AS a political ideology, fascism is surprisingly difficult to pin beneath a single, all-encompassing descriptor. Some fascistic regimes view expansionism as a necessary tenet of their ideology. Others close borders and build walls. Some focus on religious supremacy. Others mimic the morals of extreme evangelism with different justifications.

Yet despite moulding itself around the contemporary philosophies it seeks to destroy, there are some core themes to fascism that I believe do define it: themes of authoritarianism; of elitism; of nationalism; and of nostalgia for a bygone era lost to decadent and degenerate modernity.

To misquote United States Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart, you’ll know it when you see it; and looking at the state of the United Kingdom today, there’s plenty to see.

Britain may not be in the grip of full-blown fascism, but all the hallmarks of that violent and oppressive ideology are present to a degree that cannot be seriously dismissed.

Of course, Britain’s self-image as a bastion of democracy has always been as close to the real thing as square cheese is to cheddar – but even with such undemocratic institutions as an unaccountable head of state and a party donor-bloated House of Lords, the state of modern democracy in the UK has never been quite so dire.

The headline issue is, naturally, Westminster’s use of a Section 35 order to block the passing of the Gender Recognition Reform Bill.

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If the UK Government’s justification is as flimsy as early analysis would suggest, it would confirm this intervention to be driven more by the Conservative Party’s authoritarian culture war than any legitimate legislative concern – and by extension, it would be a direct attack on Scottish devolution and a community that the Conservatives have found use in demonising like so many other far-right regimes before them.

That would be entirely unsurprising for a government that repeatedly transgressed the boundaries and spirit of devolution to impose on Scotland a political agenda that we have rejected at the ballot box since the 1950s, not only on LGBTQ+ equality, but on food, health and environmental standards too.

US Republican-inspired processes such as requiring photo ID to cast a ballot are also becoming commonplace, a move that the political right claim will address the non-existent threat of voter fraud, but which will in fact lead to the further disenfranchisement of communities already targeted by the Conservatives.

All of this takes place against a backdrop of legislation that seeks to destroy trade unions and end the right to effective protest, while politicians tauntingly revel in their own riches and rule breaking.

As someone who needs to re-read emails 10 times before sending them, it is meaningful to me that Rishi Sunak could take a video of himself flouting the law without a seatbelt on, and not even notice the glaring error – but that’s how the elitist mindset of Westminster works.

We’re told to budget better on wages that they themselves would find to be incomprehensibly inadequate while they award lucrative contracts to friends and minimise blatant tax avoidance.

And while the Conservatives don’t much seem to mind where donor money originates, they certainly care about where asylum seekers and refugees hail from.

I’ve always found the joyful cruelty of British nationalism to be abhorrent, but under the Conservatives it has grown to become more celebrated than ever.

Suella Braverman’s recent refusal to apologise for using the same rhetoric as the Nazis to demonise people fleeing war and discrimination is not unique. Contemporary right-wing movements often delight in “owning the libs”, finding humour in actions whose sole purpose is to cause hurt over any meaningful political goal.

The news from yesterday that scores of children seeking asylum have been abducted from Home Office-run hotels – something that was allowed to happen despite numerous warnings – only underscores the inhumanity of the United Kingdom.

It is estimated that a hotel run by the Home Office in Kent is losing 10% of its young asylum seekers to gangs snatching them off the street every week. The absence of care that has led to this situation is unforgivable.

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The only thing currently missing from our authoritarian nightmare is a “strongman” leader with the support to pull together the many British nationalists already seduced by far-right talking points, something the Conservatives could have had if the speedrun of recent prime ministers we’ve endured had spent less time on the naughty step and more time developing a cult of personality – or in the case of some, any personality at all.

With suggestions that universities be defunded for teaching history accurately, and British gender critical advocates cosying up with white nationalists, the UK is primed for dark, dark days ahead.

That isn’t something you can just wait until the next election to vote away. Scottish independence is certainly a balm to this wound, but the issue runs deeper than just our relationship with Westminster.

A sinister undercurrent of far-right thinking is not unique to the UK. It’s found in homes around the world, as much as it is overheard in the hallways of 55 Tufton Street and printed on the pages of British newspapers.

Threat of France’s pension age being raised from 62 to 64 last week was enough to mobilise a million people on to the streets in outrage. What would it take for those same numbers to march here, when the trappings of fascism have already dug their way into British culture and the right to protest them is curtailed?

The pension age in the UK is already set to 66 … and due to rise further shortly.