Gerald Warner: Depraved old crone Auntie long overdue for euthanasia

'This Savile scandal will put the loathsome BBC on the rack'
'This Savile scandal will put the loathsome BBC on the rack'
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‘WHAT’S all this, these rumours we hear about you, Jimmy?” “That’s all nonsense.” That exchange was the account by Derek Chinnery, former controller of BBC Radio 1, of his interrogation of ­Jimmy Savile anent the widespread rumours ­regarding his conduct. Unsurprisingly, Savile survived that intensive grilling.

The BBC likes to represent itself as the spearhead of investigative journalism. Its presenters have mastered the skills of the gimlet eyes, the sneering aside, the tactical interruption, the leftist innuendo and the didactic outrage when some PC totem is affronted – all the cheap tricks of the door-to-door salesman. When it comes to investigating their own, however, the inquisitors become clones of the three wise monkeys. Now that the dam of ­institutional reticence has burst, it is clear that everyone – even the dogs in Portland Place – knew what was going on.

We should not be surprised. The BBC has for half a century been the chief ­motor of degeneracy in British society; from the relatively tame obsession with squalor ­signalled by The Wednesday Play in the 1960s to the escalating process euphemistically known as “pushing the boundaries”, it has waged relentless war on family values, morality, religion, ­civility, patriotism, good taste and all the decencies. Was it likely that the people promoting that agenda would inhabit a universally wholesome lifestyle? ­“Auntie” BBC has long been a shadow of her ­Reithian past; she has ­degenerated into a depraved old crone.

Every pathetic defensive stratagem that stern-faced BBC interrogators denounced in other compromised institutions is now being resorted to by the Corporation. The BBC has commissioned two “independent” inquiries, one of them to discover why the Corporation halted the Newsnight investigation into Savile. The party line is that the intrepid Newsnight investigators could not find sufficient evidence. That was not a problem for ITV when it conducted its own investigation. Nor does it seem to present difficulties to the police who, at the last tally, were following up 340 lines of inquiry. The best nugget last week was the claim by BBC director-general George Entwistle that last year, when he was head of BBC ­Vision, he was aware that Newsnight was investigating Savile but was careful not to ask what the inquiry was about in case he was ­accused of meddling in editorial decisions. A former BBC executive called that claim “laughable”.

This scandal will put the loathsome Corporation on the rack – and not before time. There is a lot more wrong with the BBC than the squalid sexual misconduct being exposed now. The Savile affair follows revelations that the Corporation is doling out contracts that enable employees to engage in tax avoidance, including 4,500 presenters and backroom personnel; among them are 400 “stars” paid at least £50,000 a year. How often have you seen those po-faced hypocrites grilling outsiders about tax avoidance? Despite its strongly leftist bias, the BBC is imbued with a culture of greed comparable to the banking fraternity. The recently departed director-general Mark Thompson was paid £834,000 a year and 13 of his lieutenants earned more than £250,000, with 92 others taking home over £160,000 and ­another 500 on £100,000 or more. The Corporation now claims to have ­retrenched; so do the banks.

The political bias of the BBC, formerly denied, has been official for the past six years. The iconic moment came on 2 March, 2005, on the Today programme, when James Naughtie asked: “If we [sic] win the election, does Gordon Brown remain Chancellor?” In 2006, at a BBC seminar, Andrew Marr defined the situation, saying that the Corporation “is not impartial or neutral… It has a liberal bias, not so much a party political bias. It is better expressed as a cultural liberal bias.” In that case, can those of us who are not liberals be excused paying licence fees to support this leftist propaganda machine which presumes to act as gate-keeper to all other television stations and to jail those who do not pay?

The risible grounds for the BBC’s continuing existence are its status as a “public service broadcaster”. Surely the cream of its public service broadcasts, such as ­EastEnders and Hotter Than My Daughter, could be preserved for civilisation by an independent broadcaster. The Corporation puts up cautionary captions advising that items from Tehran are taken from “Iranian State Television”, while we watch them on British State Television. The BBC is an institution whose time has passed. Its charter should not be renewed in 2016; it should be broken up and sold off. At a time of ever-encroaching state intrusion, a state broadcasting service is a sinister imposition. When it has gone we shall look back at the licence fee and wonder that we ever tolerated it. Auntie is long overdue for euthanasia. «