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David Keighley: You’re nicked! Climate change joker Letts has collar felt by BBC thought police

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Outrageous. That is the only way to describe respectably the latest impartiality ruling by the BBC Trust.

This band of climate change crusaders – led by the Trust’s Richard Ayre, chair of the Editorial  Standards Committee (ESC) – have ruled that a show that was a light-hearted dig at climate fanaticism by the Daily Mail’s Quentin Letts on Radio 4 back in August amounted ‘a serious breach of editorial guidelines’.

The crime? According to Ayre’s ruling – himself a former chairman of a group that campaigns on climate change – the producers failed to allow the Met Office totally to spoil the programme by being assigned acres of space to tell listeners that Letts was talking a load of rubbish because it was not in accord with the prevailing science.

Letts’ programme was in the humorous series What’s the Point of?…Specific criticisms levelled at it by the ESC also included that it had dared to suggest that the Met Office – which for years has been stuffed full of climate change zealots – was (shock horror), involved in political lobbying (over its own views), that it was not impartial about climate issues, and that it was alarmist (in the way it was trying to terrify us all into believing that the world would end soon because of our wicked capitalist ways).

For starters, the ruling is an affront to science and to basic intelligence because science does not and has never worked on the basis of ‘prevailing views’. Scientific theories aren’t reached by voting.

It proceeds by continually testing theories; the essence is that at any moment a whole edifice of accepted belief might come crashing down. There are thousands of scientists who do not agree with the Met Office’s and the BBC’s alarmism, as, for example, Jo Nova’s site regularly shows. They assert that the idea that the science relating to meteorology is settled is utter nonsense. And they point out that the UN’s process of inquiry into the science is totally flawed and designed for political purposes rather than reaching the truth.

But beyond that, the ruling also demonstrates that the BBC has descended into operating like the thought police in its attitudes towards almost every sphere of national life and culture. It has adopted a self-serving definition of ‘due impartiality’ to assess editorial balance.

Such judgments about who and who should not be heard now operate in coverage not solely related to related to climate, but also covering the environment, immigration, multiculturalism, religion, sexuality, Islam, the EU, the state-sanctioned killing of those who wish to die, family life, the British Empire, slavery, British history, morals, and much, much more.

Universities have rightly been condemned for operating the ‘no platform’ policy with increasing zealotry and bigotry. The ruling against the Letts programme confirms loudly and clearly that the BBC now has its own version of this. Those it disagrees with are banned from the airwaves completely, simply ignored, or, on the rare occasions where they are not, forced to offer their views in such a suffocating framework that they are effectively neutered.

Investigations have shown that the Trustees’ entire process of upholding impartiality is rotten to the core, and for years has been operating only to protect the BBC from criticism. This latest ruling confirms yet again that the Corporation’s governance is not fit for purpose.

Rona Fairhead, the Trust chairman, made yet another BBC-serving speech last week in which she argued that any changes to the BBC being made in connection with the charter renewal should be evolutionary rather than revolutionary. Let us hope that Culture Secretary John Whittingdale totally ignores her simpering pleas.

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David Keighleyhttp://news-watch.co.uk
Former BBC news producer, BBC PR executive and head of corporate relations for TV-am. Director of News-watch.

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