The pro-hunting anti-licence fee Brexiteer lined up to run the BBC
- Credit: David Levenson/Getty
In a Britain where Gavin Williamson is education secretary, Suella Braverman is attorney general, Liam Fox is our candidate to lead the WTO and Priti Patel is home secretary, it comes as little surprise to hear of Boris Johnson’s supposed choice as the new chairman of the BBC Board.
As the Mail on Sunday asked, “Is Boris about to make Charles Moore – a pro-hunting, anti-licence fee Brexiteer – the new BBC chairman? (It’s the question that will have Broadcasting House wokerati choking on their turmeric lattes)”. A full house there for those of us playing Mail headline cliché bingo.
If you’ve had the good fortune to miss him, Moore is the fogeyish Tory hat-trick specialist who has not only edited all three of the Conservative Party’s house journals – the Daily and Sunday Telegraphs, plus the Spectator – but also wrote three punishing volumes of Margaret Thatcher’s 2,848-page biography. You might also know him as the pundit, who, in August last year, attacked actual national treasure Olivia Colman for having a “left wing face” which made her unsuitable to play the Queen in Netflix’s The Crown.
Old Etonian Moore later explained that, “the Queen’s mouth expresses an acceptance – strong‑minded yet gentle – of whatever life may throw at her. Ms Colman’s has that hint of complaint and hauteur which is such a feature of the educated left”. Conceding the actor’s point that you did not need to look exactly like someone to play them, he added that this was “why it is ridiculous to attack actors for blacking up”. A bold rejection, that, of the first law of holes (‘when you are in a hole, stop digging’).
But then, as Moore declared earlier this month, “newspaper columnists are paid to have opinions. If we express these loud and clear, this sometimes successfully conceals the fact that our opinions can be idiotic”. Alas, it seems that both his volume and clarity knobs have been defective for some time, as evidenced by his thoughts in 2016 on the tragedy of the Tory leader who took Britain into the referendum: “You often hear of people being ‘trapped in poverty’, but it is also possible to be trapped in wealth. This is David Cameron’s fate.”
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Not long after the War of Colman’s Face, Moore launched the Battle of the NHS Bulge, telling readers that “nurses and ancillary staff… are often disproportionately tubby” and wondering “are they discouraged from eating too many American-style muffins?” He is in favour of the restoration of imperial measurements (“I bet petrol prices would be forced down if we could see the enormous cost of a gallon”, he wrote recently) and against what he sees as coronavirus hype.
In March he appeared to think the biggest problem facing Britain was a lack of coffins due to panic-buying. “People are not, so far, dying in unusual numbers (but) without coffins, body bags may have to be permitted,” Moore wrote. “Unless properly informed, the public will assume the coffin shortage is because ‘people are dying’ in unprecedented quantities”. Helpfully, the British public soon cleared up any ambiguity by actually dying in unprecedented quantities. Still, none of this silliness disqualifies Moore from becoming chair of the BBC board.
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What should disqualify him is his undisguised loathing for the BBC and its staff.
In the past few weeks, he has written that Auntie is in the middle of “a cultural revolution against being white, being British, being male and taking pride in our history and culture”.
He claims that people within it are “mutinously determined” to assist the EU, and says the organisation exhibits “weakness masquerading as liberal virtue” which means “direct bias has been permitted almost unpunished. This is visible… in famous cases, like Emily Maitlis’s diatribe against Dominic Cummings”. A diatribe for which Maitlis, you might remember, actually was punished.
When the BBC needs a defender it is getting a defunder, who believes the licence fee is “an offence to freedom” and who hints at scrapping Radios 1 and 2, together with unnamed “entertainment channels”. In January he wrote “I do not necessarily disagree that some things on the BBC – notably Radio 3 and 4 – are good for our culture. If they are, ways, such as subscription, can be found of paying for them.”
What on earth is the point of hiring as the figurehead of the BBC someone who not only despises much of its output, its employees and its means of funding but actually despises the organisation itself and proposes breaking it up into smithereens? You might as well put Greta Thunberg in charge of the third runway at Heathrow. Or David Frost in charge of the Brexit trade negotiations.
The answer is that appointing Moore or someone like him will help the prime minister’s special adviser to do what he does best – create an atmosphere of fear and pressure which leads BBC dissenters to quit (see his ongoing work in the Conservative Party and the civil service).
In any choice between the British Broadcasting Corporation and the bully Dominic Cummings, Johnson is picking the BDC over the BBC every time.