There has been much social media chatter about the launch of Turning Point UK (TPUK), the British branch of the pro-Trump American high school and college campus student organisation.
Despite the flurry of press interest, the chances of TPUK emerging as a force on British campuses, let alone within British politics more broadly, remains slim, especially when one explores the figures involved in the British operation so far.
The official launch of TPUK was a 11 December 2018 invite-only event at The Royal Automobile Club (RAC), on Pall Mall in London. The event was hosted by John and Irina Mappin, Peter Southall and Lord and Lady Plunket, and was advertised as “A Gathering of Political Genius”.
Since the launch, TPUK has begun to take a more formalised structure, and has even been endorsed by a host of Conservative politicians, including Priti Patel and Jacob Rees-Mogg as well as Nigel Farage.
However, perhaps the central figure behind to the arrival of Turning Point UK is John Mappin of the Mappin & Webb jewellery dynasty, who not only organised the launch event in London, but has also been earmarked as the contact point for high end donors to the UK operation. Towards the end of their talk at the RAC club Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk repeated, that potential donors “can talk to John [Mappin] or some of our other very good friends in the room”.
For an outfit presenting itself as serious and professional, Mappin is a peculiar choice with an extremely eccentric background…
Despite being a British incarnation of an American organisation, John Mappin, seemingly a key player in the UK launch, fits much better within a longstanding tradition of British right-wing eccentricity.
So much so in fact that Leave.EU donor Arron Banks described Mappin as “a total fruit loop” in his book, the Bad Boys of Brexit. Banks claims that Mappin told him:
“… he’s trying to launch a super-powered brain-control system that requires delivery facilities in fifty languages in every major city”.
Banks’ comments are likely a reference to Mappin’s beliefs as a Scientologist. In a Facebook post in September 2014, Mappin talked of “a new breakthrough in scientific and SPIRITUAL TECHNOLOGY” made by founder of Scientology L Ron Hubbard. He claimed that: “This technological release is absolutely vital to mankind at this time” and that – by a somewhat unexplained methodology – will “refile”, “misfiled memories” with the outcome being “THE END OF WAR, injustice and hostilities on Earth”.
Mappin went on to state that for “over 23 years my family and I have been helping do our part to prepare for the release of SUPERPOWER to Earth” most notably it seems by purchasing and running a hotel on the North Coast of Cornwall. Whether Mappin sees Turning Point UK as part of this plan remains unclear at present.
Mappin’s Cornish hotel, Camelot Castle, has a King Arthur-theme. Many reviews on the website TripAdvisor describe the hotel as “creepy”, with one user complaining that two DVDs promoting Scientology had been sent to their 8-year old daughter following their stay. The weight of negative TripAdvisor reviews reportedly prompted Mappin to enlist an “online reputation management company” in 2010.
Mappin is also a devotee of Donald Trump, awarding him an “Honorary Camelot Castle Knighthood” in 2016, in a bizarre video filmed at Mappin’s own personal “Round Table”. Mappin sent Trump a replica Excalibur sword, claiming “Henceforth Donald J Trump shall be known at Camelot Castle as Sir Donald Trump of Camelot”. In January 2017, Mappin was photographed with Trump and the first lady Melania in Washington DC.
While most have only noticed its arrival this week, TPUK has been in the offing for some time. The leaders of the Turning Point USA, Charlie Kirk and Candace Owens, have had links with radical right-wing activists from the UK, with Owens being photographed with figures such as Leave.EU head of communications Andy Wigmore, Nigel Farage and far-right conspiracy theory vlogger Paul Joseph Watson last year (the latter has been in contact with Owens for some time, having interviewed her first on InfoWars alongside Alex Jones), and Katie Hopkins in November 2017.
The formal launch event in December last year was attended by the controversial right-wing associate editor of The Spectator Rod Liddle, Breitbart columnist James Delingpole, Nigel Farage’s communications officer Dan Jukes, the 12th Duke of Marlborough, filmmaker Amanda Eliasch (who has claimed to be inspired in her political outlook by David Icke), artist Ted Stourton (artist-in-residence at the Mappin’s hotel), CIO at the ECU group Michael Petley, jeweller Annabelle Hill, Chief Digital Strategist at Leave Means Leave Steve Edginton (also listed as part of the TPUK team), J-TV creator and Director of ‘Media & Activism’ (created on 24 January 2019), Oliver Anisfeld (until recently listed as the CEO on TPUK’s site), and Daniel Mcilhiney, now leader of Turning Point Oxford.
During the event Owens – who described herself as a “Xena Warrior Princess for the conservative cause” – declared that:
“We very much believe that we are in the midst of World War 3. […] it is an ideological war we are fighting for Western values, America represented sort of the last stand and then Trump came and now we’re turning an understanding that in the past wars were won when the UK and the USA allied together and fought and that’s what we need to do here”.
Kirk, echoing Owens, added that “we want to take the success story of what we’ve done in America and bring that defense all throughout Europe”, both displaying a distinctly American style that will no doubt jar with many on the British right wing.
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