David Blackburn

Tory backbenchers oppose cuts to the World Service

There is a debate in the Commons this afternoon, urging the government to spare the BBC World Service from cuts. The resistance is being led by Richard Ottaway, chairman of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee and author of a report condemning the Foreign Secretary’s decision to cut funding for the service.
Ottaway is likely to be well supported, as the Tory right is exercised by the effect that cuts are having on Britain’s standing in the world. John Whittingdale is on side, and there were plenty of backbenchers (among them, David T.C. Davies and Sam Gyimah – and grandee Lord King) at a recent Westminster event who listened solemnly to Professor Joseph Nye (the Harvard academic who coined the phrase “soft power”) express his concern that Britain was about to castrate its “premier global asset” — an argument also uttered by Dennis Sewell, the former World Service presenter, in an article for the latest issue of The Spectator.
It’s a reminder to Cameron, should he need one, that the Lib Dems are not the only coalition interest that needs to be placated with the odd concession. 

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