It was so loud! Yesterday’s tea in the Commons was a great success, with opposition MPs making quite a noise. It’s been a while since a minister’s statement has caused such uproar but Nadine Dorries’s turn at the dispatch box had sent them into apoplexy.
Normally you’d have to visit a pig farm at feeding time to hear such a cacophony of high-pitched squealing.
To inform the House about the BBC license fee, the Culture Secretary was present. It would remain frozen for the next two-years. Auntie would have to think of other ways of funding herself starting in 2027.
It’s nerve-wracking times for those BBC execs. Not to mention the velvet-voiced maitre d’s at their favoured Marylebone canteens.
Raring for the win: Nadine Dorries (Culture Secretary) makes her Commons speech yesterday
Ministers rarely enjoy the joy of announcing budget freezes, but Nadine made an exception in this case.
Hates the Beeb. Loves the Beeb. It’s all the pointless strategy meetings and oily managers who look down at her.
She regards it as a haven for Lefties and judging by the howls of protest that greeted her announcement – not least in The Guardian – she may well have a point.
Labour culture spokesman Lucy Powell reckoned this was all part of the Government’s ‘long-standing vendetta’ against our national broadcaster.
She described the move to freeze the licence fee as ‘cultural vandalism’ and the actions of a ‘tinpot dictator’ rather than a democracy.
A bit OTT, surely. Were we living in a dictatorship, whoever was in charge of BBC 3’s infantile offering would surely by now have got their comeuppance.
One hardly needs a degree in media studies to recognise the BBC is anathema to today’s youth. The BBC’s endless stream of lazy panel shows, painfully woke dramas and sporadic programming is looked upon by them with as much puzzlement today as they do cassette tapes or dogs-eared London A to Z copies.
Yet in Powell’s dreamland, it remains some time-honoured institution before which families still gather on a Saturday evening and marvel. It was all the familiar clichés that were used outside of New Broadcasting House.
Good old Auntie was a ‘well-loved treasure’ she said. It was a ‘jewel in the crown’ and the ‘envy of the world’.
These cliches, which are so well-known and used outside of the New Broadcasting House employ, were thrown out.
True, it is rare to meet a non-British person who grumbles about Beeb. Then again, they don’t have to pay for it – and they only get the highlights.
John Nicolson (SNP Ochil and S Perthshire) thought the move was an attempt to muzzle the BBC’s news output after its critical coverage of Downing Street drinking sessions.
Kevan Jones (Labor, N Durham), also wondered if there was a Government plot to divert attention away from Partygate.
Fair enough, it took us 40 minutes to hear one of the lachrymose Paeans from the World Service.
Hilary Benn (Lab, Leeds C) spoke of people overseas still ‘huddling around the radio’ to hear the words ‘this is London’. Is he still alive in which century?
You rarely meet a stranger who grumbles about Beeb. Then again, they don’t have to pay for it – and they only get the highlights
Others expressed appreciation in a greater way. Julian Knight (Con-Solihull), Chairman of Culture Select Committee, and former BBC journalist, generally welcomed the statement.
Yer man Sammy Wilson (DUP, E Antrim) congratulated Dorries on finally having the guts to tackle what amounted to a broadcasting ‘poll tax’.
Peter Bone, Con (Wellingborough), was the most enthusiastic. He’s been gunning for the licence fee ever since Bill and Ben first sprouted from their flowerpots. Streaming is one reason streaming has made the licence fee so obsolete. Netflix, Amazon Prime, and others have made it possible for us to control our schedules.
Dorries boasted that 97% of UK households now have superfast internet, so they can stream up to five movies in their home.
Jamie Stone (Lib Dem Caithness), a polite and genteel man, longed for these luxuries. This is his last stop before heading to the Orkneys.
To get faint TV signals, poor guy will probably have to hang a piece of metal from the top window.
Dorries stood for about an hour defending her decision not to bring the BBC into 21st Century.
During Cameron and Osborne’s eras, she was constantly referred to as “old-fashioned”.
But it was those attacking her while defending the corporation’s antiquated business model who risked looking outdated.