BBC chairman Richard Sharp has sparked a row with Tory MPs who claim the former banker thinks they’re too ‘dim’ to understand taxes and Government finances.
The MPs took offence after Mr Sharp – a former adviser to Chancellor Rishi Sunak – implied last week that some MPs’ grip on key fiscal issues could be improved.
He said: ‘I venture to say that if you spoke to a number of MPs themselves, their understanding of the scale of the national debt, their understanding of fiscal issues might not be where they should be.’
BBC chairman Richard Sharp has sparked a row with Tory MPs who claim the former banker thinks they’re too ‘dim’ to understand taxes and Government finances
But the remarks sparked fury among some Tory MPs. One branded the remarks ‘incredibly patronising’ and another rebuked Mr Sharp for inappropriate ‘wisecracks’.
The row erupted as the BBC prepares for a series of reviews into its impartiality and coverage in the wake of the Dyson inquiry earlier this year that found it fell short of ‘high standards of integrity and transparency’ over Martin Bashir’s 1995 interview with Princess Diana.
Former Goldman Sachs banker Mr Sharp, who became BBC chairman in February, spoke last week about the first review, which will look at how the BBC covers UK public spending and taxation.
Addressing a Voice Of The Listener And Viewer conference last week, Mr Sharp – a former member of the Bank of England’s financial policy committee – stressed the BBC had an important public service role on finance so that the ‘public debate can be more informed, from politicians through to citizens’.
Last night, Tory MP Alexander Stafford said: ‘I find this attitude of the BBC chairman incredibly patronising.
Last night, Tory MP Alexander Stafford said: ‘I find this attitude of the BBC chairman incredibly patronising.'
'The implication of his remarks is that MPs are so dim and so poor at understanding the national debt or complicated fiscal matters that we need educating by the BBC.’
Dudley North MP Marco Longhi said: ‘Training courses on impartiality and a closer look at the BBC’s income and expense account, as people tear up their licence fees in droves, might be wiser areas of focus, rather than wisecracks about MPs’ knowledge.’
Last night, a BBC spokesman said: ‘The chairman was simply explaining the important role the BBC has in communicating complex financial matters to all audiences and the challenges associated with this.’