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David Keighley

BBC complaints ruling: ‘Is major threat to free speech’

To the Guardian and presumably its diminishing band of readers, the issue of climate change alarmism is settled. We are all going to fry and they know it beyond doubt. They have an army of correspondents who tell us so.

Many disagree strongly, but the Guardian is entitled to its views. That’s the reality of a free press:  a newspaper can choose its own editorial policy, no matter how biased or against the odds.

Not so the BBC. It’s governed by a Royal Charter which dictates that on matters of public controversy, it must be even handed and balanced in its coverage of events.

But it appears that any pretence of this has gradually been abandoned by the liberal elite that now run it – as the latest ruling by the Corporation’s head of complaints, Fraser Steel has vividly and chillingly shown.  The Corporation is now acting like its own version of Big Brother, dictating what we should think about key issues of national and international debate. And guess what? Its army of publicly-funded staff are uncompromisingly pursuing a leftist agenda.

Back in February, Lord Lawson – who became so concerned about climate change alarmism that he has set up the Global Warming Policy Foundation – appeared on the Today programme to react to the appallingly cack-handed official response to the Somerset floods. Many believed they had been greatly made worse by the Environment Agency’s green and alarmist approach to flood management, and Lord Lawson said so. That in itself was a miracle – for once, the Today programme allowed an opponent of its worldview to put a different perspective.

On the programme with him was Sir Brian Hoskins, a well known alarmist, who is so fervent in his views about the topic that he believes that billions of pounds must be spent on combating the environment dragons he sees in every temperature change. He is also hugely active in pursuing his cause, a one man-band of propaganda who has huge resources behind him, regular unchallenged access to BBC microphones, and the ear of government.

After the programme, one Chit Chong, a member of the Green party, wrote to the BBC and complained that allowing both men too put their views was totally unfair, because  a consensus of scientists believed that Lord Lawson was wrong and Sir Brian was ‘right’. He argued that the BBC had given too much airtime to Lord Lawson’s views. The greenie warrior stated that the Corporation had, in effect, legitimised the illegitimate.

Enter Fraser Steel, the BBC’s complaints chief. And in jaw-dropping, nakedly Orwellian fashion, he has now ruled that Chit Chong was right. According to a leaked report of his findings in – surprise, surprise, the Guardian – Mr Steel has said that Lord Lawson’s views on climate change alarmism  ‘are not supported by computer modelling and scientific research’ and ‘this was not made sufficiently clear to the audience’.  He reportedly concludes:

“I don’t believe this was made sufficiently clear to the audience… it is important to ensure that such views are put into the appropriate context and given due (rather than equal) weight.”

If this is true, let’s not mince words. What this means is that because the BBC has decreed that climate change alarmism is proved by ‘consensus’, Lord Lawson, and those who doubt the BBC’s alarmism,  should not ever be given equal airtime to put their case, if at all. And it also raises the ludicrous prospect that before any such broadcast involving an opponent of alarmism, there should be editorial comment that such views are not supported by consensus.  So in future, this, in effect, is what must happen (if Lord Lawson is ever asked to appear again, which now must be in doubt):

John Humphrys: “With me now is Lord Lawson. I have to tell you first that the BBC has decided that the point of view he is expressing is not backed by scientific facts because a consensus of scientists tell us that this is the case.  Now Lord Lawson, what do you think about this matter?”

This, surely,  is a chilling assault against the concept of free speech.  It’s hard to discover anything about Fraser Steel or his background because the BBC website says nothing about him other than that he is head of the complaints unit. But what we now appear to have in place have is an army of BBC bureaucrats armed with a set of  cock-eyed, right-on rules; they use their own brand of prejudice in measuring every damn piece of BBC broadcasting  to see if it measures up to the Corporation’s Own Version of The Truth.

Europhile Quango Queen ‘Backed by Cameron for BBC top job’

Europhile Quango Queen ‘Backed by Cameron for BBC top job’

With perhaps wearying predictability, another major Europhile is firmly in the frame to become as successor to Lord Patten as BBC chairman.

It’s rumoured that she is Diana Coyle, the current deputy chairman, an economist who has written books on the topic and also worked in the Independent newspaper as a commentator.  Interviews for the job take place next month.

Ms Coyle is married to Rory Cellan Jones, the BBC’s staid technology editor and her career over the past decade has been as a quango queen. Like so many of these figures, she also serves – without a breath of irony – on the Competition Commission.

Few people will have heard of Ms Coyle, but she has been a BBC governor since 2006 and, according to the Guardian, has become a strong favourite to become chairman because David Cameron wants a woman in the role and also because she is seen as a safe pair of hands.

Could the real reason be, however, that he actually wants someone who will be totally on his side in his stated position that membership of the EU is good for the UK?

Certainly, Ms Coyle avidly shares Lord Patten’s enthusiasm for the EU.   She wrote in the Independent when Blair-Brown battle about the UK’s euro membership was at its height:

The defenders of sterling are, in the main, a group of elderly men with more stake in their past than in our future. They clothe their gut anti-Europeanism and Little Englandism in the language of rational economic argument[1].

