Labour peer Melvyn Bragg let fly on the Authorities this week for what he regards as its unjust persecution of the BBC. He informed Radio Instances that ministers are failing to guard a treasured nationwide establishment.

The veteran broadcaster claimed the BBC ‘has earned our respect and repaid our assist, in battle and peace, over a few years. It has constructed itself in our picture. Certainly now that it’s so clearly up in opposition to it, we can not let it down’.

Lord Bragg occurs to be a hero of mine as a result of he presents probably the greatest programmes on Radio 4, or certainly anyplace. In Our Time brings collectively small teams of specialists in science, historical past and literature to speak in depth a couple of huge array of fascinating topics.

If the Beeb consisted of comparable delights, I’d die in a ditch to defend it. Sadly it doesn’t. In extolling the Company as a novel nationwide asset, Lord Bragg overlooks the actual fact a lot of its output — from Strictly Come Dancing to EastEnders — may as simply be discovered on industrial tv.

Nor does he take into account that thousands and thousands of individuals, myself included, consider the BBC’s information protection is usually biased in the direction of the Left. Nowhere is that this tendency extra obvious than on Radio 4’s Right now programme. 

BBC Radio 4's Today programme is hosted by Nick Robinson (right) and Mishal Husain (left)

BBC Radio 4’s Right now programme is hosted by Nick Robinson (proper) and Mishal Husain (left)

Right now, which fits out each morning for 3 hours Monday to Friday, and for 2 hours on Saturday, is Auntie’s most necessary information and present affairs present on radio or tv. It attracts round seven million listeners each week, extra even than The Archers. What the city crier was to our medieval ancestors, Right now is to our trendy nation.

Solely, it’s not at all times even-handed. Within the early days of this administration, ministers averted showing on Right now as a result of they feared being monstered in the event that they did. However it’s too influential a platform to disregard. In order that they now dutifully troop alongside — and will not be occasionally monstered all the identical.

Don’t get me improper: all governments should be held to account, and since many politicians are sly or slippery, the method should essentially be strong. The issue is that Right now typically appears to be pushed by a political agenda which is at odds with the BBC’s remit as a impartial public service broadcaster.

This week, because the NHS battles with Omicron, and the Authorities’s critics name for more durable measures, I’ve listened to Right now with greater than the same old care and a focus. What a miserable — and generally infuriating — expertise it has been!

Not simply on Covid, however with a number of different key tales as properly, Right now has displayed breathtaking bias. Time and again, one facet of an argument — the progressive or Leftist or anti-Authorities facet — is introduced with out the opposite perspective.

Don’t simply take my phrase for it. Here’s a week within the lifetime of the BBC’s flagship information programme.


That the NHS is below strain can hardly be disputed. But if you happen to had been absent from our shores for the previous few years, and out of the blue returned to take heed to Right now this week, you’ll assume we have been on the verge of a nationwide disaster.

There was an hourly stream of administrators of public well being, different docs and union representatives, all of whom describe circumstances of their hospitals in lurid phrases. These prophesying catastrophe, and overtly or tacitly demanding more durable anti-Covid measures, are parti pris.

On Wednesday, a GP from Oldham who can be a Labour councillor was interviewed by Nick Robinson (of whom way more later) after 17 hospitals within the Better Manchester space put some non-urgent operations on maintain. Led on by Mr Robinson, he proposed stricter measures.

In lots of hours of listening I didn’t hear a single individual being given the chance to place the disaster in perspective and supply a extra nuanced interpretation. The reality is that occupancy of hospital beds has been as excessive, or increased, on at the least two events throughout winter within the current pre-Covid previous.

For instance, in line with official figures, within the week ending December 26, the occupancy of basic and acute hospital beds in England was barely decrease than it was within the week to December 26, 2019, earlier than the pandemic started.

Is it potential that the a lot trumpeted NHS disaster isn’t as unprecedentedly dreadful — at the least, not but — because the BBC’s most necessary present affairs programme would have us consider?


On Tuesday, the programme unveiled its favorite Covid skilled, Professor Neil Ferguson of Imperial School London, aka ‘Professor Lockdown’. He’s famend for his pessimistic, to not say apocalyptic, forecasts.

