2007 - 2021

A Corporate Media Takeover for the Brexitland Era

Despite the efforts of this parish and many others (Double Down News, Open Democracy, Byline Times, The Ferret) the attempt to democratise the media is under assault. Three recent examples spring to mind: the imminent launch of Andrew Neil’s GB News, the appointment of Paul Dacre as the Chairman of Ofcom and the appointment of Richard Sharp – a man who has openly donated £400,000 to the Conservative party – as the new chair of the BBC.

For an example of Dacre’s editorial qualities see the cartoon from 2015 published in the Daily Mail under Mr. Dacre’s editorship.

These appointments have a synergy to them. Andrew Neil has assured us that GB News will be bound by Ofcom, but with Dacre at the helm that assurance holds little weight. It seems clear that Neil’s model is a Fox-style highly-partisan news to give platform to himself and kindred spirits. Neil has declared it will serve the “vast number of British people who feel undeserved and unheard”, arguing that “the direction of news debate in Britain is increasingly woke and out of touch with the majority of its people”.

That’s not my experience of broadcast news but I don’t inhabit the same reality as the former UK Editor of the Economist, the Sunday Times, Executive Chairman of Sky Television, publisher of the Scotsman and supporter of the Adam Smith Institute, who somehow manages to frame himself as Edgelord Outsider and champion of the little people.

Neil’s litany of media blunders and interventions is too long to cover, but here’s a few gems from his back-cataologue.

In 2018 he claimed one in five Scottish children were illiterate. The BBC executive complaints unit said the figure had originally been put forward by a spokesperson for the Scottish Conservatives as being based on the 2009 Scottish Survey for Literacy and Numeracy. But the unit said the survey “contained no reference to ‘functional illiteracy’, and added that there was”no data which would have justified the claim in question”. The unit said: “The Sunday Politics team has been reminded of the need to establish the evidential basis of claims that are quoted in its questions.”

Not long after joining the BBC Neil made a speech praising the rightwing radical Friedrich Hayek. He called for a “radical programme to liberalise the British economy; a radical reduction in tax and public spending as a share of the economy” as well as a flat tax “and the injection of choice and competition into the public sector on a scale not yet contemplated”. It was astonishing for expressing radical views and riding roughshod over BBC guidelines as he continued to do unrestrained over his time at the corporation.

Neil’s entry to the Register of Journalists’ Interests makes for interesting reading too.

Whilst most journalists have a simple one line, Neil has this:

“Chairman, Press Holdings Media Group (The Spectator, Spectator Health, Life, Money & Australia; and Apollo, the international arts magazine). Chairman, ITP Magazine Group (Dubai). Chairman, The Addison Club (London). Director, Glenburn Enterprises Limited (provides media and consultancy services). Fees for speaking at, hosting or chairing an event were received from the following organisations: Mergermarket (publication covering mergers); Investment Fund Managers (umbrella for investment managers); Standard Life Aberdeen (global asset managers); The British Security Industry Association (trade body representing the UK’s private security industry); BNY Mellon (global bank); Brewin Dolphin (fund managers); IBC Amsterdam (annual trade fair for global broadcasters); Step (association of Financial Planners); Parliamentary Review (publication for business and politics); Weil, Gotshal (law firm); British Retail Consortium (association for retailers); Clyde & Co (law firm); Tudor Capital (hedge fund); Goodacre (financial services specialists); Retail Motor Industry association (vehicle dealers); London Metal Exchange; IIR (Association of senior investment managers); AON (professional services firm); HSBC (bank); EY (professional services); Construction News (publication for UK construction industry); National House Building Council; PARC (professional services); Lloyds Bank; Christie & Co (property advisory service); Premier (asset management advisers); Zurich Insurance (global insurance company); NBC News executives (US news network); ABI (association of insolvency experts); SES (European satellite providers); Publishers Association (of British book publishers); Stonehenge (property developers); Landmark (association of small retailers); RBS (bank); Belfast Chamber of Commerce; GAIM, Global Alternative Investment Managers Conference; Dairy UK (association of dairy producers) (registered July 2018).”

