Comment

The BBC has a diversity problem –  it's just not the one they think it is

The national broadcaster is badly out of tune with the instincts of the British people, writes our columnist

"You would struggle to find a better rebuttal of systemic racism than a series currently on BBC1, I May Destroy You"
"You would struggle to find a better rebuttal of systemic racism than a series currently on BBC1, I May Destroy You"

In a week when three innocent men were stabbed to death in a Reading park it is inevitable that our thoughts turn to other mass killings and the causes of them.  So it was perhaps timely that BBC1’s Panorama had an episode on the terrorist threat to the UK.

Except they got the wrong kind of terrorist. Hunting the Neo-Nazis was a report into a far-right global network which is recruiting in the UK.

What planet is the BBC on? I can guarantee that no normal person believes that far-right extremism is on a par with the threat to their country posed by the Islamist kind. Maybe that’s because it isn’t. The appalling death toll from multiple bloody attacks since 7 July 2005, when 56 innocent people were murdered in London, is almost entirely down to fanatics who cry, “Allahu Akbar!” as they detonate their bombs and wield their knives.

This fact is an acute embarrassment to the bien-pensant, left-wing "anti-racists" who run the BBC, The Guardian and even the higher echelons of the police. They feel far more comfortable investigating hateful white people. Last year, a counter-terrorism officer tried to claim that the far right “is the fastest-growing terrorist threat in the UK” even as MI5 admitted it was struggling to keep tabs on at least 23,000 jihadists, about 3,000 of whom posed an immediate threat to the public.

Intelligence expert Colonel Richard Kemp said yesterday that the authorities “know full well" that the far-right extremists Panorama got so excited about are "not a serious threat” but it was “a pretence to appease the sort of people that want to damage the UK such as Islamist terrorists and the hard Left.” Shamefully, the BBC colludes in that pretence.

It is a very grave matter when the national broadcaster is so badly out of tune with the instincts of the British people who give it a deafening £3.83 billion a year in licence fees. Impartiality should be their watchword, not a constant hectoring assertion that all right-thinking people agree with left-wing producers. They don’t. The Beeb desperately needs to change, although not in the way it thinks it does. Director general Tony Hall announced this week that the BBC is to “increase diversity” by investing £100 million to produce “diverse and inclusive content”. This initiative, Lord Hall said, came about after “the senseless killing of George Floyd and what it tells us about the stain of systemic racism”.

Do you suppose that an increase in BBC “diversity” will include non-metropolitan, right-of-centre people who make up the silent majority? You know, doing something completely crazy like hiring a couple of people who don’t read The Guardian and live in Tufnell Park with a cat called Muriel Spark (in the immortal words of the late Victoria Wood).

No, me neither. No chance. Yet it is precisely that kind of “inclusivity” – including people with normal, decent views - which the BBC desperately needs if it is to continue to justify a tax imposed on every household in the land.

You would struggle to find a better rebuttal of systemic racism than a series currently on BBC1, I May Destroy You. Written and partly directed by Michaela Coel, who was born in London to Ghanaian parents, this new drama is so brilliant you don’t watch it thinking that most of the characters are black. That’s irrelevant. They are human beings equipped with the full repertoire of virtues and vices.

People don’t object to great work that is truly colour-blind. What drives us mad is a tokenistic “diversity” agenda and a leftist, anti-British groupthink imposed on viewers and listeners by a privately-educated liberal elite. The BBC boss class is as far from diverse as Mayfair is from Mablethorpe. 

Read Allison Pearson at telegraph.co.uk every Tuesday, from 7pm, and listen to Planet Normal, her podcast with fellow Telegraph columnist, Liam Halligan, on the audio player above or subscribe for free on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or your preferred podcast app.