Proof of incompetence: the Channel 4 debacle

Regular readers of my Facebook posts will know that it is my position that this current government is dangerous because of its incompetence. I recognise that many of you find them to be cruel, or their policies deliberately designed towards the vicious and unnecessary, but my own experience is that they haven’t got a clue what they are doing, don’t know how things work, and won’t listen when it’s explained patiently to them.

This has the same outcome as a well designed attack on society, and the people in it, but lacks the motivation and organisation with which they are often characterised. They aren’t evil; being evil requires a level of planning, strategy and intelligence that is simply absent from the last twelve years. They are pompous, arrogant and, most of all, completely unsuitable for government.

I can’t actually think of a better example of incompetent government than the current ludicrous case of Nadine Dorries and the plans to sell off Channel 4. How idiotic and incompetent are these plans? Well, let’s take a quick look.

Dorries appeared before a select committee last year where she repeatedly revealed, unintentionally, that she did not know how Channel 4 was run, funded, managed or operated. Which is a pity, since she’s essentially in charge of it. Confronted by how it actually delivers its output, she became flustered and angry, dismissing further questioning, which she plainly felt to be a pointless exercise since she knew everything about everything.

Unchastened by the humiliating experience of flapping about like a turbot on a sand dune, and certainly without considering that perhaps she might need to learn anything from having her ignorance exposed, she set about creating a sell off of Channel 4, mainly on the basis that its news programme will insist on asking Tories awkward questions they don’t know the answer to. Despite the news programming being less than five per cent of their output.

On 4 April she triumphantly declared that the sell off will go ahead, grandly announcing that the money it will raise will support ‘left behind areas, independent and creative skills’.

All profits from C4, every year, already do all those things. In spades. Their entire commissioning budget pre-profit is invested in creative skills, most of it into independent productions, huge sums of it outside London. The entire operation of C4 in its current format has the purposes she claims to wish to achieve by selling it off.

She then went on to boast about the films the UK makes, unaware that Film 4 exists, talked about studios opening, unaware that C4 is doing precisely that, and then finished with a flourish stating that creative skills are key.

The sale of C4 will raise, she expects, £1billion. Once.

Whether this is true or not (clue; it isn’t – the only way it would raise £1billion is if it is sold without any restrictions on what it does), the fact is that C4 already invested just under £600million into creativity, skills and independent productions in 2020 alone. Or to make the maths simple, without being sold off C4 will invest every penny the government thinks it’s going to make from a one-off sale in 2024 before 2024. And then do it again every two years.

I’ll just repeat that because it’s really quite startling; the government plans to sell off a national asset investing £1billion every 20 months into creativity and culture so it can make £1billion once, and never again, to invest in creativity and culture.

And who will spend the £1billion one off windfall? Why, Nadine Dorries of course! The incredibly gifted and knowledgeable person behind the £120million Festival of Brexit, who just before Christmas commissioned a £2million study into whether Liverpool would benefit from a Beatles museum… to go with the five it already has.

Dorries’s plan to sell off C4 may seem like a cunning and evil plan to undermine democracy by removing an independent broadcasting voice. I wish it were that clever. It’s short termist, economically vapid, blinkered pig ignorance from a party that simply won’t listen.

C4 is being sold off because the Tories are unbelievably sh*t at maths, came bottom of the class at economics, don’t have the slightest acquaintance with understanding how the creative industries work, and have appointed someone to be in charge of culture you wouldn’t leave in charge of some blunt pencils in case they accidentally started a war. And who, if you try and help by explaining any of that, sticks their fingers in their ears and starts shouting about ‘lefties’.

The Brexit government. It’s the villages of England I feel sorry for; they must be sorely missing their idiots.