Today I read — a little behind the curve — that Richard Sharp, who the Tory government recently appointed as BBC chairman — has donated £416,189 to the Tory party since the turn of the millennium. Hence, of course, his appointment to this prestigous and influential role.
The thing is, I’m not remotely surprised any more. I can hardly even summon the energy to be outraged. I’ve got so used to the constant parade of flagrantly corrupt appointments that they seem … normal. I’ve got used to the idea that Dido Harding’s utterly useless £37 billion pound test-and-trace system was given to someone entirely unqualified on the basis that she is the wife of a Tory MP. I’ve got used to the laughable idea that that same Tory MP, John Penrose, is the United Kingdom Anti-Corruption Champion. It’s beyond a joke, and it’s everywhere.
The thing is … what can be done? Nothing, I think. Our media is so tame that they don’t even call it corruption, they call it “cronyism” — which sounds cute and cuddly, rather than sounding like Boris Johnson and his posse giving £37 billion of our money to their courtiers. (That’s £560 pounds for each man, woman and child in the UK: your money, that you paid in taxes, given to Johnson’s friends instead of, for example, on paying nurses properly.) The BBC presumably played the tame little dog in the hope that they’d avoid being punished — but they were punished anyway, by the appointment of a chairman who was director at a think-tank that published studies calling for the abolition of the licence fee.
With the BBC neutered (its one political satire programme now axed) and most of the print media owned and controlled by Rupert Murdoch, what remains? Political protest is being effectively outlawed, so forget about marching if the police don’t like it. And guess who tells the police what to do?
It’s not really true, of course, that a boiled frog stays in the water until it’s cooked. But it does seem to be true that a democracy will sleepwalk into athoritarianism. With the USA now clawing its way out of the Trump pit, we can only hope and pray the UK somehow manages to do the same. But the signs are not encouraging.
This looks bad.