Following in the same spirit as the last post, Paul Stott, a Hackney libertarian I briefly corresponded with a few years back, suggests that where laws are being routinely broken then this is evidence of bad law, not bad behaviour.
He made this observation recently on his excellent
and by example notes that: “If you fail to pay your subscription to
Virgin or Sky, Richard Branson or Rupert Murdoch will cut you off.
Fail to pay your subscription to the BBC, and you can be fined up to
£1,000, and ultimately go to prison.”
And it gets worse, because 107 people have been
jailed for non-payment in the last two years. In fact, this nonsense
takes up an astonishing ONE IN TEN UK court cases, and is responsible
for 12% of all court prosecutions.
As a recently closed petition to the Department
for Culture, Media & Sport argues, the TV Licence Fee hits poorer
people disproportionately, and makes all of us pay for 'free'
services already funded by advertising. The petition (see
) suggests replacing TV licences with a voluntary subscription. The
commercial element of the BBC could then be scrambled for
non-subscribers, leaving public service content free to air.
As of yet, this has not spread to the island, but
mostly because threats by the local agents were enough to make us pay
up, and certainly not because any of our spineless politicos have
pointed out that the whole mugging exercise is a disgrace or even
that the money could be better spent locally instead of being meekly
handed over to the Brits. A few half-hearted mutterings have been
heard to the effect that Manx residents pay for UK services which
anyone in the Irish Republic can also receive for free, also that when
less and less people watch TV directly via traditional means the
whole thing is a bit of a joke.
From my time in Northern Ireland, I
remember that during the 'troubles' absolutely nobody in nationalist
areas paid what they regarded as a tax imposed by an occupying
government. I also remember that while the armoured cars were
everywhere available for the job, not one TV was seized and not one
person went to court. In the face of refusal to pay by some 40-50% of
the population, a quasi-governmental broadcasting organisation simply
stopped making an unreasonable demand.
So, will we sign up for an all-island boycott of
the 'TV tax'? Will we lobby our political unrepresentatives to tell
Westminster the deal is off? Or will we continue to put up with bad
law from another country?
Hmm, thought so.
3 years ago