by Alexander Faludy
Friday, 7
May 2021
Spotted
17:00

Tory Britain is not the ‘new Hungary’

Contrary to certain Left-wing claims, Boris Johnson is not Viktor Orban
by Alexander Faludy

This week Owen Jones warned that Britain is at risk of turning into Hungary, a “Right-wing authoritarian state” — and encouraged his followers to vote for Labour to prevent it from happening. It is a claim he has made repeatedly of late. Profound anxiety among Labour activists about their party’s showing in this week’s elections is understandable, but as someone who has a foot in both countries, the parallels could not be more wrong.

Comparing the UK under a Conservative government to Hungary under Fidesz is becoming commonplace in UK Left-liberal discourse. It has been invoked not only by Jones but also more ‘moderate’ voices including Ian Dunt and Jeremy Cliffe. Each one reveals a deep unease about Boris Johnson’s Brexit Britain and the purportedly illiberal turn it has taken.

Leaving aside the ridiculous comparison that a libertarian like Boris Johnson is some kind of Orban-style figure, there are a host of political, civic and historical reasons for why the comparison between Hungary and the UK is so flawed. 

For one, Britain has been an established liberal democracy for centuries, with no history of communism to speak of. By contrast, Hungary’s decades-long communist era saw a decline in a respect for the rule of law, autonomous public bodies and civil institutions, all of which laid the conditions for Orban’s ‘Hybrid regime’.  

Since he became leader in 2010, Orban has overseen a mass personalisation of power. He is close to omnipotent, and the legislature is, in effect, another arm of the government. The idea of a ‘backbench rebellion’ in the Hungarian Parliament is an amusing fantasy — especially when MPs can be fined for defying the whip and their re-selection depends on Orbán’s support. This is the sort of Party management that Tory leaders can only dream of.

Such a comparison would not be so invidious if it were not for the poverty of Labour’s foreign policy engagement with Hungary under (and after) Corbyn. Since 2010 there has been no visit made by a senior Labour figure to the country and over the last five years, the state of Hungary’s endangered democracy has barely been mentioned by Labour MPs in the Commons. 

That is because, for certain progressives in Britain, Hungary is a handy weapon with which to clobber British Tories, but it is not an object of concern in its own right. Until Britain’s liberals stop treating Hungary like a political football and offer genuine support to Hungary’s beleaguered Left-wing parties, they have no right to make such crude — and unhelpful — comparisons.

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Katharine Eyre
Katharine Eyre
1 year ago

Typical of the tosh that Jones and his like churn out. Nicola Sturgeon is far more reminiscent of Orban than Johnson. If only for the way the pair of them get significant mileage out of abusing the source of the cash that allows their respective countries to go on living in the style to which they have become accustomed.

Katharine Eyre
Katharine Eyre
1 year ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2021/05/nicola-sturgeon-scotland-election/618790/
This article in the Atlantic about la Sturgeon is also a bit of an eye-opener.

daniel Earley
daniel Earley
1 year ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

Try to print that in Scotland and your premises will get burnt down!

Johannes Kreisler
Johannes Kreisler
1 year ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

Nothing written / spoken in the Anglo press / media about Orbán or Hungary is factual. Don’t fall for it.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
1 year ago

I don’t. And sometimes I wish the UK was the new Hungary.

Katharine Eyre
Katharine Eyre
1 year ago

I read German language media too and he doesn’t come off that well there either.

Johannes Kreisler
Johannes Kreisler
1 year ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

I’m fully aware of that. Hungary (the V4) is quite a thorn in Germany’s side.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
1 year ago

In fact there appears to be an orchestrated campaign to portray Orban as an extremist by vested interests who are fare less benign.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
1 year ago

Owen Jones reaches new levels of demented, one-eyed ‘punditry’ with every passing day. And like all the other pundits – see another thread on UnHerd today – he is always, but always, wrong.

Johannes Kreisler
Johannes Kreisler
1 year ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

Unfortunately Faludy Sándor is no different from Owen Jones, if his diatribe above is anything to go by.

