“These days you get arrested and thrown in jail if you say you’re Tory...” Why The Telegraph and GB News share the same false victimhood

The grift will fall apart if they admit their side is on top, so they have to act like babies at every possible opportunity.

It’s impressive really that The Sunday Telegraph — a vast stack of angry opinions, distorted news, government press releases, and hagiographies about rich people — is edited by a baby. Most babies are focused on the tricky tasks of mastering standing and grasping the concept of object permanence.

Yet somehow Allister Heath manages to combine editing the Sunday Telegraph with being the biggest baby since Tommy Pickles orchestrated all that chaos in the documentary Rugrats In Paris.

Here’s the final puzzle piece that made me realise that Heath is, in fact, an infant in a suit, much like the monstrous Boss Baby:

Heath joins his Telegraph colleague, Simon Heffer — imagine Chuckie from Rugrats if he had gone to bed every night hugging a Thatcher plushie toy and listening to the works of Friedrich Hayek on audiobook — in whining that he and his friends are an oppressed minority despite having the government, most of the media, and many of the country’s cultural institutions under their control.

Heath writes, his keyboard rapidly filling with bitter tears, that:

… many ordinary Right-leaning voters feel under siege: if their side is in office, they ask themselves, how come so many of the country’s institutions appear intent on waging war on conservatism?

Such voters worry that their children will attend universities dominated by hard-Left authoritarians, don’t understand what the National Trust is playing at, are quietly angry at the statue-fellers and fear that even mainstream, conservative views can no longer be freely expressed.

Britain is in the midst of a US-style culture war, and it’s going to get nastier before it gets better, not least because we have a government that refuses to be cowed by the forces of anti-conservatism.

This is one of the right-wing press’ favourite games: They work tirelessly to create a situation, in this case, a confected culture war which they have imported from the US, then act as though it is simply a naturally occurring phenomenon that they are simply commenting upon.

It’s the same playbook they used against the EU in the years before Brexit and are gleefully using against the BBC right now.

Fear is also the most potent emotion for right-wing newspapers; they need their readers to remain in an agitated state, believing that only their publication of choice is willing to tell them ‘the truth’ about how bad things really are.

The Telegraph is ever-ready to tell its readers that the ‘truth’ is that Britain is going to the dogs, not because of the policies of the Conservative Party which ruled Britain for most of the last century and has been solidly in control for 11 years of this one. If it also has to make its readers fearful that their children are leftist infiltrators in their own homes, well, so be it.

There is a Tory government, Tories have been put in at the top of the BBC, there are plans to install a ‘free speech’ commissar to keep a watchful eye on the universities, and the suggestions that former Daily Mail editor Paul Dacre will soon control Ofcom. Despite all that Heath frames conservatives as a Maquis-like resistance force, whispering to each other about how much they liked Maggie Thatcher’s well-turned ankles:

I’ve lost count of how many conversations I’ve had over the past few years with a novel breed of covert conservative. There are the bankers – including one senior City economist – who were too scared to admit they’d voted to leave the EU…

…the tech worker who felt she couldn’t tell anybody she is a Thatcherite, the TV production contractor who pretends to vote Labour, the partner in a PR firm who keeps his Tory opinions to himself and, of course, the libertarian academics who specialise in bland research but secretly despise the stultifying Left-wing orthodoxy on their campuses. The fact that all feel the need to hide views that are shared by 43-52 per cent of voters is shameful and bodes ill for our democratic culture.

This sub-species of undercover Tory didn’t really exist two decades ago, even at the height of the Blair frenzy; in some industries in London, it is starting to be as socially unacceptable to be seen as a full-fat conservative as it was to be a Thatcher-supporting coal miner circa 1981. But this is only partly about Brexit: the real issue is the woke takeover of so much of society.

Side-point: The existence of a full-fat conservative (Eric Pickles?) suggests that there are semi-skimmed ones out there.

Heath has to put forward this argument that Tories are an oppressed class because if he simply admitted that the Left is, at best, marginalised and that despite the constant newspaper reporting on ‘woke’ authoritarianism, it’s the right who have all the actual power in the country, his newspaper’s fevered warnings would look even more ridiculous.

