Illustrations by Megan Le Brocq
GB News launched its first broadcast on June 13th, and in his opening speech, Andrew Neil – the show’s anchor – presented its manifesto. GB News purports itself to be about those who have been silenced or marginalised in our national political discourse. Neil was early to sell the community angle to its viewers, promising that GB News would take the focus away from Westminster and instead cover ‘the people’s agenda’. Neil further stressed that GB News will be staunchly against an apparent pervasive pessimism regarding Britain, be that of its problematic history or how it fairs as a functioning society generally. Added to the list of the show’s mortal enemies is the ‘cancel culture’ and ‘the wasteland to nowhere that is identity politics’.
In fact, the most prominent feature to GB News is its aggression. GB News is against most things, it appears, from a broadly left viewpoint. Perhaps the most disturbing program aired is their ‘Woke Watch’ feature, which in a different time might have been called ‘Commie Crackdown’. One Woke Watch reported on the National Trust, claiming that the volunteers’ mandatory wearing of Pride colours was unwelcome sermonising to the public. This ‘drift into wokeness’ (a phrase which gives the impression that the National Trust has become possessed by woke necromancers) has been blamed on BLM. It was the BLM movement which pushed the National Trust to disclose the links some of their properties had to the Slave Trade. Neil finished his report saying, “The culture wars are not over at the National Trust, and if they can happen there, you can be pretty sure they can happen anywhere”. Even in print Neil’s tone is quite threatening, but this alone does not convey the slow, precise way the words were uttered, reminiscent of a conspiracy theorist who revels in the horrors they tell.
To summarise GB News: it is all quite mad. Their presenters and reporters speak with the authority of the computer, convincing enough to almost make us forget that they are merely citing their own half-baked opinions. Another case in point is the feature, ‘Viewpoint’. Here, there is hardly even the pretence of impartiality. Regarding the recent trade deal with Australia and the UK, Neil argues that it has proved the pessimism regarding Brexit wrong. Noticeably, the title they chose to present that report was ‘Oz trade win’, wherein the choice of the word ‘win’ makes it seem like a football match, a Great British victory over those whinging Europeans and leftists. Andrew Neil does not so much report as tell you what to think: while most reportage states facts and leaves the reader or viewer to interpret, Neil throws in the ‘correct’ interpretation for you.
If it was not real, it would be laughable. In an interview regarding the British Flag being removed from a public building, the interviewers seemed quite paranoid. What was most baffling about the whole process was their inability to recognise that the Union Flag has political connections – the flag is, after all, the sign of a nation, one which itself has political institutions. The interview hardly interrogated at all, instead essentially being an indignant chin-wag from both the interviewers and interviewee. In the process, the broadcast gave the impression that there are hidden spies at work everywhere doing the evil bidding of the Woke. They even got round to mention those dreaded commies. One wonders whether in a few weeks’ time they’ll be interviewing General Ripper and asking him about his theories on our precious bodily fluids.