called Reclaim. Its policies are vague but it wants to reform broadcasting and education to be "free from political bias". One of the main donors is Jeremy Hosking, who made his fortune in private equity and has donated millions to causes around Brexit and the Conservative Party.
- I’d never heard of Laurence Fox until he started lecturing us about racism, Suzanne Moore, 20 Jan 2020
- See the Wikipedia article on Laurence Fox.
- Why 'half-educated' Laurence Fox is back after his Question Time fiasco, The Guardian, 27 April 2020
- Laurence Fox clashes with Question Time audience member over Meghan Markle racism row, The Evening Standard (London), 17 Jan 2020
- Laurence Fox apologises to Sikhs for 'clumsy' 1917 comments, BBC, 24 Jan 2020
- "With Black History Month starting on Thursday, here are some resources for schools compiled by @calvinrobinson, free from indoctrination and divisive ideologies. Also a reminder that parents have right to know what their kids are being taught. https://dontdivideus.com/black-history-month/", Laurence Fox, Twitter, Sep 28, 2020 https://twitter.com/LozzaFox/status/1310477887145992192
- Policy Exchange, PowerBase
- "#BlackLivesMatter is a dangerous mix of Marxism and Critical Race Theory which poses a fundamental threat to race relations in Britain. Britain is one of the most successful examples of a multi-racial democracy, that the world has ever seen. Do not let #BLM seize the narrative.", Calvin Robinson, Twitter, Sep 16, 2020, https://twitter.com/calvinrobinson/status/1306119365679550464
- Laurence Fox claims there is a 'concerted drive' in the acting world to make him 'be quiet' about his controversial views after Question Time rant, Daily Mail, 29 June 2020
- Equity apology to Laurence Fox sparks string of resignations, The Guardian, 13 Mar 2020
- "... and to prove the truth of that, here’s Andrew Doyle popping up to back him up. They both know exactly what he’s trying to achieve with this stunt.", @politicworm on Twitter, Oct 5, 2020, archived at https://archive.is/MdRNW
- "UPDATE Already bogged down on the supermarket front, the Murray manoeuvre fails. Under withering retaliatory fire & suggestions of mental illness, the reputational damage is simply too great. In the cold morning light Fox sounds the retreat on talkRadio & withdraws his tweets.", @politicworm on Twitter, Oct 5, 2020
- Laurence Fox sued – again – for ‘homophobic defamation’ after calling Drag Race UK star Crystal a ‘paedophile’, Pink News, 6 Oct 2020
- Laurence Fox's music career: less Chelsea Hotel than Chelsea Travelodge, Michael Hann, The Guardian, 21 Jan 2020
- The Pogues tell Laurence Fox to 'f*** off' in BBC censorship row over lyrics of Christmas classic Fairytale of New York, The Daily Mail, 19 Nov 2020
- Here we go again. The cultural commissars at the BBC are telling you what is and isn’t appropriate for your ignorant little ears..., Laurence Fox Twitter account, 19 Nov 2020
- Fuck off you little herrenvolk shite, Official Pogues Twitter account, 19 Nov 2020
- Laurence Fox fumes as Sadiq Khan encourages furlough scheme extension ‘Forget the madness', The Daily Express, Aug 29, 2020
- Laurence Fox launching political party to 'reclaim' British values, The Guardian, 27 Sep, 2020
- Laurence Fox: why I'm starting a new political party, Christopher Hope, The Sunday Telegraph, 27 September 2020
- See the Wikipedia article on Jeremy Hosking.