The BBC and Oxford debates

Yesterday Sir John Major made a speech in Oxford which was reported without an opponent on the platform balancing his remarks. Also in Oxford, Dominic Grieve and I were debating the merits of Leave and Stay before a student and ex alumni audience with no BBC cameras or reporting. If they had come to our event they could have heard two MPs with votes in the Commons for the aftermath of the referendum setting out both sides of the argument. Instead they chose to report the wrong forecasts of the man who took the UK into the European Exchange Rate Mechanism which in turn plunged us into a deep and damaging recession, without asking him what he had learned about EU policies from that experience.

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  1. John Bracewell
    Posted May 14, 2016 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

    Quite right, Mr Redwood, the same sort of bias that was apparent in the EU referendum in 1975 is being applied again. The BBC will however claim it is being impartial, as it always does, the whole EU Remain campaign and media coverage now stinks. The latest falsehood being reported is Cameron saying that the funding from the EU should not be jeopardised, no mention of and no questions about the money coming from the UK and being returned (less a large amount) and the UK having to spend it how the EU stipulates.

    Posted May 14, 2016 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

    No real media coverage of Sir John Major’s speech, very short clipped footage..something to do with Morphing…the Brexit campaign entering “dangerous territory” of immigration figures.
    He gave an advert for UKIP. They may present a minor irritant to the Tory Party.But there are more strident and certainly genuine forces afoot. Like “irritance” they are thought not to really exist. By word of mouth they do.
    So, best to sort out “immigration numbers” before the problem becomes really more than a numerical equation to solve by largely unreported one-man-band speeches in the conwebbed rooms of academia.

  3. alte fritz
    Posted May 14, 2016 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

    The BBC approach (hardly isolated) illustrates the poverty of the debate. The debate is conducted in soundbites and headlines.

    I expected no better but the depths to which the debate has sunk still surprise and even shock.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted May 14, 2016 at 4:53 pm | Permalink

      It will sink further as Brexit gains ground. The promises of penury, pestilence and plagues are fooling very few. Cameron and Osborne just look absurd. Carney, Obama and Lagarde too.

      Do we want democracy or serfdom and mass, low paid immigration.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted May 15, 2016 at 5:18 am | Permalink

        Do we want the Tory party to morph toward UKIP or be a wet Libdem party under incompetents like John Major who won one election on the tails of Mrs Thatcher. Then he buried the party from 3+ terms with his idiotic ERM disaster and by signing Maastricht against the will of the vast majority of Conservatives and voters in general. He still has not even apologised for all the pointless damage the ERM did to lives, homes, families, businesses and the economy. He has not even learnt anything from it.

        Major, Cameron, Clegg, the BBC all seem to want ever more EU, open door non-selective immigration, ever more taxation, ever more regulation, ever more multilayer government, expensive (double the market rate) green crap energy, more road blocking, daft new train schemes, damaging central wage controls, no new runways and ever more complex and ever higher taxes.

        It is the opposite of what is needed and wanted by the voters.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted May 15, 2016 at 5:32 am | Permalink

        I heard someone on the BBC suggesting that the BBC and the NHS were the two best things to come out of Britain. Just deluded can one be?

        The BBC shifts the political debate in the UK endlessly in the Libdim/pro EU/ greencrap/PC/ open door immigration direction and is hugely damaging the UK economically and in many other ways. It is also totally unfair competition from everyone else in the media industry and stamps out competitors. It also criminalises thousands pointlessly.

        The NHS is a disaster that kills thousands through incompetence and delays and keeps other waiting years for much needed treatments. It too is totally unfair competition for the industry and kills most of the alternatives that would be readily available without the NHS.

        We have a competition authority, and yet these blatant abuses are never even considered by them, this despite the huge harm they both do.

  4. agricola
    Posted May 14, 2016 at 4:06 pm | Permalink

    There is no point in complaining. I have pointed out what is going on under your heading ” Mr Carney’s recession” ,but to date it has not been published. When you wake up to reality you will find it all fits neatly together, so give it air and lets see what everyone else thinks.

    • agricola
      Posted May 14, 2016 at 5:05 pm | Permalink

      As if to back up my contention this evenings ITV news featured Cameron, Lagarde and Carney all spouting pure conjecture on the effect of Brexit. All three members of the Bilderberg Group I would add. Cameron even went as far as continuing the £4300.00 lie to the effect that every household in the country would loose this amount on Brexit, when in fact the figure was a GDP one, interpolated over the number of households in the UK. All derived from Treasury speculation over the next decade when we know they cannot even forecast six months ahead. Remain are desperate, having nothing of substance to argue for staying in the EU.

