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A Christmas read: The Ministry of Truth, London W1A 1AA


BBC: Brainwashing Britain? by David Sedgwick; Sandgrounder, November 2018

HOW does the BBC get away with its grinding partisanship? This new book has a brave and thoroughly readable shot at explaining.

The Corporation, of course, risibly swears blind that it is not biased, and that it is a model of impartiality – as required by its Charter – but patently is not. Everything it broadcasts has an angle; mostly acute.

A cracking example came this week in the reaction to Japan’s decision to resume whaling. John Simpson, the veteran grandiosely titled ‘world affairs correspondent’, typified the Corporation’s coverage when he tweeted on Boxing Day that it was, of course, probably Donald Trump’s fault for leaving ‘various international orgs on nationalistic grounds’. 

In the real internal BBC editorial guidelines – as opposed to the version posted on its website for public consumption – Simpson’s opinions tick every box: anti-Trump; anti-‘nationalism’ (the root, of course, of the Corporation’s long-term pro-EU fervour), and pro-globalism.

In BBC: Brainwashing Britain? a writer with commonsense nous combined with an academic understanding of propaganda techniques has thoroughly surveyed the £5billion-a-year state-funded behemoth and sought to explain.

Who is this David against Goliath? He goes under the pen name of ‘David Sedgwick’, and declares that he is a university lecturer who lives in Malaga and Liverpool. He also writes for the Comment Central blog under the name of David Hardy, and this excoriating piece about Theresa May is an example of his work.

Why a pen name? The reasons are known only to Sedgwick himself, but in today’s academic precincts, it’s a sad fact of life that those who dare adopt an overt approach which can be deemed ‘Right-wing’ – such as Jordan Peterson – open themselves to calls for them to be sacked, and worse. And as Sedgwick points out in one of his key chapters, the BBC is very good at smearing those whose opinions it opposes, especially when self-interest is concerned.

His theories in his well-evidenced 350-page book? Well, not rocket science, maybe, but they are plausible and woven together with skill.

He believes a main driving force behind BBC bias is a crude form of cultural Marxism which infected the Corporation progressively from the 1960s, when Hugh Carleton Greene, a self-declared ‘psychological warrior’, became director general. Greene decided that the BBC should be ‘ahead of public opinion’ rather than a servant of it, thus giving the liberals attracted to work there a licence to shape their own agendas in what they broadcast.

Sedgwick draws his definition of this ‘cultural Marxism’ from the online Urban Dictionary: The gradual process of destroying all traditions, languages, religions individuality, government, family, law and order, in order to re-assemble society in the future as a communist utopia. This utopia will have no notion of gender, traditions, morality good or even family or the state. 

In this framework, Sedgwick argues, the BBC’s goal has gradually become to undermine almost every element of British history and activity, except in areas where it must also protect its own revenues and existence.

Sedgwick has studied deeply the psychology and methodology of propaganda and on this basis he believes that much of what the BBC does and says can be compared closely to the techniques of propagandists in all their various historical forms, and especially to the nightmare versions conjured up by George Orwell in 1984.

What an irony, therefore, that the Corporation has recently unveiled outside its vast Portland Place HQ a statue of George Orwell, the aim of which is, through association, to illustrate the BBC’s pursuit of ‘truth’. Sedgwick’s central theory, however, is that 1984’s influence on the BBC is much more sinister – its output and modus operandi mirroring the Ministry of Truth.

Once he has established his focus, Sedgwick slickly draws on a wealth of examples to illustrate his themes, most based on his own wide-ranging and well-researched observations of BBC output. They range from Evan Davis gratuitously insulting a Donald Trump restaurant and comparing his alleged toupee to grass in a Norwegian meadow, through to John Sweeney’s notorious package about the post-referendum Harlow ‘race-hate’ murder in which he carefully assembled claims that Nigel Farage had ‘blood on his hands’.

Overall, this is an important book. Despite the BBC’s relentless bias – also documented on News-watch and Is the BBC Biased? 

– very few books of this nature and scope have been written. Is this because most publishers are of the same mindset as the BBC?

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David Keighley
David Keighley
Former BBC news producer, BBC PR executive and head of corporate relations for TV-am. Director of News-watch.

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