Fellow Remainers: Hands off the BBC

Remainers indulging in conspiracy theories about the BBC should be careful what they wish for.

Recently, it’s become fashionable in Remainer circles to attack the BBC for the apparent bias in its coverage of Brexit.

In recent days, for example, Lord Adonis’s Twitter feed has been an orgy of attacking the BBC’s impartiality, sometimes bordering on conspiracy theorising, and often using the vaguely sinister hashtag #BrexitBroadcastingCorporation :

Meanwhile Henry Porter has devoted a column in the Guardian to claiming that the BBC is abdicating its responsibilities in reporting Brexit.

Some of this, it appears, follows on from a decision by the BBC not to cover a march against Brexit, while reporting on Farage and Rees-Mogg’s publicity stunt in dumping fish into the Thames. Now, you may think that is right or wrong, but the fact remains that the BBC has to make those kinds of judgment calls all the time. I yield to no-one in my desire to see the UK remain in the EU, but as things stand we will leave next year, and the BBC has to report the news on that basis. The process of the negotiations is newsworthy and people are entitled to be informed on them and the effect they are having on British politics.

Frankly there are marches all the time and the BBC is right to be sceptical about how newsworthy they are. They are never going to be able to cover them all, and every time they don’t, people are going to complain about it. The only way they are all going to be reported is if the BBC adopts a weekly slot on the Saturday evening news to cover that week’s march. March of the Day: look away now if you don’t want to know how many people were on it.

Similarly, there’s been conspiracy theorising about the appointment of Robbie Gibb as Downing Street Director of Communications:

Really? There’s always been a crossover between journalism and political communications. Former BBC political journalist Lance Price was an adviser to Tony Blair during Lord Adonis’s time there, and went on to become the Labour Party’s Director of Communications. There’s not necessarily anything sinister about it.

Over recent years there has been a catastrophic collapse in trust in institutions: often well-deserved but insidious nonetheless. There is a reason why Farage, and Trump, and all the others want to destroy trust in the BBC and in impartial journalism, and we shouldn’t be assisting them with it.

If Britain is to remain in the EU, then it will be because there has been a firm shift in public opinion towards remain, of the kind that the Government cannot ignore. If the electorate are going to change their minds they’re not going to take it from Remainers that it’s the right thing to do: they need trusted, impartial sources of information to help them make up their minds. Undermining those sources is self-defeating.

Those indulging in conspiracy theorising against the BBC, and undermining trust in it, have fallen for the nirvana fallacy: they are comparing the real BBC with an unrealistic, idealised version of how it might be. The BBC is never going to be perfect, because it’s a fallible, man-made institution. The choice is between it as it stands, and no BBC at all. Make common cause with those who would destroy the BBC, and it will disappear and take public service broadcasting with it.

The alternatives to the BBC’s standards of journalism are the likes of Swawkbox, the Canary and Breitbart. Be careful what you wish for.


Kent PCC Elections – the story so far

And then there were six

18th April is the deadline to vote in the Kent PCC elections: you can register here.

Six candidates remain for the post:

Matthew Scott (Conservative).

Must regard himself as one of the front-runners for the post, given the electoral dominance of the Tories in Kent. The Tories will be looking to gain the Commissioner’s post now that Ann Barnes has decided not to stand.

But dear God, save us from another Tory running things into the ground…

Tristan Osborne (Labour)

Labour’s Tris Osborne is young, dynamic and clearly destined to go a long way in politics. He’s also, er, been tweeting pictures of himself campaigning in London for Sadiq Khan…

Don’t get me wrong, the London Mayoral Election is absolutely key for Labour, and indeed it is a selling point that he’d be able to build stronger links with the Met (there is no PCC in London, the Mayor filling that role), but really…

Dave Naghi (Lib Dem)

The Lib Dems didn’t stand last time, and Maidstone Councillor Dave Naghi doesn’t appear to be putting much effort into it this time either: his official profile on the Lib Dems’ website doesn’t even mention he’s standing, his campaign website hasn’t been updated since March, and his Twitter feed focuses almost entirely on the EU referendum.

As Cllr Naghi seems to be ignoring his campaign, we will do the same.

Henry Bolton (UKIP)

On paper Bolton is an impressive candidate, a retired Army officer who was subsequently seconded to the former Yugoslavia, where he filled a number of impressive-sounding roles. He appears to be campaigning hard, though perhaps wisely he seems to be downplaying his links with UKIP (though he was recently photographed enjoying the statutory pint with Nigel Farage).

On the other hand, he is from UKIP, and therefore unacceptable.

Steve Uncles (English Democrats)


The candidate for the hard-right English Democrats is the only one to have stood in 2012: he came fifth. Since then, he stood for Dartford in the 2015 General Election: his party’s share of the vote collapsed by 90%, and he was placed sixth with 0.4% of the vote.

Uncles attempted to fund his campaign by a crowdfunding effort, raising a miserable £175 towards his £5,000 target.

Rather remarkably, his trial for alleged election fraud has been delayed to enable him to stand this time.

Now that Fergus is no longer with us, Uncles would be the comedy candidate in this election, if it weren’t that he posts stuff like this on Twitter:

…which really isn’t funny at all. We may return to Uncles later, though we may need a bath afterwards.

Gurvinder Sandher (Independent)

Mr Sandher is Director of the Kent Equalities Cohesion Council and a noted equalties campaigner. He has vowed to keep party politics out of policing – though perhaps Kent has had enough of well-meaning but vague independents after Ann Barnes.

And two failed to make the cut:

Tim Garbutt

Independent candidate Tim Garbutt announced that he had decided not to stand in the election, citing alleged high levels of corruption:

Of course it was due to that Tim, and nothing at all to do with finding out that it was going to cost you money to stand:

Fergus Wilson

As we have seen Wilson’s application for leave to appeal for Judicial Review is before the High Court: it is set down for trial next Thursday (April 21st). Bizarrely, Wilson says that he isn’t sure whether he really wants to stand, Kent Online reporting:

He said: “It’s a practical issue. I really don’t know if I’d run,” adding: “A lot of people have got in touch to say they are appalled by the decision.”

I’m sure the Court will be impressed by this apparent waste of their time: and, as the deadline for withdrawals has long since passed, in the highly-unlikely event of his appeal being successful he will have to stand whether he likes it or not.