Wednesday, 12 October 2016

Former Director-General Mark Thompson wants more Tories in the BBC? Here's a word-association test to identify the right applicants.

Mark Thompson recently made the following statement: “It helps to have Conservatives, people who tend to think from a perspective that goes with the Right rather than the Left, across your newsroom and inside your senior decision-making bodies and inside your leadership.” (You can read the whole story here.) Given that I've been banging on in a similar vein for years (albeit muttering to myself like some deranged old vagrant on this blog), I couldn't agree more. The only problem is that this tall, amiable, ginger-bearded former boss of mine is currently CEO of the screamingly left-liberal New York Times, and was the Director-General of the left-liberal BBC for the eight years up to 2012. If he's so keen on having right-wingers "across your newsroom", why weren't there any at the BBC when he was in charge of News - and why is the NYT so left-wing (although, as it isn't funded by a poll tax, it can take any political stance it wants)?

In 2010 - while still DG - Thompson stated:  "In the BBC I joined 30 years ago there was, in much of current affairs, in terms of people's personal politics, which were quite vocal, a massive bias to the left." But, he went on to suggest, the BBC  had subsequently become less overtly tribal. However, the only change I divined in the staff's political leanings while I was there (1985-2004, plus a couple of years later on) was that it vaguely mirrored the (temporary) shift towards the slightly more market-friendly approach of Tony Blair and the Blairites. During Thompson's tenure as editor of the Nine O'Clock News, the three main on-screen editors (politics, social affairs and economics) were John Cole, Polly Toynbee and Jim Callaghan's son-in-law, Peter Jay.  If there were any right-wingers "across your newsroom and inside your senior decision-making bodies and inside your leadership" while I was there, they were keeping a very low profile. And if the news operation has since been seeded with conservatives, the results aren't obvious on-air - which is the only place it counts: for every Andrew Neil, there appear to be at least fifty Mark Eastons spreading nakedly left-wing propaganda. 

But, okay, let's accept that Mark Thompson means what he says (and I want to give him the benefit of the doubt, because he was a good boss and a likeable man). If he were back at the BBC, how would he get all these right-wingers on board? He could try some of the following:
Don't hire anyone from the Guardian, Channel 4 News, or anyone who has worked for a trade union or been a researcher for any left-wing MP (including left-wing Tories like Ken Clarke).
Spread the word that you'll look favourably on young journalists from the Telegraph, the Spectator, the Mail and - gasp! - The Sun. (And make bloody sure they're not left-wingers who are moving to get away from a right-wing employer.)
Don't hire anyone who did PPE at Oxford - they've already done enough to destroy this country.
Ask interviewees to name at least three people with conservative views with whom they socialise regularly - not including their mother, father, grandparents, siblings, or mad Uncle Ron who votes for UKIP and insults everyone at family gatherings. This would help ensure that new BBC news employees wouldn't see all those on the right as deranged and dangerous provincials who can't read without moving their lips, hate foreign food on principle, would be keen to see the introduction of a shoot-to-kill policy regarding blacks and Muslims, and seriously imagine that all Conservative voters hate the poor and that all UKIP voters are poor and hate everyone else. 
Ask them whether they'd support a second EU referendum - and automatically disqualify them if the answer is yes.
But the simplest and most effective way of telling whether a candidate is a genuine conservative, rather than a left-wing sheep in right-wing wolf's clothing, would be to make them take a severely time-limited word-association test - i.e. one where you're presented with a list of terms, names and phrases, and you have to instantly write down the first word that pops into your head. For instance, if you're a left-winger, your instant response to "Black Lives Matter" would be "heroes", "warriors", "justice" or somesuch, whereas a right-winger would immediately blurt out something like "thugs", "criminals", "All Lives Matter" or "fire at will".   Anyone failing to complete the test in the allotted time would be disqualified for trying to second-guess the "right" answer.

