How GB News covers Northern Ireland will be a litmus test for the channel

News Letter editorial of Monday June 14 2021:

Monday, 14th June 2021, 8:59 am
News Letter editorial
News Letter editorial

The broadcaster Andrew Neil said last night on the launch of GB News that the new channel won’t forget the ‘B’ in its title.

That lack of embarrassment over ‘Britain’ is the kind of talk that millions of people around the nation will be delighted to hear.

They might even say that they hope the station will remember the ‘G’ for Great too — not because people are jingoistic, but because the bulk of people are quietly proud of the country, and worried about some extremist critiques of who we are as a people, that last year saw statues being toppled.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

In Northern Ireland, it will not go unnoticed that the title of the new channel is the initials of Great Britain which strictly speaking excludes NI, because it literally means the island of England, Scotland and Wales.

Perhaps there is a simple reason why UK News was not chosen, in much the same way that GB car stickers actually refer to the UK, but were probably chosen because Grande Bretagne is easily understood in France, the continental nation where British drivers are most likely to visit.

But it will nonetheless be an interesting litmus test of the new station how it approaches Northern Ireland.

Unionism, as today’s edition of this newspaper shows, is under serious pressure, not least because a cavalier approach to the province was shown in the haste to ‘get Brexit done’ at the end of 2019.

While claims of English nationalism are over-stated, it is a factor, and a challenge for parts of the UK outside England that want to remain within the nation state.

Unionists feel, and have good reason to feel, that there is subtle bias against them in many spheres of life, including the media. GB News has been launched in part to reflect a similar feeling of alienation that many conservative-minded people on the mainland feel from traditional media.

We wish the new channel well, and hope that it tries to understand, and give voice to, unionist concerns.

——— ———

A message from the Editor:

Thank you for reading this story on our website. While I have your attention, I also have an important request to make of you.

With the coronavirus lockdown having a major impact on many of our advertisers — and consequently the revenue we receive — we are more reliant than ever on you taking out a digital subscription.

Subscribe to and enjoy unlimited access to the best Northern Ireland and UK news and information online and on our app. With a digital subscription, you can read more than 5 articles, see fewer ads, enjoy faster load times, and get access to exclusive newsletters and content. Visit now to sign up.

Our journalism costs money and we rely on advertising, print and digital revenues to help to support them. By supporting us, we are able to support you in providing trusted, fact-checked content for this website.

Alistair Bushe