BBC butterflies

Trans charity Global Butterflies seems harmless — but are they really cuckoos in the nest?

Artillery Row

That perennial sci-fi favourite The Midwich Cuckoos has been reimagined for 2022, and is currently playing on Sky TV with actress Keeley Hawes taking the lead role as a psychotherapist who begins to realise that something strange is happening in her town. Based on the 1957 novel by John Wyndham, it tells the story of how a mysterious event results in the birth of a group of children with strange powers. The children think and act alike, appearing not to possess any individuality, or empathy for anybody outside their small group. 

Part of the original novel’s power lies in how it charts the growing fear of townsfolk as they slowly deduce that those who appear to be the most innocent — and the most powerless — are actually terrifying monsters who they have unwittingly nurtured, and who now want to rule over them.

Gender ideology has now become firmly embedded in much of public life

Which brings us to the cuckoos in the BBC’s nest. On Wednesday, the Stephen Nolan programme on BBC Radio Ulster revealed that despite the assurances of the Director General, the value of impartiality — which is vital to the existence of BBC News — was being openly challenged by an organisation that had been invited in by the Corporation’s own Diversity & Inclusion team. An anonymous new member of staff related to the Nolan programme how in a training session conducted by Trans organisation Global Butterflies, attendees were told to be “Allies” by helping to sway opinion, using their influence to affect politicians and other influencers, for example in the media and public life. 

As the unnamed staff member knows, impartiality is usually “hammered into” staff, and he was left understandably confused by what Global Butterflies told him. “An ally uses their privilege” he was told, in order to effect change. “Don’t be afraid to protest” was another message that was disseminated, in open defiance of orders issued recently to News staff that they should definitely avoid public protests. Much of the training session appears to have been cloaked in the now-usual childish unicorn colours, with grown adults talking of “magical ally powers”.

Global Butterflies is an independent company and is at liberty to pursue whatever goals it thinks will contribute to a better world. However, the BBC is bound by different concerns, not least the need to remain impartial on contentious issues so that it can command the support of all the UK public. Which begs the question, why were consultants such as Global Butterflies ever invited into the BBC? They have a clear agenda; on their website they state that they “help organisations adopt a zero-tolerance approach to trans-phobic behaviour and attitudes, while also taking steps to help them become more inclusive in their cultures.”

How though, do they define “transphobia”?  The term has increasingly been deployed to mean anything that challenges the ideology of Gender Identity, which preaches that an inner sense of self, whether that be female, male or something completely different, takes priority over measurable, biological sex. When women — and increasingly men — raise concerns, they are often labelled “transphobic”.

Having innocently grown from the positive desire to treat Trans people fairly, Gender ideology has now become firmly embedded in much of public life, with numerous examples of its bizarre and often dangerous tentacles reaching into many previously unassailable bastions of common sense.  Whether it’s the NHS replacing the word “woman” with “people” when giving advice on Ovarian cancer (a female disease), or the Police visiting people at home to “check their thinking”, the result always seems to be the same — genuine concerns overlooked and opposing views silenced. 

Even the BBC’s own Language guide has redefined “gay” to mean same-gender attracted, rather than same-sex attracted, and it was recently revealed that journalists changed the testimony of a rape victim in order to spare the feelings of her male transgender attacker. Perhaps what’s most revealing about this new episode though, is that it’s given us a glimpse into how that ideology manages to sustain and renew itself, even when those around — as in Midwich — have begun to recognise that it is a threat.

Ejecting the cuckoos from the BBC nest should be less fraught

Tim Davie, the DG of the BBC, threw the LGBT charity Stonewall out last year  because the warning signs about its overwhelming influence within the corporation were becoming impossible to ignore. Stonewall, like Global Butterflies, has a firm agenda, and its CEO Nancy Kelley has admitted wishing that she could wield more influence on editorial decisions. Certainly, despite her organisation’s partnership with the BBC, she refused to be interviewed for the groundbreaking Stephen Nolan podcast which was, er, all about her charity. Many staff believe she did try to spike the podcast before it aired, and it’s known that she attempted to speak with a senior editor in London just weeks before it was released. In the face of cries of “literal violence” from some Stonewall supporters in New Broadcasting House, Davie took the bold decision to cut links with Kelley and her crew.

If the Director-General has any sense, he will give the same marching orders to Global Butterflies. But will he go further, and root out the Gender cuckoos who repeatedly try to impose their biassed thinking on staff, in a way which is detrimental to the core values of the BBC? The anonymous staff member told the Nolan programme that also present in the training session was a member of the BBC’s Diversity & Inclusion team, whose job it is to ensure that all the characteristics covered by the Equality Act such as disability, sexuality and sex, are protected. 

They can only do that within the confines of the BBC’s own values, yet their representative in the training session failed to raise any concerns about Global Butterflies’ attempt to override BBC impartiality. This isn’t the first time that D&I have invited Global Butterflies into the corporation; a previous training session involved some of the BBC’s most well-known presenters, and left some of them shocked at what they were told.

In John Wyndham’s novel, the extra-terrestrial cuckoos meet an explosive end. Ejecting the cuckoos from the BBC nest should be less fraught. It simply requires the adults at the corporation — Tim Davie and his team — to reassert the natural order of things, and do what he promised to do: protect our national broadcaster’s reputation and values.

Reith Hancock is a very necessary nom de plume for a journalist with decade’s experience at the BBC

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