The Real Problem With the BBC 116

Mainstream media debate this summer focused on the fact that some extremely overpaid women at the BBC are not overpaid to quite the same extent as some extremely, extremely overpaid men. This is reminiscent of the fuss over the US having a male kleptocratic president, when it could have had a female kleptocratic president.

Personally I support the notion that pay should be equalised at the BBC – provided it is equalised down at the top and up at the bottom.

But the real problem of massive salaries at the BBC is one the media entirely missed. The BBC has 98 bureaucrats who are each paid more than the Head of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office or the UK’s Ambassador to the European Union. What is more, this great store of ludicrously overpaid non-jobs is simply an additional resource for pillaging public funds by the right wing political class.

The British media is obsessed with Scaramucci doing the fandango, but there has been little or no adverse comment on his UK opposite number, Robbie Gibb, appointed by Theresa May as Director of Communications in No. 10. And where had Gibb previously been picking up a very large salary? The BBC, as the editor of the programmes of arch Tory, Andrew Neil. Now Gibb is on the right of the Tory Party with close personal contacts to UKIP. He had picked up his plumb job in the BBC straight from working for – the Tory Party. He was a very junior journalist very early in his career, but it was his Tory Party connections that got him the executive BBC job. His brother is a Tory minister. And now he has gone back again through the Tory/BBC revolving door to continue his career as a Tory propagandist – the entire career entirely paid for by you and me, as taxpayers and license payers.

The other candidate for the No. 10 job was another highly paid BBC Tory, Diplomatic Editor James Landale.

Over ten years ago I was invited to a BBC symposium in Cambridge where BBC bureaucrats, producers and writers were introduced to “interesting” people to spark their creative juices. I first met Armandio Iannucci there. I also met a young BBC executive named Craig Oliver. It is not with hindsight, he genuinely did strike me as an extremely unpleasant young Gordon Gekko, and for his part he could barely conceal his contempt for me as a whistleblower. When he left the BBC to join No. 10 as David Cameron’s Director of Communications, I was unsurprised. But again the question arises – how do these politicians get those BBC jobs, presumably against competition from media professionals?

Looking at both that BBC “talent list”, and that BBC top bureaucrat list, there are a number of people whose politics we really do know – from their history and statements. They range from the right wing Blairite loyalist James Purnell, through the ultra Tory James Harding, former editor of Murdoch’s Times, to “out” Tories like Sarah Sands (editor of the Today programme), Nick Robinson, Andrew Neil and James Landale. There are others like Kuenssberg who make their personal views entirely clear in their reporting.

But the truth is this. While I am certain of the politics of 13 people on the BBC highly paid talent or senior staff list, and I am pretty sure I know the politics of some twenty others, they span the political spectrum from Tony Blair to UKIP.

There genuinely is not one person on the BBC highly paid staff list whom I have any reason to believe is to the left of Blair. In a country where 4% of the British population are Scottish nationalists, there should be ten of those between those two lists too. I can’t identify a single one.

It says a lot that the most left wing senior person at the BBC is Gary Lineker.

40% of the country voted for a Labour Party well to the left of the identifiable views of any one of the BBC’s highly paid staff. The lack of socialists and Scottish nationalists on the lists is a far more important issue than the question of why a few more women do not earn over £300,000 a year.

How the BBC’s highly paid staff came to mirror precisely the BBC’s well-established version of the Overton Window is an interesting study in the interplay of cause and effect. But one thing is very plain. The kind of revolutionary change that is needed by the mass of the people requires a personnel clear-out and reform across the BBC, the judiciary and many other public institutions, that goes much deeper than changing some politicians at Westminster.

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116 thoughts on “The Real Problem With the BBC

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  • giyane

    One of the intentionally unnerving aspects of USUKIS Islamist terror in Syria and Libya is the macho image of guns and rape. Sex in the Arnold Schwartzmegger model of Hollywood. This is not Islam, nor even a vestige a passing shadow of Islam. marriage is not for the purpose of lust but obviously can contain lust. By their fruit shall ye know them. There is no difference in my mind between the sexual exploitation of minors and arming yourself with automatic weaponry in order to intimidate unarmed civilians to your private command.

