Sunday, 21 March 2010

Giving the Beeb the Bird

The BBC is very proud and defensive of their role as agenda-setter to the nation.  Their take on the upcoming election:

Labour - can they hang on despite the odds?
Conservative - will Cameron bottle it?

Liberal Democrat - which side will we favour once the bottle stops turning.

Of course, in taking these viewpoints, they influence actual events.  For instance, the odious Stephen Nolan the other week laid into Danny Alexander for a solid 20 minutes on which side we would take on a hung parliament.  In trying to force the issue, he and therefore the BBC was effectively attempting to influence the result by being able to say "a vote for the Liberal Democrats is really a vote for..." Conservative / Labour (delete one, depending upon answer).  What is more, when Danny rightly refused to commit, the Liberal Democrats were then described as indecisive and wishy-washy.  It was a no-win situation.

Should this really be the role of a public broadcaster?  It is, if they are only interested in political balance between the two largest parties in Westminster.

The BBC might retort that only the largest two parties can win under the first-past-the-post system.  This means that fretting about a hung parliament is the only consideration that the Liberal Democrats are due.  But who are the BBC to decide this: surely it is only in the remit of the people of the United Kingdom

In deciding the questions to be asked, the stories to be covered, the BBC is effectively influencing the outcome of the election.  Of course, all press should be rigorous in challenging the policies of parties and the actions of politicians.  But hypothesising upon election outcomes in order to influence the vote?  That is simply undemocratic and the next time it happens, as it undoubtedly will, our representatives should call them out on it.


Linda Mason said...

Just ask Jane Garvey about BBC bias. She now works at Radio 4 but used to be on Radio Five Live. Jane inadvertently let the truth out about the 1997 general election. Apparently they were tripping over champagne bottle in the corridors of Broadcasting House the morning after Labour's victory. See

Martin Veart said...

You are a real treasure house Lindi! Thank you for the link.

I am not saying that the BBC is totally biased, it is just that they favour those in power because as an organisation, they have to look ahead to see who are going to be the paymasters.

In this instance, they are creating a hypothetical story and running it in an attempt to derail an election campaign of the third largest party. I think it is a legitimate topic after the election, IF there is a hung parliament.