alien & sedition.
Wednesday, January 24, 2007
  Are British Conservatives Gearing Up for a Culture War?

In a column at the Guardian today, Paul Dacre attacks the BBC's "cultural Marxism" - and predicts "an American-style backlash." It isn't the BBC per se he objects to - unlike American conservatives, who'll keep itching 'til they finally kill PBS and NPR. It's the content.

The BBC, Dacre argues, is supposed to be impartial. But instead, it has used "impartiality" as cover for a diet of left-wing propaganda. Not only has it supposedly failed to cover any of Labour's various scandals with sufficient zest, but it has set itself against conservative Britain altogether:
[W]hat really disturbs me is that the BBC is, in every corpuscle of its corporate body, against the values of conservatism, with a small "c", which, I would argue, just happens to be the values held by millions of Britons. Thus it exercises a kind of "cultural Marxism" in which it tries to undermine that conservative society by turning all its values on their heads.

Of course, there is the odd dissenting voice, but by and large BBC journalism starts from the premise of leftwing ideology: it is hostile to conservatism and the traditional right, Britain's past and British values, America, Ulster unionism, Euroscepticism, capitalism and big business, the countryside, Christianity and family values. Conversely, it is sympathetic to Labour, European federalism, the state and state spending, mass immigration, minority rights, multiculturalism, alternative lifestyles, abortion, and progressiveness in the education and the justice systems.
Whether Dacre's portrait is accurate is a matter somewhat beyond my capacity to judge. I catch the occasional half hour of BBC America, which is of course its own thing; the last time I was in Britain for a sustained period of time was during 2002-3, when it seemed that Channel 4 was going after the warmongers with more zeal than anyone else. But mine is a pretty limited sample. Of course, this kind of complaint is quite common in the United States. And as we like to say: reality has a liberal bias.

If the argument sounds familiar to Americans, that's part of Dacre's point. He sees the battle arriving on British shores:
How instructive to compare all this with what is happening in America. There, the liberal smugness of a terminally worthy, monopolistic press has, together with deregulation, triggered both the explosive growth of rightwing radio broadcasting that now dominates the airwaves and the extraordinary rise of Murdoch's rightwing Fox TV News service. Democracy needs a healthy tension between left and right, and nature abhors a vacuum. If the BBC continues skewing the political debate, there will be a backlash and I predict that what has happened in America will eventually take place in Britain.
Of course that explosion of talk radio and the rise of Fox News et al took place in a context Dacre fails to acknowledge. They happened only after a well-funded, ideologically disciplined conservative movement had been developing for a quarter century; the repeal of the Fairness Doctrine then set the demons free.

This is not to say that similar things couldn't happen in the UK. In fact, I'm very curious as to whether Britain has anything like a nascent conservative movement in the post-Goldwater model. I know there are British conservatives who would like to develop such a movement. But I haven't seen any signs yet of whether one actually exists.

But I suppose that's what I get for getting my news about Britain from the BBC.

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