A new approach from the BBC?

Yesterday when I gave some interviews to the BBC I was impressed by the change of aproach. I have always been ready to criticise them here, so let me on this occasion priase them. They were courteous and thoughtful in their overtures. During the interviews on and off air I could see them struggling to understand the fact that I simply do not see the world through the eyes of 13 years of Labour spin as many of their broadcasters have done. The problem is, as readers of this site know, I disagree with so many of the conventional mistakes in analysis it takes time to explain the alternative view.

Two of the crucial issues relate to the public sector. I was asked why Conservatives wish to take £6 billion out of the economy this year. I had to explain we have no wish to take £6 billion out. We wish to spend and borrow £6 billion less in the public sector to leave more scope for private sector revival, and to try to stop a further increase in borrowing costs. Indeed, the £6 billion figure itself is suspect, as we have promised an accelerated reduction of the debt based on a faster pace of controlling public spending and raising the efficiency of the spend. Every penny the public sector borrows and taxes cuts private sector spending.

I was also asked about why we intended “Thatcher” style cuts. I had to explain Margaret Thatcher did never cut the overall level of public spending compared to the previous year. She had to control its growth and cut unrealistic plans. Further more I had to explain again that Conservatives do not come into office wanting to sack teachers, nurses and doctors – that is all absurb Labour myth.

So based on yesteray, let me give one cheer for the BBC. They sounded as if they did wish at last to understand a different viewpoint. The problem is Labour has not just messed up the government for so many years, but has spent much of our money on ensuring the circulation of distorted thinking and misunderstandngs galore about how the economy works and what Conservatives think.

We need to start to establishing that the eocnomy and the public sector are different things. The new jobs, new prospoerity and higher living standards we want are going to mainly come from an expanding private sector. The public sector has spent and borrowed too much and we cannot have a sustained recovery unless we sort that out.

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41 Comments

  1. Amanda
    Posted May 9, 2010 at 9:18 am | Permalink

    Exactly.

    I run a small business, I have, obviously, talked to many others who do. We cannot wait to get rid of Brown and his socialists, and all the pain he has and is causing us. This stops us offering jobs and growing the wealth of the country.

    I'm interested that the BBC people seem to actually believe the Labour lies, as opposed to just spinning them knowing the truth. I've always seen them as wickedly distorting the truth (that they know what the truth actually is), now you've made me wonder if they are really just ignorant. If the latter, then there is hope – set up some economic education workshops for BBC and media employees quickly John. Tell Michael Gove to put economics on every 'media' university course.

  2. alan jutson
    Posted May 9, 2010 at 9:28 am | Permalink

    Good to hear that:

    They asked you for your comments.

    That they actually gave you time to explain in detail, your thoughts and answers to their questions without cutting you off midflow.

    I did not see the interview myself due to other commitments, but I am sure you gave an excellent and clear account of yourself, of your Party policy, and of past decisions (when you were in cabinet) and that you at last had the opportunity to nail the £6 billion lie.

    Never know John you may now be asked for your comments by the BBC on a more regular basis.

    Just out of interest, was the interviewer left rather more thoughtful than in the past ?

    Wonder what has happened in the last week for the BBC to have a change of attitude !

    Ah yes, funding by a different set of Politicians.

  3. Eotvos
    Posted May 9, 2010 at 9:57 am | Permalink

    Mr Redwood this is exactly what should have been shouted from the rooftops during the election campaign. I regret that I was not able to see the interview.

    It is a great pity and missed opportunity that Mr Cameron did not make these points during the TV debates.

  4. David B
    Posted May 9, 2010 at 9:59 am | Permalink

    But they need purged at the very least. Too many of them are Labour party members or married to them. They have spouted propaganda for years which only the freedom of internet access has countered for me – and which has not been countered for that swathe of the population which consumes news uncritically from the idiot box.

    Beware Greeks bearing gifts.

