Writers down the ages have always interpreted their subject according to their worldview and according to what they wanted to convey.
That was the primary teaching objective of the history tutors in my first year as an undergraduate: what an author writes can tell us as much about that author as about the subject under consideration.
Our knowledge and understanding is gained via means that are always predisposed to a particular viewpoint. In plain language, they are inevitably biased and therefore not truly objective.
Of course people running a good communications medium will consciously and actively be aware of their own predispositions and take counter action – if only by being aware of the need to give a platform for an opposite or different view.
Impartiality, self awareness and fairness are written into the BBC’s Charter. In principle, the BBC is committed to intelligent and representative communications.
Johnny Diamond hosting this morning’s Broadcasting House programme on Radio 4 provided several examples of recognising the need to actively put the contrary view.
Nor have I had a reply to my email challenging their news blackout in light of their Charter obligations.
You don’t have to agree with another view to ensure that a fair hearing is given. And that is the point: is the BBC willing to recognise its own bias – does it realise that it is failing in its duty to our democracy to properly report the issues which favour Brexit ?
There is a principle behind the mechanism of voting. Consent to our government. But there is a far more radical principle at work here. And it goes to the heart of free expression, assembly and debate. It is this.
Each of us is made in God’s image. Each of us has value. None of us is any better than any other. Each of our lives are sacrosanct because God has chosen to give us life.
It is therefore of primary and fundamental importance that each of us is respected in our person, our liberty, and our property. Indeed our person and our liberty must embrace not just our individual, but also our collective, identity. I am English – that is part of who I am as an individual.
True respect. Mutual respect. It’s the fundamental – it is primordial – for any civilised society.
Which is why I was disturbed to hear what an American actress domiciled in Britain had to say on Friday’s edition of BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour.
Elizabeth McGovern is the actress who plays Lady Cora in Downton Abbey. That of course gives her profile and access into the media world to express her opinions.
Elizabeth McGovern was born in a country whose constitution enshrines the right to free speech.
The First Amendment is worth quoting because it reflects the principle and practice which are so essential to good democratic Government. It says,
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or of the right of the people to peaceably assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
Elizabeth McGovern is an intelligent woman from a highly educated background. Her father was a professor of law at UCLA. She must have had a privileged understanding of her country’s Constitution and traditions. She can surely be without excuse.
However, on Friday morning, she wanted to know why the BBC and other British media gave any platform to Nigel Farage …
Elizabeth McGovern must surely know the contents of the First Amendment ? If she does not remember the exact words, she must surely be aware of the gist of it. It is famous even this side of the Atlantic.
So, she used the platform of the BBC whose charter commits it to impartiality and representative treatment of information, to call for something which runs directly contrary not just to that Charter, but to the First Amendment of the United States constitution. On more than one count.
She was opposing Farage’s right to free speech; she was opposing the right of the media to air different views; she was opposing the right of British citizens to petition the government for redress of grievance about the implementation of the 2016 Brexit referendum result via a vote for the Brexit party.
As such she betrays her allegiance to the totalitarian mindset we call political correctness.
That mindset is extreme – self evidently extreme.
It wishes to silence all opposition on the basis that their view is objectively correct; therefore any opposition is a perversion which must be called out and edited out.
It is a mindset which attacks the very fundamental principles of democracy, while espousing the cause of democracy, and trading in the terms of democracy.
The likes of Elizabeth McGovern see the likes of Nigel Farage as a populist – a demagogue in traditional parlance. They see him as a self serving opportunist who is riding the wave of serious electoral discontent in order to pursue what they believe is an authoritarian, even fascist and racist [ie Nazi] agenda.
That’s their view. They are entitled to it.
But they are doing the very thing they suspect of Nigel Farage. They are trading on the sentiments of those who agree with them to gain a position in which they have the power to denounce and expunge any disagreement. As she did in this interview.
They see themselves as entitled to censor Farage, or any one else whose views they suspect.
However, in a democracy, it is for us the electorate to hear what is said; weigh what is said; and make our own free choice about what is said. [Which is why the High court was right to throw out the case against Boris Johnson this week].
It is not for Elizabeth McGovern to dictate what we believe by censoring what information we may have access to, or to tell us how to interpret information that does come to us.
What McGovern and her PC ilk need to wake up and realise is this.
They are extremists. They are attacking the very fundamental principles on which a free democratic society is based. They treat us like children to be told what is in our best interests. To be threatened with withdrawal of parental, moral approval if we don’t do what they say.
Having themselves rejected all notion of a God to whom they are accountable, they now seek to behave like God over others. They have made themselves god in their own lives; they think they are entitled to behave like god in our lives, too.
They should be called out for what they are – Extremists who threaten our democracy.
So, I am waiting for the BBC to use the word “extreme” in relation to people who are so manifestly anti democratic and censorious in their views.
I am also waiting for the BBC to report the historically monumental constitutional case brought by the English Democrats which should have us out of the EU with NO Deal before the 31st October 2019, regardless of Parliament and the next Tory Leader.
For the latest state of play on the Judicial Review case, see