Not being a fan of the domestic cat, Felis silvestris catus, it would normally be a matter of indifference to me whether Blue Peter called its kitten ‘Socks’, ‘Cookie’ or ‘Metternich’ for that matter. And perhaps in the Pantheon of Things That Matter Terribly, it still is something that should not trouble us greatly.

Yet it rather begs some questions which may be thought to have some importance.

If producers/editors work in an environment where really serious and important principles are routinely, deliberately and consciously broken, such as the requirement for the BBC to be impartial, is it any surprise that a culture of impunity grows up and infects the entire organisation such that lying through the teeth about a kitten’s name is done without the merest flicker of an eyelid?

Does this incident not tell us all we need to know about the contempt that the BBC has for its audience, the Taxpayer? Faced with an opinion the audience holds that it does not like, it merely changes the opinion to one that it does like. This was evident when the Today programme tried to get its listeners to support a Bill to be put forward by rent-a-mouth MP Stephen Pound as a Private Members Bill: when instead of joyfully supporting some worthy cause the listeners made a democratic decision to have a bill permitting the effective summary execution of dwelling-house burglars found in flagrante delicto, the whole idea was dropped as if someone had handed them a very angry Black Mamba wrapped in a sock: “The people have spoken – the bastards” was Pound’s verdict, heartily endorsed by the programme.

Is this not so much about the minor details of who did or who did not pull a fast one, but actually about the whole culture of impunity that exists at the BBC which feels that it will never ever be called to account for anything? A culture in which it feels utterly unimpeded in its mission to act as the propaganda arm of Labour, a culture in which it can routinely endorse all that the EU does (or, as is often the case, concealing the EU’s role in something which has gone wrong) whilst equally routinely characterising the EU’s opponents as ‘far right’ loonies and ‘little englanders’?

Is this not in fact about the BBC’s heart and whether it is rotten?

This goes to the very root of the trust which the Taxpayer is entitled to have in a service for which it pays a hefty annual impôt. Whilst that Tax remains, the BBC ought to be put on the same basis of accountability that other spenders of the nation’s taxes exist or ought to exist were it not for that other culture of impunity which exists in government these days, a culture of “never resign, never apologise, I’ve started, so I’ll finish”.

We might make a start by renaming the Licence Fee as “The Broadcasting Tax” as a simple but effective reminder to the BBC and its employees as to who is the Master and who the servant in this relationship.

I am loath normally to give any support to dinosaur labour organisations but BECTU’s strictures about the Indians having to pay the price of failure but not the Chiefs is not without merit.

In International Criminal Law a superior may be guilty of an offence on the basis that he/she either knew or ought to have known what was going on and either failed to prevent the misdeeds or failed to punish the perpetrators of misdeeds. It is the requirement that the bosses ‘ought to have known’ which is one that might usefully be applied by the BBC in bringing to heel those of its editors and producers who now think of themselves as ‘The Untouchables’.

Placing this sort of obligation on the bosses might induce a bit more vigour into the process of destroying the culture of impunity by making them be proactive in rooting out offenders. They might make a start by routinely listening objectively to some of the BBC’s output.

Meanwhile, it is said that the name ‘Cookie’ was rejected because it has some other rather ‘iffy’ meaning which is so obscure that even I cannot find out what is so naughty. Someone please put me out of my misery!

Advertisements