  5. Hope
    Posted May 14, 2016 at 4:07 pm | Permalink

    It makes me wonder why your party has not taken the opportunity to properly sort out th BBC. Giving them a tax increase and the trivia announced by your colleague was pathetic and not in tune with the public mood. The outcome should have waited until after the referendum like everything else then made them stand on their own two feet and of the public teat.

    What is Cameron going to do we vote to leave or vote to remain if it is a close call? Clearly Cameron and Osborne should go for acting like traitors at our country and simply lying. What is your party going to do with them? Why anyone would want to listen to (word left out ed) Major is beyond me, he has no moral compass, his term was tainted with sleaze led by his own example, he caused the loss of jobs, loss of business, loss of homes and a recession. He was responsible for Masstricht without public consent. He out your party in opposition for nearly 20 years and comes back under the cloak with his and Heseltine’s protege! He also was the cause of encouragement for Eastern European (Polish) immigration, how prejudice no reckless was that! Now he is trying to close down the debate about immigration. There was a lot to talk and question him about, but this was not the bias BBC agenda. You can only blame Whitingdale Andy’s part for allowing this travesty to continue.

    Reply Let’s concentrate on winning the referendum. Who leads the Conservative party is a second order issue compared to whether we have a country to lead or not.

  6. The Prangwizard
    Posted May 14, 2016 at 4:07 pm | Permalink

    Now that the BBC has got away without any meaningful sanction in the White Paper is probably not worth complaining. They have been proved, as many had forecast, untouchable. Weak government caves in again.

  7. alan jutson
    Posted May 14, 2016 at 4:19 pm | Permalink

    This happens so often with proper debates, why does no-one make any effort to record them, so at least they can be viewed on the web.

    Very, very short sighted.

    It only needs a person with a smart phone as a last resort, or a simple video cam on a tripod.

    You would think someone would record it as a point for reference if nothing else.

    Amazing, all these so called bright people attending, but no one with any common sense.

    So typical.

    • Bob
      Posted May 14, 2016 at 4:58 pm | Permalink

      Standard have fallen since they started to accept students based on entitlement to free school meals.

  8. Ken Moore
    Posted May 14, 2016 at 4:32 pm | Permalink

    My god Major has a nerve for . Do doubt this fool dismissed those warning against entry into the ERM for ‘scaremongering’ ..JR is right he has learned nothing.

    Major talks about the alleged ‘pedalling of false figures’ on the Leave side – as if the governments own £9million propaganda pamphlet/toilet paper is to be held up as a paragon of accuracy and honesty.

    Why is this failed politician testimony treated with such grave reverence – I suspect his government paved the way for the first truly politically correct government and the BBC are eternally grateful.
    He is an enemy of true Conservatives and conservatism in a blue rosette. His legacy is one of incalculable damage – he should have the decency to keep a low profile and the media shouldn’t indulge this fantasist.

  9. william
    Posted May 14, 2016 at 4:34 pm | Permalink

    I confronted John Major at a Conservative party reception, about his disastrous policy of shadowing the DM (DM2.95/ £1). He denied it was his policy, attributing it to Nigel Lawson! You could not make it up.

    • yulwaymartyn
      Posted May 14, 2016 at 5:30 pm | Permalink

      I do think Nigel Lawson made it up. Made it up then and now. The man is a disgrace.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted May 15, 2016 at 8:39 am | Permalink

      He was the chancellor when we went in and PM when we stayed in. This long after it was clear to everyone sensible what a huge disaster it was. Houses repossessed, businesses closed, suicides, family breakdowns ……. Major has learned nothing and not even apologised for the damage.

  10. Ken Moore
    Posted May 14, 2016 at 4:39 pm | Permalink

    The only people feeling ’embarrassed and ashamed’ should be the government and it’s cheerleaders that have allowed mass immigration to continue at unsustainable levels.

    The truly dangerous thing is the potential conflicts caused by the inevitable cultural problems and rationing of services that is/will occur because of the failure to get immigration down to the ‘tens of thousands’ as promised in the Conservative party manifesto.
    Major’s answer to the problem is to try to stop people talking about the effects and scale of migration …. for this great insight he is treated to a prominent position on the ten o’clock news. God help us.

  11. Lifelogic
    Posted May 14, 2016 at 4:47 pm | Permalink

    Indeed but that is the BBC for you. What did you expect of them? And now they have their licence deal too.

    I have never ever heart them challenge Major properly on the ERM nor indeed the Euro that he would also have taken us in to, had the Erm, predictable disaster not intervened. They should be talking to the many sensible people like Prof P Minford and yourself who got it right.

