On Saturday 23 September, tens of thousands of people marched from Hyde Park to Parliament Square to listen to speakers including former prime minister of Belgium, Guy Verhofstadt and Gina Miller, who has repeatedly stepped up to defend democracy and the rule of law. The BBC did not cover the march or rally, choosing instead to focus on 200 angry and occasionally foul-mouthed pro Bully XL dog protestors and those whipped up into a misplaced frenzy over ULEZ. Why was it that an anti-Brexit, pro-EU, pro re-join march that drew people from every area of the UK (and which represented the view of 62 per cent of the population who now agree that Brexit was a mistake) received no coverage from the national broadcaster? Why was it left to French, German, Spanish and US television to report on its scale and its message?
You would have thought that the politics team would have covered it, at the very least, wouldn’t you? But then, there is an increasing sense from those opposed to this Conservative government and its policies, that the BBC has been thoroughly infiltrated by the Tory party and is now little more than a mouthpiece for propaganda.
The BBC have form when it comes to pretending that pro-EU marches never happened. It seems to matter as little to them as it does to the government that millions are pro-EU, anti-Brexit – a majority, in fact. But their willingness to expunge uncomfortable manifestations of challenges to this government is not restricted to those who support re-joining the EU. Earlier this year, they chose to ignore a huge march by public sector workers. Foreign media companies understood the importance of the protest and reported on it, but only those on Twitter and in a particular ‘bubble’ would have ever seen it.
Last August, former Newsnight journalist, Emily Maitlis, spoke out, saying that,
” a BBC board member is an “active agent of the Conservative party” who is shaping the broadcaster’s news output by acting “as the arbiter of BBC impartiality”.
The former Newsnight presenter highlighted the role of Sir Robbie Gibb, who previously worked as Theresa May’s director of communications and helped to found the rightwing GB News channel.
Last year he was appointed to the BBC’s board by Boris Johnson’s government and has since influenced a series of ongoing reviews of the broadcaster’s editorial output.”The Guardian
(Incidentally, Gibb’s GB News did have cameras and a reporter at the march on Saturday…only problem was, they were there more than 90 minutes before the march was due to begin. They gleefully reported the relatively small numbers of early arrivals, happy to give the impression that the march was risibly small. They knew exactly what they were doing.)
Does it matter? Does it matter if the BBC pick and choose what to report to suit their political masters? Well, yes. It matters because if they won’t show you a mere march, what else won’t they show you? Refusing to cover demonstrators who disagree with government is what the Russian, North Korean and Chinese media do, surely?
It matters because the refusal to cover such news gives viewers a very skewed perspective of what is going on in the nation as a whole. It makes them believe that there is no resistance to the government, no dissent. It makes those who feel angry or upset about the country’s direction of travel feel even more disempowered and isolated. And that’s the aim.
Incalculable damage has been done by the BBC’s policy of giving false balance to ‘debate’, by platforming liars, paid lobbyists, purveyors of disinformation and propagandists. The repeated failure to fact-check politicians and to call out the lies has gravely damaged trust in the BBC, but viewers seem to have wised up to this, if polling is anything to go by. Actively suppressing information so that action and dissent is effectively erased from the public domain is next level manipulation.
Given this government’s agenda, will you be told about opposition to leaving the European Court of Human Rights? Will you hear those who call out the government’s lies on net zero? On immigration? On cuts to sixth form colleges? On public sector pay? Or will it all be unreported, invisible, suppressed?
We published an article on Sunday September 24 on the very real threat of this government putting climate action to a referendum and the likelihood that an extremely dirty battle will be fought to get the result their donors, climate deniers and fossil fuel companies want. How much coverage do you think there might be for the planet’s champions and defenders? What hope do democracy and the truth have, if the BBC cannot even bring itself to cover a march of 20,000 citizens (estimated figure) in central London?