Wednesday 26 January 2011

Two Easy Choices

Two of the friends I made during my "year abroad" as part of my recent French course were fellow singers in the little church choir I joined in order to try and improve my French. (It was not as helpful as I'd hoped, as the choir specialised in Bach chorales and, being purists, sang them in German.) Annie and Guy lived near me so would give me a lift home in their car after choir practice. They were both enthusiastic Anglophiles (though they spoke no English,which was good for me) and, I think to flatter me, told me proudly how they had listened to the BBC during the war in order to find out the truth as to what was happening. They did not strike me as a particularly brave or noble couple, but had evidently been prepared to risk death or deportation in order to obtain a service our government is now about to emasculate.

The BBC World Service, the successor to the European service to which Annie and Guy listened, is not perfect, as an article an article in today's Guardian by Mark Damazer admits, but its reputation for impartiality and truth remains second to none. "Voice of America" would give their ears for a similar reputation. Our politicians frequently huff and puff about this that or the other British insinuation being "the best in the world and the envy of the world" when it patently is not (eg our justice system). The one that does fulfill this accolade they set out to curtail if not destroy.

So there's one easy choice: instead of cutting funds to the World Service double them. The effect of the public finances will be negligible and the contribution to our national prestige incalculable.

And as a post script, the Oscar-nominated and much applauded film "The King's Speech" was funded by the UK Film council, one of the quangos the coalition proposes to abolish. So another easy decision is to reprieve it. Again a minuscule cost and, if the artistic advantages don't appeal to the government, apparently in this film the UKFC has spawned a "nice title earner." Why kill off geese that lay golden eggs just because they don't fit in with the monetarist dogma of "private sector good, public sector bad?"

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