Syria exposé shows the BBC at its best

19 January 2013

Superb piece of journalism on the BBC News from Lyse Doucet. A horrible story, of some appalling mass murder in Syria – told calmly and bravely; unpartisan, questioning and undoubtedly exposing the team to danger, for our benefit. The very best of journalism. You can see it here.

Actually, the piece which followed Doucet’s wasn’t bad either – a fine report from Damian Grammaticus on the Chinese economic slowdown as seen from the ghastly city of Wuhan.

I mention this because the corporation isn’t simply a handy base for collective noncing, overpaid middle managers and political bias. I write about that stuff often enough, probably too often, because if the BBC were to go there would be no conduit in this country for the sort of journalism I mention above; stuff like that simply would not be seen. And you’re kidding yourself if you think it would. And by and large, with all those caveats and slings and arrows we fling at it, on balance the BBC does stuff like that rather regularly, and nobody else does.

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Show comments
  • Lawrence John

    Do not kid yourself! I googled for haswyia syria massacre and got 1,990 hits in 0.39 seconds. The BBC is a dinosaur, how much do you think that report cost the taxpayers of Britain? And why not mention all the massacres that have been committed by the FSA and, of course the fact that Saudi criminals are having their death sentences commuted by the Saudi government on condition they join the FSA.
    As long as the BBC insists on giving only half the story they may as well not bother, because they are a blatant propaganda machine that gives Pravda a run for its money!

  • Hugh Fraser

    It has its moments … but all those hours of drivel in between.

  • Sarah

    Altogether too much news in this world.

    Why does anyone in England need to know what is happening in Syria? What are they going to do about it? What single person rubber necking to the BBC’s rubber necking day in and day out is going to do a damn thing about it?

    Anyone who needs to know what is happening in Syria already knows what’s happening in Syria because they are there, or are related to somebody who is there, or are working for an agency that is there.

    You think Lyse Doucet is doing something worwhile? You think you are by listening to her? What a crock, the only purpose it serves is allowing you to say “what about this business in Syria?”. “Yes terrible isn’t it”. And keeps a whole nother raft of journalists in business commenting on it.

  • ironclaws

    Plenty of raw footage from the war crimes documentation of FSA / Government forces on YouTube and elsewhere. The crimes committed by the foreign insurgents are worst than what has been shown of the government forces. This appears to be making an interventionist case which at present would be extremely hazardous as there is no viable replacement for the government at present.

  • Jim

    Nonesense. Have you not heard of Ch4 News and ITN? Sycophantic claptrap.

    • David Lindsay

      Channel 4 is publicly owned. And ITV is sort of the public private sector, or the private public sector, depending on how you look at it. Less so than it used to be, but even so.

  • Philip Ford

    I wouldn’t be too quick to congratulate Andrew Neil on his ‘impartial’ views. I recall only two weeks ago on ‘This Week’ he had some no-name alleged ‘comedienne’ on who, during the course of her ‘contribution’ described people who vote UKIP as “vile…just vile”.

    Not only did Neil let that go unremarked, but so, too, did Portillo and (Alan) Johnson. Not one of them took issue with such a blatant slur. They should all be ashamed of themselves. Would any of them have permitted such a vicious remark made about Labour or Conservative voters also pass without comment..?

  • Steven Efstathiou

    ‘Ere, who’s changed the headline to this piece since it was first uploaded? Rod was talking about an item on the BBC News, not a documentary. Looks like another example of shoddy journalism…

    • Steven Efstathiou

      Well, that didn’t take too long to change back now, did it? Superior journalism at its best…

  • berosos_bubos

    If BBC investigative journalism is of such quality why then did we not hear any concerns over Brown’s 10 year public spending binge ?

  • berosos_bubos

    I’m desperate to subscribe to a papar version of a magazine, as I spend a lot of time in front of screens and as an alternative to reading from my smart-phone. It is the editorial tone of this magazine , as this article demonstrates, that prevents me.

  • The Elderking

    But we need not accept the noncing, political bias and waste in order to have decent journalism. In fact without the former we may even get more of the latter.

  • AY

    oh don’t be fooled. all this “at its best” reporting was only made to be concluded with one very concise hint that the massacre is work of pro-Assad gangs. it might be certainly. but the matter is, BBC as well as the rest of British MSM hold systematic line supporting the narrative of revolutionary sunni islam – both when it fights for domination in the middle east and against Israel, and when it infiltrates, intimidates and disfigures social structure and cultures here in the West. and that coincides in full with fast-creeping neue ordnung of obama’s america, and also – not surprisingly at all – with the “vision of modernity” of rich oil sheiks whose gifts to humanity include not only 9/11 and fully certified and secure islamic air travel, but also hordes of “islamic law” graduates now produced on industrial scale in Western universities. all these imams and sharia judges are suppoed to enter job market not in baghdad and jeddah, but here. so BBC work here as payed enablers of the very sinister project.

