BBC – self-censorship of cowardice?

Cropped screenshot of Judy Garland from the tr...

Cropped screenshot of Judy Garland from the trailer for the film The Wizard of Oz. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So the BBC have decided not to play Ding Dong, the Witch is Dead on the Radio 1 Chart Show this Sunday )it currently looks like it will enter the Top 40 at number 3). It will broadcast a “short clip” during a news item explaining why it is in the charts.

The BBC issued this statement:

The BBC finds this campaign distasteful but does not believe the record should be banned. On Sunday, the Radio 1 Chart Show will contain a news item explaining why the song is in the charts during which a short clip will be played as it has been in some of our news programmes.

Ben Cooper, The Radio 1 controller said on his blog:

Nobody at Radio 1 wishes to cause offence but nor do I believe that we can ignore the song in the chart show, which is traditionally a formal record of the biggest selling singles of the week. That in turn means that all songs in the chart become an historic fact.

I’ve therefore decided exceptionally that we should treat the rise of the song, based as it is on a political campaign to denigrate Lady Thatcher’s memory, as a news story. So we will play a brief excerpt of it in a short news report during the show which explains to our audience why a 70-year-old song is at the top of the charts. Most of them are too young to remember Lady Thatcher and many will be baffled by the sound of the Munchkins from the Wizard of Oz.

Suprised Tin Man

Someone with a heart (Photo credit: Thomas Hawk)

There are two sad things about this whole row. First is that if the Tory press, namely The Telegraph and The Mail, had not run this story on their front pages the whole campaign would not have been so successful.

Second, and this one really is the killer, If you’re over 21 you won’t even listen to the chart show! Here’s a test, if you’re over 21 do you even know what’s number 1? Me neither.

The whole issue with Thatcher is not something you can understand unless you were there. Sure everyone will have a view but only those of us that lived through it will understand the strength of feeling that  has led to this whole row in the first place.

The BBC, like the lion has taken the coward’s way out but it looks like a decision made by the scarecrow – who didn’t have a brain. And what’s it all over? Well an iron woman rather than a tin man but both were missing the same thing!

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Thatcher: gone but best not forgotten

Margaret Thatcher, 1983

Margaret Thatcher 1925 – 2013 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

People often say that you shouldn’t speak ill of the dead, an opinion, particularly where public figures are concerned, that I’m not sure I agree with. What people say about you after you’re gone is largely determined by what you choose to do whilst you’re alive: nice people are remembered fondly and those who choose to be unpleasant are often vilified.

So how will we remember Margaret  Hilda Thatcher born October 13 1925, died April 8 2013? Everyone will have an opinion I’m sure but lets consider the facts.

Thatcher’s first and greatest gift to this country is without doubt unemployment. Previous governments considered full-employement an absolute necessity, she considered it an inconvenience. She changed unemployment  from evidence of a failing government to a respectable and somewhat desirable situation: “a price worth paying”, a way to keep wages down. In 1983 I worked for £3.50 an hour. In 1993 a friend of mine took a job, doing exactly the same thing for £3.50 an hour. 10 years of Tory government, massive profits for the wealthy and the lowest paid still on the same wages.

Unemployment soared as she dismantled the UK coal, steel and shipbuilding industries. Miners, some of the hardest working people in the country, were branded “the enemy within” because they wanted to work and support their families. Whole communities have been thrown on the scrap heap. Many of those workers are now part of the generational unemployed.

I grew up in Lowestoft, Britain’s most easterly town. A place where men worked in the fishing or shipbuilding industries. There is no fishing now and shipbuilding and construction firms are have just been derelict sites since the 80s. Now we have minimum wage chicken factories.  Maggie created a whole class of jobless men and forced women back into the workplace.

No wonder Maggie considered unemployment, “a price worth paying,” she expected the victims of her policy to pay it, it’s almost like medieval practice of the condemned man paying his executioner.

Next she gave us The Great British Sell-Off, BP, gas, electricity, water, BT, railways and busses. Prices for all of these have soared as foreign owners milk the british public.

She flogged off our council houses without ever intending to replace them.

To Maggie profit was the great deity, people were just consumables to be used and discarded as required.

Then there was the most unpopular policy of any government ever: the Poll Tax. Whilst most political commentators state her euro-phobia as the reason for her eventual downfall I have always believed it was the Poll Tax.

She considered Nelson Mandela a terrorist, supported the racist apartheid regime of South Africa.

“Black Monday” wiped billions off the nation’s reserves when we were forced out of the European Exchange Rate Mechanism as a result of her leading us into it a too high a rate of interest.

Many people  have said that at least she stood by her guns, but look where her pointed them? It’s easy to stand by your guns if you point them at the weak and those unable to defend themselves.

People say we have a lot to thank her for and that’s true:

If you are unhappy about energy and water firms (mostly foreign owed) ripping you off, thank Maggie selling them off.

If you are angry that there are whole families where no-one works, thank Maggie for ending full employment.

If both you and your partner have to work just to be on the bread line, thank Maggie for making profit more important then you.

If you or your children cannot get on the housing ladder, thank Maggie for the 80’s housing boom that started this endless cycle of spiralling house prices.

If you are one of the two million on the housing waiting list thank Maggie for selling of the council houses.

The Iron Lady might be gone but we will never forget her, not least because we will still be paying for her legacy for generations to come.