The following year, Ms Coyle was equally vehement in her dismissal of the idea that an inflationary boom in Ireland was caused by the euro. She maintained that it was only Eurosceptics who supported such views[2].

It may therefore be assumed, that, as a Europhile,  like Lord Patten, she supports the EU in its climate change alarmism policies. This is evident in a book she wrote in 2011, The Economics of Enough. This is an account of an interview she gave about her work:

Diane Coyle, author of The Economics of Enough, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the future and the ideas in her book. Coyle argues that the financial crisis, the entitlement crisis, and climate change all reflect a failure to deal with the future appropriately. The conversation ranges across a wide range of issues including debt, the financial sector, and the demographic challenges of an aging population that is promised generous retirement and health benefits. Coyle argues for better measurement of the government budget and suggests ways that the political process might be made more effective[3]

What is also striking is that Ms Coyle, alongside Lord Patten, is an advisor to EDF Energy, which like other energy companies, is perpetuating climate change alarmism so that it can line its pockets with green energy and renewable government subsidies.

That, of course, chimes with the BBC’s own agenda. Her long-time BBC Trust colleague is Alison Hastings, who has decreed that the promulgation of climate change alarmism is compulsory for all BBC journalists.

One thing is certain about Ms Coyle if she does land the chairman’s role.  She won’t be pressing for any significant changes in the BBC’s journalism.  She has already declared:

“I’ve always valued the BBC, not least as the best provider of news coverage in the world. Its impartiality and comprehensive coverage underpin its vital civic role.”

Given that the BBC Trustees are supposed also to be watchdogs in terms of standards, that’s a terrifying expression of complacency.

 

[1] Independent, 8 April 1999

[2]  “IMF verdict on Ireland to disappoint euro-sceptics”, Independent, 7 August 2000.

[3] http://www.econtalk.org/archives/_featuring/diane_coyle/

Photo by R/DV/RS

Paxman ‘Shows BBC decline’

Paxman ‘Shows BBC decline’

So, it’s good night from him, then. Jeremy Paxman has ended his marathon quarter century stint as presenter of BBC2’s Newsnight.
Though he achieved some palpable hits – famously, his devastating interrogation of then home secretary Michael Howard – I think he never really delivered in his perceived role of Inquisitor General of the Corporation, a mantle he assumed from Sir Robin Day. In reality such skewerings were extremely rare; in those 25 years only half a dozen stand out. Sir Robin once said – on the anniversary of his 25 years at the BBC – that it seemed to him that he began his career as the fierce Torquemada and ended up as the ever-so-’umble Uriah Heep; that, too, is the fate of Paxman.
Actually the Newsnight Paxman has presented for so long is seen by many to be both discredited and a spent force. It amounts now to little more than a very expensive vanity publishing exercise by the 8,000-strong £1 billion-a year BBC news division. Newsnight is set-piece, very expensive, old-style television, launched in 1980 when there were only three television channels. The rest of the world has moved on in the way it uses and consumes news. It’s very rare that those set-piece interviews yield anything new because our politicians are now trained to the nth degree in dodging bullets.
This staleness is compounded by a long decline in standards. The utter fiasco of Newsnight’s failure to report the Savile affair, and its downright nasty, incompetent an inexcusable accusations against Lord McAlpine are clear evidence of this. Add to that the continued decline in the programme’s average viewing figures, from well over a million each night to around d 600,000 (at times as low as 320,00) and its sectarian colonisation by ex-Guardian journalists – the editor is Ian Katz, a former deputy editor – and the picture of its inadequacy and decay is complete.
It’s the BBC pretending it is engaged in serious investigative journalism of record when in reality Newsnight as it is now does little more than bounce back at the Corporation its own warped left-wing view of the world –on a whole raft of issues such as immigration, climate change and the EU.
And many believe Paxman bears a major responsibility for this. This became clear when back in 1999 News-watch undertook he task of monitoring the BBC’s coverage of that year’s European elections. It was a very different political landscape: William Hague was the then very eurosceptic leader of the Conservative Party, Tony Blair was his all-powerful general electoral nemesis and UKIP commanded only 7% of the vote.
In the BBC’s coverage, what stood out – in an election which Hague eventually won with 36% of the national vote against Labour with 28% – was that the whole event was regarded as a turn-off. There were very few items on any of the BBC’s programmes and those that were broadcast viewed the issues involved mainly through the lazy and biased prism of Conservative splits, even though by that time the vast majority of both grassroots and parliamentary members were united in being massively eurosceptic. News-watch dubbed this ‘bias by omission’ – a failure to report the key issues because the BBC was so pro-EU that it did not think they were important or interesting.
Paxman stood out in our survey because in one of the very few Newsnight election items, on the day of the vote, he leaned to camera, and to the accompaniment of footage showing a battery of deserted polling stations, declared that it had been, and I quote, ‘an outbreak of narcolepsy’.
True, turnout was only 24%, but 10m Britons had actually voted, and the irony of his remark was seemingly totally lost on him. Did no one ask a simple question? Perhaps no one had voted because Newsnight itself and the BBC as a whole had not bothered to make the election interesting. Paxman’s smug talk of sleeping sickness epitomised the massed battalions of the news division’s lethargic and biased approach to the EU.
They were so much in favour of continued membership and ridiculing or ignoring the withdrawal and sceptic lobbies that they failed to put effort into making the key areas of policy, procedure and debate interesting for viewers.
That attitude persists. They might now occasionally discuss ‘Europe’ and ‘withdrawal’ but only through the BBC’s own highly-sectarian lens. There is massive bias by omission, and as a result, many of the British public are woefully under-informed about the true nature of the EU project.
Paxman, John Humphrys apart, has been for at least two decades the most powerful individual journalist at the BBC. Instead of fighting for change, and editorial integrity, he settled for the comfort of the journalistic equivalent of pipe and slippers. In the end, he became totally part of the fabric of a once powerful but now decrepit, outmoded and totally discredited programme.

