The Murdoch goons at the Super Soaraway Currant Bun are clearly short of stories today, as they have had to invent one. Fortunately for the inmates of the Baby Shard bunker, the subject is one of their favourites, even if many of their readers don’t care: yes, it’s the hated BBC under the cosh once again. Or it might be, had Rupe’s downmarket troops managed to paper over the cracks in their lamentably bad copy.
“BBC SPREE … BBC under fire after giving almost 1,800 staff a pay raise above ten per cent last year - costing you £13.9million … Meanwhile public sector workers face continuing austerity” screams the headline, with the story in the same vein: “THE BBC was blasted last night after it emerged almost 1,800 staff had a pay rise above ten per cent last year … The hikes averaged nearly £8,000 - costing the taxpayer £13.9million”.
And who was doing the blasting? As if you need to ask. “Tory MP Andrew Bridgen led attacks on the Beeb, run by director-general Tony Hall … He said: ‘It underlines why so many people despair of the BBC. The gravy train continues to roll. The BBC talks about austerity but they have clearly never experienced it’”. One MP. Anyone else?
“John O’Connell, chief executive of The TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: ‘The licence fee is a serious hit on ordinary families’ finances, and the BBC must ensure that every penny of it is spent responsibly … Ten per cent is over three times the current rate of inflation, so how can the BBC justify giving their staff a pay rise that most licence-fee payers can only dream of?’” The so-called Taxpayers’ Alliance, for whom honesty is a fleeting concept.
After all, the TPA were behind the infamously dishonest “Taxpayer Funded Lobbying” dodgy dossier, as well as the memorably spurious claim that speed cameras caused more road accidents. Sadly, this story is going the same way, despite the best efforts of the Murdoch goons. That is because the headline claim is seriously misleading.
We can get a glimpse of the deceit from the Sun’s article: after telling readers “the corporation spent £13,933,500 on the bumper pay packets”, it included a comment from a Beeb spokesman who pointed out “While there are strict rules around pay increases, it’s only right that when people are promoted or take on extra responsibilities it’s reflected in their salary - as at any organisation”. But that is not the whole story.
What the Sun is not telling its readers, and may not have told the gullible Bridgen, was this morsel from the BBC press office: “BBC staff received a 1% pay rise last year”. Er, hello Murdoch goons? Do go on: “but in any large organisation … there will be people who are promoted or take on significant extra responsibilities which will be reflected in their salary”.
And as for the “costing you £13.9 million” claim, the license fee remains unchanged. So it doesn’t cost us any more. The Sun story is so close to being a pack of lies as makes no difference. But you will not see any acknowledgement of this clear effort to mislead the public, just as there will be no recanting from rent-a-quote Bridgen.
All of which means the message is still the same: don’t buy the Sun.