All posts tagged 'BBC'

Political correctness is no laughing matter

by The Codgers' Club Tuesday, April 22 2014

by David Jones

I despair at the way this country is sliding into a pit of political correctness. Have we lost our national sense of humour? We used to be renowned for it. These days you can’t make a joke about anything, or even fire off a one-liner without being accused of perpetrating something dire by the thought police.

An incident in a supermarket, reported in one of the weekend papers, caught my eye.

It typifies what we are becoming – though thankfully not all of us.

A schoolteacher popped into the store to buy four cans of beer and some groceries. His 12-year-old daughter was with him.

At the check-out, he turned to his daughter and said:” That’s your beer sorted out.”

It’s just the kind of joke I might have made, in fact I think I might have already.

A female store worker demanded ID for the child and the store manager backed up the employee. The teacher left without his beer.

What is the world coming to? It should be obvious to even the most dim-witted store employee or manager that this was simply a harmless, off-the-cuff one-liner and that the cans of beer were not intended for a 12-year-old.

This was more than a simple sense of humour failure on the part of small-minded supermarket staff. They were so hidebound by rules and regulations they were unable to distinguish a joke from a real attempt to buy booze for a child.

Sadly, this wooden, heavy-handed approach can now be seen in many areas of our life.

Freedom of expression, the foundation stone of democracy, is being squeezed on all sides.

You can’t say what you think any more, even if you are stating a fact, without accusations of racism, homophobia or religious discrimination being thrown at you.

And to make a joke in public about any of these three… Well, you’d better watch out: the thought police may come knocking on your door.

My Codger colleague Peter Cook was taken to task by a letter writer for daring to say that the issue of gay marriage received publicity out of all proportion to its relevance to the majority. And so it did.

The BBC, for instance, went bananas with its coverage.

You would think that gay marriage affected every one of us in the land judging by the amount of airtime the Beeb threw at it.

In fact, it applies to a tiny percentage of the population. A classic case of the tale wagging the dog. This is a fact, and we should be free to say so.

It goes without saying that people should not be able to make unlawful or defamatory comments, especially about minority groups, but fair comment is a different matter entirely.

My fear is that the line between the two is becoming blurred and many of us, me included, are reluctant to express honestly held views in case we fall foul of those in authority who are just as small-minded as those supermarket staff.

It’s a dangerous road to go down if we value our freedoms.

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Categories: Moans and groans

Be prepared for some big family tree surprises...

by The Codgers' Club Friday, August 9 2013

by Alan Watkins

Everyone seems to have a fascination with knowing about their family’s history.

Hundreds, no, thousands, go researching, digging, quizzing and guessing at what dark deeds past generations got up to.

It’s this desire to find out about our ancestors that has inspired the BBC’s Who Do You Think You Are? programme where celebrities trace part of their family tree. The latest series is on at the moment featuring actors Nigel Havers and Una Stubbs among others.

The fascination with the subject was brought home again to me the other day when I was renewing my readers’ ticket at the National Archives (what was once known as the Public Records Office – or PRO for short).

The man behind me was there for the first time and we struck a conversation. It turned out he had just retired from a career from a senior scientific position.

He and his wife had been inspired to visit the great collection at Kew after someone in Australia opened up a new line of inquiry into his family and even sent photos by email of cousins he had previously no knowledge of.

I am intrigued by the similarities in my family. Dad, mum and brother were (or are) poets. I’m a hack.

We had generations in transport – barges, ships, trains, horse-drawn and motor coaches.

Generations back there were minor criminals and level-headed law-abiders in smallholdings across Gloucestershire; handymen (though it skipped my generation)....

And travellers? – There’s a grandfather whose origins remain unknown, but he definitely sailed around the world on three occasions.

Three members of the Watkins family went to Australia at the behest of a fierce man in wig and red cloak trimmed with ermine.

A fourth went in search of one of them – and left numerous baby Watkinses across America, Canada and Australia.... and my great great grandmother and great grandfather in a Victoria poor house.

So I wished the scientist well and hoped he would discover what he wanted to discover.

For as I have unearthed, there are deeds that some families do not know and others they lock away from younger generations.

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Categories: Moans and groans

Sergeant quits

by The Business Blog, with Trevor Sturgess Monday, October 18 2010

Just days before George Osborne unveils his much-trailed Comprehensive Spending Review, former BBC and ITN political correspondent John Sergeant claimed in Kent that the Government was getting its communications all wrong.

The lugubrious less-than-twinkle-toed star of Strictly Come Dancing two years ago, gave the annual Kent College Pembury birthday lecture on Friday. (15)

Of course, he spoke about his Strictly experience and explained his decision to quit. He said it would have been wrong for the worst dancer to win. And, no, he has not seen Ann Widdecombe on the latest show and could not comment on her performance!

More interesting perhaps was his take on the way the Government was conveying messages about spending cuts. He criticized the Chancellor for smiling while speaking about cuts that would have a profound impact on people’s lives.

“They appear to be enjoying making cuts in public services,” he said. “Big mistake. They should be thanking the people who work in the quangos. It’s all kill, kill, kill.”

The Government should be paying tribute to the “remarkable men and women” in the axed bodies and saying they hoped the  best brains would find work in other capacities.

The new Coalition Government lacked experience and “they’re making a series of technical errors.” He blamed Andy Coulson, the Government’s chief spin doctor, for failing to give the right advice.

As for Tony Blair’s memoir “A Journey,” Sergeant said it was “an amazing read because it’s so incoherent at times.” And he certainly did not wish to know the intimate secrets of Tony and Cherie revealed in the book

Sergeant is interviewing the former Prime Minister this week. It should make for fascinating viewing!

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Categories: Business

Will Ed do it for Labour in Kent?

by Paul on Politics, by political editor Paul Francis Monday, September 27 2010

What does Ed Miliband need to do to restore his party's fortunes sufficiently for Labour to be in with a chance of recapturing the seats it relinquished to the Conservatives in May?

I've been trying to ask some former Kent Labour MPs this question. One I contacted this morning said rather cryptically that he wasn't making any public comment on party politics.

But Paul Clark, the former Gillingham MP and Labour MEP Peter Skinner who I have spoken to both identified immigration as ther party's achilles heel - both at the election and now. Their analysis is that the government was not direct enough about telling voters what it was doing to tackle the issue and introduced measures - such as the points system - too late.

Read my latest story on Ed Miliband

Both also said that the recession had made the subject even more combustible - unlike 2005, when it was still there but because there was no economic downturn and people were not losing their jobs.

They also complained that the government had somehow managed to think  that it had got its message out when all the experiences they were having while canvassing and talking to voters on the doorstep was that no-one thought enough was being done. A classic communications breakdown and a surprising one given the party's supposed reputation for being able to spin.


I must admit to predicting the wrong result while watching the live coverage of the event on the BBC on Saturday. David Miliband positively radiated optimism while Ed looked like he'd swallowed a wasp and washed it down with neat lemon juice.

Still, I was in good company thinking that Dave had got it. So did the BBC's Nick Robinson, who also called it for the elder brother.




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Categories: Local Politics | National Politics

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