Dealing with the BBC

In recent weeks the BBC have shown some interest in what I have been writing and saying on the Credit Crunch, and occasionally I have been allowed an interview to put a point of view.

They still delight in juvenile “Gotcha” journalism. They always know my views better than I know them myself, but of course their version of them is normally a caricature and sometimes simply wrong. If you tell them they have got it wrong, they then try to assert you have changed your view!They never seem to read any of the pieces I write, but rely on hearsay, the distorted views of critics, and the misrepresentations they have helped put into circulation.

Before Conference the aim was to portray me as a deregulator who thought banking shoudl not be under any kind of control. They clearly had not read the Report I co authored for the Conservative party seeking stronger Central bank control over solvency and liquidity, the very things that have been going wrong under a government which has greatly increased the amount of needless regulation to so little effect.

At Conference the attempt was to get me to say I would have voted down the package in the USA had I been a Congressman. Had I obliged I would doubtless have been presented as someone who could not see the need for action at a time of crisis.

It’s pathetic. If all the BBC want to do is to assert their caricatures the interviews will simply be wasted in allegation and rebuttal over facts the BBC refuse to accept because they cannot be bothered to read what their guests have written.

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28 Comments

  1. Tony Makara
    Posted October 3, 2008 at 8:46 am | Permalink

    The state-sanctioned BBC must be privatized. The sprawling culture of political appointments made through all levels of the corporation has made the BBC completely worthless as a source of objective news and public information. The way the BBC adopts a selective policy of character promotion and character assasination tells us much about the ideologicanl bent of the organization. Compare for example the negative way that Mr Redwood is ‘always’ presented and the recent amiable and fond treatment of Ruth cut-and-run Kelly? We have to ask why the BBC hates John Redwood with such a passion? Why also it seems to have a sweetheart relationship with certain other politicians? Will a Conservative government ever have the guts to get this monkey off our backs?

  2. Acorn
    Posted October 3, 2008 at 9:08 am | Permalink

    The last three weeks have really shown how poorly qualified the media is at asking questions that return answers that yield information to the listener. They remind me of that old Michael Miles quiz programme “Take Your Pick”. He used to have the Yes, No Interlude; you got gonged out it you said No. Twenty four hour news “shows” are all quiz programmes now.

  3. Stuart Fairney
    Posted October 3, 2008 at 10:13 am | Permalink

    With the ongoing beatification of Vince Cable (who expounds the view of the liberal far-left) I fear you can expect no better anytime soon. Now what was that charter obligation about being fair and balanced….

    Again, please close them down in the first 10 days so there’s no time for a campaign against it.

  4. alan
    Posted October 3, 2008 at 11:57 am | Permalink

    Mr. Redwood.

    I do hope that as a major political figure you attempt to persuade the Conservative Party to call a Royal Commission into political bias within the BBC and include, as part of its remit, an investigation into the licence fee.

    Public service Broadcasting is a wonderful thing as long as the listener/viewer can have confidence that the broadcast is fair and balanced. Unfortunately more than often these days I get increasingly irritated by the political bias shown by the BBC towards the Labour Government.

    Good luck to you.

  5. John Lancaster
    Posted October 3, 2008 at 12:17 pm | Permalink

    The BBC treat you as a stereotypical politician from central casting who clearly has a hidden agenda on the EU and cannot be trusted to be objective about anything. Having read your blog for a while now, I am continually impressed with your evident expertise on a number of subjects. When hearing or seeing you in the media, you become an eccentric Europhobe who can be relied on for a few standard quotes. This is clearly unfair, but until you quit politics and join the other side, this will continue. Michael Portillo comes across now as an eminently wise commentator, much respected. Before he was just a failed politician.

  6. Adrian Peirson
    Posted October 3, 2008 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

    In my view, Big Govt and the Mainstream media are different tentacles of the same Beast, I have a rule that seems to work pretty well, if the Mainstream media ridicule or slander someone, it probably means that we should be voting for them.

  7. Mike Baldwin
    Posted October 3, 2008 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

    The digital change over should herald the end of the licence fee and with it the BBC, at least in it's current form. Deal with them before they deal with you.

  8. Neil Craig
    Posted October 3, 2008 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

    Journalists are rarely experts in what they are reporting on. They are experts in being journalists & in particular of being aceptable to whatever ideaology their employer espouses. This is inevitable, life is to short to manage everything.

