The National:

A CAMPAIGN is underway to tear Britain “down in its entirety”, TV presenter Neil Oliver has claimed in one of his lengthy GB News rants.

The Coast presenter, who has been outspoken in his anti-independence views (calling the prospect of indyref2 a “cancerous” presence in Scotland and suggesting independence could infringe on human rights) and sparked anger over his controversial takes on Covid rules, gave an eight-minute monologue in which he said it’s time to “stop apologising for Britain”.

The speech kicked off with a graphic reading “I love Britain” – after you could hear a GB News producer in Oliver’s earpiece of course. Seems those initial technical issues perhaps aren’t quite resolved.

The video is a fascinating case study of unusual human behaviour, as Oliver manages to talk at length about how much he loves something (in this case Britain) without once breaking into a smile. 

A particular highlight of the segment saw the former NTS president that the Scottish and Welsh borders have “no meaning” as Britain is “all one place”.

Given his fervent anti-independence views, it was a little confusing when Oliver bizarrely claimed that “countries are figments of collective imagination”, and that Britain, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland “do not exist, not really”.

“You might say that a country is a dream shared by its inhabitants,” he told viewers. “As long as enough of us believe in the existence of Britain then the dream remains alive and the country remains real. If too many people stop believing or choose to believe in some place else then the dream is over and the country ceases to exist as completely as a candle flame blown out by the wind.”

These are the arguments of no-borders anarchists, but we suspect that’s not what Oliver is getting at here.

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Overall, the presenter’s speech was a near 10-minute version of somebody saying: “These days they lock you up and throw away the key if you dare say you’re British!” Reader, please do alert us to those suffering in prison for the crime of being British. As far as we’re aware there’s about 67 million people with that title on their passport living free.

As an example of how people want to “tear down” Britain, Oliver pointed to a recent academic report stating that David Livingstone benefitted from slavery due to his work in a mill which “likely” used West Indian cotton, despite being an abolitionist later in life. The report, commissioned by Glasgow City Council, picked out a number of individuals and sites in Glasgow with links to slavery.

The council has said it has no proposals to remove any monuments on the basis of the report, but Oliver told his viewers that there is a “bid to take down” the statue.

“That the rubbishing of our past has come for a man like David Livingstone is as clear a sign as is needed to show the inequity of those who would tell us nothing good ever came from Britain. Personally I’ve had more than enough of that message," he said.

Oliver goes on: “Those whose agenda is to run down Britain want nothing less than it might cease to exist in any recognisable form so that it might be replaced with something utterly different.”

Oliver does concede that it’s fair to criticise elements of British history, that there are “achievements and mistakes”, but seems to believe that doing so now is an attempt to “tear the old place down in its entirety”. It’s hard to tell what he thinks is the “appropriate” criticism of Britain because he doesn’t give a single example of what that would be.

Unsurprisingly the comment section of the monologue’s Twitter post was full of Union flag profiles saying they’ll never apologise for Britain (and not a single person saying they should).

READ MORE: GB News: Neil Oliver panned after saying he'd 'cheerfully risk catching Covid for freedom'

We suggest you listen to other historians on how we should consider the history of Britain, including Professor Sir Tom Devine.

Scotland’s leading historian had praise for the Glasgow slavery report Oliver was up in arms over, telling the Daily Mail: “The report is a very competent and thorough piece of work as one would expect from a trained historian.

“Glasgow’s approach in hiring a scholar to do the work on the city’s slavery past is therefore to be commended.”

He added that he would “love to see the report’s findings become one of the bases of a Glasgow Museum of Slavery and Empire”.

If that occurs, we can’t wait to see how Oliver reacts.