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If the BBC employed a few more Conservatives, it might occasionally run stories that examined the wastefulness and inefficiency of the bloated state

By Tim Montgomerie

BBC CUTS 1 It's not just the trade union movement that has declared war on the Coalition's spending plans. The BBC, less intentionally but no less consequentially, has done the same. I've written an article for this morning's Daily Mail about the BBC's coverage of public spending cuts. Here are some extracts...

The relentless coverage of cuts, cuts, cuts

"The top three stories on the BBC website on one day this week were all about cuts. 'Police warn over cuts in spending', 'Charles Kennedy voices concerns over cuts', and - most chillingly - 'Cuts could harm race relations'. Cuts aren't just uncomfortable - but they are racist, too!"

Listen to the Today programme or watch BBC1's Ten O'clock news and it's exactly the same.

The BBC coverage could have been designed by the Labour Party

"Government spending is always seen as a good thing in BBC-land. Cuts are invariably seen as bad. I don't accuse BBC journalists of waking up with a deliberate mission to damage the Coalition Government, but that is the result. Recent whingeing BBC coverage could have been designed by a joint committee of the trade unions and the Labour Party... Most BBC staff members probably make every effort to leave their political views at the door of the recording studio, but if you are surrounded by people who have only ever worked for the state and have never been part of the wealth creation process, you struggle to think any differently...

For years, BBC reporters have failed to be a champion of the taxpayer, who pays their salaries.  And now they rush to defend their fellow public sector workers when a Government elected with a mandate to make cuts begins the necessary task that voters gave it... The Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt once complained that the BBC employed too few Right-wingers. 'I wish they would go and actively look for some Conservatives to be part of their news-gathering team,' he said. He later, regrettably, rode back from those remarks. He shouldn't have done. There are too few people in BBC newsrooms who think in ways that truly represent the broad cross-section of licence-fee payers."

BBC If the BBC employed more people who thought as taxpayers, rather than as public sector employees, this is the kind of question they would ask...
  • "Where are the BBC investigations into why health outcomes in Scotland are no better than at hospitals in England and Wales, even though the Scottish NHS gets more money?
  • Where is the report on the Ten O'clock News that tries to understand why French suppliers get more profit out of their contracts with the British state than they receive from their own government?
  • Where are the Newsnight interviews that explore why some local authorities are able to deliver exactly the same, or even better, public services at a much lower cost than others?
  • Where is the Today programme outrage at the fact that public sector workers are now better paid than their private sector counterparts, and have retained greater job security, more generous pensions and shorter working hours?
  • Where is the Five Live survey into why businesses and entrepreneurs are leaving the UK because the taxes necessary to pay for the wasteful state are making Britain internationally uncompetitive?"

I'm delighted to say that my piece in the Mail - read it in full here - is the beginning of a series in the newspaper to monitor the BBC's coverage of the public spending crackdown. I don't, of course, argue for one moment that the BBC shouldn't cover the spending cuts. It absolutely should. My argument is that its coverage of the cuts needs to be balanced with a sustained analysis of the efficiency of the state and the extent to which taxpayers get value for for their money.

The hugely regrettable thing is that there seems neither the willingness nor the intellectual imagination at the BBC to defend the taxpayers' interests with as much intensity as the interests of public sector workers.

PS Read the excellent, second Mail leader via this link.


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