On Saturday, the streets of London were transformed by swathes of banners, flags and slogans as tens of thousands of protesters came together to march colourfully and peacefully against austerity, people from all sections of society walking side by side as they demanded an alternative to counterproductive and unjust cuts to public spending, l was unable to travel down from Hull in order to join the crowds, due to other commitments, but was keenly monitoring news bulletins as well as social media in a bid to follow the progress of the march, as well as to observe the tone and flavour of the press coverage that would surely feature heavily.
Shamefully, and somewhat predictably, that news coverage never materialised. Sky, ITV, and the BBC all chose to ignore completely the fact that a number of people equivalent to the population of a small town had mobilised en masse on the streets of the capital to voice their disgust at the policies of the UK government. The ongoing turmoil in Iraq, the world cup, and even the world's ugliest dog contest were considered worthy of airtime, yet the collective voice of thousands who are fighting for an alternative to pro-conglomerate Conservative dogma were blatantly snubbed. Sky and ITV still deserve admonishment and derision for their editorial bias, despite it being expected, given that they are wholly in hoc to investors from big business. The BBC has no such excuse. It is funded entirely from the public purse, and as such has a duty to us all to ensure that news output is subservient to the truth, and not the egos of government ministers or the agendas of filthy rich corporations.
Of course, the BBC has form on this. From the militant ignorance displayed toward previous marches, to their total refusal to even discuss the growing advance of the Green Party, and their sycophantic cheerleading of UKIP, the overarching modus operandi of the beeb is to give fuel to the spluttering engine of the establishment. The late, great Tony Benn often lamented the fact that the BBC has no dedicated Industrial Relations correspondent, and it is the default position of most news reports to declare the standpoints of bosses, and right wing politicians alike as 'truths' with the merest heed afforded to those who dare to dissent and oppose. Not only is this a shame, it is a national outrage. The primary function of any public service broadcaster is to ensure that the public it serves is informed and engaged, and if the British people ever needed balance, impartiality, and fierce independence from the broadcaster we compulsorily finance, it is now.
Looking at this issue logically, it is not so much of a surprise that the BBC, with it's upper echelons crammed with graduates from the old boy's network, has a tendency to mirror the views of a beige political elite crammed with the offspring of the same broken, incestuous and inequitable system. It goes further in fact than a lopsided approach to the casting of the news. It is a totemic symbol of how ordinary people are failed by a system designed to be resistant to the forces of change. That change is desperately needed, not just within the constraints of an anachronistic and corrupt politics, but within every facet of public life, and will not be manifested until the beige barricades that safeguard the whims and profits of this disconnected elite are finally dismantled, and the inhabitants of the top jobs within politics, civil service, education, health and the BBC made to better represent the people who finance their salaries.
The BBC needs to be fully autonomous, with a truly independent management and executive team that is free from the temper tantrums of governmental talking heads. Ministers should not be involving themselves in day to day operational decisions, and the government should have no more avenue of recourse to critical journalism than you or I. The BBC should be setting itself apart from other news outlets by defending the voice of workers, of progressives, and of those who stand against the status quo. If the BBC can afford a team of fawning, simpering Royal reporters, then our licence fee can surely stretch to acknowledging both sides of an argument, and to the noble task of informing the general populous of an event actually happening.
The first step has to be the breaking of the democratic coconut, a seismic occurrence that would open up the possibility of smashing through the beige ceiling once and for all. The mainstream political parties have zero interest in this. That is precisely why the progressive parties currently marginalised by the bloated elite must coordinate, and organise at a community level. Owen Jones tweeted yesterday about the total lack of BBC coverage of the march in London, asking if the beeb weren't covering events because "Nigel Farage had sneezed somewhere" It certainly is fair to say that the massed media has caught the UKIP cold. The coordinated media blackout of progressive alternative can be avoided, but it can only be done by making that alternative a doorstep reality. That, surely is a medicine we would all gladly swallow.