David Icke has a pleasant East Midlands accent, and – I don’t confirm this – but it sounds as if he’s sucking on a throat lozenge. It’s something I’ve noticed listening to him speak on YouTube as well. It doesn’t surprise me that his voice might be sore. Icke can talk. His sell-out show in Wembley went for 10 hours. His planned (now cancelled) shows in Australia were billed at four. It’s only natural that even the fiercest fighter of the interdimensional alien menace gets a sore throat sometimes.
For the uninitiated, Icke is perhaps best known as the guy who believes the world is run in secret by a cabal of shapeshifting reptilians. If you’re a bit older you might remember him as the ex-British footballer who went on the Terry Wogan show claiming he was the son of God. More recently, he was banned from entering Australia for promoting anti-Semitic ideas.
How Icke went from defending goals in the English Football League to warning humanity about the threat evil aliens posed to our world is as strange and interesting as his theories themselves. After going from professional footballer to journalist and sports broadcaster, Icke became increasingly interested in environmental issues affecting his local community in the Isle of Wight. It is during this period, he comes to suspect the opposing Labour and Tory parties are not working for the people they supposedly represent but rather are colluding in the Freemason’s Lodge, where the “real decisions” are made.
For Icke, this is the beginning of a deep-seated distrust of authority.
To combat this corruption, he starts his own regional branch of the then relatively unknown Green Party. Just six weeks after he joins, due to his public profile and media training, Icke is elected as the Party’s national spokesperson. In the 1989 summer election, the little-known party is thrust into the national spotlight after attracting an unprecedented level of support in the European elections. Suddenly, after not even having been a member for a year, Icke is representing the Party on the national stage.
It’s around this time he starts sensing a supernatural force around him.
“From about early 1989, if I was in a room alone, it was like there was somebody else there, and this progress through the Green Party at breakneck speed and this other thing were moving together.”
He tells me he kept this to himself at first, remarking that he thought it was “just one of those things”.
The presence draws him, through what Icke calls an electromagnetic field, to a small shop, where it instructs him to look at the books. Here he finds the work of Betty Shine, a famous British Clairvoyant and spirit healer.
Searching for an explanation, he seeks her out. Shine tells him he is destined to “reveal great secrets” and – as he would infamously repeat on the Terry Wogan show later on – that he is the “son of God”.
I ask Icke if he still experiences supernatural entities. “Well, it’s a completely different form now,” he replies, dismissing my question. He sounds annoyed that I’d even ask.
Similarly, when I bring up his most famous theory – when I mention “the reptile in the room” – I can sense he is becoming defensive.
He acknowledges, from an everyday view, the theory that the world is secretly run by bloodsucking, reptile-human hybrids is “bizarre”, but he adds that after 30 years of investigating he has come to the conclusion that the world isn’t just a little bit different to how we perceive, but in fact “it’s absolutely nothing like we think it is.”
What follows is a sprawling dissertation on the nature of reality, including Einstein quotes, commentary about indoctrination in society, quantum physics and a personal theory he calls the “postage stamp consensus”, all of which he says justifies his belief in shapeshifting aliens.
“When you get to that level that reality is not what we are experiencing or appear to be experiencing,” he tells me, “then what the hell is strange about the fact that this world might be manipulated by a force that doesn’t take a human form?”
I admit, it’s no more out there than most religions.
In the past Icke has identified famous individuals and world leaders whom he suspects may be reptiles, included among them are Tony Blair, the British Royal Family and the Bush family. I ask him to identify some more current examples, suggesting some of our own leaders, like Tony Abbott (who must be a candidate for certain) and Scott Morrison (hard to know, but good idea to find out).
Icke immediately goes on the defensive.
“No, I’ll not go down the road of Icke says so and so’s a reptile. Just not doing it okay?”
He continues, “I’ve been here for 30 years, I’ve been questioned for 30 years, I know where things lead. So and so is a reptile, Icke says, oh god, isn’t that amazing and what an idiot. Okay, I’m not going there.”
I try to calm him down but he tells me he knows what the headlines will look like.
“I know in the days when it was all about Icke thinks he’s the son of God and all that stuff, if ever I put my arms out to make a point about the length of something, that’s the picture that would appear in the paper, as if I’m nailed to the fucking cross.”
He’s clearly agitated, so I move on. If he doesn’t want to specifically name a politician, I ask can he identify some of the covert power structures that help maintain the reptile rule here in Australia.
His answer is as sprawling as ever. He describes “secret societies” and “semi-secret groups” that impose their will in each country, comparing them to McDonald’s franchises.
He tells me he has seen the same programs rolled out in different countries over the world. “Not only is it a global pattern unfolding before your eyes, it’s the global pattern that was in my books in the 1990s,” he says.
Soon, as is typical when speaking with David Icke, our discussion meanders again, and we’re talking about the accusations of anti-Semitism that have dogged him over the years, and recently lost him his visa to Australia.
The primary charge is that Icke encourages Holocaust denialism and perpetuates myths about Zionism and Jewish world control.
“If I expose the Italian mafia, is that a statement about Italian people?” he asks.
“Because I’ll tell you what, this is what sickens me, turns my stomach, is the way that Jewish people as a whole are mercilessly exploited with what I would describe as a protection racket that stops any criticism or questioning of any Jewish person whatsoever.”
In particular, he refers to George Soros, Hungarian/American investor and philanthropist, a subject of many right-wing conspiracy theories. Soros is Jewish. Icke’s claim is that he is labelled as an anti-Semite because he criticises and exposes powerful “Zionists” or “ultra-Zionists” who use accusations of anti-Semitism to defend themselves against “legitimate investigation”.
