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Can Britain endure seven more years of the BBC?

David Sedgwick
July 6, 2020

The BBC assumes it has (at least) seven more years left of its current charter in which to create the kind of discord it revels in. Seven years is a long time to enable a divisive agenda. Think what damage to the UK's social fabric the broadcaster is capable of doing in just seven minutes. It can only be hoped that Boris Johnson and Dominic Cummings act sooner rather than later, argues David Sedgwick

The BBC is rather fond of claiming that it sees one of its main roles as some kind of national unifier. In a recent interview with Andrew Marr, the current Director General Tony Hall claimed the corporation was 'providing things that bring us all together.' It's a noble endeavour. In times when certain nefarious actors are striving to divide people along religious, ethnic and racial lines it is surely reassuring to know that the nation's broadcaster is doing its best to heal these divisions as soon as they appear. And yet . . .

As the UK tears itself apart over the issue of racism, as the rhetoric daily becomes ever uglier, far from attempting to bring the nation together the 'British' Broadcasting Corporation appears more concerned with pouring as much gas as possible onto this dangerous bonfire. Stirring the racial pot is somewhat of a BBC speciality. Nobody but nobody whips up the mob quite like the po-faced national broadcaster.

The corporation is indeed on a roll. Its current McCarthyist frenzy started with the killing of George Floyd which, despite the absence of testimony or trial, the broadcaster has consistently reported as a racially-motivated killing. Its always breathless coverage omitted or sought to downplay many key facts such as the nature of the relationship between the victim and the officer accused of the killing; or the fact that, prior to his death, Floyd had taken a large quantity of fentanyl, a narcotic that can cause severe heart and respiratory problems. Facts which did not advance the BBC's 'America is racist narrative' were simply ignored.

When the inevitable protests lead by Black Lives Matters materialised rather than maintaining an objective, dispassionate stance, worryingly the broadcaster assumed the role of BLM's de facto PR agents, gleefully so. Scepticism did not exist. For example, following a BLM protest in London which turned violent, in an attempt to downplay the extent of the violence the BBC headline read, 'Twenty seven officers injured in largely peaceful protest.' Scorn a-plenty followed. Many commentators wondered just how many officers would need to be injured for the broadcaster to report the protest as violent, 50. 100?

In typical fashion, the BBC shrugged off the criticism and marched blithely on. In recent days it has set its sights on Darren Grimes after an interview the activist conducted with the historian David Starkey for his Reasoned website. According to BBC Radio 4 Six o'clock news Mr Grimes apparently described his website as 'a safe space for racists and homophobes.' Searching for this comment however draws a blank. It appears that Mr Grimes said no such thing. What he actually said was that his platform is a safe space for those wrongfully accused of racism and homophobia, a crucial distinction deliberately omitted in the BBC report.

Soon enough the broadcaster scrambled to defuse the fall out by issuing a standard non-apology on the Corrections section of its website. Mr Grimes has subsequently threatened legal action. Watch this space.

But the broadcaster's treatment of Mr Grimes is merely an entrée. The main target was Starkey, a perennial thorn in the side of the woke broadcaster. During the discussion with Grimes, Mr Starkey had controversially denied African slavery could be equated to genocide because of what he called the survival of so many 'damn blacks.' Further on in its report BBC Radio 4 ended the segment thus:

'Dr Starkey's comments raise the question why Fitzwilliam College continue to maintain its ties with him.'

Thus began a witch-hunt. The BBC quest to get Starkey's head succeeded for shortly afterwards, under enormous pressure, the academic was duly forced to resign his position with Fitzwilliam. Canterbury Christ Church University soon followed suit. The college announced it had terminated Mr Starkey's visiting professor role 'with immediate effect.' The broadcaster had its scalp.

All this BBC effort to organise a pile on against Mr Starkey was in stark contrast to its reaction to a race row involving yet another Cambridge academic. One week earlier Churchill College lecturer Priyamvada Gopal had provoked a huge social media backlash after posting a series of provocative tweets on Twitter. One tweet read 'white lives don't matter' while in another she urged followers to 'abolish whiteness.' Gopal was temporarily suspended from Twitter. When a tweet posted a year earlier emerged in which she articulated how she resisted the urge to 'kneecap white males' concerns about the academic's racist views only hardened.

So where was the BBC during this social media drama? Answer: nowhere. For reasons best known to itself, the broadcaster failed to report a single word about Gopal's disturbing comments and the backlash which ensued. While the BBC's appalling bias and editorialising was predictable enough, Cambridge University's duplicity ran it a close second. Gopal later boasted on Twitter that she had actually been promoted by the university.

Nor is Gopal unknown to the broadcaster. In 2018 it eagerly reported her bizarre claims that Cambridge porters were 'hassling' non-white students. Helpfully, the broadcaster even reproduced her tweets in a typically sympathetic article which began by claiming Cambridge University students had 'rallied behind' the academic. An investigation subsequently found no wrong doing on behalf of those accused by Gopal.

Apart from the manifestation of a deeply divisive agenda, how else can the broadcaster's vastly different treatment of Gopal and Starkey be explained? If Starkey's 'damn blacks' comment is so objectionable to the broadcaster, a comment calling for the 'abolition of whiteness' (how does one go about abolishing an entire ethnic group?) and the 'kneecapping' of white males might surely be expected to spark equal if not greater fury. And if not, why not? Is the broadcaster comfortable that a Cambridge lecturer holds such abhorrent views towards a certain sector of the student body? Where's the torrent of BBC-platformed critics lining up to 'slam' Gopal and 'urging' action from the university? There aren't any.

Tony Hall might claim that the BBC is 'bringing people together' but the broadcaster's actions reveal an entirely different reality. Adopting wholly different standards towards certain individuals and demographics only leads to fracture and ultimately can only end in resentment. Comparing its furious pursuit of Grimes-Starkey with its cynical disregard of Gopal's behaviour what other conclusion can be drawn but that the BBC is pursuing its own divisive political agenda, that it is no longer fit for purpose?

Meanwhile the broadcaster assumes it has (at least) seven more years left of its current charter in which to create the kind of discord it revels in. It can thus only be hoped that Boris Johnson and Dominic Cummings act sooner rather than later. Seven years is a long time to enable a divisive agenda. Think what damage to the UK's social fabric the broadcaster is capable of doing in just seven minutes.

David Sedgwick is an author and university lecturer living between Malaga and Split. His books, 'The Fake News Factory: Tales from BBC-land' and 'BBC: Brainwashing Britain' cover topics as diverse as Cash-for-Questions, Brexit, chlorine-washed chicken and Syrian regime change.
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