Monday 12 November 2012

Self-harming BBC

The priorities of the British establishment and media are baffling in the extreme.  The reputation of a Tory lord has been impugned, which is bad but not life-threatening, and no-one has died as a result, but the Director General of the BBC has been pressured into resigning,  the BBC is said to be in one of the worst crises in its history.,and both the BBC and other media  seem to have talked and written of little else else for days.

I am all in favour of those responsible for serious debacles being held to account, but the Director General's resignation is purely token.  He had held the job for less than two months and must still have been learning the ropes:  he can hardly be held responsible for whatever faults in the organisational structure led to this minor mishap.

  • Yet at the same time bankers who failed properly to supervise their traders whose recklessness led to a global financial crisis with repercussions on millions remain in post.  
  • People are beaten up by policemen on demonstrations and there are deaths in police custody, but rarely is anyone found to be culpable.  
  • Warnings of the dangers of ash die-back disease have apparently been around for several years: who ignored them and why haven't they been sacked?  
  • The ministry of defence wastes millions on wasteful procuration deals and yet generals, rather than getting the sack, retire with honour and then hop nimbly into lucrative positions in the armaments industry. 
  • Newspaper executives who permitted the phone hacking which has caused distress to hundreds remain in post.
  • Of those who produced  an Olympics nearly 300% over budget,  one  is given a peerage and joins the government, and another is acknowledged in this morning's Guardian as a national hero

It has often been argued that the law in the UK deals more severely with injuries to property than it does with injuries to people.  Clearly that does not apply if the  person injured, if only in reputation,  is part of the establishment,  Lord McAlpine threatens to sue.  If he does I hope the damages are only token (after all, the money comes from our licence fee) and if they are large he donates them to a suitable charity, perhaps one trying to help real paedophiles control  with their unacceptable disposition.

In all this flagellation and self-flagellation of the BBC we need to remember that there are rapacious capitalists, who give priority to profits over balanced reporting, honesty and artistic endeavour,  who are very anxious to gain a slice of the BBC's place in the market: viz the Murdoch empire, with the Telegraph and Mail not far behind 


  1. It is interesting that the Murdoch press has been particularly vociferous in its attacks on the BBC; the combination of self interest and self righteousness is neither unexpected nor edifying when its own conduct is examined. The outlook of Telegraph and Mail is explicable (I assume) in a simplistic private public perspective but also because the BBC's general impartiality is anathema to the distortions of both news and opinion from both papers - the Telegraph relatively recently in what I see as its pursuit of the Mail's readership. The paradox is of course that the majority of readers generally value and accept the BBC's worth.

  2. Thanks for your comment, Richard. Diane Abbott makes a very pertinent comparison in today's "Guardian":

    "Politicians and commentators insist on claiming that Newsnight named the alleged Tory paedophile when it did nothing of the sort. The people screaming for yet more BBC resignations had nothing to say about the case of Christopher Jefferies who was actually named (complete with photographs ) by no fewer than eight newspapers as the alleged murderer of Joanna Yates. Yet no newspaper editor or manager resigned over that."

    The whole, short, article, "It's dangerous for us to feed the hysteria engulfing the BBC" is worth reading

  3. So, Lord McAlpine is to receive £185 000 "damages", plus legal fees, from the BBC as compensation for the alleged libel (though according to Diane Abbott, above, he was never actually named.)

    That's a lot of money and, remember, it's our money, coming from the licence fees those under 75 pay. I wonder what he'll do with it, as he's 70 years old and, as my step-mother once put it to me. "When you're old you don't need money." I presume she meant over and above subsistence level, which she was and which I'm pretty sure Lord McAlpine will be since, according to Wikipedia:

    "In 2010 he stepped down from his seat in the House of Lords because of changes in the British tax code, in order to maintain his non-domiciled status and so be able to avoid paying UK residents' taxes."

    Maybe we shall hear what charity will benefit from this largess.