« Tories remain 3% ahead according to YouGov - but voters remain unsure what a Cameron-led government would be like | Main | George Eustice likely to manage party's relations with conservative coalition »


Brilliant research. Well done Sam.

Busted! Whole BBC depts spend half their time mooching around on Facebook.
I see you already sent Andrew Bolt your findings. I was amused to see one of his commenters had had precisely the same thought as me-
"maybe the 120 Conservatives are the BBC cleaning staff!"

This is a great piece of work. It's clear proof that the BBC is liberal and all self-declared. This research will be quoted for years to come. Well done Conservativehome.

Well done Sam.

Confirmation of what we have always known, the BBC is a bastion of liberalism. I think the point about protecting careers is interesting. There is no doubt that if someone applied to the BBC and said that they were 'Right-Wing' they wouldn't even get as far as an interview. The same thing applies in our education system where red professors rule the roost. For Liberal read Socialist, the two are both interchangeable sides of the same coin. All the more reason to distrust the statist BBC.

Why can't I be a moderate, liberal conservative? Come on, children, stop allowing your anti-BBC obsession to get the better of you. I worked there for 10 years and, of course, it has a majority of lefties over Tories. But its commitment to balanced reporting is more robust and consistent than any other news organisation in the world, bar none. Get over yourselves, or apply for a job there.

You forget that they are intellectually pure enough to put their own views and blind-spots aside ;-)

Which is damning on the surface and yet I'd probably register myself as, at least, 'moderate' myself given these pathetically narrow categories. Why?

1. It's an American site and I'd have concerns that putting conservative would lump me in with a group of people for whom I have no natural affinity on issues like the death penalty, gay rights, abortion rights, the environment, the role of religion in schools, etc.

2. In the US, the word 'liberal' is mistrusted. But that distrust doesn't exist here. Cameron describes himself as a 'liberal Conservative', and I've always identified as 'liberal' -- in particular, economically liberal. Perhaps that's not entirely in the spirit of the categories, but frankly, I don't think calling socialists 'liberal' is in the spirit of the categories either. It would be like calling wolves 'sheep'.

Of course, the BBC should still be more representative of the population, and the research is well-observed.

"The BBC is not impartial or neutral. It's a publicly funded, urban organisation with an abnormally large number of young people, ethnic minorities and gay people. It has a liberal bias not so much a party-political bias. It is better expressed as a cultural liberal bias", Andrew Marr, the Daily Mail, Oct 21st, 2006.

I run a Facebook site for my local PPC. We received a very abusive, anti tory message on the site this week and on checking the users profile he was listed as a BBC employee.
Whatever happened to journalistic integrity?

Thanks for the confirmation of what many of us have suspected for some time.

Can we stop calling them "liberals" please? Like not a few "modernising" members of the Conservative Party, they are aggressively secular authoritarians.

Nice to see some stats to support the suspicions.

Excellent work. No wonder voters are unsure what a Cameron led government would be like - the BBC - and the Today programme in particular - aims to exclude all information about the conservative party from their news coverage. In addition Today routinely tries to recontaminate the Conservative brand. For instance on what was billed as a discussion about Lloyd George yesterday between a labour Lord and a leftwing historian, it was claimed Attlee's mission was to civilise England whereas Margaret Thatcher's mission was precisely the opposite. This blatant slur went unchallenged. Today we were treated to Geoffrey Robinson and Jack Straw being interviewed by James Naughtie about the great British tradition of 'democracy'. The idea that opposition voices should be heard in such a discussion did not to occur. It was after all simply an item to promote the Brownite agenda. In fact the Today programme is fast becoming the in-house news programme for Brown's government. With 6m listeners a week the propaganda affect of this must be enormous. What is to be done?

I don't think the Facebook "political views" measure is particularly reliable. Like GMB above, as a liberal Conservative I have no intention of lumping myself in with the American hard-right, so I leave it blank.

In fact, I've seen a few people who I know to be Conservatives actually put "liberal" in the box.

An illuminating indictment of the BBC's political bias. Surely though, the BBC employees who are likely to have Facebook profiles tend to be young white males, a demographic which does tend to be disproportionately left-wing?

Let us [uncharacteristically] look for the silver lining in this. Since public's faith in the BBC has nose dived in the light of recent scandals, may be it is to our advantage that the BBC is viewed as the bastion of NuLab/lefties/anti-Tories.
Lies, deceipt, distortion, fleecing your money etc......

