Rod Liddle

With ‘Meat-Free Mondays,’ the BBC has created a replica of its London bubble in Manchester

You can take the corporation out of London, but you can’t take London out of the corporation

8 April 2017

9:00 AM

8 April 2017

9:00 AM

An American woman started a website called ‘People I Want to Punch in the Throat’, in which she listed the people she wanted to punch in the throat. It was enormously successful and spawned a book called People I Want to Punch in the Throat, which sold very well. This is the heartening thing about the internet; the level of visceral loathing harboured by all of us for other people, which otherwise would remain hidden. I have thought about getting in on the action by starting a website called ‘People I Want to Stab to Death with a Bradawl’, or perhaps ‘People I Want to Dissolve in a Vat of Acid’.

Very high up on my list for the bradawl treatment would be the BBC executive who decided that corporation staff would not be allowed to eat meat on Mondays. This facile overpaid halfwit said in an internal communication that chefs would be preparing wonderful vegetarian alternatives for ‘carnivores’. There was then a magnificently condescending and arrogant explanation for this dictatorial idiocy: ‘Why are we doing this? Well, to put it simply, it’s good for the environment. Skipping meat on the menu just for one day a week can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, water use and land use.’ Lecture for six-year-olds over for the day, then. Needless to say staff have been tweeting their displeasure at this high-handed and patronising diktat, as well they might.

Listen, you fatuous, arrogant jackass. The point of the staff canteen is to provide meals which your employees would like to eat, full stop. It is not a conduit for your infantile politics or for fascistic corporate virtue-signalling. It is for the individual to decide if he or she wants to eat meat or not. Not you. And on whatever day of the week they like — very few people eat meat every day in any case, perhaps partly for the reasons quoted or for other arguably more serious ones. Christians, for example, might prefer to forgo meat on a Friday, as an act of penitence (if there are any Christians left within the BBC). Your job is not to shove a political agenda down the throats of BBC employees along with stewed mung beans and a lentil bake, any more than it is the job of those BBC employees to shove a political agenda down our throats in lieu of making watchable programmes. The bradawl is too good for this overreaching imbecile. I think we need the acid bath.


The BBC moved a whole bunch of its staff to Salford for three very good reasons. First, because it was felt that it was not representative of the country at large, either in its political views or in its demographic make-up. It was instead simply representative of those who live within the well-heeled, liberal, middle-class, north and west London bubble. No argument with that from me. Nor indeed with the second point, which was a wish on the part of government to decentralise and thus spread the wealth, and the creative industries, around the country a little bit. And finally, because in time the BBC would benefit from the reduced costs of not being in the grinning maw of the capital.

But that internal memo from the soon-to-be-bradawled executive might give you an insight as to what has happened in practice. As will indeed any regular appraisal of the programmes the corporation puts out. There has really been no change at all. Certainly not in the clear political bias and tone of the corporation’s output, which displays no greater understanding of the lives and aspirations and political convictions of those sad, uneducated folk who live north of Kensal Rise or Willesden Green. That homogenous mass of grim northerners.

And one assumes that this is because the important people within the BBC — the execs, the editors, the senior producers, the presenters and the journos — have not been drawn from the area to which the corporation has been exiled. Instead they are the same old folk from London, maybe apart from the occasional electrician or engineer. In other words, they have not escaped the London bubble at all — all they have done is move that bubble a couple of hundred miles up the M6, the surface tension scarcely being pricked en route.

There is a similar demand that Channel 4 should also be booted out of London, and for similar reasons. Obviously I hope this happens if for no other reason than spite. Where should they go? Rockall, I think, would suit Krishnan Guru-Murthy and Jon Snow. Jon could display his famous ties to the many gannets. That being said, Gruinard Island also appeals, assuming there are still one or two anthrax spores left hanging around from our biological weapons research in the 1950s.

Channel 4’s remit was to present an alternative agenda to that set by the BBC, but for its execs this means moving it half an inch to the left of the Beeb. It is not an alternative at all, and never has been. If it moves it will more likely than not take its own smug little bubble with it and nothing will change. You could sack the lot of them and start again in Newcastle or Middlesbrough or Leeds and then maybe the channel might betray a different perspective. But that won’t happen, either, sadly. Probably the best-case scenario is simply to close it down or privatise it. Given the profusion of channels, do we need it any more?

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