Tories Accused BBC of Bias While Going Grouse Shooting with Them

Mike over at Vox Political has several times raised the issue of the BBC’s Right-wing bias, quoting the analysis of the state broadcaster’s news content by academics at Cardiff University. This does not stop the Conservative Party and various other Right-wing organisations from routinely accusing the BBC of bias against them.

Jeremy Paxman was a particular target of such accusations when John Major was premier in the 1990s because of the way his tough questioning had left ministers floundering and, in a couple of cases, flouncing out in pique. I really don’t think it was an accident that following these claims, Paxo was taken from Newsnight and put on University Challenge. Hypocritically, this then became the subject of further Tory accusations of bias when Major’s government was replaced by that of Tony Blair. According to the Spectator and other Tory journals, it was again all due to BBC anti-Conservative bias that Paxo was confined to the quiz, and not allowed to unleash his Rotweiler-like inquisitorial questioning to savage the new Labour government on Newsnight. It was, of course, conveniently forgotten that it was the Tories, who attacked him for his bias there in the first place.

The BBC’s former Director-General, Greg Dyke, has also been another target of these accusations because of his association with members of Blair’s cabinet while he was at London Weekend Television. Possibly his critics may also be motivated by a secret fear of Roland Rat, but who knows? Perhaps they’re afraid that Roland and his rodent comrades may stage a takeover of the BBC, and that the signature theme tune of the news will be replaced by Rat Rappin’ in an attempt to boost ratings as broadcasters dumb down even further.

Despite these accusations, the BBC, or at least some of its senior executives, do seem to have had close personal connections with leading Conservative politicians even while making accusations of anti-Tory bias. Going back once again to Major’s administration, Private Eye ran a story about how one of their journalists or correspondents encountered various members of Major’s cabinet in the Scottish highlands. I’m afraid I can’t remember the precise details, but a very senior BBC executive had been holding a grouse shoot, which the Eye’s correspondent had bumped into just by accident. Along with the BBC boss, the journo also saw Major’s ministerial deputies hunkered down in the bushes, waiting to take their turn to blaze away. The Eye duly reported this and commented with gleeful irony on how this showed reflected on the Tories’ accusations of left-wing bias.

This was nearly twenty years ago, but I’ve no doubt the point remains. The BBC sees itself as part of the British establishment, and despite supposed maverick left-wingers like Dyke, its senior staff have the same very middle class, establishment backgrounds as the government and civil service, and often have close personal connections with them. One of the other blogs, which have commented on this issue, noted just how many of the BBC’s news broadcasters are members of the Conservative Party. In this milieu, it is perhaps naïve to expect that the BBC in its news programmes would show anything else than bias towards, not against, the Tories.

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9 Responses to “Tories Accused BBC of Bias While Going Grouse Shooting with Them”

  1. Mike Sivier Says:

    Reblogged this on Vox Political.

  2. Mike Sivier Says:

    Where’s this blog that said how many of the BBC’s news broadcasters are Tories? That’s very interesting.

    • beastrabban Says:

      Mike, I’m afraid I really can’t remember where or whom I got it from, but I do remember seeing a list of some of the newscasters, who were or had been members of the Conservative party. Sorry I can’t be of any further help in this.

  3. jeffrey davies Says:

    yesthey would wouldn’t they when its all true that bbc is a tory mouth piece but perhaps the law should be made no interference by any party has its the people who pays their wages

  4. Anna Says:

    Not sure about newscasters, but political correspondent Nick Robinson was chairman of the association of Conservative Students. Fellow political correspondent Carole Walker is blatantly pro-Tory.

    Government spin doctor, Craig Oliver, used to work for BBC News and his wife Joanna Gosling is on News24. Even when I didn’t know she was married to Oliver I noticed when seemed very disdainful when reading any news story about Labour.

  5. Anna Says:

    Politics Show host Andrew Neil is a Tory supporter, although to be fair he does manage to be more impartial than his colleague Andrew Marr, who’s another one the Tories accuse of being a leftie! Marr always gives Tory guests a very easy ride, but constantly interrupts and tries to trip up Labour guests. Allegra Stratton, Newsnight’s political correspondent (on maternity leave at moment) was such a Tory fan girl it was embarrassing. She’s married to the Spectator journalist James Forsyth (another rightie).