  5. Pat
    Posted May 9, 2010 at 10:26 am | Permalink

    Good news if sustained. However we really need a variety of stations holding a variety of views, not one that can be unduly influenced by one viewpoint- and especially not one that can be influenced by the government of the day. Indeed given the massive market share that the BBC enjoys they tip the population into favouring a government that they prefer, and are more willing to show deference to.
    However, since the ability to broadcast free of advertising and with no subscription from viewers gives a considerable advantage as to market share- the more so since there is no market test for the cost of the license fee and those who do prefer other channels still have to pay it.
    This model made a lot of sense when the BBC was founded- the cost of establishing a national broadcasting network then precluded competition, and so the provision of a nominally neutral news source was the best that could be done with the technology of the time. However we now have technological scope for a vast number of channels, so now the need to regulate broadcaster neutrality (always a bit of a myth and especially so recently) has gone- a fair system can now be had by allowing a variety of viewpoints to be presented, and to let the public make up their own minds. It is impossible for anyone to be entirely neutral- everyone has an opinion.
    My solution? Put public service broadcasting out to tender on rules ensuring that no one organisation can get more than a third of the market- privatise the BBC, and of course allow the BBC to run commercial channels alongside any public service channels they win the tender for.

  6. Kevin Peat
    Posted May 9, 2010 at 10:27 am | Permalink

    I didn't like Andrew Neil's treatment of Dan Hannan on Friday.

  7. Ashley Wills
    Posted May 9, 2010 at 10:36 am | Permalink

    Could I read/listen/watch these interviews? Which programmes?

    Thanks

    Reply: Saturday Newsnight 6.30pm Saturday and Five Live phone in 10pm Saturday

  8. Stewart Knight M
    Posted May 9, 2010 at 10:37 am | Permalink

    I was asked why Conservatives wish to take £6 billion out of the economy this year.

    Why has this deliberate lie perpetrated by labour as an election ploy STILL not been fully discredited and put to bed as a lie?

    The truth is the exact opposite of taking the money out of the economy, so why has Cameron not nipped it in the bud despite being given massive opportunities to do so? That single lie cost a few seats undoubtedly, having spoken to a few people since voting ended, and STILL it is an issue.

    The same as Tax Credits. Why did no-one point out that tax credits is family credits only administered by the IR and not DHSS.

    These are not the only issues and people like myself are so infuriated and frustrated by Cameron and the Tories for being so weak and timid in the run up to the election.

    You have started to establish a good commentary, but is it too late?

  9. Publius
    Posted May 9, 2010 at 11:08 am | Permalink

    I tend to steer clear of the BBC's political coverage. But I did listen/watch a bit over the past couple of days, and I was struck by the blatant bias.

    I won't bore you with endless examples, but what stuck yesterday was how that rent-a-mob haranguing Clegg was described as a wave of popular demand calling for a "fair" voting system. And then there is the constant, unchallenged, reference to a "progressive alliance".

    Mr Redwood. If the BBC has been temporarily civil to you, I suspect it is that they are cowards at heart, and fear that the Tories may after all end up in power.

  10. Blackbeard
    Posted May 9, 2010 at 11:09 am | Permalink

    "The economy and the public sector are different things".

    Really?? Could you explain this point a bit further please? It seems the rest of your argument is that the public sector is, in fact, too large a part of the economy, rather than outside it.

  11. Robert George
    Posted May 9, 2010 at 11:12 am | Permalink

    Frankly John, your article is at best naive and at worst a grave mistake. It is not the time to be nice to the BBC, it is time to cut their funding, sell off as much as possible and destroy the carreers of those who gave unstinting and biased support to the Blair/Brown disaster over the past 13 years.

    A Tory government does not need to be nice to the BBC, the BBC needs to go in fear and trembling for many years to come.

    Better respected and feared than 'liked' with sniggers behind their backs.

  12. rb
    Posted May 9, 2010 at 11:13 am | Permalink

    That was the one thing that I was constantly amazed was not challenged in any debate or anywhere else. Brown's constant chant that Tories would take £6 billion out of the economy was repeated ad nauseam without anyone pointing out that it was rubbish.

    It could only be true if one accepts as a given that the government is the economy and Brown knows how to spend our money better than we do. It was the perfect opportunity for the Tories to attack Brown's statist obsession.

    Leaving that money IN the economy is what the Tories proposed, but this point was never made. Baffling.

  13. MaxVanHorn
    Posted May 9, 2010 at 11:18 am | Permalink

    Sorry John, the BBC must be made a subscription channel.They have talked the Conservatives down at every opportunity.No quarter.

  14. Athelstan
    Posted May 9, 2010 at 11:53 am | Permalink

    Listening to the Beeb this morning(9th) – a presenter described the present political situation as a;
    “crisis of democracy”.
    I don’t suppose that if (by some strange twist) the Nu-Labs had won, he would have posited a similar view.
    He would probably opined that a winning result for the socialists was a ‘triumph for democracy’.
    The beeb still can scarcely believe it, like their ideological guru and master (Brown), who is still holed up in (his bunker) at No. 10.
    No! – democracy won on Thursday, it just didn’t provide the correct result (albeit a ‘near run thing’).