Gordon's Missing Bottle, interesting that in the US the term progressive has replaced Liberal in many quarters and that progressives believe they are the forward thinking intellectual elite. There is no doubt that Socialists and Liberals are more bound together by the Progressive label. Perhaps a better term for such people is 'Statist' because if anything it is their absolute adherence to the state as a panacea for all ills that most separates them from Conservatives.

But the Facebook site is an opt-in site, so all this proves is that more BBC employees, who wish to call themselves 'liberal', are registered on the site than others.

I know of 3 BBC employees who are Conservatives who are not on the site and, like Iain Lindlay, I also know of Conservatives who list themselves as 'liberal' or leave the box blank.

Yes it can be used a 'guide' but I wouldn't say it is damning evidence.

Not surprised. Was in the audience of BBC QT last week at Bradford - not many other Tories judging by support - not many Labour - the place was awash with liberals -Charles Kennedy almost got a standing ovation from the audience on arrival and every point made got the biggest applause!

Lindley you really do know how to find a cloud in the silver lining. I don't know any Conservatives who put liberal down as their political views, what an absurd thing to say. If there was a Classical Liberal option I can see a few conservatives going for that but not many Conservative Party people.

CJ, the 'damning evidence' comes from watching or listening to the BBC itself!

Yes, Malcolm, the 'damning evidence' is from watching or listening to the BBC itself - agreed.

I call the BBC quite often to complain of their 'bias' - not that it will change anything, but it makes me feel better! But what else can we do?

And yes 'Ay Up' card carrying members of the party do have themselves down as 'liberal' on the site for the very reasons that Iain commented on. You may not like it. but it's true.

How would 'Liberal Conservative' Dave Cameron classify himself?

As a Beeboid signing up to Facebook, I stared at those choices and thought:

1. "I'm damned if I'm telling you, Facebook."

2. "What do these categories even mean? Which of them would Gladstone tick? Come to that, which of them would some Tories tick? Hmmm..."

3. "I wonder if BBC employees are meant to avoid declaring this kind of thing? Oh look - you can aggregate across networks. This could be interesting..."

But at that point, only 20% of BBC employees who had opted in to Facebook had ticked one of the confusingly-labelled political boxes.

If these data were from [random social network] purporting to reveal [random characteristic] of [random public body], I'm not sure how seriously I'd take them.

The prevalence of Coldplay, Snow Patrol and Muse fans at the BBC, though - now, that does concern me.

I often only see a quote from a Lib Dem at the end of BBC news stories online. Perhaps a survey on that is in order?

Figures taken from UK Politics Application:

Describing themselves as "Liberal"

LibDem 49.9%
Labour 38.5%
Conservative 3.9%


Conservative 96.9%


Labour 55.4%
Conservative 9.7%
LibDem 5.2%

"Very Liberal"

LibDem 43.5%
Labour 39.1%
Conservative 1.2%


Labour 57.8%
Conservative 23.8%
LibDem 8.3%


Conservative 57.3%
LibDem 14.7%
Labour 10.9%

"Very Conservative"

Conservative 88.2%
Labour 1.7%


Conservative 41.9%
Labour 16.1%
LibDem 16.1%

Unfortunately, there's no breakdown of people who haven't stated a preference.

'The BBC is populated by many people who are broadly of the centre-left, but it doesn't suffer from leftish bias: it suffers from a stodgy green, soft-left green liberalism, which isn't the same thing. Now, in any case, political paranoia about the BBC is an equal opportunity experience: the two parties which share power, share their unease about the BBC. They also understand it and are understood by it. This is perhaps the worst feature of the present state of play: the media and the parties view each other as instruments that should be played'. page 89, 'Scrap the BBC' by Richard D North.

The problem with this institutional bias is that it does creep into editorial, for instance on the morning of George Osborne's conference speech, dear old Declan from BBC Breakfast stated as fact that only 6% of the population is affected by Inheritance Tax - blatantly untrue and seemingly sourced from the Labour Party. Declan's entitled to hold political opinion (as is every employee of the Beeb) but when it creeps into his presenting and statistics are misrepresented to back the liberal/labour agenda (as noted on other occasions also), it is out of order. Licence payers deserve better and this kind of bias does much to diminish the standards of fair reporting that the BBC ostensibly aspires to.

