LEADING Remainer Anna Soubry, Conservative MP for Broxtowe, was called some nasty names outside Parliament recently.

The former journalist and criminal barrister, who must surely have both delivered and received more than the usual amount of colourful comments during the course of her career, was upset to be labelled a ‘Nazi’ by Leave protesters in Parliament Square – protesters who were ironically immediately labelled ‘far right’ in reports of the incident.

Clearly this incident was, in part, staged for political purposes, and we should be very concerned about MPs and their unelected lordships in the upper house calling for the police to do more to prevent their own sensitive ears having to hear what we think of them.

The leaders of the Remain movement may also wish to reflect on the fact that many of their number have been labelling people who voted for Brexit far-right, bigoted, low-information fascists for the past two years, and some might say this latest case of pot and kettle is a tad rich.

However, if we are being honest, Ms Soubry is not a Nazi. In fact Nazis and their more generic moniker, fascists, are pretty hard to come by these days, despite frequent claims to the contrary.

A lot of otherwise intelligent people have attempted to make out that Europe in 2016-19 has been like Europe in the 1930s (with the people who happen not to agree with them obviously taking the role of either the rising Nazi threat or their appeasers).

Donald Trump is frequently labelled a fascist in an even more po-faced fashion – ‘I know it sounds like I’m exaggerating, but Trump really is just like Hitler, here’s why...’

Newly-elected Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro is the latest to receive the treatment, and although he probably ticks more of the boxes than anyone else in this column, even he is no fascist.

So, what makes [person I don’t like] a genuine, goose-stepping, chest-thumping brownshirt rather than just a nationalist, a libertarian, a socially Conservative centrist, a liberal, or whatever else?

Fascism was very much a movement of its era, and it is probably inherently anachronistic to use the term nowadays.

It sprang up in the then-recently unified Italy and Germany and in Spain at a time of gross economic chaos, enough to make the 2008 financial crash look like a minor blip.

It was primarily a reaction to the Russian Revolution, the fear of a workers’ uprising and the abolition of private property rights driving an alliance between businesses, landowners, war veterans and the Catholic church.

This alliance was characterised by paramilitary groups engaging in street wars with socialist movements and often with the state itself, at least at first.

Fascist movements were economically liberal in some ways, though less so than say modern Britain. War industries were often nationalised, and protectionism and cronyism were often practised.

Traditional values were a focus, for fascists yes, and specifically religious values. A deal between the Nazi party and the Catholic Church gave Hitler a clear run at the top job, and his birthday was celebrated in German pulpits. Nazi belt buckles were marked with ‘Gott mit uns’ in true Prussian tradition.

Centuries of religious persecution of the Jews made them once again an easy and convenient scapegoat for the conspiracy fearing ideologue. Crediting the holocaust to nationalism over religion is an error, since Nazi inculcation would not have been present in France prior to the Second World War, yet when it came to it the French were eager enough to start piling Jews on the trains.

Even in the slightly odd case of Imperial Japan in the 1930s, which arguably was not really fascist anyway, Buddhism teamed up with the military dictatorship to justify its ambitions and slaughters.

To forget what made fascism fascism, for instance in order to score points with a passing pop at one of our delicate MPs, or even Mr Trump, is to forget a terrible chapter in human history, but it was only a chapter.

Time to switch up our terms – authoritarian, anti-democrat, illiberal, bore...