The permutations of what could be on the list is obviously endless, but I fancy asking candidates to produce split-second responses to the following items would quickly reveal their true political colours: 
EU Commission, transgender, Greenham Common, protest march, left-winger, student, cisgender, bedroom tax, inheritance tax, Hillary Clinton,  public spending, compassion, immigrant, cultural appropriation, new mosque, madrassa, Sharia Law, British soldier, Union Jack, Margaret Thatcher, safe space, micro-aggression, cultural sensitivity, stiff sentence, underprivileged, social justice, oppression, institutional racism, green energy, wind farms, John Humphrys, transformative, solidarity, progressive, Obama, UKIP voter, Tories, diversity, warmongering, diversity, faith-based community, community organiser, spokesperson, Zionist, Israel, honour, imperialism, empire, benefits, welfare state, NHS, strike, gay pride march, relative poverty, workshop, Jo Brand, ecological, personal journey, word on the street, Bloody Sunday, international community, victim group, patriotism, striving, security, social security, savings, austerity, strong defence, Christianity, hymn, The Bible, Mossad, minorities, rap music, wealth redistribution, bigot, white privilege, dialogue, Good Friday Agreement, warhead, ecological, empowerment, profits, inclusive, pan-sexual, loyalty, Bono, conscientious objector, stealth bomber, tolerance, carbon footprint, awareness, fair trade, sustainable, solidarity, Tony Benn, Tolpuddle Martyrs, gender pay gap, global warming, climate change, rising sea levels, Bob Geldof, grammar school, private education, selective education, standards, exams, effort, reward, positive discrimination, war against women, faithful, stimulus package, Occupy movement, union leader,  dead white men,  measurable, High Culture, the one-percent, fracking, Arthur Scargill, personal responsibility, stakeholder, thought leader,  competition, offendotron, libtard, snowflake, Diane Abbott, nuclear power, nation state, glass ceiling,  European Court of Human Rights, human rights lawyer, social justice warrior, unelected bureaucrat, Kinnock, activist, compassionate, caring, legalise drugs, stop and search, non-custodial sentence, parole, sovereignty, skilled workers, Tory scum, license fee, metropolitan, Stalin, Che Guevara, Norman Tebbit...
To speed things up, it could be a supervised iPad test, where candidates are asked to choose one of three responses - for instance, the choices for Normal Tebbit could be "heartless", "excellent" and "never heard of him", with the first and third responses being marked as a fail. In the same vein, the choices for Bono could be "big-hearted", "hypocritical tax-dodger" or "sorry - I don't have a dog", while Lilly Allen might be "compassionate", "vomit-inducing" or "yeah, well fit, innit". At the point where the candidate notches up 20 fails, the test would be halted and they'd be sent home. If the test took place at the start of the interview process, most candidates could be dealt with in less than a minute. Sorted!

Nothing remotely like this will happen, of course - there will be no sudden increase in the proportion of right-wingers employed by the BBC in its news division. The second of Robert Conquest's Three Laws of Politics was "Any organisation not explicitly right-wing sooner or later becomes left-wing", to which one might add: "...and once it becomes left-wing, it will remain left-wing as long as it exists, because left-wingers believe that anyone who doesn't share their views is either deluded, stupid, or evil - and probably all three." And why would you want to work with people like that?


  1. A few more: Confederate flag,Daily Express,PLO,Italian Renaissance,ANC,Marianne Le Pen,Calais jungle,affirmative action,CNN,Eton,Straight outta Compton,The ......Of The Narcissus,progressive schools,St.George,Obamacare,BLM,Victor Orban,Robert Mugabe,Sir Cecil Rhodes,All Lives Matter,BCM*,Ammanpour,Hillbillies,Respec',Al Sharpton,Louis Smith,Venezuela,Battle of Vienna,'yo bro',sagging (men's fashion,) Fox News,Northern Ireland,Notting Hill Carnival,Cockneys,Animal Farm,Red Nose Day,Rotherham.
    *BCM (Black Currants Matter.) Cake bakers please note.

  2. Now why did it come out like that?

    1. Because (a) the comments are justified right, so iwords are s t r e t c h e d o u t to fit the space available, and (b) you didn't leave any spaces after the commas, and Blogger assumes everything after the last space is one single word and therefore doesn't split it up across lines (I had to learn all this the hard way). With a space after each comma, it would look like this:

      Confederate flag, Daily Express, PLO, Italian Renaissance, ANC, Marine Le Pen, Calais jungle, affirmative action, CNN, Eton, Straight outta Compton, The ......Of The Narcissus, progressive schools, St.George, Obamacare, BLM, Victor Orban, Robert Mugabe, Sir Cecil Rhodes, All Lives Matter, BCM*, Ammanpour, Hillbillies, Respec', Al Sharpton, Louis Smith, Venezuela, Battle of Vienna, 'yo bro', sagging (men's fashion,) Fox News, Northern Ireland, Notting Hill Carnival, Cockneys, Animal Farm, Red Nose Day, Rotherham.
      *BCM (Black Currants Matter.) Cake bakers please note.

      Good list, though - and it reminded me that I'd left out Daily Mail - what was I thinking?