Coffee House

Shapps aide delivers next blow in BBC cuts row

31 January 2013

Eric Pickles has been at war with the BBC over the way it reports council cuts for a while now. But today the battle took on a new front following the corporation’s reporting of a report on council tax benefit cuts. This morning the Beeb picked up on a report from the Resolution Foundation which warned council tax bills for the poorest families could rise by as much as £600. The way the story, which you can read online here, was reported has angered Jake Berry, PPS to Grant Shapps, sufficiently to fire off an angry letter to BBC director of News Helen Boaden.

The letter, which I’ve seen this afternoon, says:

This morning BBC news outlets gave heavy prominence to a report on council tax benefit from the Resolution Foundation.

The report was highly critical of Government policy concerning changes to council tax benefit. In turn, it provided an easy hook for the Labour Party to voice its opposition. I am writing to register concerns about the corporation’s editorial integrity over this story. BBC reports described the Resolution Foundation as “a not-for-profit research and policy organisation”. Viewers, listeners and readers might therefore expect that the report was wholly independent of party political interests.

However, this is clearly not the case. The author of the report, Matthew Pennycook, is a paid up member of the Labour Party. Mr Pennycook is the Vice Chairman of Greenwich & Woolwich Labour Party, as well as a local councillor. It is worth noting that the BBC calls Policy Exchange “a right-wing think tank”, but this one is supposedly “independent.”

Your reports this morning stated that there is a “highly charged, political context to this issue”. It is therefore concerning that the BBC presented the report as an independent and authoritative voice, rather than the work of a Labour Party activist.

Other senior figures in the Resolution Foundation also have close links to Labour. Its chief executive Gavin Kelly was a former Deputy Chief of Staff to Gordon Brown, and a number of researchers and analysts worked in Number 10 under the previous Labour administration.

The BBC has a longstanding reputation for high journalistic standards. Public trust in it is rightly undermined when it fails to note the political motivation of those who criticise the Government. To clear the issue up, I would ask you to amend the story on the BBC’s website to make clear the obvious political bias in the Resolution Foundation’s work.

The Communities and Local Government department, which oversees the reform of council tax benefit, argues that the changes will give councils stronger incentives to support local business and encourage people back into work. Council tax benefit will be replaced in England with local schemes of support for council tax designed by the local council, with one of the aims of this change being discouraging councils from hiking up council tax bills. This week Pickles also criticised BBC reporters for acting as a ‘backing group’ for the Labour party.

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  • I despise the BBC

    It’s about time the Tories got tough with the BBC. The BBC are about as impartial as Chairman Fecking Mao.

  • jazz6o6

    How about a cut in the licence fee ?

  • The PrangWizard

    It is good to see a letter written in a clear form, there needs to be many more of these. I am of the view however, that the BBC is incapable of internal reform. It is not to be trusted.

    It is time for the organisation to be broken up, dissolved along with the BBC Trust.

    In its place there ought to be entirely new broadcasters, one for each of the nations of the UK. This already exists to some extent in that there is a BBC Scotland with its own output.

    The same is required for England, which alone among the nations is without an distinct single identity. It continues to be ‘invisible’, divided into regions to compete with each other; to break up England itself and set its people against each other.

    Britain and England continue, wrongly, to be conflated. The words ‘England’ and ‘English’ are rarely used, I would claim they are carefully and deliberately avoided.

  • Colonel Mustard

    Cameron could pull a blinder by calling for a Royal commission into political bias at the BBC and systemic organisational incompetence and corruption. This could be couched absolutely in tune with equality and fairness imperatives in so many contexts. Why do they hire so many lefties? Why are all their comedians lefties? Etc.

  • Gold Bug

    “The BBC has a longstanding reputation for high journalistic standards.”
    That should read “The BBC considers itself to have high journalistic standards whilst most impartial observers think that the BBC is a left wing propaganda front for the Labour party and public sector unions.”

  • John McEvoy

    It’s quite a simple matter to deal with the BBC. Don’t pay them their ‘licence fee’. Without oodles of easy money, the obsequious Lefty Luvviedom will soon evaporate.

    • Ron Todd

      The next labour or labour.liberal government would be sure to find ways of lavishly funding the BBC that we would be unable to avoid.

  • Daniel Maris

    Fair comment. But is he expecting the BBC to say “The supposedly independent OBR, actually packed with Osborne’s pals and tame monkeys.” next time the OBR come into view?

