Erasing The British And Their Lexicon
If we don't want to see a future where the only permitted definition of being British is a passport holder or having a self-chosen 'national identity' then we would do well to more consciously and conscientiously apply British and Britishness in the traditional way.
A recent attack on the concept of Britishness has given us an insight into how the use of the term 'British' is being subverted by those who wish to constrain the British people in how they can define themselves or use these definitions in public.
An everyday social media post by the Traditional Britain Group recently came under scrutiny by powerful and well-funded opinion formers and the post had a 'false' stamp applied for those viewing it. Alongside other examples, the intent appears to be to stop the phrase British being used to define ancestral identity and instead only be used to refer to citizenship or a civically chosen identity. A follow-on reason, when shared on social media channels, is to restrict the user sharing it and future posts, so that others never see them in the first place. The algorithmic wall rises up.
In this situation a post calling Croydon "37% British" was censored on social media, a decision that has deeper, more unwelcome implications. Countless words have several meanings which people hold in their minds at the same time and apply the correct one depending on the context in which it is used.
The term British can mean a person holding British citizenship, a member of the group of British ancestral people who are closely related to each other and more lately, after the recent Census changes, to those who assert that they have a national identity, being 'British' that can be held regardless of citizenship or ancestry, apparently.
As the demographic situation in Britain has been fundamentally altered by political actors, there has been a parallel growing pressure to erase the sense of Britishness that refers to being related to the ancestral peoples of Britain, to slowly make this usage taboo and in time archaic. This trend is now being more widely seen in the use of the descriptor English etc. too. Many of these pressures inevitably come from people who don't hold membership of or attachment to this more fundamental kind of British community as well as from their progressive allies.
The organisation 'Full Fact', was founded by Michael Samuel, described as a philanthropist, to advance 'public education'. Its initial application for charitable status was refused because the Charity Commission at the time decided its stated purpose of 'civic engagement' was 'too political'. It then changed this aspiration to the 'public education' one, after which it was duly accepted. Michael Samuel is a descendant of the founder of Shell Oil, Marcus Samuel, from which the wealth to advance his philanthropy, assumedly emanates.
This initial reluctance to permit Full Fact charitable status for its 'too political' objectives can be viewed from our position of hindsight as having some value. It now works as a close partner with the social media company Facebook, on which this post was shared and thereafter penalised. It also has a presence on Google and YouTube from where it seeks to advance its own factual interpretations (and inevitable cancellations) of various statements made by others. In 2021 they declared that their reach amounted to 21 million users on their own website and "millions more via Google, Facebook and YouTube." They had a budget/income of almost £2.5m in 2021. A great many of the posts they target (often viral ones) will have been in some way restricted from being shared on other forums, including Facebook after being selected by them.
They have also been particularly active publicly, in demanding even more stringent application of the Online Safety Bill (soon to be Act) to force social media companies to undertake 'media literacy' and to pass this on to their users of social media too. They strongly advocated for more stringent controls on what they termed 'health misinformation' and also decried the government's, initial at least, backtracking on the controversial 'legal but harmful' constraints. Their website targets issues around crime, immigration, the EU, law and the economy.
Just over two weeks ago, (24/8), they 'fact checked' the Deputy Chairman of the Conservative Party, Lee Anderson, MP, for stating in Parliament "We’re already spending £7 million a day to put “economic chancers” up in hotels." Many of the posts sharing his claim across social media will also have been affected after this. Yesterday (19/9) the Home Offices' annual report put this figure at £8m per day. They have also recently targeted the suggestion in many media articles that Labour's proposed deal with the EU would result in over 100,000 asylum seekers entering the UK. A charity that started as a conduit of 'public education' has quickly evolved into one which, through commercial alliances, find itself in the position of helping dictate what views may be shared, what the facts are, what must be included and what is irrelevant and should be excluded, regardless of its factual basis. At least, if the sharer wants to avoid some form of electronic social perdition.
