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063 The Censorship Agenda in the UK The Church Of The SubGenius


David Oates is here.

His stuff about reverse speech is ace!

The Church Of The SubGenius is here.

The Reverend Ivan Stag, Praise Bob!

My blog is here.

Twitter.com/nickmargerrison

The music is from Zero Friends Recording

The podcast's facebookpage is here.

Rah rah Discordia!


Check out this episode!

#censorshipagenda follow up article

Follow up to the recent article:
http://margerrisons.blogspot.co.uk/2013/07/censorshipagenda.html

Why are MPs encouraging people who appear to have been the victims of crime to campaign for a new laws?

An early example of this is the Leveson Enquiry about phone hacking, which was already illegal:

Leveson Inquiry: Ian Hislop says new press laws not needed
New laws are not needed to govern the press, Private Eye editor Ian Hislop has told an inquiry into media ethics. Practices such as phone hacking, paying police officers and being in contempt of court contravene existing laws, Mr Hislop told the Leveson Inquiry. He said the inquiry should examine why the laws were not rigorously enforced

Another example is this case here, which again has MPs campaigning for changes to the way the world works, when in fact there doesn't seem to be a need for that:

Caroline Criado-Perez Twitter abuse case leads to arrest
A 21-year-old man has been arrested after a feminist campaigner was deluged on Twitter with abuse and threats of rape, Scotland Yard has confirmed.
He was detained in the Manchester area on suspicion of harassment offences.
Caroline Criado-Perez faced abuse after successfully campaigning for a woman's face to appear on UK banknotes.
Twitter says it plans to introduce a "report abuse" button on its website, but Labour has called its response to the latest case "inadequate".
Freedom of speech does not allow you to make specific threats. If someone sent you a death threat in the post you'd not want the post office closed down. You'd want the person arrested.

Why are MPs encouraging people to think the internet is anonymous when it's not?

Why are so many groups who openly advocate censorship getting so much media coverage at the moment?

#censorshipagenda
This post is a follow up to the recent article: http://margerrisons.blogspot.co.uk/2013/07/censorshipagenda.html

#censorshipagenda

Don't think there is not currently a massive campaign underway to censor the internet.

It's supported by all the major political parties and when that's the case I strongly suspect it comes from the establishment to which they answer.

They are openly lying to you about it. They told you they wanted to crack down on "child pornography"[1] but the list of categories which will be filtered is now out in the public domain where you can see it. It's extensive and obviously deliberately vague but it proves the critics were correct.

Open Rights Group has got hold of it:
☑ pornography
☑ violent material
☑ extremist and terrorist related content
☑ anorexia and eating disorder websites
☑ suicide related websites
☑ alcohol
☑ smoking
☑ web forums
☑ esoteric material
☑ web blocking circumvention tools

Re-read that list. In the new world the establishment fantasises about, where thought itself is a crime, these are your Ten Commandments. They're all areas which will become danger zones for your children, in their futures, once they've grown up. However it is the establishment who will make them dangerous.

All of this was inevitable. The technique being used is known as "boiling the frog"[2]. They will gradually increase the temperature now as other parts of this particular campaign are ramped up, including the Leveson proposals, so-called Hate Crime legislation and banning people from being allowed into the UK because they dare to think or say the "wrong thing"[3].

You'll be able to opt in or out, for now but there's no question in my mind that will change. Please add your thoughts to the comments section if you have reason to believe that will not be the case.

Personally I have nothing but contempt for state censorship of this kind and don't struggle at all with the image of an establishment who think you're too busy to notice what they're doing and so creep towards you like a cat stalking its prey. That was possible before but now the internet exists we have the beast under a form of scrutiny that did not previously exist.

The "net" or "web" might well be a trap but the question they're clearly asking themselves is who will be the ones to get the most caught in it?

Nick Margerrison.

[1] "David Cameron calls for companies to act on child porn searches" http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-23393872

Also, it's worth mentioning here that I find the description "child pornography" distasteful nowadays. This is because someone pointed out to me that the term "pornography" is being misused because it implies consent. It's actually scenes of child sexual abuse.

[2] FROM Wikipedia:
The boiling frog story is a widespread anecdote describing a frog slowly being boiled alive. The premise is that if a frog is placed in boiling water, it will jump out, but if it is placed in cold water that is slowly heated, it will not perceive the danger and will be cooked to death. The story is often used as a metaphor for the inability or unwillingness of people to react to significant changes that occur gradually.


[3] Yep, a mixture of policies brought in by BOTH Labour and the Tories. They keep telling you they're all in this together.

062 Billy Bragg I saw a UFO


This episode of The CON features Anthony Peake and Billy Bragg. The former is a literary favourite of mine, his books hang in the void between awesome story telling and genuinely solid research. The latter is possibly more famous in the UK than in the US. However he gives an engaging interview and I suggest overseas listeners look up his work.

Speaking of which...

The music is from www.zerofriendsrecordings.co.uk

My twitter is here: www.twitter.com/nickmargerrison


Check out this episode!

