There have been reports that the government intends to abolish the TV licence fee and turn the BBC into a commercial organisation. Boris Johnson’s Igor, Dominic Cummings, reportedly has an ideological conviction that the public service broadcaster ought to fund itself through a subscription service, similar to that used by Netflix or Amazon. The revamped BBC would then only be available to those who had paid the fee. The reaction from Scotland has been “meh”.
There’s little affection for the BBC amongst independence supporters in Scotland. The Corporation displayed its British bias to the full during the independence referendum in 2014, and has consistently failed to represent the full range of Scottish political opinion, preferring to concentrate on SNPbaddery and portrayals of Scotland through the prism of British nationalism. The BBC underfunds and underrepresents Scotland, sooking funds from Scottish licence fees and giving us an underfunded wee ghetto channel that’s been set up to fail so that bosses in London can claim that there’s no appetite for distinctively Scottish broadcasting. However what we can be quite sure of is that if the Conservatives replace the BBC, they’ll give us something that’s even worse.
There’s little love lost between the BBC and Boris Johnson. Even less love than there is between Scotland and the BBC, so that ought to tell you something. The Prime Minister believes that the role of the BBC ought to be a cheerleader for him and his government, and it should devote itself to holding nasty socialists and Scottish separatists to account. And the Corporation does perform that latter task extremely well. That’s the job of the BBC, not pointing out that yet again the Prime Minister has failed to be arsed enough to visit areas of England and Wales devastated by flooding just like it took a campaign of shaming him on social media last year to get him to visit the flooded areas in South Yorkshire. Although to be fair, the BBC hasn’t pointed it out, everyone else has.
Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson doesn’t do flood victims, he only does voters. He’ll be back up to northern England in four years time, blaming the EU for something. He didn’t show up for anything when he was running for PM, so he’s certainly not about to start showing up for stuff now. He might have sired a litter of kids that he refuses to acknowledge, but his refusal to put in an appearance when he’s expected to does at least prove that he knows how to practice the withdrawal method.
The BBC has resolutely and bravely not mentioned his absence from the scene of the flooding. There’s that holding power to account that we all pay our licence fees for. Someone should tell Johnson that what the flooded areas really need is a huge bridge. He’d be there within minutes. It’s far more important for the welfare of the UK that the Prime Minister spends some quality time in a luxury mansion with 115 bedrooms, set on a 3500 acre estate. He’s staying this week at Chevening in Kent. He does not intend to hold a COBRA emergency committee meeting or pay a trip to areas affected by the weather. Chevening doesn’t just have luxury accommodation, it also possesses a very nice selection of fridges. Johnson is hiding in one of those. The BBC is showing us all that it is worth the licence fee by calling out the Prime Minister for not doing one of the basics of his job, to reassure the public during a time of stress and emergency. Oh wait. Of course it’s not.
We’ve only had this majority Tory government for a couple of months and already we’ve got a Prime Minister who makes a habit of being absent during a national emergency, and distraction techniques in the form of discussions of a bridge between Northern Ireland and Scotland that will never get built, although no matter how many miles of sea the bridge crosses it will never be long enough for the Tories to get over themselves. We’ve had eugenics, racist lies about IQs, discussion about enforced contraception of the poor, rampant xenophobia, a Home Office that insisted a 101 year old Italian man who has lived in the UK longer than Boris Johnson has been alive bring his parents to an interview in order to verify his identity before he can be given permission to remain in the UK. We’ve had attempts to prevent judges from holding the government to account, forced deportations of Jamaican born people who have done the exact same kinds of things as the US born Johnson (yet strangely he’s not up for deportation. Who knew?). We’ve got the perma angry Dominic Raab as Foreign Secretary and not even in an ironic way, a Home Secretary who possesses a Daily Mail wet dream combination of stupidity and vindictiveness, the suppression of the report into Russian meddling in UK politics, the loss of freedom of movement, the denial of Scottish democracy, incipient fascism, Annie Wells as deputy leader of the Scottish Conservatives even though she’d struggle to lead a queue at the bus stop, the centre of the Scottish capital is represented in Holyrood by a woman who’s more interested in a career in PR and who would prefer a seat in the Lords, and now there’s attempts to prevent the BBC from challenging the Conservatives.
It’s a catalogue of crap, a litany of loathsomeness, an enumeration of excrement. We’ve had all this, and the Tories have only just started. There’s going to be another five years of this, and most likely another ten since there’s little prospect of the Labour party getting its act together in England any time soon. This is the security and stability, the protection from extremism, the love and respect, that Scotland was promised in 2014 in return for a no vote. So how’s that working out for everyone? There’s only one way out of this mess, and it’s not by hoping for a Labour government in Westminster in five or ten years time. The British state isn’t just failing Scotland, it’s a moral, intellectual, and political failure. It’s only going to get worse.
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