Over the next few days, the BBC Board of Trustees could be deciding who to appoint as the next BBC Director General. The BBC's reputation for independence has earned it respect all over the world. But now some outspoken politicians have suggested the job should go to a candidate who is party political.
If enough of us add our names to an open letter to the Trustees, we can remind them that the BBC should be protected from party political game playing. Add your name to the open letter to the BBC Trustees, telling them to defend the BBC's independence.
The site that's organising the petition is called "38 Degrees" (the apparent tipping point of an avalanche), which was set up to follow "advocacy groups" like MoveOn in the United States, and GetUp in Australia. It was also partly founded in honour of Anita Roddick, "a lifetime champion of the power of ordinary people to make a difference". 38 Degrees claims 1 million members, and says that a total of 9 million people have signed its various petitions.
This petition strikes me as a distraction; plenty of people in public life have political views, but are perfectly capable of understanding that those views mustn't influence the way they work. The BBC also has some intelligent guidelines on this matter. The old way of dealing with the interests of various parties in "controlling" the BBC was to balance the political heritage of the Chairman and Deputy Chairman. For years, Joel Barnett (of the Barnett formula) was Deputy Chairman, to "balance" Mrs Thatcher's chosen Chair, Duke Hussey. The current deputy chair Diane Coyle has no declared politics to balance Lord Patten's Tory history, but saw off Patricia Hodgson, who also had Tory connections.