    They'll never change Mr. Redwood, until they are dragged kicking and screaming into the real world: they will continue to stroke the egos of their political allies: the socialists and 'progressives' of the 'elite'.
    The massive license fee or the 'poll tax' should be removed and thus make the beeb fend for itself in the cut and thrust of the stark reality of a unsubsidised existence.

  15. Bob
    Posted May 9, 2010 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

    You wouldn't support the Daily Mirror with taxpayers money, would you?

    The BBC is a tool of the Fabians, don't be fooled by them, they're just hiding their real agenda until the opportunity arises to stick it to you again.

    Phase out the licence fee and let the BBC get their money from Charley Whelan and Jack Dromey to fund their leftist propaganda.

    Let them feel the chill wind of reality, like the rest of us.

  16. no one
    Posted May 9, 2010 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

    dont be fooled its just the way bum lickers everywhere act, they act differently according to how much power they perceive you may have

    its a change in the amount of power the conservatives have, not any revelation in the bbc ranks

  17. DBC Reed
    Posted May 9, 2010 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

    It is of course a lie that the Conservatives want to take 6bn out of the economy.The idea is that they want to stop the Government putting borrowed money into the public sector in the hope that the banks will put an equivalent amount of money into the private sector .Apart from the fact that Brown is already trying to make the banks lend to revive the private sector ,is n't the most likely outcome that the new Gov will kibosh the public sector,then as now,the private sector won't turn up?

  18. Carol Whitaker
    Posted May 9, 2010 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

    Funding is so obviously the reason for the BBC's sudden interest in your views. Do away with the tele tax and make them stand on their own feet for the first time ever. Maybe that would teach them economics?

    • DBC Reed
      Posted May 10, 2010 at 9:17 am | Permalink

      Standing on your own two feet!If the average Conservative voter was threatened with being made to stand on own two feet with the loss of the steady stream of State-sponsored Capital Gains in the value of his/her house,you would n't see the Conservative Vote for dust.
      As to BBC (not a monopoly by the way):smash BBC;get Murdoch.The Old Tories I was brought up with post-war would have been the first to take arms against foreign press ownership.

  19. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted May 9, 2010 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

    The reason for the BBC's behaviour over the last 13 years has been systematic intimidation from the Labour scum that ran the country.

    • APL
      Posted May 10, 2010 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

      Lindsay McDougall: "systematic intimidation"

      Not really good enough, nor very credible.

      Perhaps pressure was brought to bear, but the BBC didn't try very hard to oppose the pressure.

  20. Matt
    Posted May 9, 2010 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

    The BBC's charter is due for review in 2012. Ahead of this a Royal Commission should be set up to examine the question of the question of impartiality. The BBC's political coverage has so obviously willingly conspired with New Labour since about 1994 to skew the terms of debate. We need to have people on the Commission who can be seen to be objective to review why this happened and whether anything can be salvaged of the Reithian ethic or whether they are now simply incapable of understanding and enforcing political objectivity.

  21. olly garchy
    Posted May 9, 2010 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

    Agree with Stewart Knight M, rb, et al

    Brown was allowed to keep repeating this nonsense about 'taking 6 billion out of the economy'.
    It should have been coherently dismissed as garbage.

    The BBC must be dealt with, they have relentlessly delivered NuLabour propaganda for 13 years, with the added insult that we are compelled to fund it.

    • BillyB
      Posted May 10, 2010 at 12:11 am | Permalink

      ermm – so why did DC not respond and put him straight? Baffled.

  22. Phil C
    Posted May 9, 2010 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

    At least you attempted to explain that the borrowing of £6bn to support public spending had its downside. I don't think either Brown or the BBC understand this.

  23. Lola
    Posted May 9, 2010 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

    The dual scandal of New Labours Newspeak tactics over the last 13 years lapped up by the BBC are things that have made me very angry indeed. New Labours big 'success' has been the propaganda assualt on the reputation of your party, helped in large part by your very week performance as an opposition, the low point of which was Portillo accepting the minimum wage argument (or jobs destruction wage as I prefer to call it).

    You really must now carry the freedom and market argument. If the BBC persist in not properly reporting the facts then tell then that they will moved to a subscription service in double quick time.

    I for one are very grumpy that I should be taxed to own a telly just so's a bunch of corporatists can swan about on my money helping the lefties propaganda machine.

