The long-running saga of BBC Radio 1 programme The Surgery continues here with an e-mail from the show's executive producer, Anna Bowman. I must add, that after a week's waiting, the statement that I was taking the matter through the BBC's official complaints procedure last night seems to have worked wonders. Ms Bowman does not apologise. She has her own agenda, of course, and seems to think that of course it's right to question the morality of flying the Cross Of St George. Read her e-mail and my inserts [..] below and then my reply.
Thank you very much for your feedback about Radio 1's Surgery Show. I really do appreciate the time you have taken to comment, and your input as a listener to the show is invaluable to us.
I'm sorry you're not happy with the speed of response to your original email - as you can imagine we receive a lot of correspondence which can take a while to process and our policy is to respond to anyone requesting a reply within 10 days.
I'm also sorry that you think the show 'came across as pure anti English' because I can assure you this was far from the intention and in my view, far from the case [that's all right then, isn't it? I'm just being silly aren't I?].
What is essential with any debate show is for the presenters to ask questions and raise issues in order to encourage discussion and comment from listeners. The comments from the presenters that you refer to in your email are examples of this:
“Wow people just don’t say English do they [many do!]? I’ve never noticed this before" and “Is it that the Regions of England are stronger than the country as a whole?” [a referendum found 78% of those polled in the North East, the only area ALLOWED a referendum, AGAINST regionalisation. The people have spoken. What the fuck did Aled think he was on about?]
These are important observations [who says so?] and questions Aled threw out to listeners in order to encourage them to get in touch, discuss and potentially agree or disagree with.
They are certainly not statements of fact - there is no point in making any definitive statements during a show like this as it immediately closes down a discussion which is the absolute reverse of what we are trying to do. With regard to Charlotte Ashton's question as to whether the St George's Cross has racist connotations - again this was an important issue to raise and ask for comment. I'm sure you remember the national debate during the last European Cup as to whether English people were proud or ashamed to fly the St George's flag [I do not recall this at all]. This is the basis on which Charlotte asked this question [Rubbish!].
With regard to the comments in your second email: You seem to have ignored my previous e-mal voicing my concerns about the The Surgery inciting hatred against English flag wavers by stating - incorrectly - that it is the flag of the hateful BNP - and by anti-English bigot Aled hosting a show in which the Welsh and Scots were portrayed as perfect and the English as racist heathens. At no time during the show did either presenter suggest that the St George's flag was associated with the BNP.
In fact I have listened back to the show and the BNP [the BNP is the only racist organisation in the UK which flies a flag - the Union Flag] isn't mentioned at any point during the two hour show.
I can also assure you that Aled is certainly not anti-English bigot [he disguises it well!]. Ultimately this show was about providing our listeners with a platform for their opinions to be heard and I believe Aled and Charlotte did a great job doing this [As long as YOU'RE happy, eh, Ms Bowman? Basically, there was no need to besmirch the English or their flag at all, but you won't admit THAT] .
I'm not sure if you listened to the whole hour of debate on the subject of identity, but if you did you'll have heard a wide variety of listener opinion, including those who are proud to be English as well as Scottish, Welsh, Northern Irish etc [But did we hear any thoughts on negative aspects of Scottishness and Welshness - English bashing, for instance?]. Regards Anna Bowman Executive Producer of Radio 1's Surgery
No, I'm sorry this reply is completely unacceptable. The flag with racist connotations, is the Union flag, and there was no need to tell lies. I do not recall a national debate about whether or not people are proud or ashamed to fly the St George's flag during any football tournament. This is BBC bias.
Also, why the regional agenda? The BBC backs this to the hilt, yet the North East, the only area allowed a referendum, voted 78% against regionalisation. Why were devolution issues, discrimination against the people of England, particularly health apartheid and the West Lothian Question, not mentioned? Racism in the UK usually involves the BNP. Please don't split hairs.
Why put a call on air about Scots sports participators being called "British" and English sports participators "English" - when a quick glance around quickly proves the reverse - I refer you particularly to the BBC's on-line coverage of the Olympics, where, it seemed that the Scots, Welsh and British were competing. Surely the The Surgery presenters should have been better versed on this matter and the phone call should have been excluded or challenged?
And if we need balance, why no mention of the supposed connection of the Scottish saltire with the Klu Klux Klan?