The Fifth Estate


The story of Wikileaks is complex and goes far beyond the world of "goodies and baddies". Soon it will get 'the Hollywood treatment' and this is likely to be annoying for anyone with a brain. The trailer has already irritated me, both the title and a key quote in there seem misplaced. However, this is an uber-geeky post written by a man whose enjoyment of both Avatar and Batman has been compromised by their perceived ideological shortfalls.
"Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth." - Oscar Wilde
Just because you quote a famous figure doesn't mean what you're saying is any more or less true. Poor old Mr Wilde is so famously quotable that he ends up looking frequently wrong when de-contextualised like this. People don't always tell the truth when granted anonymity, obviously. In fact there's a counter argument to this quote which carries more weight in this context, it involves the ring of Gyges a philosopher called Plato and the fact that when hidden from view people often do the wrong thing.

Give a man a mask and he tells lies?
In short the ring of Gyges was a magick ring which made the wearer invisible. It was the template for Tolkein's Ring used in The Hobbit and The Lord Of The Rings. In both Plato and Tolkien's narratives invisibility causes the users to become less accountable for their actions and ultimately lose their common sense of right and wrong as they end up becoming merely self-serving.
What's great about Wikileaks is it has removed masks from many of the institutions it reports upon and revealed abuses of state power which had previously only been suspected. They've proved Plato's premise and disproved poor old Oscar's misused quote*[1]. An institution veiled behind a lack of accountability is as dangerous as Gollum, or any other character, wearing the ring of invisibility.

However demolishing the use of that quote is equal to shooting fish in a barrell compared to my main irritation, the film's title. I'm going to try in short form to explain both the ideas it references and my take on them. That so few in our society understand this debate is partly a cause behind the mess we're in though, so if you can follow my argument here I implore you to spread these notions as far and wide as possible.

The term "the fifth estate" is related to The French Revolution where, broadly speaking*[2], society was supposed to be divided up into three "estates": the nobility, clergy and commoners. During the revolution a so-called Fourth estate emerged and they were seen as those who had no voice, land or representation. The peasants, revolutionaries and so forth. Over time their point of view was supposedly represented by an emerging popular media, the pamphleteers and their successors the newspapers. What's key to this though is that we've speaking of the popular press.

The key point is that "popular media" was supposed to be the voice of the Fourth Estate but over time people have forgotten this and nowadays when people speak a "fourth estate" they generally mean, the media industry itself rather than those it speaks for.

Notions such as a "free press" tie into the idea that this "fourth estate," if censored or attacked, can do a lot of damage to the establishment. Also it was thought that it had an important job to do in that it could keep the other estates, and even the King himself, in check by forcing them to be accountable for their actions.

Fast forward to our society as it is now and most people agree that "the media" in the UK and US has, by and large, been failing in its job of holding the establishment to account. I believe this is because in the intervening time we've witnessed the emergence of 'broadcasters', who are all licenced by the state. They muscle in mainly during the Second World War where state approval and censorship was the norm. In particular the BBC was a vital part of the UK's war effort, spreading pro-establishment content to much wider audiences than the papers had ever managed.

However to confuse broadcasters with the papers is to make a huge mistake. In the UK they face far stricter laws as regards what they can and cannot say when compared with newspapers who are defended by laws written when "the estates" were understood. "Freedom of the press" is an idea which comes from a different age and it's telling that there's no equivalent term related to television or radio. In those industries it's widely accepted you cannot say or do anything too "offensive" and more importantly it is always the establishment who makes the final call on that intensely subjective word.

Once you understand these points, and it's tricky enough to explain them, you can see why the UK's Leveson Enquiry is so wrong, because they're trying to make a free press more like our state licenced broadcasters. They want the media to be more "respectable". Again, ask yourself who exactly decides what that means?
"Do not look at the faces in the illustrated papers. Look at the faces in the street" - GK Chesterton
The so-called Fifth estate is supposed to place the internet into a separate category from "the media" and in doing so totally misses the point. If anything what we're seeing at the moment is the emergence of the fourth estate's actual voice. Something the establishment has been terrified of ever since they watched the bloodied head of a power family splatter onto the ground in Paris. The internet, unlike the media, is literally "the people's voice". It is the fourth estate in the original meaning of the phrase. It is no wonder the establishment is so keen to tame it.

Previously there have been numerous characters who have stood upon a virtual plinth claiming to represent "the voice of the people". I've lost count of the number of politicians who say something is what "the people" want. The net strips them of this particular slight of mind trick. An unlicenced media will force them to step up their game as long term a licence to broadcast will become irrelevant so newcomers who call themselves "broadcasters" will come to understand their positions in a way they didn't previously need to.

There is no need for a "fifth estate" and to suggest there is attempts to allow our media off the hook. The internet is replacing it and those of us who welcome that must defend our right to free speech in the process. Only someone making a Hollywood film on behalf of the establishment would wish otherwise.

Maybe they've just not considered the issue?

NM

[1] I actually cannot be arsed to google it, this piece was written in a bit of a rush, it's something to do with acting or writing if I remember correctly. He was right, in context, I think.

[2] Academics love splitting hairs over this one. I am aware it's open to debate. Even so my criticism of a new 5th Estate stands.

Fry The Athiest and Gervais's Cross


Introducing Poe Boy!

This week's podcast features an interview via Skype. I'm not keen on it, prefer phonelines, but there wasn't any other way. The person we're chatting to has been featured in The Daily Mail, irritated Ricky Gervais and mildly amused Stephen Fry. It's another unique interview to the podcast, I intend to return to the archive next week.

