THE TORIES’ SECRET PRIVATISATION OF THE BBC
The promised arts package devised by Oliver Dowden and the Tories was delivered too late, as suggested by the Guardian “‘Government's £1.57bn UK emergency arts fund 'too late for some'”, and its effects are yet to be seen. Actors, theatre technicians and Front of House staff have been made redundant in commercial and subsidised venues alike. The situation has become dire for all venues across the board, with the RSC recently announcing they have also started redundancy consultations. This is the complacency of the Tories, whose interests certainly do not lie with saving the Arts, and Labour has barely responded to it. Instead, the attention has been shifted from the crisis at hand in another attempt to manipulate the British population: the focus is now on the removal of the “patriotic” song Rule, Britannia! usually performed at the end of the BBC Proms. Oliver Dowden expressed his opposition to this decision by tweeting “Rule, Britannia! and Land of Hope and Glory are highlights of the Last Night of the Proms, Share concerns of many about their potential removal and have raised this with @BBC, Confident forward-looking nations don’t erase their history, they add to it”. This tweet might be his way to admit that we are not a “confident looking-forward” country at this moment. It is otherwise really puzzling why he would weigh in on such an event that has no real interest to the arts sector or the general public, rather. The only explanation is his criticism is actually a reinforcement of colonialism and imperialist pride. If the British people were better aware of the history of their country and had not been taught a rose-tinted view of the British Empire, they would probably be less appreciative of a song that proudly exclaim “Britain will never ever be the slaves”. This sentence implies, in fact, a dark history of slave ownership and trade at the hands of Britain itself. The Rule, Britannia! question hides, however, a bigger issue: the defunding of the BBC. This has become a political campaign, one which has been taken up by rich individuals who are pouring money into slogans and posters plastered up onto the road signs of London. The Defund the BBC campaign is led by Tory sympathisers, with the help of some Tory MPs. This article will examine the role of the BBC in its current state, and the argument against privatisation and a new “arms-length” policy, that will be vital for its future, impartiality, and development.
The BBC proms is being used as a political tool, as an ulterior pretext for the Tories to defund the BBC. Who we should be focusing our attention on is Tim Davie who will take over the role of general director of the BBC in early September, and was acting general director during the Jimmy Saville sexual allegations cover-up. Davie has been a long-term friend of the Conservative party: he ran to be a Tory councillor in 1994 and 1995 and was the Conservative party deputy chairman in Hammersmith and Fulham in the 90’s. The chairman of the BBC is going to appointed by the Tory government, and the frontrunners are conservative MP Nicky Morgan, Tory ex-cabinet minister Amber Rudd, and Andrew Neil, current senior journalist for the BBC, former writer for Murdoch’s The Times and right-wing newspaper The Spectator. Of all the candidates the latter would seem the most likely to run the BBC, and, whatever the decision, it is clear that the Tories are securing their influence over the company. This goes to show the amount of corruption that is plaguing the BBC, which is mainly reflected in their news programme. The amount of complaints they have received, along with their frequent breaches in impartiality, have proven time and time again that the BBC is being misused as the government’s propaganda machine. Their coverage of the government’s failing on the coronavirus, whilst picturing a drawn animation of Rishi Sunak in a superhero costume, has shown that the BBC is anything but impartial and must be condemned.
But should we scrap the licence fee, which both the left and the right have demanded?
The BBC is a creative base that gives emerging artists the opportunity to showcase their works and access the entertainment sector. Moreover, the BBC is one the last nationalised entities within the public sector. It is, therefore, quite preposterous for self-appointed “socialists” to call for the end of funding for the BBC. If the BBC loses this fight, the Tories will sell it to a private company and the quality of entertainment will drop. BBC’s primary issue now, as we mentioned before, is the organisation of its news broadcast and the overall corruption of the leadership team. It is necessary for the company to adopt an “arms-length” approach, similar to what the Arts Council was designed to do. The mistake of the Arts Council was appointing chairmen that were politically poisoning the fabric of its institution of the likes of William Rees Mogg. The BBC is suffering a remarkably similar fate and it is destructive for the British public to be influenced by manipulative messaging. Antonio Gramsci, an Italian Marxist who was imprisoned for his beliefs, wrote about capitalism’s hostile takeover of the cultural hegemony. The Tories are the representation of capitalism, and their defence of capitalism has been broadcasted by the BBC for decades. How can we change this? We must start arguing within the Labour Party for ways to secure the political impartiality of the BBC and implement an “arms-length” policy. No more government appointed chairmen, no more political involvement, but people who represent the true diversity, and class of our country. This revolution includes its entertainment sector, which should provide the most radical and thought-provoking work and not just worry about ratings. Rather than give up on it, let the BBC flourish, and make sure that it never falls into the hands of the privatised sector.