Sunday 17 November 2013

On another BBC-bias-related blog

Oh dear, it's "Blimey-this-is-long,-and-I-ain't-gonna-read-it" time again...

But, go on, go on, go on (as Mrs Doyle would say), give it a read. It will only take you ten minutes! (Think of it as being just two ad breaks in the middle of I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Out of  Here!).

There's a typically lively and interesting exchange going on over at Biased BBC at the moment between Tom and many of the regulars at B-BBC. As all engaging blog exchanges (ideally) should, it's got me thinking. So I'll share my thoughts with you here.

Tom, new to commenting at Biased BBC, has started his own blog on the subject of BBC bias, BBC News Bias

Thus, he joins the ever-increasing cottage industry of BBC bias-related websites.

However, Tom isn't quite on the same wavelength as me (to say the least), or of most of the contributors at Biased BBC - as the exchanges at B-BBC make clear. He's berating them for being like me.

Still, I find his Mission Statement quite acceptable (though I wouldn't think of wording it so emphatically), and his first proper post, about the BBC's "Selective Skepticism", struck a bit of a chord with me. (Fiona Bruce instantly sprang to mind):
On TV news, the same objective is achieved when newsreaders, correspondents, and contributors alter the tone of their voice. You will often hear a news anchor raise the pitch of their voice in an incredulous way. The subtext is "I don't believe this and neither should you". This is an extremely common method for inserting the opinion of a media organisation into news that is supposed to be factual.
How true!

David Preiser at Biased BBC has already laid out compelling evidence that the BBC downplayed that particular story, such as to predispose me to agree with Tom here. 

However, I part company with him when he speculates as to the reasons why the BBC played down this embarrassing story for the U.S. Democratic administration of Barack Obama:
Could the BBC be pandering to government pressure at a time when the British Prime Minister is negotiating a trade deal with the American government? It would certainly fit.
Aha! He thinks the BBC is in the government's pocket. 

That means, in this case, that he doesn't assume (as I assume) that the BBC is instinctively sympathetic to (and, therefore, biased towards) Democratic administrations in the U.S. because of its staff's left-liberal mindset. 

I don't buy Tom's explanation for a second.

Still, his line of argument places him in line with a firm strand of public opinion - that the BBC is pro-establishment.

Opinion polls [as reported by Is the BBC biased?] show that line of thought to be equally popular with the point of view which I hold - that the BBC is generally pro-Left in orientation. [The view that the BBC is pro-Right is held by very few people, other than a few outriders on Twitter].

'The BBC is pro-government' line then comes to dominate Tom's subsequent posts. 

How the BBC indeed elevates a story - such as today's coverage of Prof Ashton's calls for the lowering of the age of consent - is a live and fascinating issue, and Tom is right to pursue this angle.

But...his choice of story made me recoil, like a cobra before a mongoose! (Oh, I don't like that analogy, but I can't think how to make myself into the mongoose rather than the cobra in such an analogy).

He's chosen to complain that the BBC is being biased against Robert which point he instantly loses me.

But why? Well, perhaps because I think the BBC should be biased against Robert Mugabe. For the BBC not to be biased against Robert Mugabe (or Kim Jong-un for that matter) would offend my sense of right and wrong. I have an overwhelmingly strong bias against Mugabe. I loathe him, in fact. I don't loathe many people but, yes, I loathe Mugabe.

However, the BBC is supposed to be impartial, and they shouldn't - as Tom argues they do - propagandize against anyone, even murderous dictators, should they? They shouldn't share my loathing.

Or should they?

Oh dear, it's that old debate about whether impartiality is even possible and whether the BBC should, in fact, opt to be on 'the right side' instead. 

Not just one can of worms there, but a thousands warehouses only stocked with cans of worms. 

I just can't make my mind up here. 