    Finding myself in front of a TV at the weekend in someone else’s house I saw a trailer for a film based on Islamic State. Macho Islamist porn, depicting scared women trapped into submissive bonds with highly exploitative and fully-armed males.
    This is not Islam. It is not even remotely to do with Islam. It’s what the Crusaders want you to think is Islam.
    It is a hunkywood version glorifying male domination and pornographising female submission. It comes from your extremely highly paid zio-friendly BBC executives, yes the ones who are so delicately sensitive about anti-Semitism and is delivered to your family free by TV.

  • Trowbridge H. Ford

    Is this thread intended to take the heat off the suit filed against the Tump White House and Fox News for making it look like Rod Wheeler, an Afro=American private investigator hired by the Rich family to look into the murder of their son Seth,did say about Hillary and the DNC being behind it?

    • Ba'al Zevul

      Of course it is. That’s why its title is – if I may quote – The Real Problem With the BBC

      There is very little to be said about Trump in this context except that the BBC appears to be as bemused as any other Brits following your election of an INSANE PERSON with a vocabulary of 20 words and the rhetorical style of a drunk teenager.

      • Trowbridge H. Ford

        I was thinking of Craig, while apparently still sober, calling for revolutionary change of the UK system, about as likely to happen as me turning into a popular DJ.

        • Ba'al Zevul

          The beauty of ‘the UK system’, or its catastrophic downside, is that no-one since Cromwell has figured out a successful route to revolutionary change. And even that proved temporary. Yes, but? No, the US didn’t change the UK system itself. You broke with it, but you didn’t change it , and it’s evolved further since. We have pretty draconian gun laws, a pretty good domestic intelligence setup, we pay (and control) our armed forces at least adequately, and it’s a small country. I keep asking Craig and others, ‘OK, but how?’, and I haven’t yet had a sensible answer. Craig’s call for revolution is predicated, as in your own independence event, on the separation of Scotland and the evolution of a Scottish system.

          I was slightly swayed towards the idea of Scottish independence – which I have always supported, but only through the democratic process, and if that’s what a majority of Scots want – by learning this morning that the Tangerine Dreamer is dead against it.

    • Trowbridge H. Ford

      Doesn’t PI Rod Wheeler’s suing Fox News over fake news about Seth Rich’s murder raise questions about who murdered him, and the WikiLeaks documents were really hacked by his supporters?

  • Dave.

    “The kind of revolutionary change that is needed by the mass of the people requires a personnel clear-out and reform across the BBC, the judiciary and many other public institutions, that goes much deeper than changing some politicians at Westminster”.
    No reform; reform just means same knife, different butcher. A genuine clear- out can only be achieved by armed revolution. The Ministry of Truth would be the first to go up against the wall; Parliament/House of Lords, and all the expenses fiddlers within, would be second.

    • Ishmael

      Do you think we need arms? I think a good moral public political force could knock this establishment into next week.

      I don’t think many are clear what they are about though, to take Craig as an example, he has some great ideas i,e children’s slides from rockets. In a market led system (what he proposes) it can’t and won’t be done. But as in Catalonia this certainly seems “a state of affairs worth fighting for”

      …I don’t consider violence to be a strong force. Not one the state would gain from by using to oppose social forces. It’s potential may be the basis of current relations, but in action is not really acceptable to the people nowadays. Just look at recent history, India, civil rights movement etc.

      • Ishmael

        btw, Arms are very “good” for the capitalist crisis of overproduction, as they are destroyed with use.

        The fact that this is the crisis we face and that immigrants who could absorb much of this (victims of arms sales) are turned away? Even those within the UK are denied “free” stuff.

        This system, Capitalist private property maintained by threat of force, is part of a system that’s about as immoral as you can get. It does not need a push by armed force to put it over the edge, And in fact it wouldn’t do the job that needs doing.

  • FranzB

    “How the BBC’s highly paid staff came to mirror precisely the BBC’s well-established version of the Overton Window is an interesting study in the interplay of cause and effect.”

    I was listening to a world at one (radio 4) report on June 12th which was 4 weeks after the Grenfell Tower fire. The tone of the report was that the fire was some sort of natural catastrophe that required a concomitant response from the authorities. There was no question of bringing up neoliberalism, and no questions about why no one had been at least arrested as being responsible for the death of 80+ people.

