Posts Tagged ‘Amol Rajan’

The Beeb’s Reward for Helping the Tories Win the Election: 450 Newsroom Jobs to Be Cut

January 30, 2020

There were reports last night of mass redundancies at the BBC newsroom. According to a story in today’s I by Adam Sherwin, ‘BBC staff in revolt as 450 news jobs are axed – but red button reprieved’, there was an angry confrontation between newsroom staff and the Beeb’s director of news and current affairs, Fran Unsworth over the proposed sackings. It was led by Victoria Derbyshire, whose award-winning show has also been axed. Here’s part of the article

Victoria Derbyshire led a furious staff revolt at the BBC yesterday after the corporation unveiled cuts to Newsnight, Radio 5Live and other news output, leading to 450 job losses.

The BBC said that presenters would be among those axed as resources are transferred from traditional broadcasting to digital platforms, in an attempt to make £80m of savings.

The number of original films produced on the flagship political programme Newsnight will be halved, with 12 staff under threat. A spokesman said that job losses at 5Live were being “driven by the changing listening habits of the audience and demand for digital content”.

There will be a review of the “the number of presenters we have and how they work” and a reduction in the number of stories covered each day, under a new centralised story commissioning structure.

The BBC is predicting 450 job losses, in addition to the 50 posts cut at the World Service before Christmas. Separately, it also suspended closure of its “red button” text service after protests that the move could adversely affect the elderly and people with disabilities.

An additional article by Sophie Morris reports that Johnson was asked yesterday whether the BBC was a ‘mortal enemy of the Conservative party or cherished British institution that will be funded by the license fee’ by the Labour MP for Weaver Vale, Mike Amesbury. Our current shambolic excuse for a prime minister replied ‘Well, Mr Speaker, I can certainly say that it is a cherished British institution and not a mortal enemy of the Conservative party.’

Yeah, I’ve heard that one before. Jeremy Hunt also said how the Tories ‘cherished’ the NHS, despite having authored a book demanding its privatisation, and as Health Secretary presiding over a process of cuts and privatisations. Sherwin’s article also quotes Amol Rajan, who seems far more closer to the mark by suggesting that the cuts are an attempt to appease the Beeb’s critics in government. They believe the corporation is outdated and may be replaced by a subscription-style streaming system. Rajan said

“The audience the BBC has in mind in making these changes isn’t just licence fee payers – it’s the inhabitants of 10 Downing Street.”

The Tories have hated the Beeb for a very long time. Some of that is ideological – they hate any kind of state industry. And some of it is very much self-interest. They resent the Beeb because it is required to be impartial, and their backers in the corporate media, like Rupert Murdoch, would like it abolished and its position as the country’s main broadcaster replaced by their own networks. A week ago Zelo Street reported that Boris’ adviser, Dominic Cummings, really did want to present the corporation as utterly biased against the Tories.

This is, of course, the complete opposite of the real truth, which is that Beeb has always been far more biased against the left, the Labour Party and the trade unions. And last month’s election campaign showed how extreme that bias was, with every opportunity taken to present Labour in an extremely bad light. In particular, the Beeb joined the rest of the lying corporate media in claiming that Jeremy Corbyn was an anti-Semite, and the entire party was seething with Jew-hatred. If the Beeb had hoped to fend off the Tories’ attack by obediently following their line on the Labour Party, they’re going to be sadly disappointed. BoJob and his polecat still want greater say over who becomes the new director-general now that Tony Hall has retired. They will want someone who is dutifully compliant with their demands. Someone who will further turn the broadcaster into their propaganda arm, while running it down prior to privatisation.

 

 

 

Radio 4 Programme Tomorrow on Enoch Powell’s ‘Rivers of Blood’ Speech

April 13, 2018

Radio 4 tomorrow, 14th April 2017, are marking the 50th anniversary of Enoch Powell’s infamous ‘Rivers of Blood’ Speech with a programme in their ‘Archive Hour’ series at 8.00 pm. Entitled ‘Archive on 4: 50 Years On: Rivers of Blood’, the blurb for this on page 117 of the Radio Times runs

Amol Rajan reflects on the Conservative MP Enoch Powell’s incendiary 1968 Rivers of Blood speech, and the impact it continues to have today. And for the first time the speech is broadcast complete on British radio, as actor Ian Mc Diarmid reads it in full. The text of the speech included observations on immigrants taken from Powell’s Wolverhampton constituents, and ended with a reference to a moment in Virgil’s Aeneid, when the prophetess Sibyll predicts a civil war in Italy with “the Tiber foaming with much blood.’

