From Andrew Neil’s ashes a genuine media revolution can rise in Britain | Ben Harris-Quinney
In Britain for too long conservatives have fallen for the same con. An establishment figure with a track record of being against everything conservatives stand for pops up claiming to be the savior of conservatism, wins the support of the movement, and then catastrophically betrays them. That cautionary tale is the saga of Andrew Neil and the modern Conservative Party alike. It’s past time to close the book on it.
As Britain and the world’s oldest conservative think tank the Bow Group has been strongly challenging the liberal establishment, woke, and Cultural Marxism since I became Chairman ten years ago. In launching GB News, advertised as the answer to rebalancing Britain’s universally liberal broadcast media, Andrew Neil announced his purpose in life was to take on woke and the liberal establishment. As Andrew Neil is 72 years old, I wondered where he had been all these years? Oddly, until last year when his BBC show was cancelled, he was a senior member of the woke liberal establishment, earning millions from his membership funded by the taxpayer.
He is now rowing back on his life’s ambition to defeat woke he held for all of three months and trashing the conservative movement he pretended to be part of, because his scam hasn’t worked and he wants a job back on the woke BBC.
Could we have seen this coming? Could we have told what he really thinks or whether he is a member of the establishment from his time editing the liberal establishment Sunday Times, could we have told from his time editing the liberal establishment Economist, or on the liberal establishment BBC, or as Chairman of the liberal establishment Spectator?
Yes, is the answer. Perhaps the saddest thing is that the “shocking” betrayals of the fake conservatives are always frustratingly easy to see coming.
So recent and obvious are Andrew Neil’s red flags a goldfish could cite the writing on the wall. His last major presenting job on the BBC was on US election night, where he launched an extraordinary 5 minute long rant against Trump, the only major world leader in the West to have stood up to woke metropolitan liberalism.
Prior to that he had used his BBC podium to launch another another biased evisceration of the pro-life position of most conservatives, which he described as being from the dark ages.
I’m very familiar with his seething hostility to conservatives and loyalty to the liberal establishment myself, because he was used in a plot (known as the Tatler Tory scandal) to silence me and the Bow Group stemming from my exposure of parts of the Westminster paedophile scandal, opposition to gay marriage, and support for Brexit and Nigel Farage (ironically now GB News’ number one performer).
He attacked us not because we were woke, but because we were challenging woke. He was in fact the tip of the spear that then Prime Minister David Cameron used to desperately try to silence the Brexit revolution that ultimately cost him his job. Cameron’s then outriders at CCHQ, including Carrie Symonds (now married to Boris Johnson) arranged a “drive by shooting” using Neil as the gunman.
Neil was delighted to work for the BBC for many years for his pieces of silver, and to attack conservatives in a more forthright way than any other BBC presenters got away with, he only developed his burning opposition to the liberal establishment when they cancelled his show.
I would say he is the biggest conservative fraud in Britain, but so long as the modern Conservative Party exists the field is too crowded to make that distinction.
The Conservative Party formula of the last few decades actually looks exactly like Neil’s plan for GB News. Lean as right as possible initially to try to generate headlines and win over conservative patriotic supporters, then move to a centrist formula, before going full liberal. By which time their position will have been declared far-right by the left, thus leaving no room for any genuine conservatives to be heard, swinging the Overton window ever further left, before the defence is finally presented that at least it’s better than anything else available.
It only took a year for Boris Johnson to go from Mr Get Brexit Done to Mr Build Back Gender Neutral.
The Spectator works in the same way, a bit of red meat from the likes of Rod Liddle here and there, but a house view that supports an indefinite continuation of the Blair years.
Outside of London, neoliberalism is deeply unpopular with the general public who increasingly fall into different sides of a culture war that is more about identity than it is economics. There is no market for a national TV channel, or even a national magazine, that promotes itself as conservative but merely advocates for a corporatist desire for more favourable taxation, regulation, and open borders immigration. It isn’t conservatism, and more importantly, it isn’t interesting.
Neil realised this, and so portrayed himself as a cultural conservative to the public when he launched GB News in the hope of first winning their trust, whilst keeeping a close cabal of neoliberals and establishment figures around him.
When one such ally of Neil Guto Hari took the knee for BLM on GB News, no doubt they were both hoping it would be the first gentle rebalancing of their position to begin the course of returning to establishment liberalism without too much backlash, with their pacified formerly rebellious Brexiteer viewers in tow.
Unfortunately for them, their viewers spoke up, or switched off, and GB News hit the shocking and unheard of viewing figure for a national broadcaster of 0.
As Cameron did with the referendum, Neil had underestimated the public’s ability to see through the scam, and awakened a monster he couldn’t control.
GB News management later released a statement and ushered Hari out the door. They realised too late as Cameron and May did, that the average member of the public retains common sense, hasn’t yet been injected with their full ration of dumb-down kool-aid, and still hold collective power to make the elite feel their anger.
Rather than a shift back to the liberal status quo Neil was used to, ironically, it proved the defining moment GB News CEO Angelos Frangopoulos firmly took the reins. Nigel Farage was brought in by Frangopoulos to save the day, and save it he has.
After Farage’s arrival dire viewing figures were reversed, and although problems remain, Farage’s show regularly beats all other news outlets in his time slot, and dominates on social media. Can he and others now entirely wrest control of GB News from the neoliberals, successfully turn it into a professional outfit, and take on the establishment media that has been as ruinous to Britain as the establishment political class?