I’m not convinced. I ask Icke about his Holocaust denial and reproduction of the well-known anti-Semitic forgery, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.
Icke’s response is signature Icke. “Well, first of all, don’t believe what you read in the papers.”
“I came across an article in which a Labor politician who must have donated his brain to medical science in Australia, saying that I was campaigning for Holocaust denial to be taught in schools. That is such an unbelievable lie, it’s staggering.”
“This is what I’ve said, and I’ll say it again… If we’re going to claim to live in a free society, then someone else must have the right to say, ‘Well, I’m not sure I believe that,’ without actually being put in jail as people are in Germany.”
I point out how continually questioning the Holocaust and repeating myths of international Jewish control are traditionally the kinds of ideas put forward by actual anti-Semites to encourage distrust of Jewish people.
“If you look at my books, 90 percent of the people I name are not Jewish,” he replies.
“When I’m naming a stream of Americans… I’m naming a stream of British people or French people or German people, there is not a problem. But if I name some people who happen to be Jewish, like Soros, suddenly there’s a problem.
“For me, we should be looking at evidence and be racially and culturally blind to the people involved, because if we don’t do that, what are we? We’re racist.
“I’m being completely misrepresented, utterly and completely misrepresented, but so what? I’ve been misrepresented for 30 years. I think I can live with a bit more.”
For the record, I don’t think Icke is an anti-Semite. His conspiratorial outlook takes topics like the holocaust or Zionism and naturally looks for alternative narratives. What is evident is this often results in him repeating ultra-right or anti-Semitic talking points and perpetuating myths about Jewish people. He isn’t anti-Semitic, but it doesn’t surprise me that anti-Semites like him. To accuse him of actual racism, though, would be to ignore the fact he believes the world is consumed by a struggle between human beings and ancient, trans-dimensional reptiles. That isn’t a metaphor in Icke’s eyes, either. The ultimate evil isn’t the Jews or any other race – it’s actual bloodsucking aliens.
Our conversation takes another interesting turn when we get onto the topic of identity politics and contemporary leftist activism.
He argues that the modern left has been funded into existence by none other than George Soros and is actively attempting to undermine people’s cultural and political freedoms under the banner of political correctness.
“Instead of looking at people as individuals and judging people by their individual behaviour, irrespective of race, background, colour, creed, income bracket, it’s being demanded that we judge everyone as a group and not as an individual. What this is, is Marxism under another guise.”
I ask Icke what Marxism, a theory of class struggle and resource redistribution, has to do with political correctness and self-identity.
“First of all, Karl Marx was a banker’s man,” he replies. “The basic technique of Marxism was transforming society by conflict.”
“The modern version of Marxism, which you might call progressive Marxism, is replacing the class struggle with self-identity struggle. It’s still defining groups and bringing them into conflict, and transforming society as a result.”
The idea that there are “reds under the bed” is a common theme among the conspiratorial critics of the modern left. Cultural Marxism or as Icke puts it "progressive Marxism" alludes to sinister left-wingers engaged in a decades-long communist plot to undermine western culture.
Icke suggests that at the helm of this Marxist movement are massive corporations and the wealthy elite, who engage in mass censorship of individuals with whom they don’t agree.
“The traditional, genuine liberal left would have railed against that, but not the progressive left, because it’s been hijacked. It’s been bought and it’s been perceptually programmed,” he says.
“What I’ve seen, and this is very important, is that the liberal left that I knew and grew up with has been completely overturned and hijacked by a mentality called progressive, which came out of America, which is sweeping over the world.”
Icke tells me he’s all for fighting discrimination, which he calls “child-like” but that the left goes too far in challenging concepts of gender, particularly, in “encouraging people to question their gender who weren’t questioning it before.” Pointing to the explosion of young people in Britain who are questioning their gender, some of whom will undergo reassignment.
“If people come to the conclusion that they feel they’re in the wrong body, then they should be given every support in coming to terms with that and living their life on that basis,” says Icke. “But that is very different from being externally encouraged to question it when you weren’t questioning it before.”
“I tell you, talk to people who’ve gone through transgender transition and decided they wish they hadn’t, talk to them about how difficult it is to get that experience across into the public arena, and how the biggest abuse of those people comes from transgender activists.
“If you’re making a decision, a life-changing decision about your sexuality, and you’re going to actually go through surgery to make it irreversible, then do you want all the information available before you make that decision, or do you want only the information that some people would like you to have?
Though lots of his criticism of contemporary progressive politics makes sense – the heightened censorship, the uncomfortably close relationship between large tech and social media corporations and left-wing politics – I do get the impression he is being a tad alarmist on other things. But of course, I would be alarmed too if I believed the increased visibility of transgendered individuals was the result of a global plan on behalf of “very high up” elites, vying to control the world.
I ask if it’s the reptiles he thinks are behind the transgender movement, but Icke is reticent to reveal the truth. Instead, he encourages me to come along to his show, where he will cover the topic in detail, among other things during the four-hour long lecture.
He leaves me with a classic piece of conspiracy theorist wisdom: “Ask yourself, what subjects can I not have a different opinion about? What subjects can you not talk about outside the official narrative, without getting instant abuse, instant shutdown, instant censorship?
“Nothing’s black and white, but it has to be painted black and white. Shades of grey, they don’t want to go there, because that’s a bit more complicated and it’s more about subtlety. Propaganda’s not about subtlety, it’s about black and white.”
“But I live in the shades of grey, and I ain’t moving.”