‘Scotch Egg: The Musical’ Crowns Triumphant Run With Interview on Sky News

News from a substantial musical! I wanted to bring Daily Sceptic readers up to date on the recent production of our lockdown-sceptical show, Scotch Egg, and to thank you for your support.

There were five performances of Scotch Egg at the Playground Theatre in London last week, with strong box office numbers throughout. The show caught the attention of the press and we were interviewed by Sky News on Saturday morning, which contributed to a packed house for both the Saturday matinee and evening performances. A link to the clip is here.

Most pleasing was the audience reaction; the show veers between satirical comedy and pathos as it examines the absurdity and human cost of lockdown. For instance, the up-beat number “Drama”, (which features a rap battle between Boris and Chris Whitty at one of the 5pm press briefings) is followed later by a song sung by Death called “You Can’t Cancel Me”. The poignant “Fading Away”, (sung by an old man trapped in a nursing home, unable to see his wife of 50 years) is followed by the comedic skewering of Big Pharma in “Vaccine Cowboys”.

Not all our audience members shared our view of the pandemic but, across the board, they were able to join together to laugh at the idiocy and cry at the damage done. It was particularly good to chat to a group of NHS workers who had travelled down from the Midlands especially to see the Saturday show. I was moved by their heartfelt thanks in the bar afterwards. One senior nurse urged us to tour the show because “it’s funny but it’s also important. More people need to see it”. Another thanked us for telling the story “that we couldn’t tell”. In addition, it was also obvious to all that our young professional cast fully engaged with the show’s message, as they fizzed with enthusiasm throughout. All in all, it was a crazy but successful week. We are now hoping to attract a producer to take the show to its next stage – there is an audience, happy to pay good money to hear the message. So any contacts out there, please get in touch!

Here’s a tweet from one satisfied customer.

Ofcom Replies to Complaint About Sky’s Collaboration With the Nudge Unit to Use Covert Psychological Techniques to Promote Climate Change Dogma

Towards the end of last year, Laura Dodsworth and I complained to Ofcom about a collaboration between Sky U.K. and the Behavioural Insights Team – then part-owned by the Cabinet Office – to use “behavioural science principles”, including subliminal messaging, to encourage viewers to endorse and comply with the Government’s ‘Net Zero’ agenda. That is, Sky bragged about joining forces with a unit that was part-owned by the U.K. Government to use covert psychological techniques to try to persuade viewers to endorse one of the U.K. Government’s most politically contentious policies – and encouraged other broadcasters to do the same! Alarmingly, the joint report by Sky and the BIT also recommended broadcasters utilise these same covert techniques to change the behaviour of children “because of the important influence they have on the attitude and behaviours of their parents”.

In our complaint, Laura and I argued this was a breach of Ofcom’s Broadcasting code – in particular, paragraph 11 of section two, entitled ‘Harm and Offence’:

Broadcasters must not use techniques which exploit the possibility of conveying a message to viewers or listeners, or of otherwise influencing their minds without their being aware, or fully aware, of what has occurred.

Now, two months later, Ofcom has replied, effectively dismissing the complaint. You can read the full reply beneath our original complaint here, but this is the gist of it:

In the Guidance we outline that, among other things, whether an issue has “been broadly settled […] and whether the issue has already been scientifically established” should inform a broadcaster’s consideration of whether the special impartiality requirements in the Code apply to a particular issue. In our Guidance, we identify the scientific principles behind the theory of anthropogenic global warming as an example of an issue which we considered to be broadly settled. On this basis, we do not consider these principles in themselves to be matters of political or industrial controversy for the purposes of Section Five of our Code.

In other words, using covert psychological methods to persuade viewers to endorse climate change dogma and adapt their behaviour accordingly, e.g. switch to electric cars, is not a breach of the Broadcasting Code because the science of anthropogenic global warming is “broadly settled” and “scientifically established”.

What about the fact that many of the behavioural changes Sky is trying to persuade viewers to make also happen to be changes the current Government is promoting under the banner of ‘Net Zero’? On that point, Ofcom is slightly more ambivalent, leaving the door open to another complaint:

The U.K. Government’s position on net zero covers a wide range of policy areas around which there may be a degree of controversy. Policies on how governments deal with crises or controversies in general can be a “matter or major matter of political controversy or relating to current public policy”, even if the U.K. Government has a settled policy position on it. It is possible, depending on the specific content and context, that a broadcast programme containing discussion of specific net zero policy decisions by the UK Government may engage Section Five of the Code, and require consideration under the special impartiality rules.

Ofcom goes on to say that it has raised our complaint with Sky, but has been assured by Sky’s response, and for that reason, among others, won’t be taking our complaint any further:

Turning to your complaint, you did not identify any specific programmes broadcast by Sky which you considered to be in breach of the Code. As I have explained, Ofcom is a post-transmission broadcast regulator and as such, does not usually consider general complaints about a broadcaster’s policies. On this occasion, we drew Sky’s attention to your complaint. Sky has assured us that they retain full control of all editorial broadcast content on their channels, and they are aware of their obligations under the Code.

