Right-wing bias and the BBC


1:26 pm - August 29th 2009

by David Semple    


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Sunny highlights an interesting article in the recent New Statesman, by Mehdi Hasan, which argues that far from being biased towards the Left, the BBC is pro-Establishment.

What Sunny doesn’t highlight is the ‘twin’ of this article, written by Peter Hitchens, which attempts to refute the contentions of Hassan, asserting instead that of course the BBC is left-wing, though BBC bigwigs are unlikely to notice it, having never questioned their own assumptions in their journey from Oxbridge junior common rooms to White City.

Because the Oxbridge universities are such a bastion of socialism. Beyond such absurdities, however, I think the Hitchens article is much more instructive than its Hasan counterpart. The Hitchens article is mostly waffle, rarely reaching for examples which can be said to encompass the whole of BBC political, social and cultural coverage – whereas the previous allegiances of people like Andrew Neil and Nick Robinson probably do have an effect on coverage – but to dismiss Hitchens is to miss an incisive and important point.

“What troubles the BBC is not a party bias. (…) It is a set of potent cultural, moral, social, sexual and religious assumptions, which touch on all topics from cannabis to the EU, and which affect everything from the plot-lines of The Archers to the use of the metric system on nature programmes.”


A set of potent cultural, moral, social, sexual and religious assumptions. Hitchens is absolutely correct – but then the same is true about every individual and every organisation. It’s not a big deal that Hitchens is correct; it is his choice of words to describe the nature of BBC assumptions. I can feel the hairs on my neck rise as I wonder what he means by ’sexual assumptions’. I can almost see the accumulated and vengeful anger of social conservatism reaching out from dead years gone by to strangle all the social change feared and resented by white, Anglican, men.

To some extent, I think, here is the key to the “BBC-is-biased” meme. Amongst the wider population and probably even amongst the Conservative Party, social conservatism is in a minority. Not to say even those who describe themselves as social liberals will voice respect for the Anglican church and other touchstones of the Establishment – but it is generally accepted that women should be equal to men, that gay relationships deserve parity with ’straight’ relationships and that Christianity will just have to coexist with Islam, atheism and a majority who aren’t bothered.

Hitchens’ views on gender equality I can’t speak for – though his moralising over how women who are raped while drunk deserve less compensation surely speaks volumes. On the rest though, Hitchens definitely is a dinosaur – so much so that he has openly stated that he thinks most of Cameron’s policies are indistinguishable from New Labour and that a new political party needs to be set up. I recite all of this in the hope of proving incontrovertibly that Hitchens is in a very small minority, and to correct BBC ‘bias’ in his favour would be unacceptable.

If the rest of the population has pretty much come to terms with gay marriage and doesn’t really care about organised religion anymore, beyond a vague belief in god, surely these are the core assumptions which the BBC should reflect? What Hitchens calls the ‘permissive society’, most people call a Saturday night. And that may be deplorable or not, it may be harmful to society or not, but you can’t attack the BBC for being the preserve of one political strand in the hope that it will simply become the mouthpiece for another, even less representative, one.

Of course the BBC will seem biased to such people. Speaking as a revolutionary Marxist, I think the BBC seems biased towards a parliamentarist approach, or biased towards the government (any government) against trades unions or biased in a plethora of other ways – but at least I can recognize that I’m in a tiny minority of people and don’t expect the BBC to conform to my views of the world as of right. I do wish Radio 4 wouldn’t give Melanie Phillips an airing, because she’s a moron – but then the same goes for most journalists, especially the thousand anodyne CiFers.

The small group of social conservatives in the media who regularly whinge from their bully-pulpits that the BBC is left-wing have absolutely zero chance of ever rolling back the calendar. They are screaming nutters – Hitchens on Blair’s ’slow motion coup d’etat’, Phillips calling Barack Obama a ‘revolutionary Marxist’, Littlejohn on gay people going door to door ‘like Jehovah’s witnesses’ – they aren’t in any way in touch with what passes for truth (or reality) for most of the population and even large swathes of the politicized Right.

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David Semple is a regular contributor. He blogs at Though Cowards Flinch.
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Reader comments


This might seem rather inappropriate at first, but consider philosopher Slavoj Zizek’s views on the film The Matrix;

“it is one of the films which function as a kind of Rorschach test … practically every orientation seems to recognize itself in it? My Lacanian friends are telling me that the authors must have read Lacan; the Frankfurt School partisans see in the Matrix the extrapolated embodiment of Kulturindustrie, the alienated-reified social Substance (of the Capital) directly taking over, colonizing our inner life itself, using us as the source of energy; New Agers see in the source of speculations on how our world is just a mirage generated by a global Mind embodied inthe World Wide Web.”

The point he is making is that everyone sees in The Matrix what they see of the world themselves. With the BBC it is slightly reversed. In the BBC everyone sees in it what they tend to villify. Rev Marxists say its pro-parliamentary, the BNP say its liberal elite, pro-Palestinians say it is pro-Israel, pro-Israelis say it is pro-Palestine etc etc. The BBC is the perfect Rorschach test. What if this proved that secretly the BBC was textbook non-partisan for this very reason.

Incidentally, does anyone not find it interesting that since Nick Cohen (pissed!)poured scorn on Peter Hitchens at the George Orwell Awards shortlist for not being brave enough like Martin Bright who wrote rightist polemic in leftist media organs. The Hitchens article that the above entry points out is written in the staggers. Perhaps Hitchens took heed?

The reason why the hardcore social conservatives keep getting away with crap, while the liberal-left bends over to accommodate them is also captured in the article:

“The left always feel faintly embarrassed at attempting to promote their own political agenda,” says Steven Barnett, professor of communications at Westminster University, “and since the 1980s have consistently failed to bang the drum about the issues on which they might equally be able to pillory the BBC – for example, human rights abuses and the failure to regulate corporate greed.” Barnett believes that allegations of bias are a concerted attempt by the right to “discredit any journalism with which they disagree and to promote a political agenda which is more consistent with their own”. Liberals such as Marr, he says, feel “slightly guilty about their own liberalism” – unlike those on the right, such as Randall, who feel no such guilt.

This bit is spot on. It is supreme irony that people like Jeff Randal’s word is believed when he says the BBC is one big liberal-left conspiracy, but people don’t ask what the hell he, Jeremy Clarkson, Nick Robinson, Matt Frei, Melanie Phillips, Andrew Neil, Portillo etc are doing there.

How does one quantify guilt? Anyone here feel guilty about being liberals? Surely the idea that liberals feel guilty about being liberals is just cover for rather than cause of not doing anything to shout down our conservative opponents?

