Lord Howell Can Frack Off

I hear that there are protests going on in West Sussex over the possibility that drilling for oil or shale gas might go ahead. While I agree with the protestors in principle – everything I’ve read about fracking suggests it’s dodgy – what concerns me more is the hysteria from the media over the issue. You would think the world was going to end.

This is yet another example of southern bias in the media. A media that is largely southern based (look at the howls of protest some people made when the BBC wanted to move them to Salford), and southern biased. To them, “the north” is still a wild, uncivilised area peopled with animal skin wearing savages. Civilisation resides in the south, that’s where London is after all. Would the same level of coverage have been given if the protests were taking place in Blackburn rather than Balcombe? I think not.

This is not a new phenomenon. I remember the aftermath of the 1987 hurricane. Yes, the south-east was badly hit, but so was South Wales: it suffered widespread flooding and there was the terrible accident with a bridge collapsing under a train. I recall Mike Smith on Radio 1 complaining how the south-east got the bulk of the news coverage, and Wales had been largely ignored.

This attitude is also not confined to the media. Politicians are as bad. Witness the recent comment by Lord Howell about how it would be better for fracking to take place in the “desolate north”. Presumably because it’s so bad up here we savages will gladly take any job going and to hell with the environment. It’s not as pretty as Kent or Sussex and people who matter never come up here anyway.

This is nothing new either. If I remember my A Level history, one of the things that offended the rebels of the Pilgrimage of Grace (1536) was southern power: they demanded a parliament be summoned to either York or Nottingham. As long as political, financial and cultural power, and the bulk of the media are based in London, this attitude will not change. I think having parliament sitting elsewhere might be a way forward, as might moving more of the media out of their London bubble. We have to break their southern insularity and ignorance, and break it good and proper.

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