BBC accused of bias on immigration by its own political editor – Nick Robinson

  • Mr Robinson said BBC executives were  afraid of uncensored debate
  • He said the Corporation decided some  concerns were ‘not acceptable’
  • But the political journalist claimed that attitudes have now changed
  • He spoke ahead of his new documentary,  The Truth About Immigration

ByTamara Cohen

PUBLISHED:          19:28  EST, 5 January 2014

The BBC made a ‘terrible mistake’ by not  reflecting the public’s concerns about immigration, its political editor has  admitted.

Criticism: Nick Robinson, pictured outside 10 Downing Street, said BBC executives feared uncensored debate

Criticism: Nick Robinson, pictured outside 10 Downing  Street, said BBC executives feared uncensored debate

Nick Robinson said that during Labour’s years  in government, BBC executives feared an uncensored debate about the issue would  stoke racism.

As a result, viewers’ concerns about pressure  on jobs and wages, and cultural tensions were not aired as the BBC ‘had decided  these are not acceptable views – and that was a terrible  mistake’.

Claiming that attitudes have changed, Mr  Robinson was speaking ahead of tomorrow’s screening of his documentary The Truth  About Immigration, which is set to reveal new data about the scale of public  concerns.

However, amid debate over the lifting of  controls this month on Romanians and Bulgarians coming to settle in Britain,  critics say the BBC still has some way to go.

As recently as November, the broadcaster was  giving uncritical blanket coverage to a report about the economic benefits of  immigration that was dismissed as ‘fatally flawed’ by Mervyn Stone, one of the  country’s most senior statisticians.

Sir Andrew Green, of the think-tank Migration  Watch, said: ‘Nick Robinson is right – the BBC has a lot to answer  for.

‘They were largely silent as immigration rose  from 50,000 a year to 250,000 a year under the previous government and as net  foreign migration reached nearly 4million.

‘Their coverage has improved a  little  in the face of overwhelming public opinion, which many of them seem to despise.’

Mr Robinson said in interviews at the weekend  that the public ‘deserve the truth because although immigration has been top of  the political agenda, the real debate about it has scarcely  begun’.

Controversial: Mr Robinson said that whether to allowi BNP leader Nick Griffin on Question Time caused 'huge argument'Controversial: Mr Robinson said that whether to allowi  BNP leader Nick Griffin on Question Time caused ‘huge argument’

In the run-up to eight Eastern European  countries joining the EU in the early 2000s, BBC managers ‘feared having a  conversation about immigration’ as they believed it would ‘unleash some terrible  side of the British public’.

Mr Robinson said: ‘The same people who said  you couldn’t have [British National Party leader] Nick Griffin on Question Time  said: “Don’t talk about this. Do you know what you’re going to unleash? Do you  know the horrors that are going to come?”

‘There was huge argument within the BBC about  that.’

He said his documentary would go through the ‘mistakes and miscalculations’ about immigration numbers made by the Labour  government.

Fear: Mr Robinson said that ever since Enoch Powell (pictured) gave his infamous 'Rivers of Blood' speech in 1968, the BBC has shied away from discussing immigrationFear: Mr Robinson said that ever since Enoch Powell  (pictured) gave his infamous ‘Rivers of Blood’ speech in 1968, the BBC has shied  away from discussing immigration

Accusing the BBC of being ‘too slow to  recognise and reflect the concern, dislocation and anger felt by many’, he said: ‘We worried too much about airing views that might offend some viewers and  listeners and not enough by the offence caused to people who did not hear their  own concerns reflected on air. That, I am happy to say, has now changed.’

Mr Robinson said the country was beginning to  have an honest discussion about immigration, and the fact that it might result  in greater competition for jobs, housing and school places, while also  benefiting the economy as a whole.

In the same interview, Mr Robinson did not  deny that there was rivalry between him and Robert Peston, the BBC’s economics  editor.

‘We’re not mates,’ he said. ‘He’s not part of  my social circle. Are we fairly assertive individuals? Yes, probably – removing  the word “fairly”.’

Former Tory Cabinet minister Michael  Portillo, a regular BBC contributor, said: ‘The BBC has failed in the  immigration debate over a 40-year period.

‘Ever since the Enoch Powell speech [about  immigration in 1968], there has been such a fear that immigration equals racism  that the BBC and other outlets have banished reporting the full facts for fear  of stoking racism.’

In an interview in 2011, the BBC’s former  director-general Mark Thompson admitted that there had been ‘some years’ when  the broadcaster was ‘very reticent about talking about immigration’.

He added: ‘There was an anxiety about whether  or not you might be playing into a political agenda if you did items on  immigration.’

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A comment from a British reader at the dailymail which I happen to agree with…

Big  Vern,  Bristol, United Kingdom,                        14 hours ago

BBC news should report the  truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Any attempt to influence the  public perception of what that truth is, or to avoid reporting it because it  might cause offence or provoke debate is a gross betrayal of the whole purpose  of publicly funded news reporting.

PS: – John Reith – BBC’s first General Manager (Rockefellers hired hand) was pro-Hitler and pro-Mussolini – the BBC was created by the Global Banksters:

PBS in the USA is also owned by the global banksters though we don’t pay taxes directly to the PBS corporation it’s “subsidized” by the government aka our money. It also gets a massive amount of funding from the usual tax-free Foundations. I rarely watch it except for some excellent British murder mystery programs.

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