Andrew Neil’s GB News provides a welcome alternative to the mainstream liberal media. But despite its anti-establishment pro-Brexit pedigree and its admirable defence of free speech, its ‘war on woke’, GB News remains distinctly liberal – or at least global liberal – in its outlook. For Neil and his friends, the purpose of Brexit was to liberalise trade, open-up world markets, and make Britain – sorry Global Britain – a haven for foreign investment (that is, asset stripping) and imported skilled labour, the ‘brightest and best’ from around the world (so that we need not invest in our own people). The purpose of social policy, meanwhile, is solely to ‘level up’, that is, to pursue the utopian meritocratic dream that makes of life a perpetual rat race and of our ruling class a meritocratic elite.
As for the concerns of traditional Tories, social conservatives, and not a few traditional Labour supporters, which centre on identity, culture, local community, tradition, reciprocal obligations, and English patriotism, along with the accompanying need to curb mass immigration and promote assimilation into the host culture (something that used to be taken for granted, and still is in non-Western cultures), there is silence. These remain firmly beyond the pale. For Neil and his co-presenters, the cult of diversity, multi-culture and difference remains sacrosanct.
The contrast with France’s alternative news channel CNews could not be greater. Every evening, Eric Zemmour, France’s most celebrated Gaullist (far-right ideologue to those of the liberal Left), essayist, Figaro columnist, author of the best-selling Le Suicide français, and much touted prospective presidential challenger to Macron, holds court on the debate show Face à L’Info expounding his views at length and fielding questions from the other panellists. Zemmour’s record of prosecutions sustained for inciting hatred, racism, Islamophobia etc. (for example, for pointing out that most drug dealers are Black and Arab) is impressive – the courtroom is almost his second home. That the show’s presenter, Christine Kelly, is black is also a nice touch.
To give a flavour of it, this evening’s discussion turned to Macron’s disapproval of teenage girls wearing skimpy clothing to school. Zemmour said he sided with the president, but that since certain dress codes accompanied any civilization, and marked one’s membership of it, Muslims ought to conform to French norms. Islamic dress in France simply relayed the message ‘I do not wish to be part of your civilization’. It was not a token of freedom of expression, as naïve Islamo-Leftists (Islamo-gauchistes) like Jean-Luc Mélenchon argued, but a totalitarian imposition, an expression of blind submission to Islam.
What impresses about the French show is that Zemmour can expound his views at length and that he is listened to respectfully, not because he is surrounded by admirers, but because he is expounding a coherent intellectual position (Gaullist or old Tory as opposed to liberal) amply justified with references to political philosophy, literature, history, and culture. In this country, he would hardly be able to complete a sentence before the thought police screamed ‘racist!’ and banned him – as Nigel Farage and David Starkey were banned, censored, cancelled, for daring to criticise the BLM movement.
Yesterday evening, Zemmour argued that since statistics showed that nearly all attacks on women on French public transport were committed by immigrants, his calling for an end to immigration marked him out as the true Feminist. Who would dare express such sentiments, or be allowed to express them, on GB News? It would be an offence against multiculturalism and diversity of the first order.
Naturally, the mainstream French media condemn CNews for being ultra-conservative, discriminatory, Islamophobic and racist – the French equivalent of Fox News. But the channel’s enormous popularity and appeal to viewers of all political persuasions seems to bear out the view of Serge Nedjar, its director general, that CNews has no political affiliation, rather it merely tackles the topics – law and order, immigration, identity, and of course Islam – that most French people want to see aired.
Alas, there is no equivalent of Zemmour in Britain. Farage is a good populist, a charmer with ‘the gift of the gab’, but he does not measure up intellectually. Starkey has the intellectual ballast but is prickly and lacks the common touch. In any case, soundbites and slogans have long displaced ideas in our political debate. But what if a new discussion show were launched with Farage and Starkey as co-presenters, focusing on the topics of law and order, immigration, identity, and Islam? With GB News ratings reportedly plummeting, this might just be the nuclear option that is needed. Ratings would soar. How long the show would last before the Ofcom censors stepped in is another matter. But if GB News truly stands for free speech, and not just another brand of liberalism, then the stand must be made.