Met a ferociously angry constituent yesterday, outraged about BBC bias in opposition to Brexit. Even though I have sympathy for his opinion, I sought to calm him down. Tried to persuade him it does not matter if the BBC is biased against Brexit. I could understand his anger, even if not sharing it. After all, we are all forced to pay for the BBC through the licence fee. It’s role should be to inform and entertain (which it does very well indeed) not lobby for its favoured causes. But I am totally relaxed because it makes no difference. The bias is so obvious that viewers factor it in. I go further. It usually helps the other side! I argued on 24th June 2016 that it was the ‘BBC wot done it’ for the Leave side. No-one I met believed any of the fear tactics used by the Remain side either. No-one believed the promises of disaster. They were ridiculous. In my view it was BBC bias and Remain side fear tactics that led to the Leave majority. My constituent was a firm Leave supporter. I promised to pass his concerns on to Secretary of State Karen Bradley, but I told him he should be grateful to the BBC.
Same goes for all the gnashing of teeth over anti Brexit bias at our universities. Most people know most lecturers see themselves as ‘left’ and what they think of as ‘progressive’. Our students are not daft. They know this and factor it in. Students are also a bit rebellious. Instead of rebelling against their parent’s opinions, religion, the Government etc, a fair few will rebel against the new orthodoxy that has taken over our universities - probably threatening ‘free speech’. Will add in passing that we have not been very smart in engaging with students over recent years. Just that I don’t think lecturer’s bias makes a blind bit of difference.
And I’m not at all sure Conservative MPs should become too excited about the internet campaigns being run against us. Over last year or two I’ve had lots of it. In my experience, it doesn’t make any difference. Before last election there was much defacing of our field posters and lots of other posters were stuck everywhere, all done under cover of darkness. I told my Office to leave them up, including those defaced with the C*** word. Constituents were outraged. Prob put 1000 on my vote! And one of my public meetings was so nasty, I felt it necessary to check under my car before driving home. The story of this circulated, and that area cast more votes for us than ever before!
The point I make is that none of the negativity makes any difference. Except in one important way. Lots of talented people, who would make very good public representatives walk away - not prepared to be abused, undermined, lied about and shouted at. My message is always “Public service is a privilege, an honour and a pleasure. Go for it. Don’t let the b*****s get you down”.