Murdoch keen to kill the BBC, Lord Ashcroft keen to buy a Conservative government and, lastly, Bellingham’s hydropower scheme.

James Murdoch, the son of Rupert Murdoch, in a recent address at the Edinburgh Festival painted a truly disturbing picture of the commercial future that he desires for us all. A picture of perpetual, unrestricted economic warfare between individuals, corporations and nations in which the only motive is profit. No mention of the role of common goods, plurality other than that which survives in the market or the broader social and intellectual welfare of us all.
His chief target being the BBC, he emphasised the, as he sees it, undesirability of impartial reporting which he suggested was a ‘threat to independent news provision’ by which he means an impediment to a global news domination by the ultra right wing Fox News.
The duplicity in his words is breathtaking – “The scale and scope of its [the BBC’s] current activities and future ambitions is chilling. Being funded by a universal hypothecated tax, the BBC feels empowered and obliged to try to offer something for everyone, even in areas well served by the market.” It is News Corps ambitions that are chilling and as for implying that the BBC should become a minority channel – just how unbalanced, in his favour, does he want the market to be?
Appeasement of such ruthless exploitation of market dominance has to be the worst possible course and will land us in a wretched information dystopia.
Lord Ashcroft, who refuses to say whether he pays UK tax or not, has poured millions into the Conservative party in an effort to buy the government of his choice. Not so much a hoped for return to ‘rotten boroughs’ as an attempted coup d’état by force of money. It would be fascinating to know just how much of these millions are going to find their way to Hexham. Do Hexham voters want their constituency bought in this way? I doubt it.
Reform of political funding is long overdue but the suggestions to date seem to limit state funding to parties. Not surprisingly, I regard that as undemocratic.
The proposed community power projects at Bellingham, Allendale, Wark and Fourstones, mentioned in this week’s Courant, are wonderful demonstrations of this area’s scope for meeting the climate and peak oil challenges that the 21st century is bringing. The willingness of local communities to respond enthusiastically is truly inspiring.

Already there are working hydropower plants, such as at Whitfield, and numerous domestic scale wind power installations locally. Haydon Bridge is exploring the options too.

Rural areas, such as Hexham, have a tremendous advantage in the future development of energy and food security for the UK – we can grow the food, energy and industrial raw materials that will be in increasing demand and we have many hydro, wind, biomass, digester and solar options too.

Every householder, land-owner and community should feel that the government of the day and their local parliamentary representative is completely and unreservedly supportive of their efforts to rise to the challenges of the 21st century. This is no time for half measures or hesitation.

Hexham can be a big winner if government can be persuaded to act effectively. Labour has just diverted the proposed new high speed line to the west coast and the Conservatives are seriously lagging in their support for the region – for Hexham and North East voters, the omens for an administration of either sort look more unattractive every day. Neither party has distinguished itself in the environmental area.

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