Friday, March 24, 2023

Nadine With Attitude: culture secretary’s TikTok rap draws ridicule

It was, perhaps, more straight out of The Thick of It than Compton, but Nadine Dorries seemed undeterred.

In a move that has elicited a somewhat mixed reaction, the culture secretary launched an explanation of the government’s online safety bill in the form of a 41-second rap on TikTok.

“It’s effectively a framework to protect internet users / From scams, illegal content and anonymous abusers,” rhymes Dorries about legislation that will require tech companies to protect children and adults from harmful online content.

In the clip, shot in her office and posted from her account on the streaming platform, other lines shoehorned into the rap include apparent ripostes to campaigners who have suggested that the proposals are a “recipe for censorship”.

“But is it true it will impact freedom of expression?” The minister asks, before images of sections from the bill appear as she adds: “No … we’ve put in legal protections in the 19th section.”

The clip is mild in comparison with previous social media interventions from Dorries, who has earned a reputation for taking a particularly combative approach to using Twitter.

Many though were still unprepared for the TikTok rap.

“Help, I’ve just been traumatized by online content,” was the reaction from one Twitter user, as others suggested that the minister’s own communications team might not have had her best interests at heart.

Matthew Lesh, head of public policy at the Institute of Economic Affairs, reassured followers: “This ‘rap’ from Nadine Dorries is seriously emotionally distressing and lacks a reasonable excuse. Thankfully that will soon be illegal under the new harms based communications offense in the online safety bill.”

The TikTok clip appeared on Thursday as controversy continued to swirl around separate developments directly relating to the culture secretary’s brief.

CBBC, BBC Four and Radio 4 Extra will shut down and become online-only services, the corporation said, in response to Dorries’s decision to freeze the license fee at £159 for the next two years.

Channel 4 also responded to a tweet by Dorries, who claimed that plans to privatise the television network attempt would “setting Channel 4 free” to be able to raise investment for programming.

“A proposal was made, in response to a request from DCMS, showing how C4 could potentially raise a small amount of outside capital,” tweeted Channel 4’s press office.

Nation World News Desk
Nation World News Desk
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