February 6, 2017

BBC blind to its own bias

BBC blind to its own bias

The BBC fails to see frequently have more than two sides and that balance also applies to the topics discussed and the questions posed, argues John Redwood. 

The BBC regularly says it must be getting it right because both sides accuse it of bias. The problem is there are more than two sides in many cases.

I have never argued the BBC is biased against the Conservatives and in favour of Labour. I understand the lengths they go to criticise both Conservative Ministers and Opposition Spokesmen, and grasp their idea of balance, offering an alternative view in many cases.

The issue of bias and alternative truth takes more subtle forms. There is firstly the bias in the selection of stories. The BBC loves running endless Brexit and climate change stories. It loves making other news items into Brexit or climate change stories, when many of us think there is little or no link. There is the endless sourcing of “the government should spend more” stories, because there are so many lobby groups with that as an objective.  People who want less government, who like Brexit, or are sceptical about the theory that man-made CO2 is driving damaging climate change do not feel properly represented. Scientists are not interviewed with a view to highlighting errors, inconsistencies and poor research in the way politicians are.

Then there is the unintentional bias of the questions. Ministers are regularly put under pressure for not spending enough. It is very rare to hear Ministers under pressure for spending too much, for presiding over government waste, for failing to find cheaper and better ways of doing things. There is nearly always an automatic assumption that spending a lot in any specific part of the public sector is good, and spending more is even better. There is little probing behind the slogans to find out what the real numbers are, and to ask why in some cases so much is spent to so little good effect.

There is the permanent anti Brexit bias in many scripts and questions. The interviewer or journalist starts from the assumption that Brexit must be damaging. Good news is then recorded “despite Brexit”, often with a caveat that it could deteriorate in the future when Brexit bites more. Never do you hear an interviewer asking the other side to comment on how the Brexit vote has triggered higher car output, more homes being built, higher consumer activity, better confidence levels.

Prior to the referendum there was always a bias against Brexit or Eurosceptic speakers. We had to be introduced with unflattering descriptions, interrupted more, and usually assumed to be wrong. I remember when I was warning about the banking crash and had a proposal on how to handle it, I was competing with Lib Dem Vince Cable. I wanted controlled administration of overstretched banks – the system they now say they will use in future – whilst he wanted bank nationalisation. He got many more interviews than I did. He was often introduced as an expert because he had had a former job as an economist at Shell. I was introduced as a Eurosceptic with my past roles in business and investment ignored, though they were more relevant experience.

I’m all in favour of them asking me tough questions, but I just want them to do the same for all the so-called experts as well.

4.86 avg. rating (97% score) - 84 votes
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John Redwood MP
John Redwood is the Member of Parliament for Wokingham in Berkshire. He was formerly Secretary of State for Wales in Prime Minister John Major's Cabinet. He is currently Co-Chairman of the Conservative Party's Policy Review Group on Economic Competitiveness.
  • Nockian

    No article ? Maybe it’s spread to comment central ?

    Central banks don’t work any better than any other kind of soviet style producer. They produce too many tractors when we need more ploughs. This is because banking isn’t independent, it isn’t laissez faire capitalism that is being practised, but the soviet style economics of central planning. It is not, per se, the fault of the central banks, anymore than it was the fault of the Russian tractor factories for under/ over producing as a result of state diktat. Unfortunately we have a mixed economy, which is 50% socialistic and has been expanding for several decades-most of us now give over 60% of our earnings to government directly (it’s probably a bit more depending on inflation and inflexible tax bands).

    The answer is to get the state out of commerce, then the central banks will either survive or collapse within a laissez faire banking system, but first we must begin to accept the truth, that we cannot continue to sustain such a gargantuan welfare system and its associated government. If we want to produce more, we need to be taxed less, we must save not spend.

  • ratcatcher11

    If everyone saved and did not spend there would be a massive worldwide slump, so it is obvious there has to be spending. Making things for sale is thus important, services alone cannot sustain an economy. One of the biggest problems is Keynsian economics that are basically tax, print and spend socialist policies. We do not need the government to build a railway we need a private company to build the railway which will compete with air travel fairly, not by taxing air travel to make it it less profitable. Thus the governments air taxes should be scrapped and private companies encouraged to re open rail lines closed by Beeching. This is the development we need not government spending 90 billion of money on an HS2 line built from somewhere to nowhere and never stops to pick up passengers.

  • Debs

    Expansion of economies cannot go on forever no matter what so called monetary policy is. You dont need to be an economics expert to realise it.

    All I know is governments and banks seem to be constantly coming up with schemes to leave we the lowly tax payer with less of our money.Forget about the trumpeted tax cuts ,everything else is going up accordingly except real wages of course. Dont even mention the Green scam or the cheap labour scam.

    Bail ins and cashless society are two more scams I have seen trailed in various media outlets over the past few years. Gradually our hard earned money is being prised away from us to fritter away on who knows what.

    They wonder why Trump got elected.

  • Nockian

    The market will raise rates eventually, regardless of wether the central bank wishes it or not. The problem is that we have all become mesmerised at central bank control, when, in reality, at this stage they have little at all. They cannot raise rates to normal, because, firstly, we don’t know what normal looks like (it could already be normal) and secondly any increases will create an avalanche effect-let’s face it, no one but the wealthiest wants to bring down countries governments through a collapse in public spending leading to actual anarchy on our streets.

    The bogey man of fractional reserve is a myth that has permeated libertarian consciousness, in a free market banks would have to take risk or they would, by any definition, not be free market. Banks are not currently lending to private individuals because capital requirements are already so high-they have become zombified businesses that look like they function, but are like the shops we set up as kids with funny money and plastic fruit. The market is broken as far as banks are concerned, they are no longer part of it.

    Fixing the problem cannot begin by looking at the central bank, nor the main banks. It’s far too late to consider than anything can be done at this stage, we are so far beyond normal that we aren’t looking at a functioning banking system at all. It would be like bleeding the radiators to solve a broken boiler.

    The problem we have is at its heart a simple one. It’s the problem that labour refused to accept when the banks blew up. We have an unsustainable welfare system and an over sized government. We have to tackle our public spending first of all and I see little sign that any current, nor perspective government is prepared to give the public the awful news about the reality.

    Even the great Tory saviours have flunked out of the monetary boiler rooms. The situation is dire, there is no fuel left, we have been ripping up the ships timbers to maintain the illusion of tranquil sailing progress, but eventually the ship will sink for lack of substance. There is no monetary policy that can save us, all we are going to get is an ever growing war on cash, savers and anyone who tries to make a profit. We are going to end up in the late stages of a soviet style melt down whilst spinning mirrors to pretend it isn’t happening.

    We all know what’s going on, we can offer solutions, make sympathetic noises and talk up any temporary progress, but the reality of the situation is now apparent. We have to do what every debtor must eventually conclude; that our spending has unfortunaly exceeded our earning capacity and all those red letters mean some drastic rethinking is required. We are going to reach the end of the road, not by a sudden explosion, but the drift into monetary authoritarianism which will result in ever greater protectionism and falling living standards. We are in great danger of losing the West to the East and ending up as country cousins of a world of declining freedoms and the rise mysticism.

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