  • AamirK

    I am glad to see that the Conservatives are sometimes starting to call the BBC for instances of bias. Far better to do that so than just shrugging their shoulders which they have done far too often in recent years. This sustained and deliberate bias has gone on for far too long, has I am sure had a dramatic impact on the party’s fortunes and is plain wrong in circumstances where they are supposed to be impartial, I hope Grants Shapps finds his inner Alistair Campbell.

  • Boudicca_Icenii

    Russia Today has higher journalistic standards than the BBC.

  • Boudicca_Icenii

    Cameron had a cast-iron opportunity to deal with the BBC when he first took Office. Instead he tiptoed around the Corporation, pandering to its leftwing bias and doing his best to present himself as a social democratic with just a tinge of blue.
    When he could have put a real Tory in the BBC Trust, he chose Fat Pang Patten – another wet, liberal-CON.
    The Party is reaping what it’s Leader sowed. If they had got themselves a real Tory as Party Leader, they just might have got the BBC back under control – and a second term.


    DC called 6-year freeze on licence fee and picking up some infrastructure costs SAY 24% REAL TERMS CUT ‘DELICIOUS’.Clearly this is cascading down organisation – they have paid a price. In conservative press Patten seen as too bound into ‘bien pensant’ thinking – he’s also one of the few prominent Europhiles left in party – only one with real clout is Attorney General D.Grieve and his chances of survival in office must be low – ‘a dying breed’ – with UNENDING Euro crisis their position is almost UNTENABLE.

  • Ray Warman

    “The BBC has a longstanding reputation for high journalistic standards. ”

    This is a sick apologistic lie, so why not say so.

    As long as I can remember the BBC has been left wing and it no longer bothers to hide it.

    It is way past time for the BBC to be broken up and sold off, they treat their paying public with contempt, because limp wristed Government allows them to.

  • echo34

    we’re selling off the probation service, utility companies, etc.

    Every part of our lives is up for grabs from the private sector except for the BBC. Why?

  • John Smith

    When will the Coalition get in among the BiasedBBC? We are all fed up with the TVPollTax

  • CamboMambo

    Article still says “But the Resolution Foundation, a not-for-profit research and policy organisation
    which says its goal is to improve outcomes for people on low and modest incomes” – rather than “But the Resolution Foundation, a Labour Sock Puppet”.

    Why should I be forced to pay for this crap out of the license fee?

  • jaydeepee

    I can’t wait for the next blog that deals with Tories complaining about The Tax Payer’s Alliance, Institute of Economic Affairs and other assorted right-wing swivel eyed loons appearing on the BBC and masquerading as ‘independent’ when they’re anything but. TPA are registered as a charity yet some work from No 10. Cheek of it!

    • Fergus Pickering

      Do you understand what a charity is? Plainly you don’t.

      • madasafish

        “Labour Party supporter does not understand”… and that’s worth saying? :-)

  • Jebediah

    Agreed typical BBC. If it’s from a Labour cheerleader group (ignore the political connection), if it’s not an important group, give it prominence anyway. It’s hard to know why we even pretend the BBC is not biased anymore.

  • BBCwaste

    I wrote an email to David Jordan, Head of BBC Editorial Policy about his today too, who has since passed it on to News. No doubt I will get a pathetic automated response in a few days full of platitudes and essentially fobbing me off.

  • 2trueblue

    There must be some ways that we, the public, who pay for this appalling service can have some say. It is totally biased.

  • David Ossitt

    “The BBC has a longstanding reputation for high journalistic standards.”

    That should have been written in the past sense ‘The BBC had’ and that was a long time ago.

    Since 1975 when it gave full support to the ‘Let’s join the loony-tune Common Market’ it has shown a continuous and growing bias against all conservative opinion.

    It shows its support for the USSEU at every opportunity mocks or belittles the Monarchy whenever it can, it acts as the mouthpiece of the Labour Party and in all of its activities it is partisan in favour of all things of the left.

    Drama programs are now vehicles for indoctrinating, PC, Common Purpose and all things anti English, C of E, and conservative.

    Equality and diversity are forever on the rise whether it be radio4 drama or the television soaps, what was a superb mid-week hospital-soap, opened last night where the first four faces were not white and ended with three non-whites on camera two of whom were homosexuals.

    It’s a bugger.

  • wrinkledweasel

    BBC in left-wing bias shock!

