Tendance Coatesy

Left Socialist Blog

Authoritarian Populism: Tories Threaten Assessment of “Channel 4’s public service broadcasting licence” after Climate Debate.

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Right Honourable Tub of Lard MP Set Dangerous Provocative, Partisan  Precedent for Channel Four’s Latest Escapade. 

Boris Johnson Is Threatening To Review Channel 4’s Broadcasting Licence After They Replaced Him With An Ice Sculpture At Thursday’s Debate

A Conservative source told BuzzFeed News that if they win the coming election they will reassess the channel’s public service broadcasting licence.

The inflammatory move came after Channel 4 said it would empty-chair the prime minister and Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage at its climate change leaders’ debate, after the two leaders declined to take part.

The Huff Post repeats this story,

A Conservative source later told BuzzFeed News that if the party wins the coming election it will reassess Channel 4’s public service broadcasting licence.

“If we are re-elected, we will have to review Channel 4’s Public Services Broadcasting obligations,” the source said.

“Any review would of course look at whether its remit should be better focused so it is serving the public in the best way possible.”

The threat should not be taken lightly.

Attacks on press freedom in democracies

In some of the most influential democracies in the world, large segments of the population are no longer receiving unbiased news and information. This is not because journalists are being thrown in jail, as might occur in authoritarian settings. Instead, the media have fallen prey to more nuanced efforts to throttle their independence. Common methods include government-backed ownership changes, regulatory and financial pressure, and public denunciations of honest journalists. Governments have also offered proactive support to friendly outlets through measures such as lucrative state contracts, favorable regulatory decisions, and preferential access to state information. The goal is to make the press serve those in power rather than the public.

The problem has arisen in tandem with right-wing populism, which has undermined basic freedoms in many democratic countries. Populist leaders present themselves as the defenders of an aggrieved majority against liberal elites and ethnic minorities whose loyalties they question, and argue that the interests of the nation—as they define it—should override democratic principles like press freedom, transparency, and open debate.

In perhaps the most concerning development of recent years, press freedom has come under unusual pressure in the United States, the world’s leading democratic power. Although key news organizations remain strong and continue to produce vigorous reporting on those in office, President Donald Trump’s continual vilification of the press has seriously exacerbated an ongoing erosion of public confidence in the mainstream media. Among other steps, the president has repeatedly threatened to strengthen libel laws, revoke the licenses of certain broadcasters, and damage media owners’ other business interests. The US constitution provides robust protections against such actions, but President Trump’s public stance on press freedom has had a tangible impact on the global landscape. Journalists around the world now have less reason to believe that Washington will come to their aid if their basic rights are violated.

Freedom and the Media:A Downward Spiral

By Sarah Repucci, Senior Director for Research and Analysis

Freedom House.



How does this fit in with the wider Tory strategy.

There are efforts to normalise the Conservatives’ approach:

A better way of looking at them is in terms of British political history and the rise of Thatcher’s authoritarian populism.

Stuart Hall argued in The Great Moving Right Show (1978) that ‘Thatcherism’ was able to use the “language of ‘the people’, unified behind a reforming drive to turn the turn the tide of ‘creeping collectivism, banish Keynesian illusions from the state apparatus and renovate the power bloc…” It “brings into existence a new ‘historic bloc’ between certain sections of the dominant and dominated classes.” It was a “rich mix”, combining long-standing ‘organic’ Tory themes, “nation, family, duty, authority, standards, and traditionalism “with” a revived neoliberalism – self-interest, competitive individualism anti-statism.”

Today we have the xenophobia of people like key adviser Dominic Cummings warning about millions of foreign voters thwarting Brexit if Labour wins power. There is the (still unstable) attempt to create a bloc between footloose capital and others sectors who will benefit from alignment with Trump in a nationalist use of political power for economic benefit, and those fightended by a ‘globalised’ world. This, as described by Paul Mason, is a new form of neoliberalism, national neoliberalism (Clear Bright Future: A Radical Defence of the Human Being. 2019)

The Tory and Brexit Party vision of democracy is not as form of society built on by popular rights, but rule by plebiscites and the personification of the Nation State by one Party. The abstraction of Sovereignty is  a puppet in the lap of Ventriloquists, Johnson and Farage.

The ‘popular basis’ of the present Moving Right Show is a “rich mix” of loathing for Metropolitan ‘elites’, rootless cosmopolitans,  decaying Labourist and old Tory nostalgia for family, flag and patriotism, and, old fashioned racism. Nostalgic for La terre et les Morts, both the Conservatives and the Brexit Party are prepared to control freedom of movement, to open and close migration as it suits their economic free-market project.

As for their racism, it is pitiful that The Times (cited above)publishes Collins’ article which reduces this deep xenophobia and hatred of outsiders in these terms,

The racism that exists in the Tory ranks is, according to most witnesses, generational and casual. That does not mean it does not matter — being on the receiving end of racism is never casual. It does, though, mean that the Muslim question will not greatly occupy the thoughts of the average Tory member. Very few of them will have a developed theory about how the madrassas are cultivating a religious cavalry to man the global caliphate. It’s just not a big deal to them. It is a small deal on which some of them hold stereotypically bigoted views.

The pro-Brexit camp are the dominated by nationalists, the majority cultural  nationalists, some blood and soil. The Tory wing, and more explicitly the Brexit Party wing, are motivated by a fear of immigration  and globalist ‘elites’. Their views on Muslims and Jewish people may well be prejudiced, but that is not the central nationalist issue.

In this atmosphere, as a symbol of cosmopolitan leftism Channel Four is clearly in their sights….



7 Responses

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  1. Sir (for it can only be a matter of time), I salute your courage, your strength your indefatigability.

    Andrew Coates

    November 29, 2019 at 5:32 pm

  2. […] also: Coatesy on the threat to Channel […]

  3. Didn’t he later morph into a Labour party member?

    Steven Johnston

    November 29, 2019 at 5:47 pm

  4. I believe everything I read in the papers, don’t you?

    Steven Johnston

    November 29, 2019 at 7:20 pm

  5. I thought it was Thatcher that gave Channel 4 it’s licence in the first place. So how can this be part of some Thatcherite plan?

    Steven Johnston

    November 29, 2019 at 7:27 pm

  6. Access to energy increases per capita GDP and population life expectancy. A health hazard is anything that increases the death rate–especially by interfering via fraud or coercion with the generation and distribution of electricity. Taxing people to pay econazis to din totalitarian propaganda into the airwaves is a perfect example of how to increase the death rate. Observe that Guyana subsidizes no People’s Temple broadcast nor Japan an AUM channel.


    December 1, 2019 at 11:08 pm

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