It is not impossible, and unless it happens GB News will surely fail in the near future and be seized on by the establishment as a cautionary tale as to why conservatives must never try to break their spell, but Nigel and any genuine conservatives involved in the project still have a tough fight to do so. Arguably it’s as big a battle as Brexit.
Neil brought with him many of his fellow liberal establishment acolytes, and though many of his senior allies have already left, many remain.
Robbie Gibb was a co-founder of GB News, previously Neil’s producer at the BBC, and later Theresa May’s Director of Communications whilst she was trying to neuter and reverse Brexit. He is now on the board of the BBC but remains close to many of the people involved in GB News. He is the epitome of the establishment and any project he is anywhere near, even hovering in the background as Iago, will always serve establishment ends.
Emma Barr, formerly of the neoliberal think tank CPS and “best friend” of Carrie (Symonds) Johnson, was hired as the Senior Producer. Of the 150 people GB News employ, most will be unknown to the public, as will their politics. Generally however, people who work in the media with requisite experience to produce a TV channel have a strong liberal bias, a few dozen of them in the trenches can be a bigger problem than one in the boardroom. We still don’t have a full tally of everyone who has left GB News in the past month, but many of the staff remain close to Andrew Neil, including some headline presenters.
Neil was formally removed from his position as Chairman at GB News this week after a month-long charade of absenteeism (having only ever been there for two weeks after the channel went live), but with the counter caveat he would continue to appear on the channel weekly.
He appeared on Nigel Farage’s show the day of his removal, but immediately afterwards Neil’s Spectator ran a bizarre piece baselessly accusing Farage of anti-semitism and bemoaning Neil’s replacement with Farage.
To top it off this week Andrew Neil made a return to the BBC, with an appearance on Question Time that ensured if his reputation began the week in tatters, it is now an ash heap.
He attempted to re-burnish his liberal credentials by calling for exiled Syrian terrorist and ISIS member Shamima Begum to be allowed back into the UK and granted British citizenship.
He then declared that Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News deals in “untruths, conspiracy theories, and fake news”. He was asked if he left GB News because it was becoming like Fox?, he said smirking “I’ll let you draw your own conclusions as to why I’m here tonight”, adding that he didn’t like the direction GB News is heading in and that approach of the channel wasn’t for him.
He concluded by saying he now looked forward to a career appearing on the BBC more often.
It’s only been 3 months since Andrew Neil announced he was launching GB News to take on the woke BBC, where he worked for decades. Now he is glad to be back on the BBC, can’t abide GB News, and looks forward to future BBC appearances.
He now thinks Murdoch deals in untruths, conspiracy theories and fake news, but he worked for him for decades as well.
He claims GB News isn’t for him, but released a statement days before saying he would be appearing regularly and featuring in their programming. Yesterday he reverse ferreted again and announced he wouldn’t.
If Andrew Neil is disturbed by people dealing in untruths and fake news, he absolutely must avoid mirrors.
GB News are yet to release an official statement on Neil’s
double-speak self evisceration, perhaps because they can’t work out what any of it means, but if they ever let him or any of his allies anywhere channel the again they will permanently tar themselves with his end of career death spiral. As will any other media outlet that works with him. As Margaret Thatcher said “if you stand in the middle of the road you get hit by traffic from both sides”. Neil finishes up like all the other establishment centrists, as Blair, Cameron, and May before him, exposed and hated by the right and left equally.
When people hold in disdain and are working from the inside against what their own customer base (or voters) want, then catastrophe is guaranteed eventually, and however uncomfortable the process is the rot must be cut out quickly. Extraordinarily, even after Neil’s Question Time appearance, a few senior GB News figures were tweeting in support of him. Frangopoulos cannot now hesitate in removing any remaining allies of Neil who will inevitably follow his same course of betrayal eventually. They are ticking time bombs.
There are indeed many good people involved in GB News. Aside from Farage, up and coming star of the common sense right Patrick Christys is now a mainstay presenter, Colin Brazier offers a lot of polish, bain of Critical Race Theory Calvin Robinson is an increasingly regular presenter, and there is even talk of Bow Group Patron Ann Widdecombe joining.
GB News CEO Angelos Frangopoulos is it’s great hope, however. The Bow Group began working with Sky News Australia some years ago when Frangopoulos was CEO there. It is a relatively small operation in global media terms, but is as good as mainstream media gets for conservatives, and regularly punches above its weight, influencing the global conservative conversation in a way few others can. It’s exactly what GB News needs to be.
If Frangopoulos, Farage, and others can replicate the success of Sky News Australia in the UK, then GB News can genuinely bring balance to an absurdly biased broadcast media and change things in Britain in a meaningful way. Fortunately not in the way Andrew Neil and his establishment chums had plotted, but in the way that is actually required.
The Bow Group began working with GB News last month, I and a number of our patrons and research fellows have taken part in their shows, and we will continue to so long as it carries on in this direction.
Some of the broadcast quality remains poor, but in time this should be ironed out. It was never going to be able to compete with the budget of operations like the BBC, but GB News has certainly agitated the BBC and the wider establishment, and that’s enough to signal real change.
It has also fostered a more competitive environment which will lead to more opportunities for conservative voices to be heard. Murdoch announced this week he was launching a new channel, Talk Radio has become a major influencer of the news agenda, and already as a result new stars are rising to disrupt the liberal status quo that has held for so long.
In crisis there is always opportunity, and unusually the establishment’s grip has slipped from a national media outlet in Britain. There now exists a genuine opportunity for a media revolution to rise from the ash heap that was Andrew Neil, and make sure he was the last establishment liberal to con the conservative movement.