Holding the ring: a discussion about the BBC and impartiality

This special in-person SMF-BBC event discussed impartiality and public conversation, with speakers including Chair of the BBC, Richard Sharp, John Whittingdale MP, and Zoe Williams of the Guardian.

The context for the event is the BBC’s commitments to greater impartiality. Last year, the BBC published a plan for Impartiality and Editorial Standards that declares: “Impartiality is at the heart of the BBC’s mission and public purposes. It is essential to ensuring audiences get value from the BBC and is the bedrock of why people come to our news output. We provide trusted, unbiased news. We cover all sides of the story.”

The SMF helped to convene this event because as a centrist, cross-party charity, we have a strong interest in mediating and reconciling competing and conflicting views. Our view is that a centrist political culture, where people accept the validity of opposing viewpoints and accept the need to compromise, needs a strong BBC able to hold the ring. But impartiality is not a simple concept, and there are many questions to discuss.


Richard Sharp, Chairman of the BBC

Zoe Williams, The Guardian

Rt Hon John Whittingdale OBE MP

James Kirkup, Director, Social Market Foundation (Chair)