On the subject of liberalism it's worth pointing out that the BBC gets ever less liberal as time goes by. It's become an authoritarian institution suffering from much too much group think - in the service of an ever more invasive and authoritarian government. Since the arrival of Gordon Brown the blatant kow towing to the government has become extraordinary. I also send off complaints but I suspect that only encourages them.

I happen to know of someone who works on the Today programme who is a member of the Socialist Workers' Party - honestly.

Excellent post!!!

Most of us believe our views are "liberal" in the non political sense. I have also noticed that some of my Conservative friends have ticked liberal on Facebook, probably because they are not identifying it with the Liberal Democratic Party politically, or because they do not want to be seen as rabid fundamentalist right wingers, as has been mentioned already.
What is more significant for us to recognise, is that anyone employed with public funds is likely to be better disposed to political parties who regularly promise increased spending all round, rather than our party, as the only credible alternative government, when we are suspected of being tax cutters, who will obviously threaten their livelihoods.
Their inbuilt lack of enthusiasm for Conservative policies is further compounded whenever the BBC is criticised by us. We have almost nothing to gain, since it is highly unlikely to achieve any genuine improvement in our perception of their impartiality, and plenty to lose. So BBC bashing is practically a no win situation for us. Perhaps we should be emphasising their professionalism instead! After all, the BBC remains a world respected institution, for good reasons, and we should be careful not to lose it.
We are shooting ourselves in the foot when we alienate such a significant section of the media who are such influential opinion formers in our battle for the hearts and minds of the electorate.

This post is completely moronic and ultimately self-defeating. I am a Conservative member who has worked in the House of Commons for three Conservative MPs including David Cameron for whom I was research assistant from 2001-2003. I continue to be active on behalf of the party and yet, I would describe myself as a liberal. It is because I am a liberal, in its true sense, that I am a Conservative. Not only is your post illogical, it will also make anyone who reads it and has their political views as 'liberal' assume that they are not a Conservative. Are you assuming that anyone who puts anything other than Conservative on their profile is not of the party? If so, we're more screwed than we were before Brown's non-election. Yes the BBC might show bias, but attacking it like this just makes Conservatives seem petty, if not purile. I usually admire what you do here, but get a grip.

As Alex has worked for three Conservative MPs I realise he must be right and I must be a moron for thinking that Conservatives were Conservatives and liberals, well, liberals.

Ian Lindley's useful analysis shows that just 3.9% of those describing themselves as "Liberal" support us. I think that fact in itself nails those doubting the importance/validity of Sam's investigative work. Nice one, Sam - v interesting.

Alex - I think you are being a little unfair. I agree that the research means little as the political descriptions mean different things in the UK and the US but it is an interesting thread on how people in the Conservative Party describe themselves to the wider world. I am a card carrying member of the party but to those outside of the UK I would be careful about describing myself as 'Conservative' too as the word gives a different perception dependent on where you are in the world.

On the BBC bias issue, I don't believe that complaining of bias when we see it is 'petty'. There is plenty of justification for raising issues of bias on any number of occasions and as compulsory licence payers we have every right to complain if we wish. And CCHQ has made formal complaints too - do you think they are also 'petty'?

Alan - the issue with Coldplay is ...?

I'm grateful to Iain for showing us the UK Politics app figures, I'm sure a few Conservatives do describe themselves as liberal but not many.

I would ask Alex Burdett: could you say equally comfortably that it is because you are a Conservative, in its true sense, that you are a liberal? Doesn't sound right to me.

I agree that we shouldn't merely bash the BBC. I've said in my statment to some of the press who are interested in this that the problem isn't with BBC employees' professionalism, but with an institutionalised worldview.

"Since the arrival of Gordon Brown the blatant kow towing to the government has become extraordinary. I also send off complaints but I suspect that only encourages them."

Oscar Miller, you are dead right. Since Brown's coronation the BBC has been falling over itself in presenting Labour as some sort of 'New' government and completely divorced from the Blair years. The bias as been too frequent to be mere coincidence.

Well done for discovering that most journalists and people who seek employment in the media who are willing to make a political statement tend to be liberals. Great work! That's a big, big surprise. And that people who are employed in the State sector are less likely to be Tories? Who'd have thought it?

