The revolving door in action.

The BBC has always claimed to be ‘Independent’ and ‘Impartial’, but recent appointments may suggest otherwise. 

The new chairman of the BBC was announced in January of this year. Richard Sharp, tory donor and informal advisor to both Rishi Sunak and Boris Johnson is the most recent member of the British Broadcasting Corporation’s inner circle. In this short piece, I’m not necessarily going to be suggesting that the BBC is biased. I am simply suggesting that the credentials of the two men in charge makes it’s self-proclaimed ‘impartiality’ rather unlikely. Of course, it is possible that the organisation could be impartial under their supervision. It is also possible that the organisation could be impartial under the supervision of two Marxist radicals – but I think in both cases it’s extremely unlikely. 

Sharp has donated over £400,000 to the Conservatives since 2001 which earned him a place in David Cameron’s ‘Leader’s group’. This was a group of super rich Tory donors which are described as the ‘premier support group’. He has had a very successful banking career of 23 years at Goldman Sachs where he oversaw the work of Rishi Sunak. He was also a director at the Centre for Policy Studies, a right-wing think tank. strongly associated with the rise of Margaret Thatcher.

Throughout Boris’s tenure as Mayor of London, Sharp was both a fund-raiser and valued advisor. He played a similarly role for Rishi Sunak with regard to the economic response to the coronavirus. His work has spanned numerus Tory governments as he was even hand-picked by George Osborne to sit on the Independent finance policy committee in 2003. What this deluge of facts about Sharp’s history is meant to show, is just how deeply buried within the folds of the conservative party he is. 

However, he isn’t the only one, Tim Davie, the new Director General of the BBC, has also played a role in both the corporate and political worlds. He had a very successful career at the multimillion-dollar transnational corporation PepsiCo which provides snacks and drinks around the world. Following this he then became a Tory councillor in Hammersmith between 1993 and 1994. Throughout the 1990s he was a deputy chairman for the Hammersmith and Fulham conservative party. Both of these men are not simply affiliated with the Tory party, they actually are Tories. The revolving door between the political elite, business elite and media elite cannot be seen more clearly than with these appointments.

As I said, I am not building a case (at least here) that the BBC is a biased organisation but simply highlighting that the people who run it are explicitly partisan. An independent media that acts as a check on power is fundamental to a flourishing democracy. If the main media source is run by the people who aren’t just aligned with the powerful interests in our society, but are themselves the powerful; then I am skeptical about it fulfilling its vital mission. The selection of these two men, who embody the corporate establishment, makes me feel uneasy at best and outraged at worst. We now have to be more personally vigilant than ever about the activity of our political class because I don’t think we can rely on the BBC.

Image via Radio Times