Tories bully BBC because it’s easily cowed

by Sam Ashworth-Hayes | 10.12.2019

Boris Johnson yesterday hinted he would axe the licence fee. This had two purposes: cover up his NHS blunder and pummel the BBC into submission.

Normally the front pages today would have been about the Prime Minister’s refusal to look at the image of a sick four-year-old boy lying on the floor of a hospital. But the Tory press instead lapped up his BBC threat. “Boris: I might axe TV licence” was the splash in the Daily Mail. There were similar stories in the Daily Express and Times.

Diversionary tactics are normal in politics. But something more sinister is also going on. The Tories are trying to make sure the BBC doesn’t step out of line by threatening its cash flow. Another twitch of the whip so it remembers who is the boss.

This isn’t the first time they’ve done it. The fact that an ardent Brexiter John Whittingdale was reviewing the BBC’s charter kept the BBC tame during the 2016 referendum. As Chris Patten, former chair of the BBC Trust, put it: with “the shadow of a charter review and Mr Whittingdale hanging over it,” the broadcaster became “excessively deferential when trying to produce balance”.

The BBC is having a bad election. The Conservatives have briefed it fake stories, bullied it into letting Johnson dodge an interview with Andrew Neil, fed it attack lines to repeat, and generally cowed it into submission. But when the broadcaster had shown itself to be easily bullied, why wouldn’t they?

Here’s our piece about how the Tory “punch” propaganda has backfired

Edited by Hugo Dixon

Tags: Categories: Media

One Response to “Tories bully BBC because it’s easily cowed”

  • If the image of any long-standing public entity in Britain has been pulverised a mite due to Tory heavy-handedness it’s the BBC. And what a sorry thing it is to watch it!