“America just caught up with the rest of the world. Now everyone gets free healthcare! Why are they so angry?”

“I thought you were supposed to provide for the poor. Why are people against the Bill?”

“Wait–I’m confused. Didn’t Obama just do a good thing?”

The British can’t see what the fuss is all about and it’s really not their fault–America’s non-stop party squabbling is not helping. Barack Obama signed the US healthcare bill as law, the entire country went into a rage and if you’re not American, you probably don’t understand why…

BECAUSE nobody is explaining ANY of it properly.

Let’s break this down, nice and simple.

The United States government has never paid for health care. Never–in it’s entire life. Why? Because it’s not in The U.S Constitution, the foundational legal doc for America’s existence. In the name of freedom and independence, The Constitution encourages taking total personal responsibility for oneself (health care and all). Well, the first people to take advantage of that freedom were health insurance companies–the ‘shops’ of healthcare, if you like. Americans ‘shop’ for the best doctor or dentist, they always have; they’ve never known any other way. Gradually, health insurance companies became competitive. If someone couldn’t afford to shop, the government wouldn’t pay for you but they’d help you try to get ‘discounts’, so you wouldn’t stop trying to afford shopping.

This sounds sadistic to the British. Why? Because the British government cut out all this ‘shopping’ business: it promised to pay for health care–no shopping or competition involved. In Britain there’s only government-funded hospitals, government doctor’s surgeries (offices) and government ambulances. (Unless you’ve chosen to pay private insurance.) Nobody in Britain remembers life before the NHS because the ‘pay-for-a-doctor-or-die-in-the-street’-method, was considered primitive and inhumane. Since 1946 the NHS is how it’s ‘always’ been. The biggest disadvantage of the NHS is that you can’t buy a ‘better’ doctor–you just take what you’re given. But if everyone else in the country is also at that disadvantage then, none of us will ever know or want any different, right?

From day one, Britain and America’s models have been as different as chalk and cheese. This is the first difference between our countries that nobody bothers to explain.

The only universal healthcare America has, is what the British would consider ‘discount’ schemes. These are Medicaid, which covers low income families and Medicare, for over 65’s and the disabled. Medicare is 100% federally-funded/managed; Medicaid is 50% state-funded, 50% federally-funded and 100% state-managed. Medicare is an automatic entitlement (i.e you grow old, you claim it), Medicaid is determined by eligibility (i.e show proof of income, we’ll decide if you pay all/part of the fee). Both are in trouble. Why? Because the Health Insurance companies are getting more expensive. Medicare is claimed by fewer people these days, but it is also bankrupt because insurance companies are expensive ; approximately 4 people’s taxes pay for 1 person’s Medicare. Medicaid is also increasingly expensive because states charge high premiums for revenue, making it inaccessible anyway. Neither work.

Still with me at this point?

So what do you think happened? There are an estimated 308 million Americans to provide for. They’re all fed up with the greedy health insurance companies. The government’s ‘help’ programs are failing. Everything’s been badly managed and has spiralled out of control. Then along came Barack Obama.

Of all the changes Obama promised to make during his presidential campaign, healthcare reform was the biggest. To quote: “I’ll make our government open and transparent…No more secrecy, that’s the commitment I’ll make to you as president. And when there’s a bill that ends up on my desk as president, you the public, will have 5 days to look online and find out what’s in it before I sign it, so that you know what your government’s doing…and you can decide whether your representative’s actually representing you.” Now that sounded like change we could all believe in. Inspirational stuff.

Except when he became president, he did the exact opposite of all these things.

Last year a healthcare reform bill 1500 pages long was written, in obscure legal jargon, which an average man cannot read nor understand. In November 2009, this bill was hurried through the House of Representatives without the public getting to read it. On Sunday 21st March 2010, the House voted 219-212 and Obama signed the bill as law. The public were only given 36 hours to read it online.

The American public, even some of Obama’s staunch supporters, were furious. Every step of the way.

