Further digging into Common Purpose to follow up yesterday’s post. I accept fully Lloyd’s observation (in the comments) that £150,000 spent by the BBC on Common Purpose over seven years is small beer, when you consider that BBC income was around £17bn in the same period. But John Anderson also made an important point. The BBC should surely not be sending anyone on courses that are not directly related to broadcasting. The fact that senior management is authorising such expenditure on a significant scale suggests endorsement (even if only tacit) at the highest levels of the corporation. And there is further evidence that very senior management do endorse CP – Richard Sambrook (whom I know well), the former head of news, and a pivotal figure in BBC senior management over the past two decades, has attended the course.
Such endorsement does not, of course, mean that the BBC is being run on CP principles. A staff of 20,000 cannot be herded like sheep. However, as anyone who has been involved in political organisation will attest, a 100-or-so dedicated individuals (the figure that have attended CP courses) – if they have support, or are not opposed, in the right quarters – can have a disproportionate and highly effective influence. It looks to me, from the fact that Mr Sambrook and Robert Peston have so publicly supported CP, that the highest levels of the BBC are very definitely not opposed to its agenda and aims.
And although Lloyd drew a blank in his search for further BBC connections, I am not so sure. I looked for example, at Futerra, an ultra-greenie PR outfit which I have noted in the past the BBC has also used for “training” purposes. This is run by Solitaire Townsend,who fully endorses the type of greenie-lefty agenda being pushed by CP. She also sits on the board of an outfit called Tomorrow’s Company, which – like Futerra – is up to its gills in sustainable development, UN goals and everything that the BBC holds so dearly. Also on the board of this outfit is a chap called Grahame Broadbent. He happens to be – wait for it – operations director of Common Purpose, and former managing director of think tank Demos, founded by Julia Middleton (and beloved by the BBC), the founder of CP, and the vehicle through which she has carved political influence.
This, of course, still looks tenuous and is circumstantial. But isn’t this how these organisations operate? And I say it again. Wherever there is vigorous prosecution of liberal-left greenie goals, the BBC also seems to be there. By contrast, has anyone yet found a significant BBC UKIP or Adam Smith Institute connection?
Update: I am happy to accept (see posting below) that Richard Sambrook has spoken at, but not actually undergone CP training. I am also delighted that he has posted here – the highest level (in his case ex-, because he now works in PR) BBC input I can ever recall to B-BBC, though of course, I was also threatened with libel proceedings some time ago by Richard Black.
What Richard doesn’t say speaks volumes. Why did the corporation spend £150,000 on sending dozens of staff on these courses when quite patently they have liberal-left, greenie, EU-supporting, take-over-the-world approach? Why do the BBC send staff on training courses to organisations like Futerra? He says he has spoken at many other groups – but why do anything at all that can be interpreted as endorsement of such a cause? When I worked at the BBC, back in the 1980s, I am pretty sure such actions would not have been sanctioned.
Incidentally, Richard, I do know you well (albeit from a long time ago), even if you do not recognise my name.