The Spectator, the Co-Op and cancel culture.
Fascinating article by Fraser Nelson in the Spectator about how an obnoxious anti-free speech outfit with the innocent-sounding name of "Stop funding hate" tricked the Co-op into what could have been a nasty misunderstanding - fortunately now resolved - with the Spectator.
A welcome instance where the argument for free speech was successful.
The Co-op actually has the following excellent policy which some junior employees apparently didn't know about or understand.
'We will not seek to affect the editorial independence of publications or channels. We will not undermine the commercial value of our society for our members. We will ensure our values and principles are clear and undiminished regardless of surrounding content.'
Fraser Nelson learns the following three lessons from "This wee drama:-
1. Cancel culture is now rebounding on corporates who engage with it. The joke – go woke, go broke – contains some truth. Companies wisely stay out of party political battles, so why enter the culture wars and disparage a chunk of your customers? Virgin Rail found this out when they were fooled by Stop Funding Hate into dumping the Daily Mail from its carriages: Richard Branson ended up overruling his marketing department and publishing a personal apology.
2. There is a risk in asking a junior social media person to speak for the whole company. The social media person is asked to respond to complaints on Twitter: was your delivery late? A fly in your soup? Please accept our apologies etc. These statements are issued quickly. It’s a weak link, targeted by Twitter trolls to try to fool the social media team into saying ‘seen an advert against an article you disagree with? Or, sorry, regard as ‘hate speech’? Okay, sorry, we won’t advertise with this publication’. As easily as that, a firm can end up accidentally aligning itself with cancel culture.
3. Publications ought to get together, and stand firm on advertisers who engage in cancel culture. Serving readers ought to be the sole focus of any publication: there’s a longstanding tradition in Britain that advertisers do not seek to influence what is published. This editorial independence from commercial pressures is worth defending – and if that means losing revenue from a small number of social warrior corporates then it’s a price well worth paying. As The Spectator has found. This is not a left vs right battle. One of the trolls’ complaints for us, this time around, was that we ran a piece by Suzanne Moore of the Guardian. A while ago, one of The Spectator’s bigger advertisers had a problem with comments made by Matthew Parris. Let’s just say that they’re not a big advertiser now."
You can read the article here.