BBC Television on 26/07/15 – Oxbridge Domination

Welcome to a day in the life BBC Television on Sunday the 26th July 2015 (tomorrow’s schedule).

We will start the day off with BBC Breakfast from 6am in the morning. The most senior presenter of this show is Bill Turnbull, educated at Eton College. Following this show, we have more current affairs from the Andrew Marr Show, hosted by Andrew Marr (educated at Trinity Hall, Cambridge), who will be discussing the latest policies from our government, which is run by David Cameron (Brasenose College, Oxford) and George Osborne (Magdalen College, Oxford). At 10am we have more political discussion on Sunday Morning Live, compered by Sian Williams (Oxford Brooks University).

After this we have some light entertainment in the form of Bargain Hunt, where antiques experts such as Kate Bliss (Brasenose College, Oxford), look for antiques at jumble sales.

12:15 – Formula 1 racing. We get to watch the current champion Lewis Hamilton (graduate of Cambridge Arts and Sciences) drive around in a shiny car. He is currently strong favourite to retain his title. But if you’re not a sports fan, you can watch Chefs on Trial instead, hosted by Alex Polizzi (St Catherine’s College, Oxford). Following the F1 we have a sports-based gameshow ‘A Question of Sport’ with rugby star Matt Dawson (Royal Grammar School, High Wycombe)

At 15:45 we have property show, Escape to the Country, with Alistair Appleton (Gonville & Caius College, Cambridge), followed by the Two Tribes gameshow hosted by Richard Osman (Trinity College, Cambridge).

We can then chillax and sing along to Songs of Praise, hosted by the likes of Bill Turnbull (Eton College), and Sally Magnusson (University of Edinburgh). At 17:45 Richard Osman (Trinity College, Cambridge) returns for Pointless, a gameshow which he hosts with Alexander Armstrong (also of Trinity College, Cambridge). Then it’s a news update from Reeta Chakrabarti (Exeter College, Oxford).

At 19:00 it’s time for one of the BBC’s flagship shows, Countryfile, with Ellie Harrison (King’s College, London), and Joe Crowley (Magdalene College, Cambridge). If you’re not into this you can watch Locomation: Dan Snow’s History of Railways instead (Dan Snow is a graduate of Balliol College, Oxford, if you were wondering). At 20:00 we have Fake or Fortune? with Fiona Bruce (Hertford College, Oxford) and Bendor Grosvenor (Harrow School, Pembroke College, Cambridge). Alternatively you can watch Dragon’s Den, where the entrepreneurs are joined by new girl Sarah Willingham (Cranfield University, Oxford).

We end the day at 21:00 with crime mystery entertainment, Partners in Crime, starring David Walliams (Collingwood Boys’ School in Wallington, and the independent Reeigate Grammar School).

This day of entertainment will be brought to you by Director of BBC Television, Danny Cohen (Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford), Director of News & Current Affairs, James Harding (Trinity College, Cambridge), and Director of Strategy & Digital, James Purnell (Balliol College, Oxford).

BBC Mission & Values (link to quotes below)

  • We respect each other and celebrate our diversity so that everyone can give their best
  • Trust is the foundation of the BBC: we are independent, impartial and honest
  • Audiences are at the heart of everything we do.

Judging by the disproportionate number of people from privileged backgrounds on the BBC, I don’t feel that socio-economic diversity is being sufficiently celebrated. I also don’t think the BBC’s employment track record is very “impartial”. And if audiences are at the heart of everything the BBC do, wouldn’t it be a good idea to have a proportional representation of the average UK citizen on our screens instead of people who won the postcode lottery?

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What is your Social Class? Find Out!

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you a scientific, airtight, 100% reliable way to calculate your social class, and it will take less than a minute of your time. BEHOLD: The Great British Class Calculator:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-22000973 (BBC Website)

OK, maybe it isn’t as infallible as I made out. But it’s fun, and the BBC say that they worked with sociologists from leading universities to come up with it (oooooh). Feel free to reply to this blog with the result the test gave you, and whether or not you think it’s a correct assessment.

