Posts Tagged ‘Roland Rat’

Tories Accused BBC of Bias While Going Grouse Shooting with Them

January 11, 2014

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 na├»ve to expect that the BBC in its news programmes would show anything else than bias towards, not against, the Tories.