Tom can though. He takes the BBC's "anti-Mugabe propaganda" as further proof of their pro-establishment views, and expands on that:
Getting back on point, the BBC has long been a servile supporter of the British aristocracy, as evidenced by their sycophantic coverage of anything to do with the British royal family or Lady Thatcher. For obvious reasons, the left-wing facade of the BBC doesn't extend to denigrating the people with the power to take them off air. Thus, the reason the BBC has been spawning anti-Mugabe propaganda, and elevating these stories to be consumed en masse by a largely disinterested public, is because the British ruling class have told them to.
Well, that's a surprisingly nuanced point. The BBC's "left-wing facade", eh?

My jaw did drop at the suggestion that the BBC has been "sycophantic" in its coverage of Lady Thatcher (so much so that I may have dislocated it). That's very far from my experience of the BBC's treatment of Lady Thatcher, and "long been a servile supporter of the British aristocracy" raises a question in my mind: "Really?!?"

I might have also queried his suggestion that the BBC is "sycophantic" towards the Royal Family, based on my earlier experiences of the BBC, but - despite the utter fiasco of their Jubilee regatta coverage - the Beeb's Golden Jubilee coverage didn't strike me as being anti-royalist (and being an ardent royalist myself, I would have noticed if it had been) and the corporation's royal baby coverage really did verge on the sycophantic - and the fact that I was happy that it did (as I was) hardly helps dispel Tom's point there!

As a result, I'm rather at a loss to explain why the BBC's recent royal coverage has seemed (even to me) more royalist than anti-royalist. I'm still not remotely inclined to think that it's because the BBC is obeying their aristocratic masters though.

Hmm, "at a loss". Ah, I don't like being at a loss (even though I am often at a loss). So, I'd suggest (thinking aloud) that it's because the BBC saw the way the wind was blowing (i.e. in a strongly royalist direction) at the time of the Golden Jubilee and bent accordingly, in the interest of ratings (perhaps) and to avoid being pilloried again (as they were over their excruciating regatta coverage).

Anyhow, back to Tom's posts. 

His next post excoriates the BBC for being mean to President Cristina Kirchner of Argentina. He uses this as an example of the BBC "misleading by misquoting".

He shrewdly notes those baffling occasions when the BBC's headline or sub-headline uses quotation marks when the article fails to cite a direct quote where the allegedly-quoted phrase has actually been used. 

Sue, myself, Hadar at BBC Watch and plenty of people at Biased BBC have commented about that over the years (especially over the BBC's online coverage of Israel). I'll give him a 'yep!' for that.

He complained to the BBC about the use of the word "elite" in a BBC article about Pres. Cristina, when the lady in question hadn't used that word - and, after complaining, received what we righties so rarely achieve - an admission that the BBC got it wrong:
"Our reader has a point and I have now removed the quotation marks from the story. In her interview, Cristina Fernandez referred to "privileged sectors in Argentina," saying they have done well in history, kept the lion's share and wanted the country to go back to a time when workers were poorly paid. I used ELITE simply as shorthand to "privileged sectors". But our reader is right to point out that there should be no quotation marks around a word the president didn't actually use." 
Flipping heck! That's a response most of us old BBC bias hands couldn't even dream of receiving from the BBC! And after just five posts!!

Naturally, Tom takes this as proof that the BBC is propagandizing for the British government. I don't. Not for a second.

If the BBC were propagandizing for the British government over the Falkland Islands, I wouldn't mind though. In fact, I'll add an "If only!" here. 

I'll admit that I'm biased on this subject. Very strongly biased. 

Being a critic of BBC bias who takes the controversial 'The BBC should be as impartial as it claims to be, but isn't' line, I know very well that I should be resolute enough to assert that the BBC should toe the line on impartiality, even over the Falklands, but part of me doesn't want it to do so. I want it to be pro-British, and that's a contradiction I'm not yet able to resolve. (Not that it bothers me much).

Thankfully, I don't feel I have to resolve it. ("Thankfully"?)

