One of the most repulsive things I will ever see or experience in this life, apart from the baffling success of Mumford & Sons, is the almost pornographic display of right wingers, whether hack or MP, equipped with a crucifix and copy of Capitalism & Freedom, uncontrollably foaming at the mouth in paroxysms of self indulgent preachery. These venerable martyrs of the Conservative cause have been doing just that over the last few weeks, bawling in unison over the BBC’s handling of the Jimmy Savile fiasco. The murky nature of the case has given the right wing press fresh material in their courageous crusade against the corporation. Of course, attacks from the right against the BBC are nothing new.
BBC Trust chairman Lord Patten has called for an independent review into how BBC news covers issues related to immigration, religion and the EU, amidst claims of liberal bias in it’s reporting. The corporation has always stated that it’s committed to delivering impartial and fair coverage of the news. However, right wingers have long been convinced that the beeb is secretly training an army of radical left wing fanatics with DAS KAPITAL tattooed on their foreheads, with a view to overthrowing democratic society as we know it and force us all to live in canoes and eat pumpkin seeds for a living. They have tirelessly griped for decades about the BBC’s surreptitious liberal agenda, insisting the slant of reporting on religious issues is “anti-Christian”, that they act as a “propaganda machine for climate change zealots” and even “enable tax avoidance” by having ambiguous arrangements surrounding presenter’s salaries. In August, Work & Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith accused Economics editor Stephanie Flanders of “peeing all over British industry” and formally complained to the BBC over their “carping and moaning”. M’ Lord, the prosecution rests it’s case.
The BBC is funded by the taxpayer through the TV licence. Therefore, neutrality is expected. But in the fickle world of the media, the notion of neutrality is obsolete, yet some rags behave like paragons of flawless and impartial journalism. Newspapers (and The Sun) are owned by private companies and their often blunt political stance reflects the views of their audience but also the interests of the company owners. The media hold a lot of soft power, and governments (hello Blair) often find themselves in thrall to the right, as the Leveson enquiry (remember that?) proved. The field is dominated by a vociferous conservative clique. On a basis daily, the Express and Mail spout poisonous headlines about evil foreigners stealing our jobs, benefits, children and Lego. The Sun, the shameless glory hunter of the tabloid gremlins, smugly claimed to have won the ’92 general election for the Tories by savaging then Labour leader Neil Kinnock. Boris Johnson, who launched a vituperative attack on the BBC in May, is a well paid columnist who writes for The Daily Telegraph. Strangely, hacks from right wing papers are a common sight on high profile political shows such as Question Time and Daily Politics, yet still accuse the BBC of being “overwhelmingly biased toward the left”, in the words of the Mayor of London. Like some needy lover who feels they aren’t getting enough attention, their chronic desire to moan is briefly sated before the tide of bile resumes with a vengeance when a new contentious issue arises.
Interestingly, David Miller, a professor of Sociology at the University of Bath, writes “when truly independent academics have been commissioned, (to investigate BBC neutrality) the results have not been what the Mail might have expected.”
The beeb is a globally respected institution. High quality programmes like The Thick Of It, QI, and countless Attenborough documentaries have enriched our minds and kept us entertained. The iPlayer is brilliant and the news coverage, while not perfect, is certainly of a better quality than that of Sky or ITV in my view. The BBC still has programmes devoted to faith and spirituality on television and radio, and, unbelievably, some of the worst tax avoiders are Conservative party donors.
However, the corporation has a duty to be totally transparent over the Jimmy Savile saga, otherwise face it’s reputable name being tarnished. The right will always loathe it, unjustifiably. And that makes me love aunty even more.
By Rudi Abdallah