There was one clear winner of last night’s BBC leadership debate: Nigel Farage’s campaign to abolish the TV licence fee.
The BBC is a disgrace, an embarrassment, a monstrosity. Its politics are so relentlessly woke, its bias so shameless, its hatred of the values shared perhaps by the vast majority of its viewers so flagrant, that it is quite incapable of serving its claimed purpose as the nation’s source of fair and balanced information.
Any properly functioning democracy would have pulled the plug on such a malign and corrupting institution long ago. As it reminded us once again last night, the BBC exerts a powerful and pernicious effect on Britain’s body politic, exploiting its near-total domination of broadcast media first to dictate the terms of the political debate and second to push them in an ever-leftwards direction. (The Overton Window.)
It’s the BBC’s leftwards enlargement of the Overton Window we have to thank for the fact that we’ve got an antisemitic, terrorist-supporting Marxist on the brink of government; the reason that, for at least ten years now, is the Conservative government has not dared to do anything remotely conservative; the reason, largely, that people feel like strangers in their own country and no longer feel able to speak their minds.
That dog’s breakfast of a politics debate we endured last night was the very exemplar of all these failings.
Stroppy, haughty, over-promoted female moderator of impeccable left-liberal/Remain persuasion? Check.
Questions designed to reflect the obsessions of metropolitan pinkos — climate change, Islamophobia, the vastly overdone horrors of No Deal Brexit — but of little, if any, interest to the Conservative Party members who are actually going to decide which of the two final candidates becomes prime minister? Check.
Endless, endless interruptions by aforementioned female moderator — Emily Maitlis — especially when Boris Johnson was trying to develop his point, which he was never allowed to? Check.
A free pass given to the most obviously unconservative of all the candidates — bizarro Old Etonian spook Rory Stewart — whose unique selling point appears to be that if you vote for him you’ll end up getting Theresa May’s failed Brexit policies and the terrifying prospect you might bump into him outside the bakery one morning, accosting you for one of his interminable “meet the people, I’m normal, me!” videos. Check.
Question from 15-year-old Glasgow schoolgirl — who a) will likely vote SNP b) doesn’t have the vote for another three years and c) gets all her climate facts, like Greta Thunberg, from Ice Age II, probably — asking for a carbon reduction timetable so radical that only a hair-shirt loon from Extinction Rebellion or Michael Gove could even begin to entertain it? Check.
Question about Islamophobia from a dodgy imam clearly there only to embarrass the main candidate — Boris Johnson — by bringing up yet again the funny column he wrote about women in burkas resembling bank robbers or post boxes? Check.
Endless posturing, cant-spouting, and virtue-signalling from all the candidates, none shedding any useful light whatsoever on how they’d actually be as prime minister because, hey, face it, they were all in “get Emily Maitlis off my back by spewing the PC drivel she wants to hear” mode? Check.
Why Boris Johnson agreed to submit himself to this ordeal — so patently an event cooked up by the left-liberal Establishment with no other purpose than to try to derail his leadership prospects — is not exactly a mystery. But it is a scandal.
The scandal is this: the BBC — like the monarchy, like the armed services, like the Church of England, like the City of London — trades on a prestige it has earned over many decades. Thanks to its coverage of wars, coronations, weddings, funerals, its landmark dramas and documentaries, its global reach, it has become part of the national fabric. But it is trading on a false prospectus. The BBC as impartial arbiter, the BBC as beloved Auntie, the BBC as trusted source — these are all ships that sailed long, long ago. What the BBC is now is little more than a creator and promulgator of liberal-left agitprop — still, mysteriously funded by a compulsory fee which all viewers of terrestrial TV in the UK must pay whether they like it or not. Yet because of that false prestige, unfortunately, politicians like Boris are forced to appear on it and pretend that it matters.
But what if — like me, and I suspect I’m far from alone — you think Islamophobia is a made-up phenomenon promoted by radical Islamists to cry-bully their critics into silence?
What if you think man-made climate change is nonsense and you don’t give a damn what 15-year-old girls, brainwashed by a fatuous state education system, think about a topic on which they know less than nothing?
What if you’d like an actual Conservative prime minister who does actual conservative things for a change and the questions you really want him asked concern stuff like political correctness, how he’s going to destroy the left-dominated Deep State hegemony of all those quangos and the Civil Service, how he’s going to boost Britain’s energy economy by ditching the bat-chomping, bird-slicing eco-crucifixes and exploiting the country’s rich gas and oil shales?
Well of course these aren’t options you’re ever going to get from the BBC because it no longer even pretends to be useful.
Nor, for the matter, does it even pretend to be giving the viewer the best quality in return for that compulsory licence fee.
There are loads of people who would have done a better job of moderating that debate than Emily Maitlis. But because — starting with Andrew Neil — they’re all blokes they were never going to get a look in, were they?
I really wish I could make it clear one day, how very much I loathe the BBC and pretty much all who sail in her. But unfortunately, it makes me so angry that words tend to fail me.