Guido has for 2 years now been running an ongoing series highlighting ‘Activist Experts’. People from all ends of the spectrum with a history of political activism who are presented as neutral actors on broadcast media. As Guido has explained before, broadcasters have a duty to highlight the political affiliation of activists on TV. “Tracey Teacher is a Tory activist” or “Professor Boffin is a Communist Party central committee member”.
A particular favourite of TV producers is the fanatical anti-Tory campaigner Rachel Clarke, who attacked the Prime Minister last week on Good Morning Britain for amongst other things, not brushing his hair and following SAGE advice back in March. She has been popping up on Sky News, LBC, Channel 5, and ITV as a “concerned doctor”, attacking the government, never the scientists whose advice they follow. Why could that be?
Clarke’s political activism and general anti-Tory hatred is long established. Her modus operandi was openly revealed in a tweet to a fellow medic as far back as 2015:
@mancunianmedic True. But Tories' worst nightmare - and our key to success - is notion that NHS is most definitely unsafe in their hands.— Rachel Clarke (@doctor_oxford) October 18, 2015
As is her right she urged people to vote against the Tories in 2019, promoted the conspiracy theory that the Conservatives are destroying the NHS “by stealth”, has launched into political attacks against Boris Johnson for amongst other things using the phrase “do or die“ and being ‘racist xenophobic, sexist, and homophobic‘, and promoted the discredited claim that austerity killed 120,000 people. She even hit out at Boris Johnson for saying antivaxxers are nuts. Clearly a very political, activist figure. Something audiences have a right to know.
Clarke’s activism matters because it clouds her judgement. She went on a social media tirade against Kate Bingham slamming the appointment as “Boris Johnson’s new Covid-19 vaccine “tsar”: a venture capitalist with no health experience”. Bingham has in fact turned out to be a rip roaring success.
Guido doesn’t think people like Rachel Clarke should not be on TV – far from it. Political voices are an incredibly important part of our national conversation. Broadcasting rules stipulate, however, that they should not be allowed to feign neutrality.