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BBC’s £100m fund for yet more virtue signalling (sorry, yet more diversity)

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LORD Hall of Birkenhead, about-to-retire Director-General of the BBC, has announced a £100million parting shot at the licence fee payer … a ring-fenced investment for a 20 per cent TV diversity content quota, with a focus on those from BAME backgrounds.

Is the already diversity-obsessed BBC’s HR policy so grotesquely discriminatory that it needs £100 million to fix it?

I live in a town of about 10,000 inhabitants less than eight miles from the centre of Liverpool, yet I see far more BAME faces on TV than I do on the local streets, where I may not see a black or brown face all day. BAME faces may be under-represented in London (although I doubt it), yet here they appear to be over-represented on TV. But nobody seems to mind.

Maybe they will now. Achieving 20 per cent diversity in London shouldn’t be difficult. But BBC in Shetland, Cumbria or Cornwall or here might struggle to get 20 per cent quotas of disabled, poorer socio-economic, BAME and LBGTQ staff even before competence is considered. However, you can bet there will be a zero per cent quota for staff whose opinions diverge from the Guardianista, liberal metropolitan views of the BBC.

BBC Radio 4 was my aural wallpaper for many years, often with two radios on so I could listen as I moved between rooms. It epitomised the BBC ethos to inform, educate and entertain.  It broadcast an eclectic mix of news, art, science, history, current affairs, consumer rights, music, drama, magazines, comedy and more, albeit often delivered in Received Pronunciation. So I welcomed the proliferation of regional accents.

But it took some time to notice that diversity of accent, gender and ethnicity had eclipsed diversity of opinion. The drama department had of course for years viewed the world through a borrowed pair of Ken Loach’s red-tinted spectacles, but that was only to be expected of ‘creatives’, bless ’em.

Hardly a week went by without a play about the 1984 miners’ strike (miners good, Thatcher bad) though there are only so many ways you can present that message 32 years after the event.

So I suspect wailing and gnashing of teeth in the BBC after the shock-horror of the referendum result was at least partly assuaged in the drama department by a new cause célèbre and the prospect of endless opportunities for telling the provincials how wrong they were to vote Leave.

And those opportunities have been grasped with relish, not only by Drama, but all departments – who it seems have had free rein to re-educate us by relentlessly proliferating what I have come to recognise as cultural Marxism.

At 08.45 on Tuesday February 11, 2020, Radio 4’s Today programme trailed a forthcoming podcast about the British Empire by Afua Hirsch. Why her?

It prompted me to note that morning’s programme content:

09.45: How to Argue with a Racist

10.00: Woman’s Hour (asylum seeking women)

11.00: The Purity Spiral (trolling racists)

11.30: Not Enough Pride for Charlie Pride (struggles of the black Country singer)

13.45: Equal As We Are (gender issues)

I now switch on selectively. Today presenters’ hectoring and interrupting of interviewees is no longer bearable. Ditto The World at One, PM and most of the 6.30 evening so-called comedies – particularly smug if casts are playing to on-message studio audiences. So now More or Less, The Life Scientific, In our Time and other gems that have not (yet) succumbed to wokefulness are my preferred fare.  

Radio 4 has become Radio Woke and there is no better exemplar than Woman’s Hour, delivering a daily diet of feminism, child-raising, gender and race issues in which the trope is that males and the Tory government are responsible for most injustices. 

Nearly every episode features at least one item about the struggles of a single mother coping with a particular problem, usually with ‘expert’ commentary bemoaning a lack of government resources to assist.

What baffles me is why, in a programme that purports to support women and advance women’s rights, Jenni or Jane never ask what contribution or assistance is provided by the fathers? This is not to be judgmental or to imply fecklessness.  But whatever the reason, if the father is alive, he should provide for his children.  If a case is being made for additional taxpayer funding to assist, is it unreasonable to ask if the father is contributing too? But they never do.

On Saturday June 13, I absent-mindedly switched on the car radio in the afternoon and happened upon the omnibus edition of Woman’s Hour. Oh dear. The first item was about how, in the current pandemic, mounting debt is a particular concern for BAME women.

Jenni Murray talked to several contributors including Dr Zubaida Haque, interim director of the Runnymede Trust. The trust is soon to appoint a new director. We can only hope that the successful candidate is more attuned than Dr Haque to the trust’s aims, quoted here:

‘Runnymede is working to build a Britain in which all citizens and communities feel valued, enjoy equal opportunities, lead fulfilling lives, and share a common sense of belonging.’

