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Cummings affair has shown it’s finally time to scrap the BBC licence fee
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by Martin Daubney | @martindaubney
May 28, 2020 at 7:25 am

We must admit the BBC has abandoned any hope of neutrality. Now it is time to scrap the BBC licence fee.

If there can be any doubt the BBC is now a state-funded, anti-Boris, anti-Brexit propaganda machine, Emily Maitlis’s extraordinary opening monologue to Tuesday evening’s Newsnight must surely go down as Exhibit A for the prosecution. 

Maitlis – who according to the last set of BBC figures is paid between a staggering £260,000 – £264,999 of licence payer’s money per year –  went into a sombre, CNN-style rant on the Dominic Cummings affair, protracting onto the nation the “deep national disquiet” and “fury, contempt and anguish” that she and her Newsnight scriptwriters evidently believed. 

The BBC duly received a barrage of complaints over Maitlis’s tirade. Yesterday afternoon, the BBC was forced into a humiliating climbdown, and issued a half-hearted apology, saying: “We believe the introduction did not meet out standards of due impartiality. Our staff have been reminded of the guidelines.” 

These “guidelines” are Section 4.1 of the BBC’s Charter on Impartiality, which reads: “The BBC is committed to achieving due impartiality in all its output.  This commitment is fundamental to our reputation, our values and the trust of audiences”. 

Many believe Brexit broke the BBC’s trust and reputation. Over the Cummings affair, they have completely lost the plot. 

Cummings is to the BBC’s Remain-dominated journalists as blood is to a vampire: an uncontrollable desire to destroy consumes them. 

To them, Cummings is ‘Mr. Hard Brexit’. Throw in his open contempt for journalists and they simply cannot help themselves. They’ve given up even pretending to be impartial. 

But there is method to their – and all the other MSM outlets’ –  madness. In destroying Cummings, campaigning Remainer journalists see a scintilla of hope that Brexit might still be somehow stopped. 

But how? First, along with all other news networks and hostile print media, they take down Cummings, then immediately cast more doubt/demand another inquiry into Vote Leave.

Next, MPs demand a vote on Michel Barnier’s offer of a two-year Brexit extension,  which, as if by magic, appeared yesterday.  

With craven opportunism, the opposition Parties would cite COVID-19 as the reason to accept Monsieur Barnier’s ‘generous offer’, to ensure the UK got ‘the best deal possible’ at a time when ‘unity, not division’ is needed.  

This script would then allow a growing gaggle of rebel Tories (mostly Remainers who backed Brexit to get elected) to play the COVID card, so joining forces with Labour, SNP and the Lib Dems.  

All of this, naturally, would be hugely signal-boosted by the BBC, plus Sky News, Channel 4 and ITV’s Peston. 

As the chaos mounted, Boris could relent. Miraculously, we’d then have a fractured Tory Party, a reinvigorated Labour Party and an EU Rejoin/Reform movement that was stone-cold dead.

Now this might sound like the paranoid musings of a ‘Brextremist’. But that paranoia has served me well since June 2016. 

Because anybody who doesn’t get that the BBC and MSM takedown of Dominic Cummings is linked to Brexit needs to wake up, sharpish. 

If it was purely about breaking the lockdown, we may have expected the BBC and others to have gone into a similar foam-flecked tirade against Labour MP Tahir Ali.  

In April it was reported that Ali had attended a large funeral. Instead of day-to-day, blanket coverage, the BBC filed a single, 300-word news item, forgivingly headlined: “MP Tahir Ali apologises after funeral during lockdown”. 

Similarly, when Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar was spotted in a Dublin park at the weekend at a picnic that seemingly contravened Ireland’s lockdown rules, another single news story read: “Leo Varadkar defended over ‘picnic in park’ pictures”. 

In both cases, no resignations were demanded. No editorial stance was taken. Just a straight reporting of the facts –  which is what we expect of the BBC. 

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We expect, even demand, and perhaps forgive bias from the paid media because we can choose to ignore it – and aren’t faced with jail if we refuse to pay for it. But we must demand neutrality from our BBC. Brexit broke the trust in that. Now the Cummings affair is killing it. 

Perhaps the BBC is beyond caring. Perhaps their rank-and-file journalists are so liberal, so Lefty, so Remain-y they couldn’t be neutral if they tried. 

Or perhaps this is about survival.  

The Tories talked tough about reforming the BBC licence fee during and after the General Election. Faced with a consultation on replacing the licence fee with a subscription model they suspect they’d probably lose, now it appears the BBC has declared war on the government. 

It is for this reason alone that we must admit the BBC has abandoned any hope of neutrality. Now it is time to scrap the BBC licence fee –  once and for all. 

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