BBC Complaints: The link you need!

Saturday, 25 July 2009


Occasionally the 'Today' programme gives Jim Naughtie the platform to give a carefully-crafted (some might say ponderous) party political broadcast on behalf of the Labour Party, or the Left in general. Yesterday's edition gave a particularly fine example.
The topic was 'well-being' and the paragon of European well-being is Denmark. Why? Because Denmark is a left-of-centre paradise, that's why.

Danes are happier, says Naughtie, because they are egalitarian, with closer levels of income, gender equality and high taxes (with very high taxes for the better-off). This results, he says, in "social provision from cradle to grave - and it works!"

This perspective was filtered through the opinions of Toger Seidenfaden, editor in chief of the Danish daily 'Politiken', a left-leaning, 'culturally radical' newspaper, close to the centre-left Social Democrats (who are allied to our own dear Labour Party). Naughtie, needless to say, neglected to mention the paper's political allegiances. I had to probe the internet to find out.

Naughtie then talked to a businessman. Paulo Fermenti, though, is Naughtie's sort of businessman - an immigrant who prides himself on the egalitarian nature of his advertising business.

There is, however, one fly in the ointment of Naughtie's left-wing paradise - anti-immigrant, especially anti-Islamic, feeling, as capitalised on by the 'far-right'. Toger Seidenfaden agrees with Jim that Danish cohesion's dark underbelly is its linking of equality with similarity ie. that social welfare is easier to sell if you are not having to share it with, as Naughtie put it, "somebody without blond hair and blue eyes".

Tut, tut!

That out of the way, Naughtie resumes the narrative. He seeks out a politician for another perspective. After the Social Democrat-supporting Seidenfaden, who does he choose to talk to?

Naturally, the leader of the opposition, Helle Thorning-Schmidt of, you guessed it, the Social Democrats. (You couldn't make it up!!). She is (like Seidenfaden) pro-immigration, of course, and keen on the 'Danish Way', with its emphasis on social welfare. She supports Naughtie's point that "an efficient welfare state promotes growth and doesn't impede ambition", and that it leads to less crime too.

An entirely biased report, delivered with all Naughtie's usual plodding sententiousness, this report alone should strongly suggest to any innocent passer-by that the BBC is a 'left-of-centre' institution, despite its proclaimed impartiality.

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