The blog entry which caused this episode: IS HERE

The new music I'm using is from ZER0 FRIENDS RECORDINGS

Our guest's Twitter is HERE

My twitter is here: www.twitter.com/nickmargerrison


Check out this episode!

Food banks and supermarkets

I don't mind adverts because there's nothing wrong with telling people about your product and asking if they want to buy it.

I've always found it odd that supermarkets dispose of industrial quantities of edible food without giving it to people in need. On the podcast I reposted an interview with Alf The Freegan a man who lives entirely off food he finds in their bins. There's a whole subculture of "Freegans" like him.

The rising popularity of food banks in the UK is a terrible indictment of where we're at as an economy.

It's irritating to me that a number of major supermarkets have seen this as a good chance to carry out a promotional exercise while they still have to protect their rubbish with razor wire.

BBC tries to defend its recent absurd interview with Republic

Marie Ashby: "Overwhelmed"
There's now a month to month hit counter in this blog's side bar. Our readership has expanded over the last year and we now pull in about a thousand readers every week, thanks largely to exposure on the www.disinfo.com website.

Many have read and reacted to a recent piece regarding the UK state broadcaster's terrible bias against anyone who dares criticise the Monarchy. Some wrote letters of compliant to the BBC after watching the show themselves.

UPDATE(15th July): Thanks to one of our readers, Zac, who has kindly posted a link to the interview section of the BBC's pro-monarchy piece: https://www.facebook.com/#!/photo.php?v=10201447206652246

I've done a bit of freelance work on the BBC in the past and don't dislike what it claims to be, nor do I think all of it needs scrapping forever. Most critics just think its in dire need of major reform but internally the notion is pushed to staff that it is all "one BBC" and so a belief has formed that it's an all-or-nothing operation. Attack one part of it and these goons think you want to shut the entire thing down forever, there's no nuance in their thought process whatsoever. I can understand the fear for people who rely entirely on it for their income but find the idea that it's not institutionally bias toward the Monarchy absurd.

Thanks to Helen for this response to her complaint. If anyone else gets a reply I'll gladly pop it up here to a wider audience:
Thanks for contacting us.

We’re sorry that you were so unhappy with the studio discussion segment of the Sunday Politics East Midlands on 30 June about the Monarchy.

In light of your concerns, we reviewed the programme but we can't agree with your assessment of it.

You state that the interviewer - Marie Ashby - "constantly interrupted and talked over" Republic's Chief Executive, Graham Smith, but she did not.

At the outset she posed a question which he answered fully and clearly, and during a pause she rightly added a point to focus the discussion on the local (i.e. specifically East Midlands-related) aspects to Republic's views to ensure the discussion was relevant to local East Midlands viewers. She did not interrupt or talk over nor was she rude - it was a simply addition to her full question simply to help steer the interviewee to keep his answers relevant, i.e. focussed on the East Midlands thus for the benefit of viewers and Graham went on at some considerable length to answer.

-FACT CHECK-

Republic were on because they'd launched their annual conference in Leicester. The excessive pursuit of a local angle confused the issue. That the pursuit of this angle was excessive is implicitly admitted in this letter where they say her opening question had already been "answered fully and clearly".

The opening question was:

"Admittedly this isn't a very scientific poll but how come you've said the East Midlands is this hotbed of anti-Monarchism?"

If "answered fully and clearly", as the letter from the BBC says it is, there's no need for the additional one.

The result of this unnecessary question is to confuse the issue. Remember by this point, a good five minutes into the piece, we've NOT HAD ONE REASON WHY ANYONE OPPOSES THE MONARCHY. All Her Majesty's broadcaster has done is use the time as a chance to put forward arguments in favour.
 
In my review I pointed out chasing a local angle like this is not in the interest of viewers but mere box ticking to benefit a bureaucracy. Localism in media can be a good thing but to pretend that people in the East Midlands will only be interested if there's a rock solid local angle to this discussion is obviously not true.

-LETTER CONTINUES-

The interview proceeded absolutely and perfectly normally with Marie posing several questions and points which Graham answered fully and clearly, and the other two studio guests - Anna Soubry MP and Chris Leslie MP - were brought in.

-FACT CHECK-

The BBC's enormous financial resources allow it to hire some of the best interviewers in the UK. It's a little odd to argue the interview has proceeded "absolutely and perfectly normally" when there's no investigation of the most obvious angle, why do people want rid of the Monarchy? 

Remember people who support the Monarchy have been actively encouraged to provide reasons in the piece which preceded the interview, as you would if you were exploring a point of view in an 'absolutely perfectly' normal fashion. Their journalist's lack of curiosity as to WHY Graham Smith and the thousands who support him hold a contrary viewpoint strikes me as an obvious symptom of bias.

-LETTER CONTINUES-

The issue of the perceived financial benefits or otherwise for the UK economy by virtue of having a Monarchy gave rise to a lively debate of course, and that's exactly what we set out to achieve with any such interview - a frank exchange of views.

Here, Marie did have to interject but did so in a perfectly normal fashion as would be expected in any interview or even just any regular conversation on a particular topic - she was not rude to her guest and it was perfectly clear that he didn't judge her interjection with a relevant point and financial research as such - indeed, it was clear that he very much welcomed her point as it gave him the opportunity to comment upon it great detail which further helped him to explain his views thus allowing viewers to come to their own conclusions based on all they heard.

