• First published in 2004 as Bartholomew’s Notes on Religion (BNOR).

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GB News Deletes Neil Oliver Interview with Peter Sweden

A now-deleted Tweet from GB News:

‘Something weird has happened this last year. We have seen an unprecedented collapse of birth rates.’

Political commentator Peter Imanuelsen speaks to Neil Oliver about whether we’re facing a population collapse.

Imanuelsen is better-known as Peter Sweden, an “identitarian” activist who came to attention in 2017 after meeting Katie Hopkins. The Huffington Post subsequently noted that Imanuelsen had

previously used Twitter to question the fact that 6 million Jews were killed in the Holocaust as well as expressing some sympathies for the policies of Adolf Hitler.

…He also believes the Jews and the Vatican are colluding in a plot to create a New World Order which is seeking to undermine Europe by moving Muslim populations under the guise of the current refugee crisis.

The relevant Tweets have since been deleted, although they are quoted in full in the article and the urls are provided. Of these, a couple have been preserved on Wayback (here and here), which confirms the article’s integrity. Hope Not Hate followed up with further material. At the time, Imanuelsen responded first with a dismissive brush off (“There were some old tweets but people mature and views change”); then, he moved on to a complaint of “character assassination” (by “leftist trolls” using “old tweets” that have been taken “out of context”) before finally announcing that “I have had opinions in the past that I strongly regret”.

Having such a person as a guest on GB News clearly crossed a line, and one has to wonder if he was billed as “Imanuelsen” rather than “Sweden” in an attempt to avoid controversy.  The Jewish Chronicle has reported on the incident under the headline “Outrage as GB News interviews former Holocaust denier about demographics on primetime”.

In the deleted clip (also gone from YouTube), Imanuelsen alleged sharp birthrate declines around the world, including of 9% in the UK. This was not, though, the usual right-wing lament that European women are chosing to have fewer children; Oliver speculated that the cause may have been Covid-19 vaccination, and this was probably why Imanuelsen had been sought out to discuss the subject. Oliver is a trustee of John Bowe’s amateurish “Charity Organisation for the Vaccine InjureD” (blogged here), and as such is heavily invested in seeking out evidence of widespread “vaccine injury” that sceptics prophesised but which is not so far apparent. For some, there is a conspiracy theory that the vaccine may in fact have been a secret depopulation measure, echoing the plot of the Channel 4 conspiracy thriller Utopia from a few years ago.

However, and unsurprisingly given Imanuelson’s background, his claims of dramatic declines are not reflected in the data. As regards England and Wales, the Office for National Statistics found there was actually an increase in live births in 2021:

There were 624,828 live births in England and Wales in 2021, an increase of 1.8% from 613,936 in 2020, but still below the 2019 figure (640,370); 2021 remains in line with the long-term trend of decreasing live births seen before the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The total fertility rate (TFR) increased to 1.61 children per woman in 2021 from 1.58 in 2020; the first time TFR has risen since 2012… Fertility rates increased overall; however, younger age groups saw declining fertility rates while older age groups saw fertility rates increase.

Data from the United Nations – World Population Prospects as summarised by Macrotrends finds a 0.48% decline for the UK overall during 2021, consistent with figures going back to 2018. The trend for Sweden meanwhile was 0.26%.

Imanuelsen has responded to the renewed controversy by denying that he ever espoused Holocaust denial, alleging that screenshots of old Tweets were fabricated. This was not, though, a complaint that he made in 2017. Within the past day he has also deleted material in which he acknowledged his previous views: his “I have had opinions in the past that I strongly regret” Tweet is gone, although it is still available on Wayback, and he has revised a section on his website called “So Which Views Did I Have & Why ?”, in which he previously wrote:

It’s important to point out that I never hated any people as human beings, but at that time I strongly disliked some peoples actions and what I thought was their actions (like the lifestyle of homosexuality), it was more conspiracy theories, like believing the earth was flat and all kinds of other conspiracy theories, questioning the moon landing, and also regarding things that happened during WW2 like the holocaust.

This also included conspiracy theories about Jewish people running a “New World Order” and other similar things regarding homosexuals and also Muslims.

That is also now gone from this current site. Not all the Tweet screenshots can be independently verified, but even if there are any fabrications among them the general contours of his past remain clear.

Returning to Neil Oliver, Matthew Sweet has a fair assessment:

Maybe it’s best to think of this as a kind of radicalisation. As ever I think the work of @QCassam and his idea of epistemic vice is useful. How the idea of questioning everything can slide into believing anything – which of course makes real injustice harder to spot.

The World Economic Forum Conspiracy Worldview

From the website of the World Economic Forum:

This article has been intentionally misrepresented on sites that spread false information. Please read the piece for yourself before sharing or commenting.

The World Economic Forum is committed to publishing a wide array of opinions. Misrepresenting content diminishes open conversations.

  • Augmented reality technology has the ability to transform society and individual lives, particularly in health care and mobility.
  • As much as visual and hearing aids are a part of our lives today, implant technologies could become the norm in future.
  • Stakeholders in society will need to agree on how to ethically make these amazing technologies a part of our lives.

This notice appears at the start of a post by a digital technology professional that discusses various issues around the ethics of “digital implants”. It is one of 45,600 posts on the WEF website described as “Agenda articles”, which are billed as “opinion articles, timely analyses and explainers from leaders in business, politics, and civil society”.

