Wilkes & The BBC Brand

In the 1760s there was a sexual libertine in British politics named John Wilkes. This perpetually squinting chap (he had a vision problem, look into that how you will…) once said that it ”took him only an hour to talk away his face” with a woman, that is, pull her. He also exclaimed that ”life can little more supply than just a few good fucks and then we die” which was denounced as blasphemous and obscene by the House of Lords at the time.

Many modern ‘radical’ liberals/’feminists’ and the like strangely believe that they invented sex and that in previous times people did not talk or write about it without being totally deferential or censorious. They think that when a modern ‘celeb,’ some Caitlin Moran type mentions BOOBS or SHAGGING it is somehow a buck against da system and in itself worthy of praise (Moran slammed succinctly here by the way- http://www.spiked-online.com/newsite/article/13022). Wilkes was in many ways the 18th century version of this current populist jocular taunting of proprieties, but unlike our modern self-serving twittering celebs Wilkes in the political sphere did have some good points to make and crucially achieved concrete victories. In 1771 he won a fight to stop the suppression of the reporting on Parliamentary debates for example. As such he was seen as a firebrand against the corrupt elements in Parliament and the Crown and was looked on as standing up for the common man by encouraging transparency.

So Wilkes was abit of a hell raiser, a witty womanising rake against the stuffy decorum of the establishment and rather popular at riling up the mob politically. Remind you of anyone? The vital difference of course being that Wilkes was democratically elected and his radical journalism actually translated into tangible gains against the status quo whereas Russel Bland although still mouthing off in the press once more, offers naught but afew truisms and alot of empty bravado. I know he hates voting and Parliament and all that old fashioned shit but I’d love for Brand to stand for election. At least it would save us from his dire films.

You’ll be glad to know this will be the final word on Brand on this blog his bickering has taken up too much room already. Robert Webb wrote a brilliant reply to Brand’s ‘revolution’ shite here that covered so much of what needed to be said anyway- (http://www.newstatesman.com/2013/10/russell-brand-robert-webb-choosing-vote-most-british-kind-revolution-there). Brand has since failed to respond with anything other than an ad-hominem attack on Webb’s University education and some lame need to state he is not in favour of death camps. He has clearly not taken Webb’s invitation to do some reading. But that is to be expected cos reading is just for snobs who went to Oxbridge. Innit. Anyway, Brand was too busy on the streets with ‘Anonymous’ protesters (as if Brand could ever do anything anonymously as one spectator commented). That said I support last nights demo in question, even if they did dress up ridiculously and find it outrageous the BBC failed to give it any coverage at all. Dim Right-wing people pretend the BBC is some ‘left-wing’ body but as I have constantly argued it’s (lack of) reporting on the privatisation of the NHS reveals it’s economic agenda lies elsewhere. For some summations in relation to BBC big wigs connections with private healthcare companies see here- (http://www.opendemocracy.net/ourbeeb/oliver-huitson/how-bbc-betrayed-nhs-exclusive-report-on-two-years-of-censorship-and-distorti) and here- (http://www.medialens.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=678:people-will-die-the-end-of-the-nhs-part-2-buried-by-the-bbc&catid=25:alerts-2012&Itemid=69).

The BBC is indeed Liberal but as I try to forever highlight the post 1980s new modern Liberals (although they think they do) have no real or consistent connection to the history and reality of left-wing politics in the UK. It’s true in a loose adjective sense I draw on some general liberal principles as do many all over the political spectrum but the problem is those with the extreme relentless permissiveness turned policy making (everything must be allowed all the time weeeee freeeedom they cry) and campaigning around single issue and identity ‘politics’ need to realise this is not left-wing at all and stop selling it as such. In any case the BBC is not left-wing and despite it’s catastrophic failing to decent journalism and honesty around the NHS it is not right-wing either however easy it would be for me to throw that accusation as some do. I would not wish it to ever be either. It is just an old institution that has become pretty Liberal and generally limp in many manner of things hence the dwindling public support. It relentlessly promotes unpopular policy ideas such as legalising drugs and introducing proportional representation. But these are Liberal ideas *not* ‘Left-wing’ ones. See Old/actual Left-wing Dennis Skinner ranting against Dimbley about the BBC obsession with squishy liberalism here all the way back in ’92.

Just as I often remark a laid back hippy disregard for our history and institutions is not in true left-wing accordance we must too look at the BBC itself with an understanding of what it means historically (even if it is currently overrun with trendy liberals). The BBC itself, weirdly, for all it’s failings is one such institution we on the left should still support. It has become crap in many areas of recent years and not to mention reached all time low approval ratings with the criminal revelations around Saville et al. It does need to be much more accountable, transparent and basically get it’s shit together to say the least. But if it goes you’ll miss it.

Just look at American television and think how much worse ours could be. Think of BBC radio. Consider the occasionally great broadcasts on TV, the 50 years celebrating the National the other night for example. I love Radio 4 always and Elaine Page on Radio 2 on Sundays call me a middle class cunt all you like but everyone has their favourite little segment of BBC radio or TV. Whether it’s falling asleep to the shipping forecast, or watching the sports coverage, or our unmatchable and diverse history of satire and comedy, or cooking shows, or Question Time, or it’s tendency to free speech far outmatching other developed countries (Bill Hicks was played here where America refused), or Radio 1, or wildlife shows, or dramas or documentaries or even perving out over that bird from the One Show (come on she is fit). It is not sentimentalism to say we love our BBC as much as we love to hate it. We just wish it would show us back abit of love sometimes for our loyalty and our license fee.

Remember, if we didn’t have the BBC we couldn’t sing snidey punk songs dissing it’s admin employees like the great Abrasive Wheels one, sing after me- ”all you workers for the BBC doing fuck all drinking lots of tea…” That’s what it is to be British I suppose. We must take the piss out of our institutions in a tongue in cheek way but proudly defend them all the same and fight for their constant and sustained improvement. I say God bless the BBC.

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