Douglas Fraser highlights the parallels between the BBC and the Spanish Inquisition.
“No-one expects the Spanish Inquisition” said Monty Python. Stanley Baldwin’s government did not expect the modern equivalent when setting up the British Broadcasting Corporation, an institution which similarly enforces conformance of opinion and is accountable to no-one. Fortunately the BBC has not literally had those of whom it disapproves burnt at the stake but its baleful influence on political and social topics has become plain. On Brexit in particular, the BBC is unashamed to promote its own line through its choice of news items and commentators.
The Spanish Inquisition was set up in 1478 by a Papal Bull issued at the request of King Ferdinand, following his conquest of the whole of Spain. Muslim and Jewish inhabitants were expelled or forcibly converted to Christianity but many paid lip service to their new religion whilst honouring their own in secret. The first focus of the Inquisition was on rooting out these “false Christians” but attention shifted to Protestants and to Roman Catholics who did not comply with the Truth as defined by the Inquisition. Thought control was effected through direct intimidation (or elimination) of heretics and through the banning of unapproved publications.
It did not have control of a major broadcasting organisation but just think what the Inquisition could have done with the BBC. However, the parallel between the Spanish Inquisition and the BBC is much stronger than in just seeking to enforce a monolithic set of approved opinions and values
The Pope had no control over the Inquisition but as time went on it became apparent that the king did not have much either. It was the king who selected the Inquisitor General and at the
The Spanish Inquisition was a public body which sought to define how people thought, in what it genuinely believed was their interest. It was accountable to neither state nor Pope, largely because it had its own source of income. It was prepared to promote a political position counter to that of the government
The Inquisition had to be abolished because it had become corrupt, not in terms of money, but in terms of power. This is probably the ultimate outcome of all such bodies, making it essential to reform or eliminate them when they develop an independent sense of mission and accept leadership only from within themselves