Britology Watch: Deconstructing \’British Values\’

12 September 2011

The BBC’s supposedly ‘English’ bias

Apparently, the Scots have been whingeing about the BBC having too much of an ‘English bias‘. For those of us who are aware of the extent to which the BBC, other news media and Union politicians in fact go out of their way to avoid referring to ‘England’, this appears a bit of a sick joke.

But I suppose the Scots’ complaint is the reverse side of the same devalued Union coin that we English complain about: events and stories that are in fact limited to England are referred to as if they related to the whole Union, usually by means of the avoidance phrase ‘this country’ or its synonyms. For English viewers and listeners, this creates, and is intended to create, the impression that the story in question does pertain to the whole Union, when it doesn’t. And for the Scottish audience, this whips up the old irritation about ‘English’ people arrogantly assuming that England-specific stories are applicable, and hence of interest, to the whole UK.

This is another instance of what I wrote about in my previous post. In many ways, the BBC is the mouthpiece of the Union state and hence is a prime agent in perpetuating the discourse of ‘Britain’: the (mis-)representation of ‘the nation’ as a unified, British polity. Hence, many news stories are presented as ‘British’ – or at least as relating to ‘this country’ – because they are a matter of and for the established British order, of which the BBC itself is an integral part. Scots and English alike are rightly annoyed, from different perspectives, that such English stories are portrayed as having UK-wide relevance; and yet, they are also a UK matter in that, for the present, English matters are dealt with by and through the Union establishment: British parliament, British Broadcasting Corporation, British press, etc.

So to all you Scots out there, I say don’t blame us English for the BBC’s ‘English’ bias: blame the Union establishment that deliberately suppresses the distinction between ‘Britain’ and ‘England’ in order to hold on to its power over English affairs and English minds. Rather like the Union government itself, the BBC doesn’t want to be an English Broadcasting Corporation even though that is what it has de facto become in so many ways.

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10 Comments »

  1. As a proud Scot in full support of the independence argument, I must question your use of the word “whingeing” when discussing our increasing displeasure at the BBC’s growing Anglocentric slant. Were the boot on the other foot, you would feel exactly the same: as witnessed by the regular “too many Scots in the Cabinet” gurns when Gordon Brown was in No 10. It’s far too easy to deride that which you have never experienced nor know a great deal about. Indeed, the SNP has a high number of English incomers as members, as they have been shocked to find the level of bias not only by the media, but by Scotland’s membership of the UK in general, as this is never considered south of the border.

    Also, I have never blamed the English for anything post-1707. Our greedy nobility sold-out our independence for personal gain, despite widespread protests from the public, so we can only blame ourselves for perpetuating a system we never wanted in the first place.

    Comment by Alasdair MacNèill — 12 September 2011 @ 9.03 am | Reply

    • Yes, sorry about the ‘whinge’ word. It’s a bit of a sloppy cliché and was intended to reflect how some English people have reacted. But I take your point that it’s not pleasant to be on the receiving end of bias.

      Comment by David — 13 September 2011 @ 2.04 am | Reply

    • As a proud Englishman i question a Scot making comments on a English site i also question your claim of the BBC’s ‘Anglocentric slant’ almost evry morning we had Scottish weather presenters talk about weather in small low populated areas of Scotland, whilst regionalising areas in England. i.e in the north, the south west etc. We are the majority stake holder on this island yet we appear to cow tow to every man and his dog. Prescription charges, university fees not to mention the west lothian question we are all proud of our heritage your mention of ‘English incomers’ is verging on racism. Yet i would wager that there are more SCOTTISH incomers in England than there are the opposite in Scotland. I like you fully support the independence arguement the sooner the better if if stops the Scots from blaming the English for everything that has happend to them since year dot.

      Comment by george saints — 13 September 2011 @ 8.11 am | Reply

  2. Absolutely right, good article!
    The thinking amongst us up here is that we have no prejudice against the common man, but against wastemonster.
    There is a campaign for an independant English parliament which is attracting a good few supporters, many of whom are SNP members, we all need to work for our countries, not for the self-serving troughers in wastemonster, Whitehall and The City.

    Comment by Caadfael — 12 September 2011 @ 10.15 am | Reply

    • ‘Wastemonster’ – I like it!

      Comment by David — 13 September 2011 @ 2.03 am | Reply

  3. Indeed we do not blame you!

    Unionist MP’s who ramble misty eyed about “this country”.. And of course the BBC, especially the ridiculous BBC Scotland we will blame!

    Touching on BBC Scotland, they are a law unto themselves and have been caught out so many times modifying video clips to down play the SNP. Thankfully like the Scottish Newspapers this devotion to the Union is indeed their downfall, as most folk now just laugh at their obvious bias and readers and viewers go elsewhere.

    Comment by Guest — 12 September 2011 @ 5.55 pm | Reply

  4. “Supposed” bias? You can tell you’re English.

    Comment by Hywel Morgan — 16 March 2012 @ 6.33 pm | Reply

    • Yes, I am – worked that one out. The BBC doesn’t speak for or represent England. Until it does, it’s ridiculous to talk of ‘English’ bias: it’s biased against the very concept of England.

      Comment by David — 20 March 2012 @ 12.06 am | Reply

  5. Lol, ‘an English site’ (BRITologywatch), case rested your honour…

    Comment by Davie — 2 August 2014 @ 11.07 am | Reply

  6. You are all missing the point, regardless of Anglo-Centric bias (Which lets face it, does exist), we have many more external threats to our combined cultural identity rather than fighting amongst ourselves !!

    Comment by KennyM — 9 October 2015 @ 9.33 am | Reply


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