This is the apogee of corporate media.

We got a glimpse of the tone of GB News this week when Andrew Neil and Douglas Ross discuss arresting Scottish Government ministers for enacting the will of the parliament and Neil interviewed his own employees about their rancid views:

 

 

The narrative is a Trumpian ‘Stop the Vote’ one, with a smarter veneer.

GB news is the TV for our truthiness era, the ideal station for Brexitland Britain a safe-haven for Generation Gammon – appalled by everything they see in a world they rule over in selective outrage. We live in a world of middle-aged grievance fantasy, an orgy of paranoia which manifests itself in a splatter-ground of disastrous long-term consequences: the No Vote, Brexit and climate denialism.

The “problem” that Neil proposes is to create an alternative to a news culture in Britain from which he himself trousered a salary of more than £550,000 – more (he admitted) than the Prime Minister. In fact documents filed at Companies House show that shareholders’ funds at Neil’s company, Glenburn Enterprises, stood at £7.27 million ($9.45 million) from 2016.

As Owen Jones has written:

“Imagine this. The BBC appoints a prominent radical leftist, a lifelong Bennite, the chairman of the publisher of a prominent leftwing publication no less, as its flagship political presenter and interviewer. This person has made speeches in homage of Karl Marx calling for the establishment of full-blooded socialism in Britain, including a massive increase in public ownership, hiking taxes on the rich to fund a huge public investment programme, and reversing anti-union laws. They appear on our “impartial” Auntie Beeb wearing a tie emblazoned with the logo of a hardline leftist thinktank. Their BBC editor is a former Labour staffer who moves to become Jeremy Corbyn’s communications chief. They use their Twitter feed – where they have amassed hundreds of thousands of followers thanks to a platform handed to them by the BBC – to promote radical leftist causes. This would never happen. It is unthinkable.”

That’s the media he is railing against. That’s the problem he is fixing.

This is Gaslighting on a massive scale. This is a direct attack on democratic standards.

We’ve seen in the US the result of a media landscape that feeds disinformation and propaganda into the public consciousness, drip-feeding the message of the far-right and re-shaping the narrative into more and more extreme and previously unconscionable views. It’s not that it couldn’t happen here, it already has.

The grotesque media landscape is a mirror of corporate interests and a generational warzone. It magnifies what Mark Fisher called “the solitary urinal of male subjectivity” and will leave us more and more vulnerable to the predatory instincts of Britannia Unchained.

 

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  1. Tom Ultuous says:

    A great summary Mike. I notice Murdoch is upping his game on MSN news. I used to look that up as there were a fair sprinkling of articles from the likes of the Guardian and the Independent as well as the odd looney headline from the Express, Mail, Telegraph etc. In the last few weeks it’s swamped with Express articles. Must be around 50% of the listings. I don’t know if they pay to have these articles listed or what but if you were to glance over the headlines you’d be amazed at how well Brexit is apparently going and the competency and courage of “Boris”..

    Meanwhile Adam Curtis has a new 6 part series on BBC (all episodes on i-player) called “Can’t get you out of my head”. I haven’t seen it yet but, if he’s true to form, I’m sure he’ll call it the way it is. It’s depressing to think that the number of Express readers who’ll get to see it will be such that you could engrave their names and addresses on an ant’s balls.

    1. Foghorn Leghorn says:

      Yes, Adam Curtis doesn’t write for that audience.

  2. Squigglypen says:

    One small question for D. Ross of the Scottish Toleys..if you stand up for the majority of Scots( he said it) how come they don’t vote for you to run the country..huh?
    Where do the Toleys find excrement like Ross ..Gove..Davison… etc…bottom of the barrel?..or scum rises to the surface….

