The non-stop gaffe machine Nadine Dorries has shown she doesn't even have a basic grasp of her own job
For someone who once claimed to be a conduit for God, Nadine Dorries does have an odd habit of getting the most simple things wrong. Seeming to suggest Britain is at war with Ukraine. Defending Boris Johnson’s lies about Keir Starmer. Retweeting EDL founder Tommy Robinson. The non-stop gaffe machine Dorries has done it all.
In the last seven months, Dorries has shown she doesn’t even have a basic grasp of her own job. As Culture Secretary, she’s responsible for the future of the state owned broadcaster Channel 4 – the broadcaster she’s intent on selling off. Not being on top of her brief would be putting it very mildly.
With a major new campaign launched this week to fight the sell-off, here is a reminder of the four biggest gaffes she’s made about Channel 4:
1. Thinking Channel 4 receives public funding
The Digital, Culture, Media and Sport select committee isn’t typically essential viewing. But in November 2021, Dorries’ appearance before it was.
In an excruciating exchange at the committee, Dorries seemed confused by the way that Channel 4 is funded. She said that the broadcaster “is in receipt of public money”. She was promptly corrected by a member of the committee who pointed out that Channel 4 is actual funded through advertising.
Dorries’ response? “and..So..Though its..Yeah and..That..”
2. Saying Channel 4 could follow the model of Channel 5
If Dorries was confused by Channel 4’s funding model, perhaps she is more on top of the detail for Channel 5? Apparently not.
In an interview on LBC, Dorries actually used Channel 5 as a “model” that she wanted to emulate with her proposed sale of Channel 4. Indeed, she went so far as to say “how well Channel 5 has done since it was privatised”.
The problem? Channel 5 was never publicly owned. It was always in private hands. And therefore it was never privatised.
3. Getting her own consultation figures the wrong way round
Another gaffe, another appearance at the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport select committee. In April’s sitting, Dorries was asked by SNP MP John Nicholson how many people had supported the privatisation of Channel 4 according to the government’s official consultation.
Dorries said “I think the figure was about 96%”. She almost got this one right. Except it wasn’t 96% of respondents that supported the privatisation. The consultation found that 96% of people opposed it.
4. Pledging to ‘set free’ Channel 4 to raise external investment
In Dorries’ latest widely mocked comments on Channel 4, she even got corrected by the broadcaster itself. Speaking in the House of Commons, Dorries said “we have to enable Channel 4 to be able to be set free to raise investment to continue to make the amazing and distinctive British content – edgy, diverse programmes that it does.”
Channel 4’s response? “C4 is in excellent financial health & does not want or need to raise outside capital to fund its future plans.”
Chris Jarvis is head of strategy and development at Left Foot Forward
Image credit: UK Government – Creative Commons
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