Thursday, 28 May 2020
This morning I heard the news that the BBC Promenade Concerts will go ahead in virtual form with the last few days and especially the world renowned Last Night, live at the Albert Hall. The British Broadcasting Corporation has been part of British soft power for generations, spreading the news, informing the world and presenting an image of the United Kingdom as a bastion of tradition, morals, culture and statesmanship; something to be admired; something to aspire to.
But what must the world think now of the Britain the BBC portrays? Constant attacks on government when they should be bolstering the government's measures against the viral threat. Embracing the largely unwanted phenomenon of multiculturalism and repeatedly rubbing our noses in diversity. And in the case of the Proms, over the last few years using the last night as an occasion to indulge in EU propaganda with a sea of blue and gold flags where once only the red white and blue flew.
There is a rising tide of patriotism and nationalism which the BBC believes must be ignored, derided and side-lined. In the face of growing disquiet at what appears to be favourable embrace of islamic culture, the national broadcaster chooses to have a muslim as head of its religious programming. They have exercised discriminatory employment practices, rejecting applicants from white Britons in favour of brown people, regardless of competence. And it bangs the drum for every minority cause going.
Watch any political programme and you will see it stuffed with commentators who toe the approved line introduced as authoritative voices while those whose views veer even slightly away from leftist doctrine are invariably introduced with qualifiers such as ‘right wing activist’, or ‘hard right campaigner’, thus prejudicing the audience from the off. The left-wing talking heads are given respectful free reign to put across their point but woe betide the ‘Nazi’ who tries to complete a sentence.
George Orwell’s statue at Broadcasting House stands next to an inscription of his words: “If liberty means anything at all it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.” No doubt this is what the BBC thinks it is doing but it is about time the BBC itself faced up to some uncomfortable truths. The mealy-mouthed non apology following Emily Maitlis’s blatantly biased and judgmental introduction to Newsnight on Tuesday is indicative of an organ which, while pretending it is showing contrition, showed nothing of the kind.
I grew up with the BBC and until very recently I would defend its quality, its reach and, to some extent, its impartiality because no matter what it looks like the Beeb does believe it is impartial and frequently points to the fact that it receives flak from both left and right and so must be doing the right thing. The trouble is, though, it judges itself, it marks its own homework, and when people refer to the media bubble, that description practically defines the culture of the BBC. Orwell himself was critical of their groupthink even back then.
The Corporation is supposed to serve the country, not just those it believes hold the correct opinions. The licence fee is seen as an unfair tax on those who feel unfairly browbeaten by its agenda prone programming and especially unfair on those who have stopped watching altogether. In the light of some quite blatant ignoring of its guiding mission to inform, educate and entertain, maybe it is finally time to let the market decide.