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BBC Glastonbury Extravaganza: Why and at what cost?

BBC Glastonbury Extravaganza: Why and at what cost?

Headline of the week about the BBC is that they are sending 300 staff to cover the Glastonbury festival to deliver around 80 hours of coverage on their main channels on television and radio.

Heading the junket are those brilliant broadcasters Fearne Cotton and Lauren Laverne. Several newspapers have focused on the story because the total is higher than the 272 being sent to cover the World Cup in Brazil.

Actually, the total at Glastonbury for the BBC is probably significantly more because almost certainly there will be a further freelancers and contractors supporting the Corporation presence.

This type of story is not really new. Back in 2009, it was noted that there were more BBC workers at the festival than there had been at the Beijing Olympics the previous year, at an estimated cost to the corporation of £1.5m. What price today?

Those who usually attend include the BBC’s creative director Alan Yentob.  He has held a reception for festival goers at licence-fee payers’ expense at his nearby Somerset home.

The BBC claims with customary intransigence that every one of their contingent is needed because this is a ‘major cultural event’.

Says who?  Well, of course, the BBC itself. Over the years the corporation’s massive presence there has elevated awareness of the festival to stratospheric levels.

And why?  The event actually accommodates just 135,000 people and costs £210 for a ticket, so it’s not exactly mass market. And this year’s headline acts – who include Dolly Parton and Robert Plant – are not exactly at the cutting edge of musical innovation or taste (though obviously enjoyed by many).

So the real reasons probably lie elsewhere. Is it that the BBC likes what Glastonbury stands for? The festival started life as an icon of the drug-taking counter-culture and the suspicion must be that in the BBC’s collective eyes remains at its centre. And – probably more crucially – it’s also a platform for charity sponsors who share the BBC’s values on issues such as climate change alarmism. One of them is Greenpeace, which says:

“This year there will be a new centrepiece the massive  Aurora the giant polar bear!… a messenger from the Arctic reminding Festival goers that it’s an area under threat like never before. Attendees can hear her stories, and join in with the children’s workshops where everyone is welcome. All around the field are Greenpeace campaigners who can bring Festival goers up to date with their campaigns like the Arctic, giving the facts about things like fracking, flooding and even what’s behind the climate chaos that threatens us all.”

Major eco-activism is thus centrally on the agenda, including terrifying children and telling us that we are all going to die. That’s exactly the propaganda that the boys and girls at the BBC love spreading so much, and is endorsed at the highest levels.

Meanwhile, as saturation-level Glastonbury and Brazil football coverage looms, the 8,000 strong BBC news division continues to practise bias by omission over news issues that truly matter. This weekend, the EU has announced a new health and safety law framework that, as many commentators note, will usher the dawn of both a Draconian new regime and severely further erode national sovereignty. So what do the battalions of BBC news staff make of this alarming new development? On the BBC website, there’s not a peep.

Photo by Eva Rinaldi Celebrity and Live Music Photographer

Selective Leaking: BBC knocks down its own UKIP Aunt Sally

Selective Leaking: BBC knocks down its own UKIP Aunt Sally

One of the ways that the BBC defends itself against criticism is to say that viewers have complained in ‘record numbers’ against particular aspects of programming.

It’s particularly effective because it creates a smokescreen of the Corporation’s own making and largely within its own control that generates newspaper headlines in the BBC’s favour.

And here, the BBC’s house organ, the Guardian has dutifully bitten, with a story that trumpets that there has been a ‘record number of complaints’ about the BBC coverage of recent elections because it gave too much coverage of UKIP that was too often biased in favour of its leader Nigel Farage.

The trigger  has been perhaps that the Daily Mail, among others, claimed earlier this week  in an editorial  that BBC coverage of the recent elections had been seriously biased against UKIP.

The vehicle of the release of this supposed barrage of complaints  against the BBC’s UKIP coverage was  BBC’s own programme Newswatch, in which the BBC’s own political editor, Nick Robinson was ‘challenged’ to explain why so much coverage was carried.

