Category Archives: The Media

Logic Holiday

The years of political argument – first about Scotland leaving the UK and then about the UK leaving the EU – have left our politicians struggling to cope. The resulting breakdown of traditional positions has lead to party members being so confused as to be supporting opposing views – at the same time!

Take the SNP leadership’s current position that Brexit going ahead will boost their case for a second Scottish referendum. So do they support Brexit? No they are trying very hard to stop it – so weakening their own case for a re-run of the vote.

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Then we have Labour pledging to get a better deal from the EU – and then planning to campaign against the improved deal on a remain ticket. A crazy plan that has left the EU side questioning the sanity of the Labour top team. Their position is so wacky that the party will have to allow a free vote to get round the cock-up.

Not to be left out we have LibDem politicians demanding a second referendum for the people to be heard but then vowing to ignore the result if it was another win for Leave. Why bother?

Plus we have politicians from all parties who keep telling us – with a straight face – that they know no one wants to leave the EU without a deal. Totally ignoring the national ballot carried out earlier this year where the Brexit Party took the most MEP seats and formed the largest single party. They campaigned to leave – no matter what. And if the vote had been under Westminster general election rules they would have won hundreds more seats than LibDem, Labour and Conservative combined. Yet politicians know that the people don’t really want it.

Finally we have the Irish backstop farce where the key issue is maintaining free access between the ROI and the UK. The EU took the position that the UK had to provide a solution using the slogan – you created the problem you have to fix it. In response the UK has agreed to maintain the present open border. The most it can do without any powers to control the ROI side of the line. Irish politicians – you would hope – should be prepared to do the same. But it seems they cannot do that without the permission of the EU – having given away their sovereignty in exchange some nice shiny euros. So this farce is an EU creation that politicians are trying to make the UK solve – without any powers to achieve it. Difficult is do-able and impossible will take a bit longer.

Away from Westminster we have the BBC headlining every bit of news that favours remain or stokes up leaving fears. Hardly the best way to convince millions of pensioner customers that they should pay for even more years of being told that they don’t know how to vote. Logic has certainly taken a holiday ..

Feedback

Time’s Up – After much horse trading and secret deals the top eurocrats have agreed – probably – on who will become the next EU presidents. The changes are – at the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker is to be replaced by Ursula von der Leyen; at the European Council Donald Tusk is to be replaced by Charles Yves Jean Ghislaine Michel; at the European Parliament Antonio Tajani is now replaced by David Sassoli; at the Eurogroup Mario Centeno has been in post since 2018 and at the European Central Bank Mario Draghi is to be replaced by Christine Madeleine Odette Lagarde.

Surely all those Grandads who believe in continued EU membership will know all about the excellent qualities of these fine presidents – but for the rest of us it’s more like … Who? or How did they get that job? Interestingly there was no news about the future role of Michel Barnier even though he was lined-up for a top job only a few weeks ago.

BBC Sinks Even Further – Despite clearly expecting plenty of negative feedback on the plan to means test TV licences the BBC has continued to fire more and more bullets at its own feet (snowflake warning; metaphorical language – no BBC staff or members of the public were physically or mentally harmed). The announcements of the salaries of both on-screen talent and senior BBC staff triggered plenty of reaction. And not much of it was in support.

Then the sheer pointless waste of sending the main evening news presenter to Lyon to interview the BBC sport presenter also in Lyon seemed to go over the heads of the executives responsible. Apart from the benefit of providing Clive Myrie with free tickets to the football match and a stay in Lyon on expenses the whole segment was just one more source of ammunition (another metaphorical). Given the situation the BBC might also have reconsidered the need to relocate morning weather forecasts to Wimbledon during the tennis – but it is likely that Carol is a tennis fan so would have resisted missing her days at courtside; with pay.

And as this posting was being prepared came the news that the BBC is facing a legal challenge over its impartiality and biased coverage. It’s hard to see how this can succeed – given the resources that the BBC can throw against it. But having threatened millions of pensioners with a loss of benefit every unjustified expense and biased report is going to be jumped on – by lots of critics.

BBC Sinks Even Further

This afternoon’s announcement that from 2020 UK residents over 75 will have to loose £154 from their pensions to pay for BBC excesses will not be greeted with much joy or support. Especially when the BBC clearly makes little attempt to produce quality content in the most cost-effective way.

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Even live sporting events have excessive numbers of pundits and reporters before, during and after every event. Some of these pundits taking away millions for just asking other pundits what they thought of the game. A game that the viewers had most likely just seen for themselves.

Meanwhile the BBC’s lead TV channel – BBC1 – is full of tired shows like Escape to the Country – which today has reached Season 17 Episode 37 for the second time – or daily quiz shows like Pointless; where today we have a repeat of Season 19 Episode 33!

To quote the BBC’s own blurb – The BBC is the world’s leading public service broadcaster. We’re impartial and independent, and every day we create distinctive, world-class programmes and content which inform, educate and entertain millions of people in the UK and around the world. And that means that UK tax payers – including pensioners – are funding television, radio and online on [in] more than 40 languages.

Coming so soon after that disastrous last place in the Eurovision Song Contest – where the BBC paid more that any other broadcaster to take part – the Beeb’s claim of world-class content has again been put into perspective. Australia’s public service broadcaster – SBS – has consistently produced better for less; much less. But then it does have to try harder – with no licence fee income to pay for programmes that are unappealing or expensive.

