Recently, I caught a bit of Piers Morgan’s new show on the radio. He was delivering one of his trademark rants, directed at the increasingly popular notion that there are as many as one hundred genders. He named some of these genders aloud; two-spirit, demi-gender, a-gender, and branded them a load of nonsense. He also said that these identities were harmful because … they pose a threat to transgender rights.
Morgan, who was booted from ITV for his ‘controversial’ views, is making a comeback with his new show, Uncensored, put on by the insurgent TalkTV-Talkradio. Uncensored promises a no holds barred airing of provocative opinions. But as attractive as that promise sounds, it can never be made good. That’s because the British broadcasting regulator, Ofcom, in concert with social media and production companies, exert a vice-like grip upon the breadth of opinions that can be expressed in the mainstream media. The presidium of censors has in these past few years re-sited the Overton window far to the Left, and made taboo of popular, and populist, ideas. Their stifling of speech has been so radical that the outermost point of permissible reactionary thinking has been reduced to the spectacle of Morgan, monologuing in anguish about the demi-gendered, catching his breath only to affirm his support for the mentally ill to be castrated by the NHS. The shrunken nature of our public debate is as apparent on this Murdoch owned channel as it is on the BBC.
Intellectuals on the British Right had blithely thought they were fighting a war of ideas. But the Left, and their allies in the quangos and corporate class, were fighting a war of position, and winning. The Left has established mainstream hegemony not through victory in debate or at the polling booth, but by weaponising their institutional power to ostracise right-wing figures. It sounds almost surreal now to recall that Milo Yiannoppoulous would be brought on by Sky News, the BBC, and Channel 4 as a proponent of free speech, an opponent of feminism, and a sort of spokesperson for the Alt-Right. But after being banned from Twitter in 2016, and Facebook not long thereafter, he was never seen on British screens again. Former English Defence League leader Tommy Robinson could boast of over one million online followers, and would be interviewed on prime-time television by heavyweights like Andrew Neil and Jeremy Paxman. At the height of Robinson’s popularity, the BBC ordered their Panorama programme to conduct an investigation into him and his team, only to find themselves caught on camera by their would-be target, boozing and making offensive comments. While the BBC never aired its botched hatchet job, Robinson published his own hidden camera footage, at which point he was summarily banned from Facebook, blackballed from TV, and booted from public life. Reality show star cum provocateur Katie Hopkins was an almost weekly guest on the Good Morning Britain sofa, presented an LBC show, and penned a column in the Sun before being blacklisted, sacked, and banned. Britain First was, with two million ‘likes,’ the biggest British political party on Facebook, and their leaders became so prominent they were retweeted multiple times by President Trump. Now you wouldn’t know they existed.
It’s no coincidence that a great purge of popular Right figures occurred after the former Liberal Democrat Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, assumed the role of Global Affairs at Meta (previously Facebook). The censorious regime he directed on Facebook and Instagram quickly scythed down anyone to the Right of UKIP, and cleared the way for a fresh crop of Leftists to emerge as the preeminent voices on social media. They were then thrust through the revolving door onto breakfast show sofas and daytime panels, which made celebrities out of those who hitherto could not count among their supporters more than a small number of cranks. If you tune into the Vine show, GMB, or BBC Breakfast, you’ll see the likes of Ash Sarkar, a self-described Communist, Shola Mos-Shogbamimu who demands the Queen pay reparations to Jamaica, and Femi Oluwole, who pathologically desires to overturn Brexit.
When these people aren’t afforded the opportunity to deliver unabridged sermons, they are pitted against toothless opponents, as if they are being managed by a Harlem boxing promoter. Invariably the liberal Tory type put on for balance will agree with the radical Communists on all fundamental issues, and will chime in only to disagree about the means. We should take down our statues, but it must be done democratically, they’ll insist. Churchill may have been an imperialist, they concede, but we must keep his memory alive to learn from the mistakes of our past, they plead.