This particular item, however, has caught the attention of conspiracy theorists who have built up the WEF and its Davos conferences into a malign “shadow government” that tells politicians what policies to enact. In the US, the above piece has been the focus of attention from Gateway Pundit (“World Economic Forum Recommends Humans Become Cyborgs, Implant Brain Chips”), Newsmax (“World Economic Forum: ‘Rational Reasons’ to Microchip Kids”) and Daily Caller (“Microchipping Your Child? ‘There Are Solid Rational Reasons For It,’ Say Supreme Overlords Of The WEF”), and the consensus on Twitter is that the post is a particularly egregious example of the WEF’s scheming and propaganda.

The underlying assumption here is that posts on the WEF website are dystopian manifestos that seek to normalise tyranny by offering authoritarian solutions to non-existent problems such as climate change. These will be achieved via “the Great Reset Initiative“, billed by the WEF as a response to an “urgent need for global stakeholders to cooperate in simultaneously managing the direct consequences of the COVID-19 crisis”. As has been noted, this in turn ties in with conspiracy beliefs that public health measures enacted during the pandemic were themselves an authoritarian power grab, likely based on false science.

In the UK, populist social media commentators and activists such as the inexplicably high-profile James Melville appear to be close to building an entire worldview around interpreting the WEF website; perhaps inevitably, one of those who is part of the scene (a certain Matt Gubba) is asking people to donate money to “help us beat the WEF”. In some cases, only heavily distorted versions of content from the WEF website get passed around, such as a Newspunch post that was recently promoted by GB News’s Neil Oliver (Newspunch was previously YourNewsWire, discussed here).

Reuters is currently dealing with specific claims on a regular basis. Some examples:

Fact Check-No evidence World Economic Forum chairman said internet must be reformed

Fact Check-The World Economic Forum is not behind the European Super League

Fact Check-World Economic Forum letters show 51st Annual Meeting invites [as opposed being “leaked” documents]

Fact check: The World Economic Forum does not have a stated goal to have people own nothing by 2030

Fact Check-Tweet about food shortages and the WEF sent by fake account

Fact Check-No evidence Shinzo Abe killed for not following ‘WEF orders’

And so on.

A more realistic assessment of the WEF is provided by a Conservative Party of Canada politician named Michelle Rempel Garner, who has been targeted by conspiracy theorists due to having received a WEF Young Global Leader award. Rempel Garner scoffs at Davos as “an overpriced sales conference”, and describes the “Great Reset” as “an overwrought leftist article” that was “light on details and heavy on change-the-world rhetoric”. She adds:

Where conspiracy theorists are correct to note that the WEF is elite and opaque; that is its nature. It literally bills itself as an elite club. Rather, they are wrong to assume that a legislator in Canada could be influenced in all matters simply by attending a conference, receiving an award, or reading a badly conceived white paper. In Canada’s democracy, we are accountable to the needs of our constituents.

The economist Joseph Stiglitz, who has attended Davos since 1995, appeared underwhelmed by this year’s conflab:

Business and political elite embraced new ethos at WEF without reflecting on past mistakes… Unable to reconcile friend-shoring with the principle of free and non-discriminatory trade, most of the business and political leaders at Davos resorted to platitudes. There was little soul-searching about how and why things have gone so wrong, or about the flawed, hyper-optimistic reasoning that prevailed during globalisation’s heyday.

This suggests that the WEF is reacting to events rather than orchestrating them.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that the WEF is simply irrelevant, or that if it is relevant it must be above criticism. One critique of the “Great Reset” proposals, describing them as “a corporate takeover of global governance” but eschewing conspiracy rhetoric, can be seen on Open Democracy here.

UPDATE (29 August): Many of the anti-WEF populist talking points have just been regurgiated on GB News by its recently ordained commentator Calvin Robinson, the nearest thing the station has to a televangelist. Robinson weaves in reference to Ukraine; he leaves the implications unsaid, although he has previously promoted a cartoon by Bob Moran suggesting that Covid-19 and war in Ukraine have literally been “orchestrated” as a performance spectacle.

Some Notes on the “Freedom Music Festival”

Last week’s “Freedom Music Festival” in East Sussex failed to attract any journalistic interest, despite having been trailed in advance by Vice as a “Red Pill Glasto” for Covid Truthers, and despite the involvement of activists associated with the Hope Sussex venue in a high-profile and aggressive protest outside a library hosting a Drag Queen Story Hour a few days beforehand (the first of several since then).

The festival was hosted by the 1990s pop duo Right Said Fred, who described it in advance as “quite a small event, a bit boutiquey”; the event license was limited to 500, and they claim all tickets were sold. Social media has some images and videos, from a which a few notes can be made:

— A lawyer named Jonathan Lea in particular praised the urinals, where male attendees were invited to urinate onto and through laminated images of Bill Gates, Chris Whitty and political leaders (holes were added to the mouths).

— The entertainment included a monologue from activist Michael Chaves with backing music, a clip of which can be seen here.

— There was also an on-stage conversation between Chaves and James Delingpole, whose commitment to the conspiracy milieu has long eclipsed his former credibility as a media professional.

— A group photo apparently taken on the last day of the event shows about 50 to 60 attendees, although James’s brother Richard Delingpole says there were more. Looking at other photos that does seem to be the case, although evidence for 500 attendees is lacking.