When Jenni Murray asked the leading question ‘… why are things are so much worse for BAME women?’, Dr Haque was in no doubt, replying haughtily and without hesitation: ‘Because of racial discrimination.’ 

Of course it is! What else could it be? Since Runnymede Trust believes ‘that our democratic dialogue, , policy, and practice, should all be based on reliable evidence from rigorous research and thorough analysis’,  I’m sure Dr Haque has the evidence to name and shame someone or some people, somewhere, of illegally, consciously and deliberately discriminating against BAME women because of their race.

Unless of course she means the discrimination is systemic or institutional (are there any institutions that aren’t racist?), in which case the naming and shaming will be more broad brush. Either way, it is a very serious charge that insists there are scheming racist oppressors, whilst bestowing victimhood and grievance on BAME women and guilt on a liberal white middle class. Job done.

Dr Haque explained that BAME women are disproportionately in low-paid work, don’t receive sufficient Universal Credit, are inadequately covered by the Chancellor’s financial measures, not eligible for statutory sick pay and disproportionately disadvantaged by the two-child limit for child benefit.

This may be true, but is it due to racial discrimination? Are these BAME women any worse off than white women in equivalent circumstances? 

Dr Haque conflates inequality and discrimination. Jenni Murray is presumably intelligent enough to know there are several alternative explanations for the former, which should be investigated and excluded before making such incendiary accusations. Yet she lapped all this up and didn’t interrupt or query this outrageous, unequivocal accusation.

Why make such a fuss about one contributor on one programme? Simply that Dr Haque has a responsibility in these fractious times to tell the truth. The BBC has a duty to interrogate assertions. Whatever the failings of Government policy for the low-paid may be, if Dr Haque has evidence it has been formulated to disadvantage and discriminate against BAME women, then we should see it. 

More drivel followed when a 21-year-old ‘artist and feminist influencer’ called Florence Given (with 400,000 followers), who had a book to plug, was interviewed by Jane Garvey. Much of the piece concerned a discussion about women’s body hair.

Women’s desire to shave is the result, Florence told us, of a capitalist plot by Gillette to make more money. Prior to Gillette’s intervention in the beauty market, women were not concerned about body hair and it was capitalist Gillette that fostered insecurity and women’s desire to depilate. The Women’s Museum of California begs to differ.

It thinks ancient Egyptian women and their sisters in ancient Greece, Rome and other cultures since were concerned and shaved it off. But hey, what does a Women’s Museum know?

Once more we were fed the ‘oppression’ line – the beauty standard for women has been set by a racist patriarchy (yep, them again). Patronising beyond belief, but that didn’t bother Jane. 

And this is not atypical. Race, gender and other ‘diversity’  threads are now woven into the fabric of all BBC output, except of course the diversity of opinion thread. Nothing to the right of the Guardian is commissioned or permitted, even if that means distorting truth or just being ‘economical’ with it.

Last night I watched an episode of Black and British: A Forgotten History presented by David Olusoga.  It began on Bunce Island, upriver from Freetown, Sierra Leone’s capital, where slaves were held prior to shipment to the New World by European, mainly English, slave traders.

The appalling treatment and misery of the slaves was contrasted at length with the slavers’ debauched lifestyle. Yet there was no mention of how the slaves got there, or how they had been captured by Africans keen to sell them to European traders. (Very few Europeans endured in West Africa, ‘the White Man’s Grave’.) 

Were we to imply from this omission that Africans were not involved in this vile trade? Or, even worse, is the implication that Africans lacked the sophistication and humanity expected of Europeans and therefore did not know better so may be exculpated? I hope not.

So why was David Olusoga economical with this truth? Did he think that mention of African collaboration with the European slavers would have made their trade seem more acceptable?

The trouble is, anybody could write a piece about the wokefulness, cultural Marxism and downright bias of the BBC almost every day. There is no shortage of material. The Beeb aggravates and frustrates so many and patience is running out. 

Lord Hall should have announced a return to the original aims – inform, educate and entertain – and saved a hundred million quid’s worth of virtue signalling with licence fee payers’ money.

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David Owen
David Owen
David Owen has over 30 years’ experience of international trade and contracting, mainly with UK and German companies, managing oil, gas and mining projects in Europe, Middle East and Africa.

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