In writing about The Noble Liar I had not realised that Premier had already published this excellent blog –In taking on the BBC, has Robin Aitken become a modern martyr for truth?
Normally on a Thursday I do a Brexit catch up – but its so depressing I almost can’t be bothered. And the whole charade is going to go on for months….we will return to that next week. This week I will just give you the one important article by Tim Stanley to read – which explains why what is happening was entirely predictable – its how the EU behaves and how it uses the politicians within its client states – Don’t be surprised if Brexit is stopped – the EU has developed a talent for riding roughshod over voters’ wishes
But going back to Aitken’s book he has an interesting chapter entitled The BBC and Brexit .
He argues about the meritocracy aspect that the BBC is filled with people who genuinely believe that they are superior. They are the ones who ‘by merit’ should be running all the civic institutions – including the BBC. He points out that an increasing number of BBC luminaries who head up Oxbridge colleges. They have a sense of intellectual superiority.
As regards Brexit these people all believe that Brexit must be bad and this colours the whole coverage. He argues the BBC has a neurotic pessimism where every negative possibility is accentuated, and every bit of good news played down or ignored. This became known as the ISOB project. In Spite of Brexit unemployment is down, ISOB wages are up, ISOB there are record levels of investment in the UK. Wheras bad news is BOB – Because Of Brexit. From Honda closing in Swindon to global disaster caused by climate change – everything is BOB.
“It has become increasingly clear as the Brexit negotiations have progressed, that it is the EU, not Britain which has been the main obstacle to progress” (Page 47)
“Time and again EU apologists are listened to respectfully, their assertions taken as reasonable and true, their truculent objections to British proposals given reverential weight. The sharp-edged, attack-dog treatment is reserved solely for British ministers. Why should this be?” (Page 48).
“BBC coverage of the European issue framed it almost exclusively in economic terms; it was all about how impossible it would be for Britain to prosper outside the EU, and there was little interest in what has always been the most important, principled, objection to membership. Namely the democratic deficit which it naturally entails. The European Union is a novelty in world affairs a supranational body to which free standing democratic nations have ceded sovereign power,” (Page 55),
“And here is the essence of the noble lie as it pertains to the EU and the BBC: because it wished to preserve Britain’s membership of the EU, sincerely believing it to be in the country’s best interests, the Corporation relegated that critical debate (of sovereignty) to one of secondary importance while, at the same time, elevating the economic debate to preeminence.” (Page 57)
You can complain all you want but “Anyone who does embark upon a complaint against the BBC will find themselves in a protracted exercise which rarely delivers satisfaction” (Page 63).
The smug superiority of those who run the BBC is that largely of the Remain leaders and advocates (which is not to say that there are not those in the Brexit camp who are the same – but it is not their predominant ethos).
It is a superior one based upon the idea of meritocracy. In the aftermath of the Brexit vote, which none of them (like David Cameron expected) this was explained by arguing that leave voters were less educated and more taken in by the lies, or were racists who didn’t understand the diversity of modern society. Currently its the ‘lied to’ version rather than the ‘racist’ trope that is being widely circulated. Here is an example of one such tweet.
Can you see what is happening here? The narrative is ‘we were right all along. We could see the lies…but these poor people were not intelligent enough to see them”. There is no acknowledgement that lies were told on the Remain side as well. There is no possibility allowed that the Brexit case might have some substance, or that those who voted for Brexit actually considered things and thought about it for themselves. No, those who voted Brexit are either bad (racist) or mad- especially the poor who need the ‘educated’ middle class to prevent them from self-harming. This fits in with the superior ethos of so many within the BBC. Just listen to any of the comedy shows – they and their audience just know how superior and right they are. Watch Graham Norton regularly mocking Brexit at the beginning of his show. It’s an ‘in joke’ for those who just know they are so right that there can be no discussion – only mocking abuse…or the occasional self-righteous ‘let’s not humiliate the poor dumbos’.
I should say however that the BBC were obliged during the referendum to offer ‘equal coverage’ and they largely did that – much to the fury of people like Alastair Campbell who, because the BBC did not act as the propaganda mouthpiece for Remain, renamed it the Brexit Broadcasting Corporation and sought to use his influence to get it to behave more in line with his view.
Next week we will continue to look at other issues raised in The Noble Liar but as promised I leave you with another personal story of the BBC.
I have spoken to both producers and journalists who have told me a similar story. As regards Brexit one journalist told me that they found difficulty in Scotland getting business people or academics who supported Brexit to speak or be interviewed. Not because they do not exist but because they felt that such was the intimidatory atmosphere (where the vast majority of civic Scotland and the people they depend on for patronage are pro-EU) they they were scared. Another BBC person told me that they thought my social views were representative of at least 50% of people in Scotland, but that 50% was not represented in the BBC at all. Aitken is not the only BBC executive who is aware of this.