Letter: How parties try to bully the BBC

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How parties try to bully the BBC

Sir: I notice that the BBC is being accused of political bias by senior politicians ("BBC under fire for assuming Blair win", 3 March).

This has occurred before general elections for at least 30 years. There is little point in picking out which of the main parties is involved; each one is equally liable. When it suits them they will "warn" the BBC , usually with some vague speculation about financial retribution after the election. When I was young it always seemed to be a "solemn warning".

The purpose of the warnings is to damage the confidence of staff and management for the short-term benefit of one of the main parties. On the whole, the BBC has learnt to live with these attacks and sometimes take courage from them, but one cannot deny that at times the assaults may have blunted its journalistic effectiveness.

The new chairman of the BBC would have every right to say that the corporation has for many years had an honourable record of reporting politics fairly. It has a well-trained and intelligent staff, with a clear understanding of its responsibilities to the public. It has studied and worked at the implementation of political impartiality for several decades and has evolved sensible techniques for monitoring.

There seems no legitimate reason why those involved in the political process cannot accept the need for a vigorous, responsible and independent BBC. There is no need for these crude and vicious attacks.

Of course the BBC has to take account of complaints. I would recommend that during the coming election it recruit a body of slightly deaf pensioners to take down the political parties' complaints in longhand, with a stubby pencil.


Richmond, Surrey

The writer was Head of Current Affairs at BBC Television and the first supervisor of parliamentary broadcasting at Westminster