I was driving to work on Thursday morning listening to Radio 3 and the 7 o'clock news bulletin began:
A study carried out for the BBC says the Government hasn't made enough preparations in case the UK leaves the European Union without a deal. The independent think tank the Institute for Government said there was a significant risk that ministers working to replace EU legislation covering areas such as trade, immigration and agriculture wouldn't have new laws ready in two months time.
As was discussed on the Open Thread, on Thursday the BBC made the views of the "independent" Institute for Government one of their lead stories over the range of their outlets, and Radio 4's Today programme called the IFG "independent" and "non-partisan".
So a negative report about Britain's Brexit preparations, commissioned by the BBC from the IFG, was given the full 'take-this-as-authoritative' treatment by the BBC.
But just how "independent" is the Institute for Government, the brainchild of major Remain donor Lord Sainsbury?
Well, as Robin Horbury noted:
Also on the IFG board are Baroness Amos and Liam Byrne (former Labour ministers), and Richard Lambert, former editor of the FT. Its director is Bronwen Maddox, also a strong Remainer and currently visiting professor at the Policy Institute at King's College which is engaged in so-called research aimed at showing how ignorant leavers are about the EU. A further point is that IFG reports for the BBC are being commissioned by Chris Morris's 'reality check' unit - in other words, it is spending vast sums of licence fee money on reinforcing its own biased echo chamber. You could not make it up.
Indeed, a full analysis of the list of board members reveals the following:
Lord Sainsbury of Turville (Labour, Remain donor)
Baroness Amos (Labour, Remain supporter)
Liam Byrne (Labour, Remain supporter)
Sir Andrew Cahn (also on the board of a pro-EU pressure group)
Sir Ian Cheshire (Remain supporter)
George Freeman MP (Conservative, Remain supporter)
Lord Simon of Highbury (former vice-chair of Britain in Europe)
Sir Richard Lambert (Remain supporter)
The fact that the board is evidently of one-mind about Brexit (i.e. not keen!) doesn't necessarily mean that the Institute's work will be biased in the direction of its board members' shared point of view (or its director Bronwen Maddox's identical point of view) but the "independent" label really ought to make BBC editors queasy when the organisation they are so describing turns out to have a board that's so heavily Remain, especially if - as Robin says - they are using it to bolster their own 'reality checks'.