To pay for the new reform, the Obama administration says it is taking $500 million from Medicare. Hold on, isn’t Medicare bankrupt? That’s right–it’s a hollow wall. As a result of this bill, health insurance companies are raising their rates and collecting federal funding at the same time. Hold on, aren’t health insurance companies already rich from overcharging people? That’s right–they’re still the controllers of health care. The reform doesn’t take effect for 3 years. The total predicted spending costs are currently at $2.5 trillion. Hold on, didn’t Obama say he would cut people’s taxes to help recover from the recession? Yes, that’s what he said. America’s national debt is already past $700 million and the country is still in a recession.  This can only mean one thing: the American people would have to pay for it…all.

As a friend of mine said, “…He put out a bill that most people can’t stomach in this economic climate…He tried to do too much all in one go.”

To think that the health care reform bill has created one problem, is wrong. It creates several separate problems. The country has gone berserk and torn itself down the middle because many Americans are fiercely against any sort of government dependency. Many believe that a move like this bill, is an enormous and dangerous step backwards. America’s emancipation from British rule was to abolish government dependency, establishing an American government which would represent and preside over the people, not provide. Because once upon a time, a British government once said it would provide for it’s American colony…it robbed them instead. America never forgot that.

And that dear friends, is what all the fuss, is all about.


Patriotism, is a controversial topic in Britain. It was reported in early 2008, that British army soldiers were now prohibited from wearing combat uniform in public, deeming it “offensive to Britain’s multi-racial society”. For the exact same reasons, patriotic citizens have also been banned from publicly displaying the English St. George cross flag. They have been informed that only the full Union Jack can be flown, as a “friendlier” option.

Since the early 1970’s, Britain has seen a steady decrease in the open expression of patriotism, particularly in England. It is not by chance that this coincides with mass immigration. What doesn’t help matters is that most of us are generally aware of the troubled history of the 1970’s skinhead supporters of the National Front, who were the last outpouring of Union Jack-wavers. Expressions of pride in our country are limited these days; mostly to football or rugby matches, where we seem, to our American and Asian neighbours, slightly deranged about our passion for these sports. Alas, the firey passion they are witnessing is not just for the Beautiful Game itself; it is the direct consequence of what happens when some 83,000 Britons are given the freedom to simultaneously uncork the highly pressurized bottle of patriotic expression. What our neighbours don’t know, is that it is now considered an oddity, perhaps even a silent act of aggression, to see a Union Jack flown outside a home in 21st century Britain.

This is in stark contrast to the American attitude towards patriotism. Americans never need an excuse to show national pride. An American flag stands, outside pretty much every home in the U.S. Everywhere you turn, it seems, the national flag is emblazoned on absolutely every blank surface. Arriving tourists are often amazed to find themselves bombarded with this bizarre, American ‘obsession’ with the Stars and Stripes, making it’s way into every holiday photograph, cutting into their line of sight with every blink. Businesses, cars, trucks, shop fronts and windows of all manner are flamboyantly and often, outrageously adorned with it. Most of the time this is done completely in spite of the hatred expressed toward America. Day and night, American marches and other such patriotic music, pours out of classical music radio stations; at deafening decibels in every university, college or national sports game. Sung over and over again like a broken record at schools the country over, the American national anthem is now one of the most recognised patriotic songs in the world.

However, as a result of the negative image patriotism has in Britain, the tendency has been to frequently look down upon the bold, loud American display of patriotism as false and showy, aggressive and insensitively hostile to foreigners on their soil. Honestly speaking, I think neither extreme serves well. A country’s governance shouldn’t go to the ridiculous heights of banning it’s brave military from wearing it’s khakis or citizens from waving the flag; nor should it go to the absurdity of making it federal law to face the flag, hand over heart and sing where both song and flag are in the same room. I do, however believe that Britain can learn a little from the Americans in the face of adversity. It is good and fitting that every British citizen should, in the face of politically correct discouragement, fly either the Union Jack or the English, Scottish, Welsh, Irish flag, as a mark of recognition and respect for the freedoms their soil has earned them.

An ethnically diverse London has earned me friends with people of hundreds of different nationalities. I am curious to hear people’s views on what you believe patriotism means to you. Bring into consideration the entire mixed bag: your ethnic origins, country of birth and your country of residence, because often, these are not always the same thing or place.

