This has been the BBC’s agenda for decades because of a hiring policy that, over the course of the last 50 years, has turned the BBC, and most of the rest of the broadcast media, into a wholly-owned subsidiary of the liberal-Left. The media class is dominated by doctrinaire social liberals who not only share a set of values but use those values to dictate a news agenda tailored to their prejudices. They have a total disdain for those who take a different view – which means that they are out of touch with at least half the country.
This became glaringly apparent during the years of the Brexit debate, when the BBC became the cheerleader-in-chief for the Remain side. The episode brought matters to a head: after Brexit, no one could seriously pretend that the BBC’s famed “impartiality” was anything other than one big, self-serving lie. And it is the Corporation’s deserved misfortune that the man who led the country out of the EU is now Prime Minister – and he hasn’t forgotten how the BBC behaved.
But the media class will not give up without a fight – as the Brammar skirmish shows. Media types fear that there is change in the air, and that their prerogatives may now be under threat. Once upon a time, Brammar’s appointment would have gone unnoticed; she’s exactly the sort of person the BBC always chooses. But times are changing, and the Corporation must change too.
Some people have linked her arrival to the resignation this week of the BBC’s head of news, Fran Unsworth, though this is a misreading of the situation: Unsworth’s retirement was long planned (she’s 63). Even so, Unsworth leaving will now focus attention on her successor. One upshot of this affair is that the Corporation’s critics will be watching like hawks to see who gets the top job, and it will be more important than ever that he or she is seen to be without the usual Leftist political baggage. The Corporation’s most urgent job is to achieve some kind of political diversity within its ranks.
The original leak to the FT about Gibb’s intervention has further politicised the Corporation’s appointment process. And the leaker probably feels as though their power-play has paid off: Brammar now has the job, a comfortable salary, and the ability to maintain the agenda as she sees fit. But this will turn out to have been a disastrous error of judgement on the BBC’s part. Reformers such as Sir Robbie are the critical friends to whom the Corporation desperately needs to listen. If it doesn’t, the changes that will be forced upon it will affect more than a few mid-level executive appointments.