  • Noa

    “…if the BBC were to go there would be no conduit in this country for the
    sort of journalism I mention above; stuff like that simply would not be

    Nobody of sound and reasonable mid would argue that there is not quality reporting in the multi media and channel programming that dominates the BBC’s schedules. What does concern us though, is there not enough of these babies in the Olympic size pool of murky bathwater that the likes of bloated Fatty Pang.and George Entwhistle wallow in.

    How can the current bloated organisation be justified when it today tells us that it is adding the pointless Will Self to its organisation as the Radio 4 writer in residence? or that it earns £2 for every £1 taxed from the licence payer?

    The time for a rational debate leading to the reform of the BBC is long overdue. The purpose, which seems to be immeasurably difficult would be to regain its once respected standards of political, ideological and financial independence.

    The result of effective reform would be of benefit to the entire nation. Instead of controlling and preventing discussion it would inform and enlighten, provoking objective and unprejudiced public debate.
    And the quality of reporting would be uniformly high, rather than occasionally, as it is now.

    Isn’t that what we have every right to expect, rather than the odd fleck of gold glittering amongst the mountains of waste it generates?

  • Simon

    I think Chanel 5 would do a sterling job. BBC= Liberal Leftist Bias and always will

  • Steven Efstathiou

    On Friday, having flown out to Amsterdam to cover Cameron’s aborted ‘Big Speech’, Nick Robinson filed a report on the hostage situation in Algeria, describing the military assault to cleanse the scene of terrorists as ‘botched’. How could Robinson, who was no better informed than the rest of us, come to such a definitive and instant conclusion if not by being briefed by his Downing Street sources. It was not, I would suggest, the Beeb’s finest hour, nor was it for Cameron’s press officers.

    • Gary Gimson

      Or battle-hardened Alex Crawford from Sky informing us from sleepy Bamako about progress with the same situation. Ms Crawford was hundreds of kilometres from the action and in an even worse position to know what was going on than poor old Nick Robinson. Hilarious and unbelievably ill-informed. A Canadian diplomatic said so on Sky immediately after her piece to camera.
      She would have been as much use reporting from downtown Nuuk.
      News reporters, don’t you just love ’em.

  • In2minds

    “………And you’re kidding yourself if you think it would……… ”

    I’m neither kidding myself or attempting to kid others

  • John Steadman

    Yes – the BBC is too big and too wide to condemn – or to commend – in any throw-away line, as is often the case, including here on thiks forum.
    But I cannot believe that there is not a leftish bias, as has been claimed even by reputable broadcasters (like Peter Sissons, Michael Burke I believe?) and when they start to redress the balance, by, for example, producing a right-wing counter-balance to the blatantly left-wing propagandist Jeremy Hardy, on “The News Quiz”, I might be will ing to revise my opinion.

    • Daniel Maris

      The News Quiz is a good example of how the BBC has been completely corrupted by PC culture. The only laughs available now are at the hypocrisy, humiliating self-censorship and blatant party political bias of the participants.

      But not all shows are like that. The Now Show has a reasonable balance.

      • John Steadman

        Yes, lots of balance on “flagship” programmes like the Today Programme. You’ll always find a left-wing view balanced by a view from the….er….Centre.

        • David Lindsay

          Who? The Institute of Economic Affairs? The Taxpayers’ Alliance, as it calls itself? The Henry Jackson Society? How far Right does it have to be to count for you?

          • John Steadman

            Well, we can list Right (and Left) wing pressure groups that might be represented on these programmes ’til the cows come home, but I’m happy to rely on the evidence of my own ears. I maintain that there is a definite tendency for the broadcasters in general but BBC in particular to pass off anybody not on the left as somehow representing a right wing viewpoint.
            You will find also, incidentally, some evidence of (regerettable) restraint amongst (normally very eloquent) conservative spokesmen on programmes such as Any Questions because of the sheer hostility of the audiences the BBC manages to assemble for this type of programme (although I admit that charges of deliberate manipulation are more than unlikely). On a recent programme the show of hands indicated an enormous majority in favour of the UK remaining in Europe. That is just plain bizarre.

            • David Lindsay

              Why is it?

              • John Steadman

                Because, unless you dismiss opinion polls entirely out of hand, the evidence is that there is a clear majority in favour of pulling out of Europe which led me to deduce that the – I beleive it was Any Questions – audience was strikingly less than representative. Given that the BBC does not go in for audience-rigging, perhaps the imbalance is explained by a greater enthusiasm by those on the Left to make their presence felt at whichever opportunity offers itself. Good for them – but that dioes not deny the phenomenon of imbalance.
                Incidentally, I believe you do me a bit of an injustice – “How far Right does it have to be to count for you?” – if you were so much at a loss as to want to hear my views on Education and the Health Service, you might allow for the possibility that a little bit of me was nice, just like all those people on the Left.

