This Debate is Everything That’s Wrong with (Good Morning) Britain

Yesterday morning saw journalist Ash Sarkar appear on Good Morning Britain alongside Conservative MP Andrew Rosindell. The topic up for debate was a policy suggestion made by the Tory MP, that all schools should be made to teach/sing the national anthem.

What happened serves as a pretty good example of the bias faced by the left, and the way that left-wing viewpoints are constantly written off unfairly. This exact kind of debate is what’s made Good Morning Britain the most popular breakfast show on TV, with similar ones happening most mornings.

On the show’s original airing, as depicted in a full video of the interview posted by Novara Media yesterday and since removed by ITV, Ash is hamstrung right from the start. She’s introduced as being part of the “left-wing-leaning website” Novara Media. An innocent enough description on the face of it, but a clear signal to those of a certain temperament to automatically discount anything that she says — the addition of “website” might further imply to viewers of an older persuasion that Ash is FAKE NEWS. Maybe I’m wrong, but it seems odd for a journalist to have the political affiliation of their main publication stated in their introduction — I’ve never heard someone being introduced as part of the “Right-wing Spectator” or “Centrist Economist”.

She’s also introduced as having “branded the idea (of teaching the national anthem in schools) dangerous”. True enough, Ash is quick to contest this claim, to no real argument from her hosts. At this point though the damage is done: the narrative has largely been formed already. Before she’s even spoken, she’s been tagged as an internet-dwelling lefty and falsely attached to a pretty unpalatable opinion. First impressions are important, we form impressions of people quickly which are difficult to then change. It’s said that it takes around 7 seconds to decide our initial thoughts on someone when meeting them — one wonders if it applies to people on television, too.

The first point that Ash tries to make — that this policy suggests a backward set of priorities regarding education — is immediately interrupted by Piers, in a tone reminiscent of a half-cut uncle at a birthday party who has overheard his young nephews say something slightly denigrating about Top Gear.

Why is it embarrassing to sing the national anthem?”

This is his response to Ash saying “If this is part of the Conservative rebrand to attract the young, it’s deeply deeply embarrassing

You’d maybe think someone like Piers Morgan would be able to understand the difference between those two statements, but even after its been explained to him, he still seems to struggle.

No, No, tell me why its embarrassing to sing our national anthem” He repeats, stoutly.

He’s offered another explanation, which goes largely ignored, then, we think, he moves on. After a cringe-inducing bit of condescension and baiting, Piers accuses Ash of whataboutery, then of making false claims. He then offers his gambit a final time.

So I come back to my question, what is embarrassing about singing the national anthem?

The tactic here is obvious. By repeatedly saying “why are you saying x” Piers Morgan can sufficiently reinforce the idea that x has been said, even though it hasn’t. Not only this, but in trying to explain why Piers is misquoting her and ignoring her actual point, Ash is made to look to be dodging a straight question. The problem is that the question is based on a totally false premise.

When trying to explain the nuance behind her point, she’s continuously interrupted and accused of changing the subject — but the subject has already changed, from “why this isn’t a useful policy suggestion” to “why is it embarrassing to sing the national anthem?”

At this point Andrew Rosindell is brought into the discussion. Had he any interest in the point raised by Ash, that this policy seems like a slight distraction — or at least maybe not a top priority — you might expect Piers to ask something about that — is this the time to be trying to implement top-down, mandatory national anthem singing in school? Something to that effect, maybe?

I don’t like that singing the national anthem is something to be embarrassed about” He says.

I agree with you” comes the response.

Then Rosindell is allowed to go on a winding rant, about the Monarchy and “why Britain is such a great country” which leads neatly into a baseless attack.

The politically correct left, as example here” he says, who “downgrade and diminish everything that’s British” and apparently prohibit people “flying the British flag” and “singing the national anthem

He tries to go on, but is reigned in by Susanna Reid, who attempts to bring up Ash’s point — that this policy could be seen as being brought out to distract from the very real problems in our education system — Piers interrupts and derails the debate, just as it was actually coming back on track.

How would it be a distraction, it takes about 2 minutes to sing it” he says, apparently missing the point.

Andrew Rosindell, brazen in the knowledge that satire is dead, accuses Ash of sidelining the debate, before droning on about the national anthem representing everyone, regardless of “race, religion or political values”. When he’s reminded of the first line of the national anthem, he fumbles, visibly flustered and says “we have a god, we have a queen” — a line he whispers to himself as a coping method, when things get heavy.

He also states here that making kids sing the national anthem would take “10 minutes” and “wouldn’t cost a single penny” — remember this for later.

From this point onward, the debate steps up a gear in terms of abject bullshittery. Piers says that Ash was asked onto the show to discuss “why young children in this country should not be encouraged to sing the national anthem” but that absolutely was not the question originally posed. Soon afterward, Piers abandons the actual topic altogether, opting instead to grill Ash Sarkar on her personal feelings toward fairly unrelated topics.

What’s your position on the monarchy, are you anti-monarchy?” Piers asks, in a way that in no sense leads the viewer to a certain conclusion.

She doesn’t believe in the monarchy” says Rossindell, before she’s had the chance to explain her answer. Ash continues to try and speak, but is interrupted again.

This is the problem, if I may say… we have a politically correct far-left in this country, that actually doesn’t like Britain. They want to get rid of all of our traditions, of our heritage. They denigrate it”.

Rosindell is allowed to make these completely baseless, straw-man claims without being challenged once by his hosts, but is eventually interrupted by Susanna Reid, who changes the subject.

Is it the case the children in France are going to be made to sing the national anthem for two hours a week?”

