The BBC is often depicted by right-wing commentators as being a haven of metropolitan French-speaking leftists that spend all their time deriding cricket and the monarchy. Their particular charge against the BBC is that it’s biased in its reporting of politics, which is unacceptable from an institution paid for by tax-payers of all ideologies. For once I agree, because I am sick of the BBC’s blatant bias toward right-wing political discourse when many socialists and communists also have to pay the license fee.
On some issues the BBC is endorsing a particular policy position or the status quo due to its position as a part of the British establishment. For example on the issue of the Monarchy the BBC is notorious for reporting on visits by the Royal Family; whenever there is something in the news regarding the finances of the Monarchy republicans are not given the same weighting as pro-royal voices.
On the never ending conflict between Israel and Palestine, the BBC allows Zionists to get onto the airwaves and spout propaganda and misinformation about a conflict which has disproportionately killed more Palestinians, yet Israeli apologists have a platform to equate the suffering of both sides as equal. The BBC also refuses to bring up comments by Israeli ministers about all Palestinians being legitimate military targets, when other Israeli officials speak of how they would like to see a two-state solution.
On other issues the BBC assumes a position of neutrality rather than objectivity; presenters, in fear of offending the most incredulous parts of the right-wing media, often report what political parties say rather than whether one of the two is objectively correct. I am aware that this would be problematic for the BBC as whenever Conservative Party policies would be pointed out to be objectively incorrect the backlash would be huge in comparison to if the BBC were to call out poorly thought out Labour policies.
Again I would not go so far as to say that presenters are actively endorsing a particular party or ideology, and when such a situation can be avoided representatives from the Left and the Right are often given the same weighting; the bias at the BBC is inherently right-wing because respecting tradition and authority are values more prevalent on the Right.
However it isn’t just the BBC’s reporting of political issues that reveals its right-wing bias, it’s reporters and presenters also, whether consciously or not, steer the conversation away from left-wing ideas. Former Newsnight presenter Jeremy Paxman surprised nobody by declaring after retiring from the news programme that he was a One-Nation Tory much like former Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli.
Stalwart of the BBC’s political coverage David Dimbleby used to be a member of the Bullingdon Club whilst he was Oxford, the same exclusive drinking society that much of the current Tory Cabinet were members of, albeit many years after Dimbleby. Being a member of the Bullingdon Club doesn’t necessarily mean that the member is right-wing, however the history of the society is littered with aristocrats and incredibly right-wing people like numerous royals and racist colonialists like Cecil Rhodes.
The current political editor of the BBC is Nick Robinson, the Oxford PPE graduate who whilst at university was chairman of the Oxford University Conservative Association; but luckily as soon people take jobs at the BBC they become impartial overnight and relinquish all previous ideological leanings.
Andrew Marr despite being a member of the Socialist Campaign for a Labour Victory (which was an offshoot of the International-Communist League), has since renounced his former views, instead stating in an interview with the Daily Telegraph that was a libertarian; considering the way he has described his younger self I can’t help but think that he is talking about a Milton Friedman-style libertarian rather than one in the mould of Rosa Luxemburg.
Daily Politics presenter Andrew Neil has also become part of the furniture when it comes to the BBC’s political coverage, and as a former Sunday Times editor, Daily Mail contributor and employee of the Conservative Party he only adds to the number of right-wing pundits that contribute to the political bias; despite his history in the print media the point must also be made that in the run up to the 2015 General Election he increased his scrutiny of Tory politicians however this hasn’t been true throughout his time at the BBC.
Right-wing media claims of left-wing bias in political reporting are not based in reality. I suspect that there is more evidence to suggest that the BBC is biased towards conservatism due in part to the presenters, but also the fact that the BBC is part of the British establishment, thus making the preservation of the establishment the main political bias. Say what you want about people on the Left but we cannot be accused of trying to preserve the establishment; the bias is small ‘c’ conservative and not actively endorsing one political party, irrespective of what newspapers claim. It would not surprise me that anything short of news presenters yelling ‘eurocrats’ and ‘sovereignty’ down the camera lens will probably seen by these detractors as too left-wing.