During a discussion with Brendan Barber, the outgoing head of the TUC, on the Today programme this morning, Humphrys poured scorn on the possibility of a General Strike.
This at a time when food banks are increasing across the country; when reports of children going without food apart from what they get at school, and with the knowledge that only about 10% of the proposed cuts have happened. It is also a time when dissatisfaction with politics and the political system has never been higher. Frustration and anger is increasing at the insouciance of the wealthy who tax avoid and escape any form of retribution for their financial crimes. Calls for direct action and campaigns of civil disobedience grow.
In this climate the BBC, and especially its very well paid presenters, need to be careful. Humphrys is paid £2500 for each edition of Today and is contracted to make 150 programmes a year. This gives him an income from that alone of £375,000 a year. Add ‘Mastermind’ and a Daily Mail column plus speaking engagements at £5000-£10,0000 each and he clearly is a very wealthy man. Is he worth so much for what he brings to our society? Hardly.
His tone was dismissive and derisive as he described strikes as being so old-fashioned. He is not alone in this - many BBC presenters reflect similar views. These same presenters however praise strikers taking action in authoritarian regimes as happened frequently in the ‘Arab Spring’.
So it is fine to strike somewhere else but not in the UK which may inconvenience these well paid mouthpieces. What is seen as bravery in those countries comes across as a nuisance and an irritant in ours. Striking costs cash. People do not like doing it. It is a sign that things are getting very serious. It is also enshrined in a democracy that people have the right to withdraw their labour. Sometimes it is all that is left to a citizen to register just how bad things are. From their comfortable perch in a cosy studio it is easy for these overpaid talking heads to dismiss these real concerns.
Before they challenge any union leader or striking worker it would be helpful if Humphrys, Allen or Paxman of the BBC declared what they were paid.
After all, we pay their wages.