Author Murray sparks anger with pro-nationalist Germany ‘mucked up’ speech

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Author Murray sparks anger with pro-nationalist Germany ‘mucked up’ speech

Speaking at the right-wing NatCon conference Douglas Murray suggested the rise of nationalism in countries such as the UK and Israel should not be hindered 'because the Germans mucked up twice in a century'

Lee Harpin is the Jewish News's political editor

Douglas Murray
Douglas Murray

A conference for right-wing conservatives is at the centre of further controversy following a speech by political commentator Douglas Murray, who suggested nationalists should not be ashamed to hold patriotic views “because the Germans mucked up twice in a century.”

In a speech delivered at a dinner event held during the National Conservatism conference in London, the outspoken author defended the rise of nationalism in countries such as Israel and in the UK, adding: “I see no reason why every other country in the world should be prevented from feeling pride in itself because the German’s mucked up twice in a century.”

An abbreviated version of Murray’s speech was tweeted on the official social media platform of the NatCon conference, a three-day event taking place in London, featuring speeches from home secretary Suella Braverman, the Tory MP Miriam Cates and other politicians, which has been organised by the right-wing populist US think tank the Edmund Burke Foundation.

Monday evening’s tweet suggested Murray had told the audience at a gala dinner for the conference that there was “nothing wrong with nationalism in Britain” but “there was something wrong with nationalism in Germany”.

The post on social media then suggested the commentator claimed people were being prevented from showing love for their country, because Germany had “mucked up.”

Jewish Labour councillor Rebecca Filer was among those to react angrily to the tweeted comments, writing:”‘Germany mucked up?’ – Holocaust minimisation from Douglas Murray.”

The Jewish Labour Movement’s parliamentary chair Dame Margaret Hodge tweeted:”This is ridiculous. Zero tolerance extends to both sides of the political spectrum – no exceptions. And diminishing the Holocaust is completely unacceptable.

“Murray’s comments must be withdrawn.”

Labour MP Christian Wakeford also tweeted: “Systematically imprisoning Jews and murdering them in their millions is not ‘mucking up’

His party colleague Charlotte Nichols added:”‘Mucked up’ is a pretty telling choice of euphemism for the Holocaust. ”

Asked by Jewish News to clarify Murray’s comments, NatCon organisers confirmed on Tuesday that in his speech the commentator had said:”I see no reason why every other country in the world should be prevented from feeling pride in itself because the German’s mucked up twice in a century.”

The comment was greeted with applause from those in the room.

Earlier in his speech Murray had said: “This is, in some ways is still a controversial thing to say because in Europe in particular, nationalism after all, sounds different depending on the country.

“Nationalism in Israel sounds different to nationalism in America… nationalism in Italy sounds different to nationalism here in Britain. But the cordon sanitaire, which used to exist around nationalism until recent years existed not because we didn’t trust the idea of love of country, not because I would argue there was anything wrong with nationalism in a British context.

“It all came from a recognition there was a problem with nationalism in the German context and this is a simple historical fact.”

Earlier on Monday, a speech by the Tory MP Miriam Cates at the conference had sparked anger after she claimed “cultural Marxism” was “destroying the souls” of young people in this country.

Lord John Mann was among those to criticise the MP’s use of the term which he said had “antisemitic” connections.

But Yoram Hazony,the American-Israeli chair of the Edmund Burke Foundation later told Jewish News:”I deplore this attempt to smear a friend of the Jews such as Miriam Cates with the utterly preposterous accusation of antisemitism.

“The term ‘cultural Marxism is an apt phrase to describe the cultural agenda promoted by many on the left today. The Edmond Burke Foundation offers no platform to antisemites. We are proud to number Cates among our friends and speakers.”

Home Secretary Suella Braverman later spoke at conference, which runs until Wednesday, commenting on the need for the UK to cut back on legal migration and train domestic workers for jobs such as fruit picking.

Some Tory colleagues later criticised her for giving what many believed was a leadership speech, setting out the difference between her hardline views on issues such as immigration over those of prime minister Rishi Sunak.

Other speakers at the NatCon conference included  Jewish Chronicle columnist Melanie Phillips, who in an op-ed for The Times defended organiser Hazony saying he had “launched an attempt to reclaim conservatism throughout the west for authentically conservative principles, on the basis that these have largely been lost.”

In his own speech at the conference Hazony attacked what he described as “woke Marxist” agitators who ere detached from Britain’s past. He also argued for the return of military service.

Some commentators have compared the NatCon conference’s impact on the Tory Party with the attempt by the left-wing Momentum group to take the Labour Party in a more radical way under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership.

Jewish News has contacted Murray for further comment.

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