No!” says Andrew Rosindell, the man behind this policy, which was spurred on by the newly-adopted French policy, as Piers has reminded us several times already.

But the answer is yes. Children in French schools will spend two hours per week singing the national anthem. Not only that, but the policy will cost 20 million euros annually. Granted, this isn’t a huge sum compared to some government expenditures, but it’s a bit more than “not a single penny” and does lend further credence to Ash’s main argument, about priorities.

But this is Piers’ debate, and if he wants to, he can change the rules and the question and the parameters of debate. Why? Because fuck you, that’s why.

We don’t need to do that” he says, eager to move on.

The debate ends as it began.

Throughout history we see politicians turn to very cheap nationalism when they are out of ideas to address real material conditions in the country

I’m sorry, but there’s nothing cheap and nationalistic about singing the national anthem”.

I wonder if Piers recognised his mistake halfway through this sentence, or if it was only later, upon reflection, that he realised.

What’s wrong with patriotism?” Asks Rosindell. At this point he looks positively ecstatic. Like someone’s just handed him a 99 with 2 flakes. A double 99.

Throughout the debate, Andrew Rosindell is keen to invoke ideas of national pride and patriotism. Indeed, he’s even keener to impress upon viewers that as much as he LOVES Britain, those nasty lefties like the one sat next to him, HATE it. Patriotism, maybe even royalism, is what Rosindell would probably consider to be his brand. He pushed for the return of blue Passports, he wanted the Border Agency to be renamed “Her Majesty’s Border Police” and he famously tried to introduce legislation which made it mandatory to hang a picture of the Queen at every international entry point to the UK.

No, honestly.

It’s a funny word patriotism, its meaning stretched and amended constantly to suit the needs of all sorts. A quick look at Mr Rosindell’s voting record will inform you exactly what type of patriot he is. It’s a peculiar strain of patriotism, that places immense value on forcing children to sing about the Queen every week, but not so much on making sure disabled people are given enough money by the government to survive. When people like him talk about patriotism, what they actually mean is ‘unquestionably accepting any and every aspect of their own specific definition of ‘Britishness’.

After its pointed out to him that there probably is something nationalistic about the national anthem, Piers lines up for the killer blow.

The national anthem actually makes me feel pride in my country, and by the way, that’s not an ugly thing, that’s not an embarrassing thing. It doesn’t make me a nationalist, it makes me someone that’s proud of my country

It doesn’t matter that Ash has made no suggestion at any point that there’s anything wrong with being proud, or that national pride is ugly or embarrassing. Nor has she said that singing the national anthem makes someone a nationalist. But that doesn’t matter, the words have been placed firmly in her mouth so that Piers Morgan can play the right-headed every-man, who loves his country and his Queen, and says what everyone is thinking, putting this loony left-wing nutter to rights in the process.

And then that’s it, it’s over.

So what was the actual debate here? The question that remained present onscreen throughout the debate read “Should Schools Teach The National Anthem?” but is that actually what was being debated?

It isn’t a question of whether the national anthem is allowed in schools, or should be allowed in schools, its whether it should be made mandatory for all schools to force kids to sing the national anthem. Not only that, but if we’re modelling this so-far hypothetical policy on the French one, as Piers implies, then the question goes further. At a cost to the taxpayer, should schools force kids to sing the national anthem for 2 hours per week?

But the debate Piers conducts is actually completely different, even from that vastly-twisted version of the original . Its much more framed around whether Ash actually supports — even whether she likes — the national anthem, with it acting as an obvious emblem for his own definition of Britain. This is done subtly and gradually, the terms of the debate inch further away from the original proposition with every time Piers interrupts and twists one of Ash’s answers. Viewers are lead/pushed toward the conclusion that Ash is against Britain in a pretty broadest sense, because the debate has come to a place where the national anthem somehow represents Britain.

The methods, though subtle, do nothing to disguise the obvious intent. From the first moment of the debate Piers Morgan had no interest in hearing what Ash Sarkar actually had to say on the matter, because Piers Morgan knows it doesn’t matter, not really. Not when you can put words in their mouth and change the debate at any moment. Not when one guest is allowed to go off on long diatribes and indulge in ad-hominem attacks freely, while the other is cut-off at any attempt to introduce nuance to the debate, and accused of side-lining.

So here’s the point.

The left, or left-wing views, are consistently presented on the show in the manner demonstrated above. Beamed into the homes of millions of Brits every other morning is this image of the left as being anti-British, hysterical and overly politically-correct — and again, it doesn’t matter that they don’t even act this way, because the power of suggestion is strong and Piers’ talent for stage-managing debate is considerable. The people watching on a morning likely aren’t holding the debate under this level of scrutiny — because they’re normal, functioning people, with lives — so they can’t be blamed for drawing a warped conclusion from what they do take in; that’s the intention.

Good Morning Britain — whether intentionally or incidentally — now serves an increasingly damaging function in this country. Most of its segments are innocuous enough that the average real-time viewer doesn’t see too much harm in it. Oh that Piers Morgan arguing with some luvvie again — what can you do? But the real harm is done by the way GMB simplifies complex issues and arguments and attempts to portray them totally out of context, as being hysterical, unpatriotic, PC-gone mad, or some other anti-left buzzword. This exercise is then presented, and largely accepted, as fair debate.

It’s not a new or groundbreaking revelation, that Piers Morgan is a cunt. Nor that the “mainstream media” isn’t typically that hospitable to even the most vaguely-subversive of ideas. But the extent to which both those things are true seems to be rapidly escalating, and the consequences of that, in the latter case at least, could be pretty fucking grim.