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That interview by BBC head of diversity June Sarpong and why it's such good news

Tom Winnifrith
Monday 28 December 2020

Now that we are out of the EU for good, surely the next great national campaign has to be to #DefundtheBBC. It really is a most nauseating institution. The clear liberal left bias of its news coverage, the woke and unfunny comedy and the smug air of superiority makes it almost unbearable. As it attracts ever fewer viewers and listeners, it ups the bloated pay of its staff, never questioning why folks are deserting it but instead doubling down on the sort of activities which arouse so much anger.

In a commercial organisation there would be a response. It would maybe hire some right wing comedians, not make Sports Personality of the Year the wokefest of the Century or not having senile old lefty John Simpson bang on even last night in the main news programme about how the Russians colluded to get Trump elected in 2016, long after everyone else accepted that was a hoax.  And there might be some pain for staff with pay cuts, starting with everyone remotely associated with the quite dreadful Mrs Brown’s Boys. But since the BBC extracts its income under threat of jail for us all, it can afford to say “let them eat cake” and carry on as it is.   

But the worm is turning. Each week, thousands more dirty plebs just cancel our licenses and the numbers refusing to pay grows rapidly. As such, every outrage by a senior staffer at the BBC will cause yet more cancellations and soon the corporation will need to be restructured, hopefully via privatization. That will force a cutting of waste and force the corporation to make programmes that viewers and listeners actually want rather than Mrs Brown’s Boys.

As such, I welcome an interview given at the weekend by the BBC’s head of diversity June Sarpong to Anita Singh which has caused a real controversy. London dwelling, Ms Sarpong is paid £75,000 a year for three days a week which among the chattering classes of the capital might not be considered very much. But out here in the boonies, to take home enough, for just three days a week work, to put you in the top 5% of earners, looks like a cushy number. How many old ladies forced by a letter from the bailiffs and threatened with a stretch in the slammer, so handing over £157.50 each, does it take to pay Ms Sarpong?

With the cost of employers NI included, the answer is 542.

But it is not what Ms Sarpong earns that caused such an intense reaction with folks disagreeing with her on a number of points. At once, The Telegraph’s Ms Singh, a leading member of the London media elite, hit out at the critics, suggesting that their existence was a reminder as to why we needed folks like Ms Sarpong. Translation: if you disagree with the BBC’s head of diversity you must be a racist and the discussion and right to challenge Ms Sarpong is at an end. That is the usual way of dealing with dirty plebs who might wish to engage in a nuanced discussion on immigration or Brexit: play the racism card and declare victory as dissenters are discredited or muzzled.  

But maybe what Ms Sarpong actually said was all fair and reasonable? Let’s see.

Her main thesis, coming as she plugs a new book, is that black and Asian folks are judged on their colour and so face an additional barrier to success when compared to all white folks, even the working classes. That is to say, white privilege really exists. That is just not true. In terms of educational success and career and financial success, Chinese and Indian Brits, like my Mrs, outperform all of us. Poor white working class boys underperform all other groups at school, in terms of university education and thereafter in terms of career success. So what Ms Sarpong says is demonstrably wrong and is thus divisive.

Indeed, she almost sems to admit this when noting that in order to improve “diversity” at the BBC she wants to employ more white working class folks. For the reality is that an organisation committed to spending £100 million on diversity currently gives 26% of front of camera roles to BAME performers – 13% of the population is of a BAME background. Women are also over-represented as are LGBT folks (10%+ of staff versus 3% of the population). Now it is great that Ms Sarpong wants to get more white working class folks working at the BBC but, given it faces some budgetary restraints, one imagines that this hiring will require firing elsewhere.

There is no discussion as to who will be fired. My guess is that middle class white males will be at the front of the line. Is there any chance – if she is sincere in her wishes – that BAME staffing will actually fall? I do not, for the record, want this to happen but I think Ms Sarpong needs to explain her ludicrous quota targets as many of us smell a rat. Why is the BBC spending vast sums on diversity when it is already very “diverse”? It is confusing and that is why Sarpong needs quizzing.

Ms Sarpong also opined that it was right for the BBC to put the words back into the Last Night of the Proms rendition of Rule Britannia. But this too is weak. It is half a climbdown. What she should have said was that since there was no academic case for scrapping the playing and then the words in the first place and the song had nothing to do with Britain’s slave trade as Prom organisers and the BBC first insisted, the whole affair was shameful and that the idiots responsible had been fired. She did not. Sarpong only supported the BBC backtracking because of the storm it created, not because the BBC was so utterly wrong in the first place.

Finally, Sarpong says the Archers needs to be more woke. Hmmm. Back in 2002, Ambridge was about the only village in Britain where nobody attended the 500,000 strong Countryside march but the villagers were represented on that year’s Pride March in London. Nobody in the real countryside listens to the Archers anymore; it is already woke fiction for folks from London whose idea of rural living is a weekend with at their chums’ holiday home in the Cotswolds.

Criticising or questioning Sarpong is a sign of just one thing: that you have looked at the hard data and called her out for talking bollocks and sending utterly contradictory signals.

As someone who sincerely wishes to #DefundTheBBC, I hope that more of her liberal media chums give her soft interviews to plug her book and then accuse anyone who asks a question of overt racism. The more she speaks out and the more we plebs are insulted, the more apparent will become the ever widening chasm between those running the BBC and we who do not earn a pro forma £125,000 a year but must fund it under threat of jail.  And that will mean more and more of we dirty oiks saying that enough is enough and cancelling our licenses.

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About Tom Winnifrith
Tom Winnifrith is the editor of When he is not harvesting olives in Greece, he is (planning to) raise goats in Wales.
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