The BBC didn’t tell you the whole story about the ‘expert’ it invited on to trash Corbyn’s rail plans

BBC GE2017 rail
Support us and go ad-free

The BBC has really outdone itself this time. It didn’t tell Britain the whole story about the ‘expert’ it invited on to trash Corbyn’s rail plans. And it shouldn’t be allowed to get away with it.

‘Expert’ commentator

On its News at Five programme, the BBC interviewed Michael Holden. He was summoned to discuss Labour’s proposal to renationalise the railways. Holden was the non-executive chairman of the publicly run East Coast rail. He was the Chief Executive of Directly Operated Railways at the time, heading up the Coalition government’s business unit that ran rail franchises where private companies had failed or were not operating. Control of the East Coast franchise was later handed to Richard Branson’s Virgin Trains in 2015.

Holden was obviously not a fan of Labour’s railway nationalisation plans. And a clip from the interview was broadcast on the BBC’s News at Six, in which Holden talks about East Coast. He says:

I think it worked well in public hands but I probably wouldn’t advocate doing it that way in general. We made it work, it was quite hard to do it but we ran it as a private sector company. And we returned over a billion pounds in profit to the Treasury in the time that we were running it.

But the new franchisee that replaced us has promised even more money.

And the BBC ended the segment by claiming that, if Labour plans to buy back the railways rather than waiting for existing franchises to expire, it “could cost billions”.

The BBC balanced this assertion from the experienced ex-boss of a rail line with an argument in favour from Cat Hobbs. The BBC described Hobbs as a “nationalisation campaigner” from We Own It.

Read on...

Support us and go ad-free

Full disclosure?

But on the News at Six clip, the BBC failed to mention what Holden now does for a living. Holden’s Linkedin profile does, however, detail his current position. He is the managing director of Coledale Consulting. And as the profile explains, Coledale is a:

Railway management consultancy specialising in strategic advice to railway companies.

It also lists who Coledale’s clients are:

Clients include infrastructure providers, train operating groups and companies, and client side including government. UK, Ireland, Sweden.

So Coledale’s clients include “train operating groups and companies”. The sort of companies that naturally are fiercely opposed to Labour’s plans.

And the profile lays out what experience Holden’s company can provide to such clients:

Extensive expertise in railway franchise and concession competitions, PFI bid consortia, and in large scale infrastructure programmes, and integration of trains and infrastructure including optimising use of capacity and performance trade offs.

BBC doubles down

Since Labour’s manifesto was leaked, the BBC has taken great pains to challenge the train nationalisation proposal. Despite the fact that, as Holden suggests, it could bring in billions for the Treasury. And despite the fact that it has overwhelming support from the public.

People don’t want train services in the UK to benefit private rail companies and other countries’ governments. They want these services run in their interests. But the way the BBC is behaving suggests our public service broadcaster doesn’t agree.

And that throws into doubt whose side the BBC is really on. Yet again.

Get Involved!

Register to vote in the 8 June general election. People can call 0300 200 3500 if they don’t already have a national insurance number.

– Discuss the key policy issues with family members, colleagues and neighbours. And organise! Join (and participate in the activities of) a union, an activist group, and/or a political party.

– Also read more Canary articles on the 2017 general election.

– Read and support independent media outlets that hold the powerful to account:

The Canary, Media Diversified, Novara Media, Corporate Watch, Red Pepper, New InternationalistCommon Space, Media Lens, Bella CaledoniaVox Political, Evolve Politics, Real Media, Reel News, STRIKE! magazine, The Bristol CableThe Meteor, Salford Star, The Ferret.

Featured image via Tim Loudon/Flickr

Support us and go ad-free

We need your help to keep speaking the truth

Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.

Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.

We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.

In return, you get:

* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop

Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.

With your help we can continue:

* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do

We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?

The Canary Support us

Comments are closed