Daily Archives: 13 March 2006

Fisking Foster

Don Foster‘s press release on the BBC today caught my eye:

Ahead of Tuesday’s anticipated publication of the BBC White Paper, Don Foster MP, Liberal Democrat Shadow Culture, Media and Sport Secretary today warned the Government against a TV licence fee ‘smash and grab’.

Don Foster MP said:

“The White Paper must rule out a TV licence fee ‘smash and grab’.

“Government (i.e. tax payers) – not TV licence fee payers (i.e. tax payers) – should pay for Labour’s policy of a switch to digital TV (does this mean the Lib Dems oppose a switch to digital TV?!), and if Government introduces ‘spectrum charging’ for broadcasters, licence fee payers shouldn’t foot the bill.

“Together these charges would be nothing short of a £600m stealth tax.

On the move to Manchester:

“The Government must ensure that the regeneration benefits from the BBC’s move to Manchester are paid for by regional authorities (What regional authorities? Local authorities or RDAs? Which?) not TV viewers nationwide. (I thought the move was about saving money by moving out of London? If this policy leads to a long term easing of pressure on the license fee, then surely it is reasonable that the short term costs come out of it as well?)

On governance:

“The White Paper must also make good Government promises that the regulation and oversight of the BBC be separated.

“In an ever more competitive broadcasting market it is crucial that the regulators of the BBC are not also the flag-wavers for the BBC.” (Fair enough, but 1 out of 3 ain’t good enough)

The real meaning of 42

Julia Goldsworthy seems to be omnipresent at the moment. A particularly poor interview in the Independent today which contains 0% insight and fully a third of the article is filled with interviewer Andy McSmith asking questions about inane trivia:

“At what level of income does a person start paying 40 per cent tax ?” she was asked. “In the mid thirties,” she replied. “That’s right isn’t it? I will have to refresh that kind of thing in time for the Budget.” Well, the exact answer is £32,400 per year – so she was close. Next came a question that stumped Stephen Byers when he was minister for Schools. “What are eight sevens?”

“Forty-two,” she answered with confidence. Er, sorry, Julia. Forty-two is the answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything, according to The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. You could call it the ultimate Liberal Democrat manifesto. But whatever planet you’re on, eight sevens are fifty-six. The colour rose up her neck. “Fifty-six!” she cried. “You’re right. Gosh that’s terrible!” Here she broke into a defensive laugh as she reflected on what the party’s “shadow” Chancellor, Vincent Cable, would have to say. “Maybe Vince will be taking me in for an arithmetic test. The press office is no good at arithmetic either. They got my age wrong!”

There’s no getting away from the fact that saying 7×8 = 42 is a schoolboy error (although she does appear to correct herself without prompting), but then, it is a schoolboy question. Worse, the level of income that the 40p rate kicks in is £37,295, meaning that Julia was actually more accurate on the hoof than the journalist was with the luxury of being able to look it up.

The sad thing about this article is that this is about as good as it gets. However embarrassing Julia’s gaffe is, I’m afraid this article says a lot more about the quality of British journalism these days.

The Ticket

Saw the first episode of the seventh season of West Wing on Sunday. Could be good. I was particularly struck by Santos saying to Leo McGarry “you’d have to stage another heart attack in order to pull out now.” It’s sad how those words now take on prophetic meaning.

Back in the real world, it occurs to me that John McCain is currently looking a shoo-in for 2008. I can’t see Hillary cutting it somehow. Who can beat him?

It looks as if there may be an answer however. Cthulhu keeps threatening to make an impact, but the lazy old bugger won’t get out of bed – frankly, he is the Ross Perot of intergalactic evil overlords. He could make an ideal running mate however.