December 17, 2020
Keir Starmer’s stumbling response to a LBC caller highlights the risks of playing on hostile terrain
Labour should be wary of a rightwing media that only wants culture war | Owen Jones
What is deemed permissible in mainstream public life and what is not? Survey the British media landscape and you’ll find some answers. Two years ago Nick Ferrari, presenter of LBC’s flagship show, was on a Sky News panel with my colleague Afua Hirsch. She had eloquently questioned the glorification of British historical figures guilty of racist crimes. “Why do you stay in this country?” Ferrari responded. “I’m delighted that I see you each Thursday … but if it offends you so much, how do you manage to stay here?”
Phrases such as “Go back to where you came from” have long been a staple cry of the street-level racist. For a national radio presenter to evoke this line of questioning because someone dared to critique the nation’s chequered history should have been a moment of scandal, but it wasn’t. Some spoke out, but most did not. Ferrari remains a respectable broadcaster, who continues to collect awards for his work. His example isn’t isolated. Last year, Tom Newton Dunn, then the Sun’s political editor, published a far-right conspiracy theory partly sourced from neo-Nazi websites featuring links between leftwing figures (including me) and “illegal terror organisations”. The article was simply deleted after publication, no explanation given. Newton Dunn’s career flourishes, and his colleagues and peers remain silent.
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