Mischief-making by the BBC

Following the inconclusive result of the election, the Tory and Lib Dem leaderships have invested much of their political capital to form a coalition in the national interest and are making great efforts to demonstrate their genuine desire to make the arrangement work. We believe that a large majority of the British public support, or at least accept, their joint venture as affording the best prospect of a stable government able to take the painful decisions made necessary by Britain’s serious economic difficulties. However, one institution (not the Labour party) seems to prefer anarchy, seeking to undermine the coalition’s credibility and stir up dissent within the parties. That institution is the BBC, as this account of its recent activities will show.

As Cameron went to the Palace, on Tuesday, 10 May, the BBC interviewed two backbench MPs – Diane Abbott, for Labour and Bill Cash, one of the remaining members of the Tory ‘Old Guard’. The contrast between Cash, with his right-wing views and old-fashioned image, and Abbott’s sensible performance, might have been calculated to sway Lib Dem activists and voters against co-operation with the Tories; and that, we believe, was precisely the BBC’s intention.

The following day, the BBC revealed the results of its latest researches. These included a collection of campaign statements by Cameron and Clegg which appeared to be at variance with emerging coalition policies. No one pointed out at the time that, quite obviously, in the context of compromise and give and take within a coalition, not all statements made in an election campaign can be followed up; although Clegg was subsequently reported as saying precisely that. A later broadcast involved various obscure ‘experts’ , responsible to no one, who mulled over key differences in the two parties’ manifestos and identified with great glee those thought likely to cause dispute and lead  to break down in future. Both these exercises served no constructive purpose, but seemed designed to maximize feelings of mistrust and betrayal amongst members of both parties, and to reduce public confidence in the coalition’s durability

The BBC also gave free rein to extreme conspiracy theorists in the course of 11 May. One such ‘analyst’ stated Clegg’s strategy to be to get AV this time, AV+ next time and full proportional representation at his third coalition, an outcome likely to exclude the Conservatives from sole power for the foreseeable future. Such a prospect might be calculated to stampede the Tory faithful towards the exit without further ado. Another stated that, on the basis of one of Cameron’s speeches, his purpose must be to use co-operation with the Lib Dems to modernise his own party and then snuff out his coalition partners within his own party’s stifling embrace. There was, of course, no rational participant present to point out that neither Clegg nor Cameron have had much time recently to formulate dream-world party strategies, or that both might feel that their political interest  (and the national interest) might be best served by saving the economy rather than playing silly games.

Nor have we heard anything about Clegg’s alleged ambition to replace Labour as the main party of the left, and how that might fit in with the present situation. This, however, would only cause embarrassment within a ‘progressive’ Lib/Lab coalition; and we very much doubt that the BBC would have done anything to disrupt such an arrangement. More on this angle in the next article.


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