Britology Watch: Deconstructing \’British Values\’

20 November 2009

One good thing to emerge from the Queen’s Speech

In the spirit of praising best practice when it arises, I feel it incumbent upon me to record that, for once, the BBC’s radio and online reporting of Wednesday’s Queen’s Speech was exemplary in pointing out when the proposed legislation related solely or mainly to England and not the whole of the UK. The news broadcasts I heard on Radio 4 pointed out explicitly that the key measures for schools, the NHS and social care applied to England alone: something quite unprecedented for the BBC. And the summary of the legislative programme on the BBC website indicated for each item which UK nations they related to. E.g. Children, Schools and Families Bill, “Whole bill applies to England. Other parts cover Wales and extends in part to Northern Ireland”; Personal Care at Home Bill, “Applies to England only”; and Health Bill, “guaranteeing cancer patients in England a consultation within two weeks, a free health check for all over-40s and that no-one will have to wait more than 18 months [I think that should read ‘weeks’] between a GP referral and hospital treatment”. Well done, BBC!

I can’t comment on the TV news or on other news media, as I didn’t see them. But I was further encouraged yesterday by Radio 4’s reporting on the farcical row that has broken out about the proposals for free personal care, with some Labour MPs complaining they have pre-empted the conclusions of a consultation that ended only this week (a blatant case of electioneering, then). The Radio 4 report, on ‘Today In Parliament’, was prefaced by the mention that the proposals related to England only.

If the BBC can make it clear in this way which parts of the UK the government’s legislative programme relate to, then there’s hope that, come the general election, it will similarly make an effort to point out which of the UK’s nations are affected, and which are not, by the policies the parties present and debate during the election campaign. In any case, I’m keeping a watching brief and will be bashing off further emails of complaint should the occasion arise. I nearly did so the other night, in fact, when I heard a BBC World Service discussion on the work of NICE (the National Institute for Clinical Excellence): the body that decides whether to approve drugs for the NHS in England and Wales based on a cost-benefit analysis. The World Service report failed to mention NICE’s geographical remit, implying that its work related to the whole of the UK; whereas we know that Scotland enjoys better per-capita funding than England for drug treatments and is not under NICE’s thumb. But it was kind of late; and I need to get out more!

I have, however, received a holding reply to my last complaint, about the misreporting of the government’s proposals for ten new nuclear power plants, all but one of which are to be located in England – and none in Scotland (wonder why). So watch this space.



  1. David, off topic but only slightly, I see once again that the BBC is so blatantly anti English that it defies belief.

    I am referring to the fact that both the Scotland and Wales rugby matches are being shown live today, Saturday 21st, Wales on BBC1 and Scotland on BBC2, England’s match of course is live on Sky pay TV.

    The BBC say that they cannot compete with Sky on fee charges, my language and expletives about the BBC are such that I wouldn’t dream of expressing them publicly or embarrassing you or your contributors.

    The licence fee provides the BBC with a guaranteed income that is eye watering, some 3 Billion pounds a year, and for them to say they can’t afford a few measly thousand quid to show England’s matches live is nothing short of disgraceful, after all who pays the majority of the licence fee…the English licence payers, yet we have to be content with recorded highlights shown late Saturday evening on BBC3, and unless you shut yourself in a darkened room you are bound to hear the result……am I a bit paranoid?.

    Comment by BobShaw — 21 November 2009 @ 11.34 am | Reply

    • I think the same applies to the Six Nations, if I remember correctly: Wales (not sure about Scotland) will get to see all their matches live but not England. Not sure how this will be affected by the review of the sporting events that should be ring-fenced for terrestrial TV. It was suggested this should include all four nations’ World Cup and European Nations Cup qualifying matches (and the tournaments themselves, of course). If this approach is recommended for football, it should also be adopted for rugby from whenever the recommendations take effect. Probably worth checking out. If there’s discrimination, it should be brought to the attention of those considering the recommendations: Department of (English) Culture, (UK) Media and (English) Sport, perhaps? (Expletives with the middle / end letters taken out are acceptable where warranted, as here!)

      Comment by David — 21 November 2009 @ 4.31 pm | Reply

  2. The main thing to write off about is to our local MP to see which way he is on the EU membership, otherwise there will be no England come the next election.

    Comment by jameshigham — 22 November 2009 @ 9.44 am | Reply

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