Tuesday, 19 May 2015

A move in the game


Although I don’t have much time for David Cameron, he does seem to have played a weak hand pretty well. The coalition was not popular with the chattering classes yet his party emerged with an overall majority in the House. Not only that, but the forthcoming EU membership referendum seems likely to deliver a hefty blow to those of us who think the UK should leave.

The promised EU referendum was an election trap for the unwary and it is as well to ponder what might happen after the out vote loses to superior firepower, better tactics, fewer scruples and various advantages accruing to the status quo.

Cameron is bound to have other issues to contend with, but the referendum may also give him a hold on the subtle and pervasive power of the BBC, our increasingly shaky establishment broadcaster.

Add in the appointment of BBC-basher John Whittingdale as the the new Culture Secretary and we have some clues as to what may transpire. Mr Whittingdale's voting record is certainly not pro-EU but not without its ambiguities either. In addition, it is he who may or may not kick away the licence fee stool on which our bland and podgy BBC squats. Yet the appointment already seems more cosy than one might have supposed it would be.

John Whittingdale is "a good choice" as culture secretary whose appointment last week will not have an adverse impact on the BBC, the outgoing vice-chair of the BBC Trust has said.

Diane Coyle said Mr Whittingdale recognised the BBC "has great popularity" with Conservative voters.

Sajid Javid's successor, she went on, is "a pragmatic, sensible man".

Quietly pushing the pro-EU cause, allowing its tame celebrities to label everything else with the fruitcake and racist memes are right up the Beeb’s street. Neither Mr Cameron nor Mr Whittingdale has any need to mention or even hint at a possible quid pro quo re the referendum. The Beeb would have been happy to oblige anyway.

So the licence fee issue may well be kicked into touch if the BBC finds its inner Tory. We eurosceptics may not like it and things may turn out differently, but it is a good idea to consider the strengths of each position and weigh them. Interesting too.


Woodsy42 said...

Have you not noticed how already the BBC is obsessed with the Labour party's failings? You can't miss it - every buletin, comment and politics show.
This morning even Yvette Cooper got a harsh interview on Woman's Hour! (OK, she wasn't Brilloed, but it wasn't quite the cozy self-congratulationary chat one normally expects).

Anonymous said...

Intriguing to see how the EU and BBC funding games turn out. There is one bloated overpaid bureaucracy (Parliament) trying to bash another bloated overpaid bureaucracy (the BBC). Which needs the axe more?

Then there is the licence fee. Sensible people might put it on general taxation but that would spoil a top class boondoggle and business opportunity - which means directorships, advisory boards and endless reports and reviews. Simon Cowell running Radio 3 - what joy.

Demetrius said...

It is 18 years since the BBC had to deal with a full Tory government, and Major wasn't that much of a Tory. Now it has to learn new tricks if it is to be given the bones it needs. And they need to be fast learners.

A K Haart said...

Woodsy - I hardly watch any BBC output but I've seen a glimpse or two while checking the weather forecast.

Roger - it is intriguing. At long last BBC funding looks outdated and shaky even to the casual observer. I hope.

Demetrius - or as Johnson said.

“Depend upon it, sir, when a man knows he is to be hanged in a fortnight, it concentrates his mind wonderfully.”