The idea that the British Broadcasting Corporation has a covert mission to bring down the Conservative Party is enormously far-fetched. Those who vehemently attack the BBC for apparent overt bias often come across as unhinged, and undermine those who genuinely do believe the organisation is unintentionally institutionally biased and in need of correction.
Half-baked anecdotes such as former BBC Economics Editor Stephanie Flanders embarking on an economic crusade against the Conservative Party because she happened to date Ed Miliband and Ed Balls at Oxford University sound utterly bonkers. The Labour Party rebuttal to this argument could be that Nick Robinson’s position as Political Editor, despite being an officer of Oxford University Conservative Association, is testament of the fact that the BBC’s secret agenda is to annihilate Labour.
The Conservative Party’s rebuttal to the Labour Party’s rebuttal could be that James Purnell’s position as BBC Director of Strategy is unequivocal evidence of bias. The Labour Party’s rebuttal to the Conservative Party rebuttal of the Labour Party’s rebuttal could then be that Andrew Neil is gunning for Labour as Chairman of Spectator Magazines and has a conflict of interest presenting the BBC Politics Show…
As I’m sure is apparent, the above type of argument, which I have heard too many times, is rather lackluster and inconclusive. You might as well argue that Jeremy Paxman occasionally wearing red socks and growing a beard in a bid to emulate Marx, is indisputable evidence of a BBC communist plot. It just does not wash and comes across as desperate. There are far greater and much more convincing arguments which are factually based that illustrate the BBC’s institutional bias which is so toxic and disadvantageous to the Conservative Party.
Take the BBC’s own report into their news reporting which cost license fee payers £175,000. It concluded that it had a ‘deep liberal bias’. The former director of BBC News, Helen Boadman told Stuart Prebble, the report’s producer, that there was particular bias on issues such as immigration and the European Union. I do not necessarily believe employees at the organisation want to undermine the Conservative Part,y but it tends to be that those working for the BBC have particular traits – are part of the ‘liberal elite’, if you will.
This is evidenced by the Commentator’s finding that the BBC purchases more copies of the Guardian than any other newspaper – this is despite the Daily Mail having over nine times the Guardian’s circulation. BBC employees are clearly out of sync with what British people think and this is becoming increasingly apparent in their reporting, most obviously on the ‘Bedroom Tax’, the European Union and immigration.
Even better than internal reports and employee newspaper readership is the quantitative study of slant in BBC reporting by the Centre for Policy Studies. Its conclusions are stark, and paint an interesting picture of how the mindsets of the British populace are surreptitiously altered to think left-wing think-tanks are benign and trustworthy, whereas those on the right are to be questioned.
For example, the study finds that right-of-centre think-tanks are far more likely to receive health warnings, which are declarations that the organisation has a bias, than their left-of-centre counterparts (the former received health warnings between 23 per cent and 61 per cent of the time while the latter received them between 0 per cent and 12 per cent of the time). The study also found that the number of articles on the BBC News website mentioning a given think-tank is more highly correlated with its number of mentions in The Guardian that its number of mentions in The Daily Telegraph.
The £175,000 BBC study that found bias, the newspaper readership of BBC employees and the study by the Centre for Policy Studies are all good sources to base an argument that the BBC is institutionally biased on. It is accurate to say there is bias against centre-right parties in the United Kingdom and given that 65 per cent of individuals get their news from the BBC, it is imperative that action is taken to address their inbuilt impartiality which is greatly beneficial to centre-left political parties like Labour. A great way to achieve this would be for BBC News to purely report and not “analyse”, as it is the analysis which allows a tainted version of what the centre-right thinks to come across.