This means absolutely nothing. The political outlook of any media outlet is determined by the views, or more usually the commercial interests of the proprietor.

"conservative" is not the same as "Conservative", just the same as "liberal" is not the same as "Liberal Democrat". "conservative" means cautious and opposed to change, nothing more.

I'm against market reforms of the NHS and Education. On that issue I am therefore "conservative" (opposed to change). Does that make me "Conservative" in the sense of the political party- of course not!

The Maggon was a "Conservative", yet she changed Britain almost irrevocably. She clearly was not "conservative"(opposed to change)- if only she had been !

Whether you are cautious and opposed to change has nothing to do with being left wing or right wing.

This research confuses ideology and party affiliation. The options available on facebook are about political ideoogy and not party. That is why there is no Labour Party option, no Liberal Democrat option and no Conservative Party option. I am an active supporter of the Conservative Party, and count myself as a liberal ideologically. This to me best expresses my commitment to freedom in the social and the economic spheres. Conversely, it could be argued that Gordon Brown is in many senses a conservative ideologically, especially in the social sphere (think drinking laws, gambling, biblical talk).

When our own leader describes himself as a liberal, it shouldn't be surprising that many supporters of the Conservative Party do too.

Odd that commenters on the left of the party like Iain Lindley and changetowin are so keen to get the BBC off the hook by muddying the waters between conservatism and liberalism!

I thought Facebook was something for juveniles.

Out of Iain's list, I'd describe myself as closer to 'libertarian' (like 57% of Tories, apparently); but with options narrowed, I'd go with 'liberal'. The stats are interesting, and there's obviously a broad trend, but I don't think it's all that helpful as a stat because it's such imprecise terminology.

I went on Facebook solely because ConservativeHome suggested it. The more of us who join, the less juvenile it becomes.
It is entertaining, interesting, useful and, occasionally, a real eye opener.
Rather like this really, but, of course, much less focussed on those of us who are like minded.
It is also a seductive time waster, but can arguably be justified as "educational"!

i take it Gordon' missing bottle opposes the "american right" postion on religon in schools because he supports state faith schools unlike them- i cerintaly hope his not even futher left than Bush!

Some of us have always called ourselves 'liberal', even before DC became leader!

It's worth pointing out that the news division of the BBC employs about 2500 people. That means that even if every single one of them is signed up to facebook - and they aren't - the vast majority work elsewhere. That means they could be accountants, engineers, catering staff, quiz question setters, HR staff, lawyers or any one of dozens of other jobs. So let's not get too carried away about alleged BBC bias....

(This is getting off topic, but --
CJ: http://www.everythingsoundslikecoldplaynow.com/ )

The Bolshevik Broadcasting Camp (aka pravda) was heading left from the early nineties onwards. They day the globe went red summed it up for me.

It seems to be devoted to the repetion of Labour Party press releases and the perpetuation of social myths around subject areas where Comrade Brown wants to control our private lives ever more.

Its reportage is poor, its science poor, its comedy mostly predictable and poor and its drama so heavily political as to compromise the entertainment value.

Frankly I resent every penny I am forced to pay to these parasites and hope that the party has the guts to disband the whole dishonest bunch once it gets into power.

Off topic but thank you Alan for the link. I'm crying with laughter (it doesn't take much)

(Sending again as laptop crashed first time round)

While this will tend to suggest BBC staff see themelves to the left, the terms are very confusing and the options limited. Are they meant to be political terms? I'm not sure I would in this context merely describe myself as conservative. On some issues I want to preserve the status quo and others I want change. The political term Conservatism encompases many issues.


I don't understand why Conservatives do not have a policy for dismantling the BBC. It is an anti-conservative force that shapes the views of millions, yet it is owned by the State and funded by a compulsory fee. This is indefensible. The BBC cannot be reformed. It should be broken into little pieces and each one sold to the highest bidder.

If you think this proves anything, congratulations, you're an idiot!

Many of my Conservative voting friends list themselves on Facebook as 'liberal' or 'moderate'. They would be horrified if that was taken to mean they were in any way supportive of the Labour Party or the Liberal Democrats. Furtehrmore, there are many BBC employees who seem to have other priorities than joining Facebook or listing themselves as BBC employees. This is silly debating chamber politics and has no real gravitas. It is not a reliable test of political opinion.
Conservative Home has always tried to raise the bar of political debate and discussion. Please don't let's get obsessed with such nonsense.

