The first half hour of the BBC News Channel’s 10am bulletin yesterday was devoted to an orgy of incestuous wall-to-wall navel gazing over director-general Tim Davie’s craven capitulation to the sainted Gary Lineker.
For further considered and balanced analysis, the airwaves were then given over to the corporation’s favourite independent commentator Alastair Campbell, who looked as if he had just crawled out of bed.
Only in the warped world of BBC ‘impartiality’ would a discredited former Labour propagandist be deemed a fit and proper person to take a dispassionate view of a politically charged meltdown at a publicly funded institution, which began when Match Of The Day host Lineker compared the Conservatives’ policy on illegal migration to Nazi Germany.
Over the next 15 minutes, virtually uninterrupted, Campbell went into his celebrated ‘Nutter on the Bus’ routine, blaming everyone from the Tories to the Daily Mail for the crisis which ended with a grovelling apology from the man who is supposed to run the BBC to a rogue presenter who knowingly and deliberately brought the game into disrepute.
The first half hour of the BBC News Channel’s 10am bulletin yesterday was devoted to an orgy of incestuous wall-to-wall navel gazing over director-general Tim Davie’s craven capitulation to the sainted Gary Lineker (pictured leaving his London home on March 13, 2023)
The corporation’s favourite independent commentator Alastair Campbell cited Lineker’s suspension last week as further evidence of the vast Right-wing conspiracy hellbent on stoking the culture wars ripping Britain apart. Pictured: Protesters gathered outside the BBC Sports studios at the broadcaster’s Media City complex in Salford on March 13, 2023
Campbell cited Lineker’s suspension last week as further evidence of the vast Right-wing conspiracy hellbent on stoking the culture wars ripping Britain apart.
Then again, as I have pointed out before, Ally Campbell is the only man I know who has a certificate to prove he’s sane. Though, on the evidence of yesterday’s performance, a return trip to the puzzle factory would seem to be long overdue. Nor was it mentioned that Campbell’s politics podcast is produced by a company co-owned by Lineker. An innocent omission, no doubt.
But this is the Looking Glass World in which we now live. Like Lewis Carroll’s Humpty Dumpty, words mean whatever they want them to mean.
Thus, the rules of engagement are drawn up by the woke, self-styled ‘liberal’ Left and anyone who dares challenge their worldview is smeared as ‘far-Right’.
So a privileged, multi-millionaire TV presenter who equates a democratically elected Conservative Government with the Nazis is an innocent victim of a witch-hunt, while a Home Secretary of Mauritian and Kenyan heritage, with a Jewish husband, is damned as an extremist.
In different circumstances, the Left-wing mob currently screaming vile abuse at Suella Braverman would be howling about ‘racism’ were she a Labour minister under fire from the Tories.
You couldn’t make it up.
Still, if Lineker had been tweeting enthusiastically in support of Brexit and stopping the small boats, the same crowd defending his right to freedom of speech would be demanding his immediate cancellation.
This business has nothing to do with ‘free speech’. It’s about ‘approved speech’, ensuring everyone sings from the same hymn sheet, whether they like it or not.
The football world, which spawned Lineker, is in the vanguard of the rolling revolution aimed at forcing us all to swallow the woke agenda.
Knee-taking, rainbow laces, No Room For Racism — there’s no escape, as clubs clamber over each other to embrace the latest fads from the frontline of identity politics.
It’s nothing more than cynical, conscience-salving, bandwagon-jumping to disguise the fact that professional football is one of the most venal, amoral industries on Earth. Lineker is the high priest of this new religion, the Cantona of Cant.
That’s not to say he isn’t sincere. I’ve no idea, so I’m happy to give him the benefit of the doubt. But he shouldn’t be using his BBC pulpit to promote both his politics and himself. And, let’s face it, without the Match Of The Day profile, Lineker might be just another ex-footballer scraping a living as a pundit, or running a pub in Leicester — or a bar on the Costa del Crime, like his brother.