I get really hot under the collar when I think the BBC is bending over backwards to put the Argentinian side of the Falklands issue, or promoting the anti-Falklands War stance, and I think they did promote the anti-Falklands War stance at the time - and have done so ever since - and I think that that they do occasionally bend over backward to give the Argentinian perspective at the expense of the British perspective. 

So I don't buy Tom's view here - just as I suspect he's not going to buy mine (though I live in hope). Not for a second.

The familiar question then arises (at least to me): Tom is criticising the BBC for being pro-British in its coverage of Argentina and the Falklands, and I often criticise the BBC for being anti-British in its coverage of Argentina and the Falklands; thus, as the BBC is being criticised from both sides, it must be getting it about right. The question then being, is the BBC right about that?

As I've argued before, no, no and thrice no. 

Just because both sides of the argument accuse the BBC of being biased doesn't prove that the BBC isn't biased. There may be (a) vastly more people complaining on one side of the argument than the other and (b) one side may be right and the other side wrong (and, maybe, have the evidence to back it up, while the other has merely bold assertion). I sense that Tom is on the wrong side of both (a) and (b).

However, Tom's most recent post once more struck a chord (F sharp minor?), as he cites what he thinks is an example of the BBC's tendency to answer its own questions - and, yes, I agree that the BBC does have a tendency to answer its own questions - and to interview itself (BBC presenter + BBC correspondent) far too often, and always consensually.

Tom's example is the push for a war against the Assad regime in Syria - and, again, he's pushing the 'the BBC is a government poodle' angle:
Recently, the British government was pushing hard for war with Syria. In order to convince the British public before a major vote in parliament, news shows were busy making the case for intervention. This propaganda war ultimately failed. The people weren't convinced, and the politicians were forced to concede defeat.
As I was against involvement in Syria, I was glad it was thwarted; and, like Tom, I also felt that the BBC tended towards pushing for our involvement in Syria (on the side of the rebels) and that the rebel side was getting much more of a boost than the anti-rebel side.

Tom cites as an example Victoria Derbyshire's interview with the Turkish foreign minister, accusing her of asking and answering questions that promoted military intervention and speculating (as we BBC bias-related bloggers can't resist doing) that her "pro-government radio bias is presumably why she got her `big break' on television soon after." [Having read years-worth of criticism of Victoria D at Biased BBC for being an anti-Tory leftie, that made me grin!] 

Watching the video he posts, I'm not inclined to disagree that Vicky behaved as he says she behaved (up to a point); however, I can only LOL (laugh out loud - not, as I used to think, lots of love) at his conclusions:
The BBC tows the government line on every foreign policy issue from Russia to Argentina (see earlier post). Its purpose is to the convince the British public that what the government wants to do is right. There has never been a clearer definition of propaganda; or a clearer example than the exploits of Victoria Derbyshire.
I really, really don't agree with the first two sentences there (and, Tom, it's "toe the line" not "tow the line"). 

The BBC's antagonism to our support for the U.S. airstrikes on Libya in 1986 was an early 'BBC bias' wake-up call for me, and the idea that the BBC was pro-Iraq War strikes me as very mistaken.

So why do I share Tom's view that the BBC gave the impression of pushing for intervention in Syria? Because I heard far more rebel voices than pro-government voices on the radio, often given an unchallenged platform - unlike pro-government supporters.

Unlike Tom, however, I put that down to the BBC's pro-Arab Spring euphoria and its tendency to be overtrustful of Islamists.

Like lots of commenters at Biased BBC, Tom has given me lots of fun this Sunday evening. It's good to have your suppositions challenged. So good luck to him in his blogging.