    I would like to see the art of formal debate brought back. The nearest we get is things like Question Time where everybody gets just enough time for a soundbite but formal debates used to be the staple of political discussion. If it was good enough for Socrates then the age when all politics must be reduced to a 1 sentence soundbite may not be an improvement.

    Such a debate, broadcast by radio in New York, changed minds over global warming. I would relish something similar in the UK & am convinced it would attract a serious audience. British politics is unneccessarily dumbed down by the present circus.

    I did suggest this to the BBC, ITV, C4 & 5. I got a friendly but unsubstantive reply from 5 & an acknowledgement from ITV but our official "public service broadcasters" couldn't even manage that.

  9. Graham Doll
    Posted October 3, 2008 at 1:30 pm | Permalink

    The BBC is plagued with institutional leftism which I believe is beyond repair. As a minimum, the expensive and grossly biased news operation should be closed down and the licence fee slashed accordingly.

  10. Stephen Southworth
    Posted October 3, 2008 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

    It isn't just the BBC. It stems from the "presenter" culture, and no better example of this dumbing down of serious news discussion is Newsnight's appalling "Place the face" segment.

    Serious examination of the great political issues of the day used to take place, now it's all set up to be a "Punch and Judy" spectacle – whatever the subject. Thank goodness that mainstream media is gradually being replaced by serious discussion on the web.

  11. Rose
    Posted October 3, 2008 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

    One hardly knows where to begin with BBC misinformation. This morning, for instance, they referred to Ian Blair as "Britain's most senior policeman." They frequently refer to the Archbishop of Canterbury as the Head of the Church of England, and Mrs Brown as The First Lady.

    They continue to peddle the notion that the Conservatives have no policies (because they, the BBC, can't be bothered to read the documents setting out the detail), and they do the same lazy caricaturing of foreign politicians that they do of our own. You are in some good company, Mr Redwood.

  12. MC
    Posted October 3, 2008 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

    If one needs another recent example of the BBC,s partiality I suggest a quick listen to the following.
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/console/b00dnzw3

    Fast forward to 30.00 minutes.

    This is, just in case my link doesn't,work, this is from Radio 4 PM on 1st October 2008. I suppose it will only be available for a few more days.

    For those unable/unwilling/can't be bothered/already heard it I would paraphrase it a an interview with some kind of focus group, monitored by an electronic device [possibly from I'm sorry I haven't a clue? – Bless you Humph.] which showed a neutral response to the Cameron speech. Cue the BBC to broadcast 5 completely negative interviews, with the sole interviewee who didn't pan the speech being asked helpfully by the reporter to say which part he particularly disliked.

    Not one of the BBC's more subtle exhibitions of bias in my opinion. Whether it makes much difference is not the point.

  13. APL
    Posted October 3, 2008 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

    Stuart Fairneyon: "Again, please close them down in the first 10 days so there’s no time for a campaign against it."

    Going to take THAT long?

    Yes, digital subscription should sort out the BBC, unless the Tories are too spineless to tackle them.

  14. Alfred T Mahan
    Posted October 3, 2008 at 3:36 pm | Permalink

    The BBC has to be broken up and sold off in chunks. There is no moral or practical justification whatsoever for a tax funded organisation which pays celebrity salaries. How can we justify fining or worse imprisoning a pensioner on a modest income who fails to pay the licence fee? Television is not an optional extra in life as it was when broadcasting began in the 1930's.

    Even in its earliest days, a state monopoly was barely justifiable. There is no reason for it now – and changing technology means it's disappearing as we watch internet-streamed content more and more.

    Note that this analysis doesn't depend on political bias – although I do believe the BBC fears the Conservatives as they are much the most likely party to grasp the nettle. That fear colours their beliefs and causes a lack of impartiality.

    I can understand why everyone in the industry, not just the BBC, is nervous. Even if buyers are found for the BBC's constituent parts, the ending of the licence fee will mean less income for the industry as a whole. Some people will spend their saving on the fee on subscription services, but most won't. That means fewer jobs and lower average pay in the sector.

    But it also means opportunity. There will be opportunities for satellite and cable companies to expand; and I expect the market for programmes makers will fragment, allowing niche producers of high quality material to thrive alongside those producing game shows at low cost. We already export content to the rest of the world (and of course import it!) and there is no reason to suppose that the ending of a state semi-monopoly will damage that trade.

