Sunday 10 January 2016

Beyond their ken

Here are two highly contrasting yet oddly complimentary takes on the Labour v BBC row for your delectation.

Both our big political parties are badly divided, but somehow or other David Cameron's splitting pains get much less attention than Jeremy Corbyn's. 
For instance, a BBC News programme last week arranged for some Blairite nobody to resign from his non-job, live on air. This event, plainly aimed at damaging Mr Corbyn, hardly fits in with the Corporation's duty to be impartial. 
The fact that most Labour MPs can't stand Mr Corbyn isn't news. Next they'll be revealing to us that Ted Heath couldn't abide Margaret Thatcher. We know. 
What seemed like a century of speculation on whether Dave Who had been sacked to make way for Fred Whatsit wasn't really justified. But of course the BBC isn't impartial and its idea of what is news is tinged with pink. It's crammed with shameless Leftists from cellar to chimney. So if the BBC is actively helping the Tories, which it does these days, then that must mean the Tories are now the main party of the Left.
What a shitty thing to do, eh? So shitty that after inflaming Jeremy supporters all over social media, Seumas Milne has decided to go to war with the BBC over the matter and lodged an official complaint. Apparently Laura Kuenssberg, in her capacity as chief political correspondent, should confine herself to reporting the news rather than striving to create it, and this in some way contravenes the BBC's much-cherished "impartiality". In my view, while it was a tawdry little episode that gave Stephen his five minutes before returning to the shadow of backbench obscurity and makes politics look a thoroughly unedifying business, I don't think Laura did anything wrong. She had the potential to make a scoop and, lo, did what any journalist would in her position. I am certain it would have happened in exactly the same way had a Tory junior minister muttered down her phone about resigning, and, because the BBC is formally separated from the state and has its editorial independence guaranteed by the Royal Charter, the Daily Politics is perfectly entitled to act like any other news organisation......... 
....As argued on this blog previously, the BBC is a biased institution: one that consistently tilts not toward the left or the right, but the establishment. Its common sense is the common sense of London-based financial, political, media, and cultural elites. Market capitalism is sacrosanct. Racism, homophobia, and sexism are passe. Long may the Queen reign over us. And politics, well, that just so much managerialism, isn't it? The BBC is the guardian of this supposedly natural order of things and will happily follow the political lead given from their friends and colleagues in Fleet Street. Jeremy and, for want of a better word, the revolution overturning the Labour Party's status quo is entirely outside the BBC's experience and runs against the received wisdom about "the left" imbibed from the New Labour days. And other politics outside that narrow range gets less-than-favourable coverage. Their reporting of the BNP and UKIP is/was broadly of the same character too. 
The odd thing about these is that they do share one point - even if it may not be too obvious at first glance: namely that they both think the BBC coheres around a metropolitan centre that finds it very hard to take on board the views of people outside its purview, whether those be Corbynistas or UKIP supporters.

There may be a fair amount of truth in that.

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