James Harding has made a resignation speech, or rather if the contents of the speech are a true reflection of what he actually thinks then he should perhaps consider it a resignation speech and walk the plank.
Alternatively the speech could be a sign that he has given up the arduous task of thinking for himself and has merely resigned himself to the groupthink inherent in working for the BBC…..living in the Bubble in total denial about what the BBC does, completely divorced from reality, detached from the real world….for instance the small quote at the head of this post is one Harding thinks worthy of highlighting on the webpage….and yet it is totally at odds with how most people see the BBC and indeed the experience of anyone who has the temerity to actually complain to the BBC and receives a swift kick to the crown jewels.
The speech is long and packed full of Harding’s thoughts on many subjects based around the BBC’s election coverage….most of which are highly questionable claims by Harding. As I say there is a lot of information to wade through but this quote stands out as the most egregious claim from Harding, one that demonstrates how the BBC just doesn’t understand what is going on…
‘I think we delivered against our own editorial ambitions. Forgive me, but I think we put on the television event of the campaign – arguably, the event of the campaign – namely the Question Time in Leeds. It was one of a series of events at the BBC, which, like no other news organisation, gave voice to the voter.’
The Leeds Question Time where Miliband got his backside handed to him on a plate…certainly that was a major event of the campaign but it had absolutely nothing to do with the BBC other than they were in the lucky position to be filming it. Harding’s claim also neglects the fact that most Question Time audiences are jam packed with left wing activists and more often than not the BBC fails to give that prized ‘voice’ to the real voters.
The Leeds audience was the star of the show and not the BBC. What we heard when Miliband was hung, drawn and quartered on the deficit by that audience was what the BBC has failed, deliberately failed many would say, to do. The BBC has spent the last 5 years effectively dodging giving Labour a hard time about its economic record in office and the real causes of the economic crash.
To now claim that the BBC was central to a major election event putting a Labour politician’s feet to the fire is laughable.
Anyway, back to the main body of the speech now that we’ve cherry picked the most outrageous, well there is more, a lot more outrageous, stuff.
Harding starts with this….‘A few weeks on from polling day, what can we say of the BBC’s coverage of the General Election of 2015? Let’s start, not by patting ourselves on the back, but by taking a look at our election coverage with a critical eye.’
Already he’s in denial…the speech is one huge puff piece for the BBC and an attack on the politicians….as for that ‘critical eye’.…do I even have to say anything?
Harding blames the pollsters for misleading everyone…‘A serious critique of the coverage must address the problem with the pollsters. ‘
Well yes they got it wrong, but it wasn’t the polls that steered the BBC’s coverage which for 5 years has been blatantly critical of the Coalition and supportive of Labour’s policies, it wasn’t the polls that made the BBC put Labour policy announcements as headline news day in day out whilst Tory policy news headlines quickly disappeared to be replaced by ‘Labour says Tory policies are rubbish’ which gives the lie to another Harding claim…’Also, we have to ask ourselves whether we did enough to hold in check the political machines of each party.’ The BBC put itself at the service of the Labour Party.
He tells us that ‘And, of course, the polls were central to the politicians’ campaigns, too, so it would have been impossible to ignore them. ‘ As I understand it both the Tories and Labour’s own internal polls gave an entirely different picture to that presented by the polling companies.
Harding gets one thing right…‘We and all other media organisations allowed the poll numbers to infect our thinking: there was too much ‘coalitionology’ as a result.’ The BBC gave the impression that we were heading for a Labour led government in some sort of coalition with the SNP….to the BBC it was a done deal and spent endless hours discussing the ‘likely’ scenarios.
Here Harding again demonstrates how out of touch he is with how people see the BBC and what it is really like…the first sentence is interesting though…..very unBBC..
‘To be clear, I’m not one of the people who subscribes to the view that if you’re getting criticised from all sides you must be getting it broadly right. In fact, part of my job is to listen and assess the merit of each complaint, each request, each argument. And the fact is that a fiercely fought election generated a lot of strong feelings: Labour was angry about the focus on the SNP, the Tories regularly questioned our running orders and editorial decisions, the Lib Dems felt they weren’t getting sufficient airtime, the Greens complained about being treated like a protest movement not a party, UKIP railed against what they saw as an establishment shut-out, the DUP felt Northern Ireland parties were being treated as second class citizens, the SNP questioned what they saw as metropolitan London bias at the BBC. And the list goes on.’
Harding lists the complaints from the various Parties….and dismisses them…..yet reading them you realise every one rings true.