How very cosy.

The News-watch that runs this site is actually carrying out a properly objective study of the BBC’s election coverage. It’s a massive task that will take at least two months, and will analyse line by line what was actually said about the case for EU withdrawal  on eight of the leading news and current affairs programmes, including R4’s Today, World at One, PM and The World Tonight.

One thing that is already sure is that in the past, News-watch surveys have shown that BBC coverage of the withdrawal case has been seriously biased because over thousands of hours of programming, there has been no effort to explore properly the issues involved.  At the same time, as the Civitas paper shows, the BBC has sought to enlist academic legitimacy to their coverage efforts, which News-watch has demonstrated are deeply flawed.

This Guardian/Newswatch  exercise mentioned above is much more crude: in reality, the BBC setting up its own Aunt Sally (the fake spectre of too much UKIP coverage), with Nick Robinson riding to the rescue to knock it down.

Photo by (Mick Baker)rooster

Caught red-handed: BBC anti-withdrawal bias

Caught red-handed: BBC anti-withdrawal bias

The BBC swears until it is blue in the face that it is not biased against the case for withdrawal from the EU, and that it reports the campaign fairly. It engaged at vast expense Stuart Prebble, a former BBC trainee, and long-time chum of BBC Trustee David Liddiment, to write a highly questionable academic report that said so.

But this is a big fat economy with the truth, as events at the end of the European Parliament election campaign have revealed graphically.

First, as Guido Fawkes has adroitly revealed, Jasmine Lawrence, one of the roster of editors of the BBC News Channel, has let slip in her (now deleted) Twitter account the BBC’s corporate derisive view of UKIP.  They are ‘sexists’ and ‘racists’.  And second, the BBC complaints bureaucracy has been forced to admit that the May 18 News Review Radio 4 programme seriously misrepresented the views about UKIP of Mail on Sunday columnist Peter Hitchens.

Mr Prebble, it will be recalled, penned his ‘objective’ report about BBC EU output for his chums at the corporation against a background in which John Humphrys, one of the corporation’s most high-profile presenters, and Mark Thompson, a former director general, were thinking privately (and eventually admitted publicly) that despite outward protestations of fairness, the corporation’s EU coverage was in fact deeply biased against those who supported withdrawal.

Mr Prebble went out of his way to pour a massive bucket of cold water over research by News-watch – conducted over more than 15 years – that showed beyond doubt that what Mr Humphrys and Mr Thompson thought privately was true.  He pointedly ignored statistics taken from sustained monitoring of the Today programme by News-watch that showed that less than  0.004% of programme time was taken by ‘come outers’ talking about their case, together with transcript analysis which emonstrated that interviews with eurosceptics focused relentlessly on the negative and rarely, if ever, touched on the actual arguments against the EU.

News-watch has consistently shown that the reality of the corporation’s EU coverage is that it is, and always has been, pro-EU and has often been venomously negative against those who want to leave.

The Peter Hitchen episode shows how deep and pervasive this hostility actually is. The full account of what Mr Hitchen wrote and what the BBC broadcast is up on Biased BBC. He was quoted in News Review on May 18 as saying that UKIP was ‘doddery’, ‘farcical’ and ‘very unclear about its goals’. The quote came in a newspaper review sequence which contained a torrent of anti-UKIP comments, including that they were racists.   Mr Hitchens’ comments were taken completely out of context from a much longer item in a way which even the most novice reporter would have known was gross misrepresentation.

The BBC is actually going to broadcast an apology (something that very, very rarely happens). This shows how crass the journalism was, but it doesn’t deal at all with the main issue. As Mr Hitchens points out, they routinely do this with his views on such topics. And as New-watch research shows such negativity fits with the BBC’s overall pattern of anti-withdrawal reporting.

Miss Lawrence and her twittering is a different matter. This was a middle-ranking BBC news executive, who tweeted:

#WhyImVotingUkip – to stand up for white, middle class, middle aged men w sexist/racist views, totally under represented in politics today—
Jasmine Lawrence (@journomummy) May 21, 2014

The ‘Why I’m Voting UKIP’ Twitter tag was actually set up as a vehicle for those who want to pour vile opprobrium on both UKIP and the case for withdrawal. It is filled with venomous invective that shows the nastier side of political ‘debate’.  That Miss Lawrence felt it appropriate for an ‘objective’ BBC senior staff member to comment there defies belief. It is surely a disciplinary matter.

But hang on!  This is the BBC that both routinely villifies EU withdrawal, and believes beyond doubt that manmade climate change is a serious threat and that it must report the debate about such matters accordingly, suppressing comment from those who disagree.  Perhaps, in that deliberately anti-capitalist climate,  Miss Lawrence automatically assumed  that espousing withdrawal is racist, and that this gave her permission to go into attack dog mode. The BBC have been saying so for at least 15 years, and much of the other media is joining in, so what’s wrong with that?