            • Richard

              Polls suggest that a majority of the electorate blames the bankers for the economic collapse and the debt. Do you think that view should be heard much more often on the BBC?

              • David Lindsay

                I certainly do.

                • Richard

                  So do I, but I was asking John Steadman, and others who perceive the BBC as biased against the Right, whether it was only views they agreed with that they saw as unfairly neglected by the BBC. I’d be more impressed by these accusations of bias if I ever saw someone indignant on behalf of a view they didn’t happen to share.

                • David Lindsay

                  I can be as critical as anyone of some forms of trade union action or inaction. But there are six million trade unionists in this country. For exactly how many people do all the Hard Right think tanks put together really speak? Why does no one ever ask who pays for them?

                  Without a Marxist bone in my body, I disagree plenty with the SLP and with Respect, as I did with No2EU (I was informally told that I could very well have a spot on its North East list if I wanted one, but I didn’t like either the silly name, or the abstentionist stance if elected), although I have voted for all three of them, respectively at the European Elections of 1999, 2004 and 2009. As for the Greens…

                  But, like Respect, the Greens have a seat in the House of Commons. Like both of them, the SLP has hundreds of thousands of voters. Whenever it confronts either or both of the BNP and the English Democrats in local elections, then it wins.

                  Labour MPs have just nominated four Eurosceptics to contest their three seats on the National Executive Committee, and one of the three winners has voted against every Treaty since the first one, a record matched by no sitting Conservative MP apart from Sir Peter Tapsell, unless I am very, very much mistaken.

                  One third of Labour MPs has just voted to be chaired by an outspoken and dynastic advocate of outright withdrawal from the EU; it is inconceivable that such a person could receive such a vote for the corresponding position of Chairman of the 1922 Committee.

                  The Morning Star has been this country’s most consistently Eurosceptical newspaper (it endorsed No2EU in 2009), as well as the only national newspaper to pay any attention to the six million trade unionists as such, and its Readers’ and Supporters’ Group is where to see and be seen in the 2010 Labour intake.

                  But all of this, and much more besides, might as well be happening on the moon. The dark side of the moon, at that.

                • John Steadman

                  I well understand your determination to point to both Right and Left in the context of accusations of bias at the BBC – it’s a fair point; but if I do have any prejudices of my own, they are not diminished when I read the comments of respected insiders, like Michael Burke and, I believe, even the former DG Mr Thompson (albeit more tentative as I recall.)

              • John Steadman

                Well, really, Richard, why should you suppose that I might want to carry any brief for the bankers? My views are not determined by any supposed ideological starting point. As it happens I think the bankers have been well hammered from all directions, including the BBC. (To a degree deservedly, no doubt But I assume you too would recognise the international dimension to the economic collapse?)

  • Bishop Hill

    The argument that the BBC produces good (in parts) output has always seemed to me to be a poor justification for funding it by coercive means. Why should people who have no interest in Syria and China be forced to pay for coverage of these issues?

  • Daniel Maris

    Yes, a useful corrective to the normal fanatical anti-BBC bias found here, which is purely ideological in source (most are people who just hate the idea of publically funded broadcasting).

    There are issues about the PC culture in the BBC, about its over-inflated salaries and its absurd bureaucracy (sometimes it seems like there are at least 7 or 8 over-lapping lines of responsibility). These need to be addressed. Certainly recruitment is one area where it could be addressed e.g. by perhaps having panels of media folk drawn from a wide variety of national newspapers, magazines and so on. There should be a pool which includes editors of the Spectator, Economist, FT, Telegraph and so on. The important appointments should be decided that way.

    • Bill scott

      All good stuff but my two gripes are (1) why does the BBC news output nearly always put foreign news stories ahead of those from home. I can’t think of any other country which does this and (2) why do it’s news reporters have to interpret the stories and put BBC spin on them. Can we not be trusted just to be given the facts.

  • TRAV1S

    The BBC is a snide and two faced organisation. It accuses the world and his wife of Islamophobia. When itself is practising Islamophobia by placing it’s news department in a multimillion pound bomb proof bunker to protect itself from suicide bombers. What a bunch of hypocrites.

    • Daniel Maris

      …and never having a woman in Burka – or even a head covering – read the news. That’s failure to appreciate diversity.

      • John Steadman

        …..and lets have a Sikh turban, the odd kippah, some rastafarian mops…and I’ll do the news for a fraction of Fiona’s wages donning my crash-helmet to represent us much maligned road-hogging, drug-taking and free-loving geriatric bikers. Yes, I’m all for diversity.

        • Daniel Maris

          Well bikers never get a look in on Top Gear do they? You are an oppressed minority. The fact I would oppress you further by putting noise limiters on your ridiculously noisy machines is neither here nor there. :)

          • John Steadman

            Ah, a self-confessed demoniser. Yet just as not all muslims are terrorists, not all motor-cyclists drive noisy machines. I suppose that what it amounts to is to have … well…sort of ….selective tolerance and diversity.