We make no secret of our disgust these days, when it comes to our opinion of modern Britain. So few are the patriotic of British soil, that anyone daring to utter a few hopeful musings is quickly shot down with a range of political and social artillery. We point to the miserable, grey sky and declare, “Look at it! Who wants to live in this dump?!” We squirm our way off of packed public transport and exhort, “What a hole this place has turned into. England’s become no better than a third-world country!” Time and time again, I’ve witnessed the speed at which the jolly advocate of the homeland, will mournfully give way to the protagonists of pragmatism (say that with your mouth full). Whether down the pub or over coffee, with a “Yeah, I s’pose you’re right…” we’ve fast turned ourselves into a grumbling, unbelieving people. Why have Britain’s people chosen the solitary route of cynicism, in the advent of modernity?

Can we blame ourselves? Or are there real grounds for this growing anti-patriotic feeling? We’ve all heard the saying, “Misery loves company.” Perhaps so. Unfortunately for the British, who’ve adopted this moniker when it comes to talking about their own country, this hasn’t really bred the type of ‘company’ or ‘togetherness’ that lasts longer than a pot of tea and a plate of biscuits. Admit it: when our whinging is done and the tea mugs are dry, in all truth, the cynicism we so stubbornly celebrate as the “essence de la Britannia’, leaves a rather ugly residue on our lives. It’s a sober thought that makes us shifty and uncomfortable. Being cynical all the time, is a heavy weight to carry–yet nobody likes to dwell on that. The distance to the pub for alcoholic relief is shorter than the distance to a change of attitude. At least that’s been the reasoning in Britain for the last few centuries. But what brought us to this point in the first place? The unease with the country started with a trickle. Whole books can be written in response to this question; I hope to deliver a summary.

Here’s an illustration for you. There was a grand era of my life in 1996 where I had an ‘enlightenment’ about why we call it The Beautiful Game. Suddenly you couldn’t tear me away from Match of The Day. I became a complete and utter football fanatic for the next 3 years of my life; I lived, breathed and ate the game. And there was a lot to shout about; the 1990’s were an incredible time for British football. It was the era of our homegrown: Ryan Giggs, Paul Gascoigne, Matthew Le Tissier, Glenn Hoddle, Roy Keane, Robbie Fowler, David Beckham, Gary Lineker, Alan Shearer, Teddy Sheringham, Ian Wright and the discovery of one Michael Owen. Some of the greatest local players in footballing history took to the British pitch during this decade. Then someone had the bright spark of heavier investments in international transfers. One by one they came, dazzling the stadiums with their incredible performances: Ruud Gullit, Roberto Baggio, Gianfranco Zola, David Ginola, Dennis Bergkamp, Johan Cruyff, Ole Gunnar Solskjær,  Zinedine Zidane, Eric Cantona, Emile Djorkaeff, Marcel Desailly….the frenzied crowds cheered, but they had no idea what had just begun. The chipmunks had already started chewing away at the foot of this enormous, old oak tree. The buying abroad did not stop there; more and more club profits were earned in this manner and as more of these football greats took to their retirement posts, Britain was completely deficient in homegrown talent to replace them. Some enthusiasts would call me a flake, but I fell out of love with football when the British football game became unrecognizable. Few attempts at local recovery did little to stem the flow of the international presence on British fields. The whole country was saturated, our national clubs were fretting. We had sold away our game, our heritage.

What’s left for Britain to be proud of, locally? As with football, so followed cricket and rugby. Following a post-WW2 habit of employing immigrants to boost the economy, Britain has long been in the business of giving away it’s national treasures in one big estate garage sale. The benefits of multi-culturalism, ethnic diversity and foreign tolerance, are outweighed by the losses that our centuries’ forefathers worked so hard to maintain. Some might respond, “Well it’s just like the Royal Family; hardly a huge loss when tradition has little purpose these days.” But is this really what it’s has boiled down to, celebrating erosion too? I can’t help but look at the growing rubbish dumps filled with VHS players, mobile phones, 4:3 televisions, car scraps made of plastic and ask if modernity really has as much to offer as age-old British tradition that was made to last. Where has our national pride gone? Sold! to the gentleman in the first row with the Gucci tie and Ferragamo shoes.

