Friday, 28 July 2017

The BBC Gender Pay Gap Is Not The Real Issue

For the last week the media has been engaging in its favourite pastime of inspecting its own navel. The Tories had required the BBC to publish the pay of its top personnel, and the figures showed huge disparities between male and female presenters.  But, in truth that is a "Dog Bites Man" story.  Surely, it is no surprise to anyone that nearly 50 years after Labour introduced the Equal Pay Act, women continue to be paid less than men.  In fact, the pay gap between men and women at the BBC is probably less than in other media establishments, and in companies across the country.  The focus on the pay gap between men and women, is a useful distraction.  The real issue is the size of the incomes of the top presenters in general, men and women, and what this should tell us about the way the news and current affairs is packaged and presented for general consumption.

With newsreaders getting paid upwards of half a million quid, is it any surprise that even a mildly radical Labour Party gets treated as being the enemy of the people.  Of course, you can't mechanically equate wealth and income with political stance.  Engels was a rich capitalist who was able to retire with a personal fortune equivalent of around £3 million in today's money; Marx was always short of money, but his mother came from a rich family, and Marx himself got regular handouts from his mother and from his uncle Lion Phillips, who was a Dutch tobacco baron, and whose family created the Phillips electronics empire.  And, Steve Coogan is probably worth a few bob, but it didn't stop him providing support for Jeremy Corbyn in the last election.  That said, taken on average, it would not be surprising if people with lots of money tended to support parties that traditionally have looked after the interests of the rich.

What the real story over BBC pay should be is the extent of these large incomes itself.  The real story should indicate why its not just necessary to know how much BBC celebrities are being paid, but how much people are getting paid at Sky, ITV, Channel 4 and 5 etc.  And, the same is true about all of the other media, and newspapers.  That the capitalist media is biased against Labour, and even more so against socialist ideas, should itself be no surprise, but opening the books, makes it clear exactly what the real basis of that bias is.

But, as I wrote eight years ago, at the time of the MP's expenses scandal, its not just the wages and expenses of MP's, and BBC celebrities whose incomes we need to know.  We should as I said then open the books on bourgeois democracy.  We need to know all of the incomes of the top civil servants, the military brass, the top layers of the church and so on.  Even local councillors have to disclose any interests they might have on issues they discuss at Council meetings.  We should have all of the multitude of links between these various elites one with another.

The reality is that the various media celebrities often come from the same backgrounds as the establishment politicians, and the top civil servants, military top brass and so on.  Even where they do  not come from the same families, they often marry into the families of the top 0.001%.  I don't support the idea of putting artificial caps on the incomes of such people, because they never work, and create lots of anomalies, but we should have all of these figures out in the open, for everyone to see.  It would be another good reason for the Labour Movement creating its own media.

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