  • Shakassoc

    Worth it for the Proms. And ‘Cabin Pressure’.

  • Hexhamgeezer

    No-one denies that the BBC is capable of good stuff. The problem is we hand over Ferrari money and get an Avensis back with no right turns available.

    • Daniel Maris

      For me Radios 3 and 4, BBC website, BBC News and BBC 4 alone are pretty much worth the licence fee (what is it ?- about 50 p a day?).

      This is really about ideology. A lot of people just cant stomach advert-free non-commercial broadcasting.

      My complaint about the BBC – and it is a danger with public broadcasting – is that it is insufficiently diverse and too PC.

      • Hexhamgeezer

        It certainly is about ideology. It’s about £3.606 billion in licence fees in the last FY to have the Guardian’s worldview pumped over the airwaves and to have huge swathes of the population held in contempt, misrepresented, or ignored.

        If only a tenth of their output reflected the dissident views on climate change, Europe, immigration, education, criminal justice, social policy, etc held by millions I could perhaps accept it’s existence but even that level of dissent would be too much for them too stomach.

        The BBC is an authoritarian organisation who thinks that the occasional comedy or animal documentary justifies imposing their failing worldview on us.

        • Daniel Maris

          I think that’s a bit of an exaggeration. Clearly there is a Guardian bias, but you also have the Andrew Neil programmes and a lot of business analysis which isn’t Guardian friendly.

          I agree, however, that the BBC has become pretty infected with PC culture, so we don’t get a range of views or if we do they often choose clowns (like Peter Hitchens) to present views they don’t like.

          However, I think there are fixes for these things e.g.

          1. Changing the composition of interview panels for senior posts.

          2. With modern technology, every licence payer should be given a slice of the money (say £5 – so that would be about £150 million in total) to donate to a programme maker of their choice. There could be a website where you could make your choice (using a pin number). There could be a range of programme subject areas and then “pitches” from individual programme makers. So maybe you could have “Drama”, “Science”, “News and Current Affairs”, “Sport” etc domains and within those individual programme ideas which you could back. Licence payers could also group together to create programme pitches.

          So if you want a documentary on the negative effects of mass immigration, say (which I am sure a lot of people would back).

          There could be rules about minimum number of hours that would have to be produced per say £100,000 collected this way. And a minimum figure (e.g. £100,000) would have to be met before a programme could be made .

          Any money not deployed by licence payers by the deadline could then be distributed pro rata to those who use their pin number “voucher”.

          I think that would be a great way of ensuring the BBC reflected a diverse range of views.

          Over the years, that figure of £5 might be increased.

          3. Changing the BBC charter to explain in more detail what impartiality means e.g. specifically

          “Reflecting fully, on all major issues of the day, the entire range of opinion as expressed in the public arena through political parties,
          national newspapers, relevant magazines and campaign groups.

          Reflecting fully criticisms and critiques of all major religions. This must include the views of those who consider the religions as harmful to society or immoral. The actions of the founders and major figures within those religions are legitimate areas of criticism.

          Reflecting fully the views of those who do not support social and consitutional changes as well as those who do.

          On issues of scientific curiosity reflecting fully the views of all scientific opinions, including minority opinions.”

          I think if you do the above you can make a real difference in countering the PC culture.

          • stickytape

            Or alternatively we could say that the BBC is a product of a different era and has well and truly had it’s day, not unlike our highstreet crisis. I don’t need the BBC anymore to get my news, unless I want completely biased news of course.

            I can go online, all around the world and get my news, and entertainment there.

            Those who make good entertainment will find an outlet, talent floats to the top generally. Cameron, Clegg and Milliband being the obvious exceptions.

            The BBC, bland boring crap, biased boring crap, take your pick, there is no impartiality, and why do we need a national broadcaster in this day and age.

            Get rid of it. Do us all a favour.
            Bye the bye, my original, I assume censored comment, was briefer and far more to the point.

            • Daniel Maris

              I don’t think there is really a huge difference between Sky News, for instance, and BBC News .There is between Fox News and BBC News, but then Fox is hardly impartial.

              If you are saying we should all be able to pick and mix, fair enough, but the issue then I think is whether one gets the in depth quality of news that you do with a large organisation.

              • stickytape

                Their’s a huge distance between Sky and the BBC, I choose to pay for Sky, I am forced by penalty of fine or imprisonment to pay for the BBC. Do you really think that’s fair?
                Fox may not be impartial, but then again the BBC is hardly impartial is it.
                It has a left wing Guardianista point of view, the news we get isn’t in depth, it’s as shallow as the Guardian, and just as biased, it needs to go, and it needs to go sooner rather than later.

              • Jimmy R

                At least Fox News makes no secret of it’s bias so you know where you stand and exactly what you will get. Meanwhile the BBC acts, in the main, in a very biased manner whilst lying through it’s PR teeth in the hope that people will be fooled into believing it is totally impartial and even-handed in how it presents it’s reporting.