Photo by shawncampbell

BBC Plugs Sham EU ‘Debate’ About EU Presidency

BBC Plugs Sham EU ‘Debate’ About EU Presidency

A frequent problem in the BBC’s coverage of EU issues, as John Humphrys has accepted, is a failure to present the full facts:  bias by omission.

If the BBC collectively doesn’t like an aspect of UK policy – such as the so-called ‘bedroom tax’ – there is a relentless editorial focus against it. No stone is left unturned by BBC reporters in finding opposition to the measure, and correspondents take every opportunity to fire barbs against it.

But the Corporation is in favour of the EU project as a whole, and News-watch research has shown that its stance regularly leads to both bias by omission and distortion.

This was definitely the case in coverage of the so-called ‘debate’ held on Thursday night (May 15) by the EU featuring leaders of five groups in the European Parliament.  The BBC billed it online as the political equivalent of the Eurovision song contest.  And though words of caution were buried in the small print of the reports, the concerted aim was clearly to project the event as a triumph of EU democracy.

Gavin Hewitt, the BBC’s Europe editor, trumpeted in the beginning of his article that this was part of the ‘EU’s election race’ and that the debate featured ‘five candidates for Europe’s top job’- the presidency of the European Commission.   He also faithfully reflected the EU’s claim that this was a ‘great debate’ and gave the clear impression that it was part of the May 22 elections for the European Parliament.

Mr Hewitt further suggested that the exchanges – between the five leaders of  the pro-EU groupings in  the European Parliament – were a key event towards the ‘election’  not just of MEPs, but also to the EU’s top political and administrative job, the presidency of the  EU Commission.

FACT 1:  the poll to elect MEPs on May has nothing to do with the presidency of the EU Commission. Some in the EU want this to change, but there is little prospect of this.

FACT 2:  the next president of the European Commission will most likely be chosen by the Council of Ministers when they meeting in Brussels at the end of June.  In theory, the appointment could be blocked by the European Parliament, but this is most unlikely.

FACT 3:  the European Commission, which in effect drives the EU legislative process (though the European Parliament can recommend some changes), is not and never has been elected.

FACT 4: Was this a debate anyway? As even Gavin Hewitt noted, all the participants agreed that the way forward for the EU was further integration.

The ‘debate’ on Thursday night might therefore be regarded as nothing at all to do with ‘democracy’, but rather a cynical and blatant PR exercise to distort or disguise the real nature of how the EU operates.

Gavin Hewitt must know this – and indeed, his report contains hints that this is the case – but he projected instead above all else that this was both part of the European elections and would have an impact.  He ignored and down-weighted the key facts.  It was thus a classic case of bias by omission.

Photo by Cédric Puisney

BBC charter must not be renewed until pro-EU bias ends

BBC charter must not be renewed until pro-EU bias ends

Lord Pearson of Rannoch, initiated an hour’s debate in the House of Lords about biased BBC coverage of the EU. His main demand was that the BBC Charter is not renewed until the bias is rectified, and his key point that despite repeated assertions to the contrary the BBC simply does not cover the withdrawal perspective fairly or adequately.  The debate can be read in full here: Click here

The peers’ collective words on this vital topic have gone unreported – especially by the BBC. Lord Pearson of Rannoch referred centrally in his contribution  to a News-watch report that said that says that the BBC’s Prebble report (which gave the corporation’s EU coverage a virtual clean bill of health) was unprofessional and ‘incestuous’.

Lord Pearson asserted in conclusion:

“So I ask the Government not to renew the BBC’s charter until they are satisfied that it is capable of fulfilling it. This afternoon, I have dealt only with the BBC’s coverage of the EU. Similar criticisms could be made of its coverage of immigration and manmade climate change, at least. In conclusion, I trust that the Government will ensure that the BBC’s editorial freedom is preserved, but with that freedom must come the fulfilment of the great ideals of its charter. I beg to move.”

Photo by Euro Realist Newsletter

BBC  in new World Service Propaganda Push

BBC in new World Service Propaganda Push

Be afraid, be very afraid.

James Harding, the director of BBC news and current affairs, has delivered a speech in which he has said the BBC’s ambition is to double the reach of the World Service in the next eight years: He stated:

“Internationally, Sir Howard Stringer has been looking at how we can take the BBC’s global audience of roughly 250 million people to 500 million by 2022. He will report his findings next month. It has made me feel extremely privileged and proud to see the way in which the return of the World Service to licence fee funding has prompted us to reaffirm our commitment to delivering news to audiences of need around the world, to commit to a protected and, preferably, growing budget and to explore how to deliver more of the World Service’s journalism to audiences at home.”

To be sure, the World Service is enjoyed by many, and is thought by some to deliver an important United Kingdom perspective on world events.  But in recent years, it has transmuted into something very different:  an integral part of the ‘development culture’ which sees providing aid and services to the developing world as a mission founded four-square on liberal political objectives.

