Andrew Neil, the living embodiment of why hair transplants are a bad idea, has announced that he’s to leave the BBC and will head a new right wing broadcaster which is being touted as the British Fox News. The new channel is expected to give a home to the likes of that Waitrose Katie Hopkins, Julia Hartley-Brewer, and Nigel Farage – if he can get a visa to get out of his home in Kent now that the British Government is erecting a customs border around the county. I’m sure we’ll all love seeing how Nigel explains to the public how Kent, which voted 59% to leave the EU, is loving being turned into a French carpark.
Scotland is shocked, shocked and surprised to discover Andrew Neil’s true political leanings. We never noticed the Adam Smith Institute tie when Andrew was being impartial on the BBC. Who knew that Andrew was really a Tory eh? Well, just about everyone. Especially anyone who used to read the Scotsman before Andrew turned it into the Scottish Conservative fanzine that it is today as it struggles to survive. Andrew Neil is a representative and balanced BBC Question Time audience all by himself. It must be awful for right wing commentators only to have columns in the Spectator and the Telegraph and BBC Politics programmes to use to defend themselves from the mockery of left wing comedians.
We only have Brexit in the first place because the BBC decided to give Nigel Farage a platform. The BBC thought that “balance” meant giving equal time and credence to the batshit crazy claims of Brextremists. They stuffed their audiences with right wing Brexit supporters – which is how we got the ridiculous spectacle of Question Time from the left wing yes voting and overwhelmingly remain voting city of Dundee being, ahem, represented with an audience which was split 50-50 on the question of Brexit. None of us had ever realised that Dundee was so full of posh right wing Tories. A public broadcaster tells us that it’s its job to put the public right, by which they clearly mean to put the public right wing.
However even being given more than equal time isn’t enough for the right. So now they tell us that the UK is desperately in need of an even more right wing media outlet where they can zoom away unchallenged. This is because whereas the BBC and Sky News just chased after leaking inflatable boats stuffed full of desperate migrants trying to cross the Channel and shouted questions at them as they panicked as their inadequate vessels slowly filled with seawater, this new broadcaster’s reporters will shoot crossbow darts at them as well. If Sky News and the BBC aren’t right wing enough for you, this new channel is gong to be off the zoomer scale. It will be the channel for those guys in the supermarket who don’t wear a face mask and go around telling everyone in a loud voice that they don’t need to because of something that they read on Facebook. It won’t be so much Fox News as Forfuckssake News.
The UK media is already ridiculously skewed, this new channel will only skew it even further, and give yet more prominence to the kind of right wing voices who trashed any concept of honesty or decency in order to bring us Brexit. It will be the televisual equivalent of a right wing tabloid newspaper, and no doubt complete with the same fixation on WW2, bunting, military parades, and royal events. We’ll have right wing commentators going on about migrants. We’ll have Brextremists blaming the mess of Brexit on the EU and remainers. We’ll get James Delingpole on a maskless expedition to his local branch of Sainsburys. And we’ll have British nationalists slating Scottish independence and ranting about the evils of nationalism blissfully unaware of the nationalism that they represent themselves. Because they’ve stuck a union flag on it, which magically stops it from being nationalism.
What the new channel most certainly won’t do is to give a fair platform to those of us who seek an independent Scotland, struggling as we are with a media environment where despite there being a clear majority in all recent polling for yes, only one Scottish newspaper and its sunday edition supports the constitutional view backed by a majority of the population. Meanwhile the broadcasters are controlled and regulated from London, and we have a BBC which sees its job as being to bolster and boost Britishness, and a BBC Scotland which regards support for independence as an embarrassing aberration that has to be rooted out.
We now have the ludicrous spectacle of the Baroness’s sock puppet DRoss being given a right to reply after the First Minister has made a public health announcement. Opposition politicians are not given a right to reply to public health announcements in Wales where there is a Labour First Minister. It sure as hell doesn’t happen in London after the performance artiste with the stage name Boris – you can call me Al – Johnson has given an address to the UK. Can you imagine the outrage from the Tories if the BBC did? But BBC Scotland bowed to political pressure from the Conservatives and Labour who are terrified that Nicola Sturgeon’s competent and compassionate performance during her daily public health briefings are being compared favourably by the Scottish public with the shambling incompetence and confusion of the Conservatives. They can’t risk support for independence rising any more, so let’s confuse the health message instead.
Back in 2014 Scotland was told that it should stay in the UK in order to lead it from within. Instead what we’ve seen is a UK that is moving ever further away from Scottish sensibilities and the consensus of Scottish opinion. There is less and less representation of Scotland’s view in a media landscape which is growing ever more shrill, hostile, and right wing in its triumphalist British nationalism. When Andrew Neill announced the launch of this new right wing news channel saying that GB News would be aimed at the “vast number” who feel “underserved and unheard by their media” – it’s not the majority in Scotland that he had in mind.
If Scotland wants a media that represents it, we’ll only get one in an independent state. Meanwhile the media landscape of the UK is ranged against us. In order to achieve our independence we’re going to need every grassroots resource at our disposal. Meanwhile we’re at 55% support and rising.
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