            • Baron

              short, clear, right, and enough to the point, stickytape, you’re a star.

              • stickytape

                Thank you Baron, much appreciated.

          • Gary Gimson

            Yes, the BBC’s business coverage – at least each day on its Breakfast programme is undertaken from that epicentre of global commerce, Salford, and presented by the Clitheroe Kid’s younger sister.

          • Hexhamgeezer

            On the central point, there is no exaggeration. To use Europe as an example the fact that someone from UKIP appears does not necessarily show balance or impartiality. Look and listen to see how their views are handled especially on those shows that the majority of viewers watch.

            The pro-EU speakers can make as many points as they like without interruption. Not so with an anti-EU speaker. Statements from the former are accepted as the general view (which they obviously aren’t) while the antis, if they are lucky enough to get to the end of a point, are even luckier if that point is not questioned by both interviewer and guest.

            Is the proportion of pro and antis in accordance with the amount of £s taken from their listeners? Not even close on this and a whole range of issues.

          • Richard

            The kind of bias one attributes to the BBC seems to depend on one’s own political position. The Left (such as the Glasgow Media Group, which at least gives substantial analysis with figures) sees a Right-wing bias, the Right a Left-wing bias. It was ever thus. Both sides enjoy cultivating a victim-mentality about this. Here, most people think there’s a Left-wing bias simply because most people here are Right-wing. For myself, I can’t see the alleged Guardian consensus as being any stronger than the neoliberal consensus in business reports, Newsnight panels and programmes like Dragon’s Den and The Apprentice. As David Lindsay says, trade union representatives are seen much less frequently than right-wing journalists and think-tankers. That’s how it looks to me, which no doubt partly reflects the truth and partly my own bias.

            • David Lindsay

              It is possible to count them. And the results speak for themselves.

              • Span Ows

                Indeed they do speak for themselves but they say the opposite of what you are trying to suggest here so I guess you need to start proving your point, show us where they’ve been counted because every ‘count’ I’ve seen doesn’t back up your comments in the slightest, in fact it belies them.

                • David Lindsay

                  How? You only have to watch or listen to any BBC programme on politics and the point is made.

                  Right-wing hacks and Loony Right think tank boys are on endlessly, sometimes two or three of them at once, and not infrequently with no one else. But trade union leaders, the elected representatives of six million people, are almost never on at all.

                  Pantomime Eurosceptics from UKIP and from the Conservative backbenches, so ignorant that they imagine even Margaret Thatcher of the Single European Act to have been one of their number, are on endlessly, sometimes two or three of them at once, and not infrequently with no one else. But serious Eurosceptics from the Left and from the traditional Labour Right, the tendencies and in some cases the individuals consistently opposed to the whole project over several decades, are never, ever, ever, allowed on.

                  UKIP, with no seats now or ever, is on far more often (it is on something at least twice each day) than either Respect or the Greens, each of which has a seat, in the Respect case for the second time, albeit with the same candidate in both cases. UKIP’s recent polling figures, which in any case ought to have nothing to do with such decisions, are entirely a product of this saturation coverage, just as the BNP’s European result last time was.

                  And so on. Not least, there are always, always two figures of the Hard Right as panellists on Any Questions and on Question Time.

                • Span Ows

                  Union officials are on every day and quoted on almost every page of the BBC news website. You are the only one rabbiting on about ‘political programmes’ (the ones with politicians on) yet even here you are seriously (I do not exaggerate) deluded. Every single radio programme is littered with New Labour members being interviewed for their opinion but never challenged. Any questions could have 4 Conservative Ministers every week and it still wouldn’t make a dent in the lefty selected audience and the Marxist Dimbleby minor shouting and interrupting His brother is bad enough and there have NEVER been two Conservative ministers on and time given to Labour and fewer interruptions has been proven.

                  You are either on another planet or so far to the left that everyone is right-wing (I must say reading your comments on this thread I did believe this to be the case: it is the ONLY explanation.

                  Give me an example of the two “hard-right” panelists every week, make it easy, say the last two weeks the programme aired.

                • David Lindsay

                  Any Questions and Question Time. Every week since time immemorial.

                  Trade union leaders on the BBC? When? It would come as news to them, let me assure you. You are hearing things that are not there, because you want them to be so that you can want them not to be.

              • Richard

                I doubt that you’ll ever get agreement from the two sides as to what should be counted and whether particular speakers count as Left or Right. Look at the argument above about whether Clarke and Patten are right-wingers or not.

                Show me a Left-winger who thinks the BBC favours Left-wing views, or a Right-winger who thinks it favours the Right.

                The claims from both sides that the BBC is biased against them resemble each other exactly. They reflect a fantasy, to which both Left and Right are prone, that it is only the dastardly bias of the BBC that prevents their views from gaining overwhelming popular support. Also, each side is inclined to regard its own views as a sort of innocent pre-political common sense. Therefore, they cannot see bias that favours their own side. But the views of the other side they regard as ideology, and therefore watch for those views like hawks. Both Left and Right do this.

