At the end of David Cameron’s day – as recently recorded on his ‘One Day in History’ blog – he crashes in front of Newsnight with a cold beer. It’s just another indication of the importance of the BBC within Team Cameron’s thinking. At the recent Tory conference in Bournemouth Mr Cameron gave more than half-a-dozen big interviews to BBC journalists. A team from the Ten’o’clock News followed him around all day for a fly-on-the-wall feature. The Cameroons will never forget the roles played by the BBC’s Nick Robinson (and ITN’s Tom Bradby) in applauding their man’s speech to the 2005 Tory conference and damning David Davis’ next day effort. Both political editors regularly comment as well as report.
Team Cameron believe that the traditional Tory newspapers played almost a zero role in the election of David Cameron and they believe that the broadcasters – and the dominant BBC in particular – hold the keys to victory at the next General Election. They fear that a hostile BBC could be deadly. To Team Cameron’s credit, however, this has not produced soft-pedalling on issues of BBC reform (see here and here, for example).
Noone is more important in the party’s outreach to the BBC than its political editor Nick Robinson. The Tory treasury team was delighted at Nick Robinson’s reaction to Thursday’s tax announcement and had carefully prepared the way for that reaction by providing a special briefing to the former Clarke-ite Tory.
The party’s outreach to the BBC matters because the BBC is hardly representative of modern Britain. Traditional Tories, Eurosceptics, rural Britons, Christians and friends of America and Israel have long known this but the BBC itself has now admitted the problem according to today’s Mail on Sunday.
At a secret ‘impartiality summit’ in London last month, writes the MoS’ Simon Walters, "which was hosted by veteran broadcaster Sue Lawley, BBC executives admitted the corporation is dominated by homosexuals and people from ethnic minorities, deliberately promotes multiculturalism, is anti-American, anti-countryside and more sensitive to the feelings of Muslims than Christians."
Here are some more extracts from the explosive MoS exclusive:
"Political pundit Andrew Marr said: ‘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.’
Washington correspondent Justin Webb said that the BBC is so biased against America that deputy director general Mark Byford had secretly agreed to help him to ‘correct’, it in his reports. Webb added that the BBC treated America with scorn and derision and gave it ‘no moral weight’.
Former BBC business editor Jeff Randall said he complained to a ‘very senior news executive’, about the BBC’s pro-multicultural stance but was given the reply: ‘The BBC is not neutral in multiculturalism: it believes in it and it promotes it.’
Randall also told how he once wore Union Jack cufflinks to work but was rebuked with: ‘You can’t do that, that’s like the National Front!’"
The BBC has long worried about employing newsreaders and journalists from ethnic minorities and few would complain about that. But like the Tory A-list that is a very shallow understanding of diversity. Programmes like Today need more people from conservative and Christian backgrounds, for example, to counter the institutional left-liberal questioning.
Impartiality is an increasingly difficult thing to achieve and there is more honesty in propgrammes like Radio 4’s Moral Maze that platform genuinely different worldviews.
The BBC’s biases will be further exposed in a forthcoming book by ex-BBC journalist Robin Aitken – Can We Trust The BBC? See the New Culture Forum’s site here for more on Mr Aitken’s thinking.