The fact we are even talking about ‘trans rights’ is the ultimate evidence that the Left now commands total supremacy in the airwave war. Matters of real import, which popular Right figures would in the past keep at the top of the agenda, such as Islamisation, law and order, and mass immigration have been side-lined. In recent days, mobs of Muslim men have besieged cinemas in Bradford and Sheffield, in protest of the screening of a film they didn’t like. No major British outlet has mentioned this sectarian intimidation on so much as a footnote of their websites. The BBC did find time on the same day to apologise for a Jubilee guest, Len Goodman, recounting that his nan would describe curry as ‘foreign muck.’
Terrorist attacks against maternity hospitals and parkgoers have a vanishingly small lifespan on our television sets, and the illegal migration crisis hardly earns a mention outside of GB News. Sky News has a daily programme dedicated to Climate Change, which is so dull it regularly draws as few as 25,000 viewers. It’s not just events we don’t see reflected on our screens anymore, it’s issues too. The majority of the public support the death penalty for terrorists, but there isn’t a pundit or politician in the land willing or permitted to mention it. 76% of Brits want immigration reduced, and yet one million visas were handed out to foreign nationals last year, without a peep from the broadcasters. 74% of Brits back ‘stop and search,’ and yet on the occasion a television Tory dare speak its name with anything but condemnation, they are treated like some sort of bloodthirsty barbarian.
Whenever we, in our lethargy, begin to unthinkingly take the path of least resistance, and accept that St. George was a Muslim refugee or Boudicca was black, we are jolted back to life by the emergence of a new frontier. Now it’s drag queen story hour, and forcing gay propaganda on Catholic schools. In moments of respite, we are served up creative distractions, and for these past nine months and counting, it’s been Downing Street parties. Endless bulletins have been dedicated to important questions, like whether Boris Johnson was ambushed by birthday cake, or merely presented with one. Was Rishi Sunak’s involvement work-related, or was he stirred by the dark desire to scoff a bit of Colin the Caterpillar? The prime minister narrowly survived a confidence vote, after being caught red-handed, pictured in the Cabinet Room with cold sandwiches and a jug of orange juice as if in some revisionist game of Cluedo. This is what politics looks like when our elite can only fight over the narcissism of small differences.
In 2009, eight million Brits tuned in to watch the then BNP leader Nick Griffin appear on Question Time. The programme was a weekly must-watch, not just for politicos, but for millions of ordinary people who were interested in the issues of the day. You could count on QT for panellists of quality, such as David Starkey, Nigel Farage, Melanie Phillips, Peter Hitchens and more. They’d have a good fight too, butting heads against the likes of George Galloway, Russell Brand and Johnathan Prescott. Now the programme is reduced to hosting rent-a-gob Communists and their liberal enablers, cheered on by an audience of cherry-picked do-gooders and eco maniacs. When Griffin appeared 13 years ago, the nation tuned in. Today, just a few hundred thousand bother to do so. While the Left may have established hegemony in the mainstream, they have done so at the cost of reducing popular programming, to a vector of catharsis for the Neverendum brigade and Islington trendies.
If you flick through current affairs programming, you’ll find one misfit after another, pushing the most radical Left thought of the moment. In the 1970’s, Enoch Powell would debate cordially with the far-Left Michael Foot, or be interviewed by Robin Day, David Frost, or any other premiere talent of the time as a matter of course. Going back and watching footage from that period is to look through a wormhole into another universe. Donald Trump once said, the fundamental question of our time is whether the West has the will to survive. It points to a grim answer for the nation debating drag queen story hour. We need to re-establish a context in which Right wing-figures might speak their minds, instead of being chained by the expectation that every utterance must be prefaced with homage to Black Lives Matter, equality, or tolerance understood as celebration. It will be a long road to get there, but we would do well to imitate the first step that the Left took, which is to say the unsayable, loudly, and often.
Mario Laghos is a political analyst, author, and the editor of Just Debate.