Having arrogated to itself the
role of unofficial opposition,
the BBC is now bleating
at the advance of the Tory Wolf

There have been predictable squeals of fear from the BBC at the proposal being floated by the Conservative party to break its monopoly of the Television Poll Tax (a.k.a. ‘The Licence Fee’). They have, however, no one else to blame but themselves, having long ago given up the effort of even the pretence of being impartial.

The radical proposal had first emerged some months ago but now appears in a Conservative Draft Paper. £3.2 billion in tax is raised by the Licence Fee which at present is handed over lock, stock and barrel to the BBC. With it they feel free to do much as they please.

Curiously the word ‘impartial’ does not appear in the BBC Charter though it does in something called ‘An Agreement Between Her Majesty’s Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport and the British Broadcasting Corporation’ (copies of each document may be found here). It might just as well not be there as the BBC makes no serious effort to be even-handed as between the Labour Party for whom it routinely acts as a Propaganda Service and the Conservative Part which it openly trashes and more subtly attacks – the careful attachment of the word ‘conservative’ to a wide range of extremists the world over is a clever and quite deliberate way of blackening the Tory party.

The BBC have suddenly been forced to contemplate an assault on this monopoly and the reaction has been predictable. The Mail on Sunday asked one ‘senior BBC executive’ for his view:

Once you take away part of the licence fee you break the trust between the BBC and the licence-fee payer.

The viewer won’t know who on earth their money is going to and will say, ‘why on earth should I pay this any more?

Going down this route will eventually destroy the BBC.

If the Conservatives want to get rid of us, they should come out in the open and say so rather than do it in this underhand manner of death by a thousand cuts.

I confess to have laughed out loud at the notion that what is proposed might ‘break the trust between the BBC and the licence fee payer’. For a large swathe of conservative opinion in the land there has been no trust for years between the BBC and many of its involuntary paymasters as the BBC has thrown its weight behind Labour, a process that started many years ago but really took off under Margaret Thatcher and grew to a crescendo as Blair took over.

And quite how divvying up the fee would break that trust was curiously not explained, perhaps because the notion is just BBC scary hokum.

The reaction to the proposal on ConservativeHome, though necessarily unscientific, is pretty much as one would expect: 22% support the policy, another 39% support it and indeed would like to see it go further and a further 11% declined to support the policy as it did not go far enough. Only 20% supported the status quo.

The problem for the BBC is that the issue of trust has not just been destroyed by their partiality for the Labour Party but also because of the business of various competitions which have, to put not too fine a point on it, seen the BBC’s own producers cheating the public and years of it churning out a dreary left/liberal/’progressive’ diet. The incident of the duplicitous editing of a documentary about Her Majesty The Queen whom the BBC and its programme maker tried to portray as throwing a hissy fit at a photo shoot provided palpable evidence of the true nature of the beast as did the discovery that a senior BBC producer had effectively been faking interview scenes. Here then is a set of Augean Stables ripe for cleansing.

But it has perhaps been the business of Iraq that has done the most damage. The BBC almost certainly got it right over the ‘dodgy dossier’ but got carefully and royally shafted by the establishment in the ensuing uproar, which led to Andrew Gilligan being cut adrift – to Labour’s considerable disadvantage as he has been leading a well-researched charge for the Evening Standard against the Huey Long tendencies of Ken Livingstone and his cronies in London which has contributed greatly to the possibility that Boris Johnson might actually sweep that particular low-life back into the sewer whence he came and already led to the placing of two chums of the Mayor having their heads placed on spikes for display on London Bridge.

In the aftermath of that affair it has been noticeable that the BBC has gone out of its way to assault the government over Iraq as if it was a de facto opposition party. Iraq has been the bone which the BBC has never once let go and at every turn it has used the latest gloomy prediction as a stick with which to beat the government: the recent upsurge in violence, for example, was at once seized upon as clear evidence that Iraq was about to descend into civil war. The problem for the BBC is that people are not, as they suppose, stupid and recognise what they are doing for what it is: the adoption of a partial position on a matter of considerable political contention. In so doing they have identified themselves, broadly, with the position occupied by the far left of British politics.

This is the BBC out of control and people know it. In those circumstances the BBC suddenly becomes fair game. The proposal made is a clever one as it does not take on the BBC as a whole which would be biting off more than the Tories could chew. But a proposal to allocate public money to other broadcasters who provide public service programming does not threaten the BBC’s existence as such is not likely to provoke much opposition in the country.

The claim that the public will not know where their money is going is, of course, ludicrous as it is inconceivable that the allocation of cash would be anything other than totally transparent and above board.

Once done, the BBC will be forced to do two things: mend its partial ways and to tighten its belt, much as the long-suffering public is having to do just now. Then we might no longer see BBC employees swanning off to the Genocide Olympics at a ratio of 1.46 for every British competitor – overmanning being one of its notorious faults and much of its internet presence which has little to do with its broadcasting remit being slashed.

There will probably be a spin-off for the Tories in all this: watch the BBC galloping to the centre as the election draws near and carefully (and probably ostentatiously as it no longer does ‘subtle’ very much) making sure that an veneer of impartiality is smeared over the whole which will last until about five minutes after the Tories win.

The other interesting idea is to remove the requirement of impartiality from non-public broadcasters which in theory might bring a UK FOX News to our screens, something which would have the Chatterati, the Toynbeeists, Guardianistas and other assorted lefties frothing at the mouth. Perhaps we might even have a right-wing version of ‘Today’ with the pleasurable sound of, say, Ed Balls, Harriett Harman or Hazel Blears being roasted over a not-so-slow fire.

Now that would make the start of the day a pleasing and thoroughly agreeable prospect prospect.

UPDATE: No sooner said than done: La Toynbee, an old trout always willing to rise to a fly, indeed goes into mouth-frothing mode this morning in the Guardian:

For those who have never sampled the joys of Murdoch’s Fox News, it is an eye-popping spectacle to British viewers. Raucous, brash, aggressive and ultra-rightwing………

And what, pray, is the BBC when it lets slip its attack dogs? To say the least it is perfectly capable of being and regularly is ‘aggressive’ and ‘ultra-leftwing’, indeed it sometimes seems to revel in it.

And then she advances this extraordinary notion:

The Tory document attacks the BBC as being liberal-biased. With great glee, its opening paragraph quotes Andrew Marr apparently agreeing. But Marr had spoken once of an “innate liberal bias” in the context of a long and thoughtful discourse on the BBC’s perpetually self-critical striving for fairness and balance, unique in all the media.

Well, she would say that, wouldn’t she? After all, this policy threatens the existence of a taxpayer-funded propaganda arm for Labour and the attitudes of the liberal-left, so her squeals of horror are entirely predictable. But the idea of the BBC ‘striving for fairness and balance’ is utterly laughable. And quite how the BBC can be portrayed as such is incredible when it has an acknowledged ‘innate liberal bias’.

A FOX News approach to news and comment would not introduce anything new into British Broadcasting. Rather it would merely even up the playing field which has been deliberately skewed to the left for years by an arrogant and unaccountable BBC that has long considered itself to be well above the law. Well now the boot may be on the other foot.