The Telegraph and the modern Right, in general, are powered by grievance, the nagging sense that someone, somewhere is getting something they shouldn’t be, and the belief that they earned everything they have and fought in wars that ended long before they were born. That’s why Heath writes breathlessly:

The Government’s fightback against identity politics is the most exciting political breakthrough since Brexit; it ought to inspire centre-Right parties the world over. But will it be enough? Will we eventually see the return of the conservative public intellectual? Will broadcasters start producing more non-woke entertainment? My own litmus test is this: the authoritarian mob will only have truly been defeated when it is no longer toxic to publicly admit you are a conservative.

He’s right, it is like Brexit: A purely ideological project whose benefits will be confined to a very small coterie of right-wing grifters and whose central beliefs have less to do with some notion of Great Britain and more with a desperate, bitter desire to defeat their enemies.

Heath doesn’t care about free speech and neither do the unholy host of columnists on his and other papers who have penned pieces almost identical to his. Look at his demands — the return of the conservative public intellectual, more ‘non-woke entertainment’ (a nightly comedy show featuring the reanimated corpse of Bernard Manning?), and the right to say whatever he likes without criticism of push back — and all you find are the fertile shoots of fascism.

GB News, the Andrew Neil-fronted, Brexit-loving hedge fund backed news channel is due to launch next month and has just announced that, in its commitment to being unbiased, it has just hired Guido teaboy and Question Time scenery chewer Tom Harwood as its political correspondent. It is inspired by the same false premise as The Telegraph’s constant culture war complaints — that the news is somehow terribly left-wing and that a ‘counterbalance’ is required.

In a letter shoved to the Press Gazette after The Guardian declined to print it, GB News CEO Angelos Frangopoulos (still the most enjoyable name to say out loud in all of British media) wrote:

GB News will be staunchly independent. That is our point. Our investors know this, our journalists will know it, and so will our viewers. We aim to serve British communities who feel poorly represented by mainstream television media, especially outside London. We are proud to be adding plurality to UK media by investing in journalism that will be as diverse and broad-minded as the British people themselves. We are absolutely committed to our mission to report news in the most accurate and balanced way we can.

It’s odd then that The Telegraph reported:

Journalists who have been approached to work for GB News say that despite the UK’s strict broadcasting impartiality rules the channel has been pitched to them as a Right-wing alternative to the BBC. One would-be recruiter corrected their approach to instead describe GB News as an impartial challenger to the “biased BBC.

People I know who work in TV and have been approached by GB News also told me that it was framed to them as a right-wing “answer to the mainstream”.

Still, we don’t need to speculate on the philosophy when we can look at who the channel has hired so far…

Dan Wootton, late of The Sun and talkRADIO (read more about him in this edition of the newsletter)

Tom Harwood of Guido Fawkes, who also contributes to The Spectator and Telegraph.

Andrew Neil, former Sunday Times editor, long-serving BBC political editor, chairman of The Spectator (more on him in these previous newsletter editions)

Colin Brazier, Sky News presenter who is leaving the channel after 23 years, known to his colleagues as a professional but also a fairly hardline conservative Catholic.

Darren McCaffrey, EuroNews presenter, hired perhaps to give the channel its ‘balance’ in what you might call the James O’Brien role.

Rebecca Hutson, former head of video at Reach, who’ll be the new channel’s head of digital and part of the on-air team. She’s been out and about doing promo for GB News already:

There you go: The bulk of the hires announced so far come from the provocative right. One surprise is that a channel purporting to want to represent communities “outside London” has exclusively announced a team who all ply their trade in London for established mainstream outlets. And no, Tom Harwood being a Durham graduate doesn’t make him northern.

It’s sad news for Hovis delivery boy cosplayer and internet ranter Darren Grimes who has announced he’s leaving London to return north… unless he’s due to be announced as GB News’ Flat Caps and Whippets correspondent1.

I’m sure it’s maddening for GB News journalists, bosses, and backers to have their channel labelled and dissected before it has even broadcast a second of footage, it’s not as if the clues aren’t there. Frangopoulos’ letter features more dog whistles than a busy day at Battersea and the channel’s current slate of hires is whiter than speed-dating night at the Ku Klux Klan social club.

Publications including The Times, The Sun, The Telegraph, The Spectator and The Daily Mail have created the culture war climate; GB News is being launched in an attempt to capitalise upon it. Its backers and boosters know that it will not be some balanced and boring offering but instead dole out red meat for the Right. And it’ll do that while whining that the Left is being mean to it on Twitter. An extremely chilly welcome to the new babies of British broadcasting…

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Yes, I know those are horrible cliches about the North, I’m just not sure Darren or GB News do.