Park for a moment the facts we all know to be true; that is namely that the BBC is a liberal-left wing institution that takes money from the European Union to distribute pro-EU propaganda. Park that. Just for a second.
Because whether we like it or not, the BBC won’t cease to exist in the next six months, and therefore we have to seriously assess its potential impact in the forthcoming European referendum.
There have been some perfunctory comments on this by Conservative Members of Parliament, but we all know when push comes to shove these very same people have been backing David Cameron’s renegotiation, and the BBC taking the stance that it has been, and will continue to, will serve as succour for the renegotiationists.
That is, until crunch time, whereupon the few truly Tory eurosceptics will have an “oh my god, what have we done?” moment.
This morning, UKIP’s leader Nigel Farage appeared on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme (2hrs 10mins in), and had to endure the full frontal BBC, pro-migration assault.
“How many refugees?” screeched the BBC presenter Sarah Montague over and over again this morning, “But Suzanne Evans said…” she objected, attempting to cause more disruption within the party.
This, despite Mr Farage being invited onto the programme to discuss the launch of UKIP’s own ‘No’ campaign this week, rather than the intricacies of the European Union’s common asylum policy, or how his fellow party members were allowed to have different opinions to him.
I recall, from a moment during the election campaign, a very similar situation, where Nigel and I marched into the BBC’s studios in Broadcasting House, and their present Mishal Husain presented him with an almost ceaseless barrage of attack-dog comments, the types of which you’d more likely hear from a debate opponent rather than a licence-fee funded interviewer.
The hostility towards UKIP over other political parties is not just evident to the listener, it is de rigeur. “That’s okay,” Nigel used to say to me. “We solider on anyway.”
Right attitude. But wrong approach when it comes to the European Referendum. In other words: something must be done. Somebody please think of the children, etc etc.
This referendum, this hard-fought-for referendum is unlikely to be repeated in most of our lifetimes. And we simply cannot allow the BBC to have undue influence on the result.
Yes, I realise that a lot of the time, we complain about things emanating from the left of British politics, without really providing a solution. But I have one, here.
UKIP, or perhaps even TheKnow.eu campaign, should set up a media watchdog wing, with a 10 staff members, and a campaign war room. Watching as many television channels as they can, for EU coverage, listening to radio programmes and scrutinising online content. It should even have a “hotline” and an online reporting form for members of the public to call to highlight bias.
Its secondary purpose could be to act as a ‘fact check’ organisation – pumping out information and material to counter the narratives employed by the BBC, Channel 4, etc. There are plenty of subscription-based services online that would alert the campaign to mentions of “Europe”, “European Union”, “immigration” etc in real time. They even provide transcripts.
More than anything, this could play the BBC at its own game.
The same way the Beeb bombards the British public with its propaganda, the NO campaign’s watchdog could bombard the BBC with complaints, and tie it up in knots. But it needs to start now.
I fear that most people take the BBC for granted so much – turning on the Breakfast programme in the morning, perusing the website during the day, and watching BBC programming at night – that they don’t realise just how much they’re being brainwashed by it. It’s time to let them know.