1/17 and 7/84 49

With impeccable timing, today we have official US government statistics saying that the top 1% of the US population have 17% of the take-home earnings. Their share has more than doubled from under 8% in 1979.

This vast gap between rich and poor, and rich and middling, has expanded fast and is now expanding exponentially faster. I have no doubt figures for the UK would show the same trend.

It also made me think nostalgically of the 7/84 Company and the play they made famous: The Cheviot, The Stag and The Black Black Oil. It had a massive effect on my teenage political consciousness when I saw it on the BBC in June 1974. There is absolutely no way the BBC would ever broadcast such a radical piece now, let alone to a prime time BBC 1 audience.

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49 thoughts on “1/17 and 7/84

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  • Uzbek in the UK

    I am somehow convinced that this figure will be even more disproportionate if the same methods of assessment are applied globally. Roughly leaving 60% of worlds’ population with less than 30% of world’ wealth.

  • mary

    What are the equivalent figures for the UK or are we considered personae non gratae by the gangsters-in-charge to be let into the secret?

  • mary

    Bloody Arts Council withdrew funding. Well they would wouldn’t they?
    Their latest nonsense I read about was funding someone to tow a block of ice from the Arctic and take it round the South Coast. Some Olympics rubbish. Arts Council co funding the £500,000 cost!!!!

  • Stephen

    “There is absolutely no way the BBC would ever broadcast such a radical piece now”

    Apart from MUrder in Samarkand?

  • craig Post author


    Murder in Samarkand was smuggled through by keeping everyone outside of Radio 4 Drama ignorant of it until after it had been recorded, then with David Tennant and David Hare on the box they couldn’t cancel it. But the thought police are slightly less intensive over radio than TV.

  • Japanese Actuary

    Someone said to me recently that the concentration of propaganda in the British press had become much greater a few years ago. I had assumed it was simply me becoming more politically aware, but I think he must have been right. When did this happen, and why? Is it a Blair thing, along with the destruction of civil liberties?

  • Beeston Regis

    It’s one of the mysteries of the market. Rich people work harder
    when you pay them more and poor people work harder when you pay
    them less.

  • MJ

    Japanese Actuary: I have it on good authority that the government’s effort to exert control over the BBC began in earnest with Wilson in the 60s and increased under Thatcher. That control became virtually complete however under Blair with the sacking of Gilligan and Greg Dyke over the David Kelly affair in 2003. Since then BBC news has become nothing more than pretty blatant propaganda.

  • Japanese Actuary

    It’s not just the BBC, though, it’s the (once) broadsheet press, and ITV/C4 as well. Especially the Guardian. Perhaps it’s Rusbridger – was it like that before?

  • nuid

    Saw 7/84 (Scotland) with ‘The Cheviot, The Stag and The Black Black Oil’ when they brought it to Dublin. I suppose that must have been 1973. We gave them a standing ovation. Brings back a lot of memories!
    “That control became virtually complete however under Blair with the sacking of Gilligan and Greg Dyke over the David Kelly affair in 2003.”
    It’s been glaringly obvious, to those of us familiar with the BBC. But I don’t know how it was done. Overall. Don’t they have a charter or something that protects them from political interference and guarantees their independence?

  • Stephen

    I agree Craig – as someone who was reared on Play for Today, Cathy Come Home and getting lost in the Gorbals when driving through Glasgow while on the way to a holiday in the Highlands are still seared on my mind. But the leg was there waiting to be pulled!

  • Japanese Actuary

    Oh, sure, there are good things hidden away in the Guardian, but the general editorial line is very very establishment, and their ‘news’ articles, as opposed to the occasional comment piece, are so sodden with the vocabulary of propaganda that they’re difficult to read.
    I’ve also found they simply do not respond to complaints about blatant inaccuracy in supposed news articles. I haven’t bothered writing to them about bias.

  • John Goss

    MJ, I agree that Seumas Milne’s Guardian article showa we have some objectivity in the quality press. Like a recent John Pilger article it criticises NATO bombardment of Libya but also the disgraceful treatment of a world leader who was nearly 70 years of age. Pilger also praised China ‘Africa is China’s success story. Where the Americans bring drones and destabilisation, the Chinese bring roads, bridges and dams.’

  • MJ

    I think you are expecting too much of the Guardian. I’d stop buying it if I were you.
    The controlled, right-wing consensus that is the MSN reflects precisely what has happened also to the main political parties. They all say the same things on matters of key national importance. Take foreign policy for instance. Polls regularly show that over 50% of British people oppose all the invasions, yet no main party offers an alternative. You have to look to fringe parties like the Greens and the BNP for that. Foreign has effectively been wrested from democratic control.

  • Christian

    Japanese Actuary,

    For more light on the matter, Noam Chomsy & Ed Heman’s Manufacturing consent is chapter and verse. See also medialens.org (a must, actually). And if you are in a rush, there’s a recording of a Chomsky talk called “propaganda and control of the public mind” (on iTunes and I’m sure for sale on amazon, too.)