                • David Lindsay

                  Well, there is no doubt that certain speakers are very6 right-wing all the time. Provided that they are the economically neoliberal, socially quite or very liberal, internationally neoconservative kind of right-wingers, and therefore not really conservative at all but the very opposite, then they are never off the air, where they are routinely balanced by no one at all.

                • Richard

                  I agree that another problem with these accusations of bias is that the simple Right versus Left model isn’t accurate. Within conservatism there is a deep conflict between the neoliberal free-market corporate-friendly Right-wingers and the patriotic Burkean believers in traditional communal values and institutions. The latter don’t get much of a hearing on the BBC or in the Conservative party these days.

                • David Lindsay

                  I couldn’t agree more. Essentially Burkean, traditionalist, community-minded figures such as Maurice Glasman and Jon Cruddas are, however, getting a hearing from Ed Miiband. He is not quite one of them. But he is open to what they have to say.

                  Like Thatcherism and Blairism, Cameron’s proposed messing up of the parliamentary boundaries (to be repeated every five years if it goes through), his yet further “marketisation” of the Health Service, his “performance-related pay” for teachers (and old idea from the Blair years), and so many other aspects of his programme, illustrate perfectly Burke’s bemoaning of a world fallen into the hands of “sophists, economists and calculators”.

          • Ganpati23

            I gave up part way through your ‘the market can run the Beeb better’ mathematics. Liddle only wrote three short paragraphs. Why part of “stuff like that simply would not be seen. And you’re kidding yourself if you think it would” did you not understand?

        • David Lindsay

          Since the last General Election, Nigel Farage has been on Question Time more often than anyone else apart from Vince Cable, a Cabinet Minister. Paul Nuttall has also been on it twice. UKIP is all over Newsnight, the Today programme and The Daily Politics, and someone else from it was on Any Questions last night.

          Yet we are talking about a party which has never won a seat in the House of Commons, and which is not so much as the Official Opposition on any local authority. This is not reflecting the opinion poll results, which in any case ought to have nothing to do with such decisions. It is causing those results.

          The Hard Right think tanks are also all over Question Time, Any Questions, Newsnight and The Daily Politics. Whereas, for example, all trade union leaders put together, representing six million people, have been on Question Time less often than Nigel Farage. Respect and the Greens, each with an elected MP, cannot dream of such coverage.

          This time last year, Radio Four had to apologise live on air for having called the Socialist Labour Party “defunct” despite its having beaten the BNP in the Scottish and Welsh elections, as well as in every council ward, including in England, that both parties had contested. In local elections, the SLP has that same record against the English Democrats.

          At the last European Elections, the No2EU – Yes to Democracy electoral alliance, one of whose lead candidates was a former Spectator Backbencher of the Year, was blacked out so completely that an audience contribution in its support had to be edited out of Question Time prior to broadcast.

          But then, for at least 20 years since three times as many Labour MPs as Tories voted against Maastricht but no one was allowed to know, this country’s coherent and consistent opposition to the EU, which has always been on and from the Left, has been ignored absolutely and completely. Comedy characters from Tony Marlow and Teresa Gorman to Jacob Rees-Mogg and Godfrey Bloom have instead been paraded for the sheer amusement of the viewers and the listeners.

          For that and for other reasons, while the BBC’s graphic illustrating the review of the next day’s papers features the masthead of the Morning Star, that publication itself, for which sitting MPs write on an almost daily basis, is never, ever, ever featured in the review itself.

          • Span Ows

            Simply too much wrong with this to be able to reply in full; suffice to say you are so, so wrong (and off topic) it beggars belief.

            • Hexhamgeezer


              There’s an old saying about never being able to see ‘the wood for the trees’.

          • DazEng

            This is the dark arts at work. What the BBC always does is have people on from so called centre right parties that share a majority leftist view. Just look at the last Questiontime with Farage, Despite Nigel’s being the majority point of view in the country, they made sure he was in the minority on the panel.
            We need someone from the right to talk about Europe…get me Ken Clarke.

            • David Lindsay

              Rubbish. There are always two right-wingers, very often two active Conservative Party politicians, on Any Questions, and there are always two on Question Time. Plus the chairman, who at least in the Question Time case is a member of the Bullingdon Club.

              Organisations whose funding is never questioned, but which have the closest possible ties to both parts of the present Government, are never off the BBC presenting the dismantlement of all public provision and social protection of any kind as mainstream opinion approaching the self-evident, and somehow not really political at all.

              It simply will not do to suggest that Ken Clarke or Chris Patten is not a proper Tory. Or, at least, it will not do unless you acknowledge at last the fact that Thatcherism was and is in no sense Tory or conservative. For they were and they remain ardent Thatcherites, oft-promoted by the Leaderene herself.

