Monday, 28 September 2015

What Is To Be Done With The BBC?

Since the 1960s, many people have come to regard the BBC with increasing disaffection. There are a number of reasons for this. It is argued that the BBC is bloated and bureaucratic, that it is unrepresentative and unaccountable and that it displays a persistent liberal bias. The licence fee as a method of funding has been likened to a form of taxation. Much concern has been expressed that it has been responsible for the coarsening of our society and for 'dumbing down' in the chase for ratings.

Each of these criticisms are valid to a greater or lesser degree and remedial action to counter the more malign effects of the current BBC regime is long overdue. Unfortunately, rooting out the source of the malaise in this crucially important public body will be controversial, difficult and, if not handled carefully, could risk much unpopularity with the general public.

From its creation in 1922 to the early 1960s the BBC was an organisation that maintained and propagated traditional values and beliefs leavened with a high-minded cultural mission. But it suffered the first blow to its self esteem with the creation of ITV in 1955. This was supported by the Conservative government of the time who wished to see an end to the BBC's television monopoly whilst at the same time exploiting an opportunity to conciliate its own business supporters and backers. Not all Conservatives supported this approach as they feared that private TV companies targeting a mass audience would trigger a fall in broadcasting standards, a view shared by the Labour Party and church leaders, amongst others. As we all now know ITV was massively popular, as the independent broadcasting companies shamelessly wooed a predominantly working-class audience with, by the standards of the time, down-market programmes. Within a few years the BBC's audience share had fallen to below 30%, provoking a major crisis of confidence within the Corporation.

The BBC responded by skillfully tailoring its programmes to reflect more popular tastes, with the result that its TV audience share began to rise and by the mid-1960s it had reached a rough parity of viewers with ITV. This was a golden age of television and the best programmes from both the BBC and ITV managed to combine popularity with standards that were acceptable to all but the most prim. Unfortunately, this was also a time when the seeds that were to destroy the BBC's high reputation were first sown.

The first manifestation of this trend was That Was The Week That Was (TW3). a satirical political programme, presented between 1962-64 by a youthful team led by David Frost. By today's standards it would be considered rather tame, and its dated undergraduate style of humour would probably appeal to only a very limited audience. But at the time TW3 was widely seen as revolutionary, as it punctured the ludicrously deferential attitude to politicians which had prevailed until then. Fortuitously, it also coincided with a period of vibrant social change typified by Beatniks, Angry Young Men, Lady Chatterley, Beatlemania, Carnaby Street, James Bond and other such meretricious icons of a society that was becoming increasingly fixated with the cult of youth, modernity and sexual freedom. Newly-elected Labour leader, Harold Wilson, could call forth images of the 'white heat of the technological revolution' and be greeted with uncritical admiration by the self-appointed apostles of progress. By comparison, the governments of Macmillan and Douglas-Home, with their 'grouse moor' image, were redolent of privilege and widely seen as irrelevant or out of touch. They were an easy target for the self-confident debunkers of TW3. If this programme had been an isolated example of irreverence it would have caused no real harm and maybe some good. However, in retrospect it can be seen as the opening shot in the liberal takeover of our society.

Liberalism has not only political objectives but also a wide-ranging social agenda, the latter being reflected in a new approach epitomized by the 'kitchen sink' television drama that emerged in the early 1960s. The 'anti-heroes' of these programmes were presented as the potential saviours of our supposedly class-ridden, stultifying, bourgeois society, personifying a kind of home grown version of Rousseau's 'noble savage'. The Wednesday Play, the most notable example of this genre, with its focus on previously ignored social issues was heavily praised by increasingly vocal and influential Left-leaning critics and pundits. During this period, documentaries began to tackle issues such as unmarried mothers and sexual behaviour with an increased boldness.