    Why on earth do the Tories keep electing such Libdims disasters?

  12. David Ashton
    Posted May 14, 2016 at 5:07 pm | Permalink

    The media bias is becoming unacceptable. Today, we had Cameron shouting about the ‘fact’ that we would be £4300 worse off if we left the EU. This figure came from a report which said we may be £4300 worse off in 2030 if we leave than if we stay. It is now being used by Cameron as if it will be a certain and immediate loss. Non of the news channels which have covered this, have referred to the origin of this figure.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted May 15, 2016 at 8:42 am | Permalink

      The treasury estimate is clearly complete bull****. The calculation is full of absurd assumptions and blatant mistakes. Rather like most of the treasury drivel we get.

  13. bluedog
    Posted May 14, 2016 at 5:09 pm | Permalink

    Only the BBC could take Sir John Major seriously. Nobody else does.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted May 14, 2016 at 8:21 pm | Permalink

      Indeed Major is a pathetic, sick and extremely dim joke. But alas being a pathetic, sick and dim joke seems to the be the best way to get knighted or elevated to the Lords nowadays.

      A proven (word deleted ed) disaster. Endlessly wheeled out by the BBC as a wise elder statesman. The man is just (words left out ed), a proven disaster who cannot even apologise for the damage he did.

  14. Ken Moore
    Posted May 14, 2016 at 5:13 pm | Permalink

    I just hope Britain does the right thing on June 23rd…then I remember how many people were conned by Blair and his sidekick Brown and his magic money tree economics.
    Yeh they thought house prices can just go up forever , benefits can be generous and taxes need only be paid by something called ‘the rich’.
    I suppose what I am saying is that too many people are purely self interested or a ‘bit thick’ as it used to be acceptable to say. Because of this group of people there is a fair chance the Uk will become a province of the United states of Europe.

    We keep being told that their are a large number of people that want ‘facts’ – (interpretation: I have no interest in politics and am susceptible to influence by whatever lies/propaganda are presented to me). Which is why David Cameron’s overblown and dishonest talk is so wicked and plain wrong.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted May 14, 2016 at 8:23 pm | Permalink

      Exactly, but these people will not vote. Brexit will prevail. The remains have no rational arguments.

    • bluedog
      Posted May 14, 2016 at 9:16 pm | Permalink

      ‘there is a fair chance the Uk will become a province of the United states of Europe.’

      This writer is enormously optimistic about the prospects for the EU, believing that we are already witnessing the early stages of its inevitable collapse. If Brexit fails, and perish the thought, one can envisage Italexit as the sequel. If not Italexit, there will be others, even Frexit. The spirit of national independence is highly contagious.

  15. Sean
    Posted May 14, 2016 at 5:20 pm | Permalink

    The BBC sleaze machine is partly our fault. We continue to pay their Tax fee, when in this day and age they should be self funded with Subscription and it advertising. The are funded by the EU of course that will make them bias, just as are ITV to some degree.

    • Bob
      Posted May 14, 2016 at 7:10 pm | Permalink

      I haven’t paid the BBC Tax for years. I have a smart TV which can be used for catch-up, netflix, Amazon Prime & iPlayer. You can even find a video on your iPhone view it through the TV by clicking an icon on the phone.

      Notwithstanding above, after John Whittingdales pathetic review, he has agreed to change the law to make it a criminal offence to watch catch-up on iPlayer without a TV Licence. Don’t know how they intend to enforce that, with so many mobile devices around though, unless they decide to allow BBC access to IP data. Then the acronym will definitely stand for Big Brother Corp!

      I’m guessing that the beeb must have some dirt on some influential individual(s).

      • bluedog
        Posted May 14, 2016 at 9:18 pm | Permalink

        ‘I’m guessing that the beeb must have some dirt on some influential individual(s).’

        And if there is no dirt there is nothing like a well-placed rumour…

  16. yulwaymartyn
    Posted May 14, 2016 at 5:29 pm | Permalink

    Just attended a debate at our local university. The vote after the debate was 82% for remain. 10% leave. Remainder undecided. The leave side have to sharpen up.

    • hefner
      Posted May 14, 2016 at 8:32 pm | Permalink

      “The leave side have to sharpen up”: Unfortunately they are still stupid enough to only offer to criticise you when you ask them for more details on the exact process that will be followed after Brexit.
      They are so convinced of their most extraordinary intelligence that they cannot condescend to answer simple questions. And I have had this MP for 28 years.

      Plague be sent to all politicians, both Remainers and Leavers.

