Losing the War on Woke

After the spectacular own-goal of Patel and Johnson losing the battle against Gareth Southgate’s Government-in-Waiting it now looks, sadly, as if Andrew Neil’s botched GB News outfit is also faltering. It seems the much vaunted news channel has crated a fantastic self-own, newspapers reporting:

“GB News attracted zero viewers during some of its broadcasts this week, according to official television audience figures produced by rating agency Barb, after a viewer boycott prompted by one of its presenters taking the knee in solidarity with the England football team. The channel has now said the decision of Guto Harri to make the on-air gesture on Tuesday in solidarity against the racist abuse suffered by English players was “an unacceptable breach of our standards”.

Not only that but their presenter Guto Harris has been now been sacked for ‘taking the knee’. The troubled station issued a statement saying: “On Tuesday a contributing presenter took the knee live on air and this was an unacceptable breach of our standards.”

It seems they’ve cancelled themselves in a fit of botched gammon outrage. That this should come about from a viewers boycott is a moment of such sweet irony I feel we should all take a moment.

GB News launched in June with backing from pro-Brexit tycoons and a plan to produce “anti-woke” US-style news content. It quickly faced an advertiser backlash after big brands including Ikea, Nivea and Grolsch said they would pull their adverts from the network.

The boycott produced plumes of fury from Neil, the stations chair and lead presenter bellowing: “Woke nonsense has reached the boardroom and corporate capitalism is becoming the useful idiot of bigots bent on censorship.”

Mr Neil dismissed the Stop Funding Hate group as opponents of a free society. He also attacked the  companies that had given into their demands for acting as the “useful idiots of bigots bent on censorship”.

As the station descended into chaos and the viewers dwindled to zero, Andrew Neil disappeared from view.

Earlier in the summer Neil was much more upbeat. In June he declared that GB News 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”.

From Hero to Zero

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

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.

We got a glimpse of the tone of GB News in February 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:



Appointment TV

It’s gone from bad to worse for 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 still somehow managed to frame himself as Edgelord Outsider and champion of the little people. But in truth Neil’s career has been characterized by ‘failing upwards’. Who could forget his time at The Scotsman?

Journalists at The Scotsman and Scotland on Sunday passed a motion of no confidence in their publisher, Andrew Neil as he drove the paper into the ground in 2014. Protests among the staff led to 130 members of staff expressing their lack of confidence in their publisher as huge cuts came at a time that should have been a golden moment for news and media in Scotland.

GB News was funded and driven by a toxic mixture of Leave.EU, Guido Fawkes and Neil’s chums. They took aim at Mumford & Sons, the lockdown, Extinction Rebellion and the vaguely defined ‘woke culture’ all cheered on Britain’s bizarre concoction of hard-right libertarians including Claire Fox and Neil Oliver:




GB News emerged out of the strange and potent energy of anti-lockdown fervour, post-Trump populism and with trails of Brexit-energy (and cash) still floating about England looking for somewhere to go. But as James Robb has noted: “It’s taken Andrew Neil *one month* to completely destroy a professional reputation he spent decades carefully constructing. If he was a vaguely decent man, you could almost feel sorry for him.”

Stay woke.

Comments (33)

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  1. Tom Ultuous says:

    There will be a Covid outbreak at GB News (NAP).

  2. Cailleach Bheag says:

    I am totally baffled by people who find a relatively inoffensive gesture like kneeling enough to spit the dummy and rage that they won’t watch that channel any more. If they’re so easily triggered, they’re a danger to themselves and others if allowed to mix with people outside.

    1. Colin Robinson says:

      Ah, but for them, the gesture isn’t inoffensive. And in a free and open society, we all have the right to be offended, however baffling or offensive our being offended might be to others.

  3. Bill McDermott says:

    I just find it fascinating that the hard Brexiteers like Neil and Nigel Lawson spent a lot of their time in France. In fact Lawson lives in France – so too does Boris Johnson’s father.

    1. Colin Robinson says:

      I suppose it’s comparable to hard Scexiteers who spend a lot of their time – and, indeed, in some cases live – in England.

      1. Iain MacLean says:

        Brexit was the action of England (dragging Scotland involuntarily with it) leaving the EU and replacing it with, err absolutely nothing!

        Scexit (?), more accurately Scenter, is the action of Scotland dissolving a partnership with England and joining the EU!

        Note well, Scotland is not demanding England change or join it, it’s merely stating the union has run its course, time now for a new relationship, a relationship where Scotland is one of 28 and will have roughly the same relationship with England that Ireland currently enjoys!

        We part as friends and and from that point onwards we continue as equals!

        1. Colin Robinson says:

          Well, no… ‘Brexit’ was an act of the UK, whose electorate voted (narrowly) to leave the EU. England has no such agency; like Scotland, it’s not a sovereign nation and has never been a member of the EU.

          ‘Scexit’ would be a comparable action of Scotland, were its electorate ever to vote to leave the UK. Whether or not Scotland subsequently elected to apply to join the EU as a sovereign nation is neither here nor there.

          Anyway, I still see no moral difference as such between a Brexiteer who lives in France and a Scexiteer who lives in England.