These changes did not go unnoticed and, by 1965, a 'clean up TV campaign' headed by a hitherto unknown middle-aged Midlands schoolteacher, Mary Whitehouse, began to register in the nation's consciousness. For the next thirty years Mrs Whitehouse, almost single-handedly, would fight a doughty campaign against 'permissiveness', a catch-all word with which she will forever be identified. Her campaign failed completely because of two major flaws. First, as a committed Christian she assumed that her religious beliefs gave her a self-evident right to intervene in the nation's viewing habits. In reality, we live in a post-Christian age in which the overwhelming majority do not accept that the dogma of a minority religion should underpin the personal morality of society as a whole. A second weakness was that once the genie was let out of the bottle, permissiveness proved to be a tricky concept to argue against. Younger people began to question why they should be prevented from doing what they thought best in their private lives, just because some older people in authority expressed their disapproval. The Right appeared to have no credible response and by the early 1970s, the 'permissive society' was firmly established, and the commercial exploitation of sex quickly became a dominating focus of the media.

By the mid-1970s liberals were firmly in control of the BBC and they could now use its authority to promote a new 'politically correct' agenda. The main planks of this agenda are well known - a contempt or distaste for tradition, family values, Western cultural heritage, heterosexual marriage, the nation state, artistic and cultural excellence. They encouraged forces that would undermine or antagonise those on the Right, such as multiculturalism, the promotion of homosexuality and sexual promiscuity, proletarianism, internationalism, egalitarianism, 'gender' politics and - more recent obsessions - 'diversity' and 'inclusivity' which has now reached absurdity in 'islamophobia' and 'transphobia'.

TV programmes began to increasingly reflect this new agenda, and the values and lifestyle of what is now, rather loosely, known as 'Middle England' became largely marginalised. This liberal hegemony has continued until the present time, reinforced by established custom. The Conservative governments of Margaret Thatcher and John Major proved to have no appetite for storming this citadel of liberalism. The one sop to their supporters' concerns, the Broadcasting Standards watchdog, proved to be completely toothless as it was packed with compliant members of the liberal establishment of a mindset indistinguishable from those running the BBC.

So what should be done with the BBC? Some argue that it should be privatised and allowed to sink or swim as just one more player in a lightly-regulated market and with no special privileges. Such a policy would be in accord with the free market economic doctrines embraced by many on the Right. However, to take this path would be disastrous. One only needs to look at the satellite and cable companies with their unremitting diet of tacky programming concentrating on chat shows, quizzes, cartoons, sport, videos, soaps, repeats and the like, to realise that such a course of action would be cultural vandalism of the highest order. Instead, the licence fee system at roughly its current level should be maintained. It offers excellent value for money considering the amount of original programming and the number of TV and radio channels that are provided.

However, one drawback of the licensing system is that the BBC is unaccountable to its audience or to anyone else for that matter. In reality it is answerable only to itself. To leave the present arrangement and liberal ethos unchanged is not an option. A government seriously committed to civilized values will need to adopt a rather more interventionist approach. To begin with, there will have to be clear out of those on the present BBC supervisory body and top management. They will need to be replaced mostly by people known to be hostile to political correctness, although the inclusion of some liberals to sharpen debate should cause no harm. This may seem drastic but liberals have had their way with this organization for far too long and change is long overdue.

The first action of the new management must be the speedy removal of all the more deleterious programmes. Eastenders, with its repulsive cocktail of politically correct themes and 'chav' lifestyle, should be the first to go. Its portrayal of dysfunctional, criminal, degraded, uncouth and gratuitously aggressive and confrontational behaviour, all masquerading as normal social conduct, sends out the wrong signals, particularly to children. This is not to suggest that all TV drama should be sanitized, just that a better balance should be struck. Very special care will need to be taken with children’s television, both in presentation and content. On the other hand, programmes aimed specifically at teenagers and young adults should be dropped altogether. They are invariably infantile and hinder rather than help young people make the transition into adulthood, a process that appears to take rather too long these days. Current affairs programmes will need to become more balanced, ie they will need to include a clear right of centre perspective rather than just the current left/liberal outlook. TV programmes generally should move significantly upmarket, particularly BBC2, and there should be far less sport as this can now easily be catered for elsewhere. Advertisements for recruitment to the BBC should be placed in a range of newspapers, not just The Guardian, to stem the liberal bias, since no society can survive if its core values are consistently subverted from within.

