The thing that strikes one in the BBC – and it is evidently same in various of the other departments – is not so much the moral squalor and the ultimate futility of what we are doing, as the feeling of frustration, the impossibility of getting anything done, even any successful piece of scoundrelism. Our policy is so ill-defined, the disorganisation is so great [there are so many changes of plan] and the fear and hatred of intelligence are so all-pervading, that one cannot plan any sort of wireless campaign whatever. [When one plans some series of talks, with some more or less definite propaganda line behind it, one is first told to go ahead, then choked off on the ground that this or that is “injudicious” or “premature”, then told again to go ahead, then told to water everything down and cut out any plain statements that may have crept in here and there, then told to “modify” the series in some way that removes its original meaning; and then at the last moment the whole thing is suddenly cancelled by some mysterious edict from above and one is told to improvise some different series which one feels no interest in and which in any case has no definite idea behind it.]
One is constantly putting sheer rubbish on the air because of having talks which sounded too intelligent cancelled at the last moment. In addition the organisation is so overstaffed that numbers of people have almost literally nothing to do. But even when one manages to get something fairly good on the air one is weighed down by the knowledge that hardly anybody is listening. Except, I suppose, in Europe the BBC simply inst listened to overseas, a fact known to everyone concerned with overseas broadcasting. [Some listener research has been done in America and it is known that in the whole of the USA about 300,000 people listen to the BBC. In India or Australia the number would not be anywhere near that.] It has come out recently that (two years after the Empire service was started) plenty of Indians with shortwave sets don’t even know that the BBC broadcasts to India.
It is the same with the only other public activity I take part in, the Home Guard. After two years no real training has been done, no specialised tactics worked out, no battle positions fixed upon, no fortifications built – all this owing to endless changes of plan and complete vagueness as to what we are supposed to be aiming at. Details of organisation, battle positions etc. have been changed so frequently that hardly anyone knows at any given moment what the current arrangements are supposed to be. To give just one example, for well over a year our company has been trying to dig a system of trenches in Regents Park, in case airborne troops land there. Though dug over and over again these trenches have never once been in a completed state, because when they are half done there is always a change of plan and fresh orders. Ditto with everything. Whatever one undertakes, one starts with the knowledge that presently there will come a sudden change of orders, and then another change, and so on indefinitely. Nothing ever happens except continuous dithering, resulting in progressive disillusionment all round. The best one can hope is that it is much the same on the other side.