Following an on-air diatribe delivered by GB News host Neil Oliver, Martyn Lester mulls over the possible source for the latest variant of the conspiracy theory that there is a sinister group bent on imposing a ‘one-world government’
First published in the Spring 2023 issue of Searchlight magazine
Back in February, in what have been described as ‘highly unusual statements’, both the Board of Deputies of British Jews and the All Party Parliamentary Group Against Antisemitism (APPG) issued warnings to the television channel GB News that areas of its output seemed to be flirting, at least, with the kind of conspiracy hunts that have, over decades or even centuries, run closely in parallel with the idea that the planet is secretly controlled by a Jewish cabal.
Although the right-wing news-and-opinion broadcaster is no stranger to airing views that some might consider conspiracist rather than controversial, the broadcast that particularly rang alarm bells among the Deputies and MPs was a monologue in which presenter Neil Oliver railed against ‘those in pursuit of centralised power – of a one-world government’. Oliver asserted that these mostly unnamed people ‘hate, with every fibre of their being, sovereign nation states’. Their aim is ‘total control of the people’.
Insofar as there was a singled out target for his ire, it was billionaire Bill Gates and, what Oliver repeatedly refers to, as his ‘so-called vaccines’. Otherwise, these supposed wannabe global overlords were identified in broad terms such as ‘parliament’ and ‘governments elsewhere in the West’.
Much of what Oliver had to say was alarming – or perhaps we should say ‘alarmist’ – but not exclusively far right or even novel. Concern that national interests are often overridden by powers outside democratic control is arguably the main theme of the anti-globalist movement, which few would describe as being, on balance, right wing. And vaccine scaremongers are, although rife in ‘libertarian’ circles in the USA in particular, not confined to the right wing of politics. One of Britain’s best known anti-vaxxers is Piers Corbyn, who was once an International Marxist Group and then a Labour Party activist.
What undoubtedly raised red flags for the Jewish Deputies and MPs of various parties will have been Oliver’s use of the phrase ‘one-world government’ to describe the objective of the grand plot that he perceives as pervading politics. In parallel with (though not precisely the same as) the concept of a New World Order, variants on this conspiracy theory have been in play in one form or another for well over a century, with the cast list of conspirators shuffling according to the latest political fashions.
Sometimes particular rich and/or powerful families are cited. At other times the Freemasons will be on the list – or the more secretive and insidious (though likely mostly fictional, in modern times) Illuminati. In the 21st century, the finger tends to be pointed more often at a vaguer ‘neo-liberal elite’. Or, at the wildest fringes, it is pointed to the Priory of Sion (yes – the one from The Da Vinci Code!) or to shapeshifting transdimensional aliens who ‘walk among us’. But, although the composition of the supposed cabal is reasonably fluid, the list of conspiracists often terminates with ‘and the Jews’ (sometimes dressed up as ‘the Zionists’).
The theory arguably reached its zenith (or do we mean ‘nadir’?) with the ‘discovery’ in 1903 of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion – supposedly the minutes or summary of a secret international conference of Jewish leaders intent on taking over the planet, while destroying European culture/ civilization en route. The Protocols were, in fact, an elaborate forgery. But, despite being comprehensively shown to be a hoax during the early 1920s, they were deployed by the Nazis as ‘evidence’ to help indoctrinate German schoolchildren and the military against Jews – Hitler having argued in Mein Kampf that the debunking of The Protocols was in itself ‘the best proof that they are authentic’.
We need to be clear here that Oliver’s GB News monologue had nothing to say specifically about Jews, either collectively or individually, and was certainly not a précis of The Protocols. In reporting on what Oliver had to say for himself both The Guardian and The Jewish Chronicle pointed instead to what they perceived as references or similarities to another murky document: Silent Weapons for Quiet Wars. (Oliver/GB News even flagged the opinion segment with the echoic title ‘A Silent War’.)
Like The Protocols, Silent Weapons purports to be a manifesto or manual (for total economic and social control) which somehow escaped its ‘top secret’ classification and slipped out into the wild.
Some versions in circulation say that it was found, intact, inside a second-hand photocopier in the mid-1980s (a sloppy error by the supervillains that might seem comical even in a James Bond movie). Others assert that it had at least passed through the hands of the CIA, and yet others that, like The Protocols, it was in part a summary of an international symposium of moneyed world domination conspirators – in this case the first meeting of the Bilderberg Group, back in 1954.
It is a very odd document, intent on seeing economic and social controls as analogous to electronic systems (complete with circuit diagrams). As such, it is something of a thicket to comprehension, but it appears to propose that large volumes of more or less worthless promissory notes can be issued as though they were actual currency, provided the banks/reserves ensure that populations are periodically devastated through war or genocide. To which you can add – as do some ‘Covid sceptics’, who are the latest avid readers of Silent Weapons – pandemics that kill millions.
While there’s no overt ‘we are a Jewish cabal’ specification to the conspiracy outlined in Silent Weapons, the document does explicitly (and at fair length) attribute the origins of its core theory to Mayer Amschel Rothschild (1744–1812), founding patriarch of the still very much extant Jewish banking dynasty.
The Rothschilds feature as villains in countless right-wing conspiracy theories, even if a more unpopular figure in recent times, especially among conservative US conspiracists, has been Hungarian-born – and, of course, Jewish – billionaire George Soros.
‘GB News abhors racism and hate in all its forms and would never allow it on the channel,’ the broadcaster told The Guardian when the paper followed up on the complaints.
But the Deputies’ and the APPG statements did not allege any incidences of bare-faced racism. As Conservative MP Nicola Richards phrased it: ‘These developments should be of concern to GB News editors, owners, and producers and I hope they will be carefully reviewing them … there is a responsibility not to open the door to conspiratorial anti-Semitism or other misinformation.’
In other words, with this talk of a plot to impose a one-world government, there is a danger that the channel is at minimum nudging that door ajar. The complaints are not so much a shot across the bows of GB News as a warning along the lines of ‘Hey! Are you aware that your ship may be drifting towards a dangerous reef?’ And with an explicit call on Ofcom to keep an eye on the situation.