The whole country is used to Boris Johnson pulling a stunt to distract attention when he is faced with yet another self-inflicted catastrophe. The latest ploy by Johnson, the attack on the BBC, has rather a sinister undercurrent. When the government defunded the BBC World Radio Service, which was Britain’s strongest soft power influence globally, who benefitted most? Vladimir Putin. The BBC World Service Russian output was cut, and a vital counter to the Russian propaganda output was gone.
The BBC is a massive asset in disseminating British influence globally. It is hugely respected for its objective reporting and is used by communities across the world, unable to rely on the news coverage in their own country.
Crippling and undermining the BBC is therefore in Russia’s interest. Fascinatingly the Tory Party has been recorded to receive millions in donations from Russian Oligarchs, some with strong links to Vladimir Putin.
Boris Johnson’s refusal to release the report on the extent of Russian influence meant it took years and a huge effort by campaigners to get it released. Even then it was edited or redacted. The extent to which Russian influence permeates the Tory Party is still unclear.
When Culture Minister Nadine Dorries first entered Parliament she criticised old Etonian David Cameron as a posh boy who did not know the cost of a pint of milk. Now, appointed by another old Etonian, Johnson, similarly disconnected and out of touch, she is using her position to push crude attempts at media censorship, and to stem the widespread criticism of the government’s deep seated incompetence and sleaze.
Much is made of her writing credentials, yet most of her book sales are just eBooks. Many have been described as being of the “clogs and shawl” genre. A review by Alison Flood in the Irish Times complained of lazy Irish stereotypes in her books and quoted noted author Abir Mukherjee as saying “Calling Nadine Dorries an author is like saying cannibal Jeffrey Dahmer was a chef”
Her use of social media to attack detractors led one Daily Telegraph writer to remark, “it makes it hard for us to respect parliamentarians in general. They should be like us, of course, but at our best. She comes out of this looking very thin skinned and at best eccentric”.
Nadine Dorries’ attack on the BBC does appear ill-judged. Members of the Cabinet have complained that they were not consulted. Vastly experienced Tory MP Peter Bottomley was “not impressed” by the announcement. He asked why the BBC licence was the one thing that could not be increased because of the cost of living hikes?
No sign of the government requiring energy companies to freeze their price increases!
Both Boris Johnson and Nadine Dorries show just how thin-skinned and inexperienced they are, Johnson throwing out meaningless sound bites and Dorries naively attempting to justify her boss’s ploys. They cannot cope with the routine rough and tumble of national politics. The old but very appropriate saying, “If you can’t take the heat, get out of the kitchen!” applies.
What happened to the integrity that Nadine Dorries showed in criticising just how out of touch the old Etonians are? The woman who described them as “arrogant posh boys who show no remorse, no contrition, and no passion to understand the lives of others – that is their real crime.”