A proposed solution, if any. Don’t prepare for death by putting the kettle on and inviting everyone round for another whingefest. Misery doesn’t love company, it’s isolating. Every new wave starts with a few pigeon steps: we British must get off our backsides and consciously decide to support local efforts. Don’t do it to be a quirk, do it because you’re tired of complaining about how rubbish at everything your country is. Decide to be discerning about your consumer habits: instead of whinging that there’s nothing British to be proud about, make a point of buying British. I’m not exactly the first to say it, but this will never catch on if we sit around waiting for each other, nor if we begrudge the point as being a wasted, pathetic effort. This country is it’s own worst enemy because we wait for others to do the passionate town-crying for us. Make no excuse: this is YOUR country. Take responsibility for your own patch of grass, because nobody came and took the “Great” out of Britain, we handed it to them with our apathy!

With the heinous stigma it has earned, I’ll forgive anyone who wishes to express outrage at what I’m about to say. Aside from the obvious inhumanity it committed, we can learn so much about the future of the structure of the EU, by looking at the construct of the Third Reich. It sounds preposterous but hear me out.

Stripping away it’s wrathful nature–purely for this exercise–anyone could look at the skeletal blueprint of it’s socio-economic and political structure and say it seemed idealistic on paper; a political system which wished to blur out countries’ differences for commonality. The Third Reich government, despite it’s “best” efforts, was not a coordinated, co-operating body, but a collection of individuals each trying to gain more power and influence through it’s President. This process allowed more scrupulous/ambitious individuals to get away with implementing the more radical parts of the “common good” ideology, and in doing so, win political favour. Ultimately the economy of the Third Reich failed because it was not enough of a command economy to “succeed” in the way the Soviet did, nor was it capitalist enough to rely on the strength of private enterprise the way it did in America.

It is one thing to be an optimist, it is quite another thing indeed to be ignorant to the proven pattern of causality. The direction in which the EU and The Lisbon Treaty is headed will be for similar consequences, optimism or not. Britain as one of the strongest countries in Europe, has far too much, not least in the way of it’s heritage with the US, to lose for the sake of “commonality” with it’s EU neighbours. One of the greatest things that has come out of this extremely long period of peacetime, is our freedom to vote. At a pinnacle moment in Britain’s history, this is EXACTLY why we need a true spearhead to lead the country in exercising our right, now more than ever.

Over this past weekend, I found myself engaged in a rather interesting conversation of sorts, with a rather internationally misinformed young lady. Amid the babbling, it did begin to occur to me that this person couldn’t possibly have known who she was talking to; for my own comic relief, I opted for relatively monotone observation and obtained amusing results. After listening to a lengthy but factually unsupported complaint against the American government, she haughtily declared that it would be far more profitable to live in a neutral state. “Like Switzerland?” I offered. “They’ve chosen neutrality for years, but I won’t profess to know too much about Swiss politics, they keep themselves relatively quiet.” And no sooner had the bait been set, did the blind mouse pounce eagerly to take it. Immediately after this final exhortation, I excused myself and left her to ponder the hanging silence over the last of her factually devoid remarks, “Well, pfft! What sort of politics could Switzerland possibly have?!”

The Swiss model of classical, pure democracy has been a pioneer on the world stage for over two centuries. Succeeding at having not been in a state of war for a remarkable 194 years, their neutrality has both baffled critics and drawn admiration over the ages. It’s no wonder that the Swiss have long been considered an enigma to outsiders and observers. In the age of modernity and adaptation, Switzerland joins Denmark as some of the most forward-thinking innovators in Europe. Deriving functionality from the Germans and strong opinion from the French, Switzerland has repeatedly sought and maintained incredible consistency in politically empowering it’s people. One would argue that this is a key catalyst in the domino effect on the Swiss economy, foreign relations, position on energy resources and state religion. Rarely do we hear them wrapped in controversy in the news, so it was fresh surprise to hear this week of a constitutional Swiss ban on the building of minarets. In recognition of what has been described as “political Islam” and “not against the practice of Islam as a religion”, Swiss citizens have backed the ban in an overwhelming agreement against “Islamisation” of Switzerland. This has inevitably caused quite a stir with liberal neighbours France, despite the country’s recent referendum to discuss a ban on wearing hijabs and burqas. It has also evoked commentary from Britain, who also faces similar issues.