According to some reports, 66% of British people are users of Facebook. It is a platform often used by a more mature segment of our population. A business alliance covering such a wide array of areas, that are subject to penalties and revocation for pages, groups and general users under the searchlight of groups like Full Fact can therefore be argued to be opinion suppression and narrative control. When accounts have their reach suppressed due to targeted take-downs inspired by 'fact check' organisations, many of those pages with previous reach in the tens of millions, then this process also can have potentially damaging democratic consequences, particularly during election periods. If this disproportionately is applied more to particular political currents or perspectives, then the beneficiaries will be alternative or counter viewpoints who get to be seen more by the public in their feeds, while the alternatives are made much more invisible. We saw during the COVID era how accounts were lost and content suppressed for things that later turned out to be true but inconvenient to the state regime.
Facebook to avoid a defamation suit recently in the US, told the judge that the fact check services they use were only to be considered opinion (which is protected), not facts (which aren't), a policy that worked for them - legally at least. Countless organisations have also objected to the use of fact checkers to undermine their content, even the BMJ. In these cases, neither legally remedy, nor an appeals process were successful.
In the most recent case involving us, a former BBC journalist, one Nasim Asl, now at Full Fact, took objection to our statement that Croydon was 37% British. Any person of British descent can recognise the meaning of this statement, even if they disagree with it. It refers to people who state their ethnicity as British: English, Scottish, Welsh, Northern Irish. As outlined in the ONS summary for the area. Here it is, why not check your own area too. Ms Asl preferred instead the less accessible definition of 'national identity' which only at root requires a statement of identity, based on feeling. By such a definition, over 90% of Britain by the same Census, is currently 'British'. This conception of Britishness (as my chosen 'identity') is a highly controversial and less accepted one, when other options are thereby excluded. Why should the UK's largest social media organisation impose such a definition on unwilling British people? We do not believe, based not least upon the widespread disquiet around immigration, that the majority of British (ancestral) people in the UK see the country as being 90% British, with no qualifiers needing to be made. In fact, we see it as patently absurd.
The effect of such a policy is to deny to British people the right to use terms of long antiquity and common currency to define their own group or their most fundamental identity. Their ethnic attachment is to a group and their associations within that group, rather than to some legalistic term (citizenship) or some expression of feeling (such as national identity) on a form. In a parallel and similar way in the context of sex (the real) biological reality, has been overridden by gender (the imagined) as the primary permitted expression, transformed now, so that men can feel one day that they are not-men and the next day, if they choose, feel something else entirely. They can legalistically declare this on a form to style themselves as the possessors of a new confected identity. Gender itself is also therefore now being imposed as the primary aspect of one's sexual identity and just as unconvincingly.
This more superficial understanding of people's concepts of deep identity has been pushed upon a resistant public, with the full support of the state. One of supposedly 'conservative' orientation.
Indeed, in the former example, many minority activists are now openly trying to press social media companies to prevent this deprecated usage of the term British, to stop people declaring that others are not included within the circle of being British. One from the unpalatable organisation (non-)British Future has been calling for advice from legal experts to brainstorm formal legalistic ways to compel Twitter and others to enforce a comment policy that treats such definitional applications as 'hate' speech. Even discussing about getting a progressive coalition to pressure the Equality and Human Rights Commission to make a ruling that will force the platform to ban some completely and pursue "behaviour change" in others if they assert that in this sense people are 'not British'. If successful here, it's inevitable that legal measures will follow, making such opinions an expression of 'racial hatred'.
One can understand the group interest of historically recent minority origin peoples pushing for restrictions and penalties on how British people can define themselves. Usurping the rights of others. If we don't want to see a future where the only permitted definition of being British is a passport holder (a travel document ) or declaring a self-chosen 'national identity' then we would do well to more consciously and conscientiously apply British and Britishness in the traditional way that it has been used historically.
PS This isn't the first time that the TBG has encountered these deceitful fact checkers on the subject of the Census. In 2022 Facebook again penalised us for a post by a fact check organisation, using debating points taken from the deeply subversive Hope Not Hate organisation, such that 'because trends have continued in a particular direction, there's no inevitability that they will continue in that direction'. It related to the subject of British people becoming a future minority in the UK. The viral social media post was restricted further and we quickly replied in a follow up post. They then quickly took the article down, but have since quietly put it back on their site again, after the heat of the Census debates abated. The post is here. But we're not sure whether Miss Vitelli is. She stopped her contributions a month later. If British people do not realise the strategy behind such posts, then perhaps log-off now.