The Eeyores of the BBC

Despite the vote for Brexit, the BBC output remains massively opposed to withdrawal from the EU. It is required by law to be impartial, but it is not. I make no apology for returning to this scandal, particularly as, on the 20th March, it was highlighted by a group of seventy two MPs accusing it of being pessimistic and skewed in its coverage of Brexit, saying that it is unfairly representing leave voters by focusing on those who regret their decision. They pointed out that the BBC's inability to accept that Project Fear had been wrong and its failure to accept new facts was distorting its reporting. Good economic news was played down and any doubts were magnified. They stated that this bias can have a substantial effect on the national debate, and its coverage also shapes international perception of the UK, saying "We fear that, by misrepresenting our country either as xenophobic, or regretful of the Leave vote, the BBC will undermine our efforts to carve out a new, global role for this country." Unsurprisingly the BBC rejected the contents of the letter claiming, in the face of what everyone can see, that they regarded impartiality as their cornerstone.

In addition a report into the BBC's coverage has found the public broadcaster has been overwhelmingly negative about Britain's EU divorce. The research regarding BBC's Radio 4 Today programme found that of the 366 guest speakers who appeared in the Business News segment between June 24 and December 22 last year, 192 of them (52.2 per cent) were negative about it. According to the research only 60 (16.3 per cent) expressed opinions which were pro-Brexit, or saw the post-referendum economic outlook as positive. This research, which found there were three times more anti-Brexit speakers than pro-Brexit ones in the prestigious slots, is evidence the BBC had broke its charter requirement to be impartial.

Labour MP Kate Hoey said: "This report is further evidence that the BBC has not accepted the verdict of the British people to leave the EU. Their continuous negative coverage and their downgrading of positive stories with the phrase 'despite Brexit' must stop. It is clear that many of the BBC journalists have not been able to hide their personal bias in favour of staying in the EU. The public has the right to expect genuine impartiality and fair reporting." Peter Bone, the Conservative MP for Wellingborough says "the main problem is the broadcasters . . . There is a real problem with the BBC, everyone accepts Channel 4 is wholly biased in favour of the EU, and of course most of the people who work in the industry are actually Remainers. I think the BBC is institutionally biased - it is so much part of the establishment, the idea we were going to come out of the European Union was absurd to it. Now the decision has been taken, BBC reporters are saying, 'Why hasn't the economy collapsed? Why is unemployment at a record low?'. They don't understand those things - even 'Countryfile' had a pro-EU story a few days ago. And when you ask them are they biased - you can produce reports showing it - they say no they are not, because they are institutionally biased."

None of this comes a surprise to those of us who have endured the smug, complacent and contemptibly biased attitude displayed by the BBC for decades, not only on the issue of the EU, but on many other matters, always on the side of the left liberal establishment. However, for those old enough to remember, and for those of us who have a knowledge of social history, stretching back before the Internet became King, this is a tragedy, both for the country, and for its democracy. The BBC's finest hour undoubtedly came within fifteen years of its founding, when it, along with Churchill, was the voice of the nation during the darkest days of the Second World War. When it wasn't rejecting German overtures, before even the government has a chance to do so, it was boosting the morale of the people with its output of comedy and light entertainment. For the forces there were such programmes as Garrison Theatre, Hi Gang and Forces Favourites. The morale of workers in the factories was raised by Workers' Playtime and the general listener was entertained by Band Wagon in the early years, Much Binding in the Marsh towards the end of the war, and of course ITMA and Sincerely Yours with Vera Lynn. For those who preferred a more cerebral programme there was The Brains Trust, in which serious people discussed serious matters. Above all the BBC raised the spirits of the people and never gave any support to those who doubted the final victory.

As a thought experiment one can imagine just how the modern BBC would have acted, if the government of the time would have permitted it. Despite not being subject to commercial pressures, due to the existence of the licence fee, the BBC now behaves as if it must publicise itself at all times. Rather than John Snagge announcing on the morning of 6th June 1944 "D-Day has come" the public would have been treated to something on the lines of "The BBC (or even "This programme") has learnt that D-Day has come". The terrible results of the Blitz and the death struggle in which we were involved was not glossed over, but these days the BBC reporters would, rather than uttering defiance, be doing their best to blame the British for not compromising with Hitler, while one dreads to think of the negative reporting, liberally laced with defeatist sentiment, which would have greeted every clash with the enemy. Unquestionably these people would have declared for surrender after Dunkirk. They could have lost us the war by their lack of patriotism and belief in victory.

Returning to the present the negative attitude of the BBC went into overdrive as Article 50 was triggered. Interviews with politicians were slanted, playing up every possible problem, while questioning the motives of Brexiteers. Reporters interviewed each other and felt free to spread doom and despondency, rather than offering any hope for the future. Decrepit old Europhiles were wheeled out to spout their usual nonsense to an admiring interviewer and the few pro Brexit speakers were subjected to the normal aggression and contempt. Supposedly balanced panels proved anything but, as some so called Leave supporters were equivocal, while the Remainers were as fanatical as usual. The BBC thinks that if it interviews ten people, finds eight Leavers and two Remainers, that to broadcast two from each side is unbiased, thus distorting the real balance. The opinion pieces one finds on the BBC website are uniformly gloomy and, while one company questioning Brexit will be given vast amounts of space, good news and support from others will be relegated to a minor item. Question Time is a joke, the vast majority of the panellists taking the Europhile position, while the audience is regularly packed with Remainers, baying at every pro Brexit statement, should anyone dare utter such. Radio 4's Broadcasting House sneers at anyone who disagrees with the Europhiles, and most of the so called celebrities who review the papers can be relied upon to take the same attitude. In addition their supposed amusing pieces frequently deride those who advocate Brexit.

I see no reason to change the conclusion that I reached last time. The fact that we are informed that the BBC places advertisements for staff only in newspapers such as the Guardian and the Independent goes a long way to explaining why it takes the positions it does but it is clear that, should we ever succeed in electing a Eurorealist government a house cleaning of that organisation must be among its most important priorities. It has been undermining this country for far too long.