BBC shamed as Ian Botham makes brilliant EU comparison – ‘Same mistake… UK got fed up!’

Sir Ian Botham is sworn into the House of Lords

Lord Botham accused the BBC of thinking it was “too big to reform” as he pointed to the EU as “another unaccountable institution that Britain got fed up with”. The pro-Brexit former England cricketer warned Brussels “made the mistake of thinking that we would always grin and bear it”.

Lord Botham added: “How wrong they were.”

Writing for the Daily Telegraph, the Brexiteer insisted reform is the “key issue” for the BBC in 2021.

He claimed that since he joined the House of Lords last year he has been bombarded by emails from people saying the broadcaster is “turning against them”.

The ex-England international said: “The BBC dominates our culture and political debate.

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“But those I hear from feel it has lost its legitimacy and despair of it.

“Mr Davie must move radically and quickly if they are not to feel even more alienated from his urban woke-run corporation.”

Lord Botham highlighted a YouGov poll earlier this month which found nearly half of Britons think the BBC no longer represents their values. Just four percent said that over the last year the values the BBC represents have become more like theirs.

He hit out at the “small army of presenters who use their BBC profiles to push their political and social views”.

The Brexiteer also blasted the BBC for forcing over-75s to pay for TV licences.

Lord Botham said: “Our senior citizens do not deserve to be impoverished or frightened by demands from BBC tax collectors.”

The BBC sparked anger when the universal free TV licence for pensioners was axed last August.

Under the changes, over-75s must now receive pension credit to get a free TV licence.

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At the time, Age UK said it was “bitterly disappointed” and feared pensioners would be forced to live without TVs.

Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK, said: “At Age UK we’re bitterly disappointed by this decision on behalf of the millions of over 75s who have had a torrid time over the last few months and for whom this must feel like another kick in the teeth, during a terrible year.

“Many older people on low incomes have told us that if they have to find £150 plus a year to pay for a licence then they will have to forego some other essential, or try to survive without TV at all.

“We genuinely worry about the mental health of older people living on their own in this situation if they have to give up their cherished TV – for some it really is all they have and their main way of alleviating their chronic loneliness.”

Meanwhile, when he took over the role in August, the BBC’s new director general Tim Davie warned that the BBC currently faces a “significant risk” and has “no inalienable right to exist” amid fierce debate over the licence fee.

He said: “If current trends continue, we will not feel indispensable enough to all our audience. We must evolve to protect what we cherish.”

Mr Davie said the top priority would be to “renew our commitment to impartiality”.

He said: “If you want to be an opinionated columnist or a partisan campaigner on social media, then that is a valid choice – but you should not be working at the BBC.”

The campaign group Defund the BBC has gathered almost 100,000 followers on Twitter since it was launched in June.

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