Monday 23 December 2019

Playing his joker

As discussed on the open thread, Lord Hall, DG of the BBC, has played the 'complaints from both sides' card in his piece for the Daily Telegraph:
Around 27m people in the UK came to the BBC website to find out about the election results. It was a reminder of the trust people place in the BBC. Yes of course we faced some criticism for our election coverage. That is to be expected as the national broadcaster. Where we can and need to improve we will. But the fact criticism came from all sides of the political divide shows to me that we were doing our job without fear or favour.
As the paper's Anita Singh notes, however:
That assessment does not chime with comments made by the BBC’s head of news and current affairs, Fran Unsworth, who said earlier this month: “I don’t necessarily subscribe to the view that if we get complaints from both sides, we are doing something right.”
She's right not to subscribe to that view.


  1. The hollowness of the "complaints from both sides" defence has been highlighted on this blog for years.

    During the election, for the first time, I saw it mentioned by several mainstream journalists and commentators.

    Change is incremental but you should never doubt that the work you do here is valuable and is helping to move the conversation in the right direction.

  2. CBS - Complaints from Both Sides...the standard defence won't do any's like one of those basic defences in chess that a Grand Master can pull it apart in a couple of moves.

    The BBC is dominated by lib-left groupthink. The vast majority of its staff, notably its presenters and reporters, support the non-Corbynista wing of the Labour Party, some support the Lib Dems, Greens or SNP/PC and a very small number support left wing Conservativism of the Clarkeian brand.

    That's why they get CBS - from everyone to the right of Ken Clarke and everyone to the left of Yvette Cooper - because they support the soft Left and are biased against everyone else.

    But of course that's just party politics.

    That's just the tip of the iceberg.

    Lurking below we have the pro-Remain bias, the pro-EU bias, the anti-Israel bias, the anti-American bias, the pro-ultrafeminism bias, the anti-male bias, the pro-Islam bias, the anti-India bias, the pro-abortion bias, the anti-Christian bias, the pro-climate alarmism bias...and many. many other biases where only a very narrow range of voices is legitimised.

    I could add that a recent development has been that Remainers of the Soft Left - Lord Adonis and Alistair Campbell - have also used complaints as a political weapon but they have used that in relation to coverage of Brexit making the mad, unsupportable claim (repeated by the insane YABber on Sky last night) that BBC coverage has been hostile to Remain! It's a crazy claim, based on selective stats (e.g. about the number of appearances by Farage on Question Time) and the doctrine that only experts can ajudicate the Brexit debate (the experts all being drawn from pro-Remain front organisations like the Institute for Government of course). However, that is a fairly isolated example. Most people from the Soft Left band in the political spectrum are strong supporters of the BBC, as we will now see.

    I wish I could think of a better description than "Soft Left". I tried Soggy Left but that didn't quite capture the iron willed determination of people like Blair and Campbell. "PC Left" kind of excludes the Corbynistas and Clarkean Conservatives who are also very PC. "Centre Left" makes them sound too moderate - the reality is that the "Soft Left" are rabidly pro mass immigration in the millions, against free speech, half-hearted in support of British culture, give unthinking approval to the Extinction Rebellion death cult and back no-borders policies. All very extreme, not at all moderate or "centrist" in the sense of being where the centre of British public opinion is.

    Left-liberal or liberal-left is confusing, since in the UK liberal is still has an echo of happier times when liberals supported free speech and individualism.

    So, for the moment I am sticking with Soft Left.

    1. I wonder if Huw Edwards was thinking of Campbell and Adonis when he talked about complaints of bias being deliberate and intended to sow chaos and confusion.

      Those two individuals and others are not 'soft' left by any means. As we have seen with their antics post-referendum where they behaved in such a way that made some of us think they were unhinged, they are fanatical and extreme authoritarian - whether of left or centre left, they are definitely hard rather than soft.
      Perhaps the problem is trying to place them on the spectrum as left. What they are undoubtedly is Labour. Obviously we can't call them hard Labour! I wonder if there isn't something in Peter Hitchens's point that Blair and co conned people into thinking they were something else but Blair and others were originally lefty / Trotskyites and such - as was Hitchens himself in his youth - and are not that different from Corbyn.

      They are a Labour hybrid? Hard left ideological, 'moral', virtue signalling, extreme and authoritarian on immigration, obsessed with 'race', certain ideas of globalism and rights agenda for favoured groups, indoctrination of children but what of the rest?
      Not wholly socialist but with tendencies that way in regard to role of state, state spending. Yet not radically anti-state in terms of institution of monarchy, church and state? At least not so long as they can occupy positions of power and eminence within the state and the gifts it offers them there. But isn't that characteristic of socialists too?
      I don't know but if anything, hard left, or harder left, still seems nearer to what they are than soft left.

    2. I take your points, which echo my unease at using "soft left". But Campbell, Blair and Adonis do need to be distinguished from the Corbynistas whom they loathe and who are loathed hugely in return. I think the dividing line is really more to do with wealth. Blairites don't want to kill the golden goose. They are happy there are billionaires particularly PC billionaires. They want to tax to the max but not to the extent that they kill off the entrepreneurial class. Corbynites retain the old Marxist predeliction for class war and expropriating the expropriators.


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