  1. Hello Craig,
    Thanks for spotting the typo. I have corrected that now, though I'm sceptical of your motivation for mentioning it. I do expect supporters of the Falklands War, the royal family, and Robert Mugabe to hold the views you've presented. I didn't write the blog like I would a scientific paper, so I didn't expect a detailed analysis (or have one demanded of me). As the frequency of posts would suggest, it's a hobby that only occupies me when I hear or read something particularly objectionable in the news. I write the posts quite quickly when I do, and I had largely forgotten about many of the old posts. For the latest post, you said that your reason for being against intervention in Syria was the one-sided debates. Well, I agree, and I said as much in the blog. I used that video because I wanted an example of Derbyshire's bias and couldn't find the 5 live "debates" I'd listened to. Personally, I think her bias is pretty clear from the video though. I recognize that Derbyshire is left-wing. Remember, there was a liberal "emotional" argument for wanting intervention in Syria.... "to stop the horrible evil dictator". The Tory party wanted war for other reasons, and I couldn't help but notice the common threads in what the government and the BBC were saying. Derbyshire was the perfect tool for convincing the lefties. Anyway, I'm flattered that you read it.

  2. The notion that the BBC is a part of the government is risible. Orwell warned us many years ago of the technocratic power-base, he was right. Cf the "expert" telling us that the age of consent should be lowered. The BBC seeks authority always, and it ain't the government.

    ps Craig, keep this site going, is a good un


  3. Yes, given that the BBC World Service is funded by government grants; their support of government foreign policy is widely recognized in the international news content they produce; and their existence is guaranteed by royal charter.... sure, totally risible...

    1. "The World Service is currently funded by grant-in-aid through the Foreign and Commonwealth Office of the British Government,[5] however from 2014, it will be funded by the compulsory television licence fee levied on every household in the United Kingdom using a television to watch broadcast programmes." from wikipedia...

      So... the World Service takes money from the Foreign Office and promotes Foreign Office policy? Isn't this just a case of the World Service doing the job it has been paid to do? :P

      Beside the point anyway, the government as of now is a Tory-led coalition, but even if it was Labour the BBC would find fault where it's own ideologies clashed. As I point out, the BBC bow in deference to "experts" and as often as not "campaigners" (ie, often self-proclaimed experts). The technocracy of Orwell's nightmares is here.


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    3. Ah, so you're quoting from wikipedia are you? I don't have a problem with that; it's well sourced. Just don't cut out the bits you don't like, such as this from the BBC page: "As such, the BBC's international content has traditionally represented – at least in part – an effective foreign policy tool of the British Government."

      They're pro-establishment, not pro-Labour. It's just that we had a Labour government for 13 years, so most people are hung up on them being pro-Labour. Perhaps when it comes to domestic policy, they are still slightly pro-Labour. That seems to be down to the opinions of the presenters (like Derbyshire). What do you expect though? People who want to work for a public institution will generally be more left wing than those who go to private companies. However, this is "beside the point" because all of my examples in that blog were about foreign policy, not domestic issues. For foreign policy, the content appears to be very pro-establishment.

      When government propaganda is fed to us so that we'll support their wars abroad, I see that as a bigger injustice than anything they can do at home. However, I'd take their bias against Scottish Independence as an example of pro-establishment bias on a UK issue. I'm not necessarily in favour of Scottish Independence either, but I can't help but notice the bias. The same with their bias against smaller parties, which they repeatedly call "protest votes" to imply there's no other reason to vote for them. It's because they're pro-establishment - Labour OR the Tories, whoever pays their way.

      I find it risible that you essentially admit what I've said, and then say it's beside the point lol. I'm sure 13 years of pro-Labour propaganda will `attune' you to anything leftist that they say, but in the last 3 years that hasn't been the case as much; at least where foreign policy is concerned - and that's exactly what the blog focuses on.

    4. Tom, thanks for the reply

      "Just don't cut out the bits you don't like"

      I didn't. Let's get this straight right off, the state pays an outside organisation to do it's dirty work. And? We talk about bias here, and at biased bbc. This isn't bias, it is a contractor doing the job it's supposed to do.

      "They're pro-establishment, not pro-Labour."