Though through the first lockdown he was disgraced after he was caught inviting his mistress to his dwelling and thereby flouting guidelines he had himself promoted — and regardless of some scientists calling into query his methodology — Professor Lockdown stays Right now’s go-to skilled.

On Tuesday, the programme unveiled its favourite Covid expert, Professor Neil Ferguson of Imperial College London, aka ‘Professor Lockdown'

On Tuesday, the programme unveiled its favorite Covid skilled, Professor Neil Ferguson of Imperial School London, aka ‘Professor Lockdown’

Earlier than Tuesday, when he was truly much less gloomy than regular, he had appeared on the present on December 12. That was solely 4 weeks after his earlier outing.

Throughout 2021, he was most likely invited onto Right now greater than every other non-government scientist, although the BBC says it will possibly’t (or received’t?) provide a quantity. To one of the best of my data, he has by no means been vigorously interrogated on the programme about his most dire predictions not being fulfilled.

Not less than eight Covid impartial specialists have been interviewed on Right now final month. Of those just one, Professor Carl Heneghan of Oxford College, could possibly be described as a average pragmatist who has argued in opposition to additional restrictions. On December 20 he informed Nick Robinson that the nation is at risk of speaking itself into annual lockdowns, and that the Authorities ought to belief individuals to amend their behaviour. Not a perspective you hear typically on Right now.


Though I’m typically essential of Boris Johnson, I consider he’s dealing with the present part of the pandemic sensibly. He understands the horrible harm an extra lockdown would inflict on the financial system, and on society as a complete.

Nick Robinson — he’s Right now’s most aggressive interviewer, and sometimes interrupts individuals when they’re midway, or much less, by a solution — is evidently no admirer of the Prime Minister, who was his up to date at Oxford. On Wednesday, simply after 6.30am, Mr Robinson reported one thing that was true — and added an opinion of his personal: ‘ ‘‘We are able to trip this Covid wave out with out the necessity for additional restrictions on our lives’’, Boris Johnson insisted final night time. It’s fairly a big gamble.’

The second sentence is his personal view, and it’s not his enterprise as a supposedly neutral Right now presenter to state it.

Nick Robinson — he is Today’s most aggressive interviewer, and often interrupts people when they are halfway, or less, through an answer — is evidently no admirer of the Prime Minister, who was his contemporary at Oxford

Nick Robinson — he’s Right now’s most aggressive interviewer, and sometimes interrupts individuals when they’re midway, or much less, by a solution — is evidently no admirer of the Prime Minister, who was his up to date at Oxford

Later, on the identical programme, Mr Robinson noticed that ‘the Prime Minister was pressured to acknowledge yesterday that the NHS is below large strain’. Why pressured? The implication was that Mr Johnson has been obliged by occasions to vary his thoughts. There isn’t a proof that that is the case.

Mr Robinson most likely betrayed his true emotions in regards to the PM final October when he instructed him to ‘cease speaking’ throughout an interview. It was Boris’s first look on Right now for 2 years. I doubt he’ll be hurrying again.

Curiously, Mr Robinson’s colleague, the chilly Mishal Husain, additionally informed Mr Johnson to ‘cease speaking’ throughout an interview in 2017 when he was Overseas Secretary. Not less than she summoned sufficient good manners to insert ‘please’ earlier than ‘cease’.

Yesterday morning’s protection of the newest growth within the so-called Wallpapergate scandal (damaged by the Mail nearly a yr in the past) was on the entire balanced. Mr Johnson clearly behaved foolishly over the redecoration of the Downing Road flat.

Nevertheless, all through this week Right now has been unwilling to work up any curiosity within the controversy in regards to the knighthood awarded to former Labour prime minister Tony Blair, who informed lies in regards to the Iraq Struggle which far surpass in seriousness Mr Johnson’s extra trivial evasions and falsehoods.


Between Christmas and New 12 months’s Day, Right now is edited by visitor editors. On the Monday, this position was stuffed by Jane Goodall, an animal rights activist and primatologist.

Not as soon as in three hours was anybody allowed to precise the faintest pro-hunting or pro-shooting view, although there was quite a lot of anti-hunting materials. Ms Goodall invited on Lord Goldsmith, the setting minister against searching, who declared that her work had influenced his life.

Tim Bonner, head of the Countryside Alliance, later complained that ‘Right now appears to have torn up the BBC editorial tips on steadiness’.


