Normally as I prepare my tea on a Sunday evening BBC Radio Four has a five o’clock slot which more often than not seems to be taken up with the failure of social services. It’s the kind of programme where the phrase ‘the minister was not available’ nearly always crops up. But tonight it was a bit different, with a programme called “Russians in Britain: a Handbook.” The blurb on i-player says “Who are the Russians who live in the UK? The community is under the spotlight as never before since the attempt on the life of Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury in March. Caught between fascination and horror, the press heaves with cliches about Russian oligarchs, spies and dissidents living - and spending - in the fancier parts of London. The programme looks at how the present wave of Russians took root in London in the 1990s, encouraged by successive British governments” (my emphasis).
Always an interesting subject, of course, and in this programme we hear what appears to be a balanced (but very sympathetic) picture of these Anglophiles, since the interviewees are all Russian. Oh, and they’re all emigres. Most of them seem to be pretty well off. I’m trying to imagine what would be the reaction if this programme was aired in Russia? Would they interpret it as being anti-Putin? They might well, since there was no interview with somebody who could have but chose not to leave their own country. So does this make the programme a subtle form of one-sided propaganda [sic]? Does it perhaps fall foul of the rules which have inspired Ofcom to investigate RT? The fact is of course that our propaganda – if that’s what it is – is called journalism, not state media, and as we know our strong and stable government has absolutely no influence on the BBC. Anyway, I’m not going to complain since one of the emigres had high praise for Scarborough, and one cannot challenge the truth. Everything she said was spot on.