Tories split over plot to destroy the BBC

“Blatantly Backing Conservatives”: and a fat lot of good it did the BBC! De facto Tory leader Dominic Cummings wants the BBC privatised and he has employed ‘Minister for Murdoch’ John Whittingdale to do it.

Days after the man formerly known as the Minister for Murdoch returned to the government, unelected leader Dominic Cummings has apparently declared war on the BBC.

It seems Cummings was just waiting to get the right man for the job – and the well-connected Whittingdale fitted the bill perfectly.

So it fell to The Sunday Times to herald the forthcoming assault on our national broadcaster:

“Downing Street turned on the BBC last night — vowing to scrap the television licence fee and make viewers pay a subscription. The national broadcaster could also be compelled to downsize and sell off most of its radio stations.

“In a plan that would change the face of British broadcasting, senior aides to the prime minister insisted that they are “not bluffing” about changing the BBC’s funding model and “pruning” its reach into people’s homes.

“The blueprint being drawn up in government will:

“● Scrap the licence fee and replace it with a subscription model

“● Force the BBC to sell off the vast majority of its 61 radio stations but safeguard Radio 3 and Radio 4

“● Reduce the number of the corporation’s national television channels from its current 10

  • “Scale back the BBC website
  • “Invest more in the BBC World Service”

It’s an interesting plan – especially, as Zelo Street points out, considering the fact that the BBC’s current agreement with the government runs until 2027, three years after the current Tory government’s term runs out.

Cummings is either incredibly confident of getting a new term with his puppet Boris Johnson, or he’s sure that Tory plants in the Labour Party will keep it riven by controversy and unable to mount a meaningful challenge.

That blog also points out that the plan has not been properly thought through: how can the government expect to dictate that BBC stars can’t have second jobs if they become part of a subscription service that is independent?

The announcement has provoked considerable debate online – and a clear contradiction has emerged in that most of those who oppose the BBC are only angry with it’s pro-Tory current affairs bias. It would be lunacy to think the Tories are going to create more balance!

(It’s worth pointing out that Raj Ganesh – above – considers the Conservative Party to be left wing and may therefore be considered a far-right extremist. That’s the kind of person who really hates the BBC. But expect also his phrase “telly tax” to catch on – Tories love that kind of thing.)

But it seems the plan does not have wholehearted support – even within Conservative Party ranks. Sure, some have described it as “Tory vandalism”…

… and, sure, some Tories have helped undermine the BBC and are now using the results of their own actions as reasons to attack it again…

… but some are standing by it:

Before anybody jumps in and tries to rubbish Mr Green’s opinion because of his past connection with certain forms of online… entertainment… let’s just remember that Whittingdale had a relationship with a female sex worker that only ended when he discovered the story was likely to be sold to the tabloid press.

And Mr Green isn’t alone, anyway. The Independent reports:

“Huw Merriman, another Conservative MP who is also chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on the BBC, also warned that the corporation should “not be a target”.

“Writing in the Daily Telegraph, he said ‘it feels as if senior government aides are now ramping up an unedifying vendetta against this much-admired corporation’.

“A third Tory MP, Damian Collins, a former chair of the Commons culture committee, added: “No surprise that no-one has put their name to this destructive idea.

“’This would smash the BBC and turn it from being a universal broadcaster to one that would just work for its subscribers. The biggest losers would be the UK’s nations and regions.’”

The consensus among Tory opponents of the plan is that it will cost the party votes.

Personally, I don’t think that will stop Dominic Cummings.

He wants to smash everything of “cultural importance”, as Steve Coogan put it, to the UK. He’ll happily sell the lot to foreign investors and see all the money we earn dribble abroad, reducing the UK to Third World status. The NHS is set to be privatised, with the profit-making parts sold off to the US, remember.

Now why would a patriotic UK citizen want to do such a thing?

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  1. timfrom February 17, 2020 at 12:32 pm - Reply

    It’s pretty ungrateful of the Tories, considering the BBC helped them win the election. If I thought BBC 4 stood a chance in hell of being preserved along with Radios 3 & 4, I’d say go for it! Sadly, it’ll probably be first in line for the chop, but BBC News & Current Affairs Must Die, nonetheless…

  2. Mark Cunliffe February 17, 2020 at 12:41 pm - Reply

    I’d be more alarmed if the rot hadn’t set in years ago. I hate to say it but, the way that BBC news has behaved, toadying up to government and employing their cast offs, they get what they deserve

  3. Stu February 17, 2020 at 12:46 pm - Reply

    There’s a reason that nobody is putting their name to it, that’s because it’s a cynical ploy to drum up pro-BBC sentiment and test the public’s gullibility..
    That way cuts can still happen but at least the Great British “Auntie Beeb” was saved from destruction by public sentiment.
    The Tories won’t let their best source of guided propaganda be destroyed, this is a power grab to keep the BBC loyal – or else !

    • Mike Sivier February 18, 2020 at 3:03 pm - Reply

      Interesting idea – reverse psychology. It’s possible.

      • Stu February 18, 2020 at 4:50 pm - Reply

        When you look at todays papers, the Daily Heil and Times both run with “Boris disagrees with Cummings on BBC”.
        This paves the way for Bojob “The man of the people” saving that great British institution from collapse by adhering to the will of the people yet again.
        It’s all bull and bluster – don’t be fooled !

  4. jezzabeauc February 17, 2020 at 2:29 pm - Reply

    Scrapping the license fee is the one good idea BJ has had even if it is out of spite. The BBC are not worth the money. I have not watched/listened to them for 7 years and I refuse to buy a license. We watch Netflix, Prime and DVDs

    • Mike Sivier February 18, 2020 at 3:02 pm - Reply

      I watch BBC drama, wildlife shows, and some entertainment stuff, and I listen to a lot of radio. Barring the political prejudice of its news and current affairs output, it’s mostly good material.

  5. Zippi February 18, 2020 at 9:26 pm - Reply

    It’s a mpost impracticle proposition How would a subscription service work, give that the infrastructure is for universal access, i.e. you can’t be cut off for non-payment, hence fines. We would all need new equipment. Somebody really has not thought this through.

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