What makes this particularly interesting is that, this opens up the question of whether the archetypal Swiss neutrality is still as purist as it’s prototype and whether or not the Swiss have now opened themselves up to advocating a “brand” of neutrality in today’s 21st Century. To explore this further requires understanding the motivation behind such a decision. The decision against “political Islam” arises in favour of serving to protect that prototype neutrality, to prevent the emergence of a society with political turmoil, as examples of such consequences have been shown in European nations allowing Islamic extremism a place in politics. One argument would decry that this is simply a case of splitting hairs, that such opposition against an Islamic practice in Switzerland defeats their cherished image of tolerance. There is the viewpoint that if this is about the issue of one kind of faith influencing the decisions made in a currently stable, harmonious society, should not all faiths in Switzerland be brought into question? One might ask, where, exactly, is the neutrality in declaring a ban on “political Islam”? This is an important argument. A warning has since been issued by the UN Human Rights Committee that this decision “violates international law”. Certain British Muslim spokespersons have been quick to label the predominantly Christian nation as creating “anti-Muslim sentiment”. This is hardly fair trial to the Swiss, considering their advocacy of Islam as a choice of religion. However, when discussing human rights violations, it would be a gross negligence to overlook Europe’s connection to a resourceful nation like Saudi Arabia, who have openly banned the building of Christian churches on Saudi Arabian soil. It is a naïve mind which says that world politics is about fairness; in practice, world politics is never about fairness. It is about concordance.

Despite appearances, the argument is less about human rights violations than the sensationalist reporting would have you believe. The Swiss have very clearly, laid out the finite specifics of their objections: there is nothing else to be added or deduced from that, until so declared by the Swiss themselves. As British “moderate Muslims” have very publicly declared in the past, Islamic extremism is something they ‘do not identify with’ and something which ‘should be stamped out’. The citizens of Switzerland concur that this move is what is right for their country, their values, their politics, their culture. Rather than seeing this decision as something it specifically declares it is not, it would be far wiser to recognize this as democracy at it’s best; a united effort to retain the neutrality that Switzerland proudly defends against all odds. “What sort of politics could Switzerland possibly have?” A remarkably balanced, effective one, which tackles difficult issues like these with a fine pointed blade.


I am writing this article sat slack-jawed, on the edge of my seat, in front of the television as we speak. Considering that nobody, not you nor I, has been allowed to actually read just what is in this piece of legislation, I have just witnessed the House pass the proposed $1.2 billion US Health Care Reform Bill. 218 Democrat votes in favour were counted, the number needed to pass the bill; a seemingly full Republican house voted against the Bill…save for one rather “interesting” vote in favour from a Louisiana representative. Forgive me, but I think there is some truth in the matter when I say only God knows what’s been passed in the fine print. Realistically, the Senate are the next body who will be able to make a difference to this result.

A rather unfortunate problem which also recurrently surfaces in British parliament in such similar scenarios, is that the party providing opposition to the reform has insufficient evidence to suggest any provision of a viable, structured alternative strategy to improve the ailment. This is the silence into which the Republican vote falls. The statistics indicating exactly how this will affect the American population are mindblowing. A reported 96% of under 60 year olds are proposed to be covered by this new centralised healthcare, leaving the remaining one-third of 18 million Americans excluded without healthcare (including legal aliens and American residents like myself. Ho hum.). The conscientious person amongst us asks, so where does the money come from for this? Good question! Funding is expected to come from further cuts from the already pitifully suffering Medicare program, (which certain groups insist, laughably, is in excellent operation…oh, pull the other leg will ya!). Of course this does not leave out the role of the average taxpayer (read: you and me); people earning $500,000 per annum can expect higher taxes of a juicy 5.4% surcharge. Not that I take this issue at all lightly but at this stage, I really have to laugh. Wasn’t it America all those years ago, who declared freedom from the British government on the basis of “no taxation without representation”, yet today the American governmental system insists on overtaxing it’s people for a type of healthcare that a majority did not necessarily ask for?

