Guest opinion By Christopher Monckton of Brenchley
One of the chief reasons why the governing class in Britain near-unanimously supports the climate alarmists is the unspeakable BBC, which, for decades now, has relentlessly endorsed every overblown, half-baked prediction by the profiteers of doom. If it has given coverage to skeptics at all, has done so sparingly and sneeringly.
Its charter and its agreement with the Secretary of State oblige it to be impartial, but it has decided not to be. The bad news, from the BBC’s point of view, is that John Whittingdale, the newly-appointed Cabinet Minister responsible for the BBC’s many sins, has little time for the organization, whose coverage of the recent UK general election was even more biased against the eventually successful Tories than usual.
The Cabinet are out for blood. Well, the best step they could take would be to abolish the BBC license fee of $250 a year (£145.50, to be exact) – not far short of a dollar a day – which everyone who watches any live program on television, whether or not the BBC broadcast it, is obliged by law, on pain of criminal conviction for a misdemeanor, to pay. Let the BBC live by attracting advertising, like everyone else.
I do not pay. I discovered some years ago, when we lived in a remote Highland glen where no television signal could penetrate, that one thinks more independently if one is not constantly exposed to the plethora of pusillanimous, politically-correct prejudices that our news channels provide. I have long given up watching live TV.
The BBC employs an army of “TV license inspectors” – known to the growing unlicensed community as “goons”. Each goon, tamquam leo rugiens, prowls about with a television detector van, quaerens quem devoret.
When the detector vans first came into use, the then Postmaster-General, Lord de la Warr, said he did not want to create an army of snoopers. The vans (see above) were accordingly made as obvious as possible. When I was a lad, we used to throw doubtful tomatoes at them as they passed, or put mouldy potatoes up their tailpipes: that works better than the banana that Axel Foley used in Beverly Hills Cop (which I didn’t watch on live TV, officer, honest I didn’t).
Some of the vans (see above) looked like clothes-horses. We often festooned them with pairs of knickers from people’s washing lines, so that they could have gone into the rag trade by the time they returned to base.
The point is that Britain does not like snoopers. An Englishman’s home is his castle – and, in a more real sense, a Scotsman’s home too. The goons, though, are actually very skilled at what they do. Astonishingly, one criminal conviction in every ten in Britain is for evading payment of the TV licence.
A government sufficiently angry with the BBC’s anti-capitalist, anti-enterprise, anti-Tory, anti-carbon, anti-fracking, anti-Britain, anti-freedom, anti-everything bias to take away the absurdly anachronistic licence fee would cut criminality in Britain by 10% at a stroke.
Indeed, it might well cut crime by a good bit more than that, because often it is petty offenses that lead people from the straight and narrow into a life of crime.
The detector vans now come in two kinds: the visible ones, intended to deter, and the unmarked ones, intended to deceive. Gone is Lord de la Warr’s pious intention not to create an army of snoopers. Most of the vans are now furtive: not such an obvious target for us street brats and our rotten fruit.
The goons write once a month to every one of the 6% of British households that does not have a TV licence. The best legal advice is never, ever to reply. If they turn up at the doorstep, never, ever let them in and never, ever answer any question they ask.
Make them go and get a warrant, but serve them with a schedule of your time-costs before they go. Then, if they return with a warrant, you can charge them whatever you want for having your time wasted. And always video everything they say and do. Half the time they’ll turn and flee as soon as they know they’re on camera.
The goons will often demand your name. Nothing in the law requires you to give it. You are obliged to render them all reasonable assistance in inspecting your equipment. And not a whit more.
On YouTube they have been caught out not only trying to entrap innocent citizens unlawfully but also plugging in unplugged TVs so that they can then say the equipment was capable of receiving a signal.
You can refuse to let them in unless the court confirms a warrant has indeed been issued. The goons can also be legitimately refused entry, even with a warrant, unless and until the BBC or the police have confirmed to you that their identity card is not a fake.
When the goons prove their warrant and their identity and come in, they are entitled to do only one thing: inspect your television, or any other equipment (such as a computer) that may be capable of receiving live TV.
You are allowed to watch recorded programs without a license, but – strange though this must seem to those born in freedom – you must not watch or record live programs without one.
You can watch catch-up TV without a licence. So, if you don’t mind waiting an hour or two or a day or two, you can lawfully watch just about any TV program.
On YouTube there are hundreds of videos of goons penetrating people’s homes, usually without a warrant. In some videos, when householders have refused to give their names, the goons have menaced them with the offense of failing to co-operate.
It is indeed an offense, more serious than that of not having a licence, to fail to assist the goons in inspecting your equipment if they ask, but it is not an offense to refuse to answer any questions other than questions about how your TV works. Specifically, the law does not oblige you to give your name, or to answer any questions about what you do or do not watch. So don’t.
Shortly after we set up house in Edinburgh, the goons parked a gray, unmarked van with blacked-out rear and side windows (above: the licence-plate is not genuine, for by convention we don’t picture real ones) at the front of the house.
They left the engine running for 45 minutes, which is actually illegal under anti-pollution laws: but in some of the vans that is the only way they can power their detectors.