Read the new list of Top 100 Conservative Blogs: the admixture of racism and prejudice, blatant refusal to look facts in the face and cowardice when this is pointed out (a thousand times Nadine Dorries), attempts to rape British history for sticks with which to beat the Left (most of which – such as co-opting Thomas Rainborough – would be laughed out of the room by most academics) not to mention plain meanness (a thousand times Donal Blaney). Surely this would make any liberal angry enough to beat their own war drums, whatever position they might hold?

Surely this would make any liberal angry enough to beat their own war drums, whatever position they might hold?

But they don’t right, that’s the problem. People on the liberal-left are still too afraid to even put forward and stick to a position of their own. Most of the time it’s all about ‘balance’ and letting the other side get a hearing. So that means you get right-wingers beating us with a stick and left-wingers beating each other with a stick.

Just take Dan Hannan as an example. Not only on the hard-right but also ignorant of the things he keeps spouting (Next Left blog has lots of examples). And yet when you attack that and point it out, you still get lefties saying perhaps we’re being too harsh on the guy and we shouldn’t get too obsessed by him. The same happened with Nadine Dorries. (Blaney is irrelevant).
Instead we’re encouraged to stick to long policy discussions where we can expound on why the right are stupid, and the world carries on ignoring us.

Can you point out examples of where influential Lefties have said that we’re being too harsh on Daniel Hannan, and can you then draw the line from there to how this gives the Right the upper hand?

Jeez, this is a silly debate. From even a cursory inspection of the BBC’s recruitment adverts it doesn’t demand that applicants are neutral, but that they ensure their output “reflects the diversity of the community” and “maintain professional journalistic standards of accuracy, impartiality and fair dealing.”

The question of the particular balance shown is always up for question, therefore critics who percieve any bias are merely expressing their displeasure that their own prejudices aren’t being given the corporation’s authoritative backing.

And while I’m being balanced it is worth pointing out that in the debate over climate change, for example, the Beeb was justifiably criticised for giving undue weight to climate change deniers in the face of the overwhelming burden of scientific evidence (although this did force a closer inspection of the terms of definition).

So, although a complaint of imbalance may be fairly levelled if shown to be true, all accusations of partisan bias are inherently flawed and anyone who makes them actually show themselves up as ignorant and foolish partisan hacks.

Or you could take the view that far from being a refutation of Hasan’s article, Hitchens is essentially in agreement with him in that the assumptions Hitchens detects in the BBC’s output reflect mainstream, establishment opinion. On issues of identity, diversity and cultural relativism, the BBC, NuLabour and even strands of Tory policy (allegedly) converge and so largely constitute establishment thinking. This I’m assuming is a generational thing…Oxford PPE courses, for example, taken by those who now inhabit the BBC hierarchy and the upper eschelons of the mainstream political parties and, above all, the quangocrats, absorbed the fuzzy relativist mindset so favoured by fucked up postmodernist thinkers.

Where, for me at least, Hitchens analysis falls down is ascribing these biases to the ‘Left’. Personally I still view the Left as the old school Labour Party, primarily devoted to economic equality and the interests of the working class. I’m not implying the old Left were not sympathetic to such causes as equality in terms of culture, race, gender or sexuality, on the contrary it was instinctively supportive but within a wider framework in which economic equality and social justice embraced all these concerns.

Hitchens now regards the Left as the self identified progressive strand within New Labour whose only tenuous claim to Left wing affiliation consists solely in their advocacy of identity politics; they need at least a minimal claim to a progressive stance since they cling to free market economics, an authoritarian stance on civil liberties (ie. rip up the lot) and a blind adherence to US military and foreign policy concerns. This new ‘Left’ stands in relation to the Old School Left as 50 cent stands in relation to NWA, namely: the distorted, trashy, opportunistic appropriation of a serious message.

I realise this is not a popular opinion with so called Left-Liberals, who instinctively regard themselves as anti-establishment and somehow radical. But I think they have to eventually acknowledge that unless they return to a politics which actively supports the whole working class, they are little more than useful idiots for a corporate state devoted to a flexible casual workforce (ie. no employment or pension rights, marginalisation of organised Labour and the denial of a political voice). While they pursue their relativist utopia, the working class has been ignored and basically shat upon.

I’m not sure I agree with the author’s identification of social conservatism with “White, Anglican Man” either. For a start, who the fuck is “White, Anglican Man”? I never meet him. For another, there is surely at least as large a strain of social conservatism among ethnic and particularly recent immigrant groups as anywhere else. I genuinely didn’t understand this bit. Is “White, Anglican Man” the polite, middle-class version of White Van Man?

thomas – of course people like me are partisan. How can you even doubt that by now? I wear my leftie credentials on my sleeve. Jeez.

Dave: Can you point out examples of where influential Lefties have said that we’re being too harsh on Daniel Hannan, and can you then draw the line from there to how this gives the Right the upper hand?

Not in the MSM but plenty of comments on here and on other blogs saying we’ve been too harsh on Hannan.

How does this give the right an upper hand? Here’s how. Assume a rough political centre over an issue. The right-wingers keep expounding hard-right views on the issue with a few moderates saying pleasant things while also promoting their hard-right wingnuts. For example, Iain Dale as the ‘moderate, progressive’ face of the Tories keeps promoting and cajoling wingnuts like Hannan, Donal Blaney and Dorries.

If lefties, rather than expounding what is a left-wing position and why, and sticking to that, end up moving to the centre for reasons of balance. Over time, the political centre moves right-wards because the meeting point between the two sides isn’t at the centre but on the centre-right.

The most clear example of this perhaps is how the Democrats in the US keep losing the debate on big issues, and even now over healthcare. There is the liberal wing of course but you have a bunch of ‘blue dog’ democrats who in the interests of balance or because they’re fiscally conservative, end up giving cover to the right.

The principle applies to the UK too, where there’s far too many people on the left busy fighting with each other than with the right.

#8: “the assumptions Hitchens detects in the BBC’s output reflect mainstream, establishment opinion.”

Consider the series of events that followed the early morning interview with Andrew Gilligan on the BBC Today Programme in late March 2003 – which I listened to – when Gilligan suggested that the public claims made by the government about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction might not be true.

Dr David Kelly, the supposed source of the leak about the claims, committed suicide – if he did. Gillgan was obliged to resign his post as BBC Defence Correspondent and Greg Dyke resigned as BBC Director General.

