Outside the Westminster bubble the name of James Chapman will probably not ring too many bells, nor should it. For in the wake of the UK’s vote to leave the EU last summer, this former assistant to ex-chancellor and chief architect of Project Fear, George Osborne, left politics to forge a new career in public relations.
If you thought that might be the last you would hear of Mr Chapman you’d be wrong. Thanks to a recent flurry of anti-Brexit tweets – some more eccentric than others – Chapman predictably managed to find his way onto the BBC radar. Calling Brexit a ‘calamity’ he recently popped up on Radio 4’s Today programme, and on August 11 had a whole BBC news website page devoted to his fringe views. The BBC even reproduced some of his most recent tweets, one of which read:
“Let's be honest, if we had an effective electoral law leading Brexiteers would now be in jail.”
That the BBC reproduced this tweet in all its glory speaks volumes. The broadcaster did not blink so much as an eyelid. Nor was the presentation of this tweet framed in any way that could be interpreted as even mildly censorious or ironic. His call to jail political opponents was met not by outrage, but rather tacit support.
On the contrary, Chapman’s extraordinary contention was presented matter-of-factly, without any comment, critical or otherwise. If silence equals agreement then one can only assume that the BBC concur with this outrageous sentiment. As yet Mr Chapman has not elaborated as to what kind of judicial sentence he would propose for such dissent - hard labour perhaps?
But it doesn’t end there. Not only is our national broadcaster amplifying the views of a single fanatical individual – a view reeking with authoritarianism and yes, shades of fascism, (lock up your political opponents) but on the very same day the corporation is promoting this brand of extremism, it is taking some pains to suppress the findings of the largest and most detailed piece of Brexit research since the 2016 Referendum.
Although it would not doubt come as a surprise to BBC readers, listeners and viewers, researchers from Oxford University and The London School of Economics recently conducted the most significant piece of Brexit research since the June 2016 referendum. Respondents were questioned about issues such as single market membership, free movement of people and the so-called Brexit ‘divorce’ bill.
Reporting that two-thirds of the 3,000 plus respondents backed Theresa May’s ‘hard’ Brexit and that even pro-EU voters wish to limit free movement of people post-Brexit, this is research that most certainly would not meet with BBC approval. The study also found the same proportion of people – 67% - preferred ‘no deal’ to a soft version of Brexit. Again not what the BBC wish to hear.
Rather than covering a piece of research that has profound significance regarding the post-Brexit mood of the UK, the BBC chose instead to publicise the eccentric views of a diehard Remainer who fantasises about locking up his political opponents.
But it’s not only people who voted to leave the EU that Mr Chapman would like to sanction. If he and his newly formed ‘Democrat’ party have their way, free speech could also be seriously curtailed. ‘The Democrats’ tweeted Chapman to pro-Brexit website Guido Fawkes, ‘will close you down when we implement Leveson.’ This sinister message followed a similar threat issued to another pro-Brexit site, Westmonster.
Chapman is intent, it seems on stamping out all opposition to his pro-EU fanaticism. Facilitated by his new ‘democratic’ party, his avowed aim is to overturn the outcome of the EU referendum, which just happens to be the largest democratic election in the history of the UK . . .
Should Chapman’s ‘Democrats’ ever come close to achieving anything like power, it seems we can henceforth look forward to a future where political opposition is routinely suppressed, democratic votes overturned and free speech shut down. If that prospect does send a shiver down your spine, then frankly nothing will.
Thanks to the BBC Chapman has become somewhat of a Twitter hero of late. Hundreds if not thousands of hard-core Remain voters are flocking to his Twitter feed, clutching at his increasingly bizarre tweets as a drowning person would a life raft. Now the emergence of demagogues should worry us all, especially those whose rhetoric resembles something that might have come straight out of the pages of 1984 – but not, it appears, our national broadcaster.
Chapman’s belligerent, unapologetic stance might be thrilling the BBC, but purpose served he will no doubt soon slip off the broadcaster’s radar, supplanted by the next pro-EU acolyte in much the same way as has happened to the likes of Gina Miller and Tim Farron.
He is but a temporary symptom of a much deeper malaise in society, whereby certain individuals feel empowered to openly flout the principles of democracy due to what a psychologist might diagnose as narcissistic personality disorder. NPD is, according to the Mayo clinic, a condition whereby individuals, ‘disregard the feelings and wishes of others and expect to be treated as superior regardless of their actual status or achievements . . .’
Not that such information would necessarily trouble the BBC, who in James Chapman have unearthed the latest voice to further their anti-Brexit agenda. Expect therefore to hear a lot more of his ‘Democrat’ party in the weeks to come.
By amplifying Chapman’s wild ravings while simultaneously suppressing the important research of two of the UK’s most esteemed institutions, the BBC has confirmed what many have long suspected: Auntie is no longer the trusted broadcaster of yore, an organisation envied around the world for its even handedness and objectivity.
For here is a national broadcaster that when it is not undermining Brexit it’s trashing Trump; when it’s not trashing Trump it’s attempting to demonise populism; when it’s not demonising populism it’s sneering at Corbyn, Farage and Gove; when it’s not sneering at wrong-thinkers, it’s whipping up hysteria about the NHS and public services; when it’s not creating hysteria at home, it’s creating hysteria abroad constantly advocating for mass migration into Europe’s borders. It just goes on. And the longer it is allowed to continue this way, the more audacious it becomes.
Sad to report, but with every passing day, this once great British institution edges ever closer to becoming little more than a quasi-political party, mouthpiece for a rich and powerful liberal elite, a parody of its former self, a playground, in the words of Andrew Marr, to ‘an abnormally large number of young people, ethnic minorities and gay people.’
All of which would be bad enough. But it doesn’t end there. To add insult to injury, to administer one final kick in the teeth, this is a quasi-political party financed by the public purse, by you, and formerly, by me.