Sunday, 11 November 2012

Auntie's Fall From Grace: Death Of Another UK Institution

The resignation letter of the BBC's latest director-general reveals deep flaws in yet another of the UK's self-serving institutions.

One assumes the document was the product of some discussion, and that the "unacceptable journalistic standards of the Newsnight film that was broadcast on Friday 2 November" was carefully chosen as the narrowest possible reason for the top bureaucrat to go. Some care was taken not to mention the mishandling of the Jimmy Savile revelations, for example, or the seismic cultural implications of the BBC choosing to spike a story about his criminality in favour of a series of fawning tributes. But isn't it simply the case that a cosy insider is incapable of cleaning the place up? After all, Lord Patten said he only hired Entwistle to make the BBC "10 or 20% better" and it's now a vastly bigger job than that.

This tendency to cover up, to obfuscate, defend and deflect is the stuff of mere politics. It should not feature in the management of a public organisation in the public interest. 

Yet it's what we've come to expect from the British establishment. It permeated the Parliamentary expenses scandal and the conduct that led to the bank bailouts. It resurfaced in the failure of UK banks to honour Project Merlin, their Libor-fixing activities and attitude to international money laundering. It was present in the activities of GlaxoSmithKline that yielded a $3bn criminal settlement. It's there in the evidence to the Leveson Inquiry, the handling of the Hillsborough disaster by South Yorkshire Police and the systemic cover-up of child abuse.

And you can be sure we have not seen the last example. It seems that Britons are fascinated to learn just how rotten the country's institutions really are.

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