The allied forces in Iraq never did find WMD in Iraq after the invasion. Anyway, from this secret memo of 23 July 2002, Blair knew that the claims were phoney when he published the infamous dossier on Iraq’s Weapons of Mass Destruction at a special session of Parliament held on 24 September 2002:

“C [that’s the head of MI6, Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service] reported on his recent talks in Washington. There was a perceptible shift in attitude. Military action was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy.”
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article387374.ece

However, the BBC does its best to maintain a detached, critical stance. Try, for instance, Adam Curtis’s docs on BBC2 such as: The Power of Nightmares (Part 1/3)
http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=2798679275960015727

#9

Oh come off it! Reflecting mainstream opinion is not the same as rolling over and playing NuLab’s bitch. I’m more on the case of the drama / children’s output. I don’t see that news output is relevant in this case. Anyhow the BBC pre Kelly and post Kelly are two different animals…if it wasn’t a bitch before (Paxman aside) it’s certainly been desexed in the aftermath.

I’d throw back Waterloo Road at you, Eastenders, any number of those Hospital/ Police drama abominations. The BBC does identity…NULab do identity. Channel4 went out on a limb and were clobbered by West Midland Police…the message is clear…identity is where it’s at. Keeps the working class divided…provides untold employment potential for middle-class arts/ diversity graduates…and buys NuLab votes by tossing the ethnic communities/ special interest groups/ single issue nuts the odd bone.

See, they’ve even got me using their fuckin terminology…”ethnic communities”…just how presumptuous, patronising and value laden is that phrase? It’s pernicious, divisive, taking over and destroying independent thought. Look at education FFS!

Maybe it’s just me but I can’t help thinking that however much the Mail, Express and Telegraph might fulminate, there’s a whole gang of capitalist scum out there looking on benignly and rubbing their hands. Why wouldn’t they. This stuff is mainstream and…irony of ironies…it only leaves the scattered remnants of the old left and the BNP (FFS) looking like radical alternatives opposing what are now the forces of reaction: ie the identity brigade.

“However, the BBC does its best to maintain a detached, critical stance.”

Anyway…to be fair…if the BBC hadn’t raised hell over the entire Iraq debacle and maintain a “detached, critical stance” then how would it differ from a “ministry of information”. The dogs in the street knew the whole thing was rotten to the core But in terms of social policy and comment, just how is the BBC anything but a loyal slave to the prevailing, relativist, cultural studies department influenced mainstream?

Sorry, going off-topic, but…

Sunny:
– “there’s far too many people on the left busy fighting with each other than with the right.”

Is it being entirely facetious to reply, well, hasn’t that *always* been the case?

More seriously, it’s certainly yet another reason I’m in favour of independence for Scotland – England (and possibly bits of Wales now, too) *is* more right-wing overall than we are, and I remember the Thatcher era all too well.

But if/when Scotland does wave goodbye, what on earth are ye southern liberals/leftists/’spartist tendency’ folk going to do without the Scottish ‘left’ votes?

You’re lucky the tories are completely addicted to unionist ideology – if they were prepared to play a longer game, they could have you lot in a very deep hole for a long time to come…

ok, apologies for the interruption, back to the (far too frequently aired) “The BBC is biased, no it’s not, you smell, well you stink” debate…

#12

#ok, apologies for the interruption, back to the (far too frequently aired) “The BBC is biased, no it’s not, you smell, well you stink” debate…#

Yeah…good point Mr Socialist…you preserve your purity and take refuge in your petty nationalist fantasies. FFS, you couldn’t make this stuff up.

#what on earth are ye southern liberals/leftists/’spartist tendency’ folk going to do without the Scottish ‘left’ votes?#

I’m guessing a lot better without a left that rejects any vestige of unity in favour of a Tartan themepark idyll and has swapped economic justice for wrangling over who exactly gets control of the oil. What’s your name, McEsso? Tell you what matey, while you’re still part of the ‘union’ and theoretically still eligible to participate in the “you smell, well you stink debate”, what you gonna do when we divert the pipeline and bring it ashore in Newcastle? Send out the “Scottish Navy” to intervene? What would that be…two guys in a coracle in traditional highland attire, munching shortbread and singing the Skye Boat Song…or Muriel Gray on a jetski?

Do me a favour…either accept the smug, small-minded nationalist tag and drop your leftish pretentions or go away.

Dear monkeyfish,

I can only apologise for my appalling ignorance.

Your arguments are overwhelming in their magnificence and splendour.

My political philosophy has been laid waste by your devastating insights.

I can only bow my head in shame that I could ever have been so foolish.

From now on, I shall let you, the blessed monkeyfish be my only guide to truth and wisdom…

…to quote the immortal Father Jack, “I’m so, so, sorry”.

Cheers,
Andy

Monkeyfish @ 13

” what you gonna do when we divert the pipeline and bring it ashore in Newcastle? Send out the “Scottish Navy” to intervene? What would that be…two guys in a coracle in traditional highland attire, munching shortbread and singing the Skye Boat Song…or Muriel Gray on a jetski?”

What kind of jest is this? How likely is such a senario? Perhaps 12.15 on a Saturady night is not the best time to post, eh?

I get the feeling monkeyfish has just found LC and decided to let us know what left-wing opinions are and how everyone else is a traitor and a bastard etc etc.

Andy: Is it being entirely facetious to reply, well, hasn’t that *always* been the case?

Yes, and it’s time to realise it’s got us nowhere at all.

But if/when Scotland does wave goodbye, what on earth are ye southern liberals/leftists/’spartist tendency’ folk going to do without the Scottish ‘left’ votes?

Emigrate to Scotland.

“Emigrate to Scotland.”

I reckon that if the SNP put up candidates in English constituencies at the forthcoming election, it could win a handsome number of seats.

@17, even better, the kind of ignorant English-nationalists who get excised about Scotland are normally Tory voters, so it’d reduce the size of the bastards’ majority next time round.

Emigrate to Scotland?

But English people already are, in ever-increasing numbers. I’ve never known so many people talking about moving to Scotland. In 25 years time, Scotland will be the new England.

“From now on, I shall let you, the blessed monkeyfish be my only guide to truth and wisdom…”

Glad you’ve seen the light.

But seriously, how can you claim to be of the left while simultaneously rubbing your hands at the thought of a nationalist breakaway? I’m a vegetarian…the bacon sandwich I just finished was gorgeous…etc

“I get the feeling monkeyfish has just found LC and decided to let us know what left-wing opinions are and how everyone else is a traitor and a bastard etc etc.”

Nope…just don’t approve of nationalist movements…did that come across in my post?

“What kind of jest is this? How likely is such a senario? Perhaps 12.15 on a Saturady night is not the best time to post, eh?”

