The BBC and the Euro

Peter Oborne in magisterial voice :

Very rarely in political history has any faction or movement enjoyed such a complete and crushing victory as the Conservative Eurosceptics. The field is theirs. They were not merely right about the single currency, the greatest economic issue of our age – they were right for the right reasons. They foresaw with lucid, prophetic accuracy exactly how and why the euro would bring with it financial devastation and social collapse.

Meanwhile, the pro-Europeans find themselves in the same situation as appeasers in 1940, or communists after the fall of the Berlin Wall. They are utterly busted.

Oborne and Frances Weaver go on to quote the pro-Euro partisans. Among whom (and this will shock you) ….

Now let’s turn to the BBC. In our Centre for Policy Studies pamphlet, Guilty Men, we expose in detail how the BBC betrayed its charter commitment and became a partisan player in a great national debate – all the more insidious because of its pretence at neutrality.

For example, in the nine weeks leading to July 21, 2000, when the argument over the euro was at its height, the Today programme featured 121 speakers on the topic. Some 87 were pro-euro compared with 34 who were anti. BBC broadcasters tended to present the pro-euro position itself as centre ground, thus defining even moderately Eurosceptic voices as extreme.

But this was not the worst of the unfairness. The Eurosceptics were too rarely given time to state their reasons for favouring sterling. Their position was too often covered through a paradigm of deep, “explosive” splits within the Conservative Party rather than the merits of the policy argument. Again and again the BBC led its news coverage on scare stories that failure to join the euro would lead to economic or industrial disaster. When those reports turned out to be false, it failed to correct them. In fact Britain was enjoying record levels of foreign investment: but when Office for National Statistics figures showed this, the BBC made very little of it.

As Rod Liddle, then editor of the Radio 4’s Today programme, said: “The whole ethos of the BBC and all the staff was that Eurosceptics were xenophobes.” He recalls one meeting with a senior BBC figure over Eurosceptic complaints of bias. “Rod, the thing you have to understand is these people are mad. They are mad.”

And the fish is rotten from the head :

One urgent lesson concerns the BBC. The corporation’s twisted coverage of the EU is a serious problem, because the economic collapse of the eurozone means a new treaty may be needed very soon.

The problem is that the BBC cannot be trusted not to become part of a partisan propaganda operation: just look at the membership of the BBC Trust. Both its chairman, Lord Patten, and the vice-chairman, Diane Coyle, took a heavily partisan position in the euro debate.

The facts concerning Lord Patten are well known, but we have unearthed very troubling evidence of bias concerning Ms Coyle as economics writer for the Independent 10 years ago. Take this: “The defenders of sterling are, in the main, a group of elderly men with more stake in their past than in our future. They clothe their gut anti-Europeanism and Little Englandism in the language of rational economic argument.”

Of course Ms Coyle is welcome to voice whatever insulting assumptions she wants about the motivations of Eurosceptics – but they call into question her membership of the BBC Trust.

(browsing I see that commenters John Horne Tooke and Gerald were first to spot this)

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17 Responses to The BBC and the Euro

  1. john in cheshire says:

    Ms Coyle is a cretin. If people want to learn from someone who actually knows of which he speaks, the I suggest the go to Dr Richard North’s website at EUReferendum.
    The bbc is spoiled goods and the wider this is broadcast, the better. I really hate these people. They are not mad, they are genetically defective and should be quarantined to protect the normal people in our country.


    • My Site (click to edit) says:

      Her assumptions about what type of people oppose the Euro and the EU are wildly off the mark too.
      I’m 36 and I don’t know anyone of my age or younger who isn’t aggressively anti-EU.


  2. Gerald says:

    I distinctly remember my local BBC radio station doing a joy unbounded programme welcoming the Euro on Jan 1st whenever it was.

    The main reason for joy among the listeners was that it would make travelling in Europe easier!

    I live in expectation of their even more biased take on MMGW ending with a similar result!


  3. hippiepooter says:

    Devasting ‘gotcha’ on BBC bias.


  4. London Calling says:

    “economics writer for the Independent ” Haa haaa! Oxymoron of the week.

    How does anyone get removed from the BBC Trust? Indeed, how do we remove Patten? Surely we are all shareholders in the BBC, albeit involuntarily. Isn’t it time shareholders got the vote? I want rid of Patten and his coterie of approved-thought left-wing harpies. A plague on them all.


  5. ap-w says:

    Very good post, and althogguh I don’t say it as criticism of this site I’m surprised it’s taken so long for a post specifically picking up on this. It’s just amazing how little credit the BBC are willing to give those who foresaw this difficulty – the BBC nomally wheels out the footage of John Redwood struggling to get to grips with the Welsh National Anthem at the drop of a hat, but can’t bring itself to replay any of his warnings on the Euro. “It’s no time for gloating” said Robert Peston one morning, and Martha Kearney shows the usual glacial tone when applying this new word they have discovered – schadenfreude – which is applied to Tory MPs who dare to say they were right all along. The question of why one should ever believe a word Chris Huhne says on Europe (narrowing the range of issues on which he can’t be believed down to the bare minimum) again goes totally unasked. Instead Huhne is allowed free rein to paint those who distrust the whole European project as the extremists – how the hell was it allowed to happen that those people on the side of the argument who simply want to preserve the consitutional status quo of many centuries routinely get depicted as the extremists?


