It is sad to see the decline of the Centre for Policy Studies (CPS), from the think-tank founded by the likes of Keith Joseph and Margaret Thatcher, to its current state, where it is reduced to desperately vying for attention by joining in the right-wing game of pretence over the BBC. The Corporation, a forthcoming CPS “report” will tell, is biased, and they have statistical evidence in support.
This supposed “news” has, of course, played very well among all those clever people who talk loudly in restaurants, but away from the right-leaning jerking circle, author Oliver Latham may find less than total enthusiasm for his findings, if the sneak preview given to the press is anything to go by. For starters, his selection of “left-wing” think tanks is highly contentious.
Take the Social Market Foundation, for starters. This was set up by former Owenites after the SDP was wound up. It has been close to Labour during Tone’s tenure in 10 Downing Street, but was also “Shagger” Major’s favourite think-tank. It is now chaired by a former Murdoch journalist. That suggests it is neither left nor right leaning. And the CPS gets the New Economics Foundation wrong, too.
This body champions sustainability and localism. Its ideas look back to E F Schumacher of Small Is Beautiful fame. Just because it is not right-wing does not make it left-wing. And the false assumptions continue as Latham compares the number of stories the BBC covers that have appeared in the deeply subversive Guardian, versus the number covered by the Maily Telegraph.
Underpinning this is the assumption that the two papers are equivalent in their distance from the centre, and that their coverage depends only on whether stories conform with those politics. This is clearly fallacious. The Telegraph, for instance, has only reluctantly and belatedly covered Phonehackgate, and will not cover anything that impinges on the business interests of the Barclay Brothers.
The CPS also, implicitly, assumes that the Guardian is just like the Tel when it comes to the blurring of the distinction between news and comment, something which Latham will not be proving, nor even examining, in his study. That makes his comparison utterly meaningless. How does a story appearing in the Guardian make it “left-wing”? What makes a Telegraph story “right-wing”, come to that?
This exercise gives every appearance of reaching a conclusion, and then working back from it. It comes from a body which dearly wants the key assumptions to prove true. And those key assumptions appear to be fatally flawed. So that’s a nice warm feeling for the CPS and its fellow right-wingers, and their pals in the press, and a shrug of the shoulders and a “meh” from anyone else.
Still, it keeps them all out of trouble, so that’s all right, then.