          1. Jim Sansbury says:

            If brexit was a result of a “UK wide vote” why then were the devolved administrations completely ignored during the withdrawal and trade negotiations?
            Why also have they been ignored in the drafting of the “Internal market Bill”?
            Ye cannae have it both ways.

          2. Colin Robinson says:

            Are you denying that the referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU wasn’t a UK-wide vote?

          3. Jim Sansbury says:

            No, I am not denying it, how could I?
            What I am saying is if it was a UK wide vote, it should not have been just England that negotiated the terms of UK’s ill advised departure.

          4. Colin Robinson says:

            But it wasn’t England that negotiated the withdrawal agreement that, along with other measures, including the Internal Market Act, is defining the UK’s independence from the EU. It was the UK government. As I said, England has no such agency.

            I’m sure that, when the time comes, it will be the Scottish government, not Fife, that negotiates the withdrawal agreement and other measures that will define Scotland’s independence from the UK.

    2. Wee Stonehouse says:

      Andrew Neil lives in France.

      1. Colin Robinson says:

        Yep. And like a lot of foreigners, he’s been trapped in Provence for a wee while now by the travel restrictions. The stereotypical McScrooge thinks £60 is too much to pay for a PCR test.

        BTW he also lives in New York and London, although (obviously) not at the same time.

        1. James Mills says:

          ”not at the same time ” – So the great Andra is not omni-present ? That will be a blow to his ego !

  4. Jim Sansbury says:

    Neil Oliver.
    What the hell is he thinking about?
    He used to have a cool professorship cool, walking along and turning back to the camera to explain.
    One thought, “I wish my history teacher had been like that”!
    Then he morphed into a sort of superyoon, and suddenly he seemed a bit sinister.
    And now this.
    Is he on GB News to promote the Union??
    If so, he couldnt have chosen a more shaky platform to do so.
    Shave your head Neil, wrap yourself in a butchers apron.
    “Suits you sir!”

    1. “Is he on GB News to promote the Union??” Yes, but it’s bust so he can’t

      1. Iain MacLean says:

        Andrew Neil is to quality journalism what Dame Cressida Dick is to effective policing and Boris Johnson is to honest politics!

        As for Mr Oliver, I would imagine he is now nigh on unemployable by any self respecting main stream broadcaster!

        1. Justin says:

          Mainstream means corporation stream and doing the bidding of sinister and dishonest “mainstream” politicians. Covid if anything shows what a disaster globalism is.

  5. john learmonth says:

    In future working class Scots like Andrew Neil should just know their place and stay there.
    How dare these people have the cheek to form their own opinions instead of been told what to think by their betters such as the privately educated/Oxbridge elites who run the Guardian/BBC/C4.
    Know your place and stay there……..

    1. Yes John. The 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, is downtrodden : )

      1. john learmonth says:

        No he’s not and I never said he was. He’s a self made working class bloke who’s got where he has due to his own hard work. You might not like his views but its upto the public to decide and he succeeds/fails as a result.
        You might also like to reconsider referring to white working class people as ‘gammons’.
        Not nice, not nice at all, would you refer to POC/BAME people in the same elitist disparaging way?

        1. MBC says:

          Working class my ass.

        2. Brendan says:

          “Hard work”, yes he has worked hard to destroy each and every organisation hes “worked” in. The article is spot on…failing upwards – too often a problem in English business.

          He’s a dying breed, thankfully. Woke has won the culture wars….

        3. Colin Robinson says:

          Due to its origins as a reference to skin colour, it is a wee bit racist. You’d never get away with demonising others as ‘darkies’. You’re right to call it out, casual though it is.

        4. Tom Ultuous says:

          John, no one uses the word “gammon” in their posts on Bella more than you do. I know it’s hard but could you not try and cut it down to maybe 3 gammon posts a week?

          1. john learmonth says:

            Ok Tom,
            I’ll now longer mention the G word and follow your previous posts and refer to white working class people (at least those that live in England) as SCUM……how ‘progessive’

          2. Tom Ultuous says:

            I don’t suppose you could give me a link to this alleged post John.

        5. Hi John – he frequently engages in bizarre framing of himself as an ‘outsider’ combating ‘the elites’ despite having held corporate media influence and vast salary for decades; ‘Gammon’ is popular parlance for puce white men aggrieved and disoriented by the loss of their world, as such I’ll continue to use it freely.

          1. Colin Robinson says:

            “‘Gammon’ is popular parlance… as such I’ll continue to use it freely.”

            As Rufus T. Firefly said: “That’s why ‘darkies’ were born.”

        6. Helen says:

          Andrew Neil has had the full advantage of welfare state in 60s & 70s.

          High quality local authority housing, free university tuition (as well as a maintenance grant on top of that)

          He’s spent the rest of his life advocating to pull the ladder up behind him.

          Hardly a success entirely from his own efforts, so working class made good yes, but the foot on the ladder was provided to him by all of us.

          1. James Mills says:

            Considering the Scorched Earth in failed businesses that Andrew Neil left in his wake , did the funders /founders of GB News not do due diligence before employing a man with the reverse Midas touch ?

  6. SleepingDog says:

    I haven’t watched the channel, but now I’m wondering how its name is pronounced. Is it perchance ‘jib news’?

    1. Colin Robinson says:

      ‘Jeebie’, which is West Yorkshire English for ‘jobbie’.

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