In the James Bond novel Goldfinger, the titular villain of Auric Goldfinger states his belief in the following rule regarding his “coincidental” meetings with 007:
“Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. The third time it’s enemy action.”Auric Goldfinger
The phrase is derived from the so-called Moscow Rules, the rules of thumb developed by spies working in Moscow and is very apt when applied to the recent actions of the BBC given the fact that the state broadcaster has seemingly abandoned all pretence of neutrality and is now openly shilling for the government as if Britain was a dystopian banana republic without any bananas.
The claim that the BBC is institutionally biased against Labour and socialism is not new, yet the frequency with which the Corporation has seemingly upped the ante in recent weeks shows that “errors” at BBC News are beyond happenstance and coincidence.
Here are seven times over the past month that the BBC has glaringly broadcast in favour of Boris Johnson and the Conservative Party, there are of course many more.
1: November 23, 2019
Yesterday the BBC broadcast edited footage of Boris Johnson’s performance at the Question Time debate. The footage removed the laughter to Johnson’s response on the matter of “truth”, removing essential context and instead making it appear as if Johnson was receiving applause.
The BBC claim that the clip was “edited for timing reasons”, yet as we shall see this very convenient edit is merely the latest in a long and grim campaign that has seen Boris Johnson and the Conservative party be clearly assisted by the BBC.
2: November 22, 2019
At the actual debate itself, Jeremy Corbyn was attacked by Ryan Jacobsz, a Conservative party activist who is a Hull West & Hessle representative to the Conservative Area Council and campaigns in marginal seats throughout the country.” Jacobsz has appeared on Question Time three times before despite successful applicants being asked that they don’t apply for ten years after their first appearance.
3: November 21, 2019
The current Conservative government has a lot of contenders for most odious MP and it takes a lot to be approaching Mark Francois and Jacob Rees-Mogg levels of awfulness but Home Secretary Priti Patel manages to stay right in contention.
The video in which the Patel blamed everybody under the sun for poverty except the Tories was just beginning to go viral online when… it vanished, the BBC deleting the Tweet from Twitter.
5: November 19, 2019
The Scottish Conservatives were forced to withdraw support for Ryan Houghton after the discovery of antisemitic, Islamophobic and homophobic social media posts from the potential candidate. On the same day, the Tories candidate in Leeds North East Amjad Bashir also came under criticism amidst allegations of antisemitism.
The BBC would be all over these allegations, right?
Laura Kuenssberg’s reaction to the suspension of Haughton in comparison to her Tweeting about a Corbyn heckler 24 hours prior was telling.
Kuenssberg Tweeted the suspension without any of the antisemitic or Islamophobic contexts in a single line and instead of linking to that story, instead linked to a completely different story about a Labour suspension in Leicester.
The incident would be far from the first pro-Conservative accusation against Kuenssberg, with the BBC forced to defend their political editor in September after she identified the father who confronted Boris Johnson during a visit to a hospital. Kuenssberg’s identification of the man as a Labour activist brought suggestions that the incident was a “set-up” and resulted in a dog pile of hatred and abuse against the man.
6: November 11, 2019
Boris Johnson’s performance at the 2019 Remembrance Day Cenotaph service was nothing short of a disgrace. The Prime Minister, who looked like he’d crawled out of bed with a hangover, seemed to be unable to keep his attention on the service and when called upon to carry out the simplest of tasks, namely laying the wreath, he managed to place it upside down.
It was, in short, a shit show.
But if you’d have been watching BBC1’s Breakfast programme none of this would have been apparent as they broadcast footage from the 2016 service.
The BBC attempted to dismiss the swapped footage as an “error”, yet former BBC employees themselves were having none of it.
6: November 1, 2019
The shameful incident when the Conservative party changed CCHQ’s Twitter or “factcheckUK” highlighted the danger of hostile groups branding themselves under trustworthy names and seemingly malign corporate entities. The likelihood that voters are going to trust the comments of “independent” “fact” checkers is obvious.
But who checks the “facts” of the “fact-checkers”?
