BUCK-PASSING? Nick Robinson’s second programme in his series Europe: Them or Us? highlighted numerous deep-rooted issues of BBC bias. In summary, he said he was presenting a history of the UK’s relationship with ‘Europe’ but in reality, he started from within a narrow area of the Westminster bubble and did not progress outside. He assembled a one dimensional progression from Macmillan to Wilson, from Callaghan to Thatcher, and from Major to Blair; nearly everything within his picture was simplistically binary: Heath taking the UK in against old-fashioned resistance from Labour party diehards; Wilson combining with Thatcher to stay in; Thatcher fighting for money back – and ultimately Geoffrey Howe – after she realised too late that the Single European Act had been a trap towards integration; Major fighting his own party ‘bastards’, and Blair getting it wrong about the euro.
More of this later, but first (h/t Craig Byers) the second programme contained one huge distortion comparable to Robinson’s claim in the first, that Winston Churchill was the ‘father of European unity’. It was a jaw-dropping piece of buck passing. He asserted that it was the Blair government, not the EU itself (through the free movement directive) that was responsible, for the influx of nearly 2m EU citizens to the UK after 2004. Of course there was limited space in the programme and it covered nearly 70 years of EU-related developments. But that does not excuse such inaccuracy.