Owen Jones: ‘the BBC is stacked full of right wingers’

17 March 2014

1:08 PM

17 March 2014

1:08 PM

Owen Jones has denied that Newsnight’s appointment of former Labour adviser and TUC official Duncan Weldon as economics correspondent is more evidence of ‘left wing bias’ at the BBC. On the contrary, Jones says that complaints about Weldon arise from ‘myths and deception’ and that the ‘BBC is stacked full of right wingers’.

Now, now, no laughing at the back please – we ought to take the Guardian’s star columnist seriously.


Jones names 10 people who are connected to the right (some of them very tenuously so): Chris Patten, Nick Robinson, Robbie Gibb, Thea Rogers, Guto Harri, Will Walden, Andrew Neil, Kamal Ahmed, John Humphrys and Craig Oliver. He neglects to mention the BBC’s other 26,000 staff, and concentrates instead on the right’s ‘extraordinarily clever’ campaign to ‘police the BBC’. The campaign is so sharp, he says, that it makes ‘the corporation fearful of crossing certain lines, and to ensure that the right sets the political agenda. Left wingers are reluctant to return fire for fear they will help to fatally undermine the BBC.’ So there you have it.

These ingenious right wingers will know plenty about Duncan Weldon already, because he’s made no secret of where he stands on the big economic questions of the day – and the duty of the media to report them. Here is what he wrote for Soundings in 2010:

‘The developing myth that Big Government is somehow to blame for the economic crisis, and that public debt has increased due to a spending splurge rather than a recession that originated in the financial sector, is now gaining traction in Britain. It is being vigorously pushed by the new Coalition government, and repeated, often without question, by the media. It needs to be combated, because if it is not then the story will run its course, and the ending is not an especially happy one.’

Mr Weldon now has the opportunity to combat that ‘developing myth’. Hurrah!

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Show comments
  • Ostercy

    So Duncan Weldon told the truth about the economic crisis … and that makes him left wing. I see your point. When tedious old RWNJs like Fraser Nelson stop trying to destroy the BBC we’ll all be very grateful.

  • Chris Hobson

    Simple answer to the argument is the BBC left or right wing, abolish it. The TV tax is punitive to the poorest.

  • Samuel Kaine Wheeler

    Doesn’t Owen write for the Independent, not the Guardian?

    And the Beeb is what it has always been, a specific type of London-centric, establishment liberal. They have nothing in common with Shire Tories, but nor do they have anything in common with someone on a Liverpool council estate. They also have a bias towards the government of the day.

    I’m sure on issues like equal marriage, the EU, capital punishment etc most BBC staff believe as you would expect. However that position is the majority view among metropolitan middle class professionals working in the media. You’d most likely get the same results at Sky News or ITV. That doesn’t indicate a socialist conspiracy.

    • whs1954

      The BBC plainly do not have a bias towards the Government of the day today, nor indeed since 11 May 2010. And insofar as they had a bias towards the Government of the day in the 13 years before that, occasionally they tempered it by attacking it… from the left.

      • Samuel Kaine Wheeler

        I could show you lots of lefty blogs on subjects as varied as the NHS reforms, the economic figures and the make up of political programing crying blue murder about what they see as BBC collaboration. Their anecdotal evidence is just as good as yours.

  • AW1983

    Why is it left wing to think that the banks caused the global financial crisis? If it is merely a position of the left, then surely the raft of banking reforms being pushed through by the coalition and the splitting up of the FSA into the FCA and PRA are a waste of time?

    It would be a left wing view to fail to acknowledge that public spending slightly exceeded economic growth during a boom and only shameless generational politics can deny that PFI and underfunded state pensions are a ticking time bomb but both pale in comparison to the debt that arose from bailing out banks ‘too big to fail.’

    I like to think of myself as centre right on the political spectrum but if I’m a lunatic left winger for thinking that much of the banking reform is welcome and some of the cuts are ill advised (I’m not against cuts, only where they tend to fall), then so be it!

    • whs1954

      I can tolerate the argument “the financial crisis was global, and caused by the banks” and even the argument “it was a problem which started in America, not here”.

