The BBC would change if we had Veronica’s courage

A fearless Catholic grandmother has exposed the corporation’s bias, says Milo Yiannopoulos

By Milo Yiannopoulos on Thursday, 17 November 2011

Veronica Connelly would rather go to prison than pay her licence fee

Veronica Connelly would rather go to prison than pay her licence fee

Horrific though the revelations are about Christians being persecuted abroad, and frustrating though it is that David Cameron seems focused on denying aid to countries intolerant of homosexuality, as opposed to those in which believers are being murdered, there are just as many reasons to be depressed about what Christians – and Catholics in particular – are suffering at home.

We recently reported on the case of Veronica Connelly, the Catholic grandmother who refused to pay her licence fee because she was so appalled at the output from our state broadcaster, the BBC. Her principled stand should be applauded. Though she is likely to lose her final appeal in the European Court of Human Rights, Mrs Connelly’s brave actions reflect a growing consensus among the silent majority of Britons concerned about the secularisation of our culture and the increasingly debauched values of this taxpayer-funded media organisation.

On these pages, I have often praised popular culture, while drawing attention to its occasionally pernicious influence. But for the BBC to broadcast Jerry Springer: The Opera, a worthless and blasphemous epic of smut and disrespectfulness, showed – as long ago as 2002 – that its values are now entirely at odds with those of the British people, and that it no longer takes its commitment to public service broadcasting seriously, preferring to sneer at religion and trample over the boundaries of decency. And there was me, thinking that’s why we have Channel 4.

One wonders how many people at the BBC found Jerry Springer: The Opera in the least offensive. Perhaps they were silently cheering its writers on. Because over the last few decades, the Corporation has become a mouthpiece for the sort of people it employs: young, trendy Lefties, disproportionately gay and from ethic minorities, who see nothing to be learned from institutions, from history, and from religion in particular. (Unless it’s Islam, of course. I’ve lost count of the number of gushing documentaries about the Prophet Mohammed churned out over the last few years, replete with “authentic” pronunciation of Arabic terms and the occasional “peace be upon him” thrown in for good measure.)

I spoke to Veronica Connelly on the telephone a few weeks ago. She has strong views about what’s appropriate for our screens. But, when you think about it, she represents the country – even those without faith – better than any privileged metropolitan journalist could ever hope to, doesn’t she? Perhaps that’s why her refusal to pay obeisance to the cult of politically correct, morally vacuous programming that eminates from Broadcasting House touched many of us more deeply than Telegraph and Spectator columnist Charles Moore’s similar stunt.

I’m particularly taken by the subtlety of her lawyer’s argument. He told the ECHR judges that the requirement made of her to pay the licence fee breaches Mrs Connolly’s right to religious freedom. That freedom, he thinks, which appears in Article 9 of the Human Rights Convention, precludes any coercion by the state that infringes on private beliefs. Veronica herself is realistic about her chances of winning the case. But wouldn’t it be nice if those awful human rights laws actually did something positive for a change?

And just think of the possible consequences. They make me giddy with glee! If Veronica won her case, Christians all over the country might start refusing to pay their licence fees, too. The last time that sort of mass civil disobedience occurred in relation to a compulsory tax, Margaret Thatcher’s community charge, the tax had to be abandoned. That might not be such a bad thing for the Beeb, which is now, by pretty near universal consent, regarded as way too big.

The engorged BBC of the twenty-first century produces too much content across too many channels, particularly on the internet, where the colossal resources it devotes to online reporting make it difficult for commercial competitors to keep up. With a guaranteed income, the BBC can invest vast sums in excellent technology like the iPlayer, but it also stifles innovation from other players. And toppling other media groups is in no one’s best interests – least of all the BBC’s. For one thing, what on earth would they do without the Guardian there to tell them how to think?

Mrs Connelly accuses the BBC of “anti-Christian bias” and a “systematic promotion of secular values”. Most people reading this column will probably agree. It may be wishful thinking, but imagine a world where the BBC, subject to mass refusal to pay a hundred and fifty quid a year from a public tired of being misled over the Iraq war and patronised for attending church, is forced to pay a bit more attention to what ordinary people care about? Because a few token Sunday morning shows don’t come close to making up for a poisonous institutional bias at the Corporation that leads it to, for example, produce wildly inaccurate reports about the numbers of protesters who show up when the Pope visits.

For much of the last ten years, when the bizarre cult of new atheism was in ascendance, it was acceptable – even trendy – to criticise and ridicule Christians publicly – a bit like climate change realists and those sceptical of the European Union. But just look how those few brave dissenting voices in the media were eventually shown to be in tune with popular opinion – in both cases. Isn’t it time Lord Patten, the new chairman of the BBC Trust, used his influence not merely to scale back the hubristic ambitions of the Beeb, but also to redefine it as a proper public service? (Incidentally, how true to the BBC’s remit is it for them to be employing a “comedian” called Brian Limond who has publicly wished Margaret Thatcher dead on Twitter, as Louise Mensch revealed in her new Telegraph blog last week?)

Let’s be realistic: the licence fee isn’t going anywhere any time soon. But if brave people like Mrs Connelly, who has said she would rather go to prison than subsidise the dissemination of profanity and the grotesque mockery of religion, start speaking up a bit more often, it might be just the push Lord Patten needs to cut the BBC down to size and teach it to once again become the global gold standard of broadcasting it once was.

While he’s at it, perhaps he could have a word with whoever runs the thuggish TV Licensing outfit, too. Because if I get one more demand for money I don’t owe them through the door – strategically designed to be as embarrassing as possible, with red ‘warnings’ peering out of windowed envelopes – I might join Mrs Connelly in saying: enough is enough.

Courtesy to Catholic