THE last week has been filled with talk of a ‘Government of National Unity’ (GNU). The broadcast media has taken up GNU and run with it in one direction like a migrating herd of wildebeest.
‘National Unity’ appeals to those who wish for a holiday from the constant political bickering where the popular response is partisan engagement, lofty deprecation or frustrated dissociation. It recalls the cartoon by David Low from May 1940 showing politicians of all stripes rolling up their sleeves and marching in step behind Winston Churchill. However, Andrew Roberts has written that numerous senior Conservatives regarded Churchill as a necessary predecessor to Halifax to show the world that Britain had valiantly tried for victory before having to seek terms. Strong socialist voices demanded a ‘people’s peace’ with Nazi Germany as a precursor to setting up a ‘people’s government’. At the time there was no official Leader of the Opposition in the Commons.
GNU is an exercise in doublethink. It would, in fact, be a coup by the political representatives of the losing side in the 2016 referendum and the negation of that result.
It also recalls Voltaire’s comment about the Holy Roman Empire, ‘Ce corps qui s’appelait et qui s’appelle encore le saint empire romain n’était en aucune manière ni saint, ni romain, ni empire.’ (‘This body which called itself and which still calls itself the Holy Roman Empire was in no way holy, nor Roman, nor an empire.’) The GNU would not actually govern, as it would ostensibly come into existence solely to pass laws and motions to deliver a Brexit In Name Only to the exclusion of all other policies. It would be the opposite of ‘national unity’ as this single policy would be against the wishes of the 17.4million Leave voters who were promised that the UK would leave the Single Market and Customs Union. A more honest description is a Government Of National Enmity, and the whole idea should be gone as well.
The worst part of GNU is how it has been accepted uncritically by our major news broadcasters. The line between reporting and propaganda has been crossed. The rationale might be a need for social cohesion. The mainstream news broadcasters present the real world being fractious overseas while there is comparative tranquillity at home as a kind of Huxleyite Soma for critical thinking.
GNU is a panacea for concerns over an impending constitutional crisis. The reassurance it provides makes it popular despite the deception. This crisis has actually been engineered by a political and administrative class because they refuse to carry out the promise they made to the British voter. The country has been drowned in propaganda as a way to negate the result of the largest popular vote in British history.
But the propaganda did not start there. The groundswell of anti-EU sentiment in the UK has never been properly represented in the UK broadcast media. Prior to the referendum, there was never a proper debate on our broadcast media about the UK’s direction of travel. There would be anti-EU politicians on news programmes, but it is significant that they received their greatest public exposure on the comedy panel show Have I Got News For You or on YouTube.
Boris Johnson’s government is being portrayed as illegitimate by the broadcast news as a way of promoting GNU. Jeremy Corbyn is promoting himself as the unity candidate to replace him. No one has observed that in 2016 four-fifths of his party’s MPs showed no confidence in him. In the 2017 General Election, many Labour candidates held their seats by campaigning that a vote for them was not a vote for a Corbyn-led government.
If the GNU were led by Jeremy Corbyn, it is inconceivable that this Russian patriot and Palestinian nationalist would not exercise power in accordance with his beliefs. The post of a caretaker Prime Minister is a fiction, and there would be no legal constraint on Corbyn leveraging his position to implement Socialism red in tooth and claw in the UK. Corbyn would be privy to every aspect of UK military and intelligence operations.
GNU is an example of a Big Lie that gains currency by repetition. It is fraudulently portrayed as the option for normality and stability. The dishonest reporting by our broadcasters who use the term to reassure the public is an indicator that the inroads made by the internet into audience share has reduced the need for impartiality. Broadcast news is becoming propagandistic in a way it never was in peacetime before. It is increasingly glib to point out the parallels with Orwell’s description of the politicisation of language in the news media. But in this case the parallels are frighteningly accurate, especially if they lead to Jeremy Corbyn as Prime Minister.