Colin Elliott
Colin Elliott
1 year ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

Owen’s welcome to expose his demented and extreme opinions in the Guardian, which I don’t have to buy, but why is so regularly and frequently invited by the BBC to preach them at us?

Ian Barton
Ian Barton
1 year ago
Reply to  Colin Elliott

We all know the answer to your presumably rhetorical question.
Their is a revolving career door between the Guardian and the BBC (as well as Ofcom)
In Andrew Marr’s case it’s even within the family …..

Mike Boosh
Mike Boosh
1 year ago
Reply to  Colin Elliott

Since most BBC news output is simply a highly paid presenter reading out a Guardian editorial anyway, it probably makes a nice change for them to get the drivel straight from the horses mouth.

Janusz Przeniczny
Janusz Przeniczny
1 year ago

In Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, the planet of Golgafrincham sent 1/3 of their most useless and pointless people to another planet, then the 2/3 got on with their lives.
The 1/3 that was sent off in the rocket spent their days in meetings, sub-meetings, pre-meetings, and post-meetings. They wondered why nothing worked or was made or sent, I mean they had long meetings about it. They of course never figured out that they were pointless and useless.
I book No 1 seat for Jones on this rocket.

Peter Dunn
Peter Dunn
1 year ago

Seat him beside Ash Sarkar..and lock the seat-belts.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago

In Earth’s case we will have to make a minor adjustment.
2/3 to be catapulted in Space, never to return.
1/3 enjoy the “land of milk & honey”*

(*Exodus 3 :8)

Katharine Eyre
Katharine Eyre
1 year ago

“Professional pillock” – thanks for that belly laugh, much needed! I’m also going to pilfer that phrase and use it liberally.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

Yes glad to see it passed the Censor. It is a good substitute for its brother ‘b*****k..

Last edited 1 year ago by CHARLES STANHOPE
Pete Kreff
Pete Kreff
1 year ago

This week Owen Jones warned that Britain is at risk of turning into Hungary, a “Right-wing authoritarian state”

No surprise. It’s what the superior and entitled do when they are spurned: they lash out, they try to wound.
Painting horns on their opponents is what persuades Owen and others like him that they are righteous and virtuous and their lives have meaning.

Stephen Murray
Stephen Murray
1 year ago

Anyone who take boy Jones seriously, is in dire need of a phrenologist!

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  Stephen Murray

Please excuse my French, but he is a‘complete pillock’.

Last edited 1 year ago by CHARLES STANHOPE
Peter LR
Peter LR
1 year ago

Owen Jones is to politics what Monty Python is to life!

Colin Elliott
Colin Elliott
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter LR

Without the intentional humour.

Ian Barton
Ian Barton
1 year ago
Reply to  Colin Elliott

Or the “Meaning”

Dustin Needle
Dustin Needle
1 year ago

Alexander – it’s Owen Jones. Nobody’s listening outside of W1A.

Johannes Kreisler
Johannes Kreisler
1 year ago
Reply to  Dustin Needle

.

Last edited 1 year ago by Johannes Kreisler
Mike Boosh
Mike Boosh
1 year ago
Reply to  Dustin Needle

You’re right, it really is a case of preaching to the converted. No former Labour voter is going to read an Owen Jones piece and think, “yes the tories are evil, we should all start cross dressing and rejoin the EU immediately.”

G Matthews
G Matthews
1 year ago

These crazy lefties are so stupid they don’t realise that words like these are what cause voters in the north to abandon labour. Unless labour leaves London – at least mentally, if not physically – it is doomed.

Ian Barton
Ian Barton
1 year ago
Reply to  G Matthews

Better still, Labour should merge with the Lib Dems into a new “Identity” party, and leave the SDP to offer a sensible left wing alternative.