Mine is…

Emergent service workers

This class group is financially insecure, scoring low for savings and house value, but high for social and cultural factors. According to the Great British Class Survey results, lots of people in this group:

  • Are young
  • Enjoy a cultured social life
  • Rent their home – almost 90%

Bridging the Gap

Important decisions are made by the ruling class. Those decisions tend to affect under-class individuals the most. It’s obvious to see that this is a recipe for injustice and inequality. In order for policy and legislation to be fair for all people, there needs to be a fairer representation of different social classes in positions of power. That’s the only way we can bridge the socio-economic divide in the UK.

Are you comfortable with white male, Oxford educated, born-wealthy careerists making all your decisions for you? Because that’s what’s happening right now. Most people in positions of power fit the description above, yet they make up only a tiny cross-section of the society we live in. Even if they mean well, they haven’t got the same perspective as us, and therefore lack empathy with the problems we face. It’s like an accountant performing surgery on you. They’re great with numbers, but if you’re having a triple bypass you’d much prefer a trained surgeon with the scalpel.

In order to change things, we need the people who are most affected by social/economic issues to be heard. This is easier said than done. There are many barriers preventing these people from occupying positions of power, including:

  • Money issues: people are too busy trying to feed and house themselves to get into positions of power
  • Education: a person may know what they’re talking about, but if they don’t have the right piece of paper saying they know what they’re talking about, their voice can go unheard
  • Current Holders of Power: our current “leaders” have a death grip on their positions of power, and will try to keep everyone else down in order to keep the power for themselves
  • Culture: it is commonly believed that a select group of people are entitled to power and we are not (based what we see day in and day out from birth).
  • Personality Type: people hear the person who speaks the loudest. Good ideas won’t be listened to if they’re not put across in a certain way. Unfortunately, loudness and having good ideas are traits that seem to be mutually exclusive.

…And there are many more obstacles. But that doesn’t make it impossible for lower class people to gain positions of power, it just means we’ve got to work that much harder for it.

For working class people to make changes, we first need to change our own mind-sets and tell ourselves that A) we do know best and B) we are able to make changes if we put our minds to it. I’m not saying everyone should become a politician (although fairer representation in this area is DESPERATELY needed), but there are certainly actions that can be taken at grassroots level that can make real change in local communities, as well as lobbying and pressurising existing councils to make changes.

One advantage we have is strength in numbers. However, that doesn’t mean much if we let the ruling class turn us against each other (which they try to do constantly with regards to religion, race, gender, economic status). They tell us immigrants, or people on the dole are the enemy. That’s BS. The ruling class is the enemy.

With determination and unity we can all become leaders and make a difference.

Equality in the Eyes of the Law

Every person in the United Kingdom is equal in the eyes of the law. But some are more equal than others.

When a lower class criminal sticks their hand in the till and takes a few grand the full weight of the law crashes down, splattering them like a bug. They will be publicly named and shamed, fined, and imprisoned.

When a wealthy businessman or banker commits a crime (often involving millions of pounds) they get a slap on the wrist, a comparatively small fine, or it is swept under the carpet completely. Or, which to me is even scarier, they follow legal channels so that they’re not technically doing anything wrong at all, even though they are causing just as much pain and damage to us underlings. To quote a Morrissey song, “Educated criminals work within the law”.

Look at the Libor scandal. Libor (which stands for London Interbank Offered Rate) is an average interest rate that many markets use as a reference point. It turned out that banks, most notably Barclays, were manipulating Libor for their own benefit – highly illegal. They stole billions, but was anyone held accountable? I bet hundreds should have got prison time for their part in the scandal, but they got off with a few measly fines.

Big companies are exempt from the law. Now and again, in extreme circumstances, one person will take the blame and lose their job. Yeah, and if I went to work on Monday and battered someone to death I’d lose my job too. But I’d also go to prison.

Then there’s the ability of the upper class to pay for the best solicitors (getting “justice” is easy if you can afford it).