      What I can’t stand is the willful ignorance of the corollary “…but when tthe crisis came, Britain was in a worse position to weather the storm than any other country in the G20, because of Gordon Brown’s borrow-and-spend economic policies from 1997 to 2007, which meant we were the last of the G20 out of recession”

      Whinge and whine and blame the nasty old rich Tory bankers if you want – I don’t agree, but no longer care because I’ve heard it all before – but don’t ignore whose fault it was we were up s*** creek long before the crunch.

      And thanks to the wonder of democracy, we’re still paying for it, because no government dare cut benefits back to, say, 2001 levels, even the grotesquely inflated Labour-vote-buying 2007 levels, for fear of the backlash, even though we’re still borrowing to pay them.

  • disqus_KdiRmsUO4U

    I’m denser than usual today but does ‘steerpike’ believe the italicised quote is true or false. ?
    Also what will Wheldon think ?

  • thamesmud

    No I’m sure he means right whingers.

  • aanpakkuh

    The bottles of champagne in the corridors of the Beeb building on election night 1997 were a mirage of course.
    Also it is clearly untrue that Labour is the political party most inclined to shower the Beeb with a generous budget via a steep license fee and he who pays the pipers never gets to call the tune, obviously.
    Claiming that Beeb’s reporting about deficit and debt was biased owing to its previous economics editor who has had affais with both Miliband and Balls is stretching the imagination. This was clearly not a breakdown of checks and balances for editorial best practices.
    Nor is it true that Beeb never reports critically about the public sector’s generous employee benefits including final salary pension scheme because the Beeb has a final salary pension scheme.
    It is even a greater lie that Guardian has been bought by Labour through letting it publish all public sector job adverts in its paper and on its website and that Guardian often reads like a script for Beeb editors and that Beeb buys 1% of Guardian’s circulation.
    But it definitely is not a lie that Mr Jones is a generous person and will buy me a pint tonight for writing this comment.

  • The_greyhound

    “we ought to take the Guardian’s star columnist seriously.”

    Even the stars are dimmer these days..

    • Nicholas chuzzlewit

      Well he is a classic example of a socialist nutter.

  • Kingbingo

    He is just saying this so that later on someone at the BBC can make that point about “people on both sides think we are biased, so that must mean we are balanced”.

    Neither Own or the BBC believe that, they just know they need to say it so that if Cameron is still PM in 2017 (God forbid) he will happily renew the charter like a good sucker.

  • chudsmania

    An old one but still sums him up. The boy has never done a days work in his life , but thinks he knows whats best for those that do so daily. Every time he opens his gob its just 1970’s style rhetoric. A waste of space.

    • Samuel Kaine Wheeler

      Writing isn’t work? Has someone told Fraser Nelson?

  • Gemima Clairmont

    Well the station’s political editor, Nick Robinson is an old Bullingdon boy. I’d say that’s pretty worrying. It you can read as distorted and vacuous a piece of journalism as this piece and not begin to question whether there might not be such a thing as right wing propaganda then you don’t have much ability to think for yourself

  • Wessex Man

    Owen Jones, Owen Jones, who the **** is Owen Jones? He’s a pumped halfwit, who was once told he was a ‘good’ journalist as Tony Benn was told he was a ‘good’ politician as was Bob Crow told he was ‘good’ as an industrial gameplayer!

    Still mustn’t grumble at least all the fine folk are kept together at BBC and we know where to avoid them.

  • gelert

    What a tw@t. Maybe he’s hoping to take Wedgie’s spot.

  • keith

    Owen ( I’m working class) jones, is well known for his concise and unbiased views, so surely he should be taken seriously when he tells us about the BBC being in the hands of right wingers, a man like Owen would never think of muddying the waters when a good middle of the road journalist like Weldon gets his shot at fame on Newsnight, i look forward to his presentation of Labours policy on taxation or spending, as he might get a few answers, being close friends with the two Eds i am sure they can sit down and go over things before the interview make sure everything is good, but it will be unbiased, Owen Jones would not allow anything else

  • Right Full Rudder

    Let’s see Owen Jones campaign for the end of the license fee then. Surely the socialist doesn’t support a regressive, state-enforced tax to fund right wing propaganda, and the inprisonment of poor people for not paying it.

