UK News

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from John Lloyd:

Russell Brand’s socialist revolution

Russell Brand, the British comedian, used a guest editorship of the 100-plus-year-old leftist magazine New Statesman last month to call for a “total revolution of consciousness and our entire social, political and economic system.” Capitalism, and the ideology that sustains it -- “100 percent corrupt” -- must be overthrown. He also doesn’t think people should vote, as partaking in democracy would further the illusion that a rotten system could change. It was a call, albeit chaotically phrased, for a socialist revolution.

Born into the middle class, Brand’s childhood was disturbed: his photographer father left when he was six months old, his mother developed cancer when he was eight (but survived), he left home in his mid-teens and took to drugs. He later became a star, delighted in promiscuity, married the singer Katy Perry for a year and a half and grew modestly (by star standards) rich, with an estimated net worth of $15 million and a lovely new Hollywood millionaire bachelor’s pad.

None of this disqualifies him from speaking and writing seriously about politics, nor from calling for a socialist revolution. Marx was born into the upper-middle class, Lenin was a minor aristocrat by birth, Stalin studied to be a priest and Mao was the son of a wealthy farmer. Even Pol Pot came from a peasant family considered relatively wealthy by the standards of the times. All of these people called for, or launched, revolutions. No reason, then, to believe that a demand for a 21st century socialist revolution could not be launched from the Hollywood Hills, or from a BBC studio.

It’s interesting to speculate what such a revolution would look like. But Brand won’t play along: his article in the New Statesman and a subsequent Newsnight interview was long on florid rhetoric and denunciation, and wholly devoid of detail. Perhaps that’s best. Because let us not forget that the socialist revolutions of the 20th century were horrors, claiming more victims than Nazism -- who were shot, starved, frozen and tortured to death.

Should the BBC allow swearing on air?

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******In reaction to an independent BBC review on taste and standards commissioned after offensive comments about actor Andrew Sachs created a public outcry, the BBC Trust has said that the most offensive language should only be used in “exceptional circumstances” on BBC One between 9 and 10 p.m.******Editorial guidelines should clarify that BBC should not make programmes that “celebrate or condone gratuitous, aggressive, intrusive and humiliating behaviour,” the Trust ruled, recognizing that “licence fee payers can distinguish between comedy and satire, which they appreciate, and unjustified humiliation, of which they disapprove.” ******The study, which polled 2,700 participants, finds that viewers don’t want more censorship or regulation.******”Most people value the creativity of the BBC and accept it may sometimes result in people being offended.”******What do you think? Should BBC allow swearing on air?

BBC scandals — the saga continues

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Updated to include Jeremy Clarkson’s statement of apology

Another day, another scandal at the BBC. Earlier this week the Beeb announced that Carol Thatcher will no longer work on The One Show after she was reported for an off-air remark. The daughter of former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher referred to a tennis player as a “golliwog”.

Now Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson has landed the network in hot water yet again. Speaking to journalists in Sydney, the host reportedly called Gordon Brown a “one-eyed Scottish idiot”. The prime minister lost the sight in one eye when he was a teenager and Scottish politicians are furious at the remark.

Has “Auntie” got it right?

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After a week of media frenzy, the BBC hopes it has taken action to end the crisis caused by the crude prank call made by Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand on the latter’s Radio 2 show.

Brand has quit and Jonathan Ross has been suspended after the presenters left lewd comments on the answerphone of 78-year-old “Fawlty Towers” actor Andrew Sachs. The head of Radio 2 Lesley Douglas has also resigned.

BBC row highlights “bad-mannered Britain”

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The furore over offensive phone calls made by Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand to actor Andrew Sachs shows how society has forgotten how to behave itself, the Independent said in an editorial.

“Exactly what has happened to good manners and basic courtesy,” it asked on its leader page. “And isn’t it time they made a return?

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