By Bridget Anderson
Donald Trump’s former political strategist Steve Bannon has set up a new political organisation to assist the growth of far right forces across Europe and destabilise the European Union. For Bannon the role this new organisation, called ‘The Movement’, is to precipitate a ‘tectonic plate shift’ in European politics.
Europe’s racist far right groups, with their anti-migrant, anti-Muslim nationalism, are being built up as a battering ram against the EU and also against Germany and its Chancellor Angela Merkel.
During an interview with Channel 4 News in Budapest earlier this year, Bannon characterised Europe as a ‘hotbed’ for racist, far right ‘populist’ forces:
‘Europe leads in this populist, nationalist revolt. Europe is about a year, a year and a half ahead of the United States… You’ve seen two tremendous, huge thing happen in the last couple of months. The anti-establishment vote, two thirds vote in Italy and the forming of a populist government and the two thirds anti-establishment, nationalist vote here in Hungary.’
It is hoped that ‘The Movement’ will help attract funding for far right movements across the continent, as well as advise these movements on messaging and the targetting of data. One of Bannon’s lieutenants Raheem Kassam, who is a former aide to Nigel Farage, described the new organisation as ‘a clearing house for the populist, nationalist movement in Europe.’
In recent months Bannon has visited Europe several times, linking up with far right groups in France, Italy, Austria, Hungary and the Czech Republic. Speaking alongside France’s National Front leader Marine Le Pen Bannon said ‘let them call you racist, xenophobe, nativists, homophobes, misogynists – wear it as a badge of honour.’
Bannon convened a meeting of far-right forces in Rome during the Italian elections and claims to have advised the right wing populist Five Star Movement and the overtly racist and xenophobic League to form a coalition government.
In Britain, Bannon has lent his support to the ‘Free Tommy Robinson’ movement, the ex-English Defence League leader who was jailed having been accused of contempt of court, following his broadcasting of details of a trial involving rape charges which was subject to blanket reporting restrictions.
Intervening into the European Parliament elections in May 2019 will be at the top of this new organisation’s agenda. The election in Sweden this autumn, where the anti-immigrant party, Sweden Democrats, is on 20 per cent in the polls will be another focus of ‘The Movement’s’ activities this year.
With the creation of ‘The Movement’, Steve Bannon’s involvement in European politics is set to increase. The project will have large resources and expertise, will whip up racism, and threatens centre and left political forces.