    And in other news, Pope: “I am a Catholic”

    It’s time to pull the plug on this job creation scheme for perverts and marxists.

  • SmithersJones2013

    William Joyce would be so proud of the way that such a renouned British institution has adopted so much of his style.

    ‘Broadcasting House Calling,
    Broadcasting House Calling……’

  • ButcombeMan

    The fiction that the BBC is balanced and fair on many issues, should have been put to bed years ago. The BBC is fat and wallows in the saferty of the licence fee (a tax).

    Surely it is about time the BBC was shrunk considerably?

    If it cannot do straight factual & balanced reporting it is nothing.

    More and more, the most viewed drama is imported.

    Close down (sell off) all local BBC services (except for Scotland, Wales & Northern Ireland).

    Keep, only BBCTV 1 & 2 & Radio 1 to 4 plus the World Services plus the Internet sites

    Everything else, sold off with money going to reduce the National Debt..

    Fat Pang sacked.

    • telemachus

      You say all that but if we had a monitor on your TV and radio we would certainly find that you majority viewing would be BBC stations
      I was recently in New Zealand and looking in on their television I was glad we had the Tory Chair led media megalith

      • chudsmania

        They let you into New Zealand ? But NZ isnt in the EU , how could this have possibly happened ? I thought the EU was the only part of the world people can freely travel , so the ‘Philes like us to believe ?

        • telemachus

          NZ is a fabulous egalitarian country where they care for the poor and minorities
          Happily I have a few kinsfolk there

          • chudsmania

            So they feel fine with life , trade with the rest of the world , same as we will without being attatched the the EU corpse then ?

          • Robert_Eve

            We all love the poor and minorities – repeat after me.

          • loftytom

            Try telling that to the indigenous population, plainly you’ve never been there.

          • Gary Gimson

            Yes, bugger off back there and do us all a favour.

          • rugby god

            if we all stump up for a one way ticket would you kindly fuck off?

            • Nicholas chuzzlewit

              Well said but that is an awful lot of tickets. That is not an individual but the labour party rapid rebuttal unit you are talking to!

      • Magnolia

        Lord Patten is a crossbencher.

        • CharlieleChump

          Technically he’s an arsehole

          • The Elderking

            No he’s not. He’s an arseholes arsehole.

        • Izzy Jenuen

          Yeah, you can tell by the way he walks.

          • rugby god

            he’s an assholes asshole, no time to talk.sounds like the beginings of a great song

        • ButcombeMan

          There was a good dissection of Patten here:

          Patten for me represents all that is depressing about some of the great & (supposedly) good in the UK. The thought that if he had not been thrown out of Bath, Major might have made him Chancellor, shows what a narrow escape the country had.

          We would have been in the Euro and even more stuffed than we are now.

          The BBCs bias, incompetence & bad management is Patten’s bias, incompetence and bad managment.

          Both live off the fat of the land and portray an undeserved intellectual arrogance.

          Both should have their sails trimmed.

      • CharlieleChump

        Next time don’t come back

      • ButcombeMan

        Would it indeed?

        To all your other talents we must add clairvoyance. You truly are an absolute prat.

        The only thing I go out of my way to watch on BBC is Brillo because he is the only interviewer who seems to do his homework or ask the questions, I would ask.

      • Fergus Pickering

        But that is not true. Not of me anyway. I do not watch BBC News. I do not watch BBC anything much except Attenborough furry stuff and Have I Got News For You. If I want lefty news then Channel 4 is better. If I want non-lefty news then Sky is fine. A lot of old people watch the Beeb because they always have.

    • NeilMc1

      Why on earth would you keep any parts of the BBC. If anyone wants it, they will pay for it. If they don’t it will fail. That’s life, and avoids left wing subsidy by those that actually create the money to pay for it.

    • dalai guevara

      Jeez, have all the red top lovers come out today to declare they have gone cold turkey, since all the voyeuristic tat is no longer on offer since Leveson?

      And why on earth would you want to sell off BBC Manchester, but not Northern Ireland – the latter are not even British.

    • John McClane

      No, not to relieve the National Debt. The money is returned to the license-payer.

    • ButcombeMan

      And Cranmer has interesting observations on the BBC doing Maupin instead of Jane Austen, before the redefining marriage discussion

  • Victor168

    Policy Exchange? Aah, the think tank founded by Michael Gove, Francis Maude and Nick Boles.Cabinet Ministers one and all, but don’t think for a moment that when they lobby government there’s a hint of any political influence.

