The Battle of Ideas is the annual shindig in London, enticing pundits from many esteemed British media groups, including the Economist, the BBC, and the Financial Times, who chew over the controversies of the day.
The event is organised by the Academy of Ideas, one of several projects by former members of the Revolutionary Communist Party. RCP members were also behind Living Marxism, later called LM, and then Spiked, a comment site that specialises in boosting free speech, criticising the chattering classes, and complaining that Brexit is being betrayed.
The shared personnel of Spiked and the Academy of Ideas find themselves in a crowded space for alternative media lately, with websites like Quillette and Areo also offering space for unfashionable ideas to be aired, angering various establishments. Quillette was even given a slot in the Battle of Ideas for its associate editor Toby Young to record a live podcast with Steve Richards, a veteran British hack.
This would be unremarkable were it not for an article that led on Quillette’s website over the conference weekend: a two part dissection of the libel trial that financially ruined LM around two decades ago. The libel in question involved misplaced scepticism on LM’s part about the extent of the Bosnian genocide – scepticism which leading RCP members have not backed down from since the trial.
It is curious that Quillette would write critically about LM while partnering with an organisation with which it shares so many people and ties. The academy’s director, Claire Fox, was even the publisher of the magazine. She later became a Brexit Party MEP (and more notably a guest on the Right Dishonourable).