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Wednesday, 19 August 2009

The Joys of Diversity in the BBC

Recently Patrick Younge, one of the BBC's top black executives, called for TV bosses to be fired if they fail to meet racial diversity targets.

Now that faces in front of the camera have been diversified to the point where some ethnic minorities feel they are vastly overrepresented, the focus is on the other side - technical staff, managers and senior executives:

One of the BBC’s top black executives has called for TV bosses to be sacked if they fail to meet racial diversity targets.

Patrick Younge, who is set to take over at BBC Vision, the corporation’s programme-making section, claimed there was not enough ‘internal pressure’ for change.

He has said the targets should be treated like financial aims, suggesting that if bosses miss them they should pay the consequences.

His comments may be particularly embarrassing for the corporation’s top executives – as the BBC has failed to hit its own targets.

This year’s annual report showed it set a figure of 12.5 per cent of staff to come from black and minority backgrounds, but managed 12.1 per cent.

Its record for top staff was worse – it hoped to get 7 per cent of senior managers from this group but ended up with 5.6 per cent.

Mr Younge suggested there was a lack of progress in the TV industry over employing a more multicultural workforce.

He also singled out ITV for particular criticism, saying it did not have any black or Asian commissioning editors.

His comments, reported in industry magazine Broadcast, were made at a diversity forum at the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts.

He said: ‘At (the Edinburgh Festival) last year, I said that senior executives should be held to account and lose their jobs if they fail to meet diversity targets.

‘I will have my own targets when I join BBC Vision and I must live up to what I have said – or face losing my job.’

He added: ‘There has been a lot of pressure for change over the years from outside the industry. But there’s been no internal pressure, which is what will bring about the progress.’
There are many sinister things about diversity targets. The first is that they are, quite obviously, a form of social engineering.

They are an attempt to make the British public get used to the sort of society which the elites wished to thrust upon us.

They are also a form of control in some ways; white staff might feel marginalised to the point where they won't criticise the management, because they know that all it takes is a well placed accusation of racism and they will be fired - paving the way, of course, for the workforce to become ever more diverse.

In turn, ethnic minority staff will feel part of the power structure - whilst also knowing that they are there to meet the targets set up by that power structure. This is a powerful incentive for them to support the status quo and not rock the boat.

For me, the worst part is that they encourage mediocrity.

In a society which relies solely on targets, black talent will be recognised less, not more - everyone will simply assume that black people in high positions either fulfilled a quota or played the race card - although, of course, they will never dare say it.

There is also the danger of hiring undesirable, unsuitable or unqualified candidates - simply because of the colour of their skin.

Two recent incidents demonstrate that in their desperation to appear diverse, the BBC must have pretty much thrown standards out of the window when hiring.

The first concerns Ashley Blake, a former BBC news presenter sacked after being convicted of beating a youth with an umbrella pole - then hiding it and lying to the police:

A BBC newsreader attacked a teenager with a large wooden pole while on a night out with friends, a court has heard.

Former Watchdog presenter Ashley Blake is alleged to have hit Greg Jones in the face with the one-and-a-half inch thick pole.

The 17-year-old was at the Place 2B in Sutton Coldfield, Birmingham - which Blake used to run - for an 18th birthday party when the attack happened.

The teen was left with serious facial injuries.

Blake has worked as the BBC's regional art and entertainment correspondent.

He also worked as a presenter on consumer programme Watchdog before moving to Birmingham, where he could be seen regularly presenting Midlands Today and Inside Out.

The jury at Birmingham Crown Court was today shown CCTV footage of the BBC Midlands Today newsreader running into the bar at the end of the night and grabbing the pole - which was just over 3ft long and had a screw coming out one end.

Prosecuting Naomi Gilchrist, told the court: "The defendant went into the premises and got that pole from behind the bar.

"He started swinging the pole and shouting threats.

"He swung the pole and raised it above his head using both hands and hit Greg Jones in the face.

"He stumbled back and put his hand to his face and realised there was a lot of blood - it was clear Greg Jones was badly injured."

The court heard that a friend of the victim, Adam Finn, had been knocked out by a single blow to the face by another man, Stephen Sproule, seconds earlier.

Sproule, 38, had previously pleaded guilty to assault.

The prosecution say Blake, 40, lashed out after Jones had asked him to call an ambulance for his friend, who was lying on the floor unconscious.

Blake is also accused of trying to dispose of the pole after the incident, which happened in the early hours of January 25.

Miss Gilchrist added: "The pole, after it was used by the defendant to hit Greg Jones, was put back behind the bar by the bar manager but the poll did not remain behind the bar.

"Because shortly after police arrived the defendant took it and he disposed of it by throwing it over the fence into the next door premises in an attempt to get rid of it so the police could not find it."

The jury was told that Blake told officers at the scene he needed to go to the toilet - but went to get rid of the pole instead.

He pleaded not guilty to wounding with intent to cause GBH and unlawful wounding.

He is also accused of attempting to pervert the course of justice, which he denies.

Sounds like a model employee, doesn't he?

The second concerns every BBC executive's dream, the black historian Lawrence Westgaph:

The 34-year-old BBC expert flew into a rage, repeatedly punching his love rival in the face and fracturing his eye socket, a court was told.

At one point, it was even thought he had bitten the other man's ear off.

Westgaph, who has appeared on TV and radio discussing the slave trade, could now be jailed after admitting a serious assault.

It turns out that this incident is far from the only undesirable thing about Westgaph:

And yet, as the Mail discovered this week, Westgaph achieved all this having left school at 16 with just a handful of GCSEs. He did not go to university until last year, when, despite his lack of a first degree, he was accepted onto an MA course in Atlantic History by Liverpool University. (He is said to be studying now for a PhD).

Having cultivated an academic image for himself, Westgaph found himself in strong demand by the likes of the BBC, who were apparently unconcerned at his lack of serious credentials.

In its desire to have a black man with a veneer of respectability lecturing the nation about slavery and how very evil its past is, this is the best the BBC could come up with - a violent thug, a sex offender without serious credentials.

Frankly any system of targets by them, which lets potential employees off of proper vetting, should be suspect indeed.

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