These proposed changes are radical but long overdue. They will inevitably cause outrage within the BBC and could well provoke industrial action. This must be faced down with determination. However, it will be necessary to tread with care the thin line between legitimate government intervention as outlined above, and state control, particularly in news and current affairs reporting, which would be unacceptable. The changes proposed will return the BBC to the high ideals under which it was founded. It will then again become a much valued British institution, deserving of respect by the majority of British people who are highly sceptical of the politically correct agenda.

Thursday, 24 September 2015

A window into our soul

The Leveson Inquiry provided a high profile insight into the culture, practices and ethics of the British press following the phone hacking and other scandals involving Rupert Murdoch’s media empire News International. The biggest casualty of all this was the closure of the News of the World. The behaviour of journalists working for this company was clearly outrageous, disgraceful and unacceptable, but concentrating on these kind of activities has clouded consideration of the major sins of tabloid journalism for which this newspaper was one of the main culprits.

The News of the World was a British institution for as long as anyone can remember. It had a fine record of exposing the hypocrisy of those prominent in public life. However, it is impossible to lament the loss of this title due to the ever increasing degradation of its content. Back in the more staid and puritanical 1950s it enjoyed a huge circulation based primarily on the salacious details of court cases. It pandered to the prurient interests of its readership whilst at the same time taking a moralistic high ground in denouncing the depravity of the activities it reported. It was a double standard then shared by a large proportion of the readership.

With the coming of greater sexual permissiveness from the 1960s onwards the newspaper had to change tack since its default denunciation of 'smut' no longer struck such a responsive chord, particularly amongst its younger readers. It began to report sexual behaviour in a much less judgemental way, and quickly transformed itself into a mouthpiece for promoting unrestrained sexual activity as a quite normal recreational experience for which there were no adverse consequences.

The reporting of the sensationalised behaviour of footballers, show business celebrities and other dubious role models normalized casual promiscuity, a position which the newspaper had formerly condemned. This explicit sexual content was reflected in the lifestyle of its working class readership and has resulted in a huge increase in (unwed) teenage pregnancies, single parenthood and broken families.

There have been several reports recently on the sexualisation of children. Instead of the idiotic paranoia over padded bras the authorities would do far better to focus their minds on whether the impact of the daily exposure of children to the normalisation of sexual promiscuity, as promoted in the tabloids, is not a matter of much more concern in shaping young people’s attitudes on acceptable sexual behaviour.

The News of the World and other tabloid titles are very professionally run organisations. They know intimately the interests and mindset of their 'chav' readership, which is now an almost completely debased diet of celebrities, gossip and sex, with the odd dollop of politics thrown in to maintain respectability. The red top tabloids are thus a window into the soul of their readers, reflecting the extent to which the British working class has become increasing degraded over recent decades.

Saturday, 19 September 2015

Greek tragedy

The Greeks are once again going to the polls to elect a government. Although Greek governments have spent public money recklessly the roots of their chronic economic crises lie with the political objective of achieving ever greater union between the countries of the European Union. Greece never met the qualifying criteria for membership of the Euro, but was allowed to join for political reasons despite the likely financial consequences. Most fortunately Britain avoided getting enmeshed in this doomed project.

It is to the credit of Gordon Brown, both as chancellor and prime minister, that he kept Britain out of the Euro. He did so despite considerable pressure from so called 'progressives' and 'moderates' who were desperate for Britain to join. It is worth examining the reasons given for their enthusiasm.

The Liberal Democrat manifesto in 2001 stated that 'membership of the Euro at a competitive and sustainable rate would offer Britain considerable benefits. It would end the exchange rate instability which has destroyed many thousands of jobs, safeguard the investment in hundreds of thousands of further jobs by overseas firms, and reduce the costs of trade with the rest of the EU'.

Michael Heseltine, about the same time, opined that 'we cannot remain competitive outside the Euro for much longer. We have lived through a decade of warnings and with those predictions we have always been offered choices. Now is the time for Britain to make a choice. For business the choice is clear.'

In practice there was no evidence for this alarmism. Unemployment in Britain continued to fall for over seven years until the financial crisis of 2008. We had much lower levels of unemployment than many countries in the Eurozone. The claims of the Euro fanatics, not for the first or last time, were wholly without foundation, and this was most probably known at the time by those 'moderates' making these claims. Instead their motivation was to further the political objective of ever closer union which, more accurately, can be described as ever diminishing democracy.