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted May 15, 2016 at 6:44 am | Permalink

        Let’s have some details on exactly what will happen after a vote to remain in the EU. Be sure to provide these exact details for at least the next four decades, as that seems to be the minimum interval between referendums.

    • alan jutson
      Posted May 15, 2016 at 7:50 am | Permalink


      I Guess the result may depend upon either the quality of the debate and the performance of those taking part with the arguments used, or the pre conceived ideas of the audience before a word has been spoken.

      Surely the correct way to determine the results are to compare the pre debate voting results, with the result of the voting afterwards, then you can see what if anything has changed.

      • yulwaymartyn
        Posted May 15, 2016 at 12:28 pm | Permalink

        I agree. I think the debate changed only the number of undecideds who seemed to sway towards the remain side. Interestingly these are people who chose to go to a university to hear a debate. There are many I think who would be too intimidated to attend. I would like to hear more from them.

  17. Bert Young
    Posted May 14, 2016 at 5:33 pm | Permalink

    That Major was given the BBC’s priority in Oxford is no surprise ; I’ve had 23 years of exposure to academic Oxford and , with very few exceptions , found it to be very left wing . John Major was never a convincing or well regarded Prime Minster and , as John has correctly pointed out , made many glaring mistakes ; the reports of his speech did not reveal any substance that could convince me and I doubt it will on others .

    I regret very much that the BBC continues in its bias towards “Leave” and I fear that their efforts , together with the orchestrated scaremongering , will have influence . I am also dismayed at the financial support that has been attracted to its campaign particularly by “outside” organisations ; I sincerely hope that the “leavers” have got some convincing and punchy things up their sleeve and can put it across quickly .

  18. Martyn G
    Posted May 14, 2016 at 5:35 pm | Permalink

    I know that you have explained how much they have improved of late but still do wonder just how accurate they can be? I was walking across Abingdon bridge this afternoon and a perfectly ordinary couple, perhaps late middle-aged, were walking towards me. I nodded and said good afternoon, they responded as do decent folk and the lady suddenly asked me if I wanted out of the EU.
    Amazing, they were just ordinary folk, no badges, placards or whatever, going about their business on a sunny but chilly day and when I said yes, and soon, the man smiled and the lady said ‘shake hands, I hope we can get it done!’ I wonder just how many others there are, obviously not the younger element, of middle aged and older people are going to vote ‘out’?

  19. ian wragg
    Posted May 14, 2016 at 5:45 pm | Permalink

    Listening to John Major, the following saying came to mind

    Everyone has a right to be stupid. Politicians just abuse the privilege.

  20. Denis Cooper
    Posted May 14, 2016 at 5:57 pm | Permalink

    It wasn’t UKIP which urged that we should get poor eastern European countries into the EU as quickly as possible, that was Tory party policy under Major; it wasn’t UKIP which agreed that seven years would be long enough for their economies to catch up, and after that their entire populations could move to the UK if they chose, that was both the Tories under Major and Labour under Blair; and it wasn’t UKIP which then decided not to even bother with the seven years transitional period, that was Labour under Blair.

    Major should not be revered as a wise elder statesman, far from it, he was the cause of many of our problems with the EU.

    • yulwaymartyn
      Posted May 14, 2016 at 11:05 pm | Permalink

      But it is UKIP that has allowed (words removed ed) Neil Hamilton to become a member and also allowed George Galloway to share a stage with its leader. It is unfathomable how a so called mainstream party could ever consider two such appalling politicians; it is equally unfathomable that someone such as yourself could support them.

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted May 15, 2016 at 6:37 am | Permalink

        It’s not in the least unfathomable if you look at Article 2.3 of the UKIP party constitution and then look for anything comparable in the constitutions of other UK parties. I may not, do not, like everything about UKIP, just as with any party, but most importantly we share the same objective(s).

        “The Party believes that the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (hereinafter “The United Kingdom”) should only be governed by her own citizens and that its governance shall at all times be conducted first and foremost in the interests of the United Kingdom and its peoples and that the only laws that should apply within the jurisdiction of the United Kingdom are those wholly made by the Parliament of the United Kingdom. To that end it shall be the policy of the Party that the United Kingdom shall cease to be a member of the European Union and shall not thereafter make any Treaty or join any international organisation which involves in any way the surrender of any part of the United Kingdom’s sovereignty. The Party further believes that the integrity of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (hereinafter “The United Kingdom”) should be maintained.”

        • yulwaymartyn
          Posted May 16, 2016 at 10:21 am | Permalink

          My point. The integrity of the United Kingdom is being directly undermined by UKIP in total contradiction to their belief expressed in the last sentence of Article 2.3 of their own constitution. Which do you prefer the least? The break up of the UK or the UK to leave the EU? And to use politicians such as George Galloway to effectively hasten that process seems to me to be reckless in the extreme. And you are party to that.

