The BBC’s political editor Nick Robinson has revealed how he faced a thinly veiled attack from David Cameron in the run up to the general election after he threatened to ‘close down the BBC’. Robinson said it was hard to know whether the comments were a joke or a veiled threat.
However I think there is something rather more sinister here. The editorial integrity and independence of the BBC is hugely important and the BBC is under pressure from all sides to ensure it always meets extremely high standards.
Furthermore, elections are especially busy periods and commentators noted how, during the election, senior Tories piled pressure on the BBC pointing to its coverage and on the broadcaster’s future. As Robinson pointed out, ‘The result, was to add to the already intense pressure the BBC faced and this had a real impact on the corporation.’
Clearly it had had an impact and during the interview with the Guardian, Robinson said he had ‘thought quite a lot’ about Cameron’s comments since first writing about them in his recently released book about May’s election. He said they had been interpreted by BBC staff as a veiled threat and ‘another bit of pressure’.
Robinson said comments ‘dropped into conversations publicly and privately’ by other senior Tories, such as the former culture secretary Sajid Javid’s (about alleged BBC bias) added to the effect on staff.
Meanwhile there was disappointing news from the digital industry after figures revealed a significant decrease in the number of women employed in the industry.
Just 27% of those employed in the sector are women, according to a new report from the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES). This is a 6% drop from an already poor percentage of 33% in 2002 and well below the UK average of 47% for female employees.
Not even the report’s authors could give a clear indication as to why so few women are involved in the sector or why the numbers have fallen.
It is estimated that Britain will need 1.2 million digital workers by 2022 and UKCES’s report suggests that the number of women working it he digital sector will still not have reached the level in 2002 of 32%, believing it will barely rise to 30%.
More girls need to be encouraged at a young age, in schools through technology clubs, such as TechFuture Girls, a nationwide network of after-school computer clubs. Such groups have an important role in addressing the gender balance and will help to encourage girls to participate in the digital sector.