By Christopher Booker
Whether it’s polar bears or social workers, all is not as it seems at the BBC.
There was much excitement over the revelation that David Attenborough’s Frozen Planet had “faked” a scene where polar bear cubs, actually born in a Dutch zoo, seemed to be in Arctic wilderness. Yet no interest at all was aroused by a much more serious misrepresentation – of the speed at which ice is melting at the poles.
I was criticised for pointing this out last week, but as anyone can see, from satellite-based charts on the Cryosphere Today website, the extent of polar sea ice was last year 1.6 million square kilometres greater than its average over the last 30 years – something which could never have been guessed from Attenborough’s dramatic film sequences, carefully chosen to convey the very different message the BBC wanted us to believe.
The BBC is incorrigible. Last Wednesday, for the second time in 14 months, Panorama broadcast an unashamed “commercial” for the social workers of Coventry, showing the wonderful work they do in face of Britain’s “adoption crisis”. Like all good propagandists, the BBC gave us a highly selective picture of several children removed from their parents to be adopted.
The adoption of five-year-old Conor, by the seemingly ideal foster family he has lived with since birth, was only being held up by his unhappy “birth mother” who had “learning difficulties”. Bright 10-year-old Kieran and his two sisters are still waiting for a family willing to adopt all three of them, which seems unlikely. Again this is being opposed by a mother with “learning difficulties” – scarcely evident when she was allowed half an hour’s “contact” and they all rushed into her arms.
Despite the idealisation, though, darkness kept breaking through. The heartbreak of all involved was only too evident, while the social workers seemed just to be playing games with other people’s lives. Even this, though, was far from representative of the kind of stories I have reported here, where social workers often behave in ways the BBC would definitely not be allowed to see.
What Panorama did not reveal was the real horrors of a “child protection” system out of control, where the number of children seized from their parents soared to record levels this year – nearly 900 a month – while the adoption rate has fallen again, to the point where only 7 per cent are being adopted. The programme did admit in passing, though. that the cost of keeping each child in care is £150 a day – a total of more than £3.5 billion a year in England alone.