To suggest that this (or indeed any) interviewer "expressed her own opinions on the subject being discussed" is to comprehensively misunderstand the entire role and premise of the interviewer. They are there to facilitate the discussion and to allow guests to make their points but also to help draw out and to challenge - on behalf of viewers - opinions being expressed. Thus an interviewer will be simply playing devil's advocate by posing questions, putting forward counter-arguments and suchlike simply to widen the discussion and to challenge the guest to justify and elaborate or to focus their views as and when necessary.

-FACT CHECK-

Notice how the letter now tries to pull rank by suggesting Helen is able to "comprehensively misunderstand the entire role and premise of the interviewer".

How is that possible?

Do they really think us so-called normal people can't understand such basic concepts as an interviewer?

If so, are they sure that their viewers understood that it was in the role of "Devil's advocate", that the presenter:
  • Flatly states: "opinion polls regularly show overwhelming support for the Royal Family".

  • Shows no awareness of the fact both of The Queen's ministers of Parliament have sworn an oath to support her and therefore have no choice but to support the Monarch.

  • Heaves with laughter when MP Anna Sourby admits to being mean towards Republic.
  • Announces "they bring an awful lot of money in" and then cuts Smith's attempt at a response with "well they do".

And so on...

It's a fair question to ask if even Marie Ashby was aware she was being an advocate of the Devil?
 

-LETTER CONTINUES-

Mr Smith's answers were very full, very detailed and very clear for audiences to follow - yes, the interviewer was called upon to interject at times as any interviewer is required to do with any guest on any subject matter - thus we can't agree with your assessment of this segment of the programme because, in essence, it was no different to any other interview and therefore absolutely nothing out of the ordinary.

You can appreciate that the BBC endeavours to serve the whole of the diverse United Kingdom and we are a broadcaster so by definition our approach has to be somewhat "broad" thus requiring a degree of compromise by all parties. That being the case, there is no way we can possibly hope to match every single individual viewer's own personal and subjective expectations, demands, preferences or tastes but we hope that viewers generally are comfortable and happy with our general approach.

-FACT CHECK-

Bias and prejudice is often unconscious so the BBC is not likely to be overtly aware of them. Anyone who opposes a Monarchy will notice, in the studio piece, there is a presenter (backed by the BBC's Royal Charter) and two MPs (both of whom have sworn a sacred oath of allegiance to Her Majesty), so disdain for anti-Monarchy sentiment is implicit throughout the interview, hence MP Sourby snorting "of course" when asked if she supports them. If you think selecting our Head Of State by birth right is a great idea, or if you're paid a healthy income by the BBC, it's harder to notice a problem.

On a wider issue, having worked in media for just under 15 years, I honestly don't think most BBC staff have any idea of the scale of the crisis brewing for them regarding their overall performance. The fact they employed (and failed to expose) "Britain's most active serial sex offender" Jimmy Savile, alongside a number of other deeply suspicious characters, is not just a news story which will be forgotten. Licence fee payers cash being pumped into massive severance payoffs and gagging orders, to stop ex-employees from speaking out against them, doesn't look good in this context because it begs the question, what are they using £28 million to cover up?

The core problem is the fact their audience is gradually and permanently leaving "old media" behind in preference for the online world. The BBC must reform itself urgently or be swept aside by the tidal wave of cultural change see all around us. Commercial media is already taking a horrific beating as a result of these changes. Many professionals nowadays regard the BBC's legally backed poll tax as the only currently workable media business model. Advertising revenues are being swallowed up by the internet as social media inevitably moves local, that's why stations like Kerrang are again being forced to dramatically restructure.

One of the biggest problems the old media world has is the fact that its audiences are now on more of an equal footing with them than ever before. I remember a friend of mine once relating a direct instruction from his boss at the BBC "stop putting so many callers on air, it's giving listeners ideas above their station". The bloke in question will likely be long retired but it helps frame the problem they face in terms of old attitudes when all of us now have access to a global communications system. Non of us have to back off and feel powerless in the face of an organisation which has been given a licence to broadcast. That's why the Savile story broke, it was everywhere online. That's why massive abuses of trust won't be forgotten.
 
I remember a radio station boss joking in a David Brent fashion about the "special filing cabinet" for complaints that looks like a waste paper bin. Such a caviller attitude is no longer present anywhere in the commercial media these days. That's because the world has changed, forever.
 
- LETTER CONTINUES -

Here, other audience feedback doesn't suggest to us that your views are shared at all thus we have to deduce that viewers, generally speaking, were happy with how these things work, but we're of course sorry that you felt we should have done things differently. That said, you will also understand that in a situation like this if the interviewer hadn't interjected when required to focus the question and/or answer or to raise valid points, we would equally have received feedback from a viewer such as yourself complaining that she should have interjected to ensure the discussion was properly focused. There's no definitive right or wrong approach, but in a live situation the interviewer has to try and judge how best to approach matters - it's purely subjective and everyone will have their own views of course, but in this case we are happy that the interview was appropriate.
 