At the start of November, the BBC “reality check” fact-checking service claimed that Boris Johnson hadn’t cut taxes for the richest, counter to the claim by Jeremy Corbyn.
Labour Comms & Strategy Adviser Steve Howell ripped the BBC “facts” to pieces.
7: October 31, 2019
Sometimes it isn’t about what the BBC do broadcast, but about what they don’t.
Boris Johnson has been regularly booed, jeered and insulted on the campaign trail around Britain ever since his ascension to the office of Prime Minister, yet these videos never make it onto the BBC.
The BBC “reluctance” to highlight the depth of feeling against Johnson and the Tories has been all too common in recent weeks as they failed to highlight public dissatisfaction at his PR stunts in places such as Yorkshire and elsewhere, particularly in areas where the narrative is that people simply want to “get Brexit done” .
The most glaring omission from BBC News and other services was perhaps the viral video in late October that showed Boris Johnson being booed out of Addenbrooke’s hospital after a Tory PR stunt went horribly wrong.
Cambridge medical student Julia Simons would rip Johnson to pieces in a viral video where she took them to task for their underfunding and mismanagement of the NHS.
The BBC has long been accused of being a Conservative institution and promoting the values and opinions of the Tories at the expense of Labour, certainly since the ideological shift back toward socialism from the neoliberal centrism of the Blair/Brown era. Yet even during the New Labour years, the ratio in favour of Conservative politicians appearing on BBC news was far greater than it was in favour of Labour figures.
“In strand two (reporting of all topics) Conservative politicians were featured more than 50% more often than Labour ones (24 vs 15) across the two time periods on the BBC News at Six. So the evidence is clear that BBC does not lean to the left it actually provides more space for Conservative voices.”
In 2014, Owen Jones tore down the illusion of “liberal bias” at the BBC, stating that such claims “allows the right to police the BBC: to make the corporation fearful of crossing certain lines and to ensure that the right sets the political agenda. Leftwingers are reluctant to return fire for fear they will help to fatally undermine the BBC.” It was Jones’ opinion that the anti-Labour bias at the BBC was a hangover of the Iraq war when “director-general and journalist Andrew Gilligan [was] driven from the corporation. The episode left the BBC supine and fearful. Its news output is deeply reactive, rather than agenda-setting, structured along the lines of government announcements.”
Jones would highlight the fact that the BBC is almost entirely staffed with Tories, including the likes of Nick Robinson who was once chairman of the Young Conservatives and Andrew Neil who is chairman of the racist and conservative Spectator magazine. At the time of Owen’s article Chris Patten, former Tory minister and governor of Hong Kong was head of the BBC Trust, he would be replaced by Rona Fairhead who went on to be a minister at the Department for International Trade. Likewise, the former head of BBC Westminster Robbie Gibb would go on to be Theresa May’s director of communications and be accused of being “a hard Brexiteer who wants to destroy the PM’s new search for a cross-party compromise” by Nick Boles. Working at the BBC and working for the Conservative Party seem almost interchangeable.
Earlier this month journalist Peter Oborne, a former chief political commentator for the Daily Telegraph, revealed that he been told by a source that it was now BBC policy to not expose the lies of Boris Johnson as Prime Minister as it would undermine public trust in politics.
“Senior BBC executives… tell me they personally think it’s wrong to expose lies told by a British prime minister because it undermines trust in British politics… Is that a reason for giving Johnson free reign to make any false claim he wants?”Peter Oborne
Oborne has previously accused journalists of failing in their duties and regurgitating “propaganda… smears, lies, fake news”, taking aim at Laura Kuenssberg and Robert Peston as having “become effectively press spokesmen for Boris Johnson and… Dominic Cummings”
When taken in isolation, events can easily be passed off as mistakes, errors and incompetence, but there is now an undeniable case that the BBC is institutionally biased in favour of the Conservative Party. Whether this bias is unconscious and the result of so many Tories in high positions at the Corporation or at worst an active attempt by British state media to reelect the incumbent Johnson government, there is no doubt that the BBC is in grave breach of its charter and rapidly becoming an open threat to British democracy.