It is also important to note that, broadcasters have the editorial freedom to analyse, discuss and challenge issues across the board, including topics related to net zero policies. As set out above, a broadcaster’s right to freedom of expression can only be subject to restrictions which are in pursuit of legitimate aims, in accordance with the law, necessary, and proportionate. We must exercise our regulatory functions in a way which is compatible with those rights, and in line with our regulatory principles.

For these reasons, in light of the assurances given by Sky, and in the absence of a complaint about specific broadcast content, there are no grounds for opening an investigation into Sky’s editorial policies and general organisational strategy related to net zero carbon emissions under the Code.

Accordingly, we will not be taking any further action in relation to the general matters which you raised with us about Sky. However, if you do wish to make a complaint about a specific programme that you consider raises issues under the Code, then you can do this by submitting a complaint on Ofcom’s website.

Disappointingly, at no point does Ofcom address our concern about Sky’s use of covert psychological techniques to prosecute its green agenda or its intention to use these methods to bend the minds of children.

Needless to say, Laura and I have no intention of letting the matter drop. If you see a programme on Sky that you think uses covert psychological methods to brainwash you (or your children) into accepting ‘Net Zero’ gobbledegook please bring it to our attention by emailing us here.

You can subscribe to Laura’s Substack newsletter here.

Ofcom Complaint About Collaboration Between Sky and Government-Owned Company to Promote ‘Net Zero’

Laura Dodsworth and I have filed a complaint with Ofcom about a report issued by the Behavioural Insights Team and Sky urging broadcasters to use sophisticated psychological techniques derived from behavioural science to persuade people to support the Government’s ‘Net Zero’ agenda. Sky proudly boasted in the report that it was already using these subliminal techniques, which we think is a breach of Ofcom’s Broadcasting Code – in particular, the prohibition on using “techniques which exploit the possibility of conveying a message to viewers or listeners, or of otherwise influencing their minds without their being aware, or fully aware, of what has occurred”. Here is the gist of our complaint, taken from our letter to Melanie Dawes, the Chief Executive of Ofcom:

We are writing to alert you to a broadcast license complaint we have made about Sky U.K. Our complaint concerns a partnership between Sky and Behavioural Insights U.K., Known as the Behavioural Insights Team (BIT), a limited company that was partly owned by the Government at the time the report was published. We believe this partnership – and, in particular, Sky’s adoption of BIT’s recommendations about how to help the Conservative Government successfully implement one of its most political contentious policy, namely, Net Zero – contravenes the Broadcasting Code.

The partnership we’re referring to resulted in the publication of “The Power of TV: Nudging Viewers to Decarbonise their Lifestyles” and the launch of Sky’s ‘Sky Zero’ campaign, which recommended that broadcasters make use of “behavioural science principles”, including subliminal messaging (“nudging” in the parlance of BIT, which is colloquially known as the Nudge Unit), to encourage viewers to endorse and comply with Conservative Government policy. Alarmingly, the report recommends broadcasters utilise sophisticated psychological techniques to change the behaviour of children “because of the important influence they have on the attitude and behaviours of their parents”.

The letter is worth reading in full.

Cop26 Proves that for the Billionaire Class and their Political Bag-Carriers, Virtue-Signalling is More Important than Being Virtuous

I’ve written a piece for Mail+ about the galactic levels of hypocrisy being exhibited by the billionaires, politicians and celebrities attending COP26. Here is an extract.

If hypocrisy were a type of fuel, the 20,000 attendees at Cop26 in Glasgow would have solved the climate crisis at a stroke.

Yesterday, Amazon owner Jeff Bezos flew in to Glasgow in his £4 8million Gulfstream jet, leading a 400-strong parade of private aircraft transporting billionaires to the climate conference.

The jets, which included one carrying Prince Charles and his entourage from Rome, will disgorge more carbon into the atmosphere in a few days than 1600 Scots burn through in a year.

And the reason these plutocrats are flying in to Glasgow, of course, is to wag their fingers at ordinary people, insisting we reduce our carbon emissions or face the wrath of the next generation.

“It’s one minute to midnight,” Boris Johnson warned, neglecting to mention that he has taken more than 20 private flights since becoming Prime Minister.

I would say this means irony is dead, but climate change hypocrisy is a bit like the Black Knight in Monty Python And The Holy Grail. Every time you think these rich and powerful do-gooders have inflicted a mortal wound on their moral credibility, they carry on as if nothing has happened.

Perhaps the ultimate example of these double standards is Sky chief executive Dana Strong. The broadcaster is one of the main sponsors of Cop26 and Ms Strong has not been shy about lecturing her rivals for not doing enough to promote the green agenda.

So is she leading by example? Not exactly.

For the first six months of her term as chief executive, Dana Strong ‘commuted’ to Sky’s London headquarters from her home in Philadelphia via private jet. That meant she completed the 7,000-mile round trip multiple times before she relocated to London in June.

Worth reading in full.