How the Beeb marked May Day

theresa-may-2

Theresa May is now Prime Minister, and the coverage was predictably nauseating. Bereft of internet a few days into life at new digs, I sat and watched it on News 24.

Neutrality means offering as broad a range of viewpoints as possible, and not favouring any of them. The BBC always claims it’s neutral, but that’s not what it does at all. Instead, for decades, it’s consistently done something very different: portray anyone or anything conforming to the neoliberal-authoritarian post-Thatcherite consensus in a favourable light (being mildly critical at very best, fawningly biased at worst), and relentlessly undermine anyone who deviates from it. Being pro-establishment and anti-dissident, after all, is basically the default setting of British public life. Continue reading “How the Beeb marked May Day”

Bem Bulletin #6: Ken, Kuenssberg, and climate catastrophe

Laura-Kuenssberg-anti-Corbyn

A few years back I used to put out something I called the Bem Bulletin. Essentially, it was a collection of shorter bits about current goings on I’d write in gaps between rambling pseudo-intellectual essay type things. Now, with full-time work meaning those gaps are getting longer and longer, I decided it was a good time to resurrect the concept – and this one’s largely about last month’s local and mayoral elections and media bias, with a dash of me-standard ecological doom.

This month:

  1. Electoralism blues – Labour and the local elections
  2. Flak attack #1: that Ken Livingstone anti-Semitism thing
  3. Flak attack #2: Kuenssberg/sexism
  4. We should probably just shut the BBC down and be done with it
  5. Obligatory reminder of impending eco-doom

Continue reading “Bem Bulletin #6: Ken, Kuenssberg, and climate catastrophe”

Bem Bulletin #5: March 2015 – Budget 2015, Richard III and Bring Back Clarkson

Budget osborne 2015

THIS MONTH: Vote Defensively (But Voting Isn’t Enough)

Observations on The People’s Strictly (featuring Michael Sheen)

The Capitalist Anti-Capitalism of Yanis Varoufakis


On the menu today:

  1. Budget 2015
  2. Del Boy Shapps
  3. Richard III
  4. Bring Back Clarkson
  5. Russell Brand and Aditya Chakrabortty

Continue reading “Bem Bulletin #5: March 2015 – Budget 2015, Richard III and Bring Back Clarkson”

The NHS in ‘The Apprentice’ Society

Sugar and friends
Sugar and friends

Caring is out. Ruthlessness is in. That’s neoliberal morality.

Recently I had cause to partake of the National Health Service – or, more specifically, I had to accompany someone to an appointment at the Bristol Royal Infirmary, which at least involved riding an NHS-provided bus, sitting in a nice warm NHS waiting room and watching repeats of Grand Designs on an NHS TV.

I’ve been fortunate enough not to need the health service much. Yet. I still think it’s the greatest political achievement in the history of British statecraft. Given that national politics has been monopolised by nest-feathering plutocrats since time immemorial, it admittedly hasn’t got much competition for the title.

As the kind of lentil-munching ultra-leftist the Daily Mail presumes uses the Union Jack to mop the floor, I’m constitutionally obliged to hate dumb, tub-thumping patriotism in all its forms. But if there is something about ‘being British’ that’s genuinely worth being proud of – rather than a piss-poor football team, a plasticated Barbie and Ken monarchy, and a millions-enslaving, famine-inducing, continents-sundering imperial past – it’s the fact that our society commits to providing high-quality healthcare free at the point of use to anyone who needs it.

The NHS was born out of that dismayingly brief period, more of an blip when you look back on it, when top-drawer politics wasn’t entirely dominated by said nest-feathering plutocrats. “No society can legitimately call itself civilised if a sick person is denied medical aid because of lack of means”, proclaimed Nye Bevan, post-war Health Minister, lovely Welsh socialist and exemplary human being.

In the decades since, national politics has slowly but steadily reverted to business as usual. Now we’ve reached a critical mass of high-functioning sociopaths in positions of power, the NHS, like everything else left over from that bountiful five minutes of post-war welfarism, is under relentless attack. Continue reading “The NHS in ‘The Apprentice’ Society”

Auntie and The Greens: BBC Bias and the Leaders’ Debates

Green Party leader Natalie Bennett flanked by Deputies Amelia Womack and Shahrar Ali
Green Party leader Natalie Bennett flanked by Deputies Amelia Womack and Shahrar Ali

The BBC’s handling of the Leaders’ Debates is obviously scandalous, but, given its past conduct, shouldn’t be surprising.

The BBC is refusing to let the Green Party in to the televised debates it’s planning in advance of next year’s General Election. Auntie has decided that Nigel Farage and his hard-right intifada are worthy of admission, and that Natalie Bennett’s Greens aren’t.

In a letter to the Green Party’s communications director, the BBC explained its reasoning: “UKIP has demonstrated a substantial increase in support since 2014 across a range of elections along with a consistent and robust trend across a full range of opinion polls; the Green Party had not demonstrated any comparable increase”.

Green supporters and assorted irked progressives responded: the Greens beat the Lib Dems in this year’s Euro elections, they argued, receiving 1.2m votes, 150,000 more than Clegg and co. They’re now polling neck-and-neck with the Liberals in opinion polls. The Greens are the fifth biggest party in the Scottish Assembly, and the third biggest in the London Assembly. Since January, membership of the Green Party of England and Wales has jumped 45%. They’ve had an MP in Parliament for nearly five years – UKIP have only had one for about five weeks.

We’re probably well in the minority in thinking the leaders’ debates are an awful development, further chiselling down what should be a vast, complex, citizenry-engaging discussion about how societies are run into a rubbish squabble over who gets the top job. They’re a stunningly shallow American export we never should’ve touched, and need scrapping immediately.

Almost inevitably, though, they’re here to stay. And if that’s the case, and some are going to feature upstart xenophobe Nigel Farage, of course they need to include the Greens, if not Plaid Cymru, the SNP, and RESPECT’s George Galloway too. Continue reading “Auntie and The Greens: BBC Bias and the Leaders’ Debates”

“No Money Left” Says BBC

George Osborne and Ed Balls
George Osborne and Ed Balls

During a recent news item on George Osborne’s budget, a chirpy BBC correspondent did one of those smug pieces to camera about the ‘challenges’ facing the Chancellor and his Labour opposite number in the run-up to next year’s general election.

The biggest of all, Mr Reporter glibly declared, was they had to try and win over sceptical voters without being able to give them anything in return. Tax cuts, more health and education spending – they were all out of the question, because, broadcaster man stated like it was the most obvious thing in the world, ‘there’s no money left for big giveaways’.

It’s the message you get from practically all telly pundits nowadays. They blankly trot out the Coalition’s economic narrative as if it’s indisputable truth. Worryingly many probably believe it themselves. After all, it’s the line taken by governments all over the world, and if enough important-looking people in suits say something often enough, it’s quite easy to be duped into thinking it’s true if you’re not an especially questioning human being. Continue reading ““No Money Left” Says BBC”