Saturday, 18 May 2013

Note to BBC: stop acting as a platform for Luddite left-wing unions to whine about government reforms

At 12:03 on Saturday, the main headline in the news section on the BBC homepage was ‘”Fanatical” Gove attacked by union’, which linked to an item about some dreary female teaching union head droning on about the "damage" being done to “the system” by the Education Secretary. An hour later the lead story remained the same, but the headline has changed to ‘Heads’ no confidence in Gove’s reforms’ – so more of the same.

Then I went out for a few hours and returned to discover that the story had moved on a bit – ‘Michael Gove heckled at head teachers' conference in Birmingham’. Despite the fact that this is the news equivalent of “England soccer team doesn’t do very well” or "There's a lot of weather about", it was still the lead.

Just to put this editorial decision in context, Gove’s treatment is currently the 12th story on the Mail website, fourth on the Guardian's, and fourth on Sky’s UK news front page (it’s not mentioned on their main news homepage at all).

I don’t mind the BBC reporting Gove being heckled at the National Association of Head Teachers conference in Birmingham (I'd be in a bad mood if I was stuck in Birmingham for a whole weekend), because it’s important for the general public to be regularly reminded that this country’s teaching establishment is packed with ill-mannered socialist dinosaurs who care more about retaining the status quo than about improving our children’s education: if they gave a toss about the nation’s educational standards, people like me wouldn’t have to spend a fortune educating our children privately.

What I do object to – and did when I worked for the organisation – is the BBC using licence-payers' money to collude with our horrible teaching unions to attack a government minister who – unlike many state sector teachers – evidently cares more about how well pupils are taught than about his own workload. By leading with the NAHT president’s rallying cry, designed to ensure that her members treated Michael Gove with the sort of surly disrespect we now tend to associate with the children who attend their ghastly schools, the BBC was essentially acting as the union’s press office, spewing out whatever lefty rubbish it was fed.

Public sector unions are the most reactionary bodies in this country: every attempt at reform – good or ill – has been met with resentful, cowardly, knee-jerk Luddism, accompanied by constant whining about non-existent cuts (they evidently feel no gratitude for this government’s deranged decision to ring-fence education funding).

A quarter of a century ago I had the temerity to question the decision by my BBC TV New editor to run yet another story about the Royal College of Nursing demanding a 2000% pay rise, a five-hour week, six month annual holidays, and automatic knighthoods after five years’ service (okay, I might be exaggerating, but not much). You would have thought I’d asked if we could do a nude edition of the Nine O’Clock News: it just didn’t seem to have occurred to news management that the nurses might not deserve any of the things they were asking for, or to ask themselves whether it was legitimate for the BBC to act as a PR mouthpiece for any left-wing organisation seeking to attack government policy.

Nothing’s changed, of course. The BBC announced last week that it has appointed the Guardian’s deputy editor as the new editor of Newsnight, so we can expect that programme to keep splattering our screens with whatever selfish, blinkered propaganda the public sector unions choose to pump out.

It’s just after five thirty – and the Gove story is still the BBC’s lead. Ridiculous.

1 comment:

  1. ... this is the news equivalent of “England soccer team doesn’t do very well” or "There's a lot of weather about"


    Throughout the week, Conservatives have been derided on the BBC for their EU referendum shenanigans with the curious claim that the only important subject for legislators' attention these days is the economy. Curious, (a) because it's false and (b) because EU membership is in part an economic issue.

    As is education. In part.

    Presumably the BBC feel these Gove headlines attract viewers.

    How very different things are in Oklahoma.

    I was listening to AxXiom for Liberty last night, an uplifting Oklahoma talk show about biometrics interspersed with advertisements for Bibles and warnings to the Federal authorities that if they wanted Okies to hand over their guns they could come and get them one bullet at a time.

    Sturdy, dependable folk.

    Unlike the BBC, the Logos Radio Network has to raise its own funds. There's a lesson there for the BBC, when the time comes and the licence fee goes. This is how to do it.