Thoughts on politics and life from a liberal perspective

Saturday, 27 July 2013

On Coverage of UKIP vs Republicanism

Polls over the last 6 months have had UKIP regularly on or around 20%. As a result of this the party and its leader Nigel Farage in particular have had lots and lots of media coverage.

Farage is a regular on TV and radio and increasingly other senior members of the party such as Eastleigh by-election candidate Diane James and MEPs including Paul Nuttall get coverage for their views. Quite right too as far as I am concerned. 20% is a significant minority and it is right that UKIP gets the chance to regularly put its opinion across on issues, especially those closest to its founding raison d'etre of Europe and the EU.

A wish to abolish the monarchy and have a republic is also a minority view in the UK. Polls regularly show around 20% for this. Of course a majority of people in this country prefer to keep the monarchy and I respect that. But the minority view from those of us who would like to live under a different system barely gets a look in.

The mainstream media almost uniformly cover royal stories with the kind of sycophantic spaniel-like devotion you might expect in a totalitarian regime. But even this might be more tolerable if about a fifth of the coverage was devoted to discussions about what a different system might look like and how it might work. We hardly ever get this though. Just wall-to-wall coverage where the monarchy and its members are spoken of in reverential tones with virtually no substance at all and certainly no indication anyone might have a different view on all of this.

If UKIP was treated in this way just because "only" 20% of the population agree with their views there would rightly be outrage.

It's time the media in our country recognised that to run a positive story about the royal family is taking a political position on an issue that millions of our citizens do not agree with. The BBC as a publicly funded and (by charter) politically neutral organisation has a particular duty to ensure this balance in this area.

One of the problems is that the coverage ramps up when there is a particular event such as a royal wedding, anniversary or birth. At these points it probably seems churlish to devote a slice of the allotted time to a viewpoint that if enacted would have all of this pomp and circumstance consigned to history. I understand that. In which case, when we are outside of these specific celebratory times it is even more important to have more than 20% of the coverage allowing the republican viewpoint to be aired in order that balance is maintained across the piece.

Until that happens, those of us who want to see the merits of alternative systems covered are well within our rights to cry foul.

We're not being spoilsports. We just want a fair crack of the whip.


Alexander said...

Certainly we should have the right to be fairly represented in the media in expressing our opposition to the idea of a non-elected private family being "head of this, that and the other".

Head of the State, head of the Government, head of the Armed Forces, and promoted as "patrons of charity" to the blare of trumpets.

Whereas about 23% of the population in 2011 were in favour of this monarchy being disbanded, the figure was considerably larger among people aged between 16 and 24, namely 38%.

The private-family monarchy is becoming increasingly less popular, but we must do more to express our feelings, our desire for an accountable Government elected by the People and not subordinate to a private family.

We must put our word down in writing such as on news comments beneath articles.

Anonymous said...

Send this in to the bbc as a complaint.