11 August 2010
There is something intensely depressing about the way Labour politicians seem so much more comfortable in opposition. As though they collude in the Tories' long-held view that they are the natural party of government, even the ruling class? Suddenly, now that they no longer have the power to do anything about it, Labour seem to have all the answers.
The lastest example is the suggestion by David Milliband and Tessa Jowell that the BBC should become a co-operative. How disappointing that Tessa Jowell didn't think of this excellent idea when she was Culture Secretary, and so had the power to make it happen. Are we to assume that if, by some miracle we were to have another election and Labour were to win, she would forget the idea again as she moved through the revolving doors into her department?
Cynicism aside it is an interesting idea and could be taken in a number of directions. Will this be a worker co-operative, where decisions about programming will be made by journalists and producers? Or will we all be offered shares and then enabled to stand for election to the board which will decide what we will be watching. Could it be, and I admit I am going out on something of a limb here, that I could put myself forward to be part of a monitoring panel to check the balanced nature of reporting about Palestine?
Ed Mayo, of Co-operatives-UK welcomed the news in typically measured tones:
'It is brilliant to see such senior Labour voices raise the stakes in terms of the potential for co-operative action. This proposal does address the current weakness of BBC governance, which leaves the BBC open to the unedifying spectacle of growing bullying over recent years by government. If the BBC were answerable to members and license payers in a democratic way, its independence would be strong.
'Making this happen could only take time, because co-operative membership is built from the bottom up, not the top down, and should be voluntary not compulsory, but it would be inspiring to see the public trust and sense of ownership of the BBC turned into a genuine engagement and co-operative ownership stake.'
Since we pay the licence fee directly we might be argued to have already paid for our ownership stake in the Corporation. Translating it into a Co-operative and giving us control as well might be seen as the natural next step. Perhaps Mr/s Milliband and Jowell should turn their attentions to the banks next? Tweet