On 29th October (2020) BBC published instructions for staff regarding use of social media that banned “colleagues working in news and current affairs and factual journalism production and all senior leaders” from “expressing a view on any policy which is a matter of current political debate or on a matter of public policy, political or industrial controversy, or any other ‘controversial subject’.” – Guidance: Individual Use of Social Media
Three days later BBC published a transcript of a Radio 4 show that depicted an extreme-right anti-immigrant gang of yobs called Littleboats 2020 in a favourable humanising light as if describing people organising a garden fete in a village. – BBC on Littleboats 2020
The above were part of the same policy. BBC’s director-general Tim Davie has doubled-down on a policy of his immediate predecessor Tony Hall wherein there is an absurdist predilection for neutrality that hides an intent of political bias. Davie banned staff from, for example, attending anti-racism protests. Meanwhile, in a radio show, racists were presented as if they had a hobby.
BBC’s warped presentation of impartiality and balance deteriorated rapidly over the last year. “Balancing” discussions of racism by including a racist, giving equal credence to informed scientific analyses and grifting con artists, and refusing to acknowledge the superiority of facts, morality and ethics, were features of a bad, illogical policy of “making sure all sides of a debate are heard.” (Tony Hall, March 2020.)
Davie enshrined Hall’s philosophy in unambiguous instructions to staff accompanied by threats of dismissal if not followed. In doing so, he created a two-pronged policy of censoring anti-racism and enabling uncriticised platforming of racist views. That was not accidental nor was it solely a consequential policy. Since 2010 the BBC’s senior executive positions were filled with Tory plants but Davie was a Johnson appointment and Johnson wants more than just a Tory stooge. He wants the BBC to fall into line with Tories’ strategy of closing down radical opinions while, simultaneously, normalising extreme-right opinions.
The dual strategy included Tories’ instructions to teachers to not use any teaching materials that criticised capitalism alongside the intent to force places of education to host extremist speakers.
The similarity of intent between government policy and Davie’s policy is clear.
Tories know that their plans for no deal Brexit will be so catastrophic that all opposition must be suppressed and distracting divisive policies must be imposed. Fear drives Tories censorious/indoctrination policy and BBC’s similar policy; the BBC has the additional fear of losing its charter.
The BBC is travelling a dangerous road toward utter subservience to Tories’ extremism wherein the only political views allowed fall within a very narrow bandwidth, all other views are prohibited and extremists are humanised. It is imperative that all occurrences of BBC’s self-censorship and of its normalisation of extremism are flagged and opposed loudly.