Recently, having sent me a letter saying they would take no action till 14 May, on 12 May they parked not one but two unmarked detector vans with blacked-out windows (above, and note the perpetual sunshine that Scotland enjoys each May) outside my house. Entrapment may be unlawful in the U.S., but, shamefully, it is lawful here.
However, if They can detect us, we can detect Them. After I had gone out and ostentatiously photographed the vans from every angle, They drove off, mutteringly disappointed.
Next, They tried doing drive-by shootings, using the same vans. However, we again detected Them trying to detect us. Frankly, it wouldn’t have mattered what vans They’d used. We have the technology. We’re used to defending our property. Once our yacht – a magnificent Flying Fifteen was sent to the bottom of Loch Rannoch and stove in by two RAF Chinooks flying far too low one night and clouting the masthead.
We installed certain devices and, when the RAF police arrived to take our complaint, we showed them a picture of a Tornado fighter flying just 50 feet above our North Lawn. It had been taken from 3000 feet above the lawn. They went white. “How did you get that?” they asked. “We have the technology,” I replied, “but I’m not telling you how we did it.” They still don’t know.
The excessive low flying, which had been a pest for decades and had caused dreadful losses of livestock locally, as well as blowing slates off the roof of our steading and terrifying my late mother-in-law, who had survived the Blitz with equanimity, promptly ceased.
But I digress. I tell this tale of the license fee because, just about everywhere around the world, there is complete astonishment that we allow for a single instant this ridiculous pantomime of the licence fee and the humungous police-state snooping regime and the millions of otherwise blameless criminals it creates. And the staggering, entirely unjustifiable cost of the unspeakable, prejudiced, politically-correct BBC.
In the 21st century, in a free country, the State should not require us to subsidize its TV service to the tune of $4-5 billion a year, particularly when that TV service, in sullen and flagrant breach of its contract with the government and people, altogether refuses to provide balanced coverage of politics, and specifically of climate change.
Why should we have to pay for wall-to-wall Marxism when we can get it for free by listening to the ruling National Socialist Workers’ Party of Scotland, or the Royal Society in England?
At present, I am preparing a report to be sent to the BBC’s trust, a fumbling, toothless watchdog, demonstrating the extent of the corporation’s malevolent and systemic prejudice on the climate question, its wilful misrepresentations and its refusals to correct deliberate errors, and demanding that the trust should take certain specific steps to restore the impartiality that the law entitles the licence-fee payer to expect in return for his dollar a day.
If the trust fails to respond promptly and properly (on past form this is very likely, for the one-sidedness of the British establishment’s opinion on climate is impenetrable, and the trust are a bunch of blancmanges), we shall complain to the Secretary of State.
If Whitto does nothing, we are gathering our forces and our finances to mount a judicial review of his administrative decision not to act as a reasonable Secretary of State would have to act on being given masses of overwhelming evidence, quietly assembled over many years, of the BBC’s rank prejudice and flagrant, in-your-face bias on the climate question.
They even lied when I took them to the High Court some years ago to make them halve the length of an objectionable 90-minute personal attack. The High Court judge said I’d substantially won the action – it’s in the transcript, and the program’s length was cut to 45 minutes and transferred to BBC 4, which no one watches – but they announced I’d lost.
The Secretary of State, on receiving our letter before action in judicial review, will require the trust to respond. If it does not respond properly to him, he will then be able to give it two choices: do its job or expect legislation to bring to an unlamented end the licence fee, the monstrous poll tax on the poor on which it lives a life of luxury and ease.
Monckton’s Test applies. The test of whether a piece of legislation has passed its smell-by date and ought to be repealed is whether anyone would dream of re-enacting it if it were done away with. No politician would dare to try to reintroduce the hated licence fee once it had been swept away. It has had its chips, as they say from the casinos of Vegas to the fish-shops of Yorkshire. Let it be abolished. Few but the BBC, the goons and the magistrates’ courts would mourn its passing.
You may ask why this has not been done long before now. Margaret Thatcher tried her best. She appointed a sound and saintly but other-worldly academic philosopher to review the licence fee, but he was so impressed by the independent TV companies saying how “special” the BBC was that he left the fee in place.
I saw him some years later and explained to him, as to a child – which he splendidly was in all matters of this world – that the independent companies were the indirect beneficiaries of the licence fee, for otherwise they would have the BBC competing with them for advertising. The licence fee thus subsidizes – and Leftizes – all TV stations in Britain. They didn’t want Auntie – as the BBC is known – sharing their cake.
He saw the point at once. But by then it was far too late. However, John Whittingdale will not bother to set up another enquiry. He is the sort to take swift, decisive and – to the BBC – deadly action. By this time you may be wondering whether he and I are in cahoots. You might think that. I couldn’t possibly comment.
Now that Auntie has parked her tanks on my lawn, I’m going to park mine on hers. Mine are bigger, and they serve the cause of truth, justice, and the British way. Perhaps, once the existing corrupt organization has been purged and the red-blooded Marxists replaced with blue-blooded capitalists, we can have Top Gear back.