  3. Iain macphail says:

    Great piece – a sentiment you see more & more on Scottish political Twitter (and wider rUK Twitter) is “I wish CNN would open a station here too, we need you”.

    Maybe that’s what will be the free market’s response to such a pungent free marketer as Andrew Neil opening his new outlet of poison & thought pollution?

    1. Foghorn Leghorn says:

      There’s clearly a demand, then.

  4. J Galt says:

    If the British Establishment wish to create martyrs of Scottish Government Ministers then more fool them.

    However the solution lies with the SNP, declare that this election is a plebiscite election.

    From the 1960s until the idea of a referendum surfaced it was SNP policy that every General Election was a plebiscite election giving a subsequent majority of SNP MPs the right to negotiate an Independence settlement, a democratic right even recognised by Thatcher.

  5. MacNaughton says:

    Good piece Mike, and a truly awful prospect that a serial bore like Andrew Neil will be fronting yet another right wing media outlet… the very epitome of what J.M Barrie meant when he wrote (with irony) “there’s no finer sight than a Scotsman in London on the make…”

    There you have Neil, sucking up to power, dignifying the reactionary views of all kinds of cranks, and passing himself off as a serious journalist when what he really is can be summed up in one word: an arse-licker…

    Getting back to the Queen meddling in the democratic will of the British people, I see on internet that an average of 33 laws are passed by Parliament each year, over the last ten years, down from some 66 laws in decades past. Let’s say for the sake of argument, an average of 50 laws have been passed per year since Elizabeth sat on the throne.

    If the Queen has intervened in over 1000 laws (as per The Guardian), while being on the throne for close to 70 years, then that would mean that she has meddled in approximately one in three laws made in this country over her reign (50 laws per year average over 70 years = 3.500 laws with 1000 interventions)

    Question: is Britain even a democracy?

    1. Thanks MacNaughton – by coincidence I’ve been doing some work on Lizzy & Co.

      1. MacNaughton says:

        Might it be something that doesn’t feature in THE CROWN or Stephen Frears’ THE QUEEN perchance? Something which doesn’t focus on sparing the life of some gallant deer at Balmoral maybe? Or her majesty’s world famous and quite remarkable down to earthness despite being the richest woman on the entire planet?

        It is quite funny to think that the little old lady who potters about all day with her corgies actually has the eye of a hawk and the ruthlessness of a Hollywood agent when it comes to legislation coming from parliament….

    2. Foghorn Leghorn says:

      The UK’s a constitutional monarchy, not a democracy. Sovereign power lies with the Crown and its ministers, not with the people. Our parliaments and other courts exist only to limit that power, not to realise and enact the general will.

      In British politics, the trick is to capture the sovereign power of the Crown and then use it to realise and enact your own particular will or that of your interest community, whether that’s economic austerity, welfare dependency, or – in the case of Scotland – ‘independence’ (whatever that might mean). It’s in no political party’s interest to dissipate that power in a democratisation of the state.

  6. MacNaughton says:

    By the way, it is worth pointing out a few more of Andrew Neil’s main title credits:

    1) Supported disastrous war in Iraq and the theory Sadam was in league with Bin Laden and was “on a worldwide shopping spree to acquire the technology to make nuclear weapons”, comparing Blair to Churchill for insane and illegal war.

    2) Supported totally disastrous war in Afghanistan (see James Mark’s piece “Worse Than A Defeat” for full lowdown on that fiasco)

    3) Denied link between HIV and AIDS and even went so far as to sponsor a campaign to prove that no such link existed…

    4) Serial climate change denier.

    It’s going to be unbearable…..

    1. John Learmonth says:

      Nobody is forced to watch him though.
      Plenty of alternative views available…….and there is always the OFF switch.

      1. MacNaughton says:

        You don’t think that a guy who denies the link between HIV and AIDS & the existence of climate change being given a whole TV channel to run is a bit worrying?

