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David Keighley: The Tory threat to review the BBC’s impartiality comes far too late


As we head into the final week of this phony, no-real-choice election, Sajid Javid, the Culture Secretary, has had a revelation about the BBC.

It seems it came as a bolt from the blue. A remark on the Today programme by Scottish so-called comedienne Rhona Campbell , that all Tories were ‘a cancer’, was responsible. He now sees that the Corporation is biased against his party, and says that’s not fair.

In consequence, Javid is warning that the BBC’s impartiality will be reviewed as part of the Charter renewal process.

Pardon?  His revelation is surely five years too late.

For all the years his party has been in power – and arguably for at least a decade before that – the BBC has had its own blatantly obvious agenda, and has put two fingers up  towards public opinion on topics such as the EU, multiculturalism, immigration and climate change. The evidence can be seen in abundance here or here.

David Cameron could have tackled BBC reform at any point in the past five years had he summoned up the courage to do so, but he did not.  He shook up the world of newspaper regulation – some would say in order to get Rupert Murdoch – so why not the BBC? The suspicion must be because, at heart, call-me-Dave does not demur much from their agenda.

The polls are showing that the prospect of a coalition government based on a shotgun wedding between Labour and SNP looks increasingly likely.  The reality is that if this happens, the BBC that David Cameron has chosen not to reform has played a key role in facilitating it.

Without doubt, this has been a political campaign fought by the Corporation.  A main agenda is that they want the licence fee to be renewed and increased.

And using the perverse  guidance on ‘balance’ emanating from the Bridcut report,  which, it is becoming increasingly clear, is actually a manual facilitating deliberate bias, the 8,000-strong newsroom has strained every sinew to ensure that both immigration and the EU, along with a whole range of other topics, have been treated only in the narrow left-wing confines that BBC editors deem are permissible.

What is the overall approach? There are too many facets of this to outline in one blog, but here are some highlights:

BBC manifesto point one is that the Corporation hates with a passion English nationalism, and denigrates with Pavlovian zeal anything that smacks of it. They treat the whole subject as if it is fascist and racist.

Nothing but this can explain the hugely negative treatment of Nigel Farage in interviews by Evan Davis and Mishal Husain highlighted on TCW. Underpinning this approach is the fanatical BBC espousal of multiculturalism, which puts the values and views of incomers to the UK above those of the English, and has at its heart the poison of moral relativity. Behind it also is the view that the United Kingdom in general and English who were in the driving seat was and still is an imperialist power – something that deserves condemnation at every opportunity.

BBC manifesto point two– in the same vein – is that they love Scottish, Welsh and, of course, Sinn Fein nationalism. That’s because by contrast to those who support English patriotism, the rag-tag of parties that advance these causes is deeply socialist and Marxist in their approach to almost every issue, from austerity to childcare and the family.

The blueprint for this approach was laid down in 2008 in this document – a response by BBC management to a Trustees’ report about coverage of the ‘nations and regions’ of the UK.  What followed is the elevation of especially Scottish and Welsh interests above those of theUnited Kingdom as a whole. There is no doubt that Nicola Sturgeon is a competent media performer, but BBC editors have lionized her at every opportunity and – in contrast to Conservative or UKIP spokespeople – have given her a consistently easy ride.

BBC manifesto point three – which will be familiar to TCW readers – is a constant aim to discredit or cast as racists those who want tougher controls on immigration. Evan Davis’s tone throughout his interview of Nigel Farage epitomised this approach, as did Duncan Weldon’s outrageously biased  introduction to Newsnight’s look at immigration. In the BBC’s post-Bridcut world the rights of immigrants take total precedence over the impact on communities.

So, without question, Javid’s late, late conversion to the existence of BBC bias is much too little, far too late. That horse has well and truly bolted. And, in any case, the chances are that his post-election complaints will be dealt with the same negative arrogance as this one, which was lodged by Craig Byers (editor of the Is the BBC Biased? website) about the Duncan Weldon Newsnight piece mentioned above. The complaints department took all of 15 minutes to issue its stock response: you are wrong, we are right – and get lost. Especially, if by then he’s a backbencher.

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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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