Wednesday, November 14, 2012
Was the BBC’s blind hatred of Thatcher to blame for disastrous McAlpine smear?
Andrew Marr, a leading light of our national broadcaster, was quoted in this newspaper in October 2006 as saying: ‘The BBC is not impartial or neutral. It’s a publicly-funded, urban organisation with an abnormally large number of young people, ethnic minorities and gay people. It has a liberal bias, not so much a party-political bias. It is better expressed as a cultural liberal bias.’
If only the truth were so relatively harmless. The appalling false paedophile smear against Lord McAlpine, sparked by Newsnight last week, is but the latest – and most grotesque – manifestation of an anti-Tory culture in certain parts of the BBC.
And in Lord McAlpine’s case it wasn’t just that he was a Tory that had some BBC journalists slavering. It was that – as Conservative treasurer for 15 years until 1990 – he had been a close associate of Lady Thatcher.
Little wonder Newsnight pursued what they mistakenly thought was an accurate story about the peer with such relish – for the BBC’s institutional leftism is invisible only to the deaf and the blind. Even its last-but-one director general, Mark Thompson, told the left-wing New Statesman magazine in 2010 of the ‘massive’ left-wing bias of the Corporation.
It had had a ‘struggle’ to achieve impartiality, he said. He was speaking weeks after the election of a Tory-led coalition, at a time when he might have felt it politic to atone for the BBC’s sins, not least those committed during the 13 preceding years of Labour rule.
But in that interview, Mr Thompson put his finger on the key to the problem. The Corporation had, he said, been ‘mystified’ by the early years of the Thatcher government. Unfortunately, 30 years later, its mystification – by which he really means an inability to understand or accept Conservative values – still stands in the way of objective broadcasting, of the sort the licence-payer has a statutory right to expect.
In the Sixties and Seventies, the BBC was at the forefront of a movement to tear down traditional establishment values. But never did such a frontal assault on a democratically-elected Government – and the values it was put in office to promote – occur as when Mrs Thatcher was in office.
There were rumblings from Tory Central Office about the BBC’s election coverage in 1983 giving Labour an easier ride, and about the reporting of the 1984-85 miners’ strike.
But what really toxified the atmosphere between the Government and the Corporation was a scandal with remarkable parallels to what has unfolded in recent days, and culminated in the resignation of director general George Entwistle.
A 1984 Panorama programme, Maggie’s Militant Tendency, accused some Tory MPs of having links to the far-right and displaying Nazi sympathies (its title was of course an ironic nod to Labour’s Militant Tendency).
The programme – which was utterly discredited – culminated in a successful libel case by two of the MPs in 1986, followed by the sacking of the then director general, Alasdair Milne.
The problem was that the BBC at the time simply could not comprehend that most voters supported Mrs Thatcher’s efforts to tame the unions and sell off the nationalised industries to make them more efficient.
Ever since, anything that besmirches the memory, reputation or philosophy of Thatcherism – such as one of its leading lights allegedly, but incorrectly being a paedophile – has been seized on by elements of the BBC in an attempt to rewrite history and damage Conservatism.
However, the Corporation’s institutional leftism runs more widely and deeply even than this. It is debate over some of the most important and divisive issues in our political life – including the EU, climate change and multiculturalism – that has provoked, with much justification, the greatest charges of BBC bias. Mark Thompson has admitted that the BBC’s coverage of Europe has been ‘weak and nervous’. If only that was all it was. For the truth is that for decades the BBC has systematically treated anyone of a Eurosceptic persuasion as if they should be in a lunatic asylum.
As Greece, Spain and Italy head for the knacker’s yard, do we hear any apology from the BBC for the catastrophic misguidedness of that former Euro fanaticism? In terms of the environment, the BBC’s orthodoxy is that man-made global warming is indisputable, and anyone who questions it must also be an imbecile. This was confirmed by the distinguished former newsreader Peter Sissons.
He described the Corporation as ‘a propaganda machine for climate change zealots’, and added that ‘I was treated as a lunatic for daring to dissent’. The Left supports the man-made climate change theory because it allows it to attack capitalist industries that are allegedly destroying the planet: hence its attraction for the BBC.
When it comes to spiritual matters, the Corporation enthusiastically attacks Christianity but not Islam – because it fears an aggressive response to criticism. Such was its apparently blase approach to Christianity that it screened the irrevent musical Jerry Springer: The Opera in 2005, which led to 55,000 complaints about blasphemy.
In stark contrast, it runs ‘diversity workshops’ for staff to ensure they do not inadvertently cause ‘offence’ to potentially fractious minorities.
Its commitment to multiculturalism – a policy that even the Equality Commission no longer endorses – is such that in a country with an eight per cent ethnic minority population, it employs over 12 per cent of its staff from those minorities.
So much for the complaint by the former director general, Greg Dyke, that the Corporation was once ‘hideously white’. As for the Corporation’s world view – it has occasionally proved a little skewed to say the least. The BBC has held inquiries, and apologised, for its leftist reporting of the Israel/Palestine conflict. It had to say sorry when Barbara Plett, one of its Middle East correspondents, told how she cried as the Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat was dying.
