So you haven’t resigned yet?
Francis Sedgemore, Sunday 11 November 2012 at 3:04 UTC
Well get to it, boys and girls! Whatever it is that you have or haven’t done, resigning with dignity requires little effort, and the resignation process allows you to exercise your rhetorical skills in dramatic fashion. You could even use it to take down a few of your enemies.
For some reason this hasn’t happened with BBC boss George Entwistle, who seems to have been pushed onto his sword in a political stitch-up, leaving his post after delivering what must be one of the soggiest resignation statements in modern history. Entwistle is no fool, so there may be good reason for this. We will just have to wait and see.
Whether or not Entwistle has a cunning plan, it is a challenge to understand what is happening here. Ignoring the very real and tragic story that is the sexual abuse of children in care – and I fear that their stories will now be forgotten – the whole thing is so utterly ridiculous that there must be at least an element of political conspiracy in it. What other interpretation could there be?
BBC journalism is far from perfect, but on the whole it is pretty damn good. And now, with all the talk of Leveson and the chilling prospect of press regulation, I find it ironic that this scandal is engulfing one of the most regulated broadcast media organisations on the planet.
What of the BBC’s flagship current affairs programme Newsnight? Thatcher era Tory treasurer Alistair McAlpine was not named by Newsnight, but he was effectively outed by ITV chat show host Phillip Schofield, when the camera momentarily caught an image of a card bearing the names of alleged paedophiles in high places. Schofield handed that card live on air to David Cameron in a silly stunt that had me feeling sympathy for the prime minister. Well done, Mr Schofield!
Of those VIPs linked to the sex abuse scandal, McAlpine’s name went viral in the Twittersphere, and was published by the Guardian in a piece which said something like: It wasn’t Lord McAlpine who buggered Steve Messham at Bryn Estyn. Lord McAlpine is not a paedophile. It’s all case of mistaken identity. It wasn’t Lord McAlpine who did it. Oh no.
That it was a case of mistaken identity, with a victim led by police interviewers to finger McAlpine, is immaterial. The media narrative has taken on a life of its own, and its purpose is to further interests that have nothing to do with those of the victims of sexual abuse.
And what of Tom Watson MP, who used the cover of parliamentary privilege to make sensationalist claims of a paedophile ring linked directly to Downing Street? Juicy stuff, and it certainly raised the public profile of Tom Watson MP. Success!
So who’s next in line to resign? Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger? Twittering Guardian columnist George Monbiot? Phillip Schofield? Tom Watson? Jeremy Paxman? Tell you what, why doesn’t the entire BBC board of governors stand down, and maybe even the UK government? It would save a lot of hassle in the long run.