        If there was a genuinely free market in news, in which reliable information were the commodity being traded, Andrew Neil would be picking up a dole cheque every week, he’d be out on his ear given his atricous record… wrong on Iraq, wrong on AIDS, wrong on Afghanistan…

        To do justice to James Meek (and not my spellchecker’s James Mark) here is his fantastic piece from years ago now about the absolute fiasco of Afghanistan, the full title of which is Worse Than A Defeat: Shamed in Afghanistan

        https://www.lrb.co.uk/the-paper/v36/n24/james-meek/worse-than-a-defeat

        1. John Learmonth says:

          As i say you don’t have to watch him
          ….I don’t.

          1. MacNaughton says:

            Yeah, and the Germans didn’t have to watch Goebbels’ propaganda back in 1930’s Germany, but we know that there is an unsuspecting public who do watch these things and go on to believe, for example, there is no link between HIV and AIDS, despite science establishing with as near to total certainty as possible that this is in fact the case….

          2. John Learmonth says:

            Actually the germans DID have to watch Goebbels films…….there was nothing else avaidable.

          3. Foghorn Leghorn says:

            No, they didn’t have to; many Germans chose not to.

            At the same time, however, we need to be constantly vigilant against those who, like Goebbels, would deny media access to voices they don’t like.

        2. Foghorn Leghorn says:

          It doesn’t worry me. There are many entertainers whom I don’t like who have their own media channels. The bottom line is that there are audiences for them, and those audiences’ tastes are no more or less authoritative in a free society than yours or mine. Censoring such entertainers would worry me more.

          1. John Learmonth says:

            Its a bugger freedom of choice. As so many people suffer from ‘false consciousness’ and as such are unable to make the ‘right’ choice.
            We need a state controlled media where the plebs are ‘guided’ away from ‘false narratives’.and only listen to ‘reliable news’……..what could possibly go wrong?

          2. MacNaughton says:

            Censorship?
            What are you two idiots talking about?
            Andrew Neil has been broadcasting his erroneous opinions for forty years on UK news channels…
            What, he doesn’t get a whole news channel to himself and you understand that as censorship?

            Censorship isn’t even the fact that the Left does not have a news channel anywhere in the English speaking world – even that isn’t censorship. The Left has no channel, but nobody could say it’s down to censorship.

            By your understanding of censorship, all of us who would like to run a news channel and don’t get to do are being censored….

          3. It’s the wonderful myth of cancel culture, an entirely manufactured grievance culture (wait a minute that’s that the entire article is about!).

            I can only conclude that Foghorn Leghorn and John Learmonth’s demographic trumps their reason. Odd.

          4. Foghorn Leghorn says:

            Yep, I’ve said it before: the current penchant on the Left for censorship can be seen as the last stand in a milieu of democracy of a pre-democratic dirigisme that’s unwilling to let people go their own way into a social diversification that affiliates each not to a privileged elect of ‘the Just’ and ‘the True’, but only to such kindred spirits as circumstances may offer; as elitism, in other words.

            Andrew Neil and his ilk are clearly in error and shouldn’t be allowed any platform for his heterodoxy; their audiences (poor lambs!) need to be protected or rescued from being led astray by their corruptive influence.

          5. You don’t think there’s any power relation at all in wealthy people dominating the media? It’s just a ‘marketplace of ideas’?

          6. Foghorn Leghorn says:

            Do ‘wealthy people’ dominate the media? Everyman and his dog can have a media channel nowadays, and find its audience.

            The days when press barons controlled the means of mass communication are long gone; hence, the ‘anarchy’ of the post-truth age, in which the Establishment (or any would-be Establishment) has lost its editorial authority over what is and isn’t to be believed.

            The shift from print and terrestrial broadcasting to digital has been a game-changer as far as democratising the media is concerned. Almost all of us now have access to the means of curating each our own consumption of news and analysis from the plethora of available sources; we don’t need anyone on the Left or Right of politics to curate it for us, or any MacNaughtons to tell us which of those sources are ‘worthy’ and which are not.