Then we get to the real gist of Harding’s own über whinge…
‘But there’s criticism of the BBC’s newsrooms that is unfair and unfounded. Take, for example, the fabled left-wing bias. I find this increasingly hard to take seriously. In the light of the Conservative victory, what’s the argument? That the BBC’s subtle, sophisticated left-wing message was so very subtle, so very sophisticated that it simply passed the British people by?’
So the BBC can’t be biased to the left because the Tory Party won the election…..childishly daft reasoning, if reason it can be said to be. The Tories are in power despite the BBC throwing everything at them including the kitchen sink…..not a city sink estate has been left untrawled for single mothers, destitute and broken by Tory welfare reforms, not a hospital A&E department has been allowed to go to work without a BBC number cruncher counting the daily ‘catastrophic crises’, not a foodbank has gone unvisited so that we learn of the desperate plight of those left behind by the Coalition’s heartless policies that leave the poor to starve.
The reality is that the Tories are in power because, as the Leeds audience showed, in the real world Labour was recognised as the party that would heap yet more economic misery and ruin upon us, led by a man whose incompetence knew no bounds and who inspired absolutely no confidence in people….I suspect Miliband was possibly the real reason Scots voted for the SNP in droves and nothing to do with their policies.
The BBC utterly failed to report Miliband’s disconnect with the voters. It was the BBC that held Miliband up as a new kind of politician who was shaping the political narrative about a new world order, a new form of politics, a new form of society, a new form of economic system. Unfortunately Miliband was none of those things. There was no real substance to his politics, each policy announcement was carefully weighted and crafted to please the crowd and catch the next news headline, the BBC being very obliging on this, but as soon as they were put under the slightest scrutiny, not something the BBC was prone to do, they melted away like the lightweight airhead policies they were.
The BBC entirely misjudged the mood of the country and Labour’s politics believing them to be at the forefront of the ‘inequality’ Zeitgeist apparently sweeping the world.
Harding goes on to tell a complete lie by connecting two of Nigel Farage’s statements and reporting one as a consequence of the other…
‘I’ve been asked whether politicians made the link between the BBC’s election coverage and the future funding of the BBC? Mostly, not. But, along the way, there were people from all parties who made the connection between their dissatisfaction with the election coverage and the fact that the next government will set the licence fee and the terms of the Royal Charter. Some did so explicitly. Nigel Farage, for example, said he was unhappy at UKIP’s treatment on the BBC and proposed cutting the licence fee by two thirds.
Fargae made no such statement about cutting the BBC funding due to its biased audiences in the debates.
Here is what Farage said about restructuring the BBC…
“I would like to see the BBC cut back to the bone to be purely a public service broadcaster with its international reach and I think it could do that with a licence fee that is a third of what it currently is.”
Even the BBC’s own report on his statement makes no claim that it is linked to BBC bias despite noting that he thought one BBC audience had been biased.
So no Farage did not ‘explicitly’, or even implicitly, threaten the BBC with a cut in licence fee funding in retaliation for its bias. Harding is mistaken.
Finally I’ll end on this from Harding...’In the months ahead and the political contests to come, politicians may not always like our news judgments. But we’re not here for them, we’re here for the public.’
That’s just not true. The ‘Public and their views are the absolute last concern of the BBC. The BBC was there for the Labour Party year in year out for the last 5 years and in everything the BBC has done over those years it has sought to challenge the Public mood, the Public’s own values and beliefs whether on immigration, climate, the EU or Islam. The BBC has a world view that is at odds with the majority of the people of this country and represents not ‘The Public’ but a very small group of likeminded people, the liberal, metropolitan elite, who want to maintain their grip on power that the Media bestows upon them and is happy to abuse that power to keep themselves in those positions of influence.
That’s why they hate the internet and the Blogger. The internet democratises information and stops uncomfortable truths from disappearing and history being rewritten.
The BBC does not give a voice to the People, only very select, approved people, it does have that ‘fabled left wing bias’, it isn’t ‘alive to its critics’ as Harding proves in his speech, it is defiantly unself-critical and is utterly and implausibly living in the very rarified atmosphere of its own little elitist bubble.
It is an irony that an organisation like the BBC with its enormous resources for news gathering and analysis could so badly misunderstand the world. The reason for that is because it is institutionally left wing and any recruits soon learn to toe the line….the famous groupthink that Harding denies exists. Never mind making efforts to employ disabled weather presenters, how about employing a lot more ‘right wing’ minded journalists…..so many that group think towards the left becomes unnecessary as people with right wing views do not feel isolated and under pressure to conform, left and right balancing each other and working as checks on each others work….after all that is the supposed essence of the BBC, providing a balanced, impartial news service not becoming some sort of social service providng jobs for life’s waifs and strays.