...a blog by Richard Flowers

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Day 3579: Attack of the Cybermen


So, the robotic and frankly emotionless Mr Vague announces that the biggest threat facing Great Britain today is CYBER-ATTACK!

Meanwhile, deep inside Thames House…

Ruth nervously enters Sir Harry's office. Hand trembling, she offers him a piece of paper, which he reads at a glance. Instantly a finger stabs the intercom.

"Activate Section D," he barks, "we've received an e-mail from Mrs Ngumba of Nigeria saying her husband has $40,000,000 and he needs to get it out of the country…"

PERSONALLY, though, I'd rather have the BBC than an aircraft carrier (even one WITHOUT any aircraft to, er, carry).

Of course, I blame Mr Frown. After all, it was HIS Hard Labour Government that in their dying days signed contracts that made it more expensive for us to build NO aircraft carriers than to build two aircraft carriers. Leaving the Coalition with the frankly impossible task of paying for the things while still trying to extricate ourselves from Lord Blairimort's Afghan Adventure.

Some decisions appear eminently sensible. I can't imagine why we still have twenty thousand troops occupying Germany. It's about time we stopped flushing money down the money-toilet that is the Nimrod replacement project 'cos it's literally never going to fly. And, half-a-halleluiah, we've succeeded in at least delaying the insanely-expensive atomic rocket program that is the so-called Trident nuclear deterrent. I guess so named for the huge DENT it puts in the budget. Apparently this deters people by convincing them that if we'll burn up billions of pounds buying a weapon system we not only will probably never use but actually cannot use because Uncle Sam won’t give us our own keys then it's no good attacking us because we must be DANGEROUSLY INSANE!

On the other fluffy foot: aircraft carrier without any aircraft.

I suppose keeping the Conservatories pledge to avoid unilateral nuclear disarmament by skipping straight to unilateral TOTAL disarmament has at least the advantage of novelty!

Meanwhile, the BBC is to have the licences fee frozen and more costs heaped upon them, specifically the propaganda arm of the government is to be wholly under BBC control.

This isn't COMPLETELY brilliant, but at least it is better than making the BBC pay for free licences for households where there is at least one older person (an effective 25% cut in income!). Under the agreed scheme the licence fee income stays the same but there are no more costs covered by the Foreign Office, so that IS less money coming in. Having said that, it's not just less of a cut, but there is the possibility to do some greater cost sharing between World Service and domestic TV and Radio (although admittedly that means more English-language broadcasts on the World Services), whereas lose the licence fee income and the money is just gone.

Anyway, I'm sure Mr Marty at Mayorwatch will tell you how they can make up the gap by just firing an executive or two every year.

Seriously, though, even though it's clear that there is plenty of room to prune and trip the great rambling bureaucracy of the organisation, at its heart the BBC is one of the few remaining things that makes Great Britain Great.

The vibrancy and variety of our cultural inheritance on television and radio and even theatre is in large part down to the presence of a BBC that shows what can be done, and means that other channels have to try and match the best. "Upstairs Downton" is just the latest example of quality ITV driven by the need to compete with a quality BBC. Do you believe that Sky would produce ANY home-grown drama if they didn't have to try and look like an alternative to the free BBC?

And I reckon "Nation Shall Speak Peace Unto Nation" is worth a darn sight more as a national defence that the ability to "project power" (subject to the French not wanting to borrow the boat that day).

So I'm with Mr Mitch Benn on this. You'll have already seen the video, but it's always worth another watch. Cue the Now Show's resident Wookie…


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Dan Howell said...

Except that the prevailing wisdom among propeller-heads seems to be that the days of the piloted combat aircraft are numbered. Apparently it's all going to be drones, piloted remotely, and if that's the case then HMS Brenda and HMS Charlie are the perfect size to be _drone_ carriers. I doubt Mr Frown intended this but if that's what happens in the end, it will be shiny.