          • Denis Cooper
            Posted May 16, 2016 at 11:03 am | Permalink

            The UK leaving the EU will actually diminish the chance of the UK breaking up. You shouldn’t naively accept every invention of the Remain camp.

  21. chriss
    Posted May 14, 2016 at 9:05 pm | Permalink

    Cameron and Osbourne have simply repaid the BBC’s full support for Remain by forcibly weakening the hand of the Culture Secretary and thus preventing any prospects of reform of the organisation. Who suggested and who agreed the deal we will probably never know for sure but we will all have our suspicions.

    What other reason can there possibly be for the BBC trust taking no action to ensure that coverage of the campaign is both fair and even handed on the one hand while the Culture Secretary’s long-trailed reforms have been totally neutered ?

    Yet another example of Cameron’s Win At Any Costs strategy.

    Whatever the outcome of the referendum CMD will surely pay the price within weeks of the vote. Will our host be one of those donning their grey suits ? I hope so.

    As for John Major, I like the guy and in office he always came over as straight and honest. His weak spot was, of course, Europe where he got almost everything wrong and the country has paid the price ever since.

    He was wrong then and he’s wrong now and I don’t much share his taste in women either !

  22. Yosarion
    Posted May 14, 2016 at 9:10 pm | Permalink

    I see the EUSSR Empire Song Contest now includes Australia

  23. zorro
    Posted May 14, 2016 at 9:22 pm | Permalink

    It was a very poor intervention by Sir John Major. It contained an implicit exhortation to not discuss immigration and then talked about the Leave side using misleading figures without explaining what he was talking about in any meaningful sense. This was all in the face of the bizarre economic scare stories being presented as ‘facts’ by compromised globalists…..


  24. DaveM
    Posted May 14, 2016 at 9:52 pm | Permalink


    Just wondering how well the UK does in the horror of Eurovision……I think they’ll do well tonight. Cameron’s probably got to them!!!

    Posted May 14, 2016 at 11:15 pm | Permalink

    Just seen BBC Parliament 11th May “Select Committee Room” on “UK Membership of the EU” with Mr Osborne in the hot seat facing the Treasury Committee.

    On Brexit the UK will NOT be negotiating with the EU. The EU as we know it will cease to exist. On Brexit the 4th largest economy in the world ( the UK ) will be negotiating not with the EU but with the EU MINUS the 4th largest economy in the world. And the smaller countries of the belittled EU..which are its majority, will be insisting, each and every one, for a guarantee that they can trade normally with the UK.

    Mr Osborne spoke as if each and every item traded with the EU is pure. A car’s components for example can come from 100 different countries. The idea that suddenly tariffs are going to be imposed by a weaker EU on miniscule individual items is silly. It shows Mr Osborne hasn’t a clue about the realities of trade and commodities in any way shape or form. From the very start of his Chancellorship it was evident he knew absolutely nothing about his brief. He has studied well. He sounds convincing reeling off economic phrase after phrase in apparent comprehension. But it is parrot-fashion. No real understanding of what he is saying. No understanding of implications.
    One million Poles are working and living in the UK. Will the Polish government allow the EU to start being funny with us on Brexit? Of course not. Mr Osborne talks like an absolute Cameron.

    • alan jutson
      Posted May 15, 2016 at 7:56 am | Permalink


      You only have to look at our Chancellors eyes when he is visiting building sites or factories.
      He looks absolutely bewildered and awkward, and completely out of his comfort zone.
      I would suggest would not have a clue as to how to communicate meaningful questions/discussions if he had not been given a pre visit briefing.

      Indeed he looks very uncomfortable in any situation where he is meeting new people.

  26. lojolondon
    Posted May 15, 2016 at 10:53 am | Permalink

    John, the Biased BBC is at the heart of the decline of our country – they have their ‘progressive’ agenda, and everything flows from that – the news they report and the news they overlook, the kind of people who are employed, the selection of chat show hosts, of guests, presenters, the people interviewed, the interviewers, the reporters, the audiences – all are selected to conform with the programme. Occasionally a BBC guest may come up with an unexpected statement (and you will never see him interviewed again), but all presenters will follow the script – politically correct, shocked at the ignorance and backward views of the public, etc. We are so overdue to stop the TV Tax – a golden opportunity sadly fumbled this week by our government.

  27. Mark
    Posted May 15, 2016 at 11:47 am | Permalink

    I understand that they had problems filling the seats for Sir John Major’s talk. Perhaps yours was better attended?

  • 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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