And don’t get me started of judges! The people dishing out the sentences are from the same stock as the bankers, politicians, and the leaders in industry. The lack of diversity in the judicial system leaves it filled with out-of-touch white upper class males (and therefore the whole system benefits white upper class males).

To have equality in the UK we need to get the basics right. Equality in the eyes of the law is a must!

We Are All One

Mind the Gap documents my thoughts on class inequality in the UK. There are aspects of British society that I find frustrating. The wealth, power and life opportunities that the upper crust inherit is inexcusable.

However, I don’t see this as an ‘us versus them’ issue. Being born into a working class or privileged family is no more a choice than being born black or white. It would be wrong of me to attack a whole class of people for the situation they randomly find themselves in. This isn’t about two sets of people warring with one another. It’s about two philosophies, ideologies, going head to head.

Tony Benn was one of my heroes. He sadly passed away last year. He was born into a privileged, political family. He attended Westminster School and later studied at Oxford. He had a career in the army before becoming an MP. When his father died he inherited a peerage (a peerage is a title, such as ‘Duke’, ‘Earl’, or, in this case, ‘Viscount’), which prevented him from continuing as an MP. Benn campaigned for the right to renounce this title in order to continue in his political role, and was successful.

He was a great man, and always followed his heart in politics, even when it was detrimental to his career. He spoke out about the media and bankers about 35 years before our recent troubles. He was solidly against the fruitless Afghanistan and Iraq wars. His left-wing politics were aimed at equality and providing a better life for the cheated underclass.

Tony Benn was born into privilege, but that didn’t define him. His ideology and actions showed his worth as a human being. This isn’t ‘us versus them’. If you are born into privilege that doesn’t mean you can’t do the right thing. In fact, in order to eradicate our current social issues we need strong advocates on both sides of the fence.

We are all one. All people should be born with an equal chance to thrive. Nobody should fall straight from the womb into the scrapheap.

I’m a Glastonbury Festival man. Since 2008 I have worked voluntarily on the Glastonbury Recycling Crew. Tony Benn attended Glastonbury often, and I heard some inspiring speeches from him. He always used to say that it gave him a boost to see so many politically active young people debating and campaigning. Here are some great quotes from the late Tony Benn:

“Making mistakes is part of life. The only things I would feel ashamed of would be if I had said things I hadn’t believed in order to get on. Some politicians do do that.”

 

“A faith is something you die for, a doctrine is something you kill for. There is all the difference in the world.”

 

“All war represents a failure of diplomacy.”

 

“It’s the same each time with progress. First they ignore you, then they say you’re mad, then dangerous, then there’s a pause and then you can’t find anyone who disagrees with you.”

 

“Normally, people give up parliament because they want to do more business or spend more time with family. My wife said ‘why don’t you say you’re giving up to devote more time to politics?’. And it is what I have done.”

 

“I think if you’re going to be committed to doing anything, you really have to care about it, and I suppose that is a romantic idea.”

 

 

To be Blunt…

MP Chris Bryant stated that it is easier for a person from a privileged background to succeed in the arts, specifically naming actor, Eddie Redmayne, and musician, James Blunt. James Blunt responded via an open letter, very maturely calling the MP a “classist gimp” and a “wazzock” before moaning about how hard he has had it, and that it was just as difficult for him to succeed in the arts.

James Blunt was born in an affluent area of the country. His father was a colonel in the army. He went to the best schools (Harrow) and his education was paid for with army bursaries. After education he went into the army and trained at Sandhurst, and was fast-tracked into high ranking positions. While in the army, he didn’t deal with the hand-to-hand combat and getting shot at kind of thing so much as captaining his army ski team. To be Blunt isn’t such a bad thing, as far as I can see, thanks to Colonel Daddy. During this privileged start he was able to listen to, learn, and compose music. He was also able to make contacts with powerful people and earn a lot of money. James Blunt is the definition of a “Chosen One”.

On the flipside, a person brought up in a terraced house, who starts with nothing, who goes to work in a factory at 16, who worries mainly about housing and feeding oneself, may not even think to pick up an instrument or a paint brush. Art is a luxury that people can turn to once the essentials are covered.