          7. Foghorn Leghorn says:

            On censorship, MacN, I’d refer you to Jenny Lindsay’s remarks on the subject in her article Women’s Rights and Women’s Writing in a Digital Age.

        3. John Learmonth says:

          I care not one jot for Andrew McNeill so i don’t watch/read his opions. You are free to do likewise……..

          1. MacNaughton says:

            What censorship is there on the Left? Am I missing something? What does the Left have to censor? It doesn’t have anything!

            Let’s recap: Andrew Neil denied the link between HIV and AIDS, employed the Holocaust denier David Irving while at The Times, and is a Climate Change Denier.

            Are there not much worthy and interesting and enlightened people in the UK media who might offer a better, more diverse and more useful news service for the `people of Britain than that old time bore and serial arse-licker Andrew Neil, whose face is always red because he has to scrub it so hard every night with soap and water after a long day’s brown-nosing….

        4. John Learmonth says:

          Don’t watch him then….I don’t

          1. MacNaughton says:

            It’s not about me or you John and what we might watch, it’s about the extreme right-wing news environment in Britain…

            It’s one thing to have right-wing political opinions. It’s another thing to deny the causal relation between HIV and AIDS, or between carbon emissions and global warming… or to actively encourage the work of a Holocaust denier like David Irving and pay him a salary so he can further his crackpot work…

            Andrew Neil is the lowest scum in the bottom of the rotting and stinking British media pond that exists…

        5. John Learmonth says:

          MacNuaghton,
          It nobody watched/listened to McNeill then he wouldn’t have an audience as capitalism is brutal to those who don’t generate profit.
          As such you have to accept the fact that lots of people agree with him otherwise he wouldn’t have a platform…..should they be ‘re-educated’?
          As much as i can’t stand the bloke quite obviously my feelings are not shared and living in a relatively free society you have to accept the fact that people are free to disagree as the alternative is a lot lot worse.

          1. MacNaughton says:

            His name is Andrew NEIL, not McNeil…

            And no, John, that is not how it works, we don’t live in a media society where rational consumer choice selects the best available news outlets from an even playing field. That’s not how global capitalism works.

            Neil’s channel will come with a lot of money behind it, a lot of glitz and razzmatazz, huge amounts of publicity and advertising expense, and he will be backed by the corporate world and the corrupt Westminster system and the entire English establishment who will all come on to his show despite the fact that Andrew Neil has employed and actively encouraged a man who denies that Hitler killed 6 million Jews and denies global warming today, just like Donald Trump.

            And this is the total hypocrisy of so called liberal England, who tear their hair out about Trump and Fox News and who almost all defer to Boris Johnston who is every bit as dangerous as Trump, but because he has a posh accent is perceived to be just a little bit mischievous…

            English society has gone so far to the right that I think we really need to start actively resisting…

        6. John Learmonth says:

          ‘Rational consumer choice’
          What is that?
          Have ‘consumers’ ever been ‘rational’.
          There is large red button on the top of your remote with the word ‘OFF’ written above it, if you don’t like what your watching try pressing it, I do on a regular basis espeically when Andrew Neill is on…….and for some strange reason the forces of ‘international capitalism’ seem unable to prevent me from doing so.
          Goodnight

          1. SleepingDog says:

            @John Learmonth, so why don’t you offer your impressively solipsistic advice to Andrew Neil and rest of these anti-woke crusaders? They don’t need to start their own television channels or newspapers, they just need to press the off switch or not buy papers with opinions that offend them?

          2. MacNaughton says:

            John, why don’t you throw your hat into the ring for the Ofcom job? You’d be the darling of the English alt-right and you might just get the job.

            “If you don’t like it, change channel”. That’s what I call regulation..!!!.

            Why do you think we have regulation, John?
            Do you think anybody can set up a news channel like opening a newsagent or something like that?
            It’s regulated, obviously, because mass media can have a very powerful effect on people.

