Are the knives out for the BBC?

Social commentator Peter York believes so strongly, and with just cause.

His book, The War Against The BBC, published by Penguin on 26 November, comes at a time when he claims Boris Johnson is the BBC’s most hostile PM ever.

Writing in The New European, York says: ‘It remains to be seen whether the recent reports, that his government plans to make Charles Moore and Paul Dacre – the former editors of the Telegraph and Mail, BBC-sceptics both – chairman of the Corporation and head of its regulator, Ofcom, come to pass, or whether they are – in that memorable phrase – “dead cats” intended to distract from other issues.’

And with a long-running outcry over presenters’ fees and free television licences for the over-75s withdrawn, it all adds to turbulent times for dear old ‘Auntie’.

In the article, York maintains that what lies behind what he describes as ‘sustained assaults’ on the BBC is ‘an unholy combination of ideology and commercial rivalry’.

When he and co-author Paddy Barwise were looking for a title for the book back in 2018 they thought The War Against the BBC might be over the top.

But subsequent developments, including the emergence of blogs in 2004 by the now defunct think tank of Dominic Cummings, seen by many as the architect of Brexit and now the Prime Minister’s chief adviser, suggest the title is very apt.

York says: ‘Those articles declared pretty baldly that the BBC had to be destroyed, set out how to do it and outlined what to put in its place so the Conservatives could regain and hold on to power.’

The blurb for The War Against the BBC is ‘how an unprecedented combination of hostile forces is destroying Britain’s greatest cultural institution…and why you should care.’

Peter York will be in conversation with Susannah Simons at Bridport Arts Centre on Saturday 7 November at 4pm.

Stay safe.