This blog was written by Jamie MacNab and is taken from his website: Adventures of ideas. See https://jamiemacnab.wordpress.com/2012/01/11/what-larks/
I never met Jamie but I did exchange opinions and ideas with him on a social network site known as MyT from 2007 until February 2015 when he died. I have re-blogged this particular piece not because it is typical, it isn’t – Jamie avoided political matters and much preferred philosophy or poetry as subjects to write about – but because I think it succinctly illustrates his acute observations as a writer and, at the same time, exposes the machinations of the BBC, who often claim impartiality, revealing how adept they are at manipulating facts and history for their own left liberal political purposes.
January 11, 2012 by Jamie MacNab
I have never been a great fan of television, but I have come to appreciate the availability of tv recordings ; in fact, I have a growing pile of dvd records which do much to brighten the winter days. But I do wonder sometimes at the antics of the broadcasters. The BBC, especially, seems to be very intent on some kind of political mission designed to change the ways in which we see ourselves. It is not enlightening, I think.
A month or two ago I enjoyed watching an entire series of stories made by the BBC some years earlier. It had the charming title Larkrise to Candleford. It was really well-made and featured some accomplished actors and actresses. Of course, it was not beyond criticism concerning some matters of fact, but that generally counts for little in fiction ; we tend to filter out such discrepancies in favour of enjoying the story.
The story is set in rural Oxfordshire in the late-ish nineteenth century ; an exciting time in which great changes were taking place, most undoubtedly good and some not so. As well as the usual ‘human interest’ aspects, the story is very much concerned with how ordinary people were adjusting to those changes – and in some cases influencing them ; in particular the people of the hamlet of Larkrise and of the small town of Candleford
But there were some puzzles in the plot. For example, the hamlet and the town were separated by about seven miles ; and yet people would pop off on foot from one place to the other at the drop of a hat on some trivial errand or other ; as if they were going to the corner shop. But, even in that great age of walking, working folk did not make a round trip of fourteen miles on a whim.
Most of the characters in the stories are memorable, as one would expect in fiction. One that particularly struck me was the country rector. He was widower, quite ancient and stuffy, and with a bit of a posh accent as you might expect. He was a dyed-in-the-wool, rabid Tory, of course. But he was also a deeply unpleasant man. One of his rather pious parishioners even referred to him as a ‘brute’ and a ‘sadist’. His daughter had been so suppressed by him that she could hardly show any personality at all, being almost crippled by shyness.
I thought all this rather odd, and rather BBC-ish, but not entirely beyond the bounds of possibility.
As if set to balance the dreadful rector, we had the village stonemason. He was a right-on liberal with advanced political ideas ahead of their time. His self-appointed task seems to have been to educate the locals out of their complacency and to lead them from serfdom. He was so inflamed by the injustices of his world that he would risk everything to voice his complaints. He was made to suffer in consequence. A champion of the poor indeed.
It was the stonemason who wrote a very rude letter to the very top man at the Post Office in London, complaining that the poor people in his village had to pay an unreasonable sum to the Post Office merely to receive a telegram. The reason for this surcharge was that the village was more than seven miles from the local post office ; hence the delivery costs had to be paid. Indeed, such a charge on poor people was unjust. At a time when a farm labourer was lucky to earn ten shillings a week, three shillings and sixpence was a heavy price for a telegram (which, by its nature, would require urgent attention on an important matter).
Well, I thought it was so very like the BBC to portray Victorian people in this way ; choosing the best and the worst to make its political points. But then I remembered that the tv stories of Larkrise and Candleford are based on the recollections of a person who actually lived there ; the BBC series was an adaptation of her writings. The story was not pure fiction. So I bought Flora Thompson’s books – three of them under one cover.
What a surprise! Miss Thompson’s recollections of the people she knew in her youth are very much at variance with the BBC’s interpretation of them.
The rector, it turns out, was actually very much respected in the parish ; and a welcome visitor in just about every household. He was a personally charitable man who took his duties seriously. If he was a Tory, he certainly wasn’t a brutish and sadistic one.
And what about the right-on liberal, agnostic stonemason who fearlessly provoked the mighty Postmaster General to secure justice for his fellow villagers? What about this David who challenged Goliath? Well, actually, he didn’t. It was the village innkeeper who did all that. Ah, but the innkeeper was a nice devout Christian, you see. And, to make matters worse, Miss Thompson explains that he was a Catholic.
Well, the BBC can’t have Christians (and especially Catholics) taking up the cause for the poor, can we? So, the corporation just switches everything around.
There are a number of other serious discrepancies of a similar kind in the BBC series.
Why does all this matter? We might ask, “Does the truth matter?” Is it right to distort Miss Thompson’s recollections so as to make political and religious points? We might bear in mind that these are real people. Is it morally right to defame the dead rector? to insult his daughter? to deprive the dead innkeeper of his credits?
The BBC would argue that is right to do so. After all, its politics are of foremost importance ; that is why it exists. And, to the BBC, what is history if not something to be amended so as to augment its political message? The reputations of dead individuals count for nothing at the BBC.
I can’t help asking, “What are the great weaknesses in the BBC’s arguments for a ‘liberal’, atheistic, socialistic society?” Are those arguments so shaky that it is really necessary to lie about them and about the alternatives? And can that atheistic, socialistic society long endure if it is based on lies and distortions?
And doesn’t the BBC insult its clients with such distortions? Does it imagine that we are all fools? Or does it imagine that only its poorer and less educated clients are fools?
Or could it be that the socialist/atheist/iconoclast factions are now so strong in our country that they just know that they can re-write history to their hearts’ content without fearing any opposition or serious criticism?