Owen Jones has denied that Newsnight’s appointment of former Labour adviser and TUC official Duncan Weldon as economics correspondent is more evidence of ‘left wing bias’ at the BBC. On the contrary, Jones says that complaints about Weldon arise from ‘myths and deception’ and that the ‘BBC is stacked full of right wingers’.
Now, now, no laughing at the back please – we ought to take the Guardian’s star columnist seriously.
Jones names 10 people who are connected to the right (some of them very tenuously so): Chris Patten, Nick Robinson, Robbie Gibb, Thea Rogers, Guto Harri, Will Walden, Andrew Neil, Kamal Ahmed, John Humphrys and Craig Oliver. He neglects to mention the BBC’s other 26,000 staff, and concentrates instead on the right’s ‘extraordinarily clever’ campaign to ‘police the BBC’. The campaign is so sharp, he says, that it makes ‘the corporation fearful of crossing certain lines, and to ensure that the right sets the political agenda. Left wingers are reluctant to return fire for fear they will help to fatally undermine the BBC.’ So there you have it.
These ingenious right wingers will know plenty about Duncan Weldon already, because he’s made no secret of where he stands on the big economic questions of the day – and the duty of the media to report them. Here is what he wrote for Soundings in 2010:
‘The developing myth that Big Government is somehow to blame for the economic crisis, and that public debt has increased due to a spending splurge rather than a recession that originated in the financial sector, is now gaining traction in Britain. It is being vigorously pushed by the new Coalition government, and repeated, often without question, by the media. It needs to be combated, because if it is not then the story will run its course, and the ending is not an especially happy one.’
Mr Weldon now has the opportunity to combat that ‘developing myth’. Hurrah!