Johannes Kreisler
Johannes Kreisler
1 year ago

Owen Jones’ tosh replaced by Faludy’s tosh, excellent. Not a single word about Orbán, the Fidesz party, the Hungarian government, the state of affairs in Hungary written in this polemic is correct or factual, it’s the bitter ramblings of a spiteful, incoherent mind.
Shame really, as Faludy’s grandfather George was one of the finest literary figures of 20th century Hungary. Apples & trees and all that.
For anyone interested in Hungary, here’s an anglophone news portal: https://hungarytoday.hu

Last edited 1 year ago by Johannes Kreisler
georgeszirtes
georgeszirtes
1 year ago

Presumably, those in the comments who look to Hungary as a potential model might like to live in a country where the vast majority of the press and media is in their hands, where they can stuff all significant committees and boards with exclusively their own people, where they could close down and take over any institution that acted independently, that could expel their most successful internationally validated university, fix their elections by limiting opposition cash and advertising to practically nothing, to hook up to Putin’s Russia and Erdogan’s Turkey and to spend vast amounts enriching their friends through corruption.
But why presumably?
Evidently.

dorothywebdavies
dorothywebdavies
1 year ago
Reply to  georgeszirtes

Apart from the hooking up to Russia bit, I thought you were describing Britain – certainly Wales under the Labour Party which has dominated and been dragging us down since Tony Blair the Cunning brought in devolution.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
1 year ago
Reply to  georgeszirtes

……might like to live in a country where the vast majority of the press and media is in their hands, where they can stuff all significant committees and boards with exclusively their own people, where they could close down and take over any institution that acted independently…..
but this is the UK today where the press, TV, the civil service and all important institutions have been captured by the left.
As for hooking up to Putin, at the moment that looks a saner move than trying to cozy up to the US

Johannes Kreisler
Johannes Kreisler
1 year ago

As for hooking up to Putin, at the moment that looks a saner move than trying to cozy up to the US

Indeed. And accepting that was not the easiest thing for us Hungarians (well, for the whole ex-soviet bloc) who grew up in the communist regime hating the Russians with a fiery passion. Even the ex-KGB Putin is the lesser bad now than a democrat-ran US. The cold war ended quite a few decades ago and tables have a habit of turning like that.

but this is the UK today where the press, TV, the civil service and all important institutions have been captured by the left.

Szirtes (same as Faludy above) are unapologetic servants of the left. (You may want to check out Szirtes’ columns in the Guardian.) As a Hungarian and as a part-Jew i’m embarrassed for these two specimens darkening these shores; on the other hand though i’m glad they aren’t a burden on my old country, Hungary. Bit selfish i know, sorry ’bout that.
To make up for that, there’s Frank Füredi who’s quite a decent chap, regardless of his past trotzkist capers. Hope his son turned out fine too.

Last edited 1 year ago by Johannes Kreisler
Johannes Kreisler
Johannes Kreisler
1 year ago
Reply to  georgeszirtes

The vast majority of the Hungarian press / media is NOT in the govt’s hands. Roughly the half (if not more) of it has remained in the old communist regime’s toadies’ hands to this day. Same goes for most other institutions.

their most successful internationally validated university

I take it you’re talking about the CEU. A mickymouse “university”, frankly a woke anti-intellectual sh¡tsta¡n on the country’s (otherwise remarkably excellent) education system. Good riddance.
_____
Here’s a typical Szirtes article from three years ago:
https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/mar/30/danger-hungary-verge-full-blown-autocracy-viktor-orban-vengeance

Last edited 1 year ago by Johannes Kreisler
Vóreios Paratiritís
Vóreios Paratiritís
1 year ago

Owen Jones is an irresponsible provocateur and a partisan brainlet. How is the British Left to win office with leaders such as this?

Charles Kovacs
Charles Kovacs
1 year ago

Writing from Budapest, I found the writer’s description and comments about Hungary accurate and even restrained. For example, he did not mention the rampant and pervasive corruption, nor the state of the media in Hungary.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
1 year ago
Reply to  Charles Kovacs

And the state of the media in this country is any better?

Charles Kovacs
Charles Kovacs
1 year ago

Compare a news stand in London and Budapest and then take an informed view.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
1 year ago
Reply to  Charles Kovacs

I do not see how it could be any worse