    The sooner the better.

  15. Johnny Norfolk
    Posted October 3, 2008 at 4:23 pm | Permalink

    John.
    The BBC has its own left wing agenda that is at odds with anyone from the centre or the right.

    They will always try to use you to discredit the right. It is quite shocking how they try and change what you have said to help their cause.

    The BBC should be held to account by the governers or whatever they are now called, but as they are mostly from the left they see nothing wrong.

    It is a great pity to see what should be a great organisation slowly moving further and further to the left.

    Their charter says they should be impartial, but they break that every day and get away with it.

    It should be reformed or die.

  16. Puncheon
    Posted October 3, 2008 at 5:07 pm | Permalink

    I am not a Conservative supporter, and I've always taken with a pinch of salt allegations of political bias in the media. But the BBC's performance over the last 5 years or so is indefensible. I now believe that there is no justification for a state broadcaster, financed by a poll tax. The Conservatives would be hugely popular for saving every household in the country well over £100 a year. Abolish the BBC and auction their bandwidths or whatever it is they use.

  17. mikestallard
    Posted October 3, 2008 at 5:36 pm | Permalink

    We all know the BBC is hopelessly biassed. Ten seconds of Newsnight will prove this. Just listen to the acid tones used to any Conservative who dares to go on! And the understanding shown to the merest eejut who is at all leftie.
    BUT the short shrift shown to Sir Ian Blair by Boris Johnson and the limp wristed performance of Sir Ian's ex boss, the Home Secretary, on Question time last night show what happens when the Labour are no longer in the position of power.
    I am so glad that she is not my employer!
    When the Conservatives get in, the BBC's ancient team of anti John Majorites will be dismissed in the same forthright manner.
    And, sure enough, they will bleat about "politicisation."

  18. Chuck Unsworth
    Posted October 3, 2008 at 6:08 pm | Permalink

    I have been appalled at the politicisation of the BBC in recent years. Your comments and experiences tend to support a view that the BBC has become very politically biased. It has also become extremely unprofessional. I'd welcome a root and branch overhaul of the organisation as and when there is a Conservative goverment. Some serious pruning is necessary, together with a radical change of management. Boris Johnson has set an example, and the Conservatives should not be afraid to wield the axe. It's high time these self-indulgent people understood what professionalism in broadcasting really means.

  19. Man in a Shed
    Posted October 3, 2008 at 7:29 pm | Permalink

    The BBC are doing everything possible to support Labour and Brown at the moment.

    The sad truth if we can't have a democracy with the BBC dominating the broadcasting media, they have to go.

  20. Guy
    Posted October 3, 2008 at 7:37 pm | Permalink

    This morning on the Today programme we had a re-run of the Suez debacle – real tape of Eden's plummy voice with some well-directed and composed actors reading from contemporary scripts – Selwyn LLoyd 'lying' etc. What was all that about except to remind listeners about Tory history?

  21. no one
    Posted October 3, 2008 at 8:05 pm | Permalink

    im with james whale on this one

    the bbc doesnt do anything the private sector couldnt do better these days, get rid of it, its a waste of public money

  22. Adam
    Posted October 4, 2008 at 12:54 am | Permalink

    As a kid my view of John Redwood was programmed into me by BBC brainwashing. I feel so ashamed.
    I imagine that if they don't read what John has written they're scarcely likely to read the comments.

    We're a democracy not a TV channel. If that channel manage to get Labour back in, that will change. Yes D Miliband politics is one of the many things that is now broken, and it was you and your mates on the PS gravy trains what done it.

    • Cliff
      Posted October 6, 2008 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

      Sadly Adam you are correct in what you say.
      Modern politics puts image and presentation above ability or substance, this became even more true when we began to televise Parliament.

      John Redwood is my MP here in Wokingham and he does appear to me, to be a target for the BBC's anti Conservative message. Recently on the BBC's Daily Politics programme, the host would not allow Mr Redwood to answer the questions he put, he constantly interrupted and heckled Mr Redwood whilst he allowed the Pro Government guest to put any rhetoric and spin he wanted unchallenged. When ever the state broadcaster mentions Mr Redwood, they always show the clip of him when he was in government as the Welsh Secretary and was unable to sing the Welsh anthem in Welsh….This happened atleast fifteen years ago!!

