In all our sanctuaries we sit at risk

Truth cf. ‘Impartiality’


This is being written a few days after Gary Lineker refused to back down. He won’t read these words, but I feel the need to declare here to whoever might be visiting my deep admiration and gratitude for the position Lineker has taken and held, both on a disgraceful and abhorrent government policy (and the motives for, and the framing of, that policy), and on the attempts to close him down that have followed.

Will Hutton’s majestic piece on the topic in the latest issue of The Observer, leaves me with little to add. Over to his conclusion : ‘Now Labour cannot allow only Gary Lineker to speak about the rotten values that have driven the [asylum-seekers policy], as the numbers declaring their support for him grow. This is transmuting into a popular progressive movement as the integrity of public service broadcasting is defended alongside Lineker’s stance on asylum. Britain is not the rightwing country the right imagines. It is a fairer, much more decent place. Congratulations to the Match of the Day presentation team who showed us who we are – the best game any of them have played.’ And here is a link to the whole article :…/its-taken-brave-football…

Then, to my surprise, an article published in today’s Guardian reminds that there is something to add, after all. It is by John Kampfner and here it is.  Kampfner gets closer in to what goes on along the interface between the forces of the political executive and those of public witness and he is quite scathing concerning the conduct of successive BBC senior managers. They have a crucial duty to perform and all too often fail to perform it.

And this leads to the thought that ‘impartiality’ is perhaps an unhelpful word and criterion by which to judge the BBC’s role in our society. The word merges blearily into something about ‘fairness’  or ‘balance’ – creating an ‘equal’ treatment and recognition of opposing interests, without ever looking carefully or properly, from first principles, at what those competing interests might be.

A great number of unscrupulous and unworthy individuals and groupings in modern society have every interest in deceiving, covering up, distorting, selling, self-promoting. They threaten the integrity of all language. They threaten what makes Democracy worth defending. In the face of these forces, truthfulness is the only valid measure and authority, ‘impartiality’ a mere gift to the unclean and the malign.  All too easily, it gives the Lie equal and balanced standing as the Truth, thereby and instantly offering space and credence to the Lie, when all the Lie deserves is contempt and rejection. The Lie is to be unmasked, expelled. It is Democracy’s enemy. It is The People’s enemy.    

The BBC’s proper role is to report truthfully on what is happening, without fear or favour. Not to please all parties. Not to pull its punches for fear of annoying the Party in power. Or the Sun. Or the Mail. Or the Express. Or the Telegraph. Not to give space and coverage to the liars and twisters of truth, allowed footing on a par with those who report on ‘things as they are.’ 

The BBC is (or has been) respected the world over for being reliable as witness to the truth. Not just another creature of the Lie, under cover of ‘impartiality.’