            When Orson Welles broadcast “War of the Worlds” over the radio, millions of Americans believed aliens had arrived on Earth.

            The Nazi propaganda machine was so frighteningly effectively, it actually convinced tens of millions of law abiding Germans the Jews were the source of all their ills and were responsible for the decline of Germany, leading them to participate actively in the Shoa.

            We’re going to end up with a mob storming Westminster like the bunch of conspiracy theory lunatics in Trump’s America.

            Andrew Neil is exactly in that line of paranoid extreme right-wing propaganda…

          3. Foghorn Leghorn says:

            No, SD; the advice should be, for those who disapprove of what Andrew Neil et al say, that they subscribe instead to entertainers they do like, or start their own alternative media channels through which they can broadcast content of which they do approve, rather than advocate the shutting down of Andrew Neil et al.

            It beggars belief that, in this day and age, we should still be arguing over who should or shouldn’t be allowed – or who is or isn’t ‘worthy’ – to broadcast his or her narrative.

        7. John Learmonth says:

          I’m of a ‘demographic’ where mass media has absolutely no affect on me, I rarely read the papers, never go on social media and occassionally read various internet opinion blogs of all political persuasions such as BC.
          If it was upto me we’d all be reading the Wizard comic and taking lessons from Alf Tupper (the tough of the track).
          He’d sort you all out and finish the day off with double fish and chips! SORTED

          1. Foghorn Leghorn says:

            The Wizard! (Isn’t this the 50th anniversary of its relaunch? Tomorrow, in fact!)

          2. Foghorn Leghorn says:

            Today, in fact! It was a Valentine’s Day, I remember.

    2. Indeed – my survey of his misdemeanors was cursory and incomplete

      1. John Learmonth says:

        Unfortunatley turning the OFF bottom on BBC sport will not change the result of Arsenal vs Leeds.
        How I miss the ‘Scottish mafia’ (Bremner, Gray brothers, Lorimer, McQueen, Jordan , Harvey et al).
        Life will never be perfect!

  7. Martin Meteyard says:

    It appears that while Dacre may be the government’s preferred candidate for the Ofcom job, the appointment may still have some way to run (though it is clearly being skewed): https://www.theguardian.com/media/2021/feb/14/murdoch-journalist-given-key-voice-over-new-chair-of-ofcom

    1. Thanks Martin, I’d missed that

  8. SleepingDog says:

    I wonder if it would be legal, practical and beneficial to run a sunlit alternate open-online-democratic version of Ofcom by which its performance could be directly compared? Big Society Watching the Watchers? White box running the black box algorithms? I read one opinion that a regulatory body seat would be a trap for someone like Paul Dacre. I’m not sure about that, but I guess if your bias sticks out too much it might become caught in the machinery.

  9. Richard Easson says:

    I won’t be taking the Neil.

    1. Foghorn Leghorn says:

      I’ve never actually seen him perform. Is he really that execrable? Maybe his role is that of the villain everyone loves to hate and tunes in just to hate him, thus boosting the show’s ratings. There is a sense of pantomime about the whole issue. Maybe he’s the sort of media personality who, like Marmite, thrives on being controversial.

      Anyhoo, this is all just speculation; I really should watch some of his work. I presume there will be examples on YouTube.

      Incidentally, the whole phenomenon of anti-fandom is explored in Anti-Fandom: Dislike and Hate in the Digital Age, edited by Melissa Click (NYU Press, 2019). Everyone who performs on online forums like this, where fans and fandoms debate and discipline, should read it.

      1. Richard Easson says:

        Are you saying you have never heard of him, or only never seen him. When I see him , while I imagine I am an alien from outer space trying to make sense of the behaviour of these humans , I would probably stick him in the large historical file for future reference that include people like Lord HawHaw and other mouthpieces.

        1. Foghorn Leghorn says:

          Of course, I’ve heard of him; not having a telly, I just haven’t seen any of his shows.

