Alphen, Netherlands. 16 March. As Britain has declined as a world (and European) actor, it has become the pre-eminent world (and European) commentator. If there is one post-imperial British complex that persists, it is the firm belief amongst Britain’s elite Establishment that whilst it might be useless at running Britain, it still knows best for everybody else. At the pinnacle of British self-delusion sits the BBC – Britain’s master strategic communicator. However, over the past twenty years the BBC has shifted from commentator to social engineer and been steadily captured by the left-liberal elite in the process. Today, the world’s most famous broadcaster is a failing state within an increasingly uncertain state.
Last week a scandal broke that demonstrated not just the extent to which “Auntie Beeb” has shifted to the political Left, but the gap that now exists between the leftist elite that run the BBC and the mass of the British population. “Top Gear” is the world’s most profitable documentary programme which the BBC very profitably exports to over 100 countries world-wide. Until last week it was led by an irreverent Yorkshireman called Jeremy Clarkson who specialises in winding up the Metropolitan liberal-left elite who run the BBC.
Now, I get Clarkson, even though at times I find him childish and nauseating. He was born one year after me and 10 miles/18 kilometres from me. We both share a strong Yorkshire culture which is essentially an inbuilt distrust of power and its many conceits, and a willingness to say so. The comparison ends there. Whilst Clarkson has turned his irreverence into a multi-million pound empire I am a bloke who writes blogs.
At the heart of the dispute is the relationship between the BBC’s oh-so politically-correct elite management and their oh-so politically-correct left-liberal world view, and the mass of ‘blokes’ for whom Clarkson is their champion and whom the BBC by and large despises. Now, let me pause at this juncture, and provide some hard detail of the spat. Clarkson is alleged (alleged) to have punched a producer during a row and has been suspended as a consequence. If Clarkson did indeed commit violence then I have no sympathy for him. He must go. However, the BBC leadership has been out to get Clarkson for years because he does not accept the left-liberal bias the BBC now routinely presents as ‘fact’. As of late over 1 million people (most of them ‘blokes’ no doubt) have signed an online petition to have Clarkson re-instated. I suspect many of them see this as the perfect opportunity to attack the BBC.
Normally I would not have considered this material for my strategy blog. However, given the high-global profile of the BBC as a strategic communicator the capture of it by one political mono-culture is in danger of making it little different to RT (Russia Today) – a purveyor of sophisticated (and not-so-sophisticated) propaganda rather than impartial analysis.
The drift to the political Left is revealed in the BBC’s editorial policy and the move towards social engineering implied therein. For example, over the past month the BBC has been running a trailer for its flagship radio news programme “Today” featuring artist Grayson Perry. Mr Perry delivers a two-minute leftist rant which the BBC then presents as ‘fact’ under the rubric “To see the world clearly…” Moreover, all of the BBC’s comedians are of a left-wing persuasion with open-season declared by the BBC on anyone with a centrist or centre-right viewpoint. The BBC openly champions feminism and all forms for ‘positive discrimination’ as a matter of course and fact.
Now, as a social progressive I happen to believe in many of these issues. Indeed, I have little sympathy for nostalgia, Britain is a multicultural country and such a country will only survive and prosper in this world if it is open to all the talents irrespective of race, gender, orientation, etc. And yet the BBC is not only closed to at least half of the talents, it is actively championing the other half and that is not its purpose.
Worse, the BBC sees itself as a state within a state. For example, Britain has a hybrid system of measurements which incorporates both the metric and imperial systems. For longer measurements, such as road signs, miles are still used as the official measurement. Now, one could argue that as a European country Britain should switch to kilometres, but that is not government policy. And yet the BBC now routinely refers to ‘kilometres’ in its domestic news programmes, which a mass of the population simply does not understand. In other words, the BBC is deciding national policy.
Two of my friends are senior BBC reporters. They have both told me of occasions when key elements of their stories have been ‘pulled’ because senior editors feared that the facts might offend an ethnic minority or another group. Indeed, the BBC routinely refuses to discuss issues of race, religion. and indeed Europe, that might in some way be deemed to offend left-wing sensibilities. Consequently, trust in the BBC has plummeted.
The BBC’s decline into factionalism is a salutary lesson of what happens when a broadcaster is captured by a political mono-culture. The BBC of today is a far cry from the broadcaster that became the voice of freedom during World War Two. Indeed, it was the BBC which broadcast two lines of a Verlaine poem which informed the French Resistance that D-Day was imminent.
Rather, the BBC today is a left-wing advocacy organisation that wants to make left-wing programmes for left-wing people at the expense of everybody else. There is nothing wrong in that per se but because the BBC has abandoned impartiality it must at the very least re-discover balance. Above all, the BBC must learn again to be modest. It is a broadcaster, not a state within a state and it could again if properly led be a broadcaster of which Britain, and indeed Europe, could be proud.