Conspiracy Influencers Bandwagon on Farmers’ Protests

From Reuters:

French and Belgian farmers angry about rising costs, EU environmental policies and cheap food imports blocked highways and access roads to a major container port on Tuesday as the protests spread across Europe… Farmers say they are not being paid enough, are choked by excessive regulation on environmental protection and face unfair competition from cheap imports.

Part of “not being paid enough” concerns a power imbalance with supermarkets: French farmers have also targeted Lidl and Aldi for protests. In the UK, the “Get Fair About Farming Campaign” has highlighted that “almost half (49%) of British fruit and veg farmers fear they will go out of business within the next 12 months”, and that 75% see “supermarket behaviour” as a “leading factor”.

One might see scope here for an obvious left-of-centre critique of neoliberalism; however, the Financial Times recently noted a protest in Brussels “organised by MCC Brussels, a think-tank backed by the arch-Eurosceptic Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán”, and how “liberal and leftwing politicians fear that rural groups are being radicalised by far-right parties and Eurosceptic groups prepared to grasp any cause as a way to infiltrate mainstream politics ahead of EU elections in June.”

Meanwhile, the conspiracy milieu is also getting in on the act: if farmers are finding their work economically unsustainable, this is because of “globalists”, while “regulation on environmental protection” is based on bogus, corrupt science and scaremongering. As claimed in a recent documentary made by the Falun Gong media outlet NTD (previously noted here) entitled No Farmers No Food: Will You Eat The Bugs?, farmers are being “attacked” by governments, who want to control the food supply and move populations over to an insect-based diet. On social media, the German-inflected phrase “you vill eat ze bugs” is used to signal belief that the whole thing is being orchestrated by Klaus Schwab, whose reward for decades of self-promotion and elite networking is to find himself at the centre of many conspiracists’ thinking as an all-poweful bogeyman who for some reason nobody noticed until a few years ago.

The phrase “No Farmers, No Food” has also been around for a while, and over the past week or so it has been used as the name of a new account on Twitter/X (@NoFarmsNoFoods) which has now amassed more than 40,000 followers. The account is controlled by UK conspiracy influencer James Melville; although his name does not appear, striking similarities of rhetoric were obvious from the beginning, and he has confirmed his involvement in an interview with James Freeman, the former Brexit Party MEP who more recently has been working with vaccination misinformation spreader Aseem Malhotra. Inevitably, “merchandise” is promised, but it’s also a vehicle to promote other influencers, or those who seek to become such: a scroll through the account’s feed brings up endosements from the likes of Neil Oliver and Alan Miller of the Together Declaration, as well as links to a website infamous for attempting to smear Chris Packham. A number of posts focus on “net zero”, reflecting Melville’s views that climate science is bogus and that summer wildfires have no significance beyond an apparent rise in arsonists.

More generally, Melville has also promoted the idea that food distribution in the USA is under attack from supposedly mysterious fires and cattle deaths, presumably with a view to creating artificial shortages. He also complains about the extent of Bill Gates’s ownership of agricultural land in the US: this, though, is less a principled critique of monopoly capitalism than an objection to Gates as an especially malign individual. Last year, Melville suggested that Gates may be planning to contrive an pandemic to hamper the 2024 Presidential elections.

UDPATE: Meanwhile, John Bye has drawn attention to a group called the “People’s Food and Farming Alliance”. He describes it as “a spin-off from alternative medicine group the People’s Health Alliance. Unsurprisingly they promote homeopathy for farm animals, as well as growing your own food in case the government collapses our food supply”.

UPDATE 2: As a good example of how the media works, Melville was invited onto an episode of BBC Radio 4’s Farming Today devoted to the protests (at 17.27), during which he denied that his campaign has any “political slant”. However, he was followed by Leceistershire farmer Joe Stanley, who warned against genuine grievances being “wrapped up win conspiracy theories and some sort of extremist dogmas”on farming social media. Asked about “No Farmers No Food”, he notes:

Just from looking at their output, there’s a lot of talk around things such as “elites”, anti-climate change messaging, anti-net zero messaging, and then if you follow through the sorts of accounts that they in turn are re-Tweeting, there’s a lot of that sort of content which is coming from the right of the political spectrum.

Stanley is the author of Farm to Fork: The Challenge of Sustainable Farming in 21st Century Britain (Quiller, 2021), and he probably came to the BBC’s attention because of a letter in Farmer’s Weekly, published under the heading “Be Careful of Far-Right Farming Rhetoric”.

UPDATE 3 (11 February): The Reclaim Party’s Laurence Fox has drawn attention to a “No Farmers No Food” Tweet from James Melville, adding:

Britain’s brilliant, hardworking and crucial farmers should look very carefully into who has nominated themselves to represent them.

This got a “like” from Fox’s conspiracist girlfriend Liz Barker (CaliforniaFrizz, aka “Betty”), who was previously in a relationship with Melville (H/T @qandamazon).

