The BBC’s Coverage of Southern Europe by Dan Hind

30 September 2012Return of the Public

Yesterday’s main news bulletin on BBC 1 somehow managed to miss another large demonstration against austerity in Lisbon, where tens of thousands gathered in the capital‘s Praca de Comercio square. The bulletin also didn’t find time for yet more protests in Madrid.

The Madrid story did appear elsewhere on the network – one of the BBC News Channel bulletins, I guess, although it is impossible to tell where and when online clips have been broadcast, if at all.

(You’ll notice that the reporter in the clips seems to be saying that violent protesters provoked a police response by throwing stones and then sat down, which sounds like something out of Asterix and the Great Undermining of Democracy in Southern Europe.)

Spain and Portugal are having austerity forced on them because the EU authorities are trying to save (mostly northern European) commercial banks from the consequences of their reckless lending to the Spanish property market. The protesters are demanding national self-determination in the face of rule by bankers. This is something that might interest people in Britain. But it isn’t often framed in those terms.

Perhaps I have misunderstood. Perhaps the BBC report above has it right:

“The problem is, the Spanish economy is in a mess. Debts are piling up and investors have got the jitters. The government says cutting back [public spending] even more is the only way out the crisis.”

Perhaps all we can do is placate the same investors who crashed the economy in the first place.

But perhaps not. In Iceland, far from the BBC news bulletins, the banks have been allowed to fail, the law is taking its course, and people aren’t rioting.

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