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David Keighley’s BBC Watch: Let’s forget that Brown tried to do a deal with DUP ‘bigots’


The BBC has quickly found a new villain to kick. Is its next mission – after four years branding those who oppose immigration and especially Ukip as divisive racists – to tar the proud, family-oriented and genuinely conservative people of Northern Ireland as repressive monsters?

In coverage since the election results emerged, the Corporation is – in effect – demonising the majority of the population of part of the United Kingdom.

In the firing line of this calculated bias is the Democratic Unionist Party, which – despite the BBC’s unpleasant characterisation of them – is the cornerstone of peace and prosperity in the area.

Salvoes of disdain against the party were fired over the weekend in website stories and by presenters such as Emily Maitlis. In parallel, archive footage of ‘fundamentalist’ party founder Ian Paisley in the 1970s has been excavated, its alleged links with so called unionist terrorism have been emphasised, and the perceived anti-gay views of some of its members ruthlessly recycled and exaggerated.

Could this be also because the DUP – unlike the Tories, who failed to sort out the BBC despite its opportunity to do so – wants to abolish the BBC licence fee and hold a proper commission into how the Corporation is run and spends £4 billion of taxpayers’ money every year? That, of course, to the BBC, is the ultimate heresy.

It is also striking that in this systematic savaging of the DUP, the BBC are in lockstep with Jeremy Corbyn, now the Corporation’s do-no-wrong hero. He confirmed on the Andrew Marr Show his disdain for the values of the party.

But why wouldn’t he? It’s payback time against an old enemy for a man who from the minute he entered Parliament gave abundant outward appearances of supporting the IRA’s murderous tactics on mainland Britain and in the Province.

Exhibit A in this huge new BBC bias against the people of Northern Ireland is this exchange (spotted and extracted by Craig Byers of Is the BBC Biased?) between Emily Maitlis and Greg Barker (now Baron Barker of Battle)in a special edition of BBC2’s Newsnight:

EM: I’m just hearing from Nick Watt that the DUP may align itself with the Conservative Party in a confidence and supply arrangement. Would that suit you?
GB: I think that would be ideal.
EM: So you would not mind, and there would be many people, Conservative voters and wider voters, who say the DUP represents everything that Theresa May meant when she talked about a Nasty Party.
GB: They are certainly not our allies of choice. Personally, I would prefer to do a deal with the Lib Dems. We actually had a strong and stable coalition with the Lib Dems for five years, but that’s not on the cards. So I think…what is the alternative? The alternative would be handing the keys to Jeremy Corbyn.
EM: We are looking at the party that is homophobic, that doesn’t really believe in climate change, that talks about creationism.
GB: Sure, and I abhor all of those things…
EM: I mean, that could drag the party backwards, couldn’t it?

To Maitlis, the only issue worth exploring about the DUP is the espousal of conservative values she and the Corporation most abhor. Oh, and gosh! – in the BBC’s lexicon, the ultimate crime (bracketed now with Donald Trump) – they don’t really believe in climate change. And is ‘creationism’ how the BBC now regards Christianity?

Exhibit B (with thanks again to Craig Byers) is this BBC website story. It’s an unpleasant hatchet job. Centre stage in the party assassination is a tweet by the lefty Channel 4 News presenter Jon Snow, who declared:

“One of the most extreme political entities in the British Isles…is to wag the tail of Mrs May’s minority Government.”

Then with more vitriol comes another tweet, from Guardian deputy editor Paul Johnson:

-Climate deniers
– Anti-abortion
– Anti LGBT rights
– Pro-Brexit
And May says will govern for all nation.’

The scene thus set, the BBC’s own opinions follow: the party has a ‘devout climate change denier’ who was once the Province’s environment minister; another party figure dares to believe that human life was created by God; much to the chagrin of Elton John, someone in the hierarchy did not know that heterosexual people could contract HIV; and (most heinous crime of all?) the party supported Brexit, and ‘was the most Eurosceptic party in the UK before the ascent of Ukip’.

Boo! But conspicuously missing from this charge sheet is that in 2010, after Gordon Brown lost the then general election, his Northern Ireland Secretary Shaun Woodward – in an effort to thwart the formation of the Conservative coalition – offered the DUP an ‘economic package’ to secure DUP support.

All this illustrates that in the BBC’s mindset, the highest sin is the espousal and defence of anything the Corporation sees as anti-liberal. Yet Northern Ireland, despite its bloody history, is now a transformed place where civilised values are the core of civic life. The DUP is the Province’s majority party and is an expression of those values.

(Image: fotologic)

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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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