      The BBC *are* the Establishment. In a technocracy, as Orwell feared, you need experts. The BBC are experts in propaganda, as you seem to have noticed.

      "It's just that we had a Labour government for 13 years, so most people are hung up on them being pro-Labour."

      Give Labour their due, they have done more for NGOs and "consultants" than any previous government. Hey, shelling out millions of taxpayers cash for consultancy is now the norm. Oh, and I hate Tories as much as Labourites.

      "That seems to be down to the opinions of the presenters (like Derbyshire)."

      I only listen to R5 for the football. And even there you get anxious lefty hand-wringing.

      "What do you expect though? People who want to work for a public institution will generally be more left wing than those who go to private companies."

      An assertion, unsupported, and, likely, unsupportable. Big question as regards the part "who want"? I will tell you this: I worked for British Shipbuilders in Barrow. There was enough people there who voted in a Tory MP... three times. But, we are talking about a media enterprise, and one which wants to "educate and inform". Hmm.. this attracts a certain type of Victorian do-gooder, aye.

      "However, this is "beside the point" because all of my examples in that blog were about foreign policy, not domestic issues. For foreign policy, the content appears to be very pro-establishment."

      Foreign policy is one thing, the 145 quid a year i fork out is another.

      "When government propaganda is fed to us so that we'll support their wars abroad, I see that as a bigger injustice than anything they can do at home."

      Now, this gives me pause. Now, I am not a fan of overseas wars at best, but hey, we should look out for our own, no? So, I am inclined to agree: war in Iraq, Afghanistan, etc... bring our boys and girls back home.

      But.... "a bigger injustice than anything they can do at home"... all my history learning of our country, our people, tells me, that is crap. The tyranny that our folk have endured makes us what we are. It's why we didnt have a French-style revolution, and a pathetic minority of people still urgently want one. (cf the falling sales of left wing newspapers)

      "However, I'd take their bias against Scottish Independence as an example of pro-establishment bias on a UK issue. I'm not necessarily in favour of Scottish Independence either, but I can't help but notice the bias."

      Why not? I like scots, let em self-determine. I couldn't care less... but hey... the Labour Party really would be shot in England... good. Let the Scots be free. Ooops, there's me getting partisan.

      "I find it risible that you essentially admit what I've said, and then say it's beside the point lol. I'm sure 13 years of pro-Labour propaganda will `attune' you to anything leftist that they say..."

      I am 47. I have lived through all the long years of BBC politically correct crap, and John Craven. God help me. You make assumptions. I was born into a Labour family, a dad who was a labouror, wi 4 kids to feed.Back in the day, chips n egg was a meal. A butty if we were lucky. Apparently Thatcher was going to take that away... oh my! It never happened.

      aye, ftumch

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    6. Ah, I guess we disagree on our definition of bias then. I would call the BBC's position on international issues biased because they claim to be impartial (and many people believe them). If the BBC came out and admitted that they skew all debates on international issues to promote the outcome that the British government desires, then I wouldn't have a problem. The people would be informed about the BBC's objectives, and they wouldn't be misled. Even though you understand their objectives, many people don't. As public opinion may be the most important factor in whether our government goes to war, I believe it's worth informing people.

      Places like Argentina, Zimbabwe, Syria, and Iran seem to be on the "back burner" at the moment. The BBC is laying the groundwork for future wars by fostering negative sentiment towards countries that our government doesn't like. If anything should happen to piss off Cameron or whoever is in charge at the time, it wouldn't take much to rally the public in favour of going to war. Having said that, Iran is finally getting a better deal lately, but over the past 10 years, that hasn't been the case.

      Hah, I also hate Labour and the Tories. They're becoming the same party in my opinion. Overblown disagreements on trivial issues, while both condone horrendous injustices like wars, assassinations, lobbying, corporate corruption, oligopolies, and... bias in the media. Whichever is in power, they just keep the status quo ticking along as normal.

