For someone with his education, experience, connections, and indeed wealth, Andrew Neil, still on the roster of BBC hosts and still in charge of the company that looks after the Spectator magazine, is a terribly sensitive and insecure soul. This was demonstrated to Zelo Street readers last November, when he lost his cool at the suggestion that Spectator Australia magazine might be in trouble after a huge defamation payout.
The Great Man spluttered “Blocked for spreading not just fake news but downright lies. Spectator Australia just finished its most profitable year ever. Expansion plans for 2018. Bye, liar”, somehow missing that a magazine with a circulation of 8,000 is not going to be profitable if it is going to have to shell out half a million notes in costs and damages.
Now, Brillo is at it again, this time losing his cool with Abi Wilkinson. Perhaps it was the second part of her comment “Neil is also involved with Orbán. Tbf the Spectator is equally happy to turn a blind eye to antisemitism *and* Islamophobia” that set him off; after all, being an Islamophobe is, for those on the right, no big deal right now, but to be adjudged tolerant of anti-Semitism, well, that’s serious.
So it was that The Great Man spluttered “Liar. Now a blocked liar. For lying. Which is what you do. But not on my twitter line. Keep your lies to yourself” into his reassuringly expensive dietary supplement, and Ms Wilkinson joined the roll of fame. But she had a point about Neil’s, and the Speccy’s, affiliations.
Sunny Hundal confirmed this. “BBC's Andrew Neil ‘praised the research’ of the Századvég Foundation at the Hungarian Embassy … The Foundation produces studies for the far-right Orbán government”. The Tweeter otherwise known as Joe Public had more.
“Even the new Private Eye asking what on earth is Andrew Neil and the Spectator doing working closely with far-right supporters of Viktor Orbán and his Fidesz party” he observed, the Eye telling “Only last month it took part in a joint event with a Fidesz-linked think tank at the Hungarian embassy in London: Spectator chairman Andrew Neil hosted the joint panel with regular Spectator contributors Douglas Murray and David Goodhart … The event was launching the Századvég Foundations’s annual ‘Project 28’”.
Owen Jones mused “Imagine the BBC's flagship political presenter was a dedicated socialist in charge of a radical left-wing magazine who chaired events for, and praised the research of, associates of Cuba's government in the Cuban Embassy. You can't: it would never happen”. If Paul Mason had done that while at the BBC, he’d have been fired on the spot, no ifs, no buts. Brillo has questions to answer; so does BBC management.
And shouting “Fake News … Liar … Blocked” ain’t going to cut it this time. The time of Andrew Neil at the BBC was for a time, but not for all time.
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