If you want to know which is the online manifestation of human stupidity that depresses me more than any other — and, believe me, literally every kind of stupid is to be found somewhere on the internet! — it is the stream of supposedly ‘incisive’, would-be ‘knock-down’ responses I get when my criticisms of the BBC go out into the world of so-called ‘social media’.
I daresay you can imagine what it’s like…
I will be discussing the BBC’s shameless and unconcealed right-wing bias in all matters relating to news, politics, media and society — when an arrogant and stupid message arrives, telling me that ‘The BBC is left-wing, you muppet!‘
I will be substantiating my thesis that the BBC’s undermining of British democracy (not least by means of an obtrusive fealty to both global capital and several foreign governments) requires that its Royal Charter be immediately revoked — when an arrogant and stupid message arrives, telling me that ‘If left-wingers think it’s pro-right, and right-wingers think it’s pro-left, then the BBC is obviously doing its job properly!‘
Or I will be explaining that a significant body of expert research has produced statistics demonstrating the nature and extent of the BBC’s bias — when an arrogant and stupid message arrives, telling me that ‘You can prove anything with statstics [sic]‘ and quoting a prominent servant of capital (see photo at right) to the effect that ‘The British people have had enough of experts!‘
And so on, and on, and on…
In previous postings, I’ve tried to flag up the widely overlooked fact that the supposedly ‘liberal and left-wing’ BBC is, in reality, pro-Establishment, pro-capitalism, pro-neoliberalism, pro-finance, pro-bankers, pro-globalisation, pro-Tory, pro-UKIP, pro-bosses, pro-bonuses, pro-privatisations, pro-corporations, pro-TTIP, pro-GMO, pro-hydrocarbons, pro-climate denial, pro-nuclear power, pro-police, pro-surveillance, pro-military, pro-NATO, pro-war, pro-‘defence industry’, pro-nuclear weapons, pro-Trident II, pro-USA, pro-Washington, pro-Pentagon, pro-Israel, pro-Saudi, pro-royals, pro-aristocracy, pro-inequality, pro-cuts, pro-‘austerity’, pro-religion, pro-cleric, and pro-church. What I want to do in this little posting is present a single example that demonstrates just how it is that the BBC — as an arm of the corporate state — goes about ensuring that all the prescribed varieties of bias and manipulation get their chance to influence what, and how, people think…
* * *
And so we turn to BBC Radio 4’s news output — a broadcasting obscenity which nobody should listen to unless they’ve first been taught how to defend themselves against tactics like the one I am about to describe.
A few days ago, the UK media reported on the conclusion of a legal ‘test case’ in which the GMB trade union acted on behalf of two people from the tens of thousands currently operating in Britain as drivers for the ‘app-based’ taxi service ‘Uber’. As supposedly ‘self-employed contractors’, these drivers have no paid holiday or rest breaks; are not guaranteed even to reach the legal ‘minimum wage’; must themselves pay out to insure, tax and maintain their own vehicles; and are even required to hand over a fee to Uber for being part of the company’s networked driver pool. The Tribunal that heard the case decided unanimously that the drivers were in fact ‘workers’, and thus entitled to statutory minimum wage and holiday pay. (Financial Times article here.)
So what did the Radio 4 news reporter do?
What he did was to say at the end of his little report — yes, right at the end, as the ‘take-away thought’! — that the Tribunal’s decision would be likely to lead to increased prices for customers.
See what they did there?
All right. Let me go through it slowly. A news story that was actually about a multi-billion-dollar, California-based multi-national company having its exploitation of British workers successfully challenged was — just at the final moment! — magically transformed into a story which demonstrated how workers’ rights are bad news for the consumer.
Or, to put it another way, the idea that Uber’s massive profits might be a bad thing because they are generated by a workforce denied reasonable rights and protections was not allowed anywhere near the discussion — because all mention of corporate profits was avoided. Thus, the thought that reasonable pay and conditions for the drivers could and should be financed out of Uber’s £11 million UK turnover was first neatly side-stepped — and then squashed beneath the worry about ‘increased prices‘ that was carefully placed in the consciousness of every hearer…
Now do you see?