  • MirthaTidville

    I think its time for his nappy to be changed again…

    • Fergus Pickering

      You mean Owe Jones?

  • sarahsmith232

    I say bring it on. The above quote is something so many in Labour go in for, which is fantastic, if the BBC wants to spend the next 14 months highlighting the fact that the Labour party believes that most people are very stupid, mainly because they keep on reading the Daily Mail, then all to the better. Labour still doesn’t understand that people are angry about their spending not because at the end of their time in power we were left with a massive debt but because they looked around at what their spending achieved and rejected that, that that they see around them which was recently on Benefits St, in 2010.Labour still can’t get that.
    With or without the debt sky rocketing because of the bank bail outs people were angry about their spending, taxing and borrowing. Labour has convinced themselves that it’s our easily led cluelessness that’s the reason we’re angry about their spending, we’ve been told the debt was ’cause of their spending on the welfare state so believe it ’cause we’re all thick. That their welfare state is as cherished as the NHS has become written in stone for them, so they reach for another explanation for the reason why people are angry about the debt – their stupidity, their ignorance, their unending Daily Mail reading capacities.
    So if they want to spend the next 14 months highlighting their ignorance about us and banging on about bank bail outs via their taxpayer funded propaganda wing then more power to them.

  • Frank

    Owen Jones may calm down if he meets someone who likes him! (Got moderated for suggesting this slightly more literally).

    • Samuel Kaine Wheeler

      Pretty sure he has a long term partner.

  • Frank

    I have just got moderated for suggesting that Owen Jones will calm down once he has had sexual intercourse with someone else. Hard to see what is dangerous about that?

    • Right Full Rudder

      You can’t see what’s dangerous about Owen Jones potentially breeding?

      • Fergus Pickering

        Oh I don’t think he’s quite up to that. He’d have to pay attention to someone who wasn’t him for at least five minutes..

  • Shazza

    A very astute appointment by the BBC. Just in time, before the 2015 election to start spewing out propaganda criticising the economic recovery, etc. It will soon start and it will be overwhelming and relentless. Remember how when the Coalition first came to power, all you ever heard from the BBC was ‘cuts, cuts, cuts.’ I recall Cameron even said it was the BBCuts Corporation.

    The BBC will ensure that Labour are returned to power in 2015.

    The Left do not believe in a fair fight.

    • Alexsandr

      ‘I recall Cameron even said it was the BBCuts Corporation’.
      I think he left out the ‘n’

    • Liberty

      Now all we hear is the ‘cost-of-living-crisis’, Labour politicians explaining that it is all the wicked Tories fault without a mention of the need to close the deficit created by Labour – at least not in the same context.

  • Diogenes

    Owen Jones doesn’t even
    believe what he is saying. How can anyone take this drivel seriously?
    He is obviously creating a counter narrative to the BBC’s manifest
    left wing bias. He is terrified something might be done to rectify
    the situation removing a key tool in the left wing’s armoury and
    drastically harming his own job prospects. Him being the Beeb’s go to
    northern pretend salt-of-the-earth cloth-cap-wearing left wing

    • Liberty

      I think not. Jones thinks he is telling it as it is. He thinks Tony Benn was a great man who would have brought us to sociaist nirvana if the right wing b*****ds in the Labour party like Foot and Wilson had not stopped him.

  • saffrin

    If Owen Jones thinks Andrew Neil is right wing then Owen Jones must think everything comes free.

    • wycombewanderer

      everyone is right wing to Owen Drones.

    • Wessex Man

      he only thinks that because Andrw Neil wouldn’t let him spread his last Thursday. ah how cruel!

    • Samuel Kaine Wheeler

      A global warming denier who ran The Times for Rupert Murdoch and is utterly unapologetic about his role in crushing the print unions.

      What would make him right wing in your opinion?

      • global city

        So, ‘global warming’ is an issue of the Left.

        Thanks for reminding us that it has nothing to do with science…. or weather!

        • Samuel Kaine Wheeler

          Global warming isn’t an issue of ‘the Left’, but denialism is a phenomenon associated with the Right.