Now the BBC may not be any better if the channels presently paid for by the TV tax were switched to commercial funding. But the Corporation is, in effect, operating a business model that looses over £3,500 million per year – the amount it gets from taxation to make the books balance. Much of that loss is down to corporate obesity. Time for a corporate slimming plan …

Into The Sixties

Winter Dance Party - Buddy Holly, Big Bopper, Ritchie Valens, Dion

It is sixty years ago tomorrow that a four-seater Beechcraft Bonanza crashed at around 1am in bad weather near Clear Lake, Iowa. All four on-board were killed. A tragedy but nevertheless an event where reports would normally be limited to just local news.

But this time the deaths of pilot Roger Peterson with singers  Ritchie Valens (17), Jiles Perry “Big Bopper” Richardson (28) and Buddy Holly (22) made news around the world. Not least in Australia and the UK where Holly’s popularity was high having toured both during the year before.

Even so at the time of his death Buddy Holly’s records had only appeared in the UK music charts for just over a year. With Peggy Sue, Listen To Me, Rave On, Early In The Morning and Heartbeat being the ones that charted before the crash. Despite this brief and restricted career his music and influences can still be heard today – some sixty years on.

For many 3-Feb-1959 was not The Day That Music Died but a tragic loss that shaped a new and highly successful era of popular music – Rave On!

Australia Back In Europe

In March 2016, a deal was announced between the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) and the Australian broadcaster Special Broadcasting Service (SBS) awarding the rights to create a version of the Eurovision Song Contest for countries in Asia.

Eurovis2Initially the contest was expected to start in 2017 but that slipped to October 2018 due to organisational and political issues.

This week we heard that the Eurovision Asia Song Contest was cancelled, and as of now, the EBU has no plans to hold such an event. But this news came solely from Wikipedia – and with no confirmation from the EBU it could be that a 2019 launch is still possible.

However it looks like Australia will get another entry in the next European contest – and, no doubt, get a better result than the British entry … again!

Salzburg Shambles

Well that certainly went well for Olly and Theresa’s masterpiece – the Cheques Plan.

Napoleon_Macron3wChequers? – more like Snakes and Ladders!

The EU side was unimpressed with the British plan – which is hardly surprising considering that it was unchanged from the one released in July. Then, as Grandad reported, The Irish Times had led with – Brexit: UK’s White Paper largely unworkable, says Barnier.

Unsurprisingly it is still largely unworkable from the EU standpoint. What did our PM and her advisors expect them to say? Oh yes, we were wrong all along – please go ahead with your plan. True, they could have said something mildly encouraging and non-committal – at least in public. But there has already been more than two years of Britain trying to get the deals that the EU will never give. A permanent impasse blocking Whitehall’s impractical dreams.

So that’s another two months gone without any useful progress but plenty of inept political posturing. Going forward we really should not spend any more time on these futile exchanges. It’s time to drop the dead donkey and accept our role as an independent nation once again. Grandad just wishes that we had another Duke of Wellington figure to take the lead.

A Voice To The Voiceless

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To quote from The Guardian’s sales pitch …

The Guardian is editorially independent… it enables us to give a voice to the voiceless, challenge the powerful and hold them to account. It’s what makes us different to so many others in the media, at a time when factual, honest reporting is critical.

And for just an extra £20 a time you can also share the wit and wisdom of these two great 21st century thinkers. Sadly Grandad will not be able to attend …

End of Term

Schools are out, holidays are here and for much of the UK the weather is Scorchio! And with Westminster’s summer session ending tomorrow we can all have a much needed break from both work and politics – possibly.

Get-Away-300Sadly our government has left us with homework – in the form of a 104 page document setting out The future relationship between the United Kingdom and the European Union.

Now very few voters are going to bother to read this important White Paper; especially at the start of the holidays. And the few that do try might change their minds by page one – which starts out –

In the referendum on 23 June 2016 – the largest ever democratic exercise in the United Kingdom – the British people voted to leave the European Union.

And that is what we will do – leaving the Single Market and the Customs Union, ending free movement and the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice in this country, leaving the Common Agricultural Policy and the Common Fisheries Policy, and ending the days of sending vast sums of money to the EU every year. We will take back control of our money, laws, and borders, and begin a new exciting chapter in our nation’s history.

Even those with little interest in politics may be able to spot some issues already – just two paragraphs in. For example taking back control of our money – when exactly did we cede control of the pound to the EU? And ending the days of sending vast sums of money seems to ignore the £39,000 million already promised to be sent to the EU in the years after 2019. And stopping free movement can never happen as long as there is an open border between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic – since simply flying to Dublin, from say Athens, will still provide an open door into the UK.

But, in reality, what we the general public think of this plan has little importance. It is what the EU thinks that is the next big issue. And things have not started well.

Just one day after its release The Guardian reported –  The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, has forensically picked apart Theresa May’s white paper after a meeting of the EU27, warning that the prime minister had failed to offer Brussels a firm basis for the negotiations. While The Irish Times led with – Brexit: UK’s White Paper largely unworkable, says Barnier.

So new boy Dominic Raab may have to cut short his holidays as Barnier told reporters: We have a lot of work to do with our teams. There are, as you know, 13 weeks left, before the October European council. In this time, short time, we have two things to do. We must finalise the withdrawal agreement and we are not yet there on governance.

However at least one man in Whitehall should be able to enjoy an even more luxurious break this summer considering the extra £20,000 he apparently received for simply doing his report-writing job. Go Olly!