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David Keighley’s BBC Watch: If everyone went to university and smoked pot, the Libs would walk it


Reporter Katie Razzall was recently given 10 minutes on Newsnight to explain why ‘uneducated’ voters had so rashly opted for Brexit and were more likely to vote Conservative or Ukip.

It was a classic example of the BBC’s rearguard action to champion liberal values and globalism, and to heap clichéd derision on the Leave side.

Katie, it should be first explained, has form in this arena.  Last June her Referendum Road reports, especially this, from Cornwall, were heavily skewed against Brexit. And of course, she works in a programme team heavily saturated with former Guardian journalists, such as Ian Katz, the editor.

Her ammunition now was a new YouGov poll which, she trumpeted, showed that (as she described) ‘outward looking, educated’ liberals were significantly less likely to vote Tory (and especially Ukip) than those with a degree.

In sharp contrast, the BBC as a whole this week virtually ignored another poll from YouGov, which showed strikingly that of the 48 per cent who voted Remain, only 22 per cent were sticking to that view – overall 68 per cent of the UK now wanted out.

But no matter. Katie had evidence in the other poll to attack Brexit, and she was jolly well going to use it.

First stop was Durham University where – in its refined surroundings – all but one of her highly articulate, educated, interviewees wanted out. They were given clear time and space to advocate that globalism and cultural diversity were the way forward, and at the same time, to stress that no-one had voted for a ‘hard’ Brexit.

Then it was a trip to the dark side. Up the North-East coast to the near-deserted fishing harbour at Sunderland, then to a deprived area of inner-city Tyneside. Here, among the Brexit, Ukip and Tory voters, Razzall edited a scramble of opinions about gloom, doom – and, of course, fear of immigration. Where else, in the BBC’s world, would such negativity towards it exist?

Lo and behold, in and among her deprived masses, was one woman who had gone to university and had dropped out. And guess what? To her, ‘fear’ – of course – was the reason why Britain had voted ’out’.

In fact, the YouGov poll was much more nuanced than Razzall made out.  Sixty per cent of those earning more than £70,000 a year intend to vote Tory, and even 40 per cent of those on under £20,000.  What does that say about contemporary Britain? Razzall and Newsnight weren’t interested.

And 17 per cent of those with ‘no formal qualifications’ will vote Ukip, compared to only four per cent of those with degrees. With Liberal Democrats, the figure is virtually reversed – 5 per cent against 19 per cent. Could that be because smoking cannabis is a university pastime? The Liberal Democrats’ ace policy card in this election, of course, is the legalisation of the drug.

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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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