          That you failed to grasp that logic is unsurprising, most conspiracy theorists make connections that aren’t there.

          • global city

            There was no logic in your post to grasp. Why so smug, for one who’s posts are packed with received wisdoms?

            Denialsim being a trait of the Right is a silly assertion, as is your serious use of the term itself.

            Blindly asserting the ‘consensus’ and that ‘the science is settled’ IS, by and large, the preserve of stupid lefties.

            Come back to the issue when it collapses in ignominy.

            • Samuel Kaine Wheeler

              Feel free to point me to the peer-reviewed literature that argues against the consensus. Blogs and wishful thinking don’t count for deniers of global warming anymore than they do for deniers of evolution.

              • global city

                You won’t use it, but this project has collated all of the major players….or ‘deniers’ as you will insist on calling them.

                Here they speak in their own words, explain their own work and identify the many errors and scams at the heart of the CAGW scam.

  • Kitty MLB

    Owen Jones. A utterly ghastly callow youth. Also as bonkers as a mini Rasputin.
    He speaks utter rubbish and does so constantly… bash his ears together,
    remove his little gadgets and lock him in the attic me thinks.

  • Liberty Scott

    Owen regards Venezuela as his role model, with its far from rightwing biased- AVN – state news agency telling “the truth” from the point of view of the “workers”. A group of people he shares little more than an accent with.

  • Ricky Strong

    I just got moderated for calling Owen Jones a child. Wow.

    • Kitty MLB

      A Child ! Owen Jones has not reached that stage yet.
      He is still at the rudimentary stage of evolution.
      A mere nucleus, in fact a microscopic nuclear envelope still in
      perinuclear space, not quite stuffed with the adequate supply
      of cell s yet.. He is a Stupid blob!

    • wycombewanderer

      Presumably at the guardian?

      He does his own moderation as I’m sure you’re aware much like Toynbee.

    • gelert

      He’s probably monitoring this thread.

    • tribalterror

      I got moderated (censored) previously by the BBC for mentioning that Stephanie Flanders had previously dated Balls and Miliband. Needless to say I complained and as with all awkward complaints never got a response

    • Dan Grover

      Probably because it’s a) incorrect and b) the discussion equivalent of sticking your fingers in your ears and screaming “lalala I’m not listening”? If he’s such an nonthreatening opponent, dissect his arguments. If you’re unwilling, leave quietly, leaving your ad-homs at the door.

      • Ricky Strong

        I was not aware that you somehow managed to read the entire post that was moderated and could thus put my use of the term ‘child’ into context.

        • Dan Grover

          You didn’t provide it, so I assume you just came here to lap up the applause of various people that don’t like Owen (of whom I’d consider myself one). That said, I can’t imagine any context in which the term “child” is anything other than intentionally patronising, offensive, irrelevant and an attempt to divert attention from the discussion at hand.

          • whs1954

            The pseudo-Marxist arguments Owen Jones – a Cheadle-born (likes to portray it as “Stockport” though), upper-middle-class, Oxford-educated, “academic” [sic], media darling, pulling down tens of thousands pretending to be the voice of the proletariat – puts forward are childish in the extreme, and it is quite fair to call those who behave childishly children.

    • disqus_KdiRmsUO4U

      There is unquestionably at least one very sensitive censor lurking somewhere near here.

  • Bert

    Everything is to the right of the gobby schoolboy

  • Mr Creosote

    Clearly Jones hasn’t watched Question time lately.

    • wycombewanderer

      He’s been on it often enough.

      He just tries to shout down his opponents.

      He doesn’t know the meaning of the word debate.

      • Samuel Kaine Wheeler

        I’m pretty sure he’s not been on as much as Mr Farage.

    • Kitty MLB

      He still watches Teletubbies, in a playpen.speaking of those types
      has anyone seen Telemachus- he loves those little creatures
      and indeed Owen Jones.

  • James Allen

    A boycott would be more effective than all of the column inches wasted over the years.

  • sfin

    Right? Left? It’s all relative.

    I would say that Chris Patten is slightly to the right of Mao Tse Tung…but not by much.

    • Frank

      I am not sure that Patten does politics, or has ever done politics, it is all just a path to personal comfort.