It has been long established that the BBC’s main role and responsibility to the UK public is to provide impartial public service broadcasting. And in a society in which the newspapers are consistently sensationalise the banal and peddle allegories to manipulate the general public, it is increasingly crucial that the BBC sticks within its remit. But the recent panorama offering “From Jail to Jihad” serves to perpetuate one of Britain’s most dangerous national trends at one of the most turbulent points in living memory. The effect of one, half-hour documentary on the public’s political conscience may appear superfluous but the cumulative influence the media has on people’s perceptions cannot be understated. It may be commonplace for papers such as the Daily Mail to further this sort of agenda but we really ought to be expecting more from our flagship television outlet when the situation is so very volatile.
Regrettably, we have reached a point in British politics in which Nigel Farage is the most recognisable man in the field. His billboards adorn England’s major cities and recently he’s been as big of a presence on Question Time as David Dimbleby himself, but with him being such a high-profile public figure it’s difficult to say anything about him and his party that hasn’t already been said. Whatever your views on UKIP, it’s a political movement which has grown exponentially over the past two years. The party itself has been blamed for advocating and endorsing many dangerous ideas as to how England should move forward but the majority of its policies and ideals are, unfortunately, little more than the manifestation of the anger and frustration felt by an increasingly vocal minority. But offerings such as From Jail to Jihad serve little purpose than to stoke the embers of racial disharmony which have been rearing their head for the past number of years. The show offered little in the way of narrative, entertainment or information but delivered emphatically on hyberbole in giving the impression that young British males becoming radicalised in prisons was something of an endemic. It doesn’t take much for a mostly disillusioned nation to start pointing the finger, and in many cases that’s entirely justified if what it produces is something akin to progressive political debate, but the finger is being pointed in entirely the wrong direction.
All of this has meant that immigration has been catapulted to the forefront of British politics and has undergone pejoration to the point when it seemingly encapsulates all that is wrong in Britain. Homelessness, unemployment, poor economic growth, a failing education system. But immigration built the modern world. The exchange of languages, ideas and cultures is a key component of the progression of humankind. Nigel Farage’s frankly ridiculous comment about feeling uncomfortable when he hears a foreign language being spoken in his train carriage belies what language is in its purest sense. At the beginning of time each country was not allocated a dictionary and told never to deviate from its content, lest we lose our “national identity”. Language, like all things, has evolved through time and should continue to do so, incorporating the words and expressions of as diverse a mix of people as possible.
But besides one man’s absurd remarks on people choosing to speak near him on a train, it’s a shame that such anger is being directed at those who remain largely blameless. It has emerged that the top five richest families in the country have more collective wealth than the poorest 12.6 million. And yet the blame for this seems to be apportioned at the 12.6million as opposed to those monopolising the wealth. When mass unemployment and despondency is blamed on personal failings it’s much easier to blame the man across the street than rally against a group of people or a regime you’re never likely to meet. But the likes of the BBC joining in to give such minority groups a kicking at a time when they need support more than ever is eminently counter-productive.