Sweeping claims – what evidence is there to support them? The framework is actually well established and not hidden, as we have previously noted on this site. The World Service operates hand in glove with its charitable arm BBC  Media Action, an organisation which its website shows works flat out with NGOs and other sundry agitators around the world (under the guise of working for ‘human rights’). It attracts bucket loads of cash for its objectives from both the EU and the government Department of International Development. Among its main aims is  to spread the primary ‘climate change’ message, essentially that we are all going to die unless we stop burning fossil fuel and mend our wicked capitalist ways.

In that respect a main cheerleader alongside Mr Harding is BBC Trustee Richard Ayre, a former BBC news executive who was also for many years involved in Article 19, an international campaigning organisation which sees as a major part of its goals the enforcement of international environmental law – in essence, the climate change agenda.

An example of this work by the BBC’s Media Action arm  is this survey. They have set in train an ‘education’ project across six major countries in Asia which is about spreading the word about ‘climate change’ and aims to trigger people to take action against it.  What this means in practice is that the BBC are providing propaganda tools to reach and terrify schoolchildren on a massive scale. In Nepal, for example, young kids are being systematically trained as militant activists.This is described as foillows:

Project: “Child Voices: Children of Nepal Speak Out on Climate Change Adaptation” by Children in a Changing Climate and Action Aid.

Objectives:The purpose of the project was to make children’s concerns heard, and to persuade decision-makers to incorporate children’s adaptation needs into policy-making.

Target Audience: Target audiences included local communities for awareness raising; local decision-makers, NGOs and UN agencies for advocacy; and policymakers for policy change.

Project Design: Poor children in rural and urban areas of Nepal were supported to make short films about how climate change is being experienced by their communities. Making these films allowed children to explore how the changing climate is impacting them and their families, how they are coping, and what they need in order to adapt.

Communication: Messages centred on the need for advocacy on children’s adaptation needs.

Partners: Children in a Changing Climate is a coalition of leading child-focused research, development and humanitarian organisations

Channels & Formats: The films were shown in local communities, featured on TV and are available online. A report was also produced based on the findings of the participatory video project.

Impact: The use of participatory video (1) helped children in Nepal better understand climate change impacts (2) helped prioritise their adaptation needs, and (3) helped advocate for change. The children successfully used their videos to gain adaptation funding, for example for a bridge to help children get to school during the monsoon season. At the national level, the report and videos supported an ongoing dialogue with the government on child rights and climate change where it was agreed that children need to be a priority group in Nepal’s National Adaptation Programme of Action (NAPA).”

Of course, anything that genuinely improves the lives of the poor is Nepal is to be welcomed; the bridge was no doubt needed. But they also desperately need access to cheap energy and fuel, the most effective way of ending deprivation – and the climate change  movement does not want that; they insist that the only acceptable energy generation is via vastly expensive ‘green’ schemes.

So what Mr Harding actually means when he talks about World Service expansion  is that BBC journalists are gearing up to indoctrinate ever-larger audiences with BBC-NGO values that include as a central component climate change alarmism.

Photo by R/DV/RS

Back to the future: the BBC’s attacks on EU withdrawal

Back to the future: the BBC’s attacks on EU withdrawal

Another European election and the BBC are in full cry again trying to find ways of showing that those who support withdrawal are racist. They have form, and it has been tracked in detail by News-watch.

Their justification, of course, is that the party has ‘controversial’ policies that need probing.

The latest story elevated to front page status is that a supporter of withdrawal who is fighting a local council election (not a European parliamentary seat) has made ‘offensive’ tweets against both the black comedian Lenny Henry and Islam.

In the BBC’s lexicon there is perhaps no higher crime.

Conservative minister Jeremy Hunt is enlisted to say so: overt racism, he claims.

The story also includes ‘balancing’ comments from Roger Helmer, the UKIP MEP, who states that the remarks were not party policy, and also that he believed that the way the story was written amounted to an attempt to smear UKIP.

The problem here is not that the BBC has reported the story, or even that they have included the allegations. If a candidate is racist (but, note, there are different sides to the story), then it is legitimate journalism to say so.

The issue rather this is back to the future:  the wearily predictable way the BBC always reports the ‘come out’ cause.  The important arguments about withdrawal from the EU are totally subsumed by the focus on racism, or some other problem.

The evidence for this is epitomised in a transcript – included fully below because it is so astonishingly negative – from the 2009 European elections. It was broadcast on May 30, 2009, and became the subject of a formal complaint by Lord Pearson of Rannoch which was – of course, as are all complaints about their EU coverage – airily dismissed by the then Today editor Ceri Thomas, who, on a salary of £166,000 a year, has since been promoted and now has a central role in shaping the whole of the BBC’s news coverage.

Most amazing was the 428-word preface by then European editor Mark Mardell, who, with delicious irony, was appointed to the role in 2005 to ensure greater impartiality in the BBC’s reporting of issues such as withdrawal. In three minutes he cobbled together every possible insult against UKIP, without once focusing on its objective of withdrawal; almost gleefully, he heaped against the withdrawal movement the epithet ‘BNP in blazers’ – and claimed MEPs were relentlessly voting against British interests, and were venal.

