Just two and a half weeks after energy industry lobbyists, Energy UK, threatened higher bills and power cuts and just three days after the National Grid joined forces with warnings of winter blackouts if investment isn’t increased, SSE is the first of the Big Six to puts the threats into action: hiking dual fuel bills a whopping 8.2% and slashing all investment in new power plants until after the next election.
Blaming government social and environmental levies for a third of the price hike, SSE‘s chief executive, Alistair Phillips-Davies, told The Telegraph today that energy bills will keep on rising for the next decade, but would fall by £110 overnight if the levies were axed. Blaming the freeze in new investment on the “acute political uncertainty” around Labour’s threat to the Big Six‘s power, Phillips-Davies seems to be making us an offer we can’t refuse in a low tone of voice: accept the deal the Big Six are offering or we’ll have to punch your lights out! Continue reading SSE marks up their expenses by 50% – and they don’t call that profit!→
I’ve just been watching the excellent new BBC/Open University movie, The Challenger, starring William Hurt, telling the story of how Nobel prize-winning physicist Richard Feynman uncovered the truth behind the 1986 space shuttle disaster.
As a former physicist with a passion for science stretching back as far as I can remember, I’m getting increasingly concerned about the way the the meaning of the word “evidence” has been subtly changing over the last 40 odd years, to the point where it now means the opposite of what it originally meant.
Language is, of course, constantly evolving. There are many words which now mean something very different to what they originally meant. For most of human history that’s been a natural, organic process. But ever since Edward Bernays combined the science of crowd psychology with the psychoanalysis of his uncle, Sigmund Freud nearly a hundred years ago now to create the ‘science’ of Propaganda’, the practical applications of Public Relations, Messaging and Language Management have been going from strength to strength.
How tragic is that? The man responsible for building so much of Britain’s railway network, driven to a point where the only way he could keep his sanity was to get out of the business entirely and keep his mouth shut.
But I know exactly how he feels. Replace ‘railway’ with ‘television’, ‘journalism’, or ‘science’ and I’ve come to exactly the same conclusion myself.
“The BBC, under the successive regimes of John Birt and Greg Dyke, has largely dispensed with the kind of inquisitive, creative, well-educated people who used to run the show and replaced them with undistinguished looking mangers in suits, not to mention a number of equally dim-looking women.
To expect these people suddenly to change their ways and, instead of the rubbish currently on offer, to produce plays and documentaries is absurd.
For a start, they would all have to dismiss themselves, and there’s no hope at all of that happening.”
It used to be that we had a controller, name of Muggeridge, who was joint controller of Radio 1 and 2, quite a good idea. When the BBC was looking for a man to do this job, quite naturally they chose someone who until that time had been head of the Chinese section of the BBC World Service.
Once he had got the job he interviewed various DJs one after another, and I was last in. I think he thought I would do something unpredictable and startling, like rub heroin into the roots of his hair. He was sitting at his enormous desk, a sort of Dr Strangelove position. At some point in the conversation I mentioned public schools, and he brightened up a little at this idea, as if at some stage in my life I had actually met somebody who had been to a public school.
I said, ‘Actually, I went to one myself.’
He went, ‘Extraordinary! Which one?’ He was assuming it was some minor public school somewhere on the south coast. I said, ‘Shrewsbury.’ He said, ‘Good heavens!’ At this stage he was getting quite elated. ‘Which house were you in?’ I told him and he said, ‘How’s old Brookie?’
It was clear that he thought, whatever he looks like, and whatever sort of unspeakable music he plays on the radio, he is still one of us. I think for a long time it was this factor that sustained me at the BBC.”
Britain’s largely middle-class consensus on what constitutes impartiality helps to explain why TV news is so predictable and unadventurous – and why TV news is growing less and less attractive to large cross-sections of the viewing audience.