OK…it might be a bit far fetched…don’t even know if Muriel Gray can jetski…but she can always take lessons.
Actually, I can even understand why Scotland might want independence (not that I approve… I can see that freeing yourself from the grip of the kind of chinless, public-school Tory twats who’ll be assaulting us with their plummy vowel sounds as they announce a new raft of ‘Welfare Reform’ and privatisation of air or thought or speech or whatever has a certain appeal) but I don’t happen to think it’s the answer.

Mind, you’ve probably got a point re.12.15 on a Saturday night.

@21
“chinless, public-school Tory twats who’ll be assaulting us with their plummy vowel sounds”

Isn’t that so characteristic of classical lefties. They condemn prejudice, but regularly, repetitively and tediously express their own prejudices. Speaking with a certain accent is reprehenisble and invalidates what the speaker expresses. Being micrognathic is also, for some reason, reprehensible. Ruth Sheen, one of Mike Leigh’s regular actresses, is noticeably micrognathic. Does that make her a tory?

Nice bit of po-faced concern trolling there, trofim.

If pointing out inconsistencies in the behaviour of certain others is trolling, then I must be a troll. You don’t think it is useful for individuals to reflect on the assumptions which underly their verbal behaviour? Who knows, I may, for genetic reasons, have a small chin myself. And perhaps I myself speak with an accent which has been responded to with disapprobation in the past. We should all be alert to accentism, and naked mandibularism.

““chinless, public-school Tory twats who’ll be assaulting us with their plummy vowel sounds”

“Isn’t that so characteristic of classical lefties. They condemn prejudice, but regularly, repetitively and tediously express their own prejudices.”

Good point. Consider me suitably chastised. It was unforgiveable of me.

These unfortunates will have battled leftish derision and ignorant stereotyping in stoically enduring public schools, the living hell of a three year stint at Oxford, the agonising uncertainty of waiting to see if daddy’s contacts can wangle them an internship at Tory central office then the long weeks of soul destroying networking to ensure a safe seat and their eventual rise to power. The last thing they need as they selflessly wield the axe through the welfare state and NHS is a smartarsed, able jawed lefty with the inevitable chip on his shoulder pointing out that they talk a bit like Terry Thomas.

My God…it’s enough to put anybody off a vocation in right-wing politics. Sometimes I just don’t know how they cope.

Maybe they could set up a support group so they can share their experiences with fellow sufferers? I did hear of one…can’t quite recall the name…the Bullingdon ‘project’ or something where likeminded victims of left-wing prejudice could come together in an atmosphere of mutual healing and trust. I bet those Trotskyist scum at NuLabour have removed their public subsidy but somehow, they’ll struggle on…what alternative do they have.

Anyway Trofim…thanks for pointing out my hypocrisy…rest assured I’m off to the whip cupboard right now to start my flagellation.

Trofim @ 22

“Speaking with a certain accent is reprehenisble and invalidates what the speaker expresses.”

Hence the term ‘Gorbals Mick’

25. Shatterface

‘This might seem rather inappropriate at first, but consider philosopher Slavoj Zizek’s views on the film The Matrix’

Not inappropriate at all, and while I’ve no time for Zizek and his Lacanian twaddle, what he’s describing here is basic polysemy. The more complex a communication is, the more it is open to divergent readings that tell us more about the viewer than the text itself.

It’s a characteristic of the authoritarian personality that they always seek out the most offensive interpretation (to themselves) and to insist that this interpretation is ‘overdetermined’ (i.e. over-rules all others).

Nice bit of po-faced concern trolling there, trofim.

These right-wingers have no sense of humour…

Sunny,
“of course people like me are partisan. How can you even doubt that by now? I wear my leftie credentials on my sleeve.”

So which party are you a partisan for?

‘The Left’ might be a party in Germany, and you’d obviously be a Democrat in a US context, but I can’t tell from that description which party you’ve committed yourself to in the country where you vote.

So which party are you a partisan for?

I’m not partisan for a party, I’m a partisan for left-wing movements, ideas, policy and people.

I’ve attacked right-wing Labour MPs plenty of times. Here’s an explanation that may explain more:
http://www.pickledpolitics.com/archives/5620

Thomas @29:

Certainly in dealings with me, Sunny has always seemed a Labour supporter. I’ve occasionally been known to complain about it, on the grounds that Labour != left, or liberal, these days.

Sunny,
you’re clearly linguistically challenged.

If you’re partisan for something other than a party then you’re not partisan.

If you’re supportive of a broad set of principles which you describe as ‘left’ then in order to allow you to be consistent you need to be clearer about what those underlying principles are.

Until then you will remain open to questions over how far you are prepared to go to justify unjustifiable courses of action, and it would be dishonest to avoid accounting for the discrepant interpretations.

The case of the invasion of Iraq is relevant here, as it was justified variously by the ‘left’ as overthrowing an authoritarian military despot, spreading democracy and reducing the threat of terror – laudable aims I’m sure you’ll agree, so how do you critisise the invasion from the ‘left’ when the ‘left’ supported the invasion on these grounds?

What I’m suggesting is that the illusory terms of ‘left’ and ‘right’ are fraudulent means of subverting the aims associated with them and that anyone who uses them with as much abandon as you do should be treated with a massive dose of scepticism – every time I hear them used I think the person using them is harming the quality of public debate and hindering a beneficial solution.

Use of such divisive terms is the prime cause of public mistrust in our political machinery, so in fact you are as much of a cause of the problem as you think you are able to supply the solution.

31. monkeyfish

“If you’re partisan for something other than a party then you’re not partisan.

If you’re supportive of a broad set of principles which you describe as ‘left’ then in order to allow you to be consistent you need to be clearer about what those underlying principles are.”

Liberal Conspiracy (incorporating Pedants’ Corner)

You really ought to make that clear Sunny…I’m sure there’s a whole army of right-wing, anal smart arses out there who don’t even realise there’s a site where they can come and sneeringly correct left-wingers’ grammar and vocabulary then sit back and feel superior. You’d be providing a valuable public service.

This is a far better article than the NS one; the author of which does not appear familiar with the concept of the exception that proves the rule.

33. Adam Hibbert

“I recite all of this in the hope of proving incontrovertibly that Hitchens is in a very small minority, and to correct BBC ‘bias’ in his favour would be unacceptable.”

