The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes

Politics and law from a British perspective (hence Politics LAW BloG): ''People who like this sort of thing...'' as the Great Man said

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Friday, January 09, 2004

Speech-chilling à l'anglaise...

Different continent, different darling - same nauseating process.

I gladly declare a substantial personal prejudice against former Labour MP and daytime talkshow [1] host Robert Kilroy-Silk: I can't stand the personality and loathe his show.

But there's no doubt that the forces ranged against him are distinctly more sinister than he, and have in mind much more serious damage to the British polity than a crappy TV programme.

The charge is that RKS wrote a column run in the Sunday Express over the weekend in which he takes Arab nations to task for being a waste of space [2].

Now, I don't want to appear as if Mark Steyn is working me with his foot. But the BBC in particular, and the UK media in general, have a paranoia about upsetting the Moslems, in whatever shape or form. When someone from one of the spuriously representative (no secret ballots involved!) organisations claiming to speak for British Moslems starts to whine, heels are clicked over at Broadcasting House.

Needless to say, the situation is doubly sensitive for the BBC hierarchy in the context of the David Kelly affair, with the Hutton Inquiry Report expected in the next few weeks - a piece unlikely to hold back about just what a shambles BBC management was revealed to be.

Whatever you say, say nothing is now virtually written into the contracts of BBC people, staff and freelance. And RKS, whose show is fifteen years old - and, I suspect, not exactly the apple of BBC schedulers' eyes - looks eminently expendable for the benefit of an object-lesson in don't embarrass Auntie.

Rampant double-standards are, needless to say, at work: the BBC hierarchy would not have taken exception to the expression of anti-American or anti-French sentiments, even in the regrettably crude terms apparently employed. The various branches of the Christian religion are regularly lampooned on the BBC's own airwaves in a way that would not be permitted where Islam was the object of the jest.

More generally, the vultures are circling: even Melvyn Bragg, doyen of arts people on TV, is calling, according to a Guardian piece today, for the licence fee [3] to be shared around the broadcasters, commercial as well as the BBC.

And the BBC Charter, which gives the Corporation its very existence, is due to expire in 2006. And a government smarting under the lash of Lord Hutton (we hope) will be looking for any means whereby it can punish the BBC without appearing to do so.

I think Kilroy-Silk might have some fun...

  1. It's a (very) poor man's Jerry Springer Show.

  2. It's not possible to link to the article because Express Newspapers don't put their stuff online. As Anthony Newley once sang, Stop the online world, I want to get off. (He didn't sing online, obviously...)

    A couple of Guardian pieces (here and here) give a flavour.

  3. The hundred-odd quid that each household must pay to use a television - it's a total (ballpark) of $4bn a year, and the only broadcaster that benefits is the BBC.

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