    • Ron Todd

      Yes but if the BBC refers to policy exchange it will be described as ‘right wing think tank…’

      • Colonel Mustard

        Exactly. But the BBC, Labour and their advocates always adopt double standards. It is all about winning for them. And winning is all about gaining power over us.

  • perdix

    Well said Grant Shapps. More please.

  • Russell

    Perhaps the Headline to this story should be…
    “The BBC continues its war on the coalition government”

  • toco10

    Yet another corrupt piece of reporting by the Labour Party supporting BBC and its tax avoiding millionaire news hacks.The very worst in standards from a disgraced so called news broadcaster.

    • telemachus

      The BBC is chaired by a Tory and palpably run for their benefit

      • Magnolia

        See my reply above.

        • telemachus

          Maybe where he has to sit to do the job but leopards remain true to themselves

          • rugby god

            tele you fucking idiot.

      • Alan Douglas

        That man is NO tory. Except in name.

        Alan Douglas

      • Matt

        You had me at sorry.

      • CharlieleChump

        Patten is not a Tory

      • matt

        If you think that then clearly you don’t actually watch, listen to, or read their output then. Oh and if you think Patten is actually a Tory then you are also deluded.

      • Jeremy Poynton

        Next you will be telling us Bercow is a Tory…

  • Hexhamgeezer

    And in addition to this, both BBC News 24 and R5live are parroting what looks suspiciously like a BBC agreed (labour) party line.

    this morning on R5Live when reporting, this mention was made to the Poll Tax and how this could be seen as a similar scenario. On BBC News 24 this afternoon, reference to the Poll Tax was made again in this context.

    The BBC when reporting Euro related street disturbances over the last 3 years have contrasted the willingness of various nationalities to take to the streets and cause trouble with our own hitherto quiet populace.

    In explicitly taking the initiative in linking Council Tax impositions to the Poll Tax I believe that the BBC are trying to engineer (with barely a fig leaf of deniability) a similar atmosphere in the country.

    It’s a shame that the Tories belong to the club who are beholden to the BBC.

    • telemachus

      Well it is a poll tax
      Tories just will not learn

      • Magnolia

        Lord Jenkin (previous Conservative government minister) was worried about some similarities and warned that the government would have to take the problems in to account.

      • Fergus Pickering

        Nothing wrong with a poll tax, feller.

      • Robert_Eve

        There was nothing wrong with the Poll Tax.

        • 2trueblue

          Agree, it was a fair tax.

        • ButcombeMan

          Except it was called the Community Charge and those who call it the Poll Tax are playing the enemies game and reinforcing the meme.

      • loftytom

        And oops it’s not, though the BBC licence tax is a poll tax., let’s get rid of it…………..
        The BBC and the tax.

      • Simon Gothard

        Thatcher was years ahead of her time with the poll tax and is the only politician of note to actually look to the future and anticipate and plan for it. We have been lumbered with half-wits that don’t see any further than winning the next election. Labour ruined the country.

    • Hexhamgeezer

      They are still at it on the 10 O’Clock news. Council Tax benefit cuts = Poll tax riots.

    • 2trueblue

      During the 13yrs that Liebore were in power it was virtually impossible for a Tory to get any airtime on any BBC program. Cameron eventually got some airtime, but now we are back to the BBC seeking out all the ‘rent a mouths’ from Liebore to have their opinion about everything. The standard of reporting is way out of whack and there seems to be no one who can tackle the BBC.

      If you complain you get the standard letter telling you how unbiased etc they are. It is time that the public had a choice as to whether we want to pay for it or not. Then we would get some real competition and buck up SKYs performance, which is wanting in may ways.

      The most remarkable thing they got wrong this year was the Queens Jubilee. They have their own agenda and employed their usual ‘talking airheads’, who had no idea of the significance of the whole thing and were totally vacuous on any of the celebrations over the 2 days. In that instance SKY did a great job.

  • LB

    Sell them off. Put the money to paying off the debt.

  • Gary Gimson

    The Resolution Foundation is turning up everywhere at the BBC. I wondered why, so I checked out the “Foundation” and, yes, it’s pretty much a Labour-front organisation and hence its popularity among BBC types and always presented as a purely independent body. Just watch Newsnight for a week or two and you will see what I mean.

    • telemachus

      So why is the story running in the right wing Murdoch press?

      • Magnolia

        The Sun supported New Labour for years.

