I am very grateful that the media coverage ball is rolling. But fat chance, I suspect, that it will ever roll anywhere near the BBC. The Beeb devoted six hundred hours to the last European Elections and never interviewed a single Eurosceptic from the Left.
But then, the BBC had never mentioned the sixty-six Labour MPs (including National Executive Committee members, former Cabinet Ministers, and an MP who had resigned from the front bench for the purpose) who went into the division lobby night after night against Maastricht. Nor had the forty-four who then voted against the European Finance Bill troubled Auntie. Instead, she lavished attention on the much smaller number of Tory opponents of Maastricht, and then on the handful that merely abstained over European Finance.
What is more, the BBC has replaced any normal political spectrum with definition based on one’s view, not only about the EU, but also about certain social issues, most notably the agenda of the homosexualist political movement (which post-dates by several years, and did not in any sense achieve, this country’s humane and necessary decriminalisation of male homosexual acts between consenting adults in private).
Our pro-life and pro-family views automatically place us on the Right, so far as the Beeboids are concerned, although it never occurs to them that that places Margaret Thatcher (abortion up to birth) and John Major (the National Lottery, divorce made legally easier than release from a car hire contract) on the Left. Never mind David Cameron!
It matters not a jot to them what the Fabians or the Christian Socialists would have thought of 24-hour drinking, deregulated gambling, hardcore pornography, the classification of cannabis as practically harmless and all but legal, or the serious consideration of licensed brothels. But then, they have never actually heard of the Fabians or the Christian Socialists. And it certainly matters not a jot to them what traditional Labour voters think of these things. They have heard of traditional Labour voters barely, if at all, as well. And they have certainly never spoken to one.
Mention of these changes gives the lie to the oft-repeated claim that all the political parties have congregated on the largely BBC-defined “centre ground” because “the great debates” are somehow “over”. Whatever one might think of any of the things listed above, there is no denying that they all do or (in the last case) would constitute epoch-making changes. So, bizarrely in such company, does the smoking ban. So did Blair’s constitutional changes, and so might Brown’s. And so do civil partnerships and “gender recognition”.
Yet there is simply no “debate”, “great” or otherwise, about these things, at least not within the political class. And that is largely because the BBC would never allow it. For that same reason, we now have identical political parties, with dwindling electoral bases and practically no remaining members, hugely important facts of contemporary political life, but not ones that you will be hearing about on the BBC.
You will also not be hearing that most parliamentary seats are now allocated to apparatchiki like peerages (but with salaries), with little or no reference even to such local party organisation as there might be. Yet that, too, is a hugely important fact of contemporary political life.