25 January 2007

Paul Dacre: champion of Middle England?

Paul Dacre had an interesting rant against the BBC in yesterday's Guardian, based on a lecture he gave at the College of Communication. As he says, the BBC is ideologically biased. But then, so is the arts establishment. And British academia. It's not specific to BBC staff, it's general to the cultural elite of this country, for reasons which Dacre doesn't attempt to examine.

Although his article is worth a quick read, there are a couple of supplementary points that could be made.

1) Dacre fails to mention that the Daily Mail has itself contributed to the rot. The Mail is far more mediocratic than it was ten years ago. It's more sympathetic in many of its articles to the pro-statist perspective, and it's definitely more dumbed down.

2) To describe the state of the British newspaper industry as "journalistic pluralism" seems a tad exaggerated. The vast majority of journalists subscribe to the standard belief system of the il-liberal elite: the supposed benevolence of the welfare state; the importance of "social cohesion" (whatever that's supposed to mean); the admirability of contemporary culture; and so forth.

3) Dacre claims the BBC is sympathetic to "minority rights" and "progressiveness in the education and the justice systems". You really shouldn't use those phrases without qualifying them, otherwise you fall straight into the left wing trap: believing the rhetoric that their interventions are really all about "rights" and "progressiveness". The il-liberal consensus is not about genuine rights. And it's not progressive, it's regressive.

4) Dacre predicts that if the BBC continues with its "abuse of trust, then the British people will withdraw their consent and the corporation will fall into discredit." Wishful thinking, Mr Dacre, assuming you even believe that. The British government, the state education system and the NHS have continued with their abuses of trust for many years, but consent has not been withdrawn. Now that a majority of British people are educated in comprehensive "schools", the capacity of the average citizen to question ideology handed down from above has become too weak to generate meaningful dissent among more than a minority.

The online comments on Dacre's article, predictably, are mostly of the "bog off, you right wing hack" variety. However, I found this one interesting.