              That position included then, and it includes now, both the extreme social liberalism of the 1980s (to which Patten, at least, is in fact a lot less than wholeheartedly committed), and the strongest possible support for the Eurofederalist project to which Thatcher signed an act of submission so great that it could never be equalled.

              The true character of that project has been exposed and explained in the utmost detail over a period of several decades by people who for at least the last two have never, ever, ever been allowed on the BBC.

              • DazEng

                NO NO NO. They ALWAYS make sure they select a panel they know will conform to a liberal consensus even if they look like they’re from the right. Take the episode put out when Bin Laden was killed for instance. The WHOLE world thought this was a good thing, but no, they selected a panel to make the one person (Douglas Murray) who also held that opinion look like he and therefore us was the odd one out.
                Why do you think they screen the audience?
                What possible need could they have to do this?
                And as they screen the audience, it wouldn’t be beyond them to screen the panel would it?
                BTW Please please please leave Thatcher out of it. It’s tiring.

          • Jimmy R

            During 2011 and 2012 Cable was on five times whilst Farage was on three times.
            I’ve not gone further back than that, only because I couldn’t be bothered going through weekly list after weekly list of panel members as I though a hundred weeks or so was quite enough.
            As for the BBC mentioning UKIP on so many occassions it is obvious, for those who listen to the lines of questioning and the attitude of the presenters, that the main reason is to try to undermine Cameron and the Conservative Party by playing up the differing attitudes within that Party towards Europe, and with the LibDems, whilst carefully ignoring any divisions elsewhere.
            In other words the BBC are busily making mischief for the Coalition and whilst doing so trying to further the BBC’s own extremely pro-EU propaganda output.

      • Daniel Maris

        I could add that if you have four people in your household, that’s 12.5p per person.

        • Vindice

          I don’t care if it’s one pence a year. There is no possible justification for levying a tax on ownership of a television. That the proceeds of this taxation then fund a very prejudiced organisation is profoundly wrong. The BBC is far from representative of the population politically, culturally or demographically. I am at a total loss to understand how anyone can defend it.

          Reith, a puritanical Scot with strong fascist sympathies, on the admission of his own daughter “did everything possible to keep Churchill and other anti-appeasement Conservatives off the airwaves” in the 1930s. Not a lot has changed – the BBC is still dominated by non-English lovers of European totalitarianism. What’s worrying is that most of the current generation is seemingly blind to its own prejudice.

          • Span Ows

            well said. I agree entirely.

          • Daniel Maris

            As I said, opposition is really ideological, as it is to the NHS and state schools. But all three: BBC, NHS and State schools have done a great deal to improve the quality of life in the UK. I stress: the quality.

            • Richard

              And without the BBC we’d have television coverage dominated by wealthy proprietors manipulating the news in support of their own interests: Fox News, in other words.

              • Vindice

                and MSNBC & CNN

                • David Lindsay

                  They couldn’t start in Murdoch’s America. NBC was not long ago classified as commercially worthless.

                • Span Ows

                  So are you suggesting MSNBC is right wing too? This would indeed prove my comment above.

                • David Lindsay

                  No, I am pointing put that Murdoch has effectively killed it off as a major force.

                  The BBC, for all its faults, is the only thing stopping Britain from becoming anywhere else with a Murdoch presence: a country in which national non-Murdoch news is an historical relic, kept on in case anyone asks for proof that it can exist, but wholly incapable of being set up from scratch now that the Murdoch juggernaut has been parked on the lawn.

                  Parked, in every case including Britain’s, as an action of the Government’s, and most certainly not as an expression of any “free” market.

                • Vindice

                  That is demonstrably untrue. Assuming that you’re not setting out to deliberately mislead, just do some research. Even in the USA Fox News has less than 50% of the news audience share. What exactly has it killed off?

                  And its share is much lower among the young than the old. As for online content, Fox is trounced by the competition.

                • Vindice
                • David Lindsay


                  “For most of the 80s and 90s, NBC dominated US television: Miami Vice, The Cosby Show, Cheers, Seinfeld, Friends. The network earned its ratings by pushing boundaries – Miami Vice stylised the police drama, while Hill Street Blues gave it gritty realism. These shows also brought in big money – NBC was once one of the most profitable divisions of General Electric. But when the parent company was acquired by Comcast this year [2009], the deal reportedly gave the network a value of zero.”

                • Vindice

                  In response to the viewing figures of 2012 to which I linked, you have just posted a Guardian comment piece from August 2011 primarily focused on entertainment. Where it does address news, it argued that NBC was being killed off by a combination of a) free digital provision of content from the Huffington Post and others, but mostly b) digital ‘piracy.’

                  What a surprise that the Guardian with its already small audience rapidly diminishing – the same Guardian which recently proposed state funding of its newspaper via a new tax on internet access!!!! – should have posted a scare-piece arguing that crime is going to bring about the end of major broadcasters and newspapers. And what a surprise that its prime evidence for the assertion, the demise of NBC, turned out to be totally unfounded in the space of a year.

