The BBC has been accused of broadcasting a whole day of pro-European Union propaganda in the form of a series of programmes focussed on the migrant crisis.
The publicly-owned corporation has been steadfastly neutral in its official referendum coverage, as required by its charter, but critics say it has allowed pro-EU bias to creep in to its other programming.
The right wing commentator Toby Young has highlighted four separate pieces broadcast by the BBC on Monday as part of its #WorldOnTheMove series on migration, which he says all paint those who want to leave the EU to quell migration as “mean-spirited Little Englanders.”
The day kicked off with a report by Sarah Montague on the Today program, looking at the plight of Vietnamese migrants.
“The thrust of Montague’s report, in which she talked to a number of Vietnamese boat people returning home after years overseas, was that not all refugees stay in their host countries in perpetuity,” Young explained.
“Unfortunately, she neglected to point out that they constitute a small minority of the total.”
Later, the World at One featured an interview with Filippo Grandi, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, in which he explained that refugees don’t come to rich countries to take advantage of better living standards, but because they’re “mostly” fleeing “unimaginable violence.”
Young comments: “The subtext of Grandi’s “terrible, unimaginable violence” remarks couldn’t have been clearer. Anyone in the UK who wants to restrict the flow of migrants into our country – that is, anyone thinking of voting Leave – is a knuckle-dragging barbarian.”
Radio 4’s afternoon play Where Shall I Go, What Shall I Do? brought “a Corbynite twist to the pro-immigration propaganda,” Young says.
“His take on the subject was to write about internal economic migration within the UK, presumably in the hope of persuading narrow-minded Brexiteers that pulling up the drawbridge won’t protect them from the global crisis of capitalism.”
But according to Young, “the centrepiece of Monday’s blanket coverage was a speech by Angelina Jolie, the Hollywood actress and UNHCR special envoy.
“Sounding as if she was reading a script by Nick Clegg, the star denounced “the politics of fear and separation”
“Isolationism is not strength. Fragmentation is not the answer.” I half-expected her to conclude by warning us not to take a “leap into the unknown” and stressing we were “stronger together”.”
Young concludes: “As I say, I’m not a swivel-eyed Eurosceptic loon when it comes to the BBC. But a whole day devoted to making those of us who would like to control migration feel like mean-spirited Little Englanders was too much. Would the BBC dare broadcast this agitprop after the EU referendum purdah kicks in on May 27th? I doubt it.”
A recent analysis of the BBC’s output over the last decade by the Institute for Economic Affairs showed considerable bias by the corporation in favour of a pro-EU worldview, with just 3 per cent of Today program guests being in favour of Brexit.
The research also cited an episode of Newsnight focussing solely on the EU referendum, in which just one of 19 guests was in favour of leaving the EU.
The BBC is Britain’s most widely accessed news source, with 51 per cent of adults getting their news from BBC1 alone, while its online news output reaches one in four British adults.