John Humphrys then kicked off the interview with Nigel Farage with heavy accusations about corruption, followed by…of course, further allegations of racism. This was aggressive interviewing at its most ferocious and gave Mr Farage only minimal space to put points about party policy and withdrawal.

The negative treatment of ‘withdrawal’ in this interview must also be seen in the handling of the topic in the whole election campaign. News-watch surveyed the campaign output across ten flagship news programmes across the BBC output. Among its conclusions were:

·         Only six interviews of withdrawal candidates in the whole campaign 

·         The UKIP “expenses” issue was mentioned in all but one of the interviews, and also in several other reports.

·         Aggressive questioning of the party on alleged racism and inefficiency, with a high rate of interruptions

·         There were only two brief questions about withdrawal and few opportunities to describe EU-related policies. 

Transcript of BBC Radio 4, Today, 30th May 2009, Interview with Nigel Farage, 7.32am

JOHN HUMPHRYS:                If we are to believe the opinion poll in The Times this morning, UKIP will get more votes than the Labour Party in the European Election.  A result like that would obviously be calamitous for Gordon Brown, but what effect in the long run would it have on UKIP – seen as one of our fringe parties, perhaps?  It won a dozen seats at the last European elections, but doesn’t have a single MP at Westminster and, more important still, what effect would it have on our future in the European Union.  I’ll be talking to its leader in a moment, but let’s hear first from our Europe Editor, Mark Mardell.

MARK MARDELL: A small sea, more like a pond perhaps, of Union flags drop in front of a diminished group of men in the European Parliament.  They thought their election heralded a revolution, but what have they achieved?  Not, obviously, their main ambition of getting the UK out of the EU.  Most members of the European Parliament regard UKIP as profoundly unserious pranksters with a weird obsession.  ‘Criminal betrayal’ – so said UKIP’s rising star Robert Kilroy-Silk MEP, the former Labour MP and daytime TV host, he’s the man with the orange complexion, you’ll remember, before he quite the party.  ‘An incompetent joke’ – that’s the verdict of another leadership contender.  The pronouncements of sore losers, perhaps, but there’s something of a theme here which real opponents have been quick to pick up on: ‘fruitcakes, loonies, closet racists’ was what David Cameron said about them, and it’s the last bit that annoys the current leadership.  Nigel Farage has dismissed the idea that they’re the BNP in blazers, but their main plank in this election is perhaps their opposition to unlimited immigration, and Mr Farage admits he’s spent a lot of time and energy fighting off a take-over by the far right.  That must say something about the sympathies of some members.  And what about the MEPs?  Of the dozen elected, Robert Kilroy-Silk has disappeared from the political scene and two others have been expelled, one jailed for fraud, the other awaiting trial on similar charges.  UKIP condemns the EU gravy train, but a good proportion seem to have prominent gravy stains all down their blazers.  The European Parliament, for all its bad reputation, is a place where the politicians have a serious job modifying, tweaking, even kicking out proposed new laws.  UKIP don’t boast of any achievements on this front, and their opponents say they’ve voted against Britain’s interests in a host of areas from fishing to trade talks.  A UKIP news release ruefully admits that occasionally UKIP do miss pieces of legislation.  If not the BNP in blazers, then there is something of the golf club militant about UKIP – so old-school they’re in constant danger of being expelled, the boys who didn’t make prefects because they were too ready to cock a snook and put two fingers up at the establishment.  But there’s no doubt there is a market for this at the moment, but in a parliament that’s about quiet conciliation not gestures, they make a lot of noise, no one is unaware of their cause.  For them the risk is that they become part of an institution they despise, the licensed court jester, who can poke fun at the EU’s po-faced pretentions, as long as they make withdrawal look like a lost cause for mavericks.

JH:           Mark Mardell there.  Well, Nigel Farage is the leader of UKIP, he’s on the line, good morning to you.

NIGEL FARAGE:     Good morning.

JH:           Let’s deal with that bit about the gravy train first.  You yourself have done rather well out of it haven’t you?

NF:          Certainly not.  I’ve given up a career in the City of London, I would be earning substantially more money than I am now, but the point is, UKIP MEPs are not in this for a career, they’re not in this for money, they’re in it because they absolutely believe that we’ve got to have a different relationship with the EU, one that is based on . . .

JH:           (interrupting)  Alright, we’ll come that in a minute, the different relationship with the EU, we’ll come to that in a minute, you say you’re not in it for the money.  You have taken, I’m quoting what you said to Denis McShane, the Foreign Press Association asked the other day about your expenses and all that sort of thing, and you said ‘it’s a vast sum, I don’t know what the total amount is, but oh Lord, it must be pushing £2 million’

NF:          We don’t get expenses . . .

JH:           No, no.

NF:          We get set allowances.

JH:           Indeed.

NF:          It’s an entirely different system to Westminster . . .

JH:           (speaking over) Nonetheless, £2 million since you’ve been there?

