A few weeks ago, I wrote an article for the Daily Sceptic condemning the weaponisation of antisemitism against Andrew Bridgen MP. As is widely known, Bridgen has been conducting a campaign in Parliament to publicise the plight of people who have been injured by the COVID-19 vaccine. On the morning of January 11th he tweeted the observation of an (unnamed) consultant cardiologist that the COVID vaccine programme was “the biggest crime against humanity since the Holocaust”. By lunchtime, Bridgen had lost the Conservative whip. At Prime Minister’s Question Time, Matt Hancock, who as Health Secretary had been personally in charge of the vaccination campaign, asked a question about “disgusting, antisemitic, anti-vax conspiracy theories” which he claimed were “not only deeply offensive but anti-scientific”. Because he spoke in Parliament, Hancock’s comments were protected by parliamentary privilege. But Hancock also put his comments out in a tweet, which had no such protection. For having called him ‘antisemitic’, Bridgen is now suing Hancock for libel.
As I remarked at the time, the accusation of antisemitism against Bridgen was patently ludicrous. It was, I argued, part of a concerted campaign to weaponise antisemitism, to use it as a cudgel with which to beat anyone who spoke out against the Covid regime. The accusation felt like it was intended not simply to silence – or at least discredit – someone who was asking awkward questions about the vaccine programme, but also to send a message to any other MP who was thinking of following suit that he or she would also be smeared, and cast out as Bridgen had been. The accusations have not managed to silence Bridgen, but no other MP is speaking out publicly as he has done.
Now there has been another, similar attack, not this time by an MP on another MP, but by the Guardian on Neil Oliver. For the past year and a half, Oliver, previously best known as the presenter of television programmes on the history and archaeology of the British coastline, has been speaking out on GB News against state over-reach under the guise of protecting public health. Every now and then, an attempt has been made to smear Oliver with an accusation of antisemitism. For example, in August 2022 the Jewish Chronicle published an article claiming outrage among Jewish groups that Oliver had interviewed a ‘former Holocaust denier’ on his programme. In fact, the guest in question, Peter Imanuelson, denied that he had ever been a Holocaust denier; and he was not being interviewed about anything to do with the Holocaust, anyway. Oliver and Imanuelson were discussing whether the fall in birth rates in 2022 might be attributed to the Covid vaccine.
Now there has been a more high-profile attack on Oliver’s presence at GB News. This follows the recent resignation of Oliver’s colleague Mark Steyn. In a video on his website, Steyn said he had resigned because GB News presented him with a new contract which would have made him personally liable for any fine imposed by OfCom. Steyn is now broadcasting his show directly from his website. Some predicted that, following Steyn’s departure from GB News, Oliver might not be on GB News for much longer, although as far as we know OfCom isn’t investigating complaints against him.
Wednesday’s Guardian featured an article entitled, ‘Jewish groups and MPs urge GB News to stop indulging conspiracy theories.’ This stated that: “The UK’s leading Jewish organisation and a group of MPs have called on GB News and the media regulator OfCom to tackle the broadcaster’s indulgence of conspiracy theories, warning that some recent segments and guests risked spreading ideas linked to antisemitism.”
According to the Guardian, the Board of Deputies of British Jews and the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Antisemitism had decided to speak out following Oliver’s programme last Saturday night, in which he had referred in his opening monologue to a “silent war” and to plans to impose a one-world government. These, the Guardian claimed, constituted an antisemitic trope, related in some way to the Rothschild banking family. It did not appear to concern the Guardian that Oliver himself had said nothing about Jews or the Rothschilds.
The accusations against Oliver are so flimsy they’re hardly worth rebutting. I would not have written this article merely in order to counter them. The important point is that Oliver is not guilty of antisemitism. So why is the Guardian going after him? My suspicion is it senses weakness following Mark Steyn’s departure and wants to cause further trouble for GB News. Expect attacks on Laurence Fox or Dan Wootton next.
When Oliver referred to a “silent war” in his monologue on Saturday night, he was talking about the “silent war” that he believes the British parliament is waging against the British people. Oliver argued that the people can win this war by using the British constitution, according to which the people are sovereign, and not Parliament – despite its claim to be so.
In his brief discussion of the constitution, Oliver was preparing the ground for a guest who appeared later on his show, William Keyte, an expert on constitutional law. The Guardian article pays a lot of attention to Keyte, and tries hard to smear him by association, reporting that he has contributed articles to websites which also feature “conspiracy theorists” who have made allegations about the motives of the Israeli state and the Rothschild banking family. So, we should treat Oliver with suspicion because he interviewed a man who has contributed to a website that has published people who may, conceivably, be antisemitic conspiracy theorists. This is a form of offence archaeology of which the Byline Times is fond and was once memorably described as ‘six degrees of separation from Hitler’.
I would strongly recommend listening to what Keyte said on Oliver’s programme (from 27 minutes in). The Guardian article claims that Keyte has been talking about Common Law. That is a misrepresentation of his position. For the past three years there has been a great deal of talk within the freedom movement about the potential of Common Law, and a number of organisations have run courses to teach people about it. I have personally been dubious about using Common Law to fight back against the overmighty state, not because I don’t believe in Common Law, but because the police and the judiciary and government do not. They believe in the primacy of statute and case law, and they are the power in the land.
Constitutional law is a different matter. As Keyte said in another interview, “I have been trying to say for quite a long time to people who are awake to this, you really need to be arguing this from the position of constitutional law. Stop talking about Common Law, because that’s not going to do you any favours; you really need to hold the governments’ feet to the fire through the systems that we have… through the mechanisms they know they’re meant to be bound by.”
The Guardian’s attack on Keyte recalls an article it published in 2020 seeking to discredit Martin Kulldorff, one of the authors of the Great Barrington Declaration, which opposed lockdowns and argued instead for the ‘focussed protection’ of vulnerable people. The Guardian sought to smear Kulldorff by association, saying that he had appeared on the independent radio programme The Richie Allen Show, which had previously featured interviews not only with “conspiracy theorists” but also with Holocaust deniers.
What particularly concerns me about the Guardian’s attack on Oliver is that it has co-opted organisations that are supposed to represent Jewish interests. This is what always happens. A newspaper approaches organisations that purport to speak on behalf of the ‘Jewish community’, tells them that someone has been saying something antisemitic, and asks them for a comment. Naturally, they say that they deplore antisemitism, and that something should be done about it. And the newspaper has its story.
I’m sorry, but the more that Jewish organisations go on about antisemitism when there is very little there, the less likely the public are to pay attention when these same organisations flag up genuine instances of antisemitism. I can’t help thinking about the boy who cried ‘Wolf’.
Andrew Barr is the founder of Jews For Justice. In addition, he’s the author of Wine Snobbery, Pinot Noir and Drink: An informal social history. Jews For Justice doesn’t have a webpage, but it does have a Telegram group. Anyone who is interested in joining can email Andrew at firstname.lastname@example.org.