-FACT CHECK-
 
It would be very interesting to see this "other audience feedback" as it would dispel the possibility that it's a bluff and there isn't any. This suspicion of mine comes partly because I have a bias on these matters but also because of the curious claim that they'd get people writing in asking for the interviewer to chip in more.
 
- LETTER CONTINUES -

We’d like to assure you that we've registered your complaint on our audience log. This is an internal report of audience feedback which we compile daily and is available for viewing by all our staff. This includes all programme makers and presenters, along with our senior management. It ensures that your points, along with all other comments we receive, are circulated and considered across the BBC.
 
-FACT CHECK- 

This is interesting.

Those people who read this blog and work at The BBC, I wonder if you can fact check the claim that "other audience feedback" is against us?

If so, and you want to remain confidential, get in touch on twitter with a direct message: www.twitter.com/nickmargerrison
Helen writes:

I think they must have been watching a different programme than me.

They say that the interview was no different from any other and that it is the role of the interviewer to play devils advocate.
 

Funny how I have never seen an interviewer do that with a pro monarchy guest!! They might not have found her tone rude and think she talked over and interrupted but the evidence is there for all to see. I have complained over the years several times to the BBC on different issues and not once have they agreed with me. Closing ranks and being defensive seems to be their only position on complaints.

Either that or I am just wrong on everything, all the time!!

Helen

060 The alien abduction hotline and how to cast your very own magick spell


On this podcast we speak to one of the stars of a recent UK TV documentary about our nation's Alien Abduction Hotline, Joanne Summerscales. The group she represents is called AMMACH The Anomalous Mind Management, Abductee, Contactee Helpline.

This is an interview unique to the podcast.

Ammach's website is here: www.alienabductionuk.com

The website mentioned in the interview is there: www.biolocation.com

The music on this piece is provided by http://zerofriendsrecordings.co.uk/

Essays For The Discordian Occultist pictures and original article is here: http://www.disinfo.com/2012/12/a-beginners-guide-to-sigil-craft/

My twitter is there: www.twitter.com/nickmargerrison

The cult's facebooks page is: www.facebook.com/cultofnick

23


Check out this episode!

Yeah ok, I support a pay rise for our MPs

These characters steal money off us every month. 

Money we've earned by adding value to someone else's life is seized by an act of Parliament to be squandered by smug 'management class' politicians who sit in the belly of the beast pontificating on where we might be allowed to smoke or how slowly they're going to force you to drive your car. 

Even worse these decadents then advocate acts of war in our name and appoint "independent" enquiries to tell us all what a great job they're doing.

They duck issues and break promises as regularly as reality TV stars will say stupid things to get attention.

On the rare occasions an emergency breaks out and we might need "leaders" to take charge they instead always seem to be away on holiday.

They establish massive bureaucracies which then fund lavish lifestyles for other 'management class' people who don't seem to do anything worthwhile at all.

Most of these institutions we expect to do a job but instead they fund the 'management class'. The BBC's job is to report news stories but they missed Britain's most active serial child molester, a Knight of the realm, right in their midst, Jimmy Savile. The NHS's job is to heal people but instead the managers are busy explaining its overly high death rates. The justice system is supposed to catch criminals but instead they focus upon 'the causes of crime' such as victims who they say should be more careful. Our army is supposed to protect us but instead it is sent to countries we've never heard of, who could never invade our Island in a million years.

These people don't care, they'll keep giving your money to institutions which aren't doing the job you'd expect.

They literally do not understand the concept of doing a proper job. 

They are the management class.

They bail out banks, institutions whose only job is to look after our money. They bailed them out when they failed to do that job and instead squandered it on dodgy investments. That's fine, the banks lost all their money, who cares? Give them some of ours so we can borrow it back, with interest.

It's only money.

Our money.

Which they stole.

A pay rise pushes the point when their inevitable day of reckoning comes. Screw it, give them a six figure pay rise, lets get this over with.

Yeah, I support a pay rise for our MPs.

Let's see them manage that one without a fuss.


Nick Margerrison

SOURCES: James Burnham and The Managerial Revolution

059 David Icke Interview - a fan favourite


This is one of the many Icke interviews in my archive, it was initially going to be my firs upload but then I realised you kind of need the background to his belief system for it to really make sense. Hence it's my third upload of an Icke piece rather than the first.

I've left a bit of "off air" banter in there. He is a very friendly chap and would occasionally give us bits of advice and thoughts related to stuff that had happened on the show.

The music I use on this piece is here.

My twitter is here: www.twitter.com/nickmargerrison

David Icke's website is here: www.davidicke.com

Enjoy!

NM


Check out this episode!

Expand your mind with regular internets

BBC Question Time Review 05/07/13 #bbcqt

Pre-match build up...
And we're off, Sir Anthony Robinson, responds to the question "should MPs get a payrise"?

After that self-rightious chuff had droned on, Dimbledroid, explained people must not give speeches and shorten their answers. This was probably partly in response to last week where they spent almost the whole show on the first question. Unfortunately it lead to a chubby looking Danny Alexander (used to be the skinny ginger kid from the Lib Dems) MP, to argue the toss.
There's an old idea that pay coming out of our taxes should be linked to our average wage. No idea where I picked this up from but it makes sense. Were this enforced the incentive for employees of the state would be to raise the average wage. It would be in their interests for the private sector to be able to match and even exceed their massive incomes.

