Tonight at nine o’clock BBC2 will show a “If… things don’t get any better, a docu-drama set a decade from now in which Andrew Kirk, Britain’s first black Prime Minister (played by Colin McFarlane) confronts rising inequality and crime.
As it happens I have a small but definite reason for wishing the show well. Colin McFarlane’s brother is Kevin McFarlane, who like me is a member of the Libertarian Alliance and has written for it on political theory and scientific issues. I’ve exchanged the odd cordial email with him.
OK, OK, the admirable political opinions of the brother of the lead actor of a show are a teeny bit off topic. You are here for BBC bias and you’ll get some, don’t worry. Let’s not judge the show itself till we’ve seen it, but the website pages telling us about it are firmly in the BBC bubble. The assumptions that run through these pages are the most innocent type of bias – but are all the more pervasive for that. The writers mean no harm. They’ve just never seriously considered alternative intepretations. All the more reason to offer some.
For example, in the link above it says:
Kirk – played by Colin McFarlane – is determined to narrow a rich-poor divide through welfare spending and higher taxes. It’s political science fiction, of course, but the issues are 100% real.
His is an idealism unpopular with middle-class taxpayers, many of whom live in gated communities – a physical divide between the haves and the have-nots with whom they share a postcode.
It is assumed that narrowing the rich-poor divide through welfare spending and higher taxes constitutes “idealism”. It is assumed that the opposition of the middle-class taxpayers is anything but idealistic. One day before I’m old I’d like to read of a BBC drama about how a brave band of middle-class taxpayers idealistically oppose the force-based politics of a prime minister determined to keep power in elite hands by the creation of a welfare-dependent client class.
The assumption that inequality causes crime is also ever-present. For instance, here’s a page with factoids about inequality and crime. Never mentioned: a hundred years ago inequality was much greater and yet crime was much less. Never mentioned: total crime may have fallen but violent crime has steeply increased. Never remotely considered: welfare causes crime and perpetuates poverty.
I’m not saying that this particular programme or any particular programme is obliged to go by my assumptions. But let’s put it this way: “If… things don’t get any better” is the first of a series of similar docu-dramas. It will be interesting to see if any of them look at things from outside the BBC worldview.