  6. Anna Says:

    Paxman manages a sort of impartiality on Newsnight by seeming infuriated with all his political guests. His interview with the hapless Chloe Smith was a sort of classic. Smith should was only there because her boss, Osborne, was too much of a coward to face the wrath of Paxo.

    Kirsty Wark is less impartial – for example, the debate she presided over regarding Benefits Street the other night was very unsatisfactory – she let Fraser Nelson and the man from Channel 4 ramble on, but kept interrupting Owen Jones.

    Martha Kearney of Radio 4’s World at One toes the Tory line.

  7. beastrabban Says:

    Thanks for the information, Anna. I remember reading somewhere that Nick Robinson was a former member of the Conservative party.

    As for Andrew Neil, I’ve got a feeling he was put in charge of the Telegraph when it was taken over by the very weird and litigious Barclay twins. He was also put in charge of the short-lived, pro-Europe newspaper, The European, after the death of Robert Maxwell. Maxwell was a nasty, highly suspicious piece of work, there’s no doubt about it, but I did like The European. Neil’s a Eurosceptic, and it seemed to me that he was deliberately put there to run it down.

    I have a feeling Kirsty Wark used to be on Money Box on Radio 4, just before the News Quiz. She used to annoy me then, as more than once she said that benefits had to be cut in order to force the unemployed to look for work. That kind of thing can only be said by someone, who’s never been unemployed and is positively rolling in it.

  8. John Laybourn Says:

    I have watched and listened to BBC News and Radio 4 for more years than I care to remember. To no avail have I complained to Today, WatO and PM because of their blatant bias over a number of years. This drives me to distraction. They almost never acknowledge critical messages relating to their bias. Do they think people don’t notice, for goodness sake? This bias is a total disgrace. The BBC is supposed to be a public service. Propping up the Tories is a betrayal of that remit. Yes, they clearly are Tories. Others have mentioned Nick Robinson and the Dimblebys – nobody has pointed out that Robinson and one of the Dimblebys are ex Bullingdon boys like their little friends in the cabinet. Far from being ashamed of it, they have gone on record saying how proud they are of it. How bare-faced can you be? Don’t anybody expect either of the Dimblebys to be impartial chairmen in these BBC discussion programmes. They are simply part of the establishment’s stranglehold over fair debate on the air. It infuriates me that WE actually pay the wages of these smarmy class warriors. As for the sneering John Humphreys (Alistair Cambell’s adjective, by the way) need I go on? These people are just the end of a long, disgraceful line of public mis-informers; paid for by the very public they are misleading year in year out. My blood still boils after all these years when I think about how BBC presenters Sue Lawley and Angela Rippon used to treat the miners and anybody who cared to defend them during the 1980’s. These despicable individuals should hang their heads in shame for the way they contributed to the destruction of a whole industry and a great number of mining communities. As recently released government papers clearly show, the government deliberately concealed their intentions on the scale of planned pit closures when it was obvious to everybody what was happening. Any number of people at the BBC could have done a minimal amount to investigative journalism to unmask the blatant class warfare being carried out by Thatcher and her toadies. The BBC closed ranks with its establishment cohorts – then just as they are doing now. Hands are being washed, Pontius Pilate style, while the NHS is being privatised wholesale, public services are being stripped to the bone, the education system (for the masses anyway) is being trashed by ex Eton boys who lie, deceive and obfuscate aided by their friends at the BBC and the gutter press.

    It has been clear to me for years now that the BBC simply backs the Tory establishment. I have forwarded link after link to Radio presenters showing crystal clear rebuttals of the Austerian economic thinking. It’s not rocket science. Paul Krugman (Nobel Prize winning economist) appears to have finally won the arguments on this in the New York Times. Everything he has said in 2008 and afterwards, day in and day out, has proved to be true. In a nutshell: IT’S JUST PLAIN STUPID TO APPLY AUSTERITY TO AN ECONOMY IN RECESSION. Does anybody think that the BBC doesn’t know this? They do know it. Just like they knew what Thatcher was doing to the miners. Are they going to broadcast any hint of this? Not while it rocks the boat for their Tory friends, they aren’t. What to do about this? Keep on blogging…

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