In a change to our schedule, we managed to arrive at Lib Dem Conference twenty minutes early this morning! Almost abandoned, we found the BBC stall in the exhibition manned by… Sir Ming Campbell. That’s the Lib Dem dedication to the BBC.
Here's the speech I didn't get to deliver to the emergency motion “Protecting the BBC”:
Conference, we are like the Time Lords in Doctor Who: almost extinct but still saving the world
I'd protect the Beeb for Doctor Who alone, but let me give you three other reasons to support them:
1 soft power
2 economic growth
3 ensure quality from commercial rivals
1 the Prime Minister wants us to be a World leader with a place on the international stage. We already have a world leader that opens more doors than any amount of posturing.
We debated Trident this week, a really expensive weapon we wouldn't ever use, but our best defence isn't the bomb. It's the Beeb.
Study after study shows the BBC is our most respected diplomatic window to the world. China and India pay attention to us because of the BBC
We're never going to defeat terrorism by dropping bombs of firing drone missiles. We're going to beat terrorism by showing them we have a better way, a better life.
2 Britain’s creative sector is a vital part of growing a strong diverse economy. And as the motion says, the BBC is a crucial part of that. These are great jobs and we're good at it.
And the BBC encourages the arts and film and music all to flourish, and gives us a core of existing talents and a place to develop new – in production and design as well as acting and writing.
The chancellor, in what passes for his wisdom, wants to develop the sector. But what is the point of giving tax incentives to Star Wars and slashing the BBC’s budget by a sixth? It makes no sense. It's as crazy as cancelling the green economy in favour of digging up the Home Counties for a carbon fuel that will only run out. The BBC is good for the economy.
3 we pay for the BBC for the same reason we vaccinate other people's kids. Even if we don't benefit personally, we are all better off if the population is healthy.
The BBC is a vaccine of quality for the commercial television channels. They can't go downmarket to the lowest common denominator so long as the have to compete on quality with the BBC.
If you want a free market to work, you have to have free and equal access to information. Commercial news means insider trading to someone.
If you want social justice, you need to have fearless reporting not beholden to interests, not avoiding stories about banks because they pay for your advertising.
That's why we need the BBC.
Do delete the last sentence (which would unnecessarily restrict rises in the license fee to inflation in a period after the Tories may have frozen or reduced it).
Support the Beeb. Support the motion.