Britology Watch: Deconstructing \’British Values\’

5 January 2010

A good day for burying references to England

The Conservatives published their draft manifesto for the English NHS yesterday, which failed to mention the only country it concerns – England – once. Yes, not once.

You can suggest questions on the policies, to be put to David Cameron in a webcast on Friday of this week, here. You can also vote on the existing questions regarding the omission of ‘England’. Please do so, as this will help ensure that at least one of them gets put to the Conservative leader. Mine is as follows:

“Do the Conservatives plan to reverse devolution in the area of health care? If not, I was wondering why your manifesto proposes policies for the NHS (i.e. that of Britain / the UK) rather than just the NHS in England? Why not mention England?”

Meanwhile, BBC Radio 4’s news output scarcely did any better yesterday, failing to indicate to listeners that the Tories’ proposals related to England only – eliciting the following complaint email from yours truly:

“Why did the news broadcasts on Radio 4 yesterday fail to mention that the Conservatives’ ‘manifesto’ for the NHS relates to England only? Is the BBC unaware of the effects of devolution in this policy area? Just because the Conservative Party fails to refer to England once in a manifesto that only concerns England, this doesn’t mean the BBC has to parrot them in such an uncritical manner.

“The BBC website performed a little bit better, saying that ‘[David Cameron] pledged maternity reforms in England to “meet mothers’ needs”‘. But even that could suggest that this was just one England-specific pledge in a manifesto that in other respects relates to the whole of the UK, which it doesn’t.

“This example also illustrates a tendency – on the website, and in TV and radio scripts – to signal that policies relate to England only in an incidental, passing manner, some way into the article, rather than up front in a way that unambiguously flags up the fact that the policies in question affect England only. For example, the website article begins: ‘Conservative leader David Cameron has said the NHS will be his “number one priority”, as the main parties step up their pre-election campaigning’. A casual reader could think Cameron is making the NHS across Britain his number-one priority. But he isn’t, as a Tory government would have responsibility for the NHS only in England. So why not say, “Conservative leader David Cameron has said the NHS in England will be his ‘number one priority'”?

“This complaint relates to an ongoing series of complaints I have with the BBC over its failure to properly report on English policies and legislation as English, not as ‘British’ as the parties try to pretend they are. Does the BBC have a political parti pris on this?”

Let’s see what they come back with on this. They still haven’t sent a full reply to my criticism of their coverage of the government’s plans to build nine nuclear power stations in England, one in Wales and none in Scotland, back in November.

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5 Comments »

  1. […] by David On the day after the Conservatives published a draft manifesto for the English NHS that failed to mention ‘England’ a single time, I thought it would be fitting to publish an article of mine that was originally accepted for […]

    Pingback by The article ConservativeHome rejected: To be a party of the Union, the Conservatives must also be a party for England « A National Conversation For England — 5 January 2010 @ 8.28 am | Reply

  2. You’ll appreciate one of Betsan Powys’s blogs today on the BBC where she queries why we have Cameron/NHS cuts posters in Wales.

    Comment by Hendre — 5 January 2010 @ 2.42 pm | Reply

  3. There is no doubt Cameron is set on an EU appeasement platform to ensure he gets elected and therefore England is nowhere in this.

    Comment by jameshigham — 7 January 2010 @ 10.42 am | Reply

  4. […] wonder the Tories are seeking to portray themselves as the party of ‘the [British] NHS’, including to voters in Scotland and Wales. They mustn’t be allowed to get away with this […]

    Pingback by The Tories need to keep the West Lothian Question unanswered « A National Conversation For England — 9 January 2010 @ 10.54 am | Reply

  5. […] received a reply from the BBC to my complaint about their failure to point out anywhere in their coverage that the Conservatives’ draft […]

    Pingback by England: The Unspoken Other « Britology Watch: Deconstructing ‘British Values’ — 24 January 2010 @ 10.40 am | Reply


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