    • John Horne Tooke says:

      how the hell was it allowed to happen” It happened because all our institutions had been taken over by the elite. Political Correctness was the order of the day. Resoned agrument was not allowed. It happens now on “Climate Change” opponents are attacked with ad hominems. In the case of AGW it is “denier” with the EU it was (and is) “Little Englander”.

      Try and have a debate with a media who do not argue with you but insult you.

      The BBC are not staffed with reasonable people who take a neutral stance on issues of the day, they are activists for their left wing causes. Pro-EU, Pro_Obama, Pro-AGW, all these issues are “controversial” but to the BBC anyone who departs from the accepted view is an extremist.

      The BBC will carry on regardless because every politician is scared of them. If you say something that does not fit in with their view you are given the full BBC smear campaign. Nobody dare open thier mouths anymore. The BBC and Labour killed free speech.


  6. dave s says:

    When the bias and deliberate propaganda of the BBC reaches this level it is serious. It directly affects the lives of ordinary people, their work and their happiness.
    The Euro was always going to fail. A child could have foreseen it.
    It is and always was an offence against reality. A vanity project of over ambitious politicians and their sycophants in the media.
    Now we are all threatened by this latest crisis which can easily rival the 1930s depression.
    With Patten and his ilk and with the current over powerful BBC still in a state of denial it is ever more important that all of us do whatever we can to expose them. All credit to Oborne.


    • Henry says:

      “When the bias and deliberate propaganda of the BBC reaches this level it is serious. It directly affects the lives of ordinary people, their work and their happiness.” 

      I think it also threatens a shared culture and history that tells us who we are in this country. It’s difficult to define exactly, but how we see ourselves is linked to how we see our history.

      We all know it’s possible to understand that history from several points of view. But I think the strongest identities for us are as British or as English, entailing independence from either Europe or North America. Some sort of identity is important to us, human-beings will find one for themselves. But foisting an artificial BBC/Guardian-created (or EU-created) identity for us won’t work. 

      I don’t mind if the Guardian or Independent argue their case. But for the very influential state broadcaster to take sides in the argument – to the level of a propaganda campaign – is writing-to-your-MP material.


  7. David Preiser (USA) says:

    “Rod, the thing you have to understand is these people are mad. They are mad.”

    You know, this is more or less what defenders of the indefensible always say about us regarding virtually any issue of BBC bias.  It does get old.


    • Roland Deschain says:

      It’s a tried and tested tactic.  Ridicule.  If you can’t come up with a good argument, paint your opponent as mad, or stupid.  Reagan, Bush, Palin.


      • hippiepooter says:

        But they’re allowed to indulge in mindless abuse if they dont have an argument.  They’re morally superior.


  8. Demon1001 says:

    Where’s Scottie or Dezzie when there’s a real issue to be discussed.  We would love their input into this debate to see how they explain how the BBC did not breach their impartiality guidelines on this one.

    Please somebody make a minor mistake so they can latch on to something; I really want to see how this is defended.


    • hippiepooter says:

      Please dont be so insulting and stupid towards Scez.  David Vance lost an election in Northern Ireland and that is all anyone needs to know about any allegation of BBC bias.


  9. Ross says:

    Peter Oborne’s use of Strauss Kahn’s quote about the Euro is priceless:

    DSK said in 1997 that Euro is marriage and that “people who are married do not want others in the bedroom”.


  10. cjhartnett says:

    As I say elsewhere…the BBC might as well put up a rainbow flag with twin gargoyles of Shirl and Tone on the front of their tawdry flagships and pedalos.
    They are so biased, unthinking and reflex fascists of the psyche that whatever they say is not to be believed at all. Not given house room or even a dog basket.
    They aree utterly spent up and predicatable, and seem to think that their earlier blatherings and posturings are no longer around for the rest of us to see again.
    For so-called creatives…all they do is create a bubble and tell us alll that we too need to get into one with them…albeit somewhere cheaper and prone to nastiness. For that is where the emoting and campaigns are to be started and nurtured…with more public funds to slosh around.
    They create only their own toxic versions of their truths. They hope that Labour or something more coercive and Statist may yet seize power and not be willing to surrender it next time.
    This BBC is very dangerous, and think I now see why most revolutions tend to take the TV stations first. The BBC are safely esconsed and have got to be “knocked off their f***in` perch!” to quote an early casualty of the BBC…Sir Alex!


  11. DJ says:

    What Everyone Said, plus note that – as usual – the bias is matched by the ineptitude. What is Coyle’s actual point? ‘Eurosceptics are, like, realy old and stuff’

    It barely qualifies as an actual argument. Far better to cloak Euroscepticism in the language of rational economic argument, than cloak Eurofanaticism in the language of 14 year old girls!