    The presenter was Mark Mardell. He ran a hatchet job piece on Seamus Milne on the world this weekend shortly before the GE. One of his comments about Jeremy Corbyn was that his advisors were relieved if Corbyn could get through an event “without soiling his pants” (Mardell’s words).

    As well as all these BBC staff there are also a large number of Overton Window contributors who add to the view that ‘look – there are all these independent observers who can speak sensibly about ….’. I’m thinking of people like Anne McElvoy who at the drop of a hat can pontificate on any subject with a sense of entitlement. I heard her blathering away on Radio 4 a few weeks ago and realised how amateurish the BBC is. It occurred to me that that could be extrapolated into the state of the UK – imagine that you’re a competent professional soldier and you hear that Michael Fallon has become Minister of Defence.

    • giyane

      Politics in the UK after the great liars Thatcher and Blair has not been a profession any serious person could dedicate their sincere energies to. Business yes. Social work yes. Diplomacy even. But you only get one life and you can’t afford to waste it on a merrygoround of charade and lies, sniggering at the electorate for being taken in.

      It takes a particular type of desk-bound, pear-bellied nerd to sit all day and all night at a PC monitor spying for a wealthy corporation or GCHQ. Even in that profession there must be some personal incentive or sense of professionalism driving the individual to stick to their job. But politicians, ‘let’s con the public that the country is bankrupt’; ‘let’s con the public that Al Qaida is the enemy’; ‘let’s con the public that executive pay can soar into the millions while public sector pay is cut to below inflation’.

      Would you get up every morning, shave and pull out your nose hairs, drive through rush-hour traffic or commute on a busy train, with no personal inner motivation except for the weird satisfaction to deceive?
      What are Mrs may and her husband chatting about on holiday. ‘ Darling, I specially liked the way you never answered any questions throughout the election campaign’. ‘Thank you darling, it was so sweet of you to come and stand 2 metres diagonally behind me after I crashed the UK into an unrepairable pile of scrap-metal over Brexit’ .. ‘ Love you’. ‘Love you too darling’ ‘Anyway now they’ve given me a new car to play with, with a reduced majority, do you promise to stay with me when I joyride down the steps of the Sacre Coeur and do U-ies all round the Brexit negotiations in Paris.’ ‘Of course darling we’re a team, we’ve already shaken off the rest of the party and we’ll be there together with sparks flying out of our arse when we cross the finishing line in 2019’.

      Such Louis Hamilton resolve. Such dedication.

  • Ishmael

    “A bubble of lies”

    This is very relevant.

    “The NHS is ‘communist’ – and we owe it to the October Revolution, NOT the Labour Party”

    Im not uncritical of aspects. But imo this goes a bit deeper than the BBC issues.

    • Radar O'Reilly

      I raise your ‘October revolution’ diatribe with a dodgy article from the Morning Star

      The * article is only relevant to this BBC theme as their anosmiac Kathy Clugston read out quite a bit of anti-Venezuelan stuff on the R4 5:30am news briefing today. Sometimes not being able to smell the stench of the glaringly obvious propaganda as you read it out might be helpful?

        • Ishmael

          Though of course I take both anti imperialist subjects very seriously. And though a post on a blog about it is useful, its not going to be as effective as possible actions one could take in a much larger group with clear and workable objectives.

          Hopefully neither of us was posting just to read.

  • Susan spencer

    How can Charlie in casualty get 350.000 a year for playing the part of a nurse, and a real one get £. 24.000 Time we got rid of the licence fee like Australia did and make the them independent .

    • giyane

      The methodone for UK soaps is Turkish ones. But it’s easier just not to have a TV.t

      • Ishmael

        It’s undoubtedly a cruel irony that most strain on the NHS is a direct cause of a TV watching culture. A pretend fulfilled life, or a refection of hardship may face as a result, acted by people who are quite insulated via great wealth & the ease of action.

        In front of the box it exactly where gov want’s people, sit down, shut up, screw up good circulation/healing capacity, as we screw over the world.

    • fred

      He gets £350,000 a year because there are five million people in Britain who don’t mind paying 7p a year to watch him. That is how much it would cost them if the people who watch Casualty every week paid his wages directly and I doubt any of them think they are getting poor value for money.

