Dear Stephen Phillips,
I know that you are not a fan of 38 Degrees (to put things mildly), but we are still citizen’s and voters. For Mr Whittingdale to dismiss 177,000 signatures as “not representative” is to dismiss petitions in principle – had the petition been on the government’s system, it would have been more than enough to demand a debate in the House on the subject. Instead, the consultation is being thrown out, and new “public consultation” will take the form of focus groups and opinion polls – in other words, it will be targeted to get the reply that the minister wants, rather than public opinion.
Campaigning and encouraging your supporters to make their voice heard is at the foundation of British politics – it is the origin of political parties. The fact that supporters of the BBC have chosen to be whipped on issues of their interest does not discount their opinions. After all, you are whipped for votes in the house: does it make your vote, or your responsibilities as an MP mean any less? They still choose whether to respond to a given campaign, and whether to be informed of them.
The thrust of the complaint is summed up in the headlines in the Mail and the Telegraph: “left-wing campaign group” – not that people chose to campaign together, but that they did not have the desired opinion. The fact that “left-wing” is used as a dirty word in the press nowadays marks an anti-democratic bent in the likes of the Mail and the Murdoch press – not “I disagree with what you say” but “You should not be allowed to say this, and if you do you should not be listened to”
It is my opinion that the main driver behind the attacks on the BBC is News International, Sky News, Fox News (who a few years ago got a court judgement saying that they were allowed to lie and deceive in programs presented as news) – in short, the voice of Rupert Murdoch; a self-appointed kingmaker who believes that money (and more particularly his money) should take precedence over democratic principles such as voting and Parliament.
His main competition is one of Britain’s greatest, and most respected institutions: to gut it, allowing it to show only public information films and a bare minimum of news (where this does not conflict with Sky) is an insult to a grand old lady who helped make Britain Great. Better to have the honesty to just abolish her, and face the odium of another step in turning the UK into a banana republic.
May I ask that you encourage the Right Honourable Gentleman to show respect for the original consultation – to allow us “to our own voices be true”, as the conservative principle has it.
It would, of course, be unreasonable for me to expect you to specifically represent my views – this is not how Parliament works. We have chosen you based on the platform on which you stood, and must now permit you to use your own judgement (which you do admirably on the Public Accounts Committee). I do hope, however, that you will represent us, rather than representing a foreigner who considers himself above Parliament and Government alike, and defend our country and our Parliament.
Please defend the BBC, and our other great British institutions, or demand that the Government have the honesty to abolish them, and sell the country openly to the multinationals, rather than doing so in drips and drabs, when they think people won’t notice.
With my very best wishes,
(Sent via 38 Degrees)