‘THE ultra-woke civil service and renegade Tories still loyal to the EU are working to destroy an elected government – aided and abetted by the unions and left-wing media.”

Your starter for 10: is this statement ­taken from (a) a Spectator columnist’s ­contribution to the National ­Conservatism conference the other week (b) a pro-Brexit member of the House of Lords who was wrapped in ermine by Boris Johnson (c) a senior Tory politician during a recent ­appearance on BBC Question Time, or was it (d) lifted from a column published this weekend in what we’re obliged to describe as the “mainstream” British press? No cheating now – hazard your guess.

It is probably telling that the speaker in scenarios (a) to (d) could all be the same person. There’s a lot of cross-fertilisation going on right now in Britain’s paranoid right-wing media ecosystem – in print, on screen, on air.

Jacob Rees-Mogg has been learning to read autocues nightly on GB News. ­Various other Tory politicians are ­pocketing tens of thousands for fronting stilted ­current affair shows where they ­forensically ­interview ­parliamentary colleagues about the ­excellence of the incumbent UK ­Government and the existential threat posed to “our way of life” by young ­people, universities, political correctness, ­foreigners and the excessive tolerance of sexual minorities.

Predictably enough, both Suella Braverman and Michael Gove put in appearances at the National Conservatism conference in London. This gathering – orchestrated by well-funded American think tanks – aims to import a muddled hodge-podge of US and Hungarian political themes into UK politics. They needn’t have bothered. The material is already here.

Big ideas seem to have included ­compulsory Christianity, libertarian ­rhetoric, protectionist economics – and ­because this is Britain, abundant r­eferences to Germans and winning the Second World War. You’ve got to mould your crackpot right-wing rhetoric to the cultural contours of the existing crackpot right-wing rhetoric, after all.

Reports from the event sketch a curious crowd of elderly reactionaries and besuited teenagers – the event had the aesthetics of an incel convention – and seems to have returned again and again to a range of ­familiar right-wing cultural anxieties. The main message was overwhelmingly gloomy – the country is buggered.

Various speakers extolled the importance of a renewed focus on personal ­responsibility. Nobody seemed all that keen to take responsibility personally for the wages of Brexit and more than a ­decade of Tory rule.

But the good news is that the current ­malaise isn’t really the Tories’ fault. ­Instead, a raft of alternative bad actors were identified by speakers from across the conservative establishment in the ­parliament and in the press.

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Instead, the Home Secretary ­reassured delegates that it is “the left” which ­promotes “a politics of pessimism, guilt, national division, resentment and ­utopianism”. And people say what ­distinguishes British people from ­Americans is their sense of irony. Irony wasn’t much in evidence here.

Then again, Britain has just ­experienced a coronation in which we were told this is a timeless protestant ­nation, ­characterised by tolerance, ­forbearance, justice and mercy – as blameless ­civilians and ­impertinent activists were ­jackbooted into custody for hours and hours by the Metropolitan Police on suspicion of ­plotting to ruin the King’s Big Day, only for the “overzealous” detention of rape campaigners and unlucky royal ­superfans to be stoutly defended by ­almost all of the Westminster political class. In ­British politics, irony is currently subject to planned supply-side shortages.

“To see what is in front of one’s nose needs a constant struggle,” as the saying goes. But to imagine the British media is in any sense left-wing, you need to have entirely taken leave of your senses or ­never have read a lick of copy in your puff.

It suits some folk to pretend the ­emergence of this kind of ­right-wing ­populism broke significant and ­concerning new ground in British ­public life. This is a lazy fantasy. Look at who is already holding the microphone. Think about whose opinions have been given a loudhailer in British public life for ­decades – and you’ll be confronted with a succession of folk planted deep in the British establishment saying all the things the national conservative kooks have been saying from the prestigious centre of the British media – on flagship national current affairs shows and in their star newspaper columns – for years and years and years.

If I told you my opening quote was ­lifted from the print press, you’d ­struggle to say for sure whether this deranged ­paragraph was Melanie Phillips ranting in The Times or Janet Daley taking her latest apoplexy in The Telegraph – or one of the other great scribes routinely published in The Sun, the Mail, and the Express whose dreams are routinely haunted by the same victim fantasies as one another.

AS it happens, this particular slice of tabloid paranoia was lifted from Richard Littlejohn’s latest thoughts on the state of the nation for the Daily Mail from his home in Florida, but these lyrical ­waxings – which have been platformed across the British media for decades – are functionally indistinguishable for the tone, agenda, and talking points of the overwhelming majority of the ­British press, which are in turn amplified and laundered into the mainstream by national broadcasters. It doesn’t matter if it is tabloid or broadsheet. The sentences may be longer or shorter. The vocabulary changes. But the message most of the ­British press gives its readers is generally indistinguishable.

Some publishers are certainly madder than others. Last week, the Scottish ­Express ran an “exclusive” story ­claiming the “Queen’s beloved Range Rover now BANNED from Glasgow thanks to SNP’s low emission zone,” summing up in 280 characters or fewer the ­peculiar ­combination of paranoia, deference, ­ancestor worship and witchcraft which goes into penning the golden kind of ­Express article which is capable of giving uncle Mason Boyne his second aneurism.

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Such is the absurdity of this stuff, that part of you is almost tempted to think of it as a kind of knowing performance art. The journalist’s duty isn’t to ­fearlessly chase after anything approximating the truth, but instead to churn out copy which will do well on the socials.

Public discourse in the UK hasn’t fallen from grace. The new degeneracy isn’t new. Vicious stupidity has been a hallmark of the British press for as long as I’ve been reading it, burning out too many of my braincells in the process. The essence of most of our tabloid journalism is nasty sentimentality. It creates angels and demons. Both goodness and badness are exaggerated. Over time, some tabloid angels fall. Other folk devils are given the opportunity for redemption. The nasty sentimentality is the only constant.

Punching down is a national ­pastime for almost all of the British press. ­Senior ­members of the incumbent UK ­Government spent years at the ­respectable heart of the British ­commentariat, ­cheerfully laundering hard right talking points into the mainstream, promoting all kinds of ethnic anxieties, ­community ­tensions, amplifying generational ­divides, vilifying the indigent and mocking ­religious and sexual minorities.

The only consequences they faced for doing so? Wadges of cash, ­endless ­platforming on national telly, plum seats in the party of government – and ­promotion into high office. To ­consume political ­media in the United ­Kingdom is to ­experience cross-platform, ­surround-sound bollocks which ask you to take patently unserious people – and their changing, patently unserious ­opinions – seriously.

Truly, it’s a hard life being cancelled.