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The Government's 'three card man' trick over the BBC pay row

UNCOMFORTABLE CONVERSATIONS: Radio 2 presenter Jeremy Vine (centre) leaves BBC Wogan House in central London following his radio show, where he was criticised by a listener for being overpaid live on air

GROWING-UP in the '70 and '80s in Jamaica you would be familiar with the ‘tree card man’ or ‘three card man’ for the posh among us. Walking the streets of London from time to time you’ll see guys doing the same trick. You are shown a card and asked to follow the card and point to it when the guy stops moving the three cards around. You never win, unless you know how the trick is done. It's all about misdirection and sleight of hand. They forced you to look one way, while the real action is elsewhere.

This week the BBC made public the salaries of everyone paid over £150K in our public broadcasting service. They were forced to do this, in the name of accountability and transparency.

Sorry, but I don’t buy it. Call me cynical, but I suspect there are other forces at work here.

Firstly, politicians took a first class thrashing from the media when the expenses scandal broke. We the public found out that those that govern over us - both sides - had been anything but accountable or transparent. Politicians never forgave the media for this. But don’t just take my word for it, pundits are now asking how will ‘fact cats journalist’ take politicians to task for low pay for nurses when they are ‘overpaid'. See what they did? Neat, right?

I know, you’re sitting there thinking, 'Paul is such a cynic. Surely he’s not against transparency'. Well, I’m more concerned about equality than this type of transparency. Though some would suggest, you can’t have one without the other.


NO WORDS: Millionaire presenter Chris Evans

Here’s the thing. While you sit stunned at the fact that Chris Evans takes home around £98k per month, this government has clamped down on pay increases by imposing a 1% cap. Meanwhile, would you like to guess how much of an increase politicians got? Go find out; I promise you’ll be stunned far more than knowing Chris Evans earns £22.5k per week.

So, what’s next? Well the innocent among us will immediately reach for that low hanging fruit…the TV Licence. The predictable cries for boycotts of this tax have already made it to social media. Fair enough, but I also see people marrying the concept of no TV License fee to a possible increase in pay for nurses. I’m assuming those proposing this are willing to accept that we the public pay and extra £45.50 per year in taxes and then cross our fingers and hope that that extra cash will make its way into the purses of our NHS staff.

Sadly, we know this would not happen. This government introduced university fees and cut funding to education at the same time. The result? Our teachers are under paid, schools underfunded and the privatisation of education is in full gallop. But you still pay more for education. Get it yet?

Look, guys - the amount of money paid into the Government via taxes and the license fee, as well as any savings the Government claim to make through austerity measures is not linked in any way that I can see to better services for the public; or to higher salaries for the likes of the NHS. Don’t let the politicians fool you; their intent is not transparency in the BBC, it’s to divert your attention and to take a long overdue revenge on the cheeky media who took them to task over their stealing of public money.

One last thing. If we allow them to destroy the BBC, guess what we'll be left with? The Murdoch empire. Think about it.

Fact check. In 2013/2014, the BBC annual report showed income of £5b. £3.7b came from fee payers and a further £244m in government grants, which mainly cover the cost of the BBC World Service.

The important point to note is this - It is the government of the day that sets the license fee, not the BBC themselves.

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