Anyone who follows politics will by now be familiar with the BBC’s rather strange concept of “impartiality.” I’ll be honest, it’s incredibly boring listening to generic BBC bashing and whenever people (perhaps rightly) complain about “BBC bias”, I wonder why they aren’t just spending their time/energy/resources publicising and communicating their ideas rather than grumbling that the BBC won’t…since it NEVER WILL. Worse still, many people are sent into a perpetual state of shock when our state broadcaster behaves like…a state broadcaster. Frequent and ongoing complaints include the constant toeing of government‘s line, the complete refusal to make any contingency plans for independence, piss-poor coverage of the brutal occupation of Palestine etc. etc.
Yet despite all the grumblings about Auntie Beeb, it’s generally accepted that there are some things it can and does take a position on; being against people dying is one such issue. There is never a pro Al Qaeda spokesperson on the news after a terrorist attack, never someone saying they thought the last earthquake was great, never someone saying they are glad people are dead. Another thing the Beeb loves is charity. I’ll spare you my unreformed Trot bullshit for now and just say that while most charities give me the hefty boak, I can understand why people might think that massive fundraisers like Children in Need and Comic Relief aren’t the worst things in the world.
So that’s charity? Good. People Dying? Bad. Except this week in Beebland, not so much.
Imagine if it turns out this “charity” the BBC is raising dosh for isn’t using its cash helping children (in need or otherwise) but is actually investing in companies who punt booze, fags and guns. Turns out, that’s exactly what Comic Relief has been up to. Comic Relief will doubtless claim that their shady fund managers had to put it somewhere, it will eventually go to its intended causes and the money was only resting in their accounts. It’s unclear whether the Father Ted defence will be enough to placate folks who baked cupcakes and held raffles for merchants of death and misery.
While Comic Relief managed a piddly £300,000 donation to a charity fighting Tuberculosis, they invested nearly ten times as much in tobacco shares – the charity “Target Tuberculosis” claims that 1 in 5 TB cases worldwide are the result of smoking. The Comic Relief mission statement includes a commitment to helping “people affected by conflict” and who could be more affected by war than the worldwide arms dealer BAE systems? They managed to procure a handy £630,000 of investments. And it wouldn’t be Red Nose Day without some alcoholism, right? Well, it transpires that Comic Relief has invested another tidy £300k in booze, mostly with Diageo.
Given that it now turns out its presenters have been running laps and doing karaoke numbers to raise some much needed cash for arms manufacturers, you would imagine the BBC would have bigger things to worry about than a presenter attempting to raise awareness of an epidemic which kills nearly 2 million people a year. Not so. Graham Norton has had a slap on the wrist, for daring to wear a red ribbon, to raise awareness for World AIDS Day (which apparently breaches the BBC’s editorial guidelines.)
So despite the fact it’s completely fine for guests to wear whatever they want, including a red ribbon,which all the guests on Norton’s show wore, the presenter must not wear anything on their lapel, “no matter how apparently worthy the cause or how much their message appears to be accepted or uncontroversial.” Unless it’s a fucking poppy of course – which every single presenter is forced to don for the weeks prior to Remembrance Day, lest they be lynched by a baying mob. The charity that benefits from the Poppy Appeal, founded by Butcher of the Somme, Earl Haig, this year gleefully remember the dead by lauding the next generation as our “future soldiers.”
I’ll be sparing the BBC my “Disgrunted from Dennistoun” letter because frankly, if the state or its broadcaster gave a fuck what I thought, I wouldn’t be ranting on a blog. And I guess it’s just as well we’ve got the BBC, making its presenters take baths in baked beans to raise some dough for some “worthy causes.” Because our future soldiers will need all the booze, fags and guns they can get.
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