Russell Taylor – Privatise the BBC

What to do with the BBC? It’s arrogant, it’s biased, it’s borderline criminal and it’s funded by us whether we like it or not. If it were a government, we could have sent it on its way a long time ago, with a kick up its arse for good measure. Instead, it sits there, like a banana republic’s president-for-life, unabashed, unaccountable and unbudgeable. Surely, the time has come for a coup?

A report commissioned by the BBC Trust has found that the corporation has a deep liberal bias – something that has long been known by anyone without a deep liberal bias. Its occasional efforts to be neutral are invariably clumsy and obvious; more like impersonations of impartiality than the real thing. To paraphrase Samuel Johnson, it’s like watching a dog walk on its hind legs: it’s not done well, but it’s a miracle that it’s done at all. On the whole, the corporation is immersed in a liberal-left culture that pervades every nook and cranny of its output, from news to drama to comedy. Its bias should concern anyone who doesn’t share its views. In fact, it should concern you whether you share its views or not. On principle, no one should be compelled to pay for the nation’s dominant broadcaster to fill the airwaves with one-eyed propaganda. The license fee is a poll tax that takes no account of viewing preferences or political allegiance. Asking conservatives to finance the BBC is like asking Guardian readers to pay Nigel Farage’s bar bill. “No taxation without representation”, the colonials cried two-and-a-half centuries ago. Well, a lot of us are being taxed but we sure ain’t being represented. Do we have to start tossing Newsnight presenters into the Thames, a la Boston 1773, to get our point across?

When the BBC’s lack of neutrality is raised, its employees often appear bemused or offended. Most of them honestly seem to think they’re sticking to the sensible middle ground, adhering to accepted truths and making uncontroversial assumptions. They believe that government is benign, that capitalism is iniquitous, that welfare equals compassion, that unchecked immigration is virtuous, that the EU is a force for good, that Israel is a terrorist state, that criminals deserve leniency, that child-centred learning works, that global warming is an apocalyptic threat, and that the NHS is our nation’s greatest achievement. They see nothing contentious in any of these beliefs. After all, it’s what all their chums believe, and it’s echoed by leading politicians, credentialed experts and national-treasure celebs. By assuming these views to be true, they think they are fulfilling their obligation to be politically neutral.

To understand where this delusion comes from, it’s worth considering the kind of people who work at the BBC. A great many of them are humanities graduates, who emerged from university with little more than a towering sense of entitlement and an aristocrat’s snooty disdain for commerce. In joining the BBC, they opted out of the productive sector and bought a ticket to the Shangri-La of intellectual self-indulgence, where chin-stroking moral exhibitionism passes for work. Because they deal in ideas and opinions, they over-estimate their value. They think that people who spend their time yakking and theorising know what’s best for mouth-breathing lunks like us, and have a moral duty to browbeat the government into telling us what to do.

In the Neverland of the BBC, there are rarely any consequences for making bad decisions or holding stupid opinions. Events may prove you wrong, but providing enough people join you in ignoring the truth, you can carry on believing whatever you like. In such an environment, outcomes matter less than motives. Being good and doing good become confused, meaning the most conspicuously compassionate ideas trump the most efficacious. Anyone concerned with the real-world effects of ideas and who appreciates the need for trade-offs looks like a nutcase or a hater, whereas liberal airheads with a nifty line in society-wrecking utopianism come across as saints.

This fixation with motives makes double-standards inevitable, because deeds are judged differently according to who performs them. If, for instance, the BBC gives a million pound golden handshake to one of its old lags, that’s fine because everyone concerned is a good liberal; but if a bank were to do the same for one of its employees, it would be a disgrace, because they’re rapacious, capitalist scumbags. As with this, so with any number of issues. Multiculturalism becomes about enlightened care-givers versus narrow-minded bigots. Global warming comes down to concerned earth-lovers versus selfish nihilists. Gay marriage means tolerant humanists versus spiteful homophobes. And so on. In each case, the liberal position is legitimised by its aura of goodness and the contrary position is invalidated by its lack of one. The liberal camp can cherry-pick or fabricate evidence to support its case with a clear conscience, because it’s done in the name of righteousness – with righteousness being a byword for liberal empowerment.