      I don't mind an editorial political slant from journalists when we have a choice as to whether to buy and thus fund their organisation, but with the BBC, we are forced to fund their left wing propaganda with out any right of balance or withdrawing of our funding for it.

      There does seem to me to be a culture within the BBC, that encourages those with leftwing leanings and politically correct thoughts, to apply for and get accepted for, positions within the BBC.

      • Neil Craig
        Posted October 6, 2008 at 7:22 pm | Permalink

        I agree about the BBC's deliberately keeping him off screen. When I first started coming here I was quite surprised that John's hair was a different colour from what it was on TV, which indeed shows the antiquity of the shots they were using. I suppose I am also reaching the time of life when being portrayed as 15 years young is not without appeal.

        Positions for the BBC & indeed the entire state sector seem to be advertised almost exclusively in the Guardian. B&Q may advertise in both the Sun & Times but not it & since most newspapers depend more on advertising than purchasers I doubt if the Grauniad would survive if it were not the civil service house organ. I do not think the BBC has a left wing bias so much as a statist bias, which is inevitable if it is considered part of the civil service. There is a considerable cross over between statism & leftism but in subjects such as dealing with non-Nato foreigners there is a clear divergence & the BBC consistently support the statist line.

  23. Stewart Knight
    Posted October 4, 2008 at 11:08 am | Permalink

    The BBC is a 1950'2 edifice wallowing around aimlessly in 2008. It is a joke of bias and now makes no pretence. It is NOT a public service broadcaster; it is now just self serving, and has been said before here, is institutionally politicised with a left wing bias.

    Besides that, there is no appetite in the UK for the licence fee and people would be happy to see it disappear. The proud history of programme making is gone to be replaced by endless cookery and reality TV shows, and most programmes are made by private companies anyway.

    Will Cameron and the Tories have the cojones to do the right thing and scrap the licence fee? No chance because they live in, faint, hope of turning the whole thing to their own agenda. I have not had a single rational argument for keeping the licence fee apart from it would cost jobs. Get rid Cameron and win by an even bigger landslide, and Rupert Murdoch might come onside too as you'll enhance his channels. The people of this country by a large margin want rid, so why not do it? In 1997 after the general election the corridors of the BBC main HQ was filled with empty champagne bottles, now do we think it was because they had had a particularly successful ngith as broadcasters?

    I would like to know why the Tories won't get rid, do you know John?

  24. Bazman
    Posted October 4, 2008 at 11:44 pm | Permalink

    Privatised BBC equals SKY. This is where it begins and ends. Is this wot you want?

    • APL
      Posted October 5, 2008 at 11:20 am | Permalink

      Bazman: "Privatised BBC equals SKY. … Is this wot you want?"

      If that is true, then it just underlines the uselessness of the BBC! SKY is what you get when you are exposed to what your customers want, is that wrong?

      My fear is that the Tories think they can reform the BBC, Cameron not being a Tory nor a Classical Liberal loves the idea of having the BBC as the arm of State propaganda. If they try to reform the BBC, the Tories will fail, if Cameron tries to buy favor with the BBC , that too will fail.

      Adam: "As a kid my view of John Redwood was programmed into me by BBC brainwashing."

      You know the saying: "If you aren't a socialist when you are a child, you have no heart, if by the time you are an adult you haven't become a Conservative, you have no brain."

      Guilty secret, I once voted Liberal.

  25. Simon Denis
    Posted October 8, 2008 at 1:22 am | Permalink

    How heartened I am to know that so many feel as I do about the pernicious BBC. Its discussion panels are almost exclusively left wing. To comment on the papers, the recent Sunday morning programme on Radio Four had assembled a Labour peer, a Labour ex-actress and some New Establishment non-entity. Or take the Today programme, which recently asked Simon Schama and another historian whether or not Bush's presidency had permanently tarnished the US. That the tarnish was there was a given of the debate. Now, I'm no admirer of the current American President, but I recoiled from the in-house snottiness and underhandedness of this assumption. The BBC must be abolished. It's skewed reporting, marxist criticism – anything on BBC Four has a "cultural materialist" stamp – and dull, self-satisfied comedy are not worth a penny, let alone the fee we are currently charged.

  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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