HART Anti-Covid Vaccination Activist Amplifies “Covid Agenda is Jewish” Flyer

Unsurprisingly, the failed prophecy of mass vaccination harm has failed to shake the faith of many believers. As noted previously, one common cognitive strategy is to claim that the prophecy is coming to pass, but that only the discerning are aware of it: for example, sudden deaths or stories in the media about heart disease are evidence of vaccination harm; even cancer is actually a new phenomenon called “turbo cancer“, again supposedly attributable to  the vaccine to those in the know (1). Another strategy is to seek collective affirmation within the conspiracy milieu, embracing other outlandish pseudo-interpretations of events and phenomena.

And, of course, there is also increasing extremism. Thus yesterday Dr David Cartland of the anti-Covid vax group HART (previously noted here) posted a screenshot of a flyer bearing the message that “Every Single Aspect of the Covid Agenda is Jewish”, and alleging some sort of collusion between Jews with senior positions in the CDC, Jews heading pharmaceutical groups, and the World Economic Forum (here with the bonus false claim that Klaus Schwab is Jewish) A QR link promises to show “Jews celebrating their role in Covid”, and readers are invited to visit the website of “GoyimTV”, which carries the kind of material that you would expect and which has a logo of a “G” styled to look like a Nazi swastika.

Cartland posted the image alongside the message “Reposting is not endorsement”. But what then is it? He doesn’t offer up any criticism or critique – and the context suggests that Cartland believes the flyer makes a reasonable point that tends to support his Covid anti-vax conspiracism, rather that is it self-evidently foul. In response to one critic, his reply was “these are confirmed facts and leaving it to people to decide their own conclusions” – but why doesn’t he tell us what his own conclusions are? He’s now deleted the post (I saw it before it disappeared, and it’s still in Google cache) after receiving criticism, but he hasn’t offered any explanation. As such, we should infer that this is a strategic deletion, rather than a change of heart.

The anti-vax conspiracy milieu appears to be taking a dark turn.

(Image via @Drcharliefraud)


1. The notion that vaccination is responsible for excess deaths was recently the focus of a GB News discussion between Nigel Farage and Angus Dalgleish (previously discussed here in relation to lab-leak claims).

A Note on Derek Draper and Covid Conspiracism

From the Daily Express:

Derek Draper death conspiracy slammed by Michael Rosen who shared ward with Kate’s husband

…Michael, 77, who was in intensive care for seven weeks alongside Derek, has hit out about the conspiracy around Kate [Garraway]‘s husband’s death cause, writing on X, formerly known as Twitter: “Anti-vax people are trying to blame Derek Draper’s sad death on vaccines. DD got ill at the same time as me and was in the same intensive care ward as me. It was all before the Covid vaccine was invented: March 2020.”

In a statement shared exclusively to, the author said… “I think Kate had done a brave and important thing to have shown us what happened as it shines a light on the kinds of things that have happened to thousands of others across the country.”

It’s nice to see the Daily Express attempting to put the record straight on matter of public interest for a change, although disinformation about Derek Draper’s timeline is just one example of what antivaxxers and Covid-sceptics are saying about his death. Trolling posts on Twitter allege that Draper either died of something else or even faked his death; there have also been vicious comments aimed at his widow, complaining about how she kept her husband’s illness in the public eye for so long.

Draper’s illness was an ongoing reminder of just how dangerous Covid-19 could be before vaccines were developed, and of how long-term damage caused by the disease in 2020 might be affecting public health today, contributing to the excess deaths that antivaxxers claim are the hidden confirmation of their failed prophecy of mass vaccination mortality. As such, his story must be either discredited or rewritten. Those contributing to the effort include Jacqui Deevoy, formerly a mainstream journalist who has since invested in ghoulish conspiracy theories about the death of Nicola Bulley, and, unexpectedly, the wife of disgraced ex-MP Patrick Mercer, who accused Garraway of having “turned the poor man’s plight into a circus”.

The Express article also notes that Rosen himself has ongoing health issues:

In an update about his health, the author said he is now “mostly fine” but has long-lasting damage such as little sight in his left eye, a lack of hearing in his left ear as well as barely having any feeling left in his toes.

Back in August, Rosen was derided for talking about his experiences by the writer Victoria Freeman and by Lord Ian Austin. Freeman’s position while that it was “distasteful” for Rosen to talk about his survival when others had died, while Austin sarcastically suggested that “he just doesn’t like to talk about himself”. I thought at the time that that these lines of attack – based on personal dislike of Rosen for his political views on unrelated matters – were strained and undignified. Now we have an example of why telling a Covid survivor to stop going on about it is also wrongheaded.

UPDATE (February 2024): A late addition from perennial attention-seeker Katie Hopkins, who has produced a mocking video in which she repeatedy describes Draper as “dead Derek” and describes his funeral as a “fucking spectacle” that “we’re laughing at”. She explains:

money went into dead Derek in order to scare people from long Covid in order to promote the vaccine, and my personal opinion is that Kate Garraway was in on that.