Murdoch’s toy-boy, Europe and Norway.

Cameron has rolled over to have his tummy tickled by Murdoch – he has agreed, in effect, to slowly strangle the BBC to death, thus allowing unimpeded exploitation of the viewing public.
In fact, it is altogether more sinister than that. The Sun’s endorsement of the Conservatives appears to reflect a commitment by Cameron to end the requirement for newscasters to be politically neutral, opening the door to the stupefyingly partisan Fox News and its like. When seen in conjunction with the recently reported statement by James Murdoch, that profit is the only guarantor of independence, the overall effect is positively Orwellian.
Could the BBC survive as an independent subscription service? Has the question ever been asked and if not, why not? Sky is vastly more expensive than the TV license fee, is almost exclusively repeats and a pretty grim form of commercially exploitative electro-narcosis for the viewing public. If paying a Sky sized fee to the BBC direct would guarantee the survival of high quality, politically neutral public service broadcasting (radio and TV) in the Reithian mould, then I would gladly do so and ditch Sky.
Europe seems to be the dominating feature of the Conservative conference this year. The usual suspects are holding forth from their usual positions. The broader world context has not been mentioned. Today we learn that within nine years oil will be priced in a renminbi-dominated basket of currencies and not dollars or Euros. The economic writing is on the wall for all to see, we are heading into an era of total Chinese dominance of the world economy, their expansion is estimated at 10% per year for the foreseeable future, compared to 2% for the USA. Neither a fully operational and harmonious Europe (even if it could be so) nor a resurgent USA nor, probably, both combined will be able to hold a candle to the coming Chinese hegemony.
This situation invites the question: Why are we dithering over European integration on all fronts? Comparatively tiny individual European nations are horribly vulnerable in this new world order, even if they did once have global empires. The Chinese are notably unsentimental, strikingly expansionist and demonstrate the characteristics of an unstoppable force across all regions of the globe.
When will we see the party conferences debating that?
By contrast, we learn this week that a near neighbour, Norway, has topped a worldwide poll, the United Nations Development Index, as the best place in the world to live. Australia is second and Iceland third. This is a country that is geographically close, with similar democratic antecedents to the UK, racially linked, a trading partner, equally blessed with North Sea oil etc. etc. There is much in common between us and yet we find ourselves languishing in 21st place. Why?
Could it be the more egalitarian nature of Norwegian political culture? Could it be the careful husbanding of natural resources and the accumulation of a national fund over decades when thoughtful long term objectives were followed with quiet diligence? Could it be Norway’s more appropriate aspirations for power and influence within the world community and her infrequent wars?
Could it be that Norway is benefitting from better politics than the vainglorious pantomime that we endure in the UK?
We should always be prepared to learn from exemplars of excellence.


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