Yes, ‘unacceptable’ to you and other embubbled Guardian reading elitists. On the hand it would be perfectly acceptable to a great many people who don’t like to read your little leftist rag and who are rather tired of being spoken for by the likes of Michael Hestletine presented as ‘conservatives’ on Guardian-radio and TV. When Hitchens was allowed a brief conservative interruption in the BBC airwaves on question time a few weeks ago his remarks on grammar schools (and on every other subject) received a thunderous applause from the audience. Though his views on some issues (such as ADHD, evolution and sexual morality) may be in a minority, his views on crime, immigration, and education are widely held among the population at large, even though they remain a minority in our political class. Though it may seem amazing to Guardian readers, there are lot of people who actually dislike the fact that their neighbourhoods have been transformed in the space of a few years by unbridled immigration. Similarly, there are thousands of parents without the money to educate their children privately, who despair at having to send their children to the indisciplined chaos of the local comprehensive school. There are still millions who who feel oppressed by the high levels criminal violence and angry that much of this crime and disorder goes unpunished. If you want to think such people are just ‘screaming nutters’ that’s fine, but it only shows how utterly disconnected you are with the concerns of most of your fellow citizens. Rather sad for someone who is supposed to be interested in politics.

monkeyfish@25:
“These unfortunates will have battled leftish derision and ignorant stereotyping in stoically enduring public schools, the living hell of a three year stint at Oxford, the agonising uncertainty of waiting to see if daddy’s contacts can wangle them an internship at Tory central office then the long weeks of soul destroying networking to ensure a safe seat and their eventual rise to power. The last thing they need as they selflessly wield the axe through the welfare state and NHS is a smartarsed, able jawed lefty with the inevitable chip on his shoulder pointing out that they talk a bit like Terry Thomas.”

I think I like you. 🙂

(combative attitude aside)

“at least I can recognize that I’m in a tiny minority of people and don’t expect the BBC to conform to my views of the world as of right”

David Semple,

You are seriously deluded if you think that your brand of revolutionary Marxism is comparable in popularity to the views of someone Peter Hitchens, a popular columnist for a major national newspaper and someone who can often articulate the views of millions of disaffected tory and labour voters (and ex-voters), regardless of whether they actually read his columns.

If you think Peter Hitchens is so wildly out-of-touch, try visiting one of the countless numbers of poor crime-ridden inner city districts and ask some of the people there about their views on the death penalty or how the law ought to deal with criminals and drug addicts. I’ll bet very few of them actually read Peter Hitchens, but you’ll find that their views are much much closer to his than to yours!

You need to be very careful when trying to correlate popularity with good policy – common sense is not the same thing as good sense.

Many people have lost all sense of proportion regarding crime precisely because they build their perceptions on sensationalist polemic headlines of people like Hitchens, so to say the presciptions offered by Hitchens are ‘popular’ with his target audience and that this is a sound way of directing policy-making is just nuts.

I wonder how crime ridden are inner-cities (or anywhere else for that matter) – the crime stats (even allowing for wild inaccuracy) show nowhere in the UK is anything remotely like as bad as Baltimore… time to put up those barricades already, yeah?

monkey fish @33
I’m sure there’s a whole army of right-wing, anal smart arses out there who don’t even realise there’s a site where they can come and sneeringly correct left-wingers’ grammar and vocabulary then sit back and feel superior.

Monkeyfish. I know what it means to be a lefty. I’ve been there. I was a fervent lefty in my early twenties in the late-sixties, to such an extent that my brother was nearly thrown out of the armed forces merely because he was my brother. I fumed against the system, reactionaries, the tories, swore I would never let my eyes be sullied by the sight of the Daily Mail and the rest. Now 40+ years of experiencing reality and three more careers later, I have evolved. Oh, and incidentally, I’m probably one of few, if not the only one who peruses this forum, to have lived in the USSR. Human beings aren’t simply representatives of traits on a crude left/right scale. They are complex combinations of paradoxes, contradictions, quirks and nuances. Some of my views you would characterise as extreme right-wing. Others are so “left-wing” they would cause apoplexy in even a moderate tory.
When I lived in a room with three Russian students and cockroaches in the 1970’s we would argue fervently every day about capitalism versus socialism, usually almost coming to blows. At the end of the day however, we would invariably pour out what was left of the vodka and say bollocks to capitalism and bollocks to socialism, and drink to our common humanity which greatly outweighed our differences. But I don’t think most of the denizens of LC and the like are capable of that degree of humanity. For them, there is just us lefties – the noble enlightened ones – and the enemy. For them, people are simply their politics – and no more. You can’t fraternise with, let alone see even one iota of goodness in the enemy. He is beyond the pale. He is The Other.

38. monkeyfish

Trofim

Appreciated your post…a good read. I’m not entirely sure whether or not you’re suggesting that I’m a dogmatic, ideologically-pure, inhuman creature of the left. As it happens, I’m not. Although I suppose I’m even more reviled in certain circles these days as I’m what I’d kinda describe as a democratic socialist…”child of the post war consensus”…(generally pronounced “dinosaur” by the new left-liberal identity crown and “unreconstructed Stalinist” by the Tories.)

I’ll admit to remaining fairly passionate in my beliefs and…here’s what pisses a lot of people off (you too possibly?..I like a laugh…you do realise a lot of the above was ironic?…’sarcastic’ if you like, but humour was the intent). Now personally I think there’s room for that in debate and you (“…and drink to our common humanity which greatly outweighed our differences”) can’t really dissent from that view either, can you? Humour, tolerance and compassion being, for my money the greatest humanity has to offer. I’ll admit, it can come across as a little aggressive but that’s just a personal kink.

The reason I’ve started posting on LC is the po-faced, self-righteous attitude on offer at CIF (seem to recall I’ve seen your moniker over there a few times too) which has unfortunately seen me banned several times. Probably, for challenging the editorial line but I think, as much as anything for bursting the bubble of ATL writers who a tend to exhibit a self-regard and sense of authority wholly unwarranted by the quality of either their prose or ideas.

They don’t appreciate ironic jibes aimed at them at all. However, my political stance being what it is and consequently feeling somewhat disenfranchised and unrepresented by mainstream opinion, I feel fully justified in employing irony…in fact I was discussing this just the other day on the climate camp thread…

http://www.liberalconspiracy.org/2009/08/27/climate-camp-watching-the-watchers/#comment-60656

I take the Czeslaw Milosz “glory of slaves” view of proceedings. That might sound a little overblown given the fact that I’m hardly under a totalitarian regime, it’s more a case of “what else am I gonna do?”

Anyway, there’s lots in your post that I agree with, if there was an omission in terms of “dogmatic rigidity”, I think you missed that of the modern liberal. I’ve already mentioned the self-righteous, humourless tone of cif but it goes further in that they always exhibit a very one-sided, ‘privileged’ relativism which masquerades as a generous humanity. I think this can best be illustrated with a typical example..