  • Japanese Actuary

    Oh, I don’t buy it, I don’t buy any of them. The only mainstream paper I’d be willing to pay for is the NYT – not by any means perfect, but it has a certain professionalism I can’t find in the UK.

  • havantaclu

    Japanese Actuary

    There is a group of regular Guardian readers whose avatars are often to be found on the CiF pages. We’re known as the Peterloo Massacre group. We are trying to encourage the Guardian to have a debate with us about its current bias, and have been (vaguely!) promised one, but so far with no tangible results.

    You can find out more about us here:


    We aren’t a party-political group – we want the Guardian to remember its origins after the Peterloo Massacre and at least to reconsider its roots in that period, which we feel the paper has lost.

  • Japanese Actuary

    Thanks, I’ve been meaning to read that. I was really wondering, have things changed in the UK, or was it always like this?
    I feel very Winston Smith these days.

  • Courtenay Barnett



    I have been preaching against the wars for years, not because I have nothing better to do. Instead, I am minded that such education that I have, professional skills, and ability to articulate might best be put to use in service of a better world for all. After all, if I were different, then I would be minded that all is smooth and functional in the world economy; I would be blinded by the complacency and complicity of the mainstream media; and I would not have any humanitarian concern for my fellow humans. On that latter note, may I add that I am not among those who, as with the search for the WMDs in Iraq, bought into the present “humanitarian bombing war” in Libya. It is illogical to be bombing the people to save them, but it is at least consistent with the belligerent policies that start these wars, by men who hardly, if ever, risk any of their children on the front lines, but convince the populace that to support their profiteering wars, sacrifice their young men and women, waving a flag in honour of the duped fighting unjust wars, and conditioning minds through the media that making these wars is pursuing peace, is the sort of magical political mastery that cause to fall for the profiteering lies. How many bother to question, think, and analyse to come up with their own reasons and explanations? – that is the question.

    However, I believe now that the US population en masse is finally waking up because the people are feeling precisely the same economic hardships of no hope, no jobs, no future – as the masses of the Third World have always felt. There is finally a chance for real and lasting global change when the masses of the industrialized world react; and mainly, but not exclusively, the peoples of Europe and America will have to fight for change – because they are at the centres of global economic power and therefore can most directly impact the power centres that control the world. But, fascist responses will emerge from the ruling elites before the war-mongers are compelled to relinquish power – it is not the nature of this beast peacefully to relinquish power, for it must first bomb, invade, imprison – which inevitably means a struggle if change to peace, justice and rights for all is to be had.

    What America presently has is the best democracy money can buy. It has people as elected representatives who are bought and paid for – so – what else can the elected politicians do but play along like parrots within a fundamentally corrupt politico-economic system, fooling the US people and the world about “security”, “democracy” and “freedom” as if we are all so dumb not to understand that security ( insecurity) translates into war-mongering, democracy ( hypocrisy) becomes purchase of US politicians by the power elite and endorsement only of those elected overseas who dance to the US power-interests tune (e.g. Aristide in Haiti is unacceptable – even although a majority voted him into power – he did not dance to the US tune), and freedom ( fleeced markets) becomes the freedom to exploit the markets of poor countries in ways that cause them to become hugely indebted and never be able to advance and improve the lot of the majority of their populations. Truly, governments of democracy (hypocrisy) with illusions masking the power of the corporations, by the bankers, and for the military-industrial complex:- (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8y06NSBBRtY)
    ruling the world.

    An abandonment of the existing “democratic” system is needed. There should be democracy, but not the brand that presently masquerades as being of the people, by the people and for the people. A replacement is needed with a model of truly participatory democracy, where people’s voices are actually heard and the interests of the many is respected over the benefits to the few, who have now totally bought the mass of existing politician in Europe and the US.

    Nothing short of revolution is going to sort this mess out. The approaching economic collapse is going to be worse than 1929.

    If I am wrong in all I have said, then:-

    1. Go to your job;
    2. Keep the value in the money you have;
    3. Enjoy your pension and retirement benefits;
    4. Educate your children to a high standard at affordable costs;
    5. Pay for good health care and not be bankrupt if seriously ill;
    6. Live in your mortgage free home; and
    7. Continue to enjoy a high standard of living….

    For if all is going well and normally in your life, then truly, you do not need the revolution – until such time that the economic crisis starts to impact you also.

    CB ( http://www.globaljusticeonline.com)

  • angrysoba

    For more light on the matter, Noam Chomsy & Ed Heman’s Manufacturing consent is chapter and verse. See also medialens.org (a must, actually). And if you are in a rush, there’s a recording of a Chomsky talk called “propaganda and control of the public mind” (on iTunes and I’m sure for sale on amazon, too.)