          Later this afternoon, I’m going to check out a couple of sketches I’ve found on YouTube, in which he appears with Jacob Rees-Mogg and Nigel Farage, to get a flavour of his alleged heterodoxy. I’ll let you know how I find him.

          1. Foghorn Leghorn says:

            Well, that’s half-an-hour of my life I’ll not get back again…

            He’s fairly entertaining. I like his sneering irreverence. Reminds me a bit of Will Self, and I imagine his presentation manner could become just as tedious after a while.

            That’s my impression anyway.

  10. Tom Ultuous says:

    When was the last time the “UK” government wasn’t Murdoch’s choice? What’s the difference between a state controlled media and a media controlled state? Freedom of choice my @rse.

    1. Foghorn Leghorn says:

      Sorry, Tom, but every UK government has been freely chosen (albeit in a roundabout way) by the UK electorate in a secret ballot.

      Now, you might think that the voters were somehow brainwashed/duped/bribed by Murdoch et al into voting the way they did in successive general elections, but that’s another matter, which would depend on your taking a rather elitist view of the hoi polloi, which doesn’t chime with my experience of my neighbours, none of whom sailed up the Clyde on a banana boat recently.

      1. Tom Ultuous says:

        Parties are limited to a certain spend going into elections. It gives the illusion of fair and democratic elections. The tories don’t need to overspend, Murdoch and, for the most part, the rest of the media do it for them. Murdoch & co. will choose the next “UK” government as well Foghorn regardless of whether your neighbours are or aren’t members of Mensa.

        1. Foghorn Leghorn says:

          I don’t share your faith in the efficacy of advertising, Tom. Lord Sugar has likened it to ‘pissing money up a wall’.

          Rupert would be (and probably is) better off greasing the palms of politicians and bureaucrats than trying to buy votes from the various electorates around the world. At the end of the day, he’s not interested in how people vote but only in selling them any old content, how that trade is regulated, and whether or not it can be regulated to his commercial advantage.

          1. Tom Ultuous says:

            >> I don’t share your faith in the efficacy of advertising, Tom. Lord Sugar has likened it to ‘pissing money up a wall’.

            It might not matter to Lord Sugar but it matters to Digby Brown. Are you telling me google are skint? There are people out there who think shape shifting paedophile lizards are controlling them through 5G as a result of ‘advertising’.

            >> Rupert would be (and probably is) better off greasing the palms of politicians and bureaucrats than trying to buy votes from the various electorates around the
            world. At the end of the day, he’s not interested in how people vote but only in selling them any old content, how that trade is regulated, and whether or not it can be regulated to his commercial advantage.

            He’s got to get the right politicians elected in the first place. I don’t doubt they’re always very grateful to him as well.

          2. Foghorn Leghorn says:

            Nope, Google has been commercially successful, and a lot of that success is down to persuading other people to piss their money up a wall.

            And, yes, some people are gullible enough to be sold some outlandish views, That’s hardly evidence that the electorate generally is regularly gulled into voting for the ‘wrong’ people – or, indeed, that (if we could only control the media and get the messaging right) it might equally be gulled into voting for the ‘right’ people.

            Do you really have such a low and counterproductive opinion of your average voter? That the hoi polloi are nothing but sponges?

            Sometimes, politicians on all sides just have to accept that polls are lost not because sinister forces are conspiring against them (and we get the same complaints against ‘the media’ from all parties), but because a more-savvy-than-its-given-credit-for electorate simply isn’t buying what they’re selling.

            As I’ve said elsewhere, conspiracy theories tend to be outperformed by other explanations.

          3. Tom Ultuous says:

            I don’t share your faith in human beings Foghorn. A delusional species fit only for consumption. The idea that shape shifting aliens would want us for any other reason is ludicrous. WITF would they need 5G to manipulate us when they could just slip Kim Kardashian an iron lung?

            If Brexit goes extreme tits up I can see the tories getting in next time by getting a new cabinet and becoming the party of rejoin.