  24. THE ESSEX GIRLS
    Posted May 9, 2010 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

    Your thoughts on the BBC are heartening but we were taken aback at the Newsnight special in which you appeared yesterday evening. The first 10 minutes – 25% of the program – was taken up by a re-run of the news with Michael Crick again being rather silly. You were given the chance to speak twice, briefly, before being sidelined in favour of less relevant material.
    It seemed such a waste of effort to get you and others there on a Saturday afternoon/evening although if you combined it with other BBC interviews it makes greater sense.

    It is so annoying to see Jeremy Paxman – so often these days a caricature if himself – trying to fan the flames and interject constantly when our politicians themselves are acting with dignity and calm in this current situation. We suppose that a £1m pa salary package means he has to speak a lot of words to get the unit cost down rather than act with courtesy and insight in allowing his guests to give their opinions!
    (Watch some of the USA hosts as a useful guide, Jeremy,and do us and yourself a favour!)

    Paxman followed on the heels of Kirsty Walk's ridiculous performance on Friday's Newsnight. She had Ken Clarke on the big screen and Jim Wallis in the studio. Both are mature and interesting contributors with long experience relevant to the current situation yet Ms Wark tried every rude tactic possible to get them to lock horns. She failed and both sailed on serenely reflecting the same constructive calm that the party leaders and their henchmen have shown since Friday.

    We think it's time these 2 old Newsnight Warhorses were put out to grass as they are surely out of their comfort zones and depth in turning the new political leaf that is the mood and the need of the moment.

    Incidentally Britain is blessed at such a difficult and critical time for the nation to have a host of rational, articulate elder statesmen such as Jim Wallis, David Owen, David Steel, Paddy Ashdown & Michael Heseltine – not to mention current MPs such as Rifkind, Redwood and Clarke – to help achieve balance and support to younger party leaders.

  25. Ian B
    Posted May 9, 2010 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

    Mr Redwood, we all know the importance of particular terminologies as means of propaganda. If they wish to refer to tax reductions as "cuts" perhaps people such as yourself could start talking about Labour "cutting" the private sector, which is what taxes do.

    "Labour has cut £350 billion from the economy since it came to power."

    "Cut" is a powerful word.

    • THE ESSEX GIRLS
      Posted May 11, 2010 at 2:58 am | Permalink

      It certainly is Ian. We think back wistfully to our proposal of 11th March for a campaign slogan that would certainly have cut out the present nonsense with the Lib-Dems as the Tories romped home on 6th May!

      "CORE MESSAGE IS:
      VOTE CONSERVATIVE and help us CUT THE NONSENSE.
      * Debt * Waste * Immigration * Red tape * Blunders & Lies
      THE CONSERVATIVES
      Common Sense & Competence"

      Mind you we're 60+ wrinklies – nowhere near as smart those smart young chaps from Notting Hill who run Team Cameron!

  26. Mike Stallard
    Posted May 9, 2010 at 5:48 pm | Permalink

    I caught the tail end of your Newsnight and thought it was fantastic. Well said! I also liked the quiet thoughtful approach – so different to the usual "experts".
    Wasn't the Whig Simon Hughes (?) interesting too. He was quite seriously putting party policy (PR) before the imminent danger of Mr Sarkozy's bid to save Greek extravagance by everyone chipping in under the Lisbon Treaty.
    Once things have settled down (if they ever do) it will be the end of Jeremy Paxman, Kirsty Wark(?) and all the rest of these bigots. A new generation of interviewer will no doubt arise and they might even have heard of the market.

  27. ps
    Posted May 9, 2010 at 9:53 pm | Permalink

    It is high time the BBC treated you and others that don't agree with their socialist/pro Europe/large government agenda with the respect you deserve.

    It seems a bit late for them to suddenly discover impartiality and to take your wise views seriously rather than the sneering disregard that they have employed for the last 13 years.

    The BBC are I am sure as guilty as Labour of lies & misrepresentation, action needs to be taken to investigate & eradicate this problem and to hold those guilty to account.

  28. APL
    Posted May 9, 2010 at 10:45 pm | Permalink

    JR: "So based on yesteray, let me give one cheer for the BBC. "

    God you're easily pleased. One swallow doesn't make a summer and even if it did, this summer would be the shortest in recorded history.

    Abolish the license fee and let the BBC find its own subscribers.

  29. sm
    Posted May 9, 2010 at 10:56 pm | Permalink

    Still worth £4billion a year in tax?

