Zac Goldsmith breaks ranks over Tory BBC policy

Zac Goldsmith has distanced himself from his party's anti-BBC line in an attempt to appeal to progressive voters in the Lib Dem held south west London marginal.

Tory PPC for Richmond Park and Cameroon A-Lister Zac Goldsmith has distanced himself from his party’s anti-BBC line in an attempt to appeal to progressive voters in the Lib Dem held south west London marginal.

Writing on his blog, Goldsmith described the BBC as “one of the British institutions I am most proud of”, adding:

“It still inspires loyalty, respect and pride in so many people … the anti-BBC campaign isn’t an ethical one; it is largely driven by commercial interests whose agenda is not to confine the BBC to its core competencies but to undermine its very existence.

“The end of the BBC would be a disaster. If anyone is in any doubt, I urge them to tune out for a month and rely entirely on commercial papers and broadcasters for their news and analysis. That’s more or less what I did during the US Presidential election, and that experience led me to believe, absolutely, that the BBC is worth taking to the streets to defend.

“What would happen to politics in this country if the principal source of information – information on which voters base crucial voting decisions – all came from a small handful of media moguls? Would politicians be able to resist the pressure to conform to their demands? Would democracy prosper? I don’t think so … it is a good organisation, and it has integrity. If the BBC ever faced a genuine threat, I for one would stand up for it.”

Only last week, Left Foot Forward reported the threat posed to the number of live sporting events available on free-to-air-TV from a Conservative government, following comments from shadow sports minister Hugh Robertson, who said he would favour “a smaller rather than a longer” list of events, in response to which culture secretary Ben Bradshaw accused the Tories of “dancing to the News International tune”.

Last month, Jonathan Freedland, writing in The Guardian, also said Tory policy was being “dictated by Rupert Murdoch”. He wrote:

“The Tories have indeed signalled a hostility to the BBC that is rare, if not unprecedented, in an opposition. Why might that be? Two words: Rupert Murdoch. People often speak of the unique influence of the media magnate, with his combination of economic and political muscle, but “influence” doesn’t quite capture it. Instead David Cameron has simply allowed News Corp to write the Conservative party’s media policy …

“Any doubters should play a game of spot the difference. Hold a copy of James Murdoch’s 2009 MacTaggart lecture in one hand, and a clutch of Tory policy positions on the media in the other. Then see if you can tell them apart.”

It would appear that, so heavily under Murdoch’s influence are the Tories, that in order to reach out to undecided voters and sound progressive, Tory candidates are having to break ranks. As the prime minister made plain today as he launched Labour’s manifesto in Birmingham, “the future will be progressive or Conservative but it will not be both.”

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