Imagine a bog standard Guardian piece…probably by some enthusiastic and idealistic recent Oxbridge graduate (whose dad plays squash with Rushbridger or someone): Some inner city estate; teenagers breaking windows, snapping wing mirrors and hassling pensioners etc. He/she visits the estates, talks to the kids, empathises, hears they lack facilities, opportunities sense of purpose.

She writes a heartfelt piece ending with the all too clichéd (but no less valid for that) “we should, invest, engage, empower…”etc etc.

Now the comments fly in: “hear hear” from the liberal crowd, “lock ’em up” and “punish the parents” from the ‘social conservatives’
Now the “intra-poster” dialogue begins…”fascist” from the liberal to the social conservative…”you wouldn’t want to live there, you middle-class muppet” in the other direction. Writer, editor etc naturally side with the liberals..they say as much and continue to commision similar pieces ad nauseam.

What has always struck me about this is that cif will always justify its stance as a basic humanitarian one, and I wouldn’t disagree. However..since it is a human trait to forgive and understand, why is no sympathy ever extended to the “string em up brigade, who are exhibiting a no less ‘natural’ human urge (though a less commendable one) to seek retribution. Now an urge for retribution is not an attractive desire but it’s probably no less attractive than an urge to smash things up and scare pensioners. So why the asymmetry in sympathy?

To my mind, it’s because they know their whole one-sided ‘relativist’ stance is untenable and becomes evidently so without either a bit of progressive posturing or a the ready made “Daily Mail reader” opposition. I can’t take it seriously. I try and burst the bubble with a sarcastic little dig and I’m deleted.

Incidentally, most of the best of the socialists I knew as a youngster would have had no hesitation in knocking my teeth out if I’d ever broken their window or scared their mum on her way to the shops..

39. Matt Munro

The BBC has always been pro-establishment. The establishment is currently the left, ergo the BBC is currently left leaning. Pretty surprising really, a Government funded broadcaster being er pro government.

40. Matt Munro

“Because the Oxbridge universities are such a bastion of socialism.”

Which is why what we get from the BBC is a white, middle class, guilt ridden, Islington based, confused, contradictory form of socialism-light.

Matt @ 41

The BBC has always been pro-establishment. The establishment is currently the left, ergo the BBC is currently left leaning. Pretty surprising really, a Government funded broadcaster being er pro government.

I don’t think ‘the establishment’ or the BBC are left leaning or even ‘pro Government’ either.

I have seen the Labour Party on the wrong end of a pretty well justified kicking too many times to justify that remark.

There is a cultural bias in the BBC, i.e. a bit middle class with a bit too much emphasis on graduates, but that is true of the media in general. I suppose that given that it’s workforce is middle class and graduates then we cannot expect anything else, can we?

“Many people have lost all sense of proportion regarding crime precisely because they build their perceptions on sensationalist polemic headlines of people like Hitchens”

Bollocks. This is the same lame patronizing answer left-wing elitists always give. Sure it’s all in people’s heads! Funny that, my 86 year-old grandmother has had her handbag nicked twice in the last 3 years and the police (directly contradicting you) suggested that she should stay indoors after dark because they couldn’t ensure her safety. Yet when my grandmother came to this country in 1947 she was amazed at how little crime and disorder there was, and this was when she lived in impoverished neighbourhood in a much poorer Britain. I also worked for a while as an assistant to a tory MP in a relatively well off area in SE London. I received piles of letters from pensioners and families besieged by ferals and effectively imprisoned in their houses after dark. I then had to forward on the police’s pathetic reply to ‘make sure all the windows and doors are locked’. So fuck off with your perception bullshit and step out of your front door once in a while.

“I wonder how crime ridden are inner-cities (or anywhere else for that matter) – the crime stats (even allowing for wild inaccuracy) show nowhere in the UK is anything remotely like as bad as Baltimore… time to put up those barricades already, yeah?”

Yeah it’s not as bad as Baltimore so what are these plebs complaining about? Who the hell do they think they are to expect safe streets? Except why are you comparing our inner city areas with those of Baltimore. Wouldn’t it be much more relevant to compare the crime levels in the same country with those of recent history. Even allowing for the inaccuracies, they are not so wild that they can disguise the massive rise in crime and disorder over the last few decades.

“to say the presciptions offered by Hitchens are ‘popular’ with his target audience and that this is a sound way of directing policy-making is just nuts.”

What would a sound way of directing policy making be? Maybe it would be to restore a criminal justice system that is accepted and is respected by the general population, as it once was within living memory.

Glad to know that you’re not descending to personal anecdote and hearsay to give a generalisation, Adrian.

It’s a fallacy that the Police have ever been able to guarantee anyone’s safety and anyone who perpetuated that idea (including the Police themselves) is perpetuating the problem.

Don’t you dare suggest I don’t think crime is a problem and that some people do live with having their windows being smashed daily. But these are exceptions to the rule and they usually have other causes. The painful fact is that there are very few innocent victims.

Policy making should be evidence-based, not a knee-jerk reaction to those who scream loudest.

“fuck off with your perception bullshit”

Your perception is your reality.

44. Alisdair Cameron

Plus ca change.
The Beeb simply reflects the group-think in an inner London bubble. Vaguely ‘liberal’, small l but blind to its own privilege (or rather that of way too many of its senior managers, commissioners, and presenters etc). Shove a NuLab type gloss to show how inclusively multi-culti they are, up the LGB quotient and so on, all simply reflecting wider society, but don’t let anyone rock the bourgeois-ness of it all, the quasi-Fabian concern for others but damn well keeping hold of one’s own status.
Neither right, nor left, just smug and inward and selfish.If politics is pursued it’s only a parlour game

#41: “The BBC has always been pro-establishment.”

Really? How come this then?

“At home there was limited appetite for military action [regarding the nationalisation of the Suez Canal by the Egyptian government]. The Labour Opposition was against it, and the BBC’s view was that it had to reflect that divide.

“No one reflected it more starkly than Opposition leader Hugh Gaitskell in a television broadcast. The Conservative Prime Minister Sir Anthony Eden was incensed by the BBC’s decision to grant Gaitskell airtime to challenge his own television and radio broadcasts explaining the Government’s decision to mobilise. He was angrier still when the BBC refused to tone down World Service broadcasts to the Middle East reflecting the divided opinion.

“British troops in Suez Relations between the Government and the BBC became increasingly bitter, and schemes to ‘discipline’ the Corporation were discussed. These are believed to have included the Government taking editorial control of the BBC.”
http://www.bbc.co.uk/historyofthebbc/resources/pressure/suez.shtml

For more details about the row between Eden’s government and the BBC over the Suez invasion:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/historyofthebbc/resources/pressure/pdf/suez.pdf

Alisdair Cameron @ 46

To be fair to the BBC, they are in show business, no-one can be suprised that they are top heavy with a LGB ‘bias’, show business has been well served with the LGB culture since year dot. Anyone listening to reruns of Beyond our Ken and Round the Horn will testify to that.