But James Blunt says that his privileged background was a disadvantage in the world of the arts. Believe it or not, I agree with him.

Working class people are the most diverse, interesting, gritty, thoughtful people on the planet. They are exposed to harsh lifestyles. They experience hardships and horrors daily. They work the hardest jobs for the crappest pay, and at the end of the week they go home to their families with a smile on their face. This is where real art originates.

Anything the James Blunts of the world can come up with will pale in comparison. James Blunt may be able to walk into opportunities because of his social class, and he may be rich beyond anyone’s wildest dreams. But he will never write a song with the heart, pain, and emotion that the likes of Bruce Springsteen has written. He will never compose a melody that will rival anything by the Beatles. His voice will never convey emotion like Morrissey. He will never mesmerise a crowd like Tom Waits. He will never put his soul into an instrument like BB King or Jimi Hendrix.

So yes, I believe Blunt’s true artistic ability is diminished by his privileged life. But make no mistake, to be Blunt isn’t a bad thing, and I’m not going to shed a tear for him.

Democracy Day

Today is Democracy Day on the BBC – an event that marks the 750th anniversary of parliament and the 800th anniversary of the sealing of the Magna Carta (which established that the King was no longer above the law of the land).

The sealing of the Magna Carta transferred some of the King’s powers over to the nobles, and democracy as we know it in the UK stemmed from there. However, it hasn’t evolved quite as much as it could have done. Maybe that’s because parliament is used as a tool for individuals to gain and maintain power as opposed to being a force for good and equal opportunities across the country.

All those years ago, it was the nobles who were given the power. Fast forward to today, and it’s our modern day nobles that have all the power.

Of course, most UK residents are allowed to vote in elections now, as opposed to the privileged few. But we weren’t handed that opportunity on a silver platter. The people of the UK had to fight for their rights every step of the way. 750 years of parliament, and women were only given the vote in the 20s (by that I mean the nineteen twenties). Does that sound as crazy to you as it does to me? It wasn’t until the late 1960s that 18, 19 & 20 year olds were given the vote.

When people gain power they use that power to keep it. All the positive changes to democracy have come through relentless dogfighting, and further rights are given to the masses only sparingly and reluctantly as a way to try to appease people. This process has been continuously plodding on for 750 years, and we are still far from having a fair democracy in the UK.

The Chosen Ones still have a death grip on our society. Power is still hereditary. The underclass don’t have an official sway on policy (our only unofficial sway we have on policy and law is striking and protesting – a concept that is slowly dying thanks to legislation brought in by people in power that reduces the power of unions).

One could argue that the UK isn’t really democratic at all. A component of our parliament is the House of Lords, the second largest decision-making body after China’s National People’s Congress. It consists of nearly 800 unelected officials. And we supposedly live in a democratic country. It’s embarrassing!

What do we actually vote for, anyway? We have the choice of a few select careerists, and that’s our say over with. After that, it’s over to them to make all of the decisions (which is democracy for them, but not for us). What if, for example, you vote for Nick Clegg based on his shameful lies and then he gets elected into office? You’re stuck with him making decisions for you for the next five years just because of one day of public voting.

Of course, now and again a referendum comes along (see Scottish Independence), where the public get a chance to vote on one political question. However, this only occurs when either A) the government is pretty confident they’re going to get the outcome they want or B) they want to wash their hands of the decision and blame the outcome on the public.

Here’s an idea, why don’t we get rid of parliament and make ALL of the decisions ourselves? In this day and age most people have a computer, a smart phone, a tablet. I wouldn’t mind getting messages sent through to me a couple of times a week asking me how I want my country to be run. We could use the money we’d save on politicians’ wages to provide a tablet to all the people too poor to buy one for themselves, and invest in a broadband network to improve communication channels.

This would be true democracy, free of power-grabbing careerists. Do you think we could make this happen? No. Because the power-grabbing careerists in power wouldn’t allow it.

Happy Democracy Day, everyone!