The Home Secretary is a keynote speaker at the conference, which has previously hosted Hungarian autocrat Viktor Orban, reports Karam Bales
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The Home Secretary Suella Braverman has been listed as a keynote speaker at a radical right-wing conference tied to Christian Nationalism and the US radical right.
The Conservative Nationalism Conference (NatCon), which is due to take place in London on 13-15 May, is an initiative designed to support the Conservative Nationalism (CN) movement. The group’s Statement of Principles includes demands for nations to be governed on the basis of “humility and gratitude before God and fear of his judgment”, while also backing immigration moratoriums and opposing what it describes as the “grave threat” of “ever more radical forms of sexual license and experimentation as an alternative to the responsibilities of family and congregational life”.
Speakers at previous events have included the Hungarian Prime Minister, and autocrat, Viktor Orban, Governor of Florida Ron DeSantis and Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni.
Braverman will join a growing list of Conservative politicians due to speak at the event. Jacob Rees-Mogg MP has been named as a keynote speaker alongside Michael Gove MP, while other speakers include Miriam Cates MP, Danny Kruger MP, Lord David Frost and John Hayes MP, chair of the Common Sense Group of MPs, whose US links have previously been reported on by Byline Times.
The final keynote speaker is Keven Roberts, president of the Heritage Foundation, one of the key institutions of the US radical right.
The line up for NatCon London 2023 resembles a CPAC for culture wars, there is considerable crossover of speakers between NatCons and the Hungarian CPAC in 2022 which was described as a gathering of the international right in a previous Byline Times report.
Speakers at NatCon 2023 also include former Revolutionary Communist Party member and editor of Spiked Online Frank Furedi, Calvin Robinson, presenter of GB News’ Common Sense Crusade show, and Toby Young, founder of the Free Speech Union (FSU) and the Daily Sceptic which has been criticised for its publication of anti-vax and climate change denial content. Another FSU speaker is James Orr, who is also chair of NatCon UK, and UK chair of the Edmund Burke Foundation (EBF).
The EBF is NatCon’s parent organisation. Founded in January 2019 as a public affairs institute, its stated aim is the “strengthening the principles of national conservatism in Western and other democratic countries” through research, educational and publishing ventures.
EBF member and NatCon chair Christopher Demuth is also scheduled to speak in London. Demuth is a fellow of the conservative think tank the Hudson Institute and former president of the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) from 1986-2008. The AEI is considered to be one of most influential right wing think tanks in the US. One of the AEI’s largest funders is the Donors Trust which has been described as “the Dark money ATM of the conservative movement” by MotherJones.
Who funds NatCon?
While the sponsors list for London 2023 has yet to be released, the main sponsors of previous events have included Republican mega donor Peter Thiel, owner of big data and surveillance company Palantir.
Cathy and Alex Cranberg have alsi provided at least $350,000 in sponsorship to NatCon. Alex Cranberg is a Republican donor whose wealth comes from oil and gas production, and has close links to the Koch Network. In 2017 he hosted a Koch-sponsored gathering of donors in Colorado Springs.
The Common Sense Society (CSS) donated at least $250,000 to NatCon Miami and $50,000 to an Orlando event, and was a named sponsor to conferences in Brussels and London in 2019.
Founded in 2009 in Central Europe, CSS describes itself as a “celebration of the political, intellectual, and cultural inheritance which constitute our shared civilization” seeking to cultivate “a future that draws on the best of the past”. Operating as an international network, CSS aims to identify and train future leaders in the “nature of liberty” on subjects such as “cultural inheritance and personal responsibility”.
The CSS has links to a multitude of conservative and radical right organisations in the US. Its President and CEO Marion Smith is a former visiting fellow of the influential right wing Heritage Foundation, and the former CEO of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation. Other CSS leadership links include the Leadership Institute, Heritage Action for America, the Restoration Project Foundation, Claremont Institute, Young Americans for Freedom and the Daily Caller.
There are now National Branches in Hungary, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
Emma Webb, who will be speaking at NatCon London 2023, is chair of CCS’ UK chapter and in 2020 she co-founded Save Our Statues that campaigns against “attacks on our history” in the wake of the toppling of the Colston statue in Bristol. Previously she was deputy research director at the Free Speech Union, and had worked at the think tank Civitas and the Henry Jackson Society, a group sponsored by financial backers of the US far-right – including several anti-Muslim hate groups.
Webb is also the host of the New Culture Forum’s (NCF) TV channel. NCF is one of many right-wing think tanks also housed at 55 Tufton Street with a reputation for a lack of transparency regarding their funding.
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The CSS UK chapter was launched in October 2022. Guests have included Business Secretary Kemi Badenoch MP, DUP peer Arlene Foster and Lawrence Fox, leader of the fringe right wing Reclaim Party.
The NC movement’s policy agenda was clearly set out with Ron DeSantis’ appearance as main guest speaker at the launch event in London. Marion Smith described DeSantis as showing principled leadership in his ongoing work promoting common sense policies in Florida amidst extraordinary threats.
“If common sense is so obvious, why don’t we see the same thing in other states?” Smith asked. “There’s a simple answer…common sense requires uncommon courage.”
These common sense policies have included banning abortion, books being removed from school libraries and anti-LGBT legislation reminiscent of Section 28 being expanded to all school years.
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