Why is the BBC smearing Reform as ‘far right’?

This shameful abuse of political language is wrong and dangerous.

Fraser Myers

Fraser Myers
Deputy editor

Topics Politics UK

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Talk of the ‘far right’ used to conjure up images of thugs with swastika tattoos, blackshirted paramilitaries and unhinged displays of rank racial hatred. Yet now, according to the BBC at least, the new face of the far right is actually Reform UK party leader Richard Tice.

This week, the BBC was forced to apologise to Reform, the successor to the Brexit Party, after branding it ‘far right’. In a piece on the Liberal Democrats’ conference last year, the Beeb noted in passing that the Lib Dems are being beaten in the polls by this supposedly far-right outfit.

You do not have to be a fan of Tice, Reform or its honorary president, Nigel Farage, to see this as an outrageous smear. The BBC’s use of the ‘far right’ slur was clearly an attempt by our supposedly impartial broadcaster to demonise Reform and its populist politics. It was trying to cast Reform’s opposition to elite groupthink – on migration, on climate and on the culture war – as somehow beyond the pale.

The BBC is not alone in throwing the far-right tag around with gay abandon. Every day, the bar for what’s deemed far right gets lowered. Worried about grooming gangs or Islamist extremism? Then you probably have some far-right tendencies. Feeling the pinch of Sadiq Khan’s ULEZ scheme? You are also far right, in the mayor of London’s eyes at least.

There’s an irony in all this. After all, in recent years Britain’s liberal left, with the BBC to the fore, has campaigned to overturn democratic votes, become pathologically obsessed with race and is now giving succour to anti-Semites. While we at spiked would never be so unscrupulous as to call the Beeb far right, they should at least think twice before playing this grubby game.

Calling everything far right is not only wrong and unedifying, it disarms us from discussing and challenging the real far right. It risks diluting the phrase to the point of meaninglessness. It makes people less likely to believe you when you use it. For if everyone is far right, then no one is. If we are too quick to label everything we dislike as Nazi-lite, then how can we spot and call out the real thing when it stares us in the face?

This distortion of political language has consequences. It’s high time everyone grew up and dropped the smear tactics.

Fraser Myers is deputy editor at spiked and host of the spiked podcast. Follow him on Twitter: @FraserMyers.

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Topics Politics UK


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