Andrew Rosindell MP wants the BBC to play the National Anthem before BBC1 switches over to News 24 every night. I wonder, am I insane?
Mr Rosindell told the Telegraph: “The British Broadcasting Corporation should be unashamedly British and playing our British National Anthem once a day on BBC1 is not much to ask. They used to do it and it’s time it was restored, to send out a message that Britain is back, following Brexit in tribute to Her Majesty in this, her 90th year!”
In the same article, the Telegraph gives some bite-sized facts- “The BBC by numbers”. 10 shillings Cost of the first ever licence fee in 1922 (50p in today’s money). This is Telegraphly misleading. The retail price index figure is £24.62, though that was for one radio station rather than the many TV, radio and internet services today; but the economic power value is £216.60. That is the amount of wealth relative to the total output of the economy. Relative to the earnings of an average worker, it is £91.78. I found that from this fascinating calculator.
This is Mr Rosindell’s seventh Early Day Motion on the subject. It was tabled on Wednesday, and so far signed by five MPs. He likes far-right EDMs: in July 2014 he sponsored one condemning the Equality Commission for taking legal action to protect a gay couple from discrimination. His last attempt to restore the proud tradition was October 2013, and got six signatures. Not even Peter Bonehead signed it! But the time is more propitious now. The practice ended in October 1997, not long after the Labour landslide, but now the Telegraph, and even the BBC in a backhanded way, think this is slightly better than idiocy. It deserves publicity. It might even catch on.
I find the motion terrifying. It is a symbol of British values, one monolithic single expression of Britishness. No dissent is possible, none will be tolerated. It would be a symbol of authoritarianism. I imagine Steven Woolfe MEP, drunk in front of the telly, blearily pulled to his feet by his patriotic reflex of standing for the Anthem, and stumbling wearily to bed. The country is weary, frightened, confused and angry, and the Conservative Party, the party of government for much of the last hundred years, offers an authoritarian solution. What the BNP offered five years ago, and UKIP two years ago, you can now get from a Conservative government. Destroy the Welfare State, expunge all the hope from the “Labour Heartlands” of the North, and possibly they will vote Authoritarian.
Am I overreacting, I wonder. The Hoffman Process points out that we adopt traits from our parents, either in imitation or rebellion. My father would have supported this. I would too, aged twenty, and then in my belated teenage rebellion starting in my thirties I became libertarian, now very Left-libertarian, fitting the Green Party. Am I reacting out of rebellion, unfree, rather than rationally responding to this? Is Mr Rosindell insane, or am I?
It is clear I am wrong. It would be wonderful. Everyone who thinks in the right British way would have a moment of musical pleasure and sense of unity every evening. Hannah Arendt in Origins of Totalitarianism writes that authoritarian propaganda cannot fulfill this longing of the masses for a completely consistent, comprehensible, and predictable world without seriously conflicting with common sense; but (Jason Stanley in the NYT) The goal of totalitarian propaganda is to sketch out a consistent system that is simple to grasp, one that both constructs and simultaneously provides an explanation for grievances against various out-groups. Mr Rosindell is part of the creation of such a belief system.