Baldrick is a Labour peer.

For all my recent criticisms of The BBC, regarding its total inability to effectively cover The Royals in anything other than an unquestioningly positive light, I must help their viewing figures. #BBCQT always ups my follower count and these reviews always get at least a few hundred readers with minimal Twitter based promotion.

Although on the other hand, there's even a few who join in online without watching:
Douglas Murray was the only panellist who didn't annoy me.



Hodge thought £12million in Government savings a mere piffle:



A lot of people on Twitter commented on it being quite a dull one this week.

Then we were on to the revolution in Egypt and the demise of The Muslim Brotherhood.

His Royal Highness "Sir" Baldrick thought it was proof that democracy was hard for some people to understand.
Whereas Margret Hodge MP seemed to get mixed up between what she would like to be the case and what in fact is the case:
The annoying thing about Question Time ending is that it half continues with the God-awful This Week programme. What ruins this show is it has wacky, safe-for-work-humour, sketches. They have to be seen to be believed, they're that awful. They always look expensive as well. I have sympathy if you work on the TV show because I know it's probably a really good living and great fun but it's awful to watch. Really tedious and unfunny.

Republic appear on Her Majesty's broadcaster

A short review of a piece on The Sunday Politics East Midlands show 30th June 2013 

An impartial news report is something you can aspire to but never achieve. Everyone has their own opinions and perspective, to think they won't effect how you relate your version of the truth to others is absurd. I believe the idea the BBC is (rather than should try to be) impartial is linked to the fact its established by a Royal Charter. For overseas readers, the current myth used to sustain our Monarchy is that the Queen is politically impartial and has no real power. Previous myths, such as The Divine Right of Kings, are still enshrined in law but most modern monarchists shy away from them because it makes them sound thick.

When it is dealing with stories related to The Monarch the BBC often does not even aspire to be impartial. For example, recently there was a story involving The Queen gifting herself and her family a massive pay rise, with a straight face their Royal Correspondent, Nicholas Witchall, announced this news with the statement that she's "famously frugal". Err... not in my world she's not. Most middle class people would swap their lifestyles for her "frugal" one, let alone people who live in poverty.
Kensington Palace revamp for Duke and Duchess of Cambridge to cost £1m

Buckingham Palace accounts also reveal Queen is to receive a multimillion-pound funding increase over the next two years
Despite this though The BBC are to be congratulated for taking the brave decision to report such a damaging story regarding their Queen. Firstly because it's unusual they reported it at all, mostly the BBC's biases come by noticing what they do not say, rather than what they do. Secondly, and this is the really surprising bit, they actually gave 11 seconds to the opposing point of view by letting a representative from Republic on, to argue the Monarchy is unfair and outdated. It sounds trivial, 11 seconds, in a long report presented by an obviously apologetic Royal Correspondent. However, the response on line was huge, people were stunned the BBC would dare timidly show teeth to the hand that feeds.
The key point to understand about the UK's Monarchy problem is how much those who oppose The Queen could lose and how little they stand to gain. Nicholas Witchall is a case in point, how would it benefit his career, life and family, if he were anti-Monarchist? Very little compared to the obvious gains he could make if he becomes one of their favourite "subjects". Vested interests play a part in most political debates but when it comes to Monarchy every person discussing it in the media must be suspect. This is one reason the so-called honours system keeps poking its fingers into the celebrity and media world. Why else would so many "anti-establishment" celebrities keep quiet about them? Sir Mick Jagger, Sir Paul McCartney, and anyone who seeks to emulate them, have all effectively been bribed into thinking positively about Kings and Queens. All public figures know Royal patronage is a possibility and this must make their opinions questionable.

The best way to spot someone holding an opinion based on personal gain is to ask, does this fit with their other ideas and values? For example, few media talking heads, MPs, or members of the public, would be willing to advocate India's caste system because it's out of line with their sense of right and wrong. There’s no obvious difference though between that and our way of choosing a Head of State. In the past some people thought others were born to be nothing more than slaves, it was the natural way of things. Few still say that now, why do some pretend the Monarchy is different?

A great number of monarchists in the public eye should say, if they were to be honest, "well, I'd really like to get an OBE so that's why I support them". Instead they have to try pushing the square peg of selection-for-a-job-by-birth into the round hole presented the fact that in our society generally we choose people on the basis of their abilities.

The above is worth considering as you watch this piece (while you still can on iPlayer, if it's on Youtube permanently, please add a comment to this blog and I'll alter the link).


The piece starts at 46.44 on the BBC iPlayer here.
1 - 46.44 SEGMENT STARTS

The Sunday Politics East Midlands needs a local angle to each of its pieces. This is why time is wasted trying to establish a spurious link between the East Midlands and anti-Monarchy sentiment. Campaign group Republic are on because they've just had their annual conference in Leicester where they launched their #bornEqual campaign.

2 - 47.00 "VOX POPS"

The report begins with "vox pops" at the local Guildhall museum. Inevitably they begin with a pro-Monarchy point of view. The man in question lives in Australia but was born in the UK, he thinks The Queen is good because he feels nostalgic. The second person featured is anti-monarchy, he qualifies his point of view with "if I had a choice" and doesn't elaborate at all. This is good enough for the presenter who gives him a grin and a thumbs up sign. Then we have a woman who says "I don't see the argument about they cost the country all this money and that" as she puts forward her support for the Monarch, mainly on the basis of nationalistic pride. The next person claims "they must bring a fortune into this country" and the final contributor suggests "without the Queen, well there's no history in the country without her...".

