Nice illustration of how the BBC selects interviewees with an eye towards shaping the story to the BBC’s narrative……
‘BBC seeks angry right-winger to come on show…
She didn’t quite put it like that, but the BBC researcher who phoned me this morning basically wanted to know if I would be prepared to go on air to angrily denounce the Big Society – while preferably making rude noises about the government.
“What” she inquired “did I think about David Cameron’s ideas for the Big Society?”
I told her I was in favour. The bigger civic society, the better. After decades of politicians trying to get the state to run everything, I added, trying to get non state players involved was a refreshing change.
“Oh” she replied, sounding a tad disappointed.
Perhaps in the minds of those who make such programmes, the Big Society has become a kind of shorthand for what is nice and cuddly and modern about the Conservatives.
What better, then, than to find an outspoken Tory backbencher to say how much they are against it. Two lazy stereotypes confirmed in one go, eh.
It simply did not seem to have occured to her that a libertarian, small-state MP might be in favour of less government. Much easier to think of outspoken Tory backbenchers as being opposed to nice and cuddly and modern things ….
It could have been worse. Several months ago, I had a BBC researcher call me up hoping to get me to speak out against proposals for direct democracy.
Outspoken backbench Tory? Must be against more democracy and change, obviously.’
Now, by way of balance and because I believe in trying to be fair, in my OWN experience, the BBC does try to present contrasting views. I have been regularly approached to express a counter-balancing “right of liberal” set of views and respect the BBC for that. The only time I get irritated is when the HOST of a given debate clearly weighs in on one side, so unbalancing the debate. This is usually from the left perspective. Hard to generalise because, for example, I was on BBC Hereford recently and the host only interviewed me and if anything was very sympathetic to my opinion on the recent tanker drivers strike. It seems the bias is more concentrated in some areas than others. Carswell flags up a more disturbing situation where the clear aim was to bring on a Government critic from within the Government.