I agree with the London centric nature of broadcasting in general (not just the BBC), then then again everything in London is London centric.

Alisdair Cameron

Sounds about right. Wouldn’t be without the beeb, mind. Even if only to fuck off the Murdochs

48. DisgustedOfTunbridgeWells

“This is the same lame patronizing answer left-wing elitists always give.”

If by ‘left-wing elitists’ you mean ‘the British Crime Survey’ (which depending on the year goes into detail about how misinformed someone is likely to be based on the media they intake) you’d be dead right.

49. Alisdair Cameron

Whoa. I’m not saying there is an LGB or multicultural ‘bias’, rather that the BBC cannily makes great play of staff, presenters and shows that are LGB or from a non-white Anglo-Saxon background, but it’s all as a veneer: if you’re L or G or B, Afro-Caribbean by descent, Asian, whatever, then you must still subscribe to the narrow New labour-ish, market-loving, managerialist-bullshit-spouting (Birt-speak).
What I meant was that while wider society has changed, more accepting of multiculturalism, LGBs being open and so on, the Beeb looks like it has but dig deeper and it’s patronising, upper-midle-class (and actually, in many respects ignorant and uninformed) central London mindset still prevails. You can come in if you’re black or gay, please do, but not if you dare question Birtism, managerialism, smug assumptions, or don’t aspire to live in Islington or Muswell Hill.
So there’s diversity by some demographics (except old people: we have an ageing population, yet the Beeb still ludicrously obsesses with yoof programming, when they will never ‘get’ it) but no diversity by outlook: it’s very Blair/Cameron woolly talk patronising guff, holidays in Tuscany, shop at Borough market, kids called Jacintha and Zach. Hard news, investigative journalism and the like have died, local news and radio are atrophying by neglect and mismanagement (reporters parachuted in from London, to say, Cumbria, as a step on their career ladder is so heartening for the viewers…).

Don’t get me wrong, I actually love the BBC, but it’s taken many wrong steps, and hasn’t opened itself up to society at large as a national institution should.

50. Jason Goncharov

I doubt that any of you actually read Peter Hitchens’ blog. Most of his critics never do. So if any of you are interested here is his response to Hasan’s fantastical claim that the BBC is ‘right wing’. —

Why is Mehdi Hasan so confident that his assertion that the BBC is in fact ‘a right-wing and conservative institution’ cannot be effectively rebutted?

Before I begin I should state that (as he knows) my main complaint against his original article is its ludicrous claim that I believe I am ‘ignored’ by the BBC. I do not think this, which is why I haven’t said it. The article which I wrote (at his request) and which he presumably read before publishing it, (and before publishing his own contribution), makes it clear that I have no such belief. Much of it, in fact, dwells on the way in which the BBC approaches me when it asks me to appear on TV and radio programmes, something the BBC couldn’t do if it were ignoring me. I would be grateful if Mr Hasan would have the grace to admit that he was mistaken, and to withdraw the claim. It makes his argument look silly, and gets in the way of proper debate.

I suspect that his assurance stems mainly from his almost complete misunderstanding of conservatism. He shares this problem – of blank, clueless incomprehension of his opponent – with the BBC itself. The Corporation has not felt the need to take conservatism seriously for many years, for reasons I’ll set out shortly. The same is true of many of the other institutions of modern Britain, where the Left’s long march, begun in the 1960s, is now complete. The result of this is that people whose assumptions are ‘progressive’ (their own terminology) occupy all positions of decisive authority, and never meet or need to justify themselves to anyone who disagrees with them, whom they do not also despise. In fact, they generally despise anyone who disagrees with them, believing for example that a person who supports capital punishment for murderers is beyond the pale of civilisation.

At the same time many millions of BBC licence fee payers do not share these new opinions, and hold largely to the old, dethroned ones. Is the purpose of the BBC to serve them, and to reflect their views, or, by exclusion, derision, obscenity, foul language and triumphalist propaganda, bring them round to its own opinion? If the second, surely that is bias?

There are large arguments to be had about how and why this came about. I’ve tried to address them in my book ‘The Abolition of Britain’ and more recently in another book ‘The Broken Compass’, so won’t dwell on them here. But I think it would be very hard for anyone to argue that it hadn’t happened. The occupiers of significant positions, whether they be Cabinet ministers, MPs, Bishops, Anglican vicars, Catholic priests, Permanent Secretaries, Professors, head teachers, ordinary teachers, judges, editors, producers of TV and radio programmes, heads of broadcasting and media organisations, newspaper and TV reporters, businessmen, publishers, historians, novelists, artists, actors or police officers now hold social, moral, cultural views wholly different from, and often opposite to, those their forerunners of 40 or 50 years ago would have held. There are exceptions, but they are rare and much remarked upon. I am not arguing here about whether this is good or bad (not that my view is any secret), just stating it as an indisputable fact.

The view which has been dethroned in this process is conservatism. This can be summed up as a pessimistic view of humanity and society based on a Christian belief in the imperfectibility of man, demanding the exercise of individual conscience, strong self-restraint, deference to established authority, sexual continence and constancy, patience, respect for age, for hierarchy and for institutions, patriotism and monarchy – generally combined with a strong predisposition in favour of hard work and thrift and a horror of idleness and debt. These views were once held widely by voters on both sides of the political divide. The modern person may recognise all these things under the other names which progressives give to them: ‘repression, religious bigotry, snobbery, sexism, chauvinism, xenophobia, suburban and/or “Victorian” values etc.’ Call them what you like, but don’t imagine that your choice of name doesn’t betoken an opinion on an important issue. They once were dominant and are now despised and rejected. And the BBC is entirely on one side in this conflict, and cannot conceive that any good person could take the other view.

Mr Hasan seems to think that I have personally invented the conservatism I espouse, and it is a quirky, random collection of views which appear contradictory to him. Let me assure him that I am simply the inheritor and continuer of a tradition much older than I, which is only proper for a conservative. Mr Hasan also, for some reason inaccessible to me, thinks the Conservative Party embodies conservatism, thinks that conservatism consists of support for free markets, or for the Iraq war, or a general liking for the United States. In fact some of these positions are those of classical liberalism, while others are those of ‘Neo-Conservatism’, a tendency more attractive to disappointed Marxists, in search of a new Utopia, and to ultra-liberal globalists, than to conservatives. Many, if not all, neo-conservatives are cultural and moral and social radicals, and economic ultra-liberals. Some of these positions are common to both these views. None of them is conservative.

