Darren Grimes: Not even Charles Moore can save the BBC

23 Sep

Darren Grimes is a political commentator and is content creator at Reasoned UK.

When the former editor of the Guardian and exemplar of metropolitan liberalism, Alan Rusbridger, tweets about it being “inconceivable that someone fined for refusing to pay a licence fee” could become Chairman of the BBC, readers of this site could be forgiven for assuming that I would be a fervent supporter of such an anti-licence fee appointment.

After all, anyone who could robustly challenge this anachronistic and regressive form of taxation on anyone wanting to watch live television, from within the behemoth itself, would surely pave the way to reforms that we at Defund The BBC want to see, right? I’m afraid I’m not so optimistic.

Charles Moore, the fantastically eloquent former editor of the Daily Telegraph, the Sunday Telegraph and the Spectator is reportedly Downing Street’s favoured choice to take over at the Corporation as Chairman when David Clementi’s three-year term expires in February 2021.

Such a move, argue proponents of licence fee reform – and those in favour of bringing the BBC more in touch with the public it is supposed to serve and unite – would send a strong signal to the upper echelons of the Corporation that this Government means business, and isn’t afraid to set a conservative cat among the uber-woke pigeons.

But I’m afraid we are way past the point of message-sending being enough to save the BBC from itself. Earlier this month, some hopeful conservatives were hailing Tim Davie, the latest Director-General of the BBC, as a man with a plan that could save the broadcaster from Titanic-like disaster.

Consider, for example, reports that Davie was set to tackle “perceived left-wing comedy bias” as he arrived, dressed in jeans, for his first day in the job. At this point, Frankie Boyle seems to have decided to ask Davie to hold his beer – and watch how it’s done.

During his BBC Comedy New World Order show, in which humour masquerades as virtue signalling and applauding each other’s woke credentials, so-called comedian Sophie Duker cracked a so-called joke about killing white people.

She said: “When we say we want to kill whitey, we don’t really mean we want to kill whitey,” before adding, “we do”. The rest of the panel quickly realised there is no way in which they could surpass what Duker had just contributed to the wokeometer. The BBC has refused to be drawn on the row over the show. So much for challenging left-wing ‘comedy’.

The Corporation’s new boss also spoke about cost-saving measures. The BBC’s rich list was published last week to much outcry: in total staff pay has soared from 3.5 per cent to £1.5 billion, while the BBC pushes ahead with its plans to strip a million over-75s of their free TV licences.

Gary Lineker earned a table-topping £1.75 million in 2018/19, and the Guardian reported that he has agreed to a pay cut – a new five-year contract worth a quarter less than his current one – adding that Gary “knows his responsibility to the BBC in terms of his use of social media”.

Yet as soon as the first shoots of change were beginning to sprout, Lineker dismissed the Guardian’s report of the story as untrue, and said that the Corporation recognises he “tweets carefully”. In what reality? Lineker has a history of virtue-signalling on Twitter on everything from the English Channel crisis to Brexit, and all semblance of impartiality is thrown from the window. So, no change there either then.

To rub further salt in the wound, Zoe Ball is now earning £1.3 million, after the BBC pledged to tackle the gender pay gap. She got a £900,000 pay rise, despite losing a million listeners last year. Would this be allowed to happen in the private sector just to fiddle their gender pay gap statistics?

And as the BBC spends our own cash on lecturing us about what good value for money the licence fee is and boosting their diversity, you’d be forgiven for believing that the liberal bastion’s only diversity issue is its lack of diversity of thought. But it now seems to be intent on getting rid of the much-loved 64-year-old Sue Barker from A Question of Sport. The only under-represented groups on our screens are the disabled and the over-50’s.

Why should we believe that any new Chairman could have any meaningful impact and deliver change, when the new Director-General has seen his pledges fail in his first month in the job?

What it all boils down to, ultimately, is that we, folks, are utterly powerless to do anything about this. Just to watch our telly sets, we are forced to fund the salaries of those that luxuriate in millions of pounds, pay for hate-filled so-called comedy and put up with right-on woke opinions that blatantly breach impartiality rules – or face the threat of prison. It’s just not on, and the licence fee should have been decriminalised yesterday, never mind today.

We at Defund The BBC will not be pacified by totemic position holders, even one as gifted as Moore, and it would seem the public agrees with us. We’ve already raised £60,000 in our crowdfunding efforts from those that recognise that the licence fee is a regressive anachronism in the modern broadcasting world.  And it’s time for the Conservative Party to pull its finger out and drags the Corporation, against its own will, into the twenty-first century and back in touch with the public that it purportedly serves.