As a textbook example of an anti-worker, anti-union broadcasting tactic, a stunt like this is entirely predictable — and completely standard across the BBC’s news and current affairs output. As my handy list reminds us, the BBC is pro-capitalism, pro-neoliberalism, pro-bosses, and pro-corporations: this being so, there was simply no possibility at all of our salaried media trusty allowing the ‘Uber’ story to finish in a way that reflected badly upon private capital — or that failed to reflect badly upon organised labour.
If you’ve never sat attentively and analytically through the outpouring of state-serving, corporate-empowering mendacity that Radio 4 presents as ‘news’, I can only suggest that you find a pad and pencil, and do so. Give it a month: listen (for example) to the regular ‘business news’ segments contained in the six-days-a-week Today programme — and note down: are they concerned with workers’ news — or with bosses’ news? Do they prioritise shop-floor news — or boardroom news? I can tell you now: the concern throughout will be with bosses and boardrooms; with mega-deals and mergers; with the egos, careers and carpetbaggings of the infinitely indulged ‘business elite’ whose members are universally permitted to mythologise themselves as ‘wealth creators’. The only occasions when workers’ news, shop-floor news, genuinely wealth-creating persons’ news ever features in this publicly funded parade of over-remunerated parasites is when something related to workers is considered to present the demigods of private capital with some kind of problem.
As for the ‘Uber’ story, there was one other significant ‘hidden truth’ lurking behind our news report but carefully excluded from it — an omission (never rectified in any of the various ‘follow-up’ reports I have found) that all by itself reveals how the BBC is actually the enemy of every ordinary and decent UK citizen. This omission concerned the fact that Uber is a major tax-dodger in every jurisdiction within which it operates. As far as the UK is concerned, in 2014 Uber paid corporation tax of just £22,134 on profits of £866,000 — thanks to a clever wheeze involving the transfer of revenue to its sister company in the Netherlands. (Guardian article here.) In other words Uber does not merely exploit its own drivers: by accessing all manner of taxpayer-funded resources, services and infrastructure and not making the contribution it should be making in return, Uber actually exploits every single person who pays any kind of UK tax. Now just imagine you are a cabbie trying to make a living in London — and therefore competing in a ruthless price war with Uber. The tax-man has you by the throat. You are in fact being made to pay a substantial part of each day’s takings towards the provision of literally everything you see — and don’t see — around you as you drive. And Uber isn’t. How’s that for a ‘free market’…?
And, in reporting the Tribunal’s decision, our broadcasting lackey didn’t venture within a journalistic mile of this highly significant, immensely relevant issue. Because — do I have to keep spelling it out? — the BBC is an arm of the corporate state, and thus pro-capitalism, pro-neoliberalism, pro-bosses, and pro-corporations. It isn’t ‘pro-tax justice’. It isn’t ‘pro-accountability’. It isn’t even ‘pro-public’. What matters to it is the service it can render to the world of concentrated private capital into which it is directly plugged — and all us plebs can go hang (as long as enough of us have coughed up the licence fee first…).
And, of course, I know perfectly well what will happen now. The moment I begin circulating this posting on ‘social media’, someone, somewhere will see to it that a message arrives, telling me that this example is ‘only a tiny little thing that doesn’t mean much at all!‘ Such a response will, I am afraid, be arrogant and stupid, and I daresay I will summon up the rudeness required to denounce it as such. So many people seem to think that the BBC’s unrelenting dishonesty and ceaseless manipulation would only start to matter if we were being told that ‘Birmingham is being destroyed by a giant space lobster’, or suchlike. The fact is, however, that any single stitch in a gown is a tiny and insignificant thing when viewed individually. But look at how completely the entire gown hides what is beneath it.
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