                  An aside: 2012 saw NBC host the most-watched television event in history. For which the BBC has been lapping up the credit.

                • David Lindsay

                  It was in Britain. So of course it was the BBC.

                  NBC was mostly notable for the hilarious commentary. “Who is this Tim Berners-Lee?” “Don’t know, let’s Google him.” And that wasn’t even Fox. Save the BBC.

                • Vindice

                  Sorry I was under the impression that the BBC had bought the footage of the Olympics from America. It seems that in fact all broadcasters are obliged to buy footage from the Olympic Broadcasting Services.

          • Baron

            Well put, sir, and seconded.

  • Gary Gimson

    I agree, but even then coverage of Syria has been totally one-sided – as if Assad was all evil and the “rebels” (for which. read Islamic fanatics) are all a bunch of angels.
    The BBC has supported the “rebels” throughout this conflict instead of trying to provide viewers and listeners with balanced coverage of a unpleasant conflict where neither side is entirely blameless.
    Otherwise and unfortunately, almost all other topics covered by the BBC come with a PC agenda – this week’s child-grooming trial in Oxford being a good case in point.

    • The Elderking

      All I know about Syria that a charity I was a Trustee for had a base there. They had good protection from Islamist terror when other offices in Jerusalem and Jordan were at risk during Palestinian unrest. Syria was a secular country with rights for people of all religions or none.

      Now, with the West’s collusion, Jihadists will take over, just like Egypt.

      The Christian and other minorities are either being persecuted anf killed by people encouraged by Western politicians and media like the BBC or fleeing and leaving their ancestral lands before they are killed.

      The adventure in Libya has resulted in arms falling into Jihadist hands, destabilising the whole of North Africa.

      Our politicians and media should be ashamed – they have blood on their hands.

    • Daniel Maris

      I agree there is a problem there. In fact, if you watch a lot of BBC News you will find they have given time to the other side and covered pro-Assad areas of the country, and spoken to young fairly secular teenagers who don’t want Islamic Sharia introduced. But the “tenor” of the coverage has tended to present the rebels as somehow identified with the people. This does tend to be a problem with all rebellions. News goes where the trouble is. In rebel areas it’s often the case the Government don’t want you reporting on their side of the line in the conflict area, so the media end up with the rebel side, and do all the interviews with the rebels. If the government gets a look in, it will be an interview with the “official spokesperson” in a government palace in the capital who, in contrast to the rebel footage, then looks like a lying toad and oppressor.

      I think also journos, sharing the dangers and narrative of the rebels, come to identify with the rebels. We saw quite a bit of that from Sky’s female correspondent riding into Benghazi with the rebels.

      So, some – perhaps a lot – of this bias is structural.

      Really it can only be counter balanced by good analysis. You get a lot more of that on BBC’s Newsnight.

      I do think though there is an ideological element to the bias. The BBC is reluctant to analyse and dissect Islam/Sharia, because to do so challenges the prevailing culture which is a kind of pinkish social democrat/liberal/politically correct mish-mash. This tends to hobble its news coverage.

      There is clearly an intellectual desire in most BBC types to believe that there is a huge groundswell of support in Muslim countries for something like a secular democracy – in other words “They’re just like us really.” So they amplify the voices of democrats and they are easily hoodwinked by Sharia-promoters who use the vocabulary of democracy, whilst dismissing its meaning.

  • Bruce_UK

    The problem is always the “impartiality” the BBC claims and fails to uphold (28 experts on climate change). Along with the waste (how many channels are showing “Family Guy”) and monumental arrogance (looking at you Patten) that are endemic along with the commissioning of programmes that in no way inform, educate or entertain or need not be paid for by the public purse.

    The BBC budget needs to be cut and an end put to the gravy train. Therefore, Rod while ” the corporation isn’t simply a handy base for collective noncing, overpaid middle managers and political bias” it still has an over-abundance – keep throwing those slings and arrows.

    • call me dave

      The BBC constantly refers to “islamic militants” instead of muslim terrorists.

      • Gary Gimson

        It’s the same in Algeria. Listen out.

  • Forest Fan

    Yeh…but what about Steve Wright?

  • John Moss

    I would keep BBC News, funded by fees paid to view things in its archive. All else, including the TV Tax, could go.

    • bwims

      I would also pay for the Natural History Unit, as long as the Climate Change propagandists were expunged. Nat Hist is the only other thing that the Beeb still does well. Re: News, we would also have to make sure that it did not suppress details of the ethnicity of criminals and other perpertrators of atrocities here and in Israel.

      • Ron Todd

        We can generally imply that if a criminal is not explicitly described as white he is an ethnic minority. And often from the nature of the crime we will make a guess as towhich ethnic minority he is from.

        • salieri


          • Ron Todd

            I stand corrected

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