Turks & Caicos, and the BBC

If a government buys ‘a fleet’ of Land Rovers for its ministers, does that amount to corruption? If the leader of a country has a bullet-proof car, does that amount to exuberant extravagance? If a prime minister has a private jet – don’t they all? – is that really enough to destroy an island economy? A few parties for celebrities? Is that enough for our government – that’s the British government – to decide that enough is enough and these little children need to be put back in their box so that we can take over and show them how to run a country properly? I’m thinking multi-million houses in Mayfair. I’m thinking tens of thousands of pounds on PM’s wives’ hairdressers. I’m thinking BAE systems, a story that the BBC itself has reported at some length, if not enough.

Apparently the former premier of Turks & Caicos, Galmore Williams, lied to the people of the islands about money and parties and a few other things. But as far as I know, old Galmore did not lie about going to war in Iraq, he didn’t fiddle a report that has since contributed directly to the deaths of tens of thousands of people in the Middle East. He didn’t fix his eldest son up with an internship in the US Republican party, or buy flats to rent out in Bristol. He didn’t believe he was the voice of the son of God, and insist that war was a Christian endeavour that would save the lives of millions and make the world a better place. No. Galmore Williams bought some Land Rovers (I wonder who was behind that deal), sat in the back of a bullet-proof car (even I’ve done that), and had himself a private jet and a few celeb friends. Isn’t that standard behaviour for many British bankers, the accountants who work in The City, a chunk of British businessmen, lots of grade C celebrities in the UK, let alone the grade As and Bs, and our delightfully superior prime minister and ministers?

The BBC Today programme ran what you could hardly describe as a report on the Turks & Caicos, this morning, three months after the Queen’s men decided to take it back. Mike Thomson, who seems to report on any country between the Tropics of Capricorn and Cancer, made no reference to the outstanding hypocrisy of our tiny island lording it over even tinier islands. The Queen’s Governor, pink-cheeked Gordon Wetherell (he looks more like a turnip farmer than a diplomat, but still…) told a local news agency on his arrival, ‘Right now I’m the Governor of the TCI and very glad to be here.’ You bet he is. He has an entire island to himself, according to the BBC report, which the BBC reporter had to fly to in a plane (in a BBC private jet? how much did it cost to send Mike Thomson there? presumably T&C don’t have decent local journos as well as no decent local premiers…) to meet him.

Listen out, if you can, for more reports on the T&C; and listen out for the extraordinary failures of BBC reporting. The line, I think, that made me laugh (or was it swear?) most was when Thomson suggested to a local politician that ‘high-level corruption’ had destroyed Turks & Caicos economy entirely. And yet, according to the BBC website’s own material, the Turks & Caicos economy comprises no less than a little lobster and conch exports. No irony here, Mike? Reporting as a Brit about ruined economies and corruption and lying? It seems it bypassed the man. And, of course, it bypassed the self-satisfied unbearably smug Justin Webb, the latest white male to join the Today team. He made what I can only describe as a chirpy grunt off the back of Thomson’s report, which ended with a local T&C man insisting that direct rule from London had pushed local people back to slavery. Absolutely hilarious, Justin.

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