        • telemachus

          Yes the key is the New
          We are done with revisionism

          • rugby god

            so tele, tell me where I can come and find you. I have a bridge in London, a statue in New York and an Opera House in Sydney that you might like to buy.

      • CharlieleChump

        Because they are unbiased and attempt serious journalism

    • realfish

      The Resolution Foundation have been regulars on Newsnight for some months now.
      Just as the SWP have been regulars on Nicky Campell’s show. Campbell put the SWP up against a Tory MP, describing the Tory as ‘someone from the opposite end of the political spectrum’. He obviously has a distorted view of the political landscape.

  • McRobbie

    I read the BBC commissioned review of the benefits to our economy from their activities, apparently the BBC contribute c£8.5 billion to our economy? Great news, we can now stop paying £3.3 billion in licence tax and the BBC can exist on its own income. And about time.

    • telemachus

      Cept how do they realise the £8.5bn?
      If you let them be commercial then we end up with something akin to Fox News rather than just a slightly righting news station chaired by a former Tory chair

      • Magnolia

        Lord Patten is a crossbencher.

        • telemachus

          Not in spirit

          • Robert_Eve

            In spirit he is another awful liberal.

            • 2trueblue

              In reality he is a very ineffective boss who thinks he can manage numerous jobs, doing them all badly , if the job he does at the BBC is anything to go by. He has no idea how the real world works.

      • Fergus Pickering

        You’re very active at the moment, tele. Jumping around like a blue-arsed fly. Do be careful or you might do yourself a mischief.

        • CharlieleChump

          We don’t get that lucky

  • Pip

    “The BBC has a longstanding reputation for high journalistic standards.” Why do they say things like this – the BBC no longer has such a reputation so why make such a statement when it is a) untrue and b) makes your complaint look like a one-off and unusual when this pro Labour practice is so common. I am fed up with the BBC – whether it is Radio 4 Today programme or the other radio channels (like 5 Live) and their constant unrelenting bias and distortion. This leaves Sky News which has become quite lazy and churns out the same piece of news hour after hour with repeat interviews ad infinitum.
    Please, government, scrap the license fee and encourage more varied programmes to inform the public without constantly distorting the facts.

    • telemachus

      Look you cannot attack the BBC for reporting a true story
      And one which is in all the dailies
      You are in truth asking for censorship

      • Chris lancashire

        tele, I’ve already reminded you, you’re getting obsessive. Time to close the lid on that laptop.

        • Terry

          For heaven’s sake would you all please ignore Telemachus.You are allowing him to spoil every thread he posts on. He’s probably just an unpaid Labour Party intern and he is not worth a minute of anyone’s time.

      • CharlieleChump

        Not true, biased one way only, shoddy, unprofessional and because they are paid by the public, no-one will be brought to book

      • Colonel Mustard

        But tele, in your revanchist attempts to win back lost socialist territory on this site you are always asking for censorship. Typical socialist muppet – we are expected to do as you say but not as you do.

    • 2trueblue

      Thats the reply I continually get from the same woman! You would think they could get more inventive when replying to the government. The BBC are the most arrogant, biased, and vacuous bunch. Try 83 for really unbiased news.

      • telemachus

        Partly agree
        Al Jazeera is good but Russia Today 85 better

        • CharlieleChump

          Betcha miss Pravda

    • ArchiePonsonby

      I find LBC radio an acceptable antidote to the lefty drivel that the Beeb chooses to vomit in our direction. At least most of their presenters are of the right or right-ish, even the sainted Iain Dale!

  • HooksLaw

    A good letter, rather spoiled by the remark, ‘The BBC has a longstanding reputation for high journalistic standards.’

    • LB

      Quite I’ve had 5 complaints upheld, all about the same issue.

      Namely the BBC saying the government is paying off the deficit.

      Ho hum, they can’t tell the difference between deficit, borrowing and debt.

      Hence Milliband, lets borrow and spend.

      • 2trueblue

        You are so right about their not being able to tell the difference between the deficit, the debt and borrowing, but we are after all talking about an organisation who think they can throw our money about and unable to manage their staff. The whole thing should have caused a real shake up, but no, just same old same old rubbish.

    • Hexhamgeezer

      Perhaps a case of not biting the hand that may feed you in future.

    • The Elderking

      Noted. I wonder why he had to say that. Rather, he should have waded in and highlighted all the reports of Left Wing Bias and ushered in an independent inquiry into BBC Bias.

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