Above is a screenshot taken from the Politics section of the BBC News website.
There are clear and clickable links leading to separate sections for Northern Irish politics, Welsh politics and Scottish politics. However, the largest nation within the United Kingdom is given the more cryptically condescending heading “Around England”, which cannot be clicked and which does not lead to its own dedicated section.
Furthermore, clicking on the obscure “Political analysis around England” link leads to the the following badly laid-out page listing the BBC’s English political editors by region (presumably outdated since it was last updated nearly three years ago):
Who made the decision to slice and dice our United Kingdom in this way when it comes to political coverage? Who decided on behalf of the British population that the Welsh, Scots and Northern Irish should see their politics primarily at a national level, while the English must be given news at a regional basis?
More importantly, is this discrepancy in political coverage a result of organisational efficiency (so that political editors cover “patches” roughly equal in population, for example) or is it for another, perhaps more sinister reason?
The answer, of course, is that the BBC’s way of splitting its political coverage is merely a reflection of the way that the political elite want us to see ourselves – with all of the home nations save England deserving of a degree of individual recognition and autonomy.
But this way of organising news coverage – and structuring our political system – does everyone a disservice. People living in Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland are denied the chance to view or shape events in their respective nations from anything other than a macro level, while English residents are not given the chance to look at issues which affect England in particular.
At a time when the Scottish people have a referendum to determine their future participation in the United Kingdom, and issues of devolution of power are coming increasingly to the fore, why does the BBC persist with a political reporting structure that is fundamentally out of touch with the sentiment of the country?
On Wednesday 23rd April, England will celebrate – or at least observe – St. George’s Day. This blog would not be surprised if there was a significant popular backlash or uprising of English nationalist sentiment around this time, given the fact that so much of our leaders’ energies are currently taken up talking about how best to cater to the needs of Scotland while the West Lothian question remains – as ever – conspicuously unaddressed.
Of course, if a debate does bubble to the surface around this time, it could well be diffused into obscurity by the BBC’s eleven English regional political editors.