Of late, there has been much discussion about how the corporation might fulfil its obligation to impartiality. Personally, I don’t see the point in trying. I don’t blame the corporation for its tendencies. Liberals are naturally drawn to unaccountable, publicly-funded leviathans, because they’re refuges from the productive sector, where liberals can preen and ponce to their hearts’ content. As long as the BBC continues to operate on its existing model, its prejudices are inevitable and any attempts to fix them will be a fudge. At best, it will become a mouthpiece for bland, opinion-free reportage that no one of any integrity or imagination will want anything to do with. I’d actually prefer the corporation to be a hive of deranged, unreconstructed leftism. At least then it would provide a good laugh, and there would be none of that nauseating liberal pretence of pragmatism. We’d know exactly what it stood for and what to think of it.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m not saying that I’m prepared to pay for such lunacy. I think it’s outrageous that we have a state broadcaster in this day and age. We expected it in the bad old days, when everything from your telephone to your false teeth was nationalised, but we’re supposed to have moved beyond this. Not at the BBC, though. The corporation stopped its clocks in around 1975, when Britain was still a proto-Soviet state run by Labour class warriors and Trotskyite shop stewards. It may not have the look or feel of a Seventies-style municipal dinosaur, but its funding model is essentially the same.

Yes, it still produces some excellent programmes, but so do other networks and they get by with commercials, subscriptions and foreign sales to pay the rent. Why not have the BBC do the same and let it stand on the quality of its programming? Privatise it and liberate us from the injustice of the license fee. Then it can blow its money on a hundred-foot statue of John Humphrys for all I care.

20 comments on “Russell Taylor – Privatise the BBC

  1. wulliejohn
    July 17, 2013 at 1:56 pm #


  2. rjmackin
    July 17, 2013 at 2:26 pm #

    Reminiscent of RTE in Ireland, only they operate as a bizarre hybrid, subsidised heavily by the taxpayer through an arduous licence fee while also being commercially funded. And Fair City is the pinnacle of their indigenous programming.

  3. theaustrianway
    July 17, 2013 at 2:41 pm #

    It doesn’t get much better than Russell Taylor’s Wednesday wordsmith masterclass.

    Spot on re the BBC and very pleased to count him one of our own at Bogpaper.

  4. jazz606
    July 17, 2013 at 3:16 pm #

    “…….Do we have to start tossing Newsnight presenters into the Thames,………”

    That would be fun, you could sell tickets, best done on a dark night with a full ebb.

  5. jorjun (@jorjun)
    July 17, 2013 at 5:03 pm #

    Social media, especially Twitter, might be named as the main culprit, when the arrogant monster is finally murdered on the steps.

  6. silverminer
    July 17, 2013 at 5:18 pm #

    Excellent work. Yes, get it flogged off and the license fee scrapped. In the meantime, stop paying and chuck the ruddy flashing, brain washing device in a skip. The odd programme worth watching can be seen over the internet on iplayer etc at a time of your choosing. Vote with your wallet! The license fee will go when people stop paying it. Apparently, there are 400,000 of us already. Add a zero to that and it’ll be all over for the Beeb and good riddance.

    • Éamonn
      July 18, 2013 at 12:17 am #

      A propos of silverminer and rjmackin’s comments, RTE, the Irish equivalent of the BBC, outdoes them in smugness but is also about to deprived of its licence fee. Instead there is going to be a charge per household, for “public service broadcasting” from which no-one will be exempt! It won’t matter if you toss your TV into the Liffey, RTE will still get your money – oh and only RTE, not any of its commercial rivals. I hope the BBC is still insular enough not to look across the Irish Sea for ideas …

      • silverminer
        July 18, 2013 at 8:32 am #

        What’s the public reaction to this proposal, Eamonn?

      • Eamonn
        July 18, 2013 at 11:07 am #

        I’m not sure, to be honest. I moved to Northern Ireland two years ago, which is in BBC-land, so I’m a little removed from this even if I’m frequently down south to visit family and so on. I think it will be resentfully swallowed and treated in a passive aggressive fashion, more or less. The Labour party will fight tooth and nail for it, as the RTE newsroom is entirely in their pocket. (It was infiltrated and taken over in the 1970s by one faction of Sinn Féin who later morphed into Democratic Left which is now the dominant faction in Labour.) You have to remember the long Irish tradition of taking all the young, educated and energetic citizens and exporting them means that the middle-aged, change-averse population has a disproportionate influence. Most of them like RTE news, and Firday evening staples like the Late Late show (imagine a younger, less talented but more unctuous version of Jonathan Woss!).

