The National:

THERE were a lot of fascinating moments in Nadine Dorries’s session with the Commons Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee.

From describing her own children as “snowflakes” to suggesting criticism of her within the arts sector is to do with sexism, the UK Government’s Culture Secretary wasn’t doing herself any favours.

But in one particular moment shared thousands of times across social media, the Conservative MP demonstrated the big problem with Boris Johnson’s Cabinet members.

MPs asked the minister about the future of Channel 4 – which faces the threat of privatisation before 2024.

Asked if there was more or less of a chance of the UK Government privatising the broadcaster with Dorries in her new role, she couldn’t give the committee an answer as she hadn’t “made a decision”.

“I know there is all this speculation about ‘the decision has been made’ and ‘they are going to privatise Channel 4’ but we are not. We are evaluating the future of Channel 4 and whether it is a sustainable model,” she said.

“A decision has not been taken. When we get to the point of possibly taking a decision, when we get to the point of considering all the evidence, then we can probably have this discussion.

“But at the moment I think it is right and proper we evaluate the future of a public service broadcaster.”

Dorries went on: “I would argue that to say that just because Channel 4’s been established as a public service broadcaster, and just because it’s receipt in public money, we should never kind of audit the future of Channel 4 and we should never evaluate how Channel 4 looks in the future, and whether or not it’s a sustainable and valuable model, it’s quite right that the Government should do that.”

It was another Conservative MP, Damian Green, who cut in to point out something key (and looked extremely confused).

“But Channel 4’s not like the BBC,” he told Dorries. “It’s not in receipt of licence fee money. It makes its money from commercial operations.”

Green is quite right. Channel 4, despite its public status, earns its funding entirely through commercial activities. According to their own website: “Most of our income comes from advertising revenue.” Anyone can even look through the broadcaster’s financial statements, where this is confirmed.

In response, Dorries flailed. “And … so … although it’s … yeah … and …”

She was saved as Sarah Healy, the permanent secretary of Dorries’s department, cut in. But Dorries didn’t take the time to sit back and feel relieved. She kept going and interrupted to say that conversations about the future of Channel 4 have been going on before the recent Cabinet reshuffle. She then added she was “just as I was looking to Sarah to clarify what you said on the funding”. Yikes.

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Dorries demonstrates the lack of preparedness and understanding of key issues in the Cabinet, which Johnson himself exemplified with his mad Peppa Pig ravings this week. It’s what former chief adviser Dominic Cummings is talking about when he claims the Prime Minister didn’t understand crucial elements of his own Brexit deal.  

The current Tory Cabinet really doesn’t care about important details because it’s all about ideology. And they don’t care about being prepared, because they know they’ll get an easy ride from the official opposition and most of the UK’s media. There’s also the argument that Johnson surrounds himself with incompetence to make himself look stronger, too.

Scotland really doesn’t have to put up with this nonsense.