David Miliband suggests the British Broadcasting Co-op

Sean Kippin


Cushioning the heavy blow of the Vince Cable’s announcement that Northern Rock is not to be remutualised, came David Miliband and Tessa Jowell’s call for the BBC to become co-operatively owned and run.

In a joint blog post on the Progress website, the Shadow Foreign Secretary and the former Cabinet Office Minister called for a reformed system in which BBC license fee payers could become ‘members’ with the right to elect a Council that would in turn elect a majority of those who run the corporation’s Trust.

The Co-operative Party have long argued that the Beeb should be converted into a mutual organization, owned and controlled by both license fee payers and the Government. Indeed, it was a key plank of our manifesto back in 2005, and made a reappearance for this year’s General Election.

Public trust in the BBC remains sky-high, and the broadcaster is rightly envied and imitated all across the world. As a broadcaster of drama, news and entertainment it is still without equal. However, there are issues surrounding democratic accountability and there is – whether justified or not – a perception that the organization can at times appear aloof and unresponsive to the people that it is supposed to serve.

A mutual model could do much to strengthen the key relationship between the British people and the corporation. By giving the public a real stake in the decision making process, the BBC could improve its image whilst offering viewers a real stake in the way our public service broadcaster is run.

While the Liberal-Tory Coalition is heartlessly putting the sword to public services and reneging on high-profile manifesto pledges, it is good to see senior Labour figures – in the best traditions of our shared movement – making the case for co-operative values, and learning from the Co-operative Party’s policies.