Wake up sheeple! Alex Jones goes tonto on the Sunday Politics

The shock jock rants about Bilderberg on the BBC's flagship political show.

I was lucky enough to get a ringside seat for this, so I thought it deserved to be shared with a wider audience.

The BBC's Sunday Politics - on which I appear as part of the political panel - invited Alex Jones on to discuss whether the Bilderberg meeting of politicians and business leaders really was as sinister as it's been painted. Opposite him was David Aaronovitch, author of the enjoyable book Voodoo Histories, which dismantles some of the last century's most persistent conspiracy theories.

The video is worth watching for a) David Aaronovitch's mild question that if Alex Jones knows all this top secret truth, and is still alive, does that mean that it's all bollocks or is Jones part of the conspiracy? and b) Andrew Neil's closing "we've got an idiot on the show!".

Jones didn't quite tell us "sheeple" to wake up, but he did suggest that the Euro was a Nazi plot, and that the current lobbying scandals were a distraction from the real problem (ie Bilderberg). If you're tempted to dismiss Jones as a fringe crank, it's sobering to remember that he claims more than two million listeners for his radio show, and more than 250 million views for his YouTube videos.

While in the studio, Jones also filmed the day's political guest, Ed Balls, on his phone, and has since promised that the footage will appear on his website. He also filmed Aaronovitch taking off his powder while saying something about fluoride that I didn't catch. 

This was Andrew Neil's on-air reaction:

It was certainly great telly, even if I don't think we learned anything about Bilderberg. And if all this is beneath you, may I suggest you read my colleague George's excellent dissection of the interview with Ed Balls, which also featured on the show

Alex Jones and David Aaronovitch on the Sunday Politics.

Helen Lewis is deputy editor of the New Statesman. She has presented BBC Radio 4’s Week in Westminster and is a regular panellist on BBC1’s Sunday Politics.

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The Fire Brigades Union reaffiliates to Labour - what does it mean?

Any union rejoining Labour will be welcomed by most in the party - but the impact on the party's internal politics will be smaller than you think.

The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) has voted to reaffiliate to the Labour party, in what is seen as a boost to Jeremy Corbyn. What does it mean for Labour’s internal politics?

Firstly, technically, the FBU has never affliated before as they are notionally part of the civil service - however, following the firefighters' strike in 2004, they decisively broke with Labour.

The main impact will be felt on the floor of Labour party conference. Although the FBU’s membership – at around 38,000 – is too small to have a material effect on the outcome of votes themselves, it will change the tenor of the motions put before party conference.

The FBU’s leadership is not only to the left of most unions in the Trades Union Congress (TUC), it is more inclined to bring motions relating to foreign affairs than other unions with similar politics (it is more internationalist in focus than, say, the PCS, another union that may affiliate due to Corbyn’s leadership). Motions on Israel/Palestine, the nuclear deterrent, and other issues, will find more support from FBU delegates than it has from other affiliated trade unions.

In terms of the balance of power between the affiliated unions themselves, the FBU’s re-entry into Labour politics is unlikely to be much of a gamechanger. Trade union positions, elected by trade union delegates at conference, are unlikely to be moved leftwards by the reaffiliation of the FBU. Unite, the GMB, Unison and Usdaw are all large enough to all-but-guarantee themselves a seat around the NEC. Community, a small centrist union, has already lost its place on the NEC in favour of the bakers’ union, which is more aligned to Tom Watson than Jeremy Corbyn.

Matt Wrack, the FBU’s General Secretary, will be a genuine ally to Corbyn and John McDonnell. Len McCluskey and Dave Prentis were both bounced into endorsing Corbyn by their executives and did so less than wholeheartedly. Tim Roache, the newly-elected General Secretary of the GMB, has publicly supported Corbyn but is seen as a more moderate voice at the TUC. Only Dave Ward of the Communication Workers’ Union, who lent staff and resources to both Corbyn’s campaign team and to the parliamentary staff of Corbyn and McDonnell, is truly on side.

The impact of reaffiliation may be felt more keenly in local parties. The FBU’s membership looks small in real terms compared Unite and Unison have memberships of over a million, while the GMB and Usdaw are around the half-a-million mark, but is much more impressive when you consider that there are just 48,000 firefighters in Britain. This may make them more likely to participate in internal elections than other affiliated trade unionists, just 60,000 of whom voted in the Labour leadership election in 2015. However, it is worth noting that it is statistically unlikely most firefighters are Corbynites - those that are will mostly have already joined themselves. The affiliation, while a morale boost for many in the Labour party, is unlikely to prove as significant to the direction of the party as the outcome of Unison’s general secretary election or the struggle for power at the top of Unite in 2018. 

Stephen Bush is editor of the Staggers, the New Statesman’s political blog.