The BBC devoted serious time, money and energy into creating the polished presenter we see on our screens today. It was the foundation of his fabulous media fortune. I was there at the time, hosting the flagship football phone-in 6-0-6.
Never mind all the smoke and mirrors around social media guidelines. He’s worked for the corporation for the best part of three decades and knows the rules inside out.
And the cardinal rule is: you don’t embarrass the BBC. They may have a curious interpretation of impartiality these days, but it’s one to which they still cleave, however imperfectly.
Arguing about whether the rules apply to freelancers or non-news presenters is a red herring. Lineker is one of the half-dozen ‘faces’ of the BBC, as well as its highest-paid presenter on £1.35 million a year. That’s a lot of licence fees and with it brings responsibility.
If Lineker had been tweeting enthusiastically in support of Brexit and stopping the small boats, the same crowd defending his right to freedom of speech would be demanding his immediate cancellation, Richard Littlejohn claims. Pictured: Demonstrators protesting against the Illegal Migration Bill in Parliament Square in London on March 13, 2023
Migrants, including women and children, in a dinghy, approach the southern British coastline as they illegally cross the English Channel from France on September 11, 2020
When John Motson died recently, I wrote that he never felt it necessary to share his views on everything from climate change to yuman rites. And he was arguably, in his day, as much of a star as Lineker is today.
The great Ken Bruce, now off to pastures new, was as big a deal at Radio 2 as Lineker is on BBC1. But I haven’t a clue how he votes, or where he stands on Brexit and illegal migration.
Same goes for my old mate Steve Wright and younger presenters such as Jo Whiley. Dear old Terry Wogan wouldn’t have dreamed of telling you where he stood on the Northern Ireland Protocol.
I used to sit in for Jimmy Young when he was on holiday. When Jimmy was due to retire, I was one of those sounded out informally as a possible replacement. But it was made clear that were I to get the job, I’d have to give up the column, which was a non-starter. A full-time BBC profile meant going into political purdah. And rightly so.
Jeremy Vine deservedly got the gig and has held it with distinction ever since. Yet apart from his cycling fanaticism, listeners would be hard pressed to divine his political affiliations — or even if he has any.
OK, so social media wasn’t around when I worked at the BBC regularly, but some things just don’t change. And just because Twitter exists, it doesn’t mean ‘taking to’ it is compulsory. Sometimes ‘shtum’ is the only sensible option. How many careers, and relationships, have ended catastrophically because of a reckless 140 characters posted after a few sherbets?
Admittedly, the management may have mishandled the situation. It wouldn’t have been the first time. Nor for Lineker, either, who has got himself into a few scrapes on social media before. But this time he should have realised he’d properly overstepped the mark, acknowledged that he’d gone too far and apologised graciously. That would have been the end of it.
Management could have saved face by ‘reminding’ him of his responsibilities. Then they could have kissed and made up and all lived happily ever after. Having said that, though, a presenter’s first loyalty is not to the BBC, it’s to his or her audience.
And that’s what’s gone out of the window at BBC Sport over the past week. Cancelling programmes for which millions had paid their licence fees under pain of prosecution was an outrage.
Had I still been there, I’d have had no hesitation in hosting 6-0-6, whatever my personal feelings about Lineker’s suspension.
I can just about understand Lineker’s mates Alan Shearer and Ian Wright feeling uncomfortable about appearing on MoTD without him. But the Gadarene rush by other presenters to come out in sympathy was unforgivable. They should all have been sacked. Where did they think they were — British Leyland, Longbridge, 1978?
There was no good reason for anyone to refuse to present their show, other than a burning desire to flaunt their ‘virtuous’ credentials. As Bob Dylan sang on Positively 4th Street, they just want to be on the side that’s winning.
And, for now at least, they are on the winning side. The BBC’s feeble management simply collapsed in the face of a staff revolt. And the problem hasn’t gone away.