NF:          Well, every single MEP gets the same, you know, Glenys Kinnock gets the same as I’ll get . . .

JH:           I know.

NF:          And what we have done is we’ve used that money to campaign up and down the country over the last few years, telling people the truth about the EU, and that perhaps is one of the reasons why there’s now a majority of people in Britain who support our view.

JH:           Right, so you have used tax payers’ money to peddle the interests of your own party?

NF:          No, to peddle the interests of our cause.  Last year, the EU . . .

JH:           (interrupting) I’m not sure I see the difference.

NF:          Last year the European Union spent €2.4 million, sorry billions euros, telling students and schoolchildren that the EU was a wonderful thing.  All that UKIP has done is take a little bit of money that’s been given to us and try to counteract some of those arguments.

JH:           I don’t know about ‘little bit of money’, most people would consider two million quid in your case quite a lot of money.

NF:          We haven’t put it in our pockets, we’ve used it in our campaigns.

JH:           Well, you’ve paid your wife to help run your office.

NF:          For seven years she helped me on an unpaid basis, since I was leader of a group in the European Parliament and The UK Independence Party, she’s helped me for the last two years.

JH:           The question is what effect you’ve had and the answer to that is, apart from the fact that you have used a lot of money, spent quite a lot of money to alert people to what you consider the bad things about Europe, in terms of influencing legislation and the like, you have been entirely ineffective, haven’t you?

NF:          Well, I thought Mark Mardell’s report was really grossly unfair.  For the first time in thirty years there has been an opposition group in the European Parliament, which has been my privilege to lead over the course of the last five years, we’re seen as the focal point for eurosceptic groups right across the continent, we’ve played a big role in the French referendum, and in the Irish referendum, the day after the ‘no’ vote, the prime minister in Ireland blamed me personally – and my group in the European Parliament – for the ‘no’ result in Ireland.  I think that’s pretty effective opposition.

JH:           But what you haven’t been doing is sitting there, getting on with the job of being an MEP, and if you run for a post, the post of Member of the European Parliament, surely people who’ve put you into that expect you to . . .

NF:          (interrupting) Well I’m sorry, I . . . .

JH:           . . . to form the part of a constructive opposition.   I mean, the line when you say Mark Madell was unfair, but he’s right about your news release, admitting occasionally you do miss pieces of legislation.

NF:          And so does everybody, just remember John that there are days in the European Parliament where we vote on up to a thousand amendments in the space of sixty or seventy minutes.  I mean this is . . . the mass of legislation going through is such that nobody from any party could ever tell you they’ve got every single thing right, but I’ll tell you this: unlike the other British parties, we have never voted for any new directive that impacts upon British business, we have opposed it, we have fought hard through parliamentary committees to stop things like the exemption on the 48 Hour Week being removed, we’ve played our full role as MEPs, but what we do not do, we do not support any European legislation, believing that we should make those laws in this country.

JH:           The accusation that you are the BNP in blazers . . .
NF:          Well, it’s ludicrous.

JH:           Because of your . . . well, you are hugely opposed to immigration, any more immigration.

NF:          No, we’re not opposed to immigration per se, we believe we should control immigration.

JH:           Well, everybody says that.

NF:          They do, and they’re not telling the truth, are they?  I mean, this has been the problem, the expenses scandal has drowned all of this out.  The British public need to know that what’s being done in their name is we’ve signed up to total, unlimited immigration to the whole of Eastern Europe, and the only party that voted against that was UKIP, and we believe in controlling immigration.  The only people . . .

JH:           (interrupting) But, but, but hang on.  You believe in controlling that, a lot of people came in here from Eastern Europe, they did jobs that needed to be doing, now many of them are going back again.  What’s wrong with that?

NF:          Oh, come on.  We’ve still got about 800,000 people net increase from Eastern Europe since those countries joined, and that figure is due to rise.  I mean look, a few weeks ago, the President of Romania issued a million passports to people in Moldova.  Those people now, if they want, can all come to Britain.  Our argument is the British people themselves should decide who comes to live, work and settle in Britain, not the President of Romania.

JH:           If you get more MEPs in the European Parliament, if – and it’s a very big if – if you do well in the Westminster elections, I say ‘a very big if’ because you’ve made no impact on the Westminster elections thus far, when will you pull us out, given a chance when would you pull us out?  Would you, would you . . . let’s dream for a moment, imagine you were in power, would you pull us out the next day, next week, next month?

NF:          The very next day.  No question about it.  And we would sack ourselves as MEPs and we would then renegotiate a sensible free trade agreement, rather like the one that Switzerland has.  This is absolutely vital, it’s a majority view in this country, and I believe it will grow. And what I would really like to see is if UKIP can cause an earthquake next Thursday, if we can really send a loud and clear message to the big party leaders, I would like them to go into the next general election promising us, the British people, the right that we can have a referendum to decide whether we’re part of this Union or not.

JH:           Nigel Farage, many thanks.

Photo by theglobalpanorama