The vultures are circling increasingly around Lord Patten, who has been savaged – and is still under fire – for his handling of a series of problems, including the Savile inquiry and the House of Commons’ prolonged investigation into excessive pay-offs to senior executives.
Latest to join in the attack on the BBC chairman is Greg Dyke, the former BBC director general who was forced to resign in 2004 because he handled the corporation’s response to the Andrew Gilligan-Hutton inquiry ineptly.
It was alleged that instead of being on top of the journalism, and understanding where it had gone wrong, he thought – as those at the BBC so often do – that he could bluster his way through theissues of journalistic integrity that were raised, and rely on the stock BBC response of ‘we know we are right, because what we do is (almost) always right’.
Noticeably, Mr Dyke chose as platform for his ‘Patten is a busted flush’ attack on the BBC’s favourite newspaper, the Guardian.
Noticeably, too, Mr Dyke has called – in effect – for the BBC Trustees to be dissolved, a chairman appointed and future regulation (from the start of the new BBC Charter in 2016) to be allocated to Ofcom.
But would that solve any of the BBC’s problems? The core issue, as News-watch research has repeatedly shown, is that its journalism is not at all ‘independent’, or impartial, but dominated by left of centre thinking. Institutionally, it cannot see this, and refuses obstinately and systematically to countenance otherwise. Or to even discuss the issue, as the Commons EU scrutiny committee has found.
At the same time, Ofcom – a giant Quango set up by the last Labour government that costs £130m a year to run – has been accused by MPs such as Philip Davies of being dominated by bureaucrats who are drawn from exactly the same liberal-left mould as the current BBC Trustees (including Lord Patten). It is headed by Labour-supporter and placeman Ed Richards. Greg Dyke – who himself is a declared left-of-centre activist who supports both the LibDems and Labour – knows this. Perhaps that is why he wants Ofcom to take over.
In reality, it wouldn’t alter a thing about BBC journalism, but would make its control even more bureaucratic and immune from criticism.