Magazine article The Spectator

Power and Might

Magazine article The Spectator

Power and Might

Article excerpt

One is so used to the instinctive, built-in leftish bias of the BBC that one hardly notices it much of the time. On Sunday morning, though, even I, inured to it as I am, listened with astonishment to an item on Broadcasting House on Radio Four about Silvio Berlusconi, the Left's international hate-figure after George W. Bush. The presenter, Eddie Mair, introduced the piece by saying that an Italian journalist, Paola Buonadonna, would look at what Italians thought of their prime minister after his outburst in the European parliament last week.

Of course, one is automatically sympathetic to anyone goaded and shouted at by some of the misfits that sit in this grotesque parliament and he neatly fell into their trap. He is Italian, after all. After the tape of Berlusconi's comments to the German MEP was played, it was clear from Buonadonna's introduction what she thought: 'These are the words that sent many Italians, including myself, hiding behind a sofa this week.' What a sheltered life she must have led. Has she never heard any of the exchanges in her own parliament? She interviewed someone called Tobias Jones who had written 'eloquently' about Berlusconi. Needless to say, the Italians Jones had spoken to felt 'a sense of shame, of sadness, of international embarrassment' about him.

Buonadonna declared smugly that Berlusconi's immense wealth made his decision to enter politics 'at best questionable and at worst suspicious'. Really? If he was so rich he was hardly in need of a political career. Apart from a brief, ambiguous clip of a member of Berlusconi's coalition, no one defended him. As it happens, I have serious worries about Berlusconi's control of so much of the Italian media, though after hearing Buonadonna I can understand why. His main crime, though, and part of a disturbing trend in the EU, is to be a conservative in power. When I worked for the BBC a piece so one-sided as this would not have got past an editor except by mistake.

For conspiracy theorists there is something for everyone in the Bilderberg Group, an annual meeting of world leaders, bankers, businessmen and so-called opinion formers. Those on the Left can be suspicious of an elite gathering in secret to shape the world; those, like me, opposed to the EU superstate, can see something sinister in the European political class discussing further integration behind closed doors. …

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