      • sorbonnetoga
        July 18, 2013 at 11:25 am #

        It doesn’t really matter what the public’s reaction is, in one way. The law will be passed, once the Government agrees to it and forces it through by a 3 line whip. (Everything, without exception, is forced through on a 3 line whip in the Dáil!) The public reaction, if it hostile, simply won’t be reported. The Labour party are pushing this and the RTE newsroom has been in their pocket since the 1970s; the only really serious broadsheet newspaper, the Irish Times, will support the government on this too, since they are dominated by the same hard left faction of Labour (ex-Democratic Left who were the Worker’s Party, formerly Sinn Féin aka “Official” IRA, known popularly as the Stickies). Fine Gael, a nominally right-wing party who are the nominal senior coalition partner will go along with all this just to stay in office. I imagine that the usual passive-aggressive Irish reaction will kick in as people resentfully try not to pay. About the only hope for this idiotic plan to come a cropper is for a citizen to take a constitutional case in the High Court but what grounds there might be for that I don’t know.

      • rjmackin
        July 18, 2013 at 3:09 pm #

        Pat Rabbitte, Minister for Communications, speaking on Newstalk radio this morning, predicted a €30m windfall for RTE from the new Broadcast Licence. He then attempted to justify RTE’s commercial operations through comparisons with the licence fees collected by the BBC, lamenting that without commercial revenues, RTE would not have the scale to invest in quality programming.
        He neglected to mention that even with the licence fees and the commercial revenues, RTE posted a €50m operating deficit in 2012.

    • Aparat
      July 18, 2013 at 12:22 am #

      The 4 million conscientious objectors would be replaced with 4 million immigrants – the net effect would be a maintenance of the status quo.

      Maybe one of the reason’s for the Beeboid’s love of immigration is the creation of new Licence Fee payers. For all their bleating, regarding funding cuts, they must have received hundreds of millions in extra yearly funding over the last ten years. Their complaints are a smoke-screen.

  7. Aaron D Highside
    July 18, 2013 at 12:30 pm #

    BBC folk love to push Labour propaganda by repeating attack phrases like ‘BedroomTax’, ‘Pasty Tax’, etc. Could we please call it the ‘TV Tax’, if only to annoy smug, overpaid Beeboids?

  8. Baron
    July 18, 2013 at 7:27 pm #

    Nobody will touch the monstrosity, the process of dismantling would take time and in that time whoever it was pushing for it would be destroyed by the BBC. They aren’t stupid, merely evil. Why, do you reckon, they got away with nurturing the greatest peado of all times for decades?

    Remember, they’ve got over £5bn each year to bribe, intimidate, ignore, without any real accountability to anyone. The loony left leaning pseudo-liberal elite knows it, without the BBC most, if not all, of the stuff you mention – the unchecked immigration, the batting for the criminals, the backing of AGW, the EU….- would be eminently solvable.

  9. Colin
    July 19, 2013 at 10:13 am #

    I agree with Russell’s article, but I do wish he and other people would stop using “liberal” to mean “left-wing”. It’s a horrible Americanism and it’s the opposite of the truth. A liberal is someone who believes in freedom (the clue is in the name). The BBC’s bias is anything but “liberal” – it is statist, socialist and collectivist.

    • Russell Taylor
      July 19, 2013 at 4:31 pm #

      I get your point, but I think there is a distinction to be made between the old-style leaders of the labour movement, who sincerely cared about the welfare of working folk, and the kind of snooty, posturing, middle-class leftists who make up the chattering classes. Liberal is a useful label for the latter, even if it does become confuse the understanding of classical liberalism, which is something else altogether.

  10. John birch
    July 19, 2013 at 4:35 pm #

    Spot on.

  11. gary
    September 9, 2013 at 5:43 am #

    A great artical the bbc is like a propaganda machine i wont pay for a license they can send who they want to my house rather go to prison.Teletubbies always looked sinister to me too.

  12. Alan Rowe
    September 10, 2013 at 6:29 am #

    The other two points of the triangle are
    the education establishment and the
    When they had the children jumping on
    the NHS beds at the Olympic ceremony, I thought at was weird, at the BBC I expect there were buckets
    handed around to catch all the tears.
    What makes me laugh with the national
    religion of the NHS, and the constant
    battle to stop it being privatised, is that
    most of the doctors, consultants etc are
    PLC’s, remember the ‘ stuff their mouths with money ‘ statement.


  1. Plain packaging is a bad idea because it's a bad idea – not just because Lynton Crosby says so – Telegraph Blogs - July 17, 2013

    […] might sometimes be a good thing. Mind you, what else would you expect? As Russell Taylor says in this brilliant piece Privatise the BBC, "Asking conservatives to finance the BBC is like asking Guardian readers to pay Nigel Farage’s […]

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