Countries such as Greece, have lost control of their economic destiny, and are now supplicants to the European Central Bank. They are caught in a vicious circle of bailouts, conditional on austerity and deflationary measures, which contract their economies still further thus requiring more bailouts, and so it goes on. Despite the contempt that Greece has been shown by European Union leaders, both the current, and likely alternative governments, support Greece remaining in the Euro. Sadly, despite all the difficulties and economic meltdown, the majority of the Greek people also support continued membership. Eventually reality will break through, since there can be no doubt that Greece, and other countries in a similar fix, will eventually default and be forced out of the Euro, with disastrous consequences not just for the countries themselves but for the global financial and banking system. This is what happens when ideology triumphs reason.

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Should we ban the burka?

A while back the French parliament passed legislation banning the wearing of the burka in public places. UKIP is advocating that a similar law should be introduced in the UK, considering burkas to be a symbol of an 'increasingly divided Britain', which oppresses women and which are a potential security threat. UKIP leader Nigel Farage considers that 'we are heading towards a situation where many of our cities are ghettoised. UKIP does not believe in the multicultural separation that Islamic extremists wish to pursue through the gradual imposition of Sharia law. We believe in a single British culture and values shared by all British people'.

There is no doubt that the wearing of the burka is an affront to British cultural values. It is a provocation by the wearer and her religious community backers that demonstrates their unwillingness to make even the most rudimentary attempt to integrate into our society. It also defiles women by requiring their physical features to be concealed. It is of course right that banks and shopping centres can ban individuals from entering their premises if their identity is concealed. Nevertheless, it is wrong for the state to dictate by law what people can and cannot wear when in a public place. To do so would make us no different from countries such as Iran, Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan, none of which have a particularly proud record on human rights.

The number of women wearing burkas and similar garments appears to be increasing. Whether they are doing it of their own free will from some kind of religious piety or 'modesty', or whether they are forced into it by their men folk is neither here nor there. Their community by its very nature is an alien intrusion into British life. Since they are not properly part of British society they should be regarded as guests in this country. Out of natural courtesy they should be free to express their own values undisturbed, provided they do not cause direct damage to the host society.

In this respect, the main effect of the increasing numbers of burka clad women will be to remind the indigenous British people just how much of their country has been colonised by outsiders with alien cultural values. This can only be a good thing as it might help to rouse the electorate from their torpor so that they start voting for political parties that might take action to address the problem. Unfortunately UKIP’s position on this is rather na├»ve as it presupposes that the communities concerned are likely to change their ways and adopt 'a single British culture'. For the most part this is not going to happen and we need as a country to face up to this fact.

Saturday, 12 September 2015

Stop Pimping Our Kids

One of the more pernicious aspects of the media is how it can sometimes create a climate of paranoia over nothing more than froth and hot air. An example was the campaign Stop Pimping Our Kids promoted a while ago in the Channel Four programme The Sex Education Show. The motivation for this campaign was the paedophile hysteria, the objective of which is not the protection of children, but the demonization of men. Unfortunately, it is not confined to its source, feminists and children’s charities, but also includes the gutter press. The latter, when its attention is momentarily distracted from the salacious activities of celebrities, plays a pivotal role in fanning the flames of this hysteria.

The title of the campaign would more accurately have been 'Stop Pimping Our Little Girls' since there was no mention of boys. It conflated two issues, the supposed sexualisation of girls with the sexual depiction of adult women. With regard to the former the show condemned various items of 'inappropriate' clothing sold for young girls. On the latter it attacked W H Smith for displaying mostly 'lads mags' at children’s eye level.

Some of the clothing seemed unexceptional such as high heeled boots. Others were underwear which would not be seen in public. One item which provoked particular ire, which has become a symbol of this dubious campaign, is padded bras. It is unclear why any kind of bra is considered necessary for pre-pubescent girls since there is nothing to cover. Their purpose can only be to instil prudishness and body guilt in young girls. As one slightly older girl (already body guilt ridden) commentator put it 'it is completely normal for girls as young as nine to start developing breasts - the padding is for modesty, not to sexualise'.

