Slugger O'Toole

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“Heads must roll” is not a quick fix for the BBC or the cabinet

Thu 20 December 2012, 9:31am

What’s there to trust in public life? A new Hillsborough inquiry into a dreadful police cover up of how 23 died in the same year as Finucane ; UBS in the latest bank scandal over fixing the Libor rate, amid unresolved rows about big banks and bankers’ pay. Off with all their heads? But also comes  a reminder  that it should not be so easy to sack cabinet ministers such as  Andrew Mitchell and Peter Mandelson, “the comeback king”.  Where stands the BBC in this litany after the Pollard report?   Scornful newspaper reaction to “Deputy heads must role” but a reminder from a BBC veteran that different standards apply to the press themselves.

  As for the calls from politicians and pundits for more scalps, how many newspaper editors quit after they libelled the parents of Madeleine McCann by in effect accusing them of her murder? How many “decided to retire” after branding the wholly innocent Christopher Jeffries as the killer of Joanna Yeates?

You might well agree with MPs  condemning as “cavalier” the 415k + pay off to the short-lived director general, George Entwistle.  I expect no more from people who are paid a basic 60k and are still feeling the effects of the expenses scandal. The BBC outcome was  a civil service solution than a politicians’ solution, more in keeping with its founding traditions than the current fashion of trying to throw politcians out of the window at every available opportunity, to the cheers of the press  Big organisations are neurotic enough without building in yet more insecurity. As BBC chairman Chris Patten has just pointed out, “three DGs  suddenly removed in 25 years over editorial crises  is too many and it’s got to stop.”

Many, perhaps most will disagree. Yet despite the immediate impression of more BBC complacency, I somehow doubt if my the old place will feel quite the same, a few months into the New Year.

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Comments (4)

  1. Rory Carr (profile) says:

    It was ever such in British institutional life – never mind fixing the problem, let’s concentrate on fixing the blame.

    I suspect it’s what’s drummed into them at public school, a natural knee-jerk response inspired by Social Darwinism.

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  2. The Raven (profile) says:

    I remember a line from a bubble gum movie called Rising Sun:

    “The Japanese have a saying, “Fix the problem, not the blame.” Find out what’s fucked up and fix it. Nobody gets blamed. We’re always after who fucked up. Their way is better.”

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  3. Framer (profile) says:

    The report on Newsnight and the McAlpine programme signally fails to explain why an ageing story about Welsh boys homes was recycled (without the original judicial enquiry report being inspected by the editor.)
    Obviously the BIJ was playing to its own and the BBC’s prejudices, and the agenda of Witchfinder General Labour MP Tom Watson, by offering Newsnight a cheap rehabilitation with the bonus of rubbishing Thatcher and the Tories.
    That is the core problem with the BBC. Metropolitan pc values. That and the money no object culture that led them to discreetly shift a billion pounds of licence fee payers’ money to their own staff pension fund last year.
    And this is the same corporation that took 170,502 people to court in 2011 for not paying their poll tax fee while giving Caroline Thompson £600,000 for not getting the DG’s job.
    The party is over whether Lord Patten knows it or not.

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  4. Zig70 (profile) says:

    part of this exposes the myth that you get talented managers/leaders if you pay big salaries. I say let them leave the country, there is plenty of talent bleow them.
    The new Bank of England bosses salary is shocking.

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