There was a feeble gag on [the BBC’s] Radio 4 just now which imagined Nigel Farage, the UKIP leader, protesting that Queen Victoria ‘shouldn’t have married a German’. In Beebworld, obviously, anyone who criticises the EU is secretly motivated by xenophobia. There was, though, a slight flaw in the joke, of which the scriptwriters were evidently unaware. Nigel Farage is himself married to a German.
One of the reasons that Peter Oborne’s recent Guilty Men (a brilliantly-written attack on those, such as the BBC, who tried to push the UK into the euro at the turn of the century) was so timely is that Brussels’s British amen corner remains very powerful – and will do everything it can to distort the debate that the country is having on its role within the EU.
Here is the Spectator’s James Delingpole with just one example:
[Farage] is a Conservative himself, of course. Just one who has been temporarily dispossessed by the mainstream party. When you talk to Farage he’s perfectly upfront about what he considers to be Ukip’s role: to act as the Tory party’s conscience. The moment the Conservatives start behaving like proper Conservatives again — Eurosceptical, small government, low tax, etc — that’ll be it. Most of the 7 per cent of voters who are currently Ukip’s will be straight back into the Tory fold and we’ll have a proper, Thatcherite government again doing the Lord’s work.
Seven per cent! That figure — from the latest YouGov poll — is pretty amazing, isn’t it? It puts Ukip only one point away from the ailing Lib Dems, meaning it’s on track to become Britain’s third largest political party. Yet you’d scarcely be aware of this development, the way it has been ignored by most of our mainstream media.
Peter Oborne nailed it in a recent Telegraph column: ‘If a left-wing party had reached Ukip’s size and consequence, the media would be fascinated. But, because of its old-fashioned and decidedly provincial approach, it has been practically ignored. In the 2004 European elections, the party gained a sensational 16 per cent of the vote. Had it been the Greens or the communists that had pulled off this feat, the BBC would have gone crazy. Instead it chose not to mention this event, coolly classifying Ukip as “other”.’
The Chairman of the BBC Trust (its governing body) is the ubiquitous Lord Patten. Back in 2004, I described Patten, then an EU Commissioner, “as an overpaid mandarin, a failed politician, a puffed-up sycophant always searching for a new boot to lick, a grubby piece of second-rate eurotrash who disgraces the Conservative party of which he is, incredibly, still a member.” Nothing has really changed. He’s no longer a commissioner, but, he does draw an EU pension amounting to almost £100,000 per annum. This comes with the requirement he does nothing to harm the interests of the European Union.. As Chairman of the BBC Trust his task is in part to ensure the BBC’s impartiality.
As Nigel Farage himself has commented:
“Whilst I am sure Lord Patten will do his job with integrity, the BBC Trust itself has admitted on a number of occasions that it has been biased towards the EU, and against voices who favour the UK’s withdrawal. In the light of that any suggestion of a conflict of interests must hamper him in the role.. Therefore to banish any doubt he should give up his pension.”
Or step down.