The BBC is a brilliant institution but it has had a shocking week. It’s been hard to miss the Gary Lineker story, in which the Match of the Day presenter was suspended for a tweet about the government’s immigration policy, his fellow pundits and presenters supported him, and then the BBC management copied what Lineker did against Ireland in 1990 before backing down.

Further down the news agenda has been the resignation of Fiona Bruce as ambassador for the domestic abuse charity Refuge. In a Question Time discussion on Stanley Johnson’s proposed knighthood, Bruce was ‘required to legally contextualise’ claims about Stanley Johnson breaking his wife’s nose, noting, ‘Friends of his have said it did happen but it was a one-off.’

Even further down the news agenda has been the terrible decision to disband the BBC Singers. The BBC Singers have been going for 99 years and are the only full-time professional choir in the country. Their contribution to music over the last century has been ‘incalculable’ according to a letter signed by 700 composers. At the time of writing, over 100,000 people have signed a petition for the BBC to reverse their position: if you haven’t done so yet, please do so.

All of these decisions emanate from the BBC’s role as a publicly funded body, trying to maintain impartiality and struggling with reduced funding. The impartiality shown to Stanley Johnson felt too far one way; the reaction to Gary Lineker’s tweet felt too far the other. As many people have pointed out, other BBC stars such as Alan Sugar and Karren Brady can tweet without admonition, just from the opposite side of the spectrum.

It goes with the territory that the BBC gets it in the neck from one political side, and then the other. Back in the early 1970s, it was the Labour party’s turn to be furious, with the Yesterday’s Men documentary about Harold Wilson. In the 1980s, the Thatcher government were incandescent about the ‘pinkoes’ in BBC News, such as their daily grilling by Brian Redhead on the Today programme. In the 1990s and 2000s, it was New Labour’s turn to cry foul over the BBC’s coverage of Iraq.

The Gary Lineker controversy is essentially the same old story with a social media twist. And what he was tweeting about has familiar echoes of the past as well. This week I’ve been reading Wandering Souls, the poignant, powerful debut novel by Cecile Pin. The book tells the harrowing story of the Vietnamese Boat People, and lays bare Margaret Thatcher’s reluctance to take any refugees in. Today’s Conservative politicians may claim that their latest immigration policy is ‘compassionate’, but their instincts remain as ungenerous as ever.