Monday, 13th March, 2023

[Day 1092]

This morning dawned wet and windy and it was not the kind of day that naturally welcomed you outside, but the weather was surprisingly mild once we eventually did venture out. After a leisurely breakfast, Meg and I went in the car to pick up our newspaper and then ventured onwards to a ‘Home and Garden’ type store. Here I was hoping to find something that would act as little miniature speaker stands and I did find some small, clear perspex-type containers that would suit the purpose for which I had them in mind. My first thought was to add a level of tape to them but eventually I thought they would look all right in their natural condition so I have put them in place and can now forget about them. Just before we left the house, the news came through that Gary Lineker and the BBC came to a ‘modus vivendi’ which seemed to be very sensible. On the one hand, the BBC committed itelf to reviewing its guidelines and how the issue of non-salaried, freelance presenters should be handled. Gary Lineker, for his part, indicated that he would refrain from any tweet that might be seen as controversial until the BBC review is completed and new understandings were in place. Incidentally, this might be extraordinarily difficult to draft but the BBC has to make the effort. Meg and I started to watch the Politics program chaired just after midday by Jo Coburn. I have the greatest respect for her as a journalist and as a presenter because she does not allow her own personality to become part of the debate (a common failing, it has to be said). But the whole panel discussion started off with the question ‘Did the BBC cave in to Gary Lineker?’ which question was no doubt framed to be a good discussion point but to my mind completely reduced a complex issue to a sort of boxing match in which there had to be winners and losers. I felt that the BBC for its part was taking the view that guidelines cannot be set in stone but have to be adapted to changing environments (not least one in which the social media is so much more prominent). On the other hand, I am sure that Gary Lineker may have felt that he could have had a wiser choice of words and had not fully appreciated how the thrust of his tweet against the rhetoric that was being deployed (not least by our own Home Secrtary) could be weaponised. Long term opponents of the BBC (and some who are not) feel that Lineker might have been making a direct comparison between the present Goverment and the Nazi regime of 1930’s Germany. So each side to this particular dilemma probably realise that they need to move closer to each other and to find a common, negotiated position and this is what has transpired. The attention may now shift away from Lineker and towards Richard Sharp, the chairperson of the BBC who is currently under investigation for his role in securing a huge £800,000 loan to Boris Johnson and whose future may now be in doubt – and we may be talking says here rather than weeks or months. Keir Starmer describes Sharp’s position as ‘increasingly untenable’ as Rishi Sunak offers lukewarm defence of BBC chair so the omens do not look good.

This afternoon, we had a quiet afternoon watching a wild-life film on BBC2 (which makes a welcome change to the ‘Dream Home in the Country’ type programs that seem to be on every single day) One of our congregation called round from the church to collect our box in which we are meant to collect contributions for the missions but which we make sure has some contribitions inside before it is emptied. Then we had a good read of the Sunday newspapers which we did not have time for yesterday as well as today’s Times. The problem is, though, that a lot of current concerns have been rather taken over by events as the Lineker affair becomes resolved.

We may just have averted another bank collapse. This time, it is a small bank specialising in loans to hi-tech companies (Silicon Valley Bank) whose parent company has just gone belly up in the United States. For the short term, a buyer has been found (HSBC who are buying the bank for £1). The Bank of England has given certain assurances i.e. that it would not face onerous anti-money laundering checks for its new customers and that it would not have to take responsibility for any previous misconduct at SVB UK. However, these are the public assurances, but I wonder how much secret money has sloshed through the system but disguised from public view. This is not difficult for the Bank of England to disguise in that HSBC will be the technical owners but the Bank of England might have given HSBC hidden assurnces that helps to finance the whole deal. Also, the question must be asked as to how many more ‘unexploded bombs’ are lying around in the financial system, because whereas one bank may have got into difficulties, it is a fair bet that other banks in these troubled financial times might be experiencing similar problems.