Andrew Neil and Neil Oliver broadcast to fellow Brit Nats
Could the creators of GB News possibly have fixed on a worse time to launch their channel than at the start of the Euro 2021 tournament? Outwith its strangely dim-lit digital studios, the only flag that isn’t being waved in our faces on these islands at present is the Union Jack, mercifully. Then again, their timing was perfect in one sense: it left not a single, lingering shred of doubt that this fledgling station’s 6,500 hours a year of “original news, opinion and debate” will be produced by a strange, alien tribe residing and ranting in a parallel archipelago. A studio located on some fantasy island where the sun is beginning to rise on a New British Empire.
Mind you, the presumption that GB News is being beamed from standard broadcasting facilities could be mistaken: the opening show looked as though it was coming from inside a sea container seized by the UK Border Agency in a crackdown on Syrian refugee smugglers. Against a black, corrugated metal backdrop, Andrew Neil delivered what sounded like a defiant broadcast by a British premier driven from Downing Street into overseas exile by an occupying enemy. Characteristically abrasive as ever, ol’ Brillo Pad was predictably bent on rubbing his peers up the wrong way, declaring to the camera:
GB News will not be yet another echo chamber for the metropolitan mindset that already dominates so much of the media.
This from a multi-millionaire opiner who has clocked up literally half a century in London newsrooms!
So where is GB News being broadcast from? Sunderland? Doncaster? Great Yarmouth? Of course not. Those are just the sort of scandalously abandoned places it is broadcasting to. While this venture claims it will be “concerned with what will raise prosperity and create jobs in our left-behind towns”, its investors would never dream of creating jobs themselves in any of those joints.
Since Mr Neil’s political idol turned them into economic wastelands, they have been (and are destined to remain) deindustrialised dives whose only source of communal pride was clocking up the largest Leave percentages in the 2016 referendum. That C2D2 Brexiteers are a key target audience for GB News is proven by the fact that no fewer than three of its prominent female presenters (including one-time winner of The Apprentice, Michelle Dewberry) stood as Brexit Party candidates. No doubt this dizzy trio were swooning and swaying in unison when old Uncle Andrew vowed:
While we will never hold back from covering our country’s many flaws and problems, we will not come at every story with the conviction that Britain is always at fault, usually to blame when things go wrong and generally useless. We won’t forget what the B stands for in our title.
The station’s other celebrity Jock certainly won’t ever let anyone forget. In a pre-launch trailer, Neil Oliver stated:
I’m suffused with intense feelings of love for the British archipelago. I’ll be taking every opportunity I get to celebrate Britain.
Sadly, he’ll get such an opportunity every Saturday night, although I don’t fancy his chances up against the likes of Strictly Come Dancing or even a revival of Ant & Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway.
Not to worry, the Brexiteers can catch the wild, hairy, coastal creature again in the wee sma’ hours when they stagger back from their local British Legion. Every show screened on GB News during the day will be repeated sometime in the night. For, as we were constantly reminded in the trailers, this is not a conventional rolling news channel. By which they mean they cannot afford to supply a proper round-the-clock service so they’ll just need to hope and pray Her Majesty isn’t reunited with Prince Philip during the night!
The aforementioned Dewby (one of the Brexiteer airheads) made much in her introductory remarks about never having been on some university journalism course. Having headed up a number of J-schools across the Anglo-Celtic archipelago and having warned cocky freshers that a degree in journalism isn’t a passport into the news media, I didn’t bristle at her inverted snobbery. But it did concern me that the GB News network of regional and national correspondents come across as a crowd of rejects and drop-outs from BTEC courses in media sociology. Its veteran Scottish correspondent must feel like their despairing tutor, judging by this tweet from his new employer:
A drumroll for our new Scotland reporter @doubledee1973. David Donaldson is as Scottish as they come: born in Wick, he’s lived in Ayrshire, Moray, Orkney, the Highlands and more. He’s been broadcasting for 15 years and can’t wait to bring the unique voices of Scotland to GB News.
Click on his Twitter page and old DD is billed as a former STV and Sky News reporter. But there was no mention of any of the programmes on which he previously played a starring role. Getting on Your Wick? Moray Moans? Extraordinary Orkney? Your guesses are as good as mine.
Because the channel was launched on Sunday not Saturday, Mr Oliver didn’t get a chance to demonstrate the sort of ways in which he’ll be celebrating Britishness. He did appear in a panel discussion on one of the debut shows, during which he proclaimed his proudly Scot-Brit dual nationality. Which element of this hybrid identity he considers the more important was left in no doubt when he declared to the fellow panellists: “I will consider myself British until the day I die!”
That superfluous declaration was made on a late night programme hosted by Dan Wootton, a former showbiz columnist with the Sun (and it showed). In each episode, he will invite his guests to nominate a Great Briton and a Union Jackass of the day. Determining the latter should entail only a quick spool through whatever nonsense GB News has churned out that day.
The assembled panel on Mr Wootton’s first night consisted of three ultra-British patriots, along with a hapless punchbag from the i newspaper, clearly only invited so they could be seen to fulfil their promise to conform to Ofcom rules. If GB News manages to get away with such a piss-taking pretence of impartiality, it’ll be further proof – not that any was needed after its failure to act against the complete blackout of Alba during throughout the recent Holyrood election campaign – that the UK’s communications regulator has entirely abandoned any charade of upholding the regulations meant to be guaranteeing fair and balanced political coverage. In fact, if GB News is permitted to continue in this patently biased format, Ofcom shouldn’t.
One suspects this body will swiftly intervene if the channel’s ‘Wokewatch’ slot takes off and starts to irk the metrosexual elites who dominate the TV industry. Any baiting of gender ideologists could be sailing too close to the wind, as a Somerset-based preacher recently forced into retirement could tell them. Like that deceased blog’s below-the-line comments section, GB News is basically an echo chamber. If it were a website, it could be branded Wings over Britain. The wings being a World War II Spitfire, of course.
A battle for Britain is what today’s Brit Nats desperately need to wage. Yet there was no sign in their opening salvos that they comprehend how vulnerable and embattled the sacred political entity they worship has become. If they were seriously devoted to saving the Union, their mission statement would have commenced with a solemn pledge to expose and excoriate all those UK politicians whose complacency and corruption have placed the future of far-from-Great Britain in such grave peril. Instead, Andrew Neil and co. appear to believe that if they just keep declaring their undying loyalty and devotion to “our United Kingdom” (his emphasis), this will be sufficient to ensure the UK’s perpetual survival. For that reason alone, I already much prefer GB News to BBC News, which pumps out far more subtle, insidious, and hence sadly persuasive, pro-Union propaganda 24/7/365.