by Charles Leach
ANDREA LEADSOM has taken a great deal of stick for her comment made on Friday night’s BBC Newsnight that “it would be helpful if broadcasters were willing to be a bit patriotic, because the country took a decision and government is determined to deliver on that decision”. The wailing and gnashing of teeth echoed around Twitter well into the weekend. Social media peaked as the outrageous were outraged and thin skins were pricked.
The attacks followed a familiar modus operandi of the ‘Emily Thornberry’ set: open contempt for the victim of the mob allows them to impute the worst possible intentions, which they then blast with vitriol like gun-happy teenagers killing a straw man before whooping self-righteously at how clever they are.
Leadsom was accused of trying to use patriotism to shut down criticism, duck public scrutiny and close down accountability of how the British government conducts the Brexit negotiations. Yet she never made any of these claims.
It is self-evident that the BBC must be impartial and reflect the diversity of the country in culture and ideas. Showing patriotism has got nothing to do with pandering to the government of the day, it means looking after the interests of the British people. Anyone with an ounce – or even a gram – of common sense could see Leadsom’s statement for what it was: an appeal to broadcasters, and the BBC in particular, to factor into their approach some consideration for those British viewers whose taxes pay their wages.
Holding our negotiators to account is essential; repeating uncritically the ‘pre-fight boasts’ of the other side as if they were facts, and undermining our negotiators with contempt of tone and negative hearsay is not. Where is the testing scrutiny of the EU negotiators or of the double standards of the EU Commissioners and national leaders of other EU member states? Where are the questions about the motives of the countries that will have to fund the black hole in the EU budget caused by the ending of the UK payment?
There are so many questions Emily Maitlis and her BBC chums could be asking of the EU elite but we never see or hear them being put. Instead we see the BBC and others such as Sky and ITN prioritise fake news about EU nursing applications declining (they have actually increased) while good news about rising UK investment and record order books are minimalised or ignored altogether.
That so many of the media could not understand this difference said everything about them and how they put their own agendas or the interests of other countries before our own. Andrea Leadsom understands this but clearly Emily Maitlis does not.
Where are the BBC investigations into global trade opportunities? Into how regulations could be improved outside the EU? Into how immigration could be improved to both support businesses, culture and creativity and reduce the pressures that unrestrained immigration creates? Into opening the eyes of businesses as to how to export more?
You don’t have to be for or against the government, or even for or against Brexit, to help educate this country and others around the world on the opportunities of trade that create wealth for everyone involved. Being a global brand the BBC knows it has an interest in promoting international co-operation and trust, the education and culture of open societies and the upholding of the rule of law. Those are some of the greatest values this country has to offer the world – and which, incidentally, increase wealth and personal freedom wherever they are found.
Where are the balanced investigations into the fundamental flaws in the EU (divergent economies locked into an exchange rate which daily erodes the foundations of financial security), or the debates whether the EU’s aspirations to be a single State are going to strengthen it or destroy it, or discussions about whether there is a better way to create a great Europe?
Where is the analysis of the monumentally dishonest Treasury Brexit report or the exposure of Project Fear whose dire projections have already proved so misleading? Where is the analysis of the latest EU budget and our share of the additional €15bn we would be paying if staying?
Resounding silence from the BBC.
It is a dangerous cocktail of intellectual stupidity, failure of the imagination and lack of basic curiosity to think that patriotism is what far-right fools say it is, and then infer that it’s morally bad, and finally conclude that the morally good thing to do is the opposite i.e. to ‘do down’ your own ‘family’ at every opportunity.
Charity begins at home, so does trust, culture and wealth creation. Of course we will help others where we can, but let’s first look after making our own country a better place and the world will be richer for it.