"Re: the BBC bias - I would probably go along with Andrew Marr's defnition of a culturally liberal bias. Politically, they're a pretty apathetic bunch. I don't know anyone here who is particularly politically driven. The only thing that would get them fired up would be if you doubled the price of organic falafel."

From a friend who has worked at the Beeb for a decade.

As several have aluded to, the Facebook options are notoriously US based, to the frustration of many. There are numerous groups petitioning for political views to be open optioned, with numerous essays explaining that "liberal" has a different meaning for many. (And let's not even get onto whether or not people go to "university" or "college"/"grad school".)

Even if the BBC had a perfectly proportioned ratio of employees on Facebook I would still expect the "conservative" option to be proportionally low, because BBC employees are more likely than average to be aware of the US centric nature of the options and decline an option associated which for many doesn't mean "UK centre right" but "Bush supporting nutters".

I was asked a question at a selection meeting about how I would explain to somebody on the doorstep why they should vote for me. I said,

"Madam, I'm not surprised you're confused. Labour act like authoritarian conservatives, the Lib-Dems are the New Left, Respect are the Old Left and the Greens are - well, just Left. Personally, I'm a liberal.

"The fact is none of the other parties will ever trust you. They'll stand up and say, "this is what you're concerned about and we're concerned about it to, so trust us to sort it out for you". The difference is that we will tell you what we want to do to sort out those problems and trust you to decide whether you agree with us or not.

"That's the difference. We trust you, they want you to trust them".

If that makes me a liberal, then so be it. I did however tag myself as conservative on Facebook!

Does the Conservative Party have a network? How many of them are down as "Conservatives"?

I think this is pretty poor evidence to be honest. People can operate in a personal and professional capacity, and I'm sure people aren't recruited on the basis of their political leanings. Ask most young people in London what they are and very few will opt for "Conservative", whether they are Tories or not. On the other hand, most people want to be seen as liberal in attitude, myself included.

"It's not fair, it's not fair!" Pathetic - grow up all of you.

I really couldnt care less if the BBC is biased, we all know it is. Every other form of media is, and the better for it, papers, talk radio etc. In fact id like it if we had choices over conservative or liberal television news sources.

What bothers me is the unethical, outdated and utterly unaccountable way the BBC is funded, and the way it is allowed to masquerade as some sort of definitive news source.

If I worked at the BBC, and wanted to keep my job, I would not make it known that I was conservative.

So perhaps that throws off the stats a little bit? One hopes.

Since this thread I've been looking more at Facebook and while I know its fashionable at the moment it sometimes is really quite sad and facile.

Most British conservatives are more liberal than American "liberals." Stop wetting your pants over an apples-to-oranges comparison.

The whole enterprise is misguided. Complaints of press bias are not new. In 1992 Murdoch's Sun proclaimed 'Its the Sun wot won it'.

And he was probably right. The Tories should have lost the 1992 election. It would have been better for everyone, especially the Tory party.

During the Murdoch years the Tory party grew complacent. MPs knew that Rupert's thumb was firmly on the balance and would tip them in their favor. Instead of purging shits who lied, cheated and then brought libel cases to silence their critics the Tory party circled the waggons round them.

Then one morning everyone woke up and discovered that Rupert Murdoch, friend of Chinese Communists was now BFF with Tony Blair. And as a direct result the Tory party has now been out of power for a decade and Labour look pretty much like a less sleasy version of the Major administration.

Its not a coincidence that the Web appeared when it did. It was a reaction. I didn't really see why an Australian who financed Mel Gibson's anti-British movies should be deciding who governs Britain.

Doesn't matter who the press is biased in favour of, it hurts them in the end. Eventually people start believing their own propaganda.

In 1992 I was working on the Web and with the Clinton-Gore '92 online campaign. I told them about the Web, Jock Gill and David Lytel developed the strategy of disintermediating the press.

Stop whining, get smart. Use the Web for what we built it for.

What a surprise, and I assume we can take it that 'liberal' = raving lefty.

I would have thought the ratio was more like 110/1.

"I assume we can take it that 'liberal' = raving lefty."

