From 2013: Private Eye on BBC Giving to Tories over Term ‘Bedroom Tax’

This is from the Eye’s edition for 22nd March- 4th April 2013.

In last Thursday’s Mail Stephen Glover launched a ferocious attack on the BBC for repeating the phrase “the bedroom tax” to describe the coalition’s welfare cut. Little did he known that Auntie’s managers had surrendered long before he got out his trusty old musket.

On Thursday 7 March, work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith had sent a private note to the BBC complaining that it was “confusing members of the public” and causing needless “worry [to] those not in social housing” by talking of a bedroom tax. On 11 March, three days before Glover’s why-oh-why eruptions, the corporation ran up the white flag.

Gavin Allen, “editor of BBC Millbank” and thus in charge of all political correspondents, issued an edict at 3.15 pm that day banning the term. Henceforth the so-called bedroom tax must be referred to as “housing benefit changes”, presumably ensuring that no one will ever again be worried or confused.

Allen is said to be a frontrunner in the battle to succeed newly appointed head of programmes Ceri Thomas as editor of Today on Radio 4. Just the man of steel needed in these politically nervous times!

This is another example of the Corporation complying with the government’s wishes, despite regular accusations from them about the ‘Liberal BBC’ (if only). Mike over at Vox Political has shown that, whatever IDS may splutter to the contrary, the Bedroom Tax is indeed a tax as the ‘spare room subsidy’ it replaces does not exist. It’s another example of the government trying to change language in order to justify and make its views more acceptable. See Kittysjones’ articles on the abuse of language by the Tories to justify their attacks on the disabled and unemployed as terrible, scrounging Others. As for the BBC, Mike today in his post critiquing a news report that more young people are joining the ‘hip and happening’ Conservatives, has pointed that Nick Robinson, one of the BBC’s reporters, himself used to be a Young Conservatives’ chairman.

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