The paragraph on the programme on the opposite page, 116, by Jane Anderson, the magazine’s radio editor, gives the following additional information:

It has been 50 years since Enoch Powell delivered his incendiary Rivers of Blood speech to a Conservative party meeting in Birmingham. Only a short section was recorded at the time and so, like presenter Amol Rajan, I have read the speech in its entirety. The post-Brexit vote echoes are rather chilling. What shocked me most, however, was not Powell’s own words – he was an incredibly bright and eloquent man, whatever his political views – but those of his constituents, as read in full here by the actor Ian McDiarmid: “Then the immigrants moved in. With growing fear, she (an old lady) saw one house after another taken over. The quiet street became a place of noise and confusion. Regretfully, her white tenants moved out.”

Lord Adonis has already expressed his very strong fears about the programme. According to today’s I, he has written to Ofcom expressing his deep concern that the programme should be broadcast at this time, and requesting them to order the Beeb not to broadcast it. The I‘s article also states that Ofcom has no power to tell anybody what or what not broadcast. The Beeb has also issued a reply stating that broadcasting Powell’s infamous words does not constitute endorsement.

No, it certainly doesn’t, and the selection of a British Asian presenter for the programme does indicate fairly clearly that this is not going to be an endorsement of Powell’s vile views. And there’s an irony here in the choice of actor to read the speech. If memory serves me correctly, Ian McDiarmid, amongst other roles, was the Galactic Emperor, AKA Senator Palatine, AKA Darth Sidious in Star Wars. Of course, there are probably very many other good reasons why he is the right person to read the speech. But for all the Star Wars fans, it’s still going to be the Dark Lord of the Sith reading out Powell’s evil speech.

I’ve no problem with it being read out in its entirety, if it’s properly critiqued. This is why I don’t have a problem with German universities issuing an annotated version of Hitler’s Mein Kampf. If you want to combat evil and racism, you have to study it, and take it apart to refute it. And Powell’s wretched speech has cast a long shadow over British politics. Yasmin Alibhai-Browne in one of her column’s in the I mentioned how some Whites mutter comments about Enoch being right without going any further. The NF used to sell Union Jack badges, which had around the edge ‘Enoch Was Right’. And last year or so Simon Heffer and other right-wing journos from the Torygraph and Heil published a volume of articles celebrating the noxious old monetarist, Enoch at 100.

The impression I had was that Powell, otherwise known as ‘Scowly Powelly’ as the other kids at school used to call him, really wasn’t racist. He could speak Urdu, and sincerely admired Indian culture. On the other hand, a friend I used to work with, who was very active in the anti-Apartheid movement, said that could have just been from a desire for promotion. British civil servants in India were paid more if they could speak an Indian language. He also initially believed that Britain had an obligation to support and treat well its imperial subjects. What he was unprepared for was the hostility to the new coloured immigrants from ordinary Whites in his constituency.

And the issues outlined in the speech are still with us. I’ve heard people complain about Whites being forced out of their neighbourhoods by Blacks and other immigrants, who wanted to take their houses. I’ve seen this complaint directed against Muslims by the Islamophobic ‘counterjihad’ websites. And the Tories are still playing on these fears. Mike earlier this week put up a piece about the Tories producing a pamphlet directed at the residents of one area around London. This threatened that if Labour got won the council elections in May, then they would increase the area’s links with the inner city so that the area would be awash with crime and drugs. In other words, a middle class White area would be deluged with Blacks and Asians, bringing these problems from their urban ghetto.

I also understand that some of the events Powell alluded to in his wretched speech were completely bogus. A friend of mine, who was very anti-racist, told me that they tried to investigate Powell’s allegation that old ladies had had excrement pushed through their letter boxes by ‘grinning picaninnies’. They couldn’t find it. Never happened. Another friend also told me that another, similar incident, was also imaginary. Another old lady had claimed that a black man had forced his way into her home, and defecated on her carpet. That never happened too. The old lady, apparently, was a nasty piece of work continually making up vile stories about her neighbours. She was, however, supported by a Black family next door, who looked after her, and who seemed to regard her hateful slanders as a bit of joke. There’s a whole chapter devoted to Powell and the ‘Rivers of Blood’ and its lies and falsehoods in the book, Bloody Foreigners: A History of the English.

I am also not convinced that everyone who voted for Brexit is racist. Some left-wingers voted for it because the EU is a very neoliberal organisation, which does have policies promoting privatisation. For left-wing critiques of the EU, read Lobster or Counterpunch. Many people undoubtedly voted ‘Leave’ because they wanted to give a shock to the elites governing this country, without actually considering that it might actually happen. Unfortunately, they won. And most of the people, who did vote ‘Leave’ probably were racists, as Tom Pride and so many others have pointed out.

So I’m going to say that people have a right to listen to this programme, and hear what Powell actually said, regardless of the dangers. I sympathise with Adonis, but at the same time, I don’t like anyone – including former New Labour ministers – telling me what I may or may not listen to. I sincerely hope that the Beeb will in this instance try to live up to it role as a public service broadcaster, and provide a suitably incisive critique of it. Regardless of whether Boris, Heffer and the rest of the Tories want it or not.