As previously mentioned the motivation for this campaign is the paedophile hysteria. Child molesters (as they should more properly be termed) are unlikely to be influenced by girls wearing adult clothing since they are attracted to children as children, not as mini adults. The vast majority of men are not physically attracted to pre-pubescent girls and their wearing of more adult clothes is unlikely to fool them. The clothing stores vilified in the programme pointed out that they had received no complaints. So there is no real problem, just contrived outrage.

With regard to magazine displays, magazines these days are heavily censored for the amount of anatomical detail they can show on their covers. Such censorship does not extend to good taste, and some of the 'lads mags' feature the depiction of women in degrading poses. However, it makes no difference which level of shelf they are displayed on, since children can still see them all, not just those at their eye level. Bizarrely, one magazine that was condemned showed a woman in a 'revealing' bikini, a garment seen by children on any beach or swimming pool. Is this article of clothing now to be banned when children are present? Remember that the paedophile hysteria is incremental.

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Midsomer Murders off-message

British TV drama these days is often little more than a platform for propagating and reinforcing the politically correct hegemony of our liberal establishment. However, one TV programme that appears to have been a little off-message on this duty is Midsomer Murders. The small village of Midsomer is the murder capital of Britain, worse even than St Mary's Mead. For a long time ITV has very helpfully staged dramatic reconstructions of these murders to provide us all with an insight into their causes, and the motives of their perpetrators. Unfortunately, the residents of this village, like many others, are entirely white. Naturally this has been reflected in the choice of actors appearing in these reconstructions.

The producer of this series was unwise enough to comment that his programme was 'the last bastion of Englishness' and that it 'wouldn’t work' with racial diversity. For this obvious truth he was suspended since he appeared to be suggesting that this was the reason for its appeal to an overwhelmingly white audience. It would seem that ethnic minorities are not much interested in watching these murder reconstructions, since none of their own kind ever appear in them.

The liberal elite which runs this country has many dubious obsessions but the greatest of them all is on the subject of race. Liberals are consumed with a mind numbing guilt about being white, a racial masochistic trait which other races most definitely do not share. For this reason, when seen through the distorted prism of political correctness, blacks can do no wrong and whites can do no right, whenever conflict arises between the two. It thus follows that in the liberals’ view a multiracial society most be inherently morally superior to a white only society. This is why the last Labour government had a deliberate but unacknowledged policy of encouraging ethnic immigration, regardless of the consequences for social cohesion.

Viewers can hardly have avoided noticing that virtually all drama programmes these days include a sprinkling of ethnic minority actors, often in scarcely credible situations. They are largely used in positive role models whereas the villains are mostly white. The implicit propaganda message here is to demonstrate how we are all supposedly dependent of non whites for the better functioning of our communities, and how natural, normal and beneficial it is to live in a multiracial society.

The producer of Midsomer Murders was disciplined because he openly transgressed this clandestine agenda. However, he has provided a service to us all as his suspension confirms that TV bosses deliberately use their drama productions for social engineering purposes, thought control and as a vehicle for their politically correct vision of a multiracial society.

Sunday, 6 September 2015

Cigarette & tobacco restrictions

The objective of further curbs on the display and marketing of tobacco products remains on the government's agenda. This is the latest stage in a campaign to control tobacco which began in 1965 with the banning of cigarette adverts on TV. Questions have been raised as to whether the measures which have been taken cumulatively since then constitute an attack on individual freedom, and whether the final objective is the criminalisation of tobacco users.

Firstly, tobacco is clearly an addictive drug, and the inhalation of cigarette smoke day in day out by individuals shows a contempt for their own bodies, which the widespread and traditional practice of this deleterious activity does not nullify. Smoking also affects other people if they have to inhale recycled cigarette smoke, although the dangers from passive smoking have probably been greatly exaggerated. Nevertheless, smoking is an activity which goes back many centuries and has become part of our culture. Any attempt by the authorities to interfere with this freedom needs to be carefully thought through.