I have deliberately held off for months, from writing about this whole healthcare palaver. And with good reason. As a British person who was born under the British NHS, living in the US, I’m often expected to be the “voice of experience” amongst the opinions of a squabbling America. The additional advantage I would also have in this “seat of authority”, would be the lack of political subliminal influence which comes with being born in America. Two very important points I should bear in mind as a writer. This calls for great thought before offering my thoughts on this topic.

The one question I am constantly asked is, “What’s it like to live under centralized healthcare?” Realistically this is about as useful as asking the average, non-passport-holding American, “What’s it like living in a big country?” The answer to both of these is the same: “How would I know? I don’t know any different!” You want to hear the goodness and light version? Yes, the British people have access to ambulances any time they want, Emergency Room treatment anytime they want, frequent doctor appointments anytime the want, visits to specialists at at no extra surcharge and subsidised prices on medication and dental visits. Yes, we do have these benefits as a right. But it is by no stroke of the imagination, free. No, no, no. The British are well aware that regardless of whether they go to the doctor every 9 years or every 9 weeks, the payment for the NHS automatically comes out of their paychecks every month. It is a mandatory tax that can never be revoked, reimbursed nor contested.

At the last census, just under 61 million people live in the UK. My doctor’s office in West London has always been packed with people. It used to be that when doctors took their annual leave, your appointment would be rather inconveniently, rescheduled 3 weeks later due to backlog. These days if you want to see your NHS doctor or even your NHS dentist at your convenience, normal appointments have at the very least, a 3 week waiting list. It may shock the average twinkly-toothed American to hear this, but a general, rather silent check-up at an NHS dentist (see Ricky Gervais film ‘Ghosttown’ for a parody of the sour British dentist!) takes approximately 5-8 minutes; during which, you must request a “clean and polish” if you expect one, for a fee. And if I am being completely frank with you, in all my 29 years of being alive, an NHS doctor’s visit has never lasted longer than approximately 5-6 minutes, regardless of the severity of the illness – I am an asthmatic. Both my parents and records at my local London hospital will bear witness of the numerous times I have sat, unattended, in a dingy waiting room in Accident & Emergency (US: ER) having a 6 hour acute asthma attack. I vividly remember being partially collapsed against my mother, who sat from 11pm-5am with a blue-faced daughter gasping for air, while my father walked the corridors looking for a doctor, only to be told to wait his turn. Many a time I returned home untreated. The only benefit I’ve obtained from such experiences, is that I laugh in the faces of those who tell me asthma kills: if that sort of talk were true of all asthma sufferers, then I cheated death over 8 times in one year in 1988; many times more after that.

All Britons have triumphs and defeats within the NHS. If it hadn’t have been for the NHS, my dad might have died of blood poisoning when he was attacked by a Great Dane canine, who sunk his teeth so far into my father’s thigh he almost made a colander out of him. If it had not been for the NHS, the survivors of the July 7th “7/7” London terrorist bombs of 2005 might not be alive and well today. If it had not been for the NHS’ subsidised medication, I would have never outgrown my asthma as far as I have today. I do not overlook the successes of the British healthcare system at all. HOW- EVER. Unless you are in the minority who can afford privatised British healthcare, British people do not know any other kind of “better” healthcare outside of what they’ve experienced with the NHS. They cannot be faulted for saying the NHS “delivers a high standard of excellence” because the majority of us have no experience of some other “higher standard” healthcare! To many Britons, my descriptions are not unusual nor surprising. To many Americans they are horrifying; serving as ominous forewarnings for some.

Many agree that the current state of American health insurance is a mess which needs cleaning up. Is centralized healthcare a good idea for America? The future is uncertain and the outlook shaky from this point forward. Instead of hurrying unrevealed bills through the system, this presidency needs to tread very carefully to gain solid success with healthcare reform. Like democracy, it may certainly work in theory but in practice, you may lose a mouthful of teeth before there are any left to gnash.


