Over the past 40 years I’ve watched the rich and powerful greedily chomping their way through every scrap of public property they could get their hands on – from British Aerospace and British Telecom to gas, electricity, water, British Rail , the Royal Mail and now – the last remaining jewels in the Great British public’s crown – the NHS and the BBC.
It’s not hard to understand why they want all this stuff. If you sell things people don’t really need, your profits are hostage to the whims of fashion, but if you have a monopoly on all the things people can’t live without then your profits are guaranteed for life.
A video Christmas Card: a load of YouTube videos mashed up with a home-made song.
“Woe is us, we”re in a lot of trouble. We’re at a point of maximum denial. People are ignoring the obvious, They’re keeping the news out of the News.”
“The oligarchic character of the modern English Commonwealth does not rest, like may oligarchies, on the cruelty of the rich to the poor. It does not even rest on the kindness of the rich to the poor. It rests on the perennial and unfailing kindness of the poor to the rich.”
In the age of global terrorism, the need to increase security to protect our freedom is something most of us accept without a second thought. “If you’ve got nothing to hide you’ve got nothing to worry about” is the mantra repeated whenever concerns are raised about any loss of civil liberties accompanying increased surveillance – succeeding not only in dismissing those concerns but also implying that anyone who IS concerned MUST have something to hide.
So what Benjamin Franklin had to say on the subject seems to make about as much sense as saying that those who are willing to trade money for something they want deserves neither and will lose both. Everything comes at a cost, and loss of liberty is the cost of safety. Everybody understands that.
But what DOES make sense are the constant threats to our safety and well-being that we hear about on the news everyday. Every kind of ill, from terrorism to carbon emissions, from measles to AIDS. All are kinds of illness. All put is ill-at-ease. All are kinds of dis-eases to which we are continually trying to find a remedy or cure.
Here’s a video not many people have watched, or are ever likely to watch. It’s a 40 min speech given by barrister Michael Shrimpton at the Britain on the Brink conference in Winchester on 22 September 2007.
What was the Britain on the Brink Conference you might ask? Well, according to the YouTube blurb is was:
A one day Conference by and for people of all parties and of none.
Hardly the kind of catch line that’s likely to attract many YouTube hits you might think. And you know what? … It hasn’t!
Watching Jeremy Paxman interview Russell Brand last night my first thought was that Paxman has way too much of that laconic Oxbridge arrogance the BBC thinks made Britain great, and Brand has way too much of that street-smart wit and charisma the BBC posh boys really hate.
But the more I thought about it “in my nut today” the more I agreed with The Artist Taxi Driver when he said: “Listen to what Paxman’s saying. You can’t change things. This is how things are.”
“Jeremy Paxman is like the voice of the entire centre ground of the country, which is virtually everyone bar f****ng extremists.
Nadine Senior, Founder of Northern School of Contemporary Dance, reflects on the incredible success of her work as a dance teacher at Harehills Middle School in the 1970s and 1980s.
How it began
In 1970, I was appointed Head of Physical Education in an all-girls high school in Leeds. Many of the girls in this inner city, multi-cultural school had behavioural problems and one of them eventually burnt the school to the ground, though fortunately no one was hurt. Thereafter, we simply moved into the boys’ school which was on the same campus.
“People born in the 50s were more likely to escape their parents’ class then those born in the 70s, according to a new report by experts at the London School of Economics.
Between the early 1980s and the late 1990s, the proportion of children from the richest quarter or families who had completed a degree by the age of 23 shot up from 20 percent to almost half. Over the same period, the number of graduates among the poorest quarter of families crept up from 6 per cent to just 9 per cent.
In an indictment of New Labour’s education policies, which promise equality of opportunity for children from all backgrounds, the report says: ‘The strength of the relationship between educational attainment and family income, especially for access to higher education, is at the heart of Britain’s low-mobility culture.'”
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.