On Wednesday a jury in Bristol acquitted 4 individuals liable for toppling a statue of the Seventeenth-century slave dealer and philanthropist Edward Colston in June 2020.

The next morning, Right now interviewed the distinguished black historian David Olusoga. He declared that the acquittal, which he enthusiastically supported, was a ‘historic landmark’.

On Wednesday a jury in Bristol acquitted four people responsible for toppling a statue of the 17th-century slave trader and philanthropist Edward Colston in June 2020

On Wednesday a jury in Bristol acquitted 4 individuals liable for toppling a statue of the Seventeenth-century slave dealer and philanthropist Edward Colston in June 2020

Throughout a sympathetic interview by Nick Robinson, Professor Olusoga said that the jury’s determination hadn’t created ‘a authorized precedent’. That’s extremely debatable, but he wasn’t challenged. Nor did Mr Robinson care to say that Mr Olusoga gave proof for the defence through the trial.

Colston was clearly liable for many depraved acts. However nobody was given a chance by the Right now programme — Mr Olusoga being the only real interviewee — to say that it’s improper to go round toppling statues of lengthy useless individuals, no matter some could consider them.

Yet one more instance of Right now ignoring one facet of an argument as a result of it doesn’t approve of it.


On Thursday, the Authorities introduced huge new farming subsidies which prioritise ‘re-wilding’. Surroundings Secretary George Eustice was pleasantly interviewed.

So was Craig Bennett of the Wildlife Belief, previously a giant wheel at Mates of the Earth, who questioned whether or not ‘this would be the actual transformation we have been promised’.

Tony Juniper, ex-Mates of the Earth and now chair of Pure England, spoke in favour of the scheme, during which he has been instrumental. An environmentalist farmer from Cumbria referred to as James Robinson was largely beneficial.

Not a single essential farmer was interviewed, although there are very many who consider that the Authorities’s plans ignore their pursuits as meals producers.

On Tuesday, the BBC’s Local weather Editor, Justin Rowlatt, mentioned river air pollution with Feargal Sharkey, former punk singer and lifelong fly fisherman, who asserted that ‘the most important polluter on this nation is agriculture’.

All that is extra proof of protection that’s neither balanced nor truthful.


So that may be a week within the lifetime of the Right now programme. I count on one may discover weeks with extra egregious examples, and weeks with fewer. However absolutely no affordable individual may deny bias exists, generally overt, generally refined.

Why? It isn’t as if the chairman of the BBC, Richard Sharp, or its director-general, Tim Davie, are issuing directions to the Right now programme to lean to the Left, and chip away on the Conservative Authorities. They might properly each want it have been in any other case.

No, Right now is what it’s as a result of most of its presenters (although I’m not positive about Justin Webb and Amol Rajan) are mildly Left-wing, and I strongly suspect that the good majority of its editors and researchers are.

Nick Robinson (pictured) probably betrayed his true feelings about the PM last October when he instructed him to ‘stop talking’ during an interview

Nick Robinson (pictured) most likely betrayed his true emotions in regards to the PM final October when he instructed him to ‘cease speaking’ throughout an interview

They peer out on the world from their metropolitan bubble in Broadcasting Home in Central London, basking in related liberal-Left views. Boris Johnson is at all times dangerous, and something that may be finished to undermine him is nice. Brexit was appalling.

Ignoring the opposite facet of the argument held by thousands and thousands of Britons could typically be unconscious. After all extra of the countryside must be given to re-wilding. Who cares about farmers and meals producers? The stuff can at all times be imported.

If the BBC have been privately-owned relatively than a supposedly neutral public service broadcaster, there could possibly be completely no objection. It’s high-quality for David Olusoga to pontificate in regards to the Colston case, as he did within the Guardian yesterday, however he shouldn’t be permitted to take action unchallenged on the BBC’s essential present affairs programme.

Two days in the past, the Company introduced the appointment of Deborah Turness as its new head of stories. Right now can be a part of her empire. Might she drive it to be extra even-handed even when she wished to? I doubt it. Its habits are too ingrained.

That’s the reason Melvyn Bragg is mistaken, and the Authorities is at the least partly proper. If Right now is politically and culturally consultant of the BBC, as I consider it’s, it hasn’t ‘constructed itself in our picture’. Many thousands and thousands of us have been forgotten.