You having a laugh?

I am writing with regard to your current editorial, ‘How do we stop UKIP?’. While I cannot disagree with the conclusions of the article, I am amazed that you can write approvingly of the Five Star Movement, as if it represented some sort of alternative to UKIP and other far-right parties and movements that have emerged across Europe in recent years.

The Five Star Movement (5SM) is officially allied with UKIP in the European Parliament. Both parties’ MEPs are members of the Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy (EFDD) group, alongside other colourful characters such as former Front Nationale MEP Joelle Bergeron and Polish MEP Robert Iwaszkiewicz, a member of Poland’s Congress of the New Right (KNP). The KNP’s leader, Janusz Korwin-Mikke, is a Holocaust-denier and vile sexist who thinks that the minimum wage should be ‘destroyed’. Even Marine le Pen refused to form an alliance with the KNP.

Beppe Grillo, Five Star’s leader, was asked by a member of the far-right Casa Pound movement whether he was an antifascist. His response? ‘The question doesn’t concern me. 5SM is an ecumenical movement.’ You do not need to look far to find reports of other racist, sexist and quasi-fascist comments made by 5SM parliamentarians.

You describe 5SM ‘an unclassifiable anti-war party of participatory democracy’. Anti-war, maybe. Unclassifiable? It seems they’ve chosen to classify themselves with Europe’s far-right, at least in the European Parliament. Participatory democracy? In an extensive analysis, the Italian collective Wu Ming write that: ‘the 5SM is a top-down organisation with no intermediate bodies between Grillo and Casaleggio and the populace of fans/activists. Every major decision is taken by those two wealthy sixty-somethings, and «direct democracy» only amounts to calling on the base to approve it in a tele-plebiscitarian way.’

There are plenty of positive political developments taking place across Europe. Why you think Five Star Movement should be included amongst them is beyond me.