The BBC’s innate anti-America bias has lessened during the Obama years, but when George W Bush was president it was palpable, and noticed in the US. In 2006, Justin Webb, now a Today presenter, but then the US correspondent, was so worried about the perception of bias that he sought the assistance of the then BBC deputy director general, Mark Byford, to broadcast stories that would help put the US in a better light.
If we were discussing Channel 4 or even ITV, these issues might not matter so much. But the BBC – partly thanks to its massive state subsidy – still maintains a position of trust at the centre of our society.
That’s why, when Cameron became Tory leader, one of his colleagues told me Tory policy would be tailored to ensure the party got a fair hearing on the BBC. It was proof of the Conservative party’s sensitivity to, and helplessness in the face of, the institutional leftism of the BBC – and it explains the party’s recent obsession with overseas aid and gay marriage.
That institutional leftism made the McAlpine smear possible. It put politics before journalistic standards. It has gone on too long and has now done serious damage. Whatever other qualities the next DG will need, an ability to eradicate this bias once and for all must be foremost among them.
The British elite are shameless
These payments are disgraceful
Lord Patten, the chairman of the BBC Trust, came under increasing pressure last night as it emerged he approved a £1.32 million severance package for George Entwistle, the former director-general.
Mr Entwistle, who resigned on Saturday night after just 54 days in the job, leaves with a £450,000 lump sum on top of his £877,000 pension pot, which was described as "unjustifiable and unacceptable" by one MP.
The BBC Trust said Mr Entwistle had been given a year's salary, which amounts to £8,333 for every day he spent as director-general, to "reflect the fact that he will continue to help the BBC business" by giving evidence to a series of inquiries into the Jimmy Savile affair and "to effect a speedy resolution and allow the BBC to move on".
John Whittingdale, the chairman of the Commons culture, media and sport committee, said licence fee payers would be "surprised" that he was being given so much after such a short tenure, while Philip Davies MP, who also sits on the committee, said it was "yet another reason" Lord Patten should resign.
Mr Entwistle quit after Newsnight was forced to issue an "unreserved" apology to Lord McAlpine after it broadcast a report wrongly accusing a senior Conservative of paedophilia, which led to the Tory peer being named online.
Lord Patten admitted yesterday that the very existence of Newsnight, which was already in crisis after it cancelled a film last year that would have exposed Jimmy Savile as a paedophile, was open to question.
Up to six senior executives are expected to follow Mr Entwistle out of the door once the findings of a series of internal reviews are published, throwing the leadership of the BBC even further into chaos. One MP suggested that only a "clear out" of the Trust and senior management would restore the faith in the corporation, while Philip Hammond, the Cabinet minister, suggested there would be "questions" over the future of the licence fee if the BBC failed to regain the public's backing.
As the hunt for a new director-general began, David Dimbleby, the Question Time host, told The Daily Telegraph that the Trust must appoint an outsider who was not "pickled in the culture" of bureaucracy that had "throttled" the BBC in recent years.
Lord Patten insisted yesterday that he would not be resigning, but admitted his job would be on the line if he could not restore people's "huge trust" in the BBC.
He said: "I think there are big issues which need to be tackled involving the BBC and .?.?. that's what I want to give my attention to."
But Mr Davies suggested that Mr Patten's position had become "untenable". He said: "He has been asleep at the wheel while he has been doing the job, he spent hundreds of thousands of pounds of licence-fee money appointing George Entwistle and 54 days later he is gone.
"The fact that he has approved a £450,000 payoff for him means his position has become farcical.
"This pay-off is totally unjustifiable, it's unacceptable, it's extraordinary and I suspect it's been done to save Lord Patten's bacon."
Gerry Sutcliffe MP, another member of the culture, media and sport committee, said the package was "symptomatic of the problems around the BBC", adding: "He has not had time to make an impact and to get that amount of money is ridiculous."
He suggested Mr Entwistle should "think twice" before accepting the money because it would "tarnish the spirit of his resignation".
Downing Street said that Lord Patten retained the support of the Prime
Minister, but that position is likely to change if he is criticised by any of the three BBC internal inquiries due to report back in December on Savile and sexual harassment.
In the week that BBC News celebrates its 90th birthday, Lord Patten said that the future of Newsnight was "one of the things we will be discussing" with the acting director-general, Tim Davie.
The Daily Telegraph has learnt that the Newsnight programme of Nov 2, in which a former care home resident wrongly claimed to have been abused by a senior Tory, was approved for transmission by one of the more junior members of the BBC's 12-man management board.
Although the BBC refused to say who had given the go-ahead for the film, the Telegraph has established that it was one of four executives: Lucy Adams, director of human resources, Zarin Patel, chief financial officer, Peter Johnston, director of BBC Northern Ireland, or Rhodri Talfan Davies, director of BBC Wales.
Mr Whittingdale said the executive who approved the Newsnight show would have to quit. "If George Entwistle was unaware of the programme, which he says he was, then clearly somebody below him took the decision that it was right to broadcast it," he said. "So potentially it may require other people to resign."
Government sources said up to five other BBC executives might also have to resign when the findings of the BBC's internal inquiries were made public.