During these exchanges the body language of the roving reporter is interesting, he positively warms to those with pro-Monarchy sentiment, pushing them to elaborate, whereas the single anti-Monarchy voice feels like a box ticking exercise. Crucially, there's no elaboration on the alternative point of view. In other words here we're dealing with bias by omission which is the BBC's default on this topic.

The lack of articulate opinion on both sides of the debate which is so apparent in these vox pops speaks to this history of ignoring the debate. Most people, both for and against, simply lack the tools to articulate their point of view on this topic because debates on it are so rare. Even those who support the Monarchy become very fuzzy when asked why.

3 - 48.25 INFORMED / "EXPERT" OPINION  


Generally the format for a piece like this on the BBC would be to tail it with either "expert" or "informed" opinion. In this piece we get pro-Monarchy sentiment from someone the presenter introduces only as "Oriane". Her qualifications on the matter are not made clear and so a casual observer would assume she speaks with some level of earned authority. A quick google search reveals her to be, Oriane Genol, the Guildhall's main customer service's advisor. Why she's been made a profiled contributor is not explained. Given the treatment Republic receive in the studio interview and the fact we've had several versions of the establishment's point of view already, it would certainly have been better here to use one of their representatives to provide at least one argument as to why some people oppose the Monarchy.

Instead Oriane informs us, in no uncertain terms, that "love them or loathe them, they're here, they're not going anywhere". The tourism argument is raised and its stated as bold fact that "they work very, very, hard".

Already it's possible to argue a clear pro-Monarchy bias is evident. By the end of the location piece, we've not actually heard any debate. Instead we've heard a number of arguments in favour of The Queen and been made aware not everyone supports them. The one dissenting voice gives no reasons for his point of view though and therefore appears, literally, un-reasonable. This sets the tone for the debate to follow whether the guests know it or not. The theme is this: there's no reason to oppose Monarchy, it's traditional and it's patriotic.
Everyone loves the monarchy, hoorah!
4 - 48.45 WHERE'S YOUR LOCAL ANGLE CITIZEN SMITH?

Back in the studio presenter Marie Ashby sounds positively delighted as she explains how popular the monarchy are to, Graham Smith, Chief Executive of Republic:

"Admittedly this isn't a very scientific poll but how come you've said the East Midlands is this hotbed of anti-Monarchism?"

In the opening question she's referring to the awful and unbalanced piece they've just played but it knocks Smith off his guard a little because he appears unprepared for the line of questioning she adopts. Furthermore, notice how her first question puts words in his mouth, which he appears to refute. The interview is off to a bad start and to make things worse, she interrupts his answer trying to force him to go with the tedious and irrelevant local angle: "particularly in the East Midland though?"

A fairer exchange between the two would have been:

QUESTION: "How come you've said..." there's a solid local angle to this?

ANSWER: We wanted to fit into the format of your regional TV segment and we've just had our annual conference in Leicester, which happens to be in your patch.

The truth is: this is box ticking essential only to a couple of BBC staff members. No viewer really cares about the local angle, they're more interested in hearing a decent debate and so far they've not been given one counter argument to monarchy.


"overwhelmed"
5 - 49.34 YOU HAVE NO SUPPORT, YOU'RE IRRELEVANT

Once The BBC's irrelevant local angle fetish is out of the way the presenter chooses to try using The Queen's personal popularity to undermine the validity of Republic even being booked to appear on the show at all: "but opinion polls regularly show overwhelming support for the Royal Family," states the interviewer as if she were asking a question. Smith attempts to answer the point but is dealing with someone who has just confessed to being "overwhelmed" and this is presumably why she re-states her point "in a recent poll she came out very well", just as Smith is trying to explain that liking the Queen is not the same thing as supporting the system of Government known as monarchy.

This is basic stuff for anyone who has considered the issue but "subjects" often conflate the two and think anti-monarchists have formed a personal opinion of Elizabeth Windsor.

It's worth pointing out that in the event of a Republic there would be nothing to stop her from standing in an election and this little blogger thinks, it's likely she'd win at first. Why are pro-Monarchists so afraid of this alternative? Put her popularity to the test if you're so confident, where's the problem? I wonder if our impartial BBC presenter would be overwhelmed or underwhelmed by those ideas? We never get the chance to find out.

Maybe if I could just explain what I think...?
6, FIVE MINUTES IN AND CITIZEN SMITH IS ALLOWED TO MAKE THE FIRST DECENT POINT REGARDING ANTI-MONARCHISM IN THE UK

"Our job is to show what the problem is ... they've got nothing else to judge it against".

Unlike the previous points made by his opponents he's backed up by solid evidence provided by the broadcast itself. So far there has not been a single argument allowed against the monarchy. If you were new to the issue you literally would not know what the problem was. Smith then goes on to try to point out that people don't seem to understand the alternatives. Again, this is backed up by the evidence provided in the segment itself.