As a half Thai, half Arab British woman born and raised in London, England, it was of course, a point of great interest when I heard that Nick Griffin, leader of the British National Party (aka Racist Party) would be appearing on Question Time. Swallowing past the amazement that a party with such an outrageous manifesto was being considered for prime time television, I found myself questioning what possible benefits could come from such a stratagem. The aforementioned BBC political debate programme happens to be one of the more respected political television programmes broadcast to the British people, which explained Griffin’s choice of platform. However the furore which followed the show was not so much a consequence of the stammering excuses uttered by Britain’s most hated politician, but the fact that the BBC advocated having Griffin on air at all. The British public voiced their disgust and outrage in their droves, even as far as to stage a 500-strong physical protest outside the BBC Television Centre in White City. I happen to be one of many who disagree with the BNP’s constitution which asserts that “immigrants and their descendants should return home”, in an effort to “reverse the tide of non-white immigration”. I oppose the support of the seats they have won in Parliament through garnering support from racially segregated towns and cities within rural and suburban Britain. However the question of the moment asks people of all race and colour: should the BBC have allowed Nick Griffin on Question Time in this day and age?

The word on everyone’s lips is of course, the BBC’s gain, of which no secret has been made: ratings. The viewing public was simply a pawn in the entire charade to win the BBC ratings in the interest of profit. The BBC, set up in 1927 and currently run by the UK Government, has for it’s motto “Nation Shall Speak Peace Unto Nation.” There is no greater irony than the juxtaposition of this motto with the content aired during the Nick Griffin programme. What never fails to surprise me, is the way in which the British public staunchly stand beside the BBC as the “final word” on all news broadcasts British. It pains me to say it, but it is often eerily like watching a collective under Stockholm Syndrome. To wholeheartedly trust in a broadcasting corporation which treats the morality of it’s motto like a headstone on a grave is, to put it mildly, a little blind-sighted. Time and time again, the BBC have been proven to have broadcast overtly biased, one-sided information in their news bulletins, documentaries and programmes. This is not in itself a complete criticism of the BBC; there truly are people out there who choose to consume biased media, see no fault in it and are quite thoroughly happy going to the grave having done so all their lives. But there exists a collective of people who are unresolved in their overall opinion of the way in which the BBC broadcasts it’s media. A good example of this as a consequence, was the selective information the BBC fed to the British public regarding the recent US presidential campaigns of 2008. In the advent of seeking out news on the internet, British people started hearing different versions of this news which were not being fed through the BBC 6 ‘O Clock bulletin. The awakening was like watching people return to a conscientiousness they’d lost after student-hood. Aunty Beeb, it seemed, had forgotten to stock up the jar of sweets. It seemed like it wasn’t just their patchy, inconsistent Middle Eastern coverage that was garnering attention.

The Nick Griffin-Question Time scandal came about because this was an uninhibited BBC orchestration. The entire thing was choreographed for both parties’ benefit. As a condemnation of the BNP, Prime Minister Gordon Brown was quoted as having said, “Londoners and the rest of the British people know that backing the BNP is totally at odds with what it really means to be British – and the great British values the rest of us share, such as democracy and decency, freedom and fairness, tolerance and equality.” Perhaps so. But the great trouble with democracy is it’s two pivotal principles, equality and freedom. Although widely considered so, technically speaking, Britain has never been a two-party state and celebrates this by encouraging multi-party support from the people. Suffice it to say, by default the BNP and their shocking manifesto have a right to speech, despite the fight for racial integration in a modern society. The real question is not whether or not, it is what and when.

So what is the answer? Power in numbers. Democracy is defined in Greek as “power of the people”. This is now, more than ever, a call to the Britons who have never voted, to vote. There are many who say of themselves and others, “What is the point of speaking when effectively, we have no voice when it comes to these kinds of things?” May I both politely and rudely remind those people that, yes, you do have a voice, your vote is your voice. At no point should giving up be an option, because we all know that bad things do not stay the same: they progressively worsen. Don’t leave politics to the young and impassioned, as Lord Kitchener would say today: “Your country wants YOU.”