After months of leaking extreme proposals about privatisation, government control and defunding, the Tory white paper on the BBC was presented to the House. It was not as bad as it could have been. The intention of those leaks and briefings to the press was doubtless to make any proposal seem sober and reasoned.
The BBC is the crown jewel of British cultural life. Across the world, it stands as a mark of quality, reliability and impartiality. Governments of all stripes have a duty to the British people to ensure that it remains the greatest broadcaster on the planet.
A diminished BBC diminishes Britain on the world stage. It remains a byword for fairness and impartiality and to denigrate it is to damage one of our great national institutions.
My stance on reform of the BBC is the same as the stance of the Labour party: that the universal service provided by the BBC is what makes it so vital. From Strictly Come Dancing and the Great British Bake Off to Poldark and The Today Programme, the BBC caters to every taste and demographic.
Those who seek to neuter it, who seek a lesser BBC are attacking an icon of modern Britain. They are willing to damage British prestige for party political advantage. Look at the press allies of the Conservatives, the press barons and media empires that would benefit from a BBC in retreat.
I support the continued work of the BBC in providing a service to all ages, and the wonderful efforts it makes to produce content that is beneficial on a local, national and international level. From local radio and regional news to national channels, an international news service and programmes that are global successes, the BBC is responsible for showcasing some of the best of British creative and journalistic talent.
We would be a much poorer nation if the famed impartiality of BBC journalism was to fall into question, if the BBC was to be seen as a government broadcaster. The contribution that the BBC has made to our democracy since it was founded cannot be questioned.
The Conservative obsession with denigrating beloved national institutions such as the NHS and the BBC is frankly unfathomable. We have one of the best TV industries in the world, and months of uncertainty has damaged it.
As the media landscape changes, the BBC will face challenges, as will commercial rivals. However, it is in the interests of a healthy democracy with an independent press that the BBC remains the global leader in standards, and a proud exporter of British values and qualities to the world.
Maria Eagle has called for a full debate & substantive motion in both Houses of Parliament to ensure that licence fee payers get the reassurance needed after the needlessly combative consultation process. A full debate will ensure that the White Paper is properly scrutinised by both MPs and Peers. The BBC should be immune from political interference. This principle must be upheld in practice as much as in rhetoric.