He's right to be flustered, he's been presented so far as the advocate of an unreasoned and minority point of view. The irony of this is so breath taking it's worth boldly stating the issues:

THE DEBATE (IN CASE YOU'RE NEW TO IT):

  • Smith is advocating democracy. He thinks that our head of state should be elected by the people they are to represent. He stands to gain nothing from this but a fairer society.

  • He is opposed by an un-democratic system which believes a God has picked our Queen for us, using its magic powers. Many of those against him stand to gain power, money and status for their points of view.
7, 50.20 "I, ANNA SOUBRY, DO SWEAR THAT I WILL"

Once Smith has made a tiny bit of progress the presenter brings in, Anna Soubry MP. Presumably, Smith has riled one of Her Majesty's ministers by being allowed to make a decent point, so we get out and out falsehoods. Firstly Anna wrongly claims she does not have to support the Monarchy, after snorting out the reply "well of course I am," when asked if she's a Royalist.
Despite frequently taking this oath, Soubry, wants you to think she "doesn't have to" support the Monarchy.
Anna giggles away as the presenter Marie, apparently unaware of the oath MPs take at this point, asks "what do you mean of course you are"? It's interesting to note that defence or casual support of the monarchy often relies upon easily disproved assumptions and "little white lies". One of them, that The Queen has no power, was disproved at the start of this year but never widely reported.

Having connived with the presenter in a falsehood, by ignoring the fact she's sworn an oath to support the Queen, Soubry then goes on to try to attack Republic on the same basis she did: that they have little to no support. The irony of invoking democracy in defence of Monarchy is never addressed and even she admits "I'm being mean", to which comment the presenter laughs harder than at any other point in the programme, right in Graham Smith's face. The two then act as female school bullies, ganging up on Smith and at points both interrupting and squealing at him.

Souby then goes on to try and sneer at "the alternative" although unfortunately for her that has not yet been spelled out. "I mean look at the alternative, which is essentially a presidency," she blusters only to fall at the first hurdle when she remembers the current President "uh, I think Obama's brilliant". At this point an understandably vexed Smith dives in with the fact that this is not the alternative proposed by most Republicans. They suggest a ceremonial role for an elected head of state, few are suggesting a political Presidency with legal powers.

This is a key point because it's important to note the implicit assumption in Sorby's response. She is talking about an American style presidential system, with legal powers, to replace our supposedly symbolic and allegedly politically powerless monarch. If you're pro-Monarchy, and have bought the myth that they have no power, ask yourself why she, a Minister of Parliament, assumes otherwise?

"Left wing" politician curiously fails to criticise Monarch
8 - 51.20 THE "LEFT WING" POLITICIAN

Chris Leslie MP, is then brought into the conversation. The phrase "left wing" originates in France during the period leading up to the revolution. The left's traditional role was to oppose the King, so they sat on the other side of his sword hand. Leslie keeps out of this debate in the main and sounds apologetic in tone after he makes it clear that all MPs have to support the monarch because of the oath of allegiance. "So you have to be?" says the presenter, sounding surprisingly underwhelmed by this, to her, new information.

Either she knew this beforehand and was lying when she said Soubry wasn't obliged to be a Royalist or she was unaware, either which way in my opinion she now owes Smith an apology.

Obviously that doesn't happen and all the New Labour Party have to say on the matter in this instance is that there might be "even more debate" in the future.

9 - 51.50 THEY BRING IN LOADS OF MONEY, PROBABLY

The presenter then dives in with the money fallacy. "They bring an awful lot of money in" she announces and then cuts Smith off with "well they do" when he tries to respond with a few facts. He then gets attacked in stereo by Sourby and Marie, one in each ear, again alike to school bullies.

The irony though is that the presenter has to refer to questionable research to back up her position because not only does the BBC rarely report upon any real enquiries into the Royals regarding their costs and benefits but also it has no research of its own in that direction. The system of patronage and vested interests I outlined at the start of this piece makes such investigations very difficult. This is one of the reasons we need to have the debate.

Alternative information from Visit Britain is dismissed, "I don't care what they said" announces "subject" Sorby. She appears to have invented her own "research" and announces that tourists only come to our capital city to see the Queen. Nothing else.

This brings Smith round to trying to point out that The Queen's PR has changed hands in our living memory which is dismissed and produces more titters and giggles as he gets described as "an old cynic". By this point Smith optimistically tries to get the fact the BBC has a huge pro-Monarchy bias in but he's shouted over by the presenter who with a chuckle announces: "We have to leave it there, you won't be invited to the Palace, that's for sure, ho ho".

Many a true word spoken in jest. Vested interests are almost always at the heart of this debate. If I had time I'd google these characters and experience little surprise when their connections to the Windsors were revealed to be more than just an oath or two.

10 - For years I've felt like a lone voice on The Monarchy.

On LBC particularly it was very rare you'd get a caller who agreed that they were a bad idea. Republic demonstrates the fact that the internet affords us the opportunity to discover people who are literally on the same page.

Check out these links:

Join the campaign: #bornEqual

COMMENTER'S NOTE: My anti-Monarchy sentiment is inspired almost entirely by my patriotism. By pushing this idea we stand to gain nothing other than a better nation to call our home. We need a nation of people that take pride in themselves and represents this country by their own great deeds, not by the mere patronage of a rich family.

We need citizens not subjects!

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