- 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
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
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’.
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.
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.’
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2534366/BBC-accused-bias-immigration-political-editor-Nick-Robinson-says-Corporation-terrible-mistakes-not-reflecting-publics-concerns.html#ixzz2pgExzQVT
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.