Many of us awake to the sounds of the Today programme on Radio 4. It likes to think of itself as an agenda setting news and comment programme. This week we are treated to “Guest editors” who so far have served to remind us that the professional team knows a thing or two about how to construct an agenda and keep the audience engaged, even if we are shouting at the radio, annoyed at the continuing human made global warming big government EU friendly bias of their interviews.
Sir Tim Berners Lee is a great man whose role in the development of the internet can be recalled and celebrated in various ways. Asking him to choose the items for Today produced a turgid show based around his one main interest. The regular presenters struggled to generate dispute, varied opinions and criticism in the interviews and selection of guests. Eliza Manningham Buller avoided the error of filling the entire programme with stories of a secret service reluctant to have much airtime to expose itself, but ended up producing a timeless and harmless magazine of a programme with features on house plants and actresses which added nothing to the Today tradition of tackling more serious topics.
I will tune in for the remainder of the week in the hope that a Guest editor with something to offer appears – and will turn off much more rapidly than usual if the present pattern persists. I long for the day that the programme contains stories like the attitude of the French to EU migration, the problem of ultra high youth unemployment in Spain, or the growing resentment of the Germans in the struggling Eurozone countries. I have got used to the Today diet assuming that anything European is great.
I long for a few stories which suggest public spending is too high, not too low, that taxpayers money is being wasted, how the public sector could easily become more efficient, or how we could gain a few million jobs by leaving the single market. I would like some audit stories to run back over campaigns and spending plans that have been pushed through with the encouragement of Today programme guests, to see if any of them worked as planned.
I would like to hear about all the jobs that higher taxes and higher energy prices destroy. I would like to hear from climate change “experts” in response to yesterday’s report that our wildlife flourished last summer when it at last warmed up, and that wildlife is very capable of adjusting to different temperatures. It would also be good to hear them answer how they are getting on with their predictions of sea level rise, disappearing islands, higher temperatures and ice levels in Antarctic.
Indeed, many of us would welcome a day or two when the Today programme conducted all its interviews from the opposite perspective they usually adopt without thinking or realising the bias implicit in most of what they do. Big government is not always best. Higher and more taxes are not always a good thing. More government action may make things worse. Overseas aid may go to the wrong people and causes. The EU may damage our wealth. The single market may be more about laws and less about free trade. The 3 million jobs that “depend” on the EU may be a ideological myth. The climate may change in unpredictable ways, and may change for reasons other than man made CO2. Some public services might run better with fewer people and fewer levels of hierarchy, not more. Maybe people could take more responsibility for their own lives, and we could look to government less in some areas. England has a right to self expression, just as Wales and Scotland enjoy on the BBC.
I yearn for just a few of these ancient heresies, as I think we might need some of them back.