Helen Boaden, the head of news, her deputy Steve Mitchell, Peter Rippon, the editor of Newsnight, and David Jordan, the head of editorial policy and standards, have already been tainted by last month's Savile revelations, while Adrian van Klaveren, who approved last week's Newsnight film as acting head of news, is in the dock over the latest fiasco.
The early front-runners for director-general include Caroline Thomson, the BBC's former chief operating officer, and Ed Richards, chief executive of Ofcom.
Writing in today's Daily Telegraph, John Simpson, the BBC's world affairs editor, calls for the creation of a new post of director-general in charge of journalism.
"What must not be allowed to happen is that a radical overhaul will produce more managers," he says. "Over-management has been a serious blight on the BBC since the 1980s."
Time for a thorough clean-out of the BBC
The resignation of George Entwistle should not be the end of the clean-up at the BBC. There has been more than one man involved in this affair.
It was bad enough for those of us who believe in the concept of public service broadcasting and who over the years have greatly admired much of the BBC's output of music, drama, humour and factual scientific programmes to see how the Eurocentric Left-of-centre Guardianstas established and entrenched their monoply over its political and current affairs output.
Then, as Thatcher dominated the political scene and to the fury of those Guardianistas won not only the Falklands War to liberate the islanders from the fascist junta but three general elections, their lofty disdain for conservatives began to turn int something much nastier. It became a visceral loathing and determination to see off not only Thatcher and her friends, but to exact a revenge upon both them and her.
Sometimes it is the small things that stick in one's mind about such things and I remember so well how the BBC initially refused to broadcast a party political broadcast unless I removed the subtitles which I had included for the benefit of the deaf. We could not be allowed to escape from the image they had created for us as hard unfeeling extremists. I simply told them that I would broadcast a blank tape, and they gave in.
Now, in the wake of the humiliation of a mangement exposed as having allowed Jimmy Savile to misuse the Corporation's premises, the BBC has been exposed in a scurrilous plan to smear the memory of Thatcher by smearing her confidant and Party Treasurer, implying that he was at the heart of a paedophile ring which extended to No. 10 .
Not only was the story totatly untrue. Anyone who knew Alistair MacAlpine would have known it to be untrue. But in a savage paroxysm of shame and rage they were in too much haste to check any of the allegations against him. Their professionalism was overwhelmed. They may have faled to report on what was going on just outside their office doors, but they were for sure not going to miss this story of Tory wickedness.
I should say that of course I knew that a number of people in the Conservative Party then, as now, who had easy access to No. 10 were not of my sexual orientation. Had I objected to that, or counselled the Prime Minister against it, I would have been labelled a bigot. Indeed I knew that one person had been the object of police enquiries which had failed to find grounds for any charge. Had I sought to exclude him I would certainly been the subject of a Guardianist BBC lynch mob, but I certainly made as sure as I could that nothing improper happened in Downing Street. Not that I think I need have worried whilst Dennis Thatcher was there.
In short, the BBC plot to smear Alistair and Margaret Thatcher was a disgrace that will lower the standingof the BBC until someone cleans out those responsible.
Perhaps the Chairman might restore his reputation and that of the BBC. Or perhaps not.
Brussels Bans ‘Offensive’ Christmas Tree For Muslims
The traditional Christmas tree will no longer be lit in downtown Brussels. Government officials in Brussels, Belgium banned Wednesday a popular Christmas tree exhibit out of concerns that the local Muslim population found it “offensive.”
An “electronic winter tree,” will take the place of the traditional Christmas Tree and Nativity scene at the city center of Grand Place, reports Brussels News.
The electronic sculpture will stand 25 meters (82 feet) tall and consists of a set of television screens, reports Brussels Expat. “During the daytime you can climb to the top of the tree where you will be able to enjoy a panoramic view of the city,” the website explains. “As soon as it becomes dark the tree turns into a spectacle of light and sound. Every ten minutes an amazing show will unfold.”
City councilwoman Bianca Debaets believes a “misplaced argument” over religious sensitivities has moved Brussels to put up the light sculpture. She points to the fact that it display not be referred to “Christmas” in any way to make her point.
“I suspect that the reference to the Christian religion was the decisive factor” in replacing the tree, she told reporters. “For a lot of people who are not Christians, the tree there is offensive to them.”
Many cities in Belgium have thriving Muslim populations. A 2008 study showed Muslims make up 25.5-percent of the population of Brussels, 3.9-percent of Flanders, and 4.0-percent of Wallonia.
Two Muslims elected to the Brussels city council last month have vowed to turn Belgium into a Muslim state based on Sharia law, as previously reported.
“Must a historic city like Brussels be sensitive to traditions? And should be a multi-religious city like Brussels not leave room for the individuality of every philosophy?,” Debaets asks.
Other city officials insists the move was not made to placate Muslims or other groups. Nicolas Dassonville, spokesman for Mayor Thielemans (PS), said the Nativity scene will remain at Grand Place
The tree’s sponsor, electricity generator Electrabel, made the move to put up the electronic sculpture this year, Dassonville said.
Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here.