Jane Garvey and Peter Allen lift the lid on the mood at Broadcasting House when Tony Blair was first elected ten years ago. Inevitably this has been grist to the mill of those who claim that the BBC is institutionally biased to the Left.
For what it's worth, I think that's a highly simplistic view.
1. Hard though it is to remember, the mood around the country was pretty euphoric, the morning of Blair's election. It would be surprising if that wasn't shared by a fair number of BBC journalists.
2. I listen to and watch a fair amount of BBC coverage and it seems to me overwhelmingly fair. Sometimes individual reporters allow their personal views to intrude - Michael Buerk in Africa, Feargal Keane passim - and I would sooner they didn't. However, the mood these days is clearly for more engaged, personalised reporting. On the whole, people don't object to Buerk, Keane and so on, but they do complain when people reporting on, say, the Middle East or the US are seen to be less than impartial. But these cases - and they do happen - look to me like individual lapses, rather than a systematic policy of bias by the BBC.
3. Most of us see only a fraction of the BBC's output and we should be wary of drawing absolute conclusions based on what we see.
4. However, BBC journalists tend to be young, metropolitan, university educated so, unsurprisingly, they have more liberal views than the population as a whole. It seems to me that there are a series of shared assumptions on, for example, multiculturalism, that haven't been subjected to sufficiently rigorous scrutiny. It feels a lot easier for a Guardian journalist to get airtime on Radio 4 than it is for someone from the Mail even though that paper has five times the Graun's circulation.
My sense is that in the last year or so, the BBC has begun to face up to some of these issues - some of it's reporting on immigration, for example, has been a lot more multi-faceted than previously.
6. Even defining 'impartiality' as regards, say, Israel-Palestine is a thankless job. Trying to hold a line that is recognised by all as impartial is even harder. It seems to me that the BBC does a pretty good job, most of the time.
(Incidentally, Peter Allen and Jane Garvey are great and nobody who listens to their show at all regularly could plausibly accuse them of bias.)