      Very well. A better argument about BBC presenters would be that many were recruited during the Labour years. They can't kick them all out and replace them with right-wingers in the space of 3 years.

      145 quid... that the license fee? Blimey. I don't pay it. I just connect my computer to my TV and use BBC iPlayer and Channel4OD. No need to watch live television these days.

      Don't get me wrong about Scotland. I'm not for or against independence. I don't really see the point, but if they want it, they can have it. I tend to prefer the side with the fewest morons on it, which is why I've leaned towards the `unionists' in the past. However, it occurred to me recently that the BBC likes to skew these debates by fielding a group of morons on the side they want to lose. So, I'm back to being completely neutral on the matter. I really don't care. If they gave some useful information about what would happen in Scotland after Independence, I might have an informed view.

      Perhaps you should feel lucky that Thatcher didn't take away your chip butty; she took away plenty else!

    7. Thanks tom,

      You argue about government propoganda, I argue for freedom. [Insert Mel Gibson in Braveheart youtube vid here.]

      I own a tv, so I pay a licence. (My boy quite likes it. He likes Columbo on ITV - A Good Thing - and Murder She Wrote - why???? - and CBBC.. which indoctrinates him with leftist bollocks). I object, on a number of grounds. Why don't you just get a decent monitor?

      I pay a tax (for it is) to allow a bunch of elitist lefties to browbeat and shape our society. And why not? You get annoyed, you pay taxes, and the government spend money doing stuff you don't like. Annoying isn't it? (Aside: I chat to a number of americans, one, a Texan, is a religious chap. I ask: on the issue of abortion, what you think? He says: "I couldn't give a crap what people do, but they do it on my dime." The guy pays taxes which pays for something he morally objects to. The standrd left wing approach here is to sneer at him as a religious zealot, while still taking his money to push their own agenda.)

      I have re-read some of your comments over at biased bbc, and your own comment at:

      Boy, you may not read the grauniad, but you should. It's your bag.

      From your personal profile page:

      "I'm particularly interested in applying my knowledge of cognitive psychology to the study of religious thought, behaviour, and belief."

      Please make that leftism... it's a dangerous cult. Actually... after a pause to think on this... a British writer exposing the cultish nature of left wing thinking in this country could be right up there. I can tell you a lot from personal experience.... Actually, I think you should, and I can be your agent. 25%, it's all I ask.

      aye, ft

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    10. Damn, I really need an edit function. I make way too many typos.

      I'd say that propaganda is a tool for removing freedom, so they're somewhat connected. My "Evolution of Democracy" article says a lot about how Western democracies eat away at our freedoms. There's probably quite a few libertarian principles in there.

      I actually don't see myself as left-wing (believe it or not). The problem is that speaking out against the injustices I mentioned in the last post is associated with being leftist. I find that crazy. Why is being anti-war a leftist principle? I would call it the difference between right and wrong, not right and left.

      I don't even think socialism is the `be all and end all' either. Welfare state? No thank you... but there are elements of socialism that do not deserve to be demonized (e.g. socialized healthcare). I also believe the utility companies should be re-nationalized, not because socialism is ALWAYS better, but because profit shouldn't be made from products that have a guaranteed demand. People will never stop buying gas and electricity, so why should there be someone skimming 5% off the top for a bunch of rich shareholders? If a business can't fail, it shouldn't be a business. So, there are times when "socialism" shouldn't be a dangerous word, and times when it should.

      Cuban socialism has it's faults, but when the counter-arguments are ignored, and when its successes aren't recognized, that's when I notice an `injustice' to talk about. Another example is Zimbabwe. Even though I'm not a huge fan of Mugabe, I noticed the bias against him and took a stand. I may be "leftist" in some people's books, but that didn't stop me speaking out against Hillary Clinton did it? Scottish Independence too. I have no real view on it, but I notice the bias. So I guess what I'm trying to say is, you don't need to be left-wing to criticise right-wing bias (and vice versa). It's why I had to preface my Hillary Clinton article with "I have more in common with the democrats" because I knew I'd get comments from fanatic liberals otherwise.