Emboldened by Davie’s humiliation, there’s already agitation within the BBC for his sacking. Ever since he was appointed, Lefties have resented the fact that he had links to the Tories. If he is fired, it should be for being spineless in the face of Team Lineker’s intransigence, not because of any suspected Conservative sympathies.
They also want to get rid of BBC chairman Richard Sharp, a Tory donor said to be instrumental in helping to arrange an £800,000 loan for Boris Johnson. They may even have a point in his case.
The football world, which spawned Lineker, (pictured in 2018) is in the vanguard of the rolling revolution aimed at forcing us all to swallow the woke agenda, claims Littlejohn
So-called lefties also want to get rid of BBC chairman Richard Sharp, (pictured last month) a Tory donor said to be instrumental in helping to arrange an £800,000 loan for Boris Johnson. They may even have a point in his case
Still, Labour has never been shy about appointing its own placemen and donors to positions of power in the BBC. Off the top of my head, I can think of Greg Dyke, Gavyn Davies and James Purnell, all installed in Broadcasting House by Tony Blair without any corresponding fuss from the Left. Or the Right, come to that.
What this affair does illustrate is the scale of the anti-Tory groupthink not just inside the BBC but across the entire self-serving, strike-happy public sector. Where do the staff get the idea that they, not their bosses or elected politicians, have the right to run their organisations?
Outside of the book publishing industry, which these days is in thrall to brainwashed snowflakes, it doesn’t happen in the private sector. Imagine, for example, that, Sarah Vine wrote something the editor of the Mail considered embarrassing and refused to publish.
Then imagine Jan Moir, Tom Utley and I decided we wouldn’t write our columns in solidarity with Sarah. Our feet wouldn’t touch. The next time you stumbled across us we’d be ending our newspaper careers sitting outside Selfridges selling The Big Issue.
When I mentioned Longbridge, 1978, I was only half joking. Back then the unions ran the car industry — and look how that turned out. Today, it’s what we used to call white-collar staff — when they actually turned up at the office — who are calling the shots. Half the Civil Service flatly refuses to return to work after the pandemic, despite being ordered back by ministers.
Yet, like the BBC presenters who petulantly refused to work last weekend, they suffer no sanction, even though they are in breach of contract, and continue to receive their full salaries, generous London weighting allowances and can still expect to draw their gold-plated pensions when they retire early.
Not only that, but civil servants routinely think they can ignore legitimate instructions and only implement policies of which they approve.
At the Home Office, posters have gone up opposing deportations to Rwanda and the unions have gone to court to try to prevent the Government going ahead.
Millions are spent on courses teaching everything from so-called critical race theory to indoctrination in EDI (Equality, Diversity and Inclusion) despite ministerial orders to the contrary.
We can always rely on the taxpayer-funded BBC to provide ‘Mr Impartiality’ Alastair Campbell (pictured in September 2022) with an open goalmouth to rant and rave about the ‘far-Right’ conspiracy wrecking Britain
The teaching unions think it should be up to them to decide not only when schools should open but also what children should be taught, especially when it comes to graphic sex education lessons — without consulting parents.
The British Medical Association and the health service unions appear to believe the NHS should be run entirely for their benefit — not the millions suffering on waiting lists or struggling to get an appointment with their GP.
And just as BBC sports staff couldn’t care less about their viewers and listeners, so striking junior doctors put their own Fantasy Island wage demands before the welfare of patients.
Like the BBC’s hapless DG Tim Davie, ministers and managers everywhere freeze like rabbits in the headlights, seemingly impotent to impose any kind of control or authority.
And even when they do try to restore some semblence of order and discipline, we can always rely on the taxpayer-funded BBC to provide ‘Mr Impartiality’ Alastair Campbell with an open goalmouth to rant and rave about the ‘far-Right’ conspiracy wrecking Britain.
Over ’ere, son. On me ’ead!