      • Dave Price

        I’m going to appropriate that hitherto misleading right-wing term ‘tragedy of the commons’ for this situation, and give it a useful meaning. In this new and true meaning of the term ‘tragedy of the commons’ each person pays into a fund for a common good an amount that is tiny in comparison to their own individual budget, and much less than the value of the common good. But the sum of the contributions is vastly more than the common good is worth and vastly more than the amount each individual would willingly pay had the entire sum been at their disposal.

        • fred

          When the BBC fired Jeremy Clarkson, who was paid considerably more than Charlie, the petition to reinstate him got over a million signatures.

          People who enjoy watching someone don’t care how much they are paid and people who enjoy moaning and grumbling about people will moan and grumble about them as how much they are paid.

          • Dave Price

            Tragedy of the commons again I’m afraid. None of those millions of viewers has any influence over how much of their aggregated pennies is spent on one person. Their approval or otherwise of the payment amount is not sought, and is in fact unknown.

  • Geoffrey

    At least the BBC is blatantly pro EU and Remain which must please you. Though I concede that it is anti Scottish Independence.

  • J

    Hi Craig, any thoughts on what is by now the tediously familiar sequence of ‘Intervention Opera’ especially regarding North Korea and Venezuela?

  • Republicofscotland

    Well the unionist media and the BBC, tried to smear Michelle Thomson, for months, the innuendos came fast and often. However even after it turned out that Thomson had absolutely no case to answer too, the state broadcaster still carried an offending headline on their propaganda website.

    This is just one of a plethora of reasons why Scotland must become independent.

  • Ian Miller

    Well said Craig. I have posted several remarks (one of them today) concerning the obvious bias of the BBC and their failure to abide by both the charter and codes of practice. Nothing but a root and branch re-structuring of the corporation would be sufficient to restore fairness and responsible governance. How this will be possible is another matter, especially in England and Wales. In Scotland it will be almost inevitable if we vote for independence.

  • Republicofscotland

    Here the BBC laps up Donald Trump’s opinion that independence would be terrible for Scotland, because they’d lose the British Open golf tournament, vested interests I presume.

    However no such dire warnings were issued or claimed over the disaster that is about to unfold in the shape of Brexit.

    The BBC, pushing propaganda since way back when.

    • reel guid


      It’s real name is just The Open Championship, not the British Open. And the first 30 or so Opens were held in Scotland before it was ever staged in England for the first time. Not to mention the sports governing body the R&A headquartered at the home of golf St. Andrew’s.

      Does Trump think the R&A would want to never have the Open played again at the Old Course in St. Andrew’s just because Scotland became independent? The Open was a Scottish event long before it became thought of as British. This is just another piece of arrogant Trump stupidity.

      Here’s a startling thing though about The Open. The US golfer Jordan Spieth won it this year at Birkdale and received a cool £1.42 million in prize money. Spieth’s compatriot Johnny Miller won The Open also at Birkdale in 1976 and earned just £7 500. The winner’s prize is now about 200 times as much as it was just 4 decades ago.

  • Loony

    The real problem with the BBC is its mere existemce.

    Trying to deconstruct the BBC is like trying to deconstruct the Nazi’s or the Khmer Rouge.

    Who cares who these people are? Who cares how much they are stealing which they rebrand as earmngs? Care only that their rebranding of their naked theft as “earnings” demonstrates their absolute contempt for the people from whom they are stealing all of their money. The fact that people still seek to engage with the BBC on any level merely proves that there is merit in the thieves contempt for the people/.

    Wake up and ignore the BBC. Try to ignore them in the same way that they have encouraged you to ignore pretty much every significant event in recent years.

  • Tom Davies

    The trouble is I am so used to trusting the BBC as asound source of accurate news that I use them first, whereas after reading this I will not.
    a fine article ,thank you

  • Alan Knight

    Well said Craig. The BBC needs reform for sure, although in Scotland I think the BBC has to be extinguished.

  • DiggerUK

    Old media is dying. We are living with the new media now. Time to embrace the zeitgeist.
    The BBC, is no better, or worse, than any of the other media forms. We here are using a medium with more power for change than we can possibly imagine.

    If I had the power and authority, I would flog the BBC off. The funds raised could cable up every home in the British Isles.
    Now that’s what I call doing something of worth for the many, not the few…_

  • Philmo

    Sounds a fair assessment. Hopefully, addressing the problem is an unwritten item on the Labour Party manifesto. An opportunity to save some pennies.

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