He is also, I think, confused by the fact that the BBC, which was generally sympathetic to the Blair government because of its cultural leftism, could never really cope with that government’s globalist decision to go to war in Iraq. Sentimental Leftists, whose politics are really a series of displaced religious opinions, often misunderstand, and lag behind, the vanguard of their cause. Only the sharper and smarter ones, the ‘hard liberals’, recognise that their aims may be served by bombing a few cities. The Tory Party had a parallel problem. Having sold Britain to the EU and being secretly ashamed of it, it now strives to look ultra-patriotic on every possible occasion by banging the drum for war and supporting ‘our boys’, though it overcame this when we surrendered to the IRA in Northern Ireland, the last actual national conflict in which our armed forces were deployed in British, rather than globalist interests. The neo-conservative liberals, whose reasons for backing these wars are entirely different, thus have an easier time with their backbenchers than do Labour. Sentimental Tory MPs back wars they should oppose. Sentimental Labour MPs oppose wars they ought to support.

As for the Tory Party, the BBC is biased against it only when it shows signs of being conservative. Such moments are increasingly rare. I am not now arguing, and never have sought to argue, that the BBC is biased against the Conservative Party. On the contrary, I state in my article for the NS that the BBC has now completely converted the Conservative Party to its own world-view, and has rewarded it with sympathetic and generous coverage. This is one of the most important political developments of our time, which is why most political journalists, incurious, sheep-like and conformist, have not even noticed it.

The BBC is not a deliberately or consciously wicked body. It does what it does because it believes fervently (like so many harmful people and organisations) that it is doing good. Many of its decision-makers feel a genuine urge to be fair. But they do not know how to do it. Thanks to the successful Gramscian ‘war of position’, described above, they are almost physically repulsed by the opinions and attitudes of people such as me, and also of the Thatcherite liberals described above. They would never have such people in their own homes, around their own tables. Yet they feel they must have us in their studios.

This is to their credit. It is hard. I sympathise. They are too busy shuddering to distinguish between us, hence the blunders described in my New Statesman article. Yet they swallow hard, adopt fixed smiles and try to invite us on, if only to prove to themselves that they are just. Of course there are many different degrees of being ‘invited on’. There are the ‘balanced’ debate programmes where the occasional conservative can be fitted in, permitted to speak but obviously not in any way endorsed by the Corporation. There are also brief discussions on Radio 4 current affairs programmes. But these are concessions, not the real thing.

The real things are the major behind-the-scenes executive positions which give direction to editorial policy and to the appointment of key presenter’s chairs, decisive jobs such as that of Political Editor, influential slots such as Newsnight anchor.

In a few cases, notable mainly for their rarity, presenters’ chairs or regular panel slots go to people who are not full members of the new post-1968 consensus. Andrew Neil is a highly skilled and competent broadcaster and a journalist of great experience. He is, it is true, allowed to present a few programmes. These may be much-watched by enthusiasts, but I do not think we could really call them ‘prime time’ or even ‘mainstream’. Ask yourselves this. Can you conceive of Andrew Neil being appointed as a main presenter of ‘Newsnight’, or of the ‘Today’ programme? If not, why not? (I should point out here that I doubt if Mr Neil agrees with me on many major subjects, and I do not regard him as a conservative). I think it rather touching that Mr Hasan believes Mr Portillo is a conservative. It was in 1999, I think, that I put myself forward for the Tory nomination in Kensington and Chelsea, purely so as to make the point that Mr Portillo is not a conservative. Is he really Diane Abbot’s opponent when they sit together on that sofa?

Then there’s the Nick Robinson argument. Mr Robinson must speak for himself, but I would make one point about comparisons between him and Andrew Marr. Mehdi dwells on Mr Robinson’s student Toryism, a documented fact. But Mr Robinson had, for many years before he became BBC Political editor, pursued a BBC career during which he was not able to express a political opinion, even had he wished to. We do not actually know what his current or recent political opinions are. So we cannot really claim to have any recent information on this.

Andrew Marr, a short time before his appointment, was an opinionated writer for the Daily Express (in its Rosie Boycott manifestation) and in other places. I think it fair to say that the opinions he stated were not generally conservative ones. I don’t think this is a parallel with Mr Robinson’s appointment. Again, a question. Could a conservative columnist on a national daily, whose current views were well-known, with the equivalent experience of Andrew Marr, have been appointed to the job? If not, why not?

The issue is confused by the fact that the political opinions of the leaderships of the two main parties are now so similar (see the recent statements by Michael Gove) that a declared Tory (not conservative) and a declared New Labour supporter would find little to criticise about the policies of the party he supposedly opposes. In fact much of the left-wing media establishment are now entirely reconciled to the arrival of a Cameron government, because they rightly believe the Blairite project is safe in Mr Cameron’s hands.

My own view has long been that BBC presenters and commentators should declare their political sympathies, instead of pretending absurdly that they have none, that the BBC could achieve a true balance by ensuring that it recruited from among conservative as well as among left-liberal journalists, and that programmes should be presented in an adversarial fashion, ensuring (for example) that no politician should be interviewed by a supporter of his party.

If this doesn’t happen, then I think the BBC will eventually lose the necessary consensus of support, politically required for the continuation of the licence fee. I should regret that. I am a friend of the BBC as an institution. I do not think its disappearance would be a good thing.

…and as we can see from Jason Gontcharov’s comment the main characteristic of conservatism is boorishness.

52. Jason Goncharov

Hmm probably the nastiest boor I can think of in politics was coincidentally the drunken philanderer Ted Kennedy, coincidentally one of the most left-wing men in the US senate. A man so callous that he let his mistress languish in the air bubble of his sunken car before she drowned. Anyone who wasn’t a complete shitbag would have scuttled away from the public eye in shame, but not the late Red Ted. Boorishness is not just a right-wing characteristic it seems.

Jason,
defining the life’s achievement of a person according to a single incident which happened 40 years ago is boorish, not least also is to speak ill of the recently departed.

Not having come into contact with the man I can’t comment on his personality, but it’s fair to say that everyone makes mistakes. I notice it isn’t a characteristic of conservatives to own up to theirs and repent.

I’m also moved to ask how you connotate nasty with being a boor, and how you slip from noting coincidence to concluding causation.

However this is a thread about the media, so I’ll just pause to remind you how everything in the media reflects the culture of its’ surroundings.

@Monkeyfish… Keep on keepin’ on. Absolutely hilarious.


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