      It's why I get annoyed with people who only see things in black and white. Every post on that biasedbbc site seemed to be a right-wing cliche.... it's all pro-Israel, anti-Labour, pro-Tories, anti climate change, anti-Islam, anti-Obama, etc, bloody etc. It's almost as if there's a handbook to tell them what opinions to hold on certain subjects. So I won't be rallying against leftism or rightism explicitly, but perhaps I'll rally against the formulaic opinions that people in those camps espouse.

      To be honest, I blundered into that biasedbbc and got trolled pretty quickly by the clique in there. I actually wasn't trying to piss anyone off. My first post was my honest, stunned opinion on what I'd seen. On reflection, I can see why it did piss them off though. Still I took pleasure in showing one or two of them up. That David guy was so desperate to attack my blog that he cited information that was published after I wrote it. What a pillock. Then there was that weirdo who was trying to dig up personal information about how old I am. Who does that? That actually had me worried a bit. Some of these nutjobs go too far. (I'm 28 by the way, lol). I did get drawn into it a bit though, and probably trolled them a bit too much in return.

      I try not to read any newspapers with a political bias. I see those people citing the Telegraph and the Nazi-Mail, so why should I read a leftist rag?

      I'm sceptical of being told what I want to hear, wherever it's coming from.

      And if there's any more typos in this post... I give up. They'll have to stay! 25 minutes correcting the bloody things... good night!

    11. Apologies Tom, saw this early Friday but was busy... then Friday night! Oh my. Saturday, I was knackered....

      Anyways, the ephemeral nature of these things, well, I'll leave it there. If you come at me in the next couple of days, I will respond, give the above a good fisking, as it deserves. :P

      Particularly this bit "I also believe the utility companies should be re-nationalized, not because socialism is ALWAYS better, but because profit shouldn't be made from products that have a guaranteed demand. People will never stop buying gas and electricity, so why should there be someone skimming 5% off the top for a bunch of rich shareholders?"

      Oh, and use a text editor.

      aye, ftumch

    12. No problem, I'd like to hear what your opinion is.

      Just to pre-empt a few things; other products, such as foods and cars, do not have a guaranteed demand. If apples become too expensive, buy pears. If cars become too expensive, ride a bus, train, bicycle, or work from home. With gas and electricity, you can't stop using it. The business simply can't fail. The only way it could is by the invention of a new fuel source, and even then, it would take decades to refit all the homes in the country. I wonder who would provide that service (at a small... 5% profit?). The oil and gas supplies may run out in 100 years, but that's not really an argument. They can keep putting the prices up until the very last day, then shut up shop. So yea, skimming 5% off-the-top for a product that has a guaranteed demand looks like a clear example of the need for a public service. Oh, and lastly, there's the `private companies have investors' baloney. They're the one's doing the skimming, so they can't pretend they're making a sacrifice for the betterment of others. They're not.

      I'm willing to hear counter-arguments though. I haven't really discussed this with anyone, so I can accept that I might be wrong.

    13. Oh, and the government has the financial clout to match almost any private investor, and what's more, they won't expect a 5% return to buy themselves a mansion in the Caribbean with. They can also commit to long-term projects that are needed to sustain our future energy needs. The private companies don't do that (or don't want to) because they're driven by profit, not ethics. They will happily force half the population into poverty for as long as their profit sheet remains sound.

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  5. And lastly, don't dismiss this as some kind of lefitst ideology. The Royal Mail didn't need to be a public company. That business CAN fail. I'm annoyed that it was sold off so cheaply though. The rail companies can fail too, though the rail network is essential for the functioning of the country. I'm happy to have private train companies, though they should pay a fee to use a publicly owned rail network. I'm not sure if that's currently the case.


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