The other night on GB “News”, a right-wing TV station which is undressed without those quotation marks, the Tory MP Lee Anderson ‘interviewed’ the Tory home secretary Suella Braverman.
Unsurprisingly, he told her she was doing a grand job.
An MP pretending to be a TV presenter pretended to ‘interview’ his colleague, while failing to challenge her or ask any tough questions about her vile anti-migrant policies.
Or any questions at all, really. And nothing dimly related to journalism.
As has been widely pointed out, GB News is an attempt do a Fox News in Britain. Totally partisan and happy to aggressively brandish its bias.
To that end, the station employs various Tory MPs as faux-presenters, and apparently shells out £100,000 a year on Lee Anderson, hardly a bargain.
What has perhaps been less noticed is that the Conservative Party – long since bored with the notion of conserving anything – has in effect become the GB News party, a weirdo populist outfit with no fixed purpose other than a fatal weakness for endless culture war scraps.
It’s soul-denting stuff. Noisy fisticuffs in the hope of raising a pimple row of headline in the more slavish newspapers, as we shall hear as the party gathers in Manchester this week. But then, if you’ve been in power for years without improving life in any discernible way, even the lowest blows are worth a try.
That’s why prime minister Rishi Sunak now says he will end “the war on motorists”. A war that doesn’t exist as he’s invented it. That’s a flat tyre you’ve got there, Rishi – and you banged the nail in all by yourself.
On X (formerly Twitter), he blathered:
“We are a nation of drivers. Most of us use a car every day and, for many, life would be difficult without their car. But too often, drivers feel under attack. That changes today with a long-term plan to improve drivers’ experience on the road…”
For “long-term plan”, you should read “short-term panic/latest batshit brainstorming”.
A nation of drivers? Well, you aren’t, matey. You fly by helicopter or plane whenever fancy takes flight. And that time you pretended to fill up with petrol, having borrowed a car for a news stunt, you had no idea how to pay.
Where to start with this nonsense? We are not “a nation of car drivers” but a nation of people with different needs. Anyway, car drivers aren’t one homogenous voting block but a collection of people in and out of cars, with views about everything and nothing.
Many people drive, some do not. Some drive and hate being stuck in endless traffic jams. Some drive but would travel another way if public transport worked and you didn’t have to take out a mortgage to buy a train ticket.
Rather than this fake “war on motorists”, what we have is a society far too tolerant of the noise and nuisance caused by cars, and even more so by thundering HGVs. There is no such war; it’s another myth; and even if there were, the Tories have been in power for 13 years, so how come they’ve only just noticed?
Should you be wondering, yes, I have a car and drive when necessary. I also have a bicycle and two feet that work fine. And a bus pass for free use of the splendid new electric buses in York. But then, Sunak probably regards electric buses as a woke conspiracy and maybe thinks we should proudly suck up good British diesel fumes.
Sunak’s pro-motorist measures include limiting the power of local councils to impose 20mph speed limits and bus lanes. He also has it in for Low Traffic Neighbourhoods, where rat-runs are closed to create cleaner, more peaceable neighbourhoods.
So much for levelling up; so much for localism. Instead, we have a prime minister behaving imperiously and telling local councils what they can and can’t do. Such decisions should be made locally, not laid down by tinny presidential whim.
And I’ve not even mentioned bunging £3.5bn of taxpayers’ money on the new Rosebank oilfield off Scotland. A public subsidy to a Norwegian-owned company.
What we need is less oil and more sense.
Sadly, all we can expect is more boorish nonsense.