The BBC and our Universities need to wake up. Reform is now long overdue

Published by freemarketconservatives on


“We should not be surprised to find the left concentrated in institutions where ideas do not have to work in order to survive” – Thomas Sowell

The world of academia and the views of BBC may seem remote from everyday politics. But it would be wrong to conclude that the arguments made by university scholars and BBC ‘experts’ do not matter. In fact, the ideas that dominate in universities or on our screens at any given time typically go on to strongly influence public debate and policy.

The BBC’s ‘Reality Check’ correspondent Chris Morris took to BBC Radio 4 to assert that Jeremy Corbyn was somehow more honest than Prime Minister Boris Johnson in the 2019 General Election that led to a Conservative landslide. I’d love to know how he figured that one out. On everything from supposed documents that revealed a Trump-Boris stitch up to sell off the National Health Service – they revealed no such thing – to only raising taxes for the top five per cent, Corbyn misled us.

Of the many things this election result should consign to the dustbin, the ‘fact check’ sites should be high on the list. They check their interpretation, not an objective truth. One site admitted that ‘0% of Labour ads lied’ was because there were not enough facts in their ads to check. And this is a problem when it’s coming from the BBC. The BBC has a worldwide reputation, is funded on a compulsory basis and provides 75 per cent of all televised news. When an institution with such power exhibits bias, it’s serious. Don’t get me wrong – all institutions exhibit bias, whether consciously or unconsciously. No one when picking up a copy of The Guardian, for example, would anticipate reading a glowing review of Boris Johnson’s general election landslide by winning over the Labour Leave areas that the paper has derided and vilified for years now. The difference is that we’re not forced to buy it with the threat of prison; not forced to buy content growing numbers of us do not consume. If we scrap the licence fee, arguments of bias would slip away, people who do not like the BBC’s biases could simply stop watching it and, crucially, stop paying for it.

Weaning the BBC off of the teat of the taxpayer, many of who no longer consume BBC content in the age of Amazon Prime and Netflix, could actually ensure the BBC was fit-for-purpose in the modern broadcasting world. Detaching the BBC from the state and moving it to a subscriber-model would not only render the consumption of the BBC’s Brexit and left-wing biases a choice, but ensure the BBC could better leverage its brand internationally and be a commercial success – as well as perform other less-overtly commercial functions that its new subscribers value.

Subscribers would be free to choose if they wish to listen to the slew of BBC socialist commentators (and even pro-murderous communism commentators!), week in, week out. We now have more Conservative MPs in County Durham than we do in London for goodness sake, but Corbynism fits the world view of the BBC’s upper echelons, so pro-commie talking heads are regularly platformed. .

Many of the socialist commentators mentioned are university-educated, city-dwelling, cappuccino-swilling, communist-sympathising young people. This isn’t surprising, as most people who become councillors and MPs, senior civil servants and policymakers, or who work for think tanks and campaign groups are graduates. 

The left-wing monopoly on British campuses is quite clearly the second area Boris needs to tackle.

Almost half of the UK’s under 35s agreed with the statement that “communism could have worked”, which is terrifying. Those of us on the pro-market, pro-freedom right, need to get up and fight back against the hard-left’s snake oil or lose future generations to it and allow it to continue to control our cultural landscape.

The solution again comes from encouraging an uncoupling of the link to the state.

Boris could incentivise the founding of more universities like the the University of Buckingham, the UK’s first independent university when it was set up in 1976. Pioneering from the start, the University ran two year degrees, which other institutions have since started to do. Last year, in collaboration with the IEA, it announced the opening of the Vinson Centre, which houses the Centre for Economics and Entrepreneurship at the university, a space uniquely committed to sound thinking on liberal economics.

There are now many such institutes across the US. So far, the UK has little or nothing to match this. The idea behind Buckingham’s Vinson Centre was to provide support for perspectives that are currently underrepresented in academia, – and the BBC.

Boris faces a great challenge to defeat the left’s monopoly on our public sphere, but the task is necessary – and the sooner it is begun, the better.

Darren Grimes is a commentator, campaigner and podcaster. Follow him on twitter: @darrengrimes_

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