Whither free broadband?

According to John McDonnell MP

When I published Labour’s policy on free broadband in November 2019 I said “It’s about large numbers of children being able to do their homework properly, and have the speed of connectivity.” The BBC described it as Broadband Communism. Interesting how relevant it’s now become.

Isn’t it just?

Mind you that criticism was nothing if not shamefully prejudiced. Would they have called the NHS Health Communism? And why do they think Communism is a criticism? Is it because Capitalism is working so extraordinarily well?

And yet now you need the internet to be on Universal Credit. So you need digital access for welfare benefits in this country. With many libraries no longer open, Broadband is an essential. It needs to become, after the NHS, our second Universal Basic Service (UBS).

This BBC journalist’s tweet suggests a further reason to embrace UBS broadband:

Indeed, Ofcom estimates that between 1.14 million and 1.78 million children in the UK (9 per cent) do not have home access to a laptop, desktop, or tablet and that more than 880,000 children live in a household with only a mobile internet connection.

(The great irony is that Labour promised a nationalised high speed broadband network in 1983 as part of their manifesto. In fact in the early 90s BT had it ready to roll out. But Thatcher killed the project saying of course, that the market would provide).

Whereas an Independent journalist has calculated that ‘Eat Out To Help Out’ by the ‘austerity imminent’ Chancellor Sunak cost £849m in total… you could buy all 1.4 million kids eligible for free school meals a £400 Chromebook and 12 months of £20-a-month broadband for roughly the same amount of money (£896m).

At least the BBC is at last offering an educational service on television – I really do hope they’ve got additional money from the government for doing so.

With such an ideological government they have completely forgotten – or failed to recognise that, having won power, they really need to get in charge of operating the country.

They were originally so obsessed with winning power that they have no idea what to do witb it – except, of course, to enrich their friends.


  1. Robin Trow -

    I’ve been blaming Thatcher for all our ills for nearly 50 years (since she was Secretary of State for Education). It turns out I was right!

    1. Peter May -


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