Many people justly complain that society is far too over regulated these days. The period when the advertising, sale and use of cigarettes was accepted as completely normal, is looked back to nostalgically by many as a more innocent and easy going age to which they would like to return. Although this is a tempting viewpoint it is no longer possible. Most people today would find it completely unacceptable to have to work or travel in an environment where smokers are present. Although of fairly recent origin, and at the time very controversial, the same principles must apply to smoking in pubs. In these instances the right of the public not to be affected by tobacco smoke must override the assertion by some smokers that they should be able to smoke wherever they please.

Control over the sale, display and marketing of tobacco is however another matter. Since this is a perfectly legal product it could be argued that there should be no restrictions. Governments of all persuasions have been keen to see a reduction in the number of people who smoke, but the question that must be asked is whether this should really be any of their business. The easiest way of curbing consumption is by raising tobacco duty, but as tobacco is an addictive substance, this measure disproportionately impacts on the poor and it also encourages smuggling. It is however a very effective way of raising tax, thereby allowing other taxes to be kept lower than they would otherwise be. The protection of children is given as a reason to curb advertising but this is a complete red herring since children can see adults smoking all the time.

The government's recent decision to conceal tobacco products at the point of sale, and the proposal for plain packaging, are clearly steps too far down the road to an over regulated society. All restriction on cigarette advertising should be lifted as in a free society people should be allowed to make up their own mind on what they can legally purchase. Restrictions on tobacco are the thin edge of the wedge since there are now calls to impose restriction on the sale and marketing of alcohol and even of 'unhealthy' foods.

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

More Homosexual Privilege

Over the past four decades or so we have moved from the criminalization of homosexuality to a position where the criticism of homosexuals can be deemed a 'hate' crime. The promotion of 'gay' rights has been a fundamental component of the cultural Marxist agenda to transform and subvert a once well ordered society. This post attempts to explore the extent to which rights for homosexuals should override the rights of others, in particular Christians, who find the practice of homosexuality sinful.

This blog is not a defender of Christian belief, which to a significant extent is based on superstition. Nor does it share the view of Christians that the practice of homosexuality is in itself sinful. The Christian churches have a history of denouncing any overt interest in sex of any kind as encouraging lust and which is thus sinful. In the not so distant past this outlook condemned millions of normal people to sexual guilt, for the quite natural desire of finding another person physically attractive. The Christian churches also have a history of attempting to impose their views on this subject onto a wider society which does not share their faith. So it could be argued that the judicial decisions outlined below have given Christians a taste of their own medicine.

Three legal rulings relating to homosexuality and Christian belief have gained wide publicity. The first relates to the owners of a guest house who were fined for refusing a room to a homosexual couple. The second relates to a couple who were refused consent to adopt a child because of their expressed belief on the sinful nature of homosexuality. The third concerns a bakery that refused to bake a cake with a message supporting same sex marriage.

With regard to the guest house case it is unclear why the owners assumed that two men sharing a room together should be sexual partners. It is in any case none of their business, and potential guests have a right not to be quizzed on the matter. Ironically, in the pre-permissive past, it was unmarried persons of the opposite sex who encountered problems with moralistic guest house owners. It could be argued that guest houses should comply with the law in the same way as hotel chains. However, this outlook demonstrates unacceptable inflexibility, since the guest house is the owners' home, and in a free society they should enjoy the right to decide whom they invite into it without having to give their reasons. With regard to the adoption case, things have come to a pretty pass if couples are now to be subject to a test on their political beliefs before they can adopt a child. Such behaviour is the hallmark of the actions of totalitarian states, a position to which this country appears to be now heading. Totalitarianism can be defined as centralized and dictatorial system of government which requires complete subservience by citizens to the demands of the state. This ruling demonstrates the extent to which ordinary people have been cowed and intimidated by the politically correct juggernaut which now aims to control us all.

With regard to the Northern Ireland bakery case the alleged discrimination here was not against the homosexual who made the complaint, since the bakery was happy to serve him with any of their products other than the one he requested. Instead, the bakery objected solely on religious and conscience grounds to a message supporting same sex marriage. It is surely a matter of fundamental liberty that businesses can turn away a customer request to which they object. Just image the outrage in some quarters if a baker had accepted a request to bake a cake with a message supporting a reduction in the age of consent. It is ironic that this incident took place in the only part of the British Isles which has not yet succumbed to the homosexual marriage fallacy.