Steve Bannon has been invited to speak at a BBC event – and people aren’t happy

After Arron Banks and numerous undisputed IEA appearances, the public service broadcaster is now hosting a proud white supremacist.

Former Donald Trump advisor and millionaire white supremacist Steve Bannon is coming to Edinburgh next week to speak at the BBC hosted conference News Xchange. 

Hollyrood leader, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon pulled out of the event because of it, but the BBC stayed firm in its commitment.

Giving bigotry a space to express itself is usually frowned upon by most of civil society, but the public service broadcaster seems adamant on giving free speech to rather objectionable characters.

Leave.EU financial backer Arron Banks is currently indicted in six criminal investigations, but it took the BBC nearly a week of public outrage to drop Banks’ invitation to speak on Question Time.


Attention has since turned to BBC Scotland and its American guest.

BBC Scotland director Donalda MacKinnon claimed she was not giving a platform to extremism with the invite, saying:

“It is really important in a conference that is absolutely about journalism that we go to the heart of our journalism and our journalistic practice, which is about holding people to account, which is about interrogating, which is about scrutiny.”

The committee responsible for organising the event felt Bannon did not break these guidelines.


Today, Green MSP Ross Greer called MacKinnon out, arguing the BBC was “being played”.

Standing in Holyrood today Greer said:

“The BBC has left the back door wide open to corporate interests who can simply funnel their agenda through ‘think-thanks’ and get it aired on the national broadcaster as a legitimate and independent point of view.

“In the case of the far-right though, it’s the front door they are welcoming them through. These people are playing a completely different game from the BBC and they are winning. With extreme racist sentiment rising across the world, our public broadcaster needs to get a grip and realise the role it is playing in enabling it.”

The BBC has recently also been criticised for citing questionable opinions and organisations with blatant vested interests in political events.

Earlier this year, a piece about the NHS on the BBC show Newsnight featured comments from the Institute for Economic Affairs (IEA) about the healthservice’s privatisation, without citing or asking who funds the think tank’s work.

A week later it was revealed that the IEA chair Neil Hammond had donated a whopping £32,000 to the Health Secretary Matt Hancock.

As if you needed any more reasons to stick with Left Foot Forward…

Joana Ramiro is a reporter for Left Foot Forward. You can follow her on Twitter for all sorts of rants here.

Like this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by becoming a Left Foot Forward Supporter today.