          4. Foghorn Leghorn says:

            For ‘a delusional species fit only for consumption’, we’ve been remarkably successful in terms of our evolution as a form of life. I never cease to wonder at our capacity for survival, at our thriving. “We habban-na dígh’t ane winter giet,” as my grannie ais’t ti say.

            (Apropos of nothing: isn’t it interesting that dying was something one actively did rather than passively suffered in my grannie’s understanding/world-creation? How life – and death – has changed in just a couple of generations! A sign of our victimisation, our culture of dependency, perhaps…? It’s amazing how quickly we’ve become alienated from our own agency; ‘fit only for consumption’, as you say. An aspect of our postmodern condition…?)

          5. Tom Ultuous says:

            >> For ‘a delusional species fit only for consumption’, we’ve been remarkably successful in terms of our evolution as a form of life. I never cease to wonder at our capacity for survival, at our thriving.

            I was talking from the viewpoint of a shapeshifting alien invading force but delusional we certainly are. If there are no fish in the pond even the shrimp can be great. How many other species have we killed, and continue to do so, on our journey to destroying ourselves yet we’d still be in caves were it not for the odd fluke intelligence. The belief that any intelligent alien race would even want to contact us says it all.

          6. Foghorn Leghorn says:

            Yep; as a species, we might yet become unviable – eventual casualties of our own success. That’s evolution; life goes on.

  11. Kevin Hattie says:

    Superb work, Mike. This sort of thing needs to be exposed.

  12. Wul says:

    What I can never understand is why people like Andrew Neil are always so very angry and outraged?

    He has more money than anyone would need in several lifetimes. He enjoys a position of immense power and influence and yet he acts like he’s a bullied wee schoolboy.
    How can he be arsed getting up in the morning, pulling on his plus-sized “businessman” costume and dragging his carcass into an office when he could just go fishing or have a nice walk in the sunshine instead?

    Is he just angry because he’s finally realised that money won’t make him immortal?

    I’ve met people like Mr Neil; all the privilege and comfort in the world, yet still full of bitterness and spleen at people much less wealthy and fortunate than themselves. It’s hard to fathom.

    1. Foghorn Leghorn says:

      ‘How can he be arsed getting up in the morning, pulling on his plus-sized “businessman” costume and dragging his carcass into an office when he could just go fishing or have a nice walk in the sunshine instead?’

      That’s why he has more money than anyone would need in several lifetimes while you and I don’t, Wul.

      1. Yeah, this is a meritocracy

        1. Foghorn Leghorn says:

          Yeah, but the problem with any meritocracy is deciding which behaviours are meritorious. In the case of our meritocracy, the battleline lies between those who think selfish behaviour is more deserving of reward than selfless behaviour and those who think the contrary.

          1. I was being a bit sarcastic

          2. Foghorn Leghorn says:

            Yes, I know. But we do live in a meritocracy, within which we disagree over what kinds of behaviour are to be considered meritorious. Come the day and come the hour, goods will be distributed according to need rather than just deserts.

  13. Robbie says:

    Probably angry cause he,s not got his knighthood yet. Or maybe he has a face only a mother could love

  14. bob hindle says:

    The leftie views have been seeping into MY beliefs and lifestyle for the past 70 years when everyone/everything , just about, have developed a benefit mentality , brought about by our leftwing biased universities and now feed me the one view and as demand graphically shows, a more balanced set of facts is very badly needed but I will decide if GB NEWS fits MY bill but not with dredging up the past. Most of you critics are grateful.

  15. bob hindle says:

    The leftie views have been seeping into MY beliefs and lifestyle for the past 70 years when everyone/everything , just about, have developed a benefit mentality , brought about by our leftwing biased universities and now feed me the one view and as demand graphically shows, a more balanced set of facts is very badly needed but I will decide if GB NEWS fits MY bill but not with dredging up the past. Most of the new channel’s critics are fearful. Either post this again or ‘ take a walk.

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