The BBC used to be known as Auntie. Now you might as well call the corporation’s news output a non-stop Tory election broadcast.
Anyone who has watched the BBC News during the election campaign can see for themselves how “Auntie” now interprets her statutory requirement of impartiality.
I usually write from my perspective as a therapist, but today I am putting on my journalist’s hat.
I have worked for 40 years in the regional and national press. I have held senior positions on a Labour-supporting paper, a Tory-supporting paper and the impartial national news agency.
So I know what impartiality looks like – and it doesn’t look like BBC News.
I’m pretty sure there was a time when the BBC would turn up at an election event and simply report what happened.
Now it seems to be a requirement that political staff give their “analysis” of what they have seen (or would like to have seen). And it doesn’t help that BBC political journalists are encouraged to use Twitter to express their “personality”.
BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg gets the most flak for this, but she is not alone. John Humphrys, Nick Robinson, John Pienaar…they all get in on the act.
They would claim that they are even-handed, that they treat politicians of all parties to the same scrutiny. But it is simply not true.
Last night I watched the BBC’s 10pm news with mounting astonishment. I foolishly believed that Kuenssberg had improved a bit since I complained to the BBC about her in January last year.
But no. It seems any report on the activities of the Labour Party has to be treated with a specially snide and sneery incredulity.
It’s not about asking tough questions, as she does for all party leaders. It’s about conveying to viewers that she doesn’t take Jeremy Corbyn or the Labour Party seriously, and neither should they.
It’s about focussing on the trivial to take the spotlight away from the serious,
concentrating on the personal to divert attention from what really matters. It’s a sleight of hand.
Without social media I wouldn’t have had any idea of the crowds that have been turning up to Corbyn’s speeches.
The BBC’s idea of balance is to show Theresa May’s appearance in an almost-empty room talking to glum-looking guests, then Corbyn’s speech in close-up, hiding the huge crowds that have turned out to see him.
Last night’s Kuenssberg report was followed up by a totally pointless vox pop from York, dismissing Labour’s manifesto. It started with John Pienaar (whom I always regarded as being an intelligent type) allowing a passer-by to display his ignorance on immigration, and finished with Pienaar emerging from a sweetshop with a lolly.
What is this, Newsround?
You might also have noticed one key feature of any report of Labour proposals: an obsession with how they will be paid for.
Funny how nobody seems that interested in what the Tories have done with your three-quarters of a trillion pounds.
When they came to power in 2010, the national debt was £979 billion. This has now risen to £1,731 billion.
Labour rebuilt schools and hospitals and got us out of the global banking crisis. After seven years of austerity, what is the Tories’ excuse? Yet it is Labour’s spending plans that apparently require the BBC’s forensic microscope.
You might wonder who sets this agenda – and I will tell you. Kuenssberg takes her cue from the national press. Right from the start, she adopted the line of the Murdoch and Rothermere press: that Corbyn is a joke who doesn’t need to be taken seriously.
It is not surprising – political correspondents work closely together. But the BBC should rise above that pack mentality.
Ed Miliband had a tough time with the press but I’m pretty sure he received from the BBC at least some of the respect that is due to the leader of the opposition. Kuenssberg simply picked up on the mocking approach to Corbyn of the Mail and the Sun and adopted it for the 10pm news.
Of course, you might think that is reasonable. You might think that Rupert Murdoch and Lord Rothermere (as well as Richard Desmond and the Barclay brothers) have your best interests at heart. And if you believe that, then you might think the BBC is right to mock the leader of the opposition and his party.
Or you might think as I do: that it is very dangerous in a democratic society for our national broadcaster to slide so far in that direction.
And if you do agree with me, you know what to do. Tell the BBC what you think.