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Nicholas Booth: The BBC’s leftist bias is endemic and risible. But it is also counterproductive


The BBC has a massive left wing bias, that permeates everything from comedy to Casualty. That’s actually working out rather well but how long can it last.

So, you think the BBC is biased? Fantastic isn’t it? Does your blood boil when the prejudices of some left-wing think-tank are reported as independent research? Good. Do you howl with rage when the same news-readers give a health warning to any research that Alastair Campbell wouldn’t approve? I’m glad to hear it. It may be painful now, but in the long run this BBC bias can only be good for the country.

As they say on TV, we’ll come back to that story later. But first, we should worry about the long-term future of the BBC. I don’t want the BBC to die. Yes, it’s been totally possessed. We should hate the ghouls that have taken over its body and are making it say all kinds of unreasonable things. But do we want Auntie Beeb to die in the exorcism?

Countless members of the cult that ruined the BBC are now confessing that they think things have gone too far. Having summoned broadcasting’s version of Beelzebub into the body of our national treasure, they seem to be getting nervous at the way things are going. Perhaps they can sense that the Beeb is destroying itself.

When Helen Boaden, the BBC’s former director of news, said her staff never took campaign groups like Migrationwatch seriously, she wasn’t gloating. I think it was a cry for help. Similar testaments of left wing bias have been made by scriptwriter Antony Jay, former north american editor Justin Webb, former correspondent Robin Aitken and veteran anchorman Peter Sissons.

Former Labour Party member Rod Liddle was one of the first to spot that the project was going wrong. It’s gone beyond left wing bias into “a sort of mimsy faux liberalism based on the economics of self interest,” testified the former editor of The Today programme.

It wouldn’t be so bad if this “mimsiness” was confined to news and current affairs. But in every form of light entertainment – from Casualty to comedy – it all seems to have gone a bit Kim Jong.

All sense of proportion seems to have been lost. Soap operas like East Enders and Casualty have an implicit anti-capitalist message, where all the  most odious characters are from the private sector. When the Radio Times describes the plot lines for a BBC show, the word ‘businessman’ is used as short hand for a mean spirited, selfish, shallow, borderline sociopath. The BBC doesn’t seem to follow its own diversity agenda because the businessman is inevitably a home counties middle aged white man.

Man-made disasters on BBC dramas are invariably the work of “a right wing terror group”. The comedy on the BBC is even more depressing. There are endless comedy quiz shows, but they all seem to employ the same ‘comics’ with the same depressingly narrow world view. So limited are their horizons that 95 per cent of each comedy show is a rant about the Daily Mail, a newspaper that only around three per cent of the population buys.

But the Daily Mail need not worry and neither should we worry about left wing bias. The marketing director of Associated Newspapers should be delighted with all the free mentions hispapers get on prime time TV and radio. You cannot buy that sort of publicity. If Russell Howard says he hates a Daily Mail story, that’ll make millions think about buying the paper and even more to view it online.

Similarly, whenever Medhi Hasan is allowed one of his unopposed rants on Question Time, his demeanour makes half the viewers wonder how they can oppose this fiend. Hasan probably does more to mobilise voters to the right than David Cameron and Nigel Farage.

The thing about one-sided arguments is that people instinctively side with the victim. Pantomimes usethis social dynamic, to whip up crowd sympathy for the hero, by denying them their voice and letting them being dominated by bullying buffoons. (Oh yes they do). In the age of Pantomime politics, we the audience can see through risible, shouty, protagonists like Owen Jones, Russell Brand and Penny Dreadful. In fact, we’re pretty insulted by them.

You can make anyone seem sympathetic if you bully them. The constant hectoring of conservatives onlywins them approval, I would argue. We audience members aren’t that stupid that we can’t see through these tactics after over a decade. Big Lies only have a limited shelf life.

The tactic of loading every Question Time audience, skewing every debate and turning our viewing pleasure into a propaganda opportunity is backfiring now. Arguably, the BBC’s decades old bias has become counter productive. Its prejudice is now so widely recognised, that nobody takes it seriously any more. Which is a shame, because I personally don’t want this uniquely funded institution to be ruined. I fear the eventual backlash against the BBC might be damaging. Call me sentimental, but I’m not sure I want the licence fee scrapped and our broadcasting heritage destroyed. It would be nice if it wasn’t possessed, but I hope the exorcism can be done without killing the patient.

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Nick Booth
Nick Booth
Nick Booth is a freelance writer.

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