Do we really have time for Andrew Neil’s GB News?

(Photo: Dave Benett/Getty for The Spectator)

We already have Brexit, we have a Conservative Government, a right-wing printed press, we have Boris Johnson as our PM, do we really need the right-leaning GB News?

Do we really have enough time and energy to produce a news channel that is likely to platform climate change deniers, and racists at a time when really humans need to be as “woke” as they can to solve a number of crisis facing our planet today? The reader may be thinking, what a classic, ‘woke warrior thing to say’ but to me, and many in my generation of young millennials and Gen Zs, all ‘woke’ means is that you believe in equality and call out inequality when you see it. All the Tiktok teens and KPop fans haven’t got time for GB News.

So yes, we need resistance and indignation, and activism in opposition to a channel hosted by a man with a worrying history when it comes to so-called climate change scepticism.

We have a lot of energy to stop a mini-Fox news channel (and there are also plans for a UK version of Fox), which will probably be lapped up by the people who still watch the news, aka the over 60s. We’ve already learnt it will be available to 96% of households.

And while ‘woke’ is rarely equated to the climate emergency because there’s nothing to call out, as it’s just sheer fact…the planet is on fire and you don’t need to be a – as Andrew Neil would say – “woke warrior” to see that. I, like many, are concerned of Neil’s history of platforming climate change deniers.

On the topic of Andrew Neil’s history of denialism, lest we forget that while another pandemic was rife in the 1970s and 80s Mr Neil, then editor of The Sunday Times backed a campaign to prove that HIV was not a cause of AIDs, and infamously, though in classic Neil fashion said in 1996:

“Aids had become an industry, a job-creation scheme for the caring classes.”[1]

News flash! The ‘caring classes’ are ’the woke warriors’! Anyone who cares for this planet and the people that live on it, according to Neil, are the bad guys, whereas a rich TV mogul like Neil, is down with the working classes and the obvious choice to lead a “new” and fresh news channel…psych.

If we really wanted something fresh and new, why don’t we give London Hughes a news channel, she’s funny, light hearted and shock horror, not a 70+ year old white man.

And if you thought Neil was concerning, his co-anchors make him look like a saint. Lined up to take centre stage we have the infamous lockdown sceptic, the lovely Julia Hartley-Brewer, the woman who fuelled fire under anti-mask protesters, only to jet off to the Caribbean, leaving her fellow mask deniers behind.

Julia Hartley-Brewer’s lockdown scepticism is dangerous, especially when you live in a country where all of us know someone who has passed away from the disease, topping the charts for the highest mortality rate per capita in the world. Yet here’s Julia posting photoshopped picture of masks with ‘I want my face back I wear this mask against my will’. And now, just in this morning a tweet from the wonderful Anthea Turner vilifying overweight and disabled people. No doubt Anthea is in competition with Darren Grimes for a spot of gammon news.

And whilst we’re here it’s not #CancelCulture or censorship, it’s consequences for your actions. Just because you’re a household name, does not mean you’re free from the consequences of being racist or antisemitic. As we’ve seen this week, Lucasfilm has just dropped the Mandalorian star Gina Carano after an Instagram post comparing being a Republican today to being Jewish under Nazi rule…You couldn’t make it up.

Of course, cancel culture is not finite, I don’t believe that we are defined by our past, but if we want to make up for our past, at least put some effort and real empathy in it. Can you imagine Neil ever apologising for denying Aids was caused by HIV? Can you imagine Julia Hartley-Brewer ever apologising for her anti-mask campaign after 100,000 deaths to corona virus in the UK? If the answer is ‘no’, why do we constantly platform these people.

Being a charismatic dick, and ‘cut-throat’ does not ipso facto make you a great journalist, nor does it make you a great Prime Minister…*cough*Boris Johnson*cough*.

[1] or Full Disclosure, by Andrew Neil written in 1996  ; Neil, Andrew (1996). “The great Aids myth is finally laid to rest”. The Sunday Times. And

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