A former Director General has stated that the BBC did have a “massive bias to the left”, He admits that many BBC journalists struggled to understand Margaret Thatcher’s popularity with many voters, refused to see Euroscepticism as a serious political position and did not want to handle issues like immigration.
He is right to say bias to the left rather than pro Labour. There were many interviews during the Labour years that put Labour Ministers on the spot, just as surely as the BBC put Conservative Ministers on the spot. However, they were attacked for the wars in the Middle East, for their links with the USA, for failing to spend enough on a range of services and projects. The BBC did not take seriously the attacks of those of us who said the government were spending and borrowing too much, or who provided a critique of their approach to the banks and financial crisis,seeking an alternative to nationalisation.
The BBC does have an institutional tendency to think that most public spending is good and more is better. It does have a wish to look for a government solution to every ill. It finds it difficult to understand that some of us are Eurosceptic not because we are little islanders but because we dislike too much government. We are sceptics of the Brussels bureaucracy and legislative machine, not of our geographical or cultural position.
The BBC can show its new enthusiaism for impartiality by ensuring some interviews are conducted from the standpoint that there is no government answer to a given problem, or that any likely government answer will make it worse. It can show it by exposing the waste, incompetence and excessive intervention that characterises so much EU government. If it does so it will find a large number of new friends.