Just who does the BBC sanctify with the description “independent?”

As the election campaign meanders on I am becoming ever more intrigued at how some organisations receive a sort of papal blessing from the BBC that declares they are “independent.”

The latest organisation to receive this sacred status was The Intergenerational Foundation which was described in this way on the 6 O’Clock News on Radio 4.

I wrote about my concern at the usse of the word independent in a blog a couple of days ago and particularly the way in which some organisations from both the left and right were being denied this status – https://deceivingus.wordpress.com/2015/04/09/the-fraud-of-independent-research/

In particular I was nervous about the way media outlets like the BBC use the word.. The Institute for Fiscal Studies has almost achieved saintly status in the eyes of the BBC. It is always referred to as “independent” where other think tanks are referred to as left-leaning or right leaning.

This is pure laziness on the behalf of the BBC. Just because it is equally critical of Tory and Labour policies does not make it more independent than other think tanks – equally just because a think tank criticises from the right or left does not make it less independent.

Indeed, the National Institute for Economic and Social Research (left-leaning) or the Adam Smith Institute (right-leaning), both use the word “independent” to describe themselves – and I have no doubt that they are both as independent as the IFS. The BBC needs to find a better word for the IFS.

It is not for me to say whether The Intergenerational Foundation lives up to its blessing from the BBC. That is up to you – I suggest going to their website (www.if.org.uk) look at the people on their advisory board and the sort of research they produce. Then make your own conclusion as to what sort of agenda they have.

I can only repeat my earlier advice. Dont take the word of the BBC – or any media organisation for that matter – when they describe an organisation as independent. Instead, check it out yourself. And whenever anyone claims the backing of independent research or presents someone as independent on the media, be deeply sceptical about what they say.


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