Get lost, Chris Moyles

His cherished salary is just what is wrong with the BBC

For years, since I was exposed to BBC Radio 1 by cooler fellow students, I have thought that Chris Moyles is exactly the sort of supposed "talent" that the misguided, extravagant and bloated BBC is so wrong to bankroll. His entirely forgettable, amoral ramblings are not just pointless but mean that there is so much less music on the station when he is in behind the microphone. He is the wannabe trendy BBC at its worst, and I prefer "More Music, Less Talk" Magic FM.

As I put to Mark Thompson in a recent interview, single mothers on council estates, say, find it quite hard to pay the license fee, and it needs to be carefully spent. Thompson argued that if you want the best, you need to pay for the best.

From the interview:

Asked how [spending] can be justified to, say, a single mother on a council estate struggling to pay the bills, Thompson pauses and then says: "That is true and important. The BBC is owned and paid for by the British public, many of whom are living on small incomes.

"The licence fee is a significant expense, and it is very important that every penny of it is spent wisely. At the same time, you know, most people outside the UK and probably most people inside the UK want the BBC to be the world's greatest and best broadcaster. It costs us billions of pounds to be that."

So, is "every penny" of Chris Moyles's salary "spent wisely"? It's certainly a lot of pennies, as he is said to be paid some £600,000 per year. No wonder he is so put out by a computer problem meaning he temporarily missed out on two months' salary: £100,000 is what the average person around five years to make.

Here are a couple of the nicer things he said in a characteristically foul-mouthed tirade on his "show":

I am very, very angry, I can't tell you how furious I am. I haven't been paid since the end of July and no one cares about it. No one is bothered.

...It is a two-way street and what annoys me is that I mentioned it to people this week. Fix it.

Moyles has since said he is "bemused" that the rant has caused a row.

And the BBC's response, according to the Mirror:

The BBC said: "It is a computer glitch. His payments are being processed." A Beeb source insisted his salary could even be in his bank before he starts his show today.

Phew. That's a relief. Thank goodness for that.

How about another suggestion: let's correct the "glitch" by making it permanent, so that Moyles -- who once told a caller from Newcastle "You've got three kids from some fuckin'..." -- can stop being funded on the back of harder working and more deserving people than him, and take his "talent" to where it will sink or swim in the private sector.

UPDATE: You can donate to poor Chris Moyles via this Just Giving site.

James Macintyre is political correspondent for the New Statesman.
Getty Images.
Show Hide image

The problems with ending encryption to fight terrorism

Forcing tech firms to create a "backdoor" to access messages would be a gift to cyber-hackers.

The UK has endured its worst terrorist atrocity since 7 July 2005 and the threat level has been raised to "critical" for the first time in a decade. Though election campaigning has been suspended, the debate over potential new powers has already begun.

Today's Sun reports that the Conservatives will seek to force technology companies to hand over encrypted messages to the police and security services. The new Technical Capability Notices were proposed by Amber Rudd following the Westminster terrorist attack and a month-long consultation closed last week. A Tory minister told the Sun: "We will do this as soon as we can after the election, as long as we get back in. The level of threat clearly proves there is no more time to waste now. The social media companies have been laughing in our faces for too long."

Put that way, the plan sounds reasonable (orders would be approved by the home secretary and a senior judge). But there are irrefutable problems. Encryption means tech firms such as WhatsApp and Apple can't simply "hand over" suspect messages - they can't access them at all. The technology is designed precisely so that conversations are genuinely private (unless a suspect's device is obtained or hacked into). Were companies to create an encryption "backdoor", as the government proposes, they would also create new opportunities for criminals and cyberhackers (as in the case of the recent NHS attack).

Ian Levy, the technical director of the National Cyber Security, told the New Statesman's Will Dunn earlier this year: "Nobody in this organisation or our parent organisation will ever ask for a 'back door' in a large-scale encryption system, because it's dumb."

But there is a more profound problem: once created, a technology cannot be uninvented. Should large tech firms end encryption, terrorists will merely turn to other, lesser-known platforms. The only means of barring UK citizens from using the service would be a Chinese-style "great firewall", cutting Britain off from the rest of the internet. In 2015, before entering the cabinet, Brexit Secretary David Davis warned of ending encryption: "Such a move would have had devastating consequences for all financial transactions and online commerce, not to mention the security of all personal data. Its consequences for the City do not bear thinking about."

Labour's manifesto pledged to "provide our security agencies with the resources and the powers they need to protect our country and keep us all safe." But added: "We will also ensure that such powers do not weaken our individual rights or civil liberties". The Liberal Democrats have vowed to "oppose Conservative attempts to undermine encryption."

But with a large Conservative majority inevitable, according to polls, ministers will be confident of winning parliamentary support for the plan. Only a rebellion led by Davis-esque liberals is likely to stop them.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

0800 7318496