“The Economist recently published a map of Europe, says Janan Ganesh in the FT, with each country rendered a shade of red according to its level of support for the hard right. Populist-run nations like Italy, Poland and Hungary are “Ferrari-red”. France and Germany are “a sort of trout-fillet colour”; Spain, Portugal and much of Scandinavia one shade lighter. And Britain? A very pale pink, darker than only a handful of tiny countries. It’s often overlooked that the UK “hasn’t got a far-right to reckon with”. But this is one area in which Britain clearly “outdoes the continent”.
Of course, some on the left insist the Conservatives are hard right beneath it all. “Please.” They imposed Covid lockdowns of “world-leading severity”, enshrined net zero in statute, and supported Ukraine against Russia “with little or no internal dissent” – all “heresies” from the populist point of view. This is a party that has filled three of the great offices of state with non-white descendants of immigrants, and in which Suella Braverman and Kemi Badenoch – “one generation removed from east Africa and west Africa respectively” – are heroines of the base. Conflating it with parties led by the likes of Viktor Orbán or Giorgia Meloni is “whataboutery at its sour and desperate worst”. So yes, make fun of the “unbuilt train lines”, and despair of its “featherweight politicians”. But give Britain its due as “Europe’s haven of moderation”.