Remember Andropov: How the attempt to kill NatCon paves the way for more censorship

What happened to save the National Conservativism conference was not a victory for Farage and the rest, though I wish them well. It was an experiment - a try-on - by the Left. ( Bettmann / Contributor)


Let me introduce younger readers to Yuri Andropov, leader of the Soviet Union from 1982 to 1984, and Soviet ambassador to Hungary from 1954 to 1957, during which time he was involved in the suppression of the Hungarian uprising of 1956.

I mention Andropov now, because during weeks like these – and I will explain what I mean by that in a moment — I think of my favourite ex-communist bar near my apartment in Budapest. It opened in 1983, in the middle of Andropov’s control of the USSR and the Eastern Bloc.

I call the bar “ex-communist,” because I like to give the owners a break, but I have no idea. It is unchanged since communist times, determined to stay rough while the rest of Budapest has grown chic.

It has old wagon wheels nailed to the walls and the paint on the furniture is shabby. Besides the cheap drink, you can get sandwiches slathered in lard and red onions.

I like the place.

It is a bar which gives you the right sober mood to contemplate what has been happening this week at the National Conservatism conference in Brussels.

You must know, because the events have been covered in Brussels Signal and across the international press, that the left-wing mayors of three Brussels communes tried to shut down the conference, with the last of these officials even sending police to block access to the venue hosting the event.

You know the rest. In a late-night sitting, the Belgian judiciary knocked down the attempts to censor the conference, and the speeches went ahead, and went ahead with the kind of international publicity that a conference left in peace could never have attracted.

Brilliant, said Nigel Farage, former leader of the Brexit party, describing the ordeal as being a “massive own goal” for the mayor. Suella Braverman, the former British Home Secretary, and Viktor Orban, Hungary’s prime minister, and all the other mainstream conservatives could climb onto the conference platform and speak.

To which they all might say: “Great, we won.”

Or maybe not. Those of us who like to contemplate such events through the prism of Andropov might not think so.

It looked like a Commie test mission to me.

A left-wing mayor would try censoring a conservative conference. If he succeeded, great.

However, he did not, so we know this much: the Left can now cause confusion and send in the cops before finally allowing the conference to take place. And next time the move will not draw such international interest.

It is a manoeuvre some journalists used to call “confusie-cats”. Confuse the situation, then let it go on as planned.

In short, the National Conservative conference was two steps forward towards suppression, but just one step back.

That’ll do, comrade.

As Andropov taught us: “Patience is the key to long-term success in any endeavour.”

Test the barrier. Find a weak spot. Come back for it later. Patience.

Here are two weak spots the test mission showed up: the president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, and the president of the European Council, Charles Michel.

Both watched the censorship attempt and said nothing.

The European left-wingers who aim for the control of political discourse can tuck those two Eurocrats in the back pocket for use later. Von der Leyen and Michel are happy with the censorship movement, even if silent.

Fellow travellers are what they were called when Andropov was at the Kremlin.

Now you see why the atmosphere of my communist bar is just right for thinking about all of this, and more; it begins to look so familiar.

If you want some more old Soviet atmosphere, think of what the Left in America is trying to do to Donald Trump, the lead Republican in the White House race.

They have tried to force his name from the election ballots. They are trying to rig up charges to imprison him. They are trying to bankrupt him.

The aged veterans of the KGB Second Chief Directorate, once in charge of internal political control, must be standing in awe somewhere at a rest home in Moscow.

“My God,” they are saying to themselves. “We never had the nerve to try all that in public, not to any of our dissidents.”

Yet such things are going on now, and by people who keep claiming they are protecting democracy. The Left tests here, tests there. See who gives in. See what gives way.

Make notes. Remember.

That the National Conservatism conference was saved did not constitute a victory for Nigel Farage and the rest, though I wish them well. It was an experiment by the Left.

Next time, next censorship attempt, the European Left will be ready to move the limit that bit further. They are cold people, the Left. They crush, they stifle, they gag, to “save democracy.”

Their nerves are strong, and they do not base their policy on emotion.

And, yes, that last line was from Andropov.