No, we can't TT. For reasons both me and 'Changetowin' outlined above (26/10 @ 14.44)

Whilst I agree that the term "liberal" currently means something different across the Atlantic I fear that Conservatives do themselves little good by adopting it for themselves over here. In US terms liberals are a very worrying species, and I would commend to anybody the writings of Ann Coulter who is hilarious in her baiting of the US version. What is noticable however is that the BBC would never allow someone of such effective anti liberal opinion to be heard in the UK.
From Michael Moore to Al Gore, their's is a near adulation of the Amererican liberal tradition and if that continues to proceed unchallenged in our premier news media then Conservatives trying to nuance themselves as something different will be doomed to failure. Better by far to dump that association and start tarnishing their brand for a change. If you want to see how it can be done with wit venom and accuracy google Ms Coulter today!

Its fortunate that there’s no Labour party or Liberal party to speak of otherwise we real liberals might become some kind of threat. At the moment I'm considering voting conservative. - Labour are far to right wing now and the liberals are to anti-nuclear. (To me anti-nuclear equals anti-environmental).
The most tempting of the small parties is probably UKIP, to me the EU is just to big to work as a democracy.

Ever wonder if it was because Conservatives don't like going into the media, particularly the BBC, and instead want to become, say, accountants, bank managers, MPs, lawyers, solicitors, "something in the City Square Mile" or bloggers...

Just a thought y'know. I mean, I wonder how many left wing or liberal folk there are in Social Services, by comparison to Conservatives. Perhaps you should do some research with the University of Stating the Bleeding Obvious...

Hi. Have done a post on this myself http://rupahuq.wordpress.com/2007/11/02/bbc-entryism/
According to last week's Aerial the most common designation for BBC staffers is in fact "apathetic"

I suppose everyone would be much happier if we let Rupert Murdoch run our national media and then the bias would be up for sale to the highest bidder?

Look at the current news blackout in Tibet or the recent blackout in Burma and say, hand on heart, that you're happy with the situation.

This isn't woolly liberal thinking when people are being killed by their own government and the troops meant to protect them... Think the Countryside Coalition march being attacked by riot police using live ammo and steel batons.

The BBC may be imperfect but there are times I thank god for it's willingness to talk when others stay quiet for the sake of their 'sponsors'.

Be careful what you wish for... Lest it become true.

Your blog entry states that on Facebook “there isn't a socialist option available, to the chagrin of many (BBC staff)”.

That’s factually untrue, there is NO pick-list of options for politics (or religion) at all on Facebook; the member has to enter words to describe themselves, or they can leave it blank. (I am a FB member.)

If you wish to criticise someone’s reporting then its essential that you are accurate yourself.

If the accusation is that 1,340 BBC staff described themselves as ‘liberals’ on Facebook - (340 as moderates and 120 as conservatives; presumably the remaining 8,780 could easily ‘don’t knows’ or ‘undecided’.) then D. Cameron could as easily describe himself as either ‘Liberal’ or ‘Conservative’ were he to be a member; he’s described himelsf in the past as a “liberal Conservative”. Liberal has a very wide meaning nowadays, not just a party political one. In US terms I’m a fiscal conservative and a social liberal for example.

Tim Dennell: Your statement is currently accurate, but misleading, possibly not through your fault: It is true that now 'political views' is a write in box, however that is a recent change: when I joined about 15 months ago, around the time many of said BBC employees would have been, the 'Political views' was a drop-down which gave the choices of "Very liberal", "liberal", "moderate", "conservative" or "Very conservative". When this was changed to a write-in box, the field remained the same, and you had to manually change it after finding out that the change was possible, which wasn't advertised.

Given the US nature of the site, and the Statist attitudes in much of the media, it is highly unlikely that 'liberal' actually meant 'open minded believers in freedom', as in American terms it's actually another word for 'socialist'.

Just spent an hour or two watching Fox news. How refreshing to hear opinionated, conservative debate as opposed to the mealy-mouthed stuff we are treated to in Britain !Fine, let the BBC come out as liberal, but let Sky News or some other, give us another point of debate ! Why should Americans have all the fun !

The comments to this entry are closed.



ConHome on Twitter

    follow me on Twitter

    Conservative blogs

    Today's public spending saving

    New on other blogs

    • Receive our daily email
      Enter your details below:

    • Tracker 2
    • Extreme Tracker