    How many nurses?How policeman?

    All the hard decisons to make?

    I think this is not a hard call.

  30. Blank Xavier
    Posted May 9, 2010 at 11:38 pm | Permalink

    Remarkable co-incidence that the BBC, after many years of pro-Labour bias, seeks to understand the Convervative Party just as Labour has been removed from power. To what extent is this a true opening of the mind as opposed to a bending induced by the control of their purse strings falling now to the Conversative Party?

    The BBC must go. It is absolutely unethical that to watch (say) Sky News, people must pay for the BBC.

  31. Hugh
    Posted May 9, 2010 at 11:57 pm | Permalink

    If we took less money from license payers and spent less on the BBC – where would that leave their pay roll? Especially the salary of the DG who earns 800K per year?

    It's not heard to see why a BBC journalist thinks public spending and the economy are the same thing.

  32. John Maynard
    Posted May 10, 2010 at 11:31 am | Permalink

    Yes, although there are still pockets of Labour-think and deeply compromised individuals, the BBC has shown some signs of coming to terms with the new reality – no doubt the apparatchik DG will soon bring them back to the party line.

    The legacy of 13 years of Labour propaganda is probably the principal reason why the Conservatives failed to achieve a clear majority. That is why it is essential that they now seize the legitimacy conferred by government, even if it does mean some painful sacrifices to the LibDems.

  33. Andrew Gately
    Posted May 10, 2010 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

    You obviously didn't see the program on the Scots tories last night.

    It included that clip of you singing the welsh anthem and described you as The hapless John Redwood.

  34. Rose
    Posted May 10, 2010 at 5:00 pm | Permalink

    Trouble is the BBC have set the tone and standard for Sky and Classic FM etc. as well as the web. So lazy are broadcasters and journalists with their 24 rolling deadlines that they all just spout the same propaganda and gossip fed to them by Mandelson and co., right the way round the clock.

    With the new technology you would have thought they could have shown us on the night how the boundaries and different size of electorates were distorting the result; how UKIP was affecting the Conservatives; and the BNP the Socialists; how the NI Unionist/Protestant vote was now split 3 ways; whether the SNP leader had frightened people off voting for the Liberals etc etc. But no – that would have been much too difficult. Someone might have had to think freely and originally. So all we got from all channels was the same old swingometer approach from the nineteen sixties, with Emily Maitlis standing in for Peter Snow.

  35. Bob
    Posted May 10, 2010 at 8:05 pm | Permalink

    There seems to be a new spring in their step at the prospect of a Lib/Lab pact.

    You might find their attitude reverts back to the usual anti Tory sneering now.

  36. Mike Wilson
    Posted May 11, 2010 at 1:24 pm | Permalink

    I have a secret hope – one that could not be whispered aloud before the election – please, please, PLEASE – SLASH the ….. BBC licence fee.

    3.5 billion to spend on a Labour propaganda machine seems excessive to me.

    Their coverage of current events is even more laughable than usual –
    we'll go to our chief political correspondent in Downing Street
    we'll go to our chief political editor at the Liberal Democrats HQ
    we'll go to our deputy chief correspondent at the Cabinet Office
    we'll go to our chief economics correspondent in 'the City' (where else would they be, in a studio!)
    we'll go to our deputy chief economics correspondent at the Bank of England
    we go we'll go to our chief royal correspondent at Buckingham Palace

    And, of couse, we have 397 'special' correspondents on the payroll too.

    Somebody stop this absurd gravy train.

    And how come they all get massive expenses? I don't. I work for myself and if I try to charge a taxi my accountant says 'you should have got a bus'.

  37. Rich
    Posted May 13, 2010 at 9:18 pm | Permalink

    The reason I believe the BBC have suddenly changed tact is because they are worried about their funding. Huw Edwards almost seemed to be grovelling to Jeremy Hunt yesterday.

    As it happens, I would like to see the BBC trimmed, certainly in terms of top brass expenses (why on earth did their Director of Vision need to claim for expensive taxi fares in order for her to "make telephone calls in private"?) Expensive meals, first class flights, extravagant "gifts" and awarding lucrative contracts to friends or relatives should be stopped as well.

    That said, I do not want the BBC to be stripped down to the bare bones. I believe it plays an important part in ensuring high quality television to the nation, without reliance on advertising money and sponsors. I think it was Sir John Major sho expressed the view that the BBC should concentrate on what it does best.

  • 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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