    I read Nick Davies’ Flat Earth News recently and saw that he mentioned some theories which he says overplay the idea of propaganda and advertising revenue and said that they were put forward by left-wing academics who didn’t have first hand knowledge of the industry. I thought it sounded a bit like Herman and Chomsky so I wrote to Mr Davies asking if that is who he meant. He replied:
    I do think Manufacturing Consent proposes a weak thesis – I thought their analysis of coverage of central America and eastern Europe was devastating, but their propaganda theory to explain what has gone wrong really misses the mark.

  • tony_opmoc

    On a slightly more serious note, I am amazed that The Telegraph moderator has left this completely unedited and it is posted on what they claim is their most active topic. She’s probably down the pub.

    And no, we are not going to see a Pink Floyd “tribute band” tonight, but I do look a bit like my avatar except, I have never actually managed to grow a beard. I didn’t start shaving my bum fluff off until I was about 21. My son is much the same. It comes with being blonde. The hair is real though and still profusely growing out of my head.


    Today 04:02 PM
    I agree completely. The fact that most people can now only communicate in byte size chunks, and would be completely incapable of reading and understanding an essay, let alone a book is a very sad reflection on the dumbing down of the human race.

    So why I ask has the Telegraph deleted from their original article published this morning, what Charlie Gilmour actually said?
    Initially, I didn’t quite “Get” Charlie Gilmour, but then I am a bit old and slow. He’s the Son of The Pink Floyd Guitarist who has just lost his appeal. I now think he is a young man of tremendous courage.He said this whilst effectively doing the equivalent of “Storming the Bastille” in London during The Student Riots.“Let them eat cake, they said, we won’t eat cake. We will eat fire, ice and destruction, because we are angry, very f****** angry”“They broke the moral law, we are going to break all the laws. Arson. Destroy. We are not going to stand for it any f****** more, storm Parliament.”That is pretty strong stuff. If he’d been a Muslim, he would have been rendered to the British equivalent of Guantanamo Bay by now, and be strung upside down whilst having extremely horrible things done to his genitals.Instead he’ll probably make Prime Minister after the Revolution.

    Disqus compressed the above paragraph. The Telegraph moderator is welcome to edit it and put back the spaces.


  • tony_opmoc

    You see Boris Johnson is Right.

    He gave some typical “Boris” Speech at the End of The Last Olympics.

    We have only a few months to turn this entire pile of shit around.

    London has not only got to be Perceived as The Friendliest, Nicest City In The World

    We Have Also Actually Got To Do It For Real

    I Reckon We Are Up For It

    We will get The War Criminals on Trial Later

    The Holographic End of The World Armageddon Thing Doesn’t Work

    Thailand Got Flooded and The Chips Won’t Be Ready On Time.


  • writerman

    It’s not just the Guardian, which has, progressively moved to the right… since the attack on Iraq, which was a watershed for the liberal/left, the entire media, and arguably the ‘ruling class’ have never been as detached from the views of the public and as unrepresentative as they are today on a host of issues, but exspecially neo-imperialist wars.

    It’s really quite extraordinary how distant our un-representative parliament has become. Over 600 MPs, yet hardly a voice raised in opposition to the Nato attack on Libya, or any real revulsion at the brutal murder of Gaddafi by Islamic extremists who are normally characterised as terrorists and something we have to fear beyond reason, yet, suddenly these same people become our allies, we become their patrons and airforce, and empower them; very strange.

    But then we are becoming barbarians, the true, historic, face and character of the White Man, and oh, how I hate him.

    Whatever happened to the concept of sovereign immunity? We didn’t use to murder captured leaders, or at least not unless they were ‘native’ leaders or ‘savages.’

    Some of the articles in the Guardian recently have been digusting and borderline fascist in their ideology. Now one knows that the Sun is a fascist sheet of toilet paper, but the Guardian? What happened?

    Looking at the UK media and press it’s as if there’s just one journalist at work and one paper, the uniformity to the attack on Libya and the butchering of Gaddafi by our ‘democratic’ allies, the representatives of the ‘genuine people’s revolution’ has been extraordinary, despite the numerous examples of the bloodlust and destructive urges of our glorious democratic crusaders.

    It boils down to us having entered the era of ‘totalitarian democracy’, where we have the trappings and rituals, but none of the substance of democracy remaining, the triumph of form over content.

    The State, which is increasingly merged with the corporations and the financial sector into a new whole, is on the warpath, and not just overseas, but here as well. Totalitarian democracy doesn’t like dissent, it fears debate, and crushes or ignores criticism.

    And things are going to get worse because neo-imperialism is incompatible with evern bourgeois, liberal, democracy; which was deeply flawed… but better than nothing.

  • wendy

    “I haven’t read the Guardian for ages but I do still find items of merit on the website, such as this recent hard-hitting article about Libya:”
    yes after the event appeasement, just as they did after they had revelled in the gory unislamic death of Gaddafi.
    it means nothing.

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