Tony Benn

Well I hope you didn’t miss the BBC’s sanctification of Tony Benn on Friday. No worries if you did, the ritual was still carrying on through yesterday morning. And for sure plenty more opportunities will found by the BBC  today, tomorrow and over the next weeks to give over more airtime to this oh so important and worthy man.

I predict further documentaries and belated filmed obituaries. Just in case the BBC haven’t rubbed his sainthood in enough yet.

From the moment his death was announced on Friday’s Today programme through to lunch time on Saturday the BBC missed not an opportunity to discuss him.  It would have been non stop but for the mystery of the missing Malaysian air liner.

Presented as a towering political figure, you had to wonder why he never made it to PM – or even to Labour party leader.  Back in the 1960s, 70s and 80s I personally thought he was a bit of a mad eccentric. Never mind, according to the Beeb, he was in the forefront of modern technology; he was not just a socialist but because of his socialism a man of superior integrity and morality.  He was the political icon of the 20th century. No adjective was too good to be repeated enough, by enough people, enough times.

We post global financial collapse dimwits should have listened to him. He single-handedly would have banned the banking industry and prevented global financial collapse. Umm.

For any innocent foreigner listening in, no, Tony Benn did not run the country, not even his own party. He had something to do with taking the Queen’s head off postage stamps. Nor, I should explain, has he gone down in history as the man who should have been listened to and all would have well.

In fact most people think it would have been an awful lot worse – that he was wrong on just about everything.  Not that you’d know that from the BBC.

The same people wheeled out to demonise Lady Thatcher (who did save the nation’s economy and restore its pride), when she died, were given the airwaves last week to praise and pay tributes to Saint Tony;  all courtesy of the wonderful impartial BBC.

Token Conservative commentators were trapped. They were damned if they did and damned if they didn’t pay their respects to this ‘great and iconic figure’. So lined up behind the likes of Tam Dalyell, and George Galloway of Respect, poor Mr Cameron was forced to be polite.

He could not question either this BBC ‘carry on’ or the man – a man, Mr Cameron must also think, who would have been a worse disaster for the country than Michael Foot.

Yet I did not even hear the BBC call Tony Benn ‘controversial’ once. You would think the nation, in its entirety, agreed with his left-wing bonkers ideology.

Controversial of course was the label the BBC so determinedly pinned on Lady Thatcher, the minute she died, even though she was a hugely popular woman voted in by both her party and her country. That aspersion – that she caused conflict and was hated – and the platform the BBC provided to those gloating that ‘the witch was dead’ are, sadly, what stand out about the BBC’s immediate response to her death. The contrast with Tony Benn is stark. But no doubt the BBC think they are justified.

However if they don’t deem Tony Benn controversial – certainly he never provoked real debate beyond left-wing intellectuals – what exactly is the BBC’s excuse for 36 hours of unadulterated adulation?

They have none. What the BBC has is a default position – a Guardian/Mirror left-wing one – on everything. Tony Benn is a hero of this world. He was the sort of socialist that nominal, Holland Park residing, but sentimental left-wing liberals genuflect to. It puts them on a moral high ground despite their own lifestyles.

It is also a sanctimonious, hypocritical and rather unpleasant bubble that too many BBC grandees, editors and journalists inhabit. It needs bursting.

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