MICK HUME: As corporations submit to woke minority, free speech dies

MICK HUME: As corporate giants meekly submit to woke minority over a new TV station… this is the slow painful death of free speech

Nobody except the most dangerous elements of the far-Left actually wishes to see news controlled by the Government.

But an alarming number of people evidently want to censor the news the rest of us are permitted to watch on TV and read in the Press.

That is the clear aim of the fanatical and grossly misnamed lobbying group Stop Funding Hate (SFH), which is now demanding that advertisers boycott GB News, the new network chaired and fronted by Andrew Neil.

That is the clear aim of the fanatical and grossly misnamed lobbying group Stop Funding Hate (SFH), which is now demanding that advertisers boycott GB News, the new network chaired and fronted by Andrew Neil (pictured)

GB News only launched on Sunday but — thanks to the antics of a few screeching self-righteous Twitter activists goaded by SFH — the ad-boycott campaign has had some success in targeting brands whose adverts initially appeared on the channel.

Corporations that have quickly taken the knee to SFH, and agreed not to sin by advertising further on GB News, include the Swedish homeware giant Ikea, the Dutch beer outfit Grolsch, skincare manufacturer Nivea and Kopparberg, a modish cider brand from Sweden.

Conformist

The Open University — a public institution nominally committed to free thinking —has also fallen into line with the closed minds of these crusaders and joined the boycott.

Needless to say, GB News is not spreading ‘hate’ at all.

It simply aims to offer an alternative to the liberal-Left conformist groupthink of the mainstream news media, especially the BBC.

Delivering on its early promises — to an impressive audience share despite some early teething problems — it has featured several commentators who challenge the woke consensus and critics of our endless lockdowns.

And what’s wrong — or hateful — about that?

Strangely, the SFH crusaders did not demand an advertising boycott of Channel 4 when its news anchor, Jon Snow, was recorded venting his genuinely hateful spleen by shouting ‘F**k the Tories!’ at the Glastonbury festival. Funding Left-wing hate is evidently fine.

GB News only launched on Sunday but — thanks to the antics of a few screeching self-righteous Twitter activists goaded by SFH — the ad-boycott campaign has had some success in targeting brands whose adverts initially appeared on the channel. Pictured: Stop Funding Hate’s founder Richard Wilson

As for the claim that the early appearance of former Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage proves GB News is unfit for public consumption, that would be the same Farage who has been endlessly featured on programmes such as BBC Question Time.

Yet SFH has yet to call for the abolition of the licence fee or the defunding of the public broadcaster.

Nobody has to watch GB News or any other channel. But anybody who wants to should be free to do so.

That freedom is too much for the cancel-culture warriors of SFH.

They don’t want to debate with GB News: they want to strangle it at birth.

That’s why they started their #Don’tFundGBNews campaign months ago, long before the channel had broadcast even a word.

Nobody has to watch GB News or any other channel. But anybody who wants to should be free to do so. That freedom is too much for the cancel-culture warriors of SFH. Pictured: Rosey Ellum who in 2016 came up with the idea of founding the organisation at a dinner party attended by Wilson


Despite their claim to represent ‘grass-roots’ opinion, the irony is that SFH and its liberal friends are trying to use the power of corporate capitalism to achieve their ends. Pictured: Stop Funding Hate board members Colin Baines (left) and Alexandra Parsons (right), according to the website

This sour campaign prompted activists and woke celebrities to warn mobile phone companies that they would cancel their contracts at the first hint of an advert appearing on GB News ‘or any ‘Fox-style’ channel’.

Despite their claim to represent ‘grass-roots’ opinion, the irony is that SFH and its liberal friends are trying to use the power of corporate capitalism to achieve their ends.

Their crusade should more accurately be called ‘Stop Funding The Things WE Hate’. They are the real ‘bigots’: defined by the Cambridge dictionary to mean ‘a person who has strong, unreasonable beliefs and who does not like other people who have different beliefs or a different way of life’.

And, we might add, who does not think such ‘other people’ should be seen or heard.

Like Violet Elizabeth Bott, the spoilt brat from the Just William stories, they stamp their feet and threaten ‘I’ll thcream and thcream till I’m thick!’ if they don’t get their way.

That this unrepresentative and voluble Twitter mob succeeded so quickly is entirely down to the moral cowardice of these spineless corporations and public institutions.

The statements from those advertisers who have been bullied into joining the boycott read like the sort of parody you might hope to see from a satirist on, well, GB News.

Preach

First up was the cider company, which responded to its critics by cravenly declaring that it had suspended advertising on GB News because ‘Kopparberg is a drink for everyone’.

Grolsch was soon singing from the same hymn sheet, assuring the pitchforks that it would not advertise with GB News again because this Dutch beer brand ‘prides itself on core values of inclusion and openness to all people’.

All, people, evidently, except GB News viewers.

And there we were naively thinking that these companies were in the business of selling booze, not peddling woke ‘values’.

First up was the cider company, which responded to its critics by cravenly declaring that it had suspended advertising on GB News because ‘Kopparberg is a drink for everyone’

The alcohol brand said their advert had been broadcast on GB News ‘without knowledge or consent’ and they had now ‘immediately suspended’ their ads 

A spokesperson for the Open University said, presumably with a straight face, that it had never wanted to advertise with GB News in the first place because ‘The Open University’s mission is to be open to people, places, methods and ideas’.

What better way to demonstrate that ‘openness’ to ideas than by backing a campaign to starve and close down a new TV channel?

The prize for woke waffle, however, goes to Ikea, which pleaded that it never intended to associate with GB News and would not do so again, claiming that it had ‘safeguards in place to prevent our advertising from appearing on platforms that are not in line with our humanistic values and vision to side with the many people [sic]’.

The prize for woke waffle, however, goes to Ikea, which pleaded that it never intended to associate with GB News and would not do so again

Many of us may not previously have been aware of the ‘humanistic values’ embodied by Ikea’s Billy bookcase or Bjorksnas bedside table. Some might even be tempted to accuse the Swedish giant of inhumanity, given the range of injuries sustained in the struggle with its self-assembly furniture, much of which ends up in landfill sites across the planet.

As Neil himself pointed out, Ikea picked a bad week to preach about humanity.

The French arm of the corporation has just been fined £1 million, and its former CEO given a two-year suspended jail sentence, after being found guilty of using detectives to snoop on the private lives and political beliefs of its employees. Some values.

If Ikea is serious about its ‘vision to side with the many people’, why the Bjorksnas is it so keen to side with the few bigots that support Stop Funding Hate?

Toxic

GB News — and the rest of us — are currently faced by a toxic mixture of woke intolerance and invertebrate corporations. This is empowering small and noisy sects of ‘anti-capitalists’ to manipulate corporate power for their own narrow-minded ends.

Well, enough is enough. Time for any self-respecting individual, company or public body with true ‘humanistic values’ to stop trailing after the intolerant bigotry of Stop Funding Hate — and remember how vital free speech, and diverse opinion, are in a democracy.

Whatever anybody might think of its output, we should all stand up for the right of GB News or any media outlet to challenge the orthodoxies of the age, and its freedom to report the truth.

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