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Radio 4’s Food Programme unleashes tsunami of anti-Brexit opinion

Radio 4’s Food Programme unleashes tsunami of anti-Brexit opinion

BBC Radio 4’s Food Programme  (July 3) set a new BBC high in the relentless scare-mongering about Brexit. The ringmaster was Dan Saladino. He presented, in effect, a half-hour rant against what he projected as is one of the most dangerous and foolhardy decisions in British history.

The principal guests were supporters of ‘remain’ who predicted, among other things that the Scotch whisky industry was now in serious danger; hundreds of thousands of European workers in the food industry were now living in fear, there could be rioting in the streets, that Brussels red tape around food had been seriously misrepresented, and small food businesses were deeply worried about the loss of EU grants and investment plans and were already facing sharply-elevating costs.

Larded into the commentary and contributions were words such as panic and fear, coupled with insinuations of prejudice (against immigrants), stupid decisions, wrong claims and a lack of planning.

First off was Ian Wright, the director of the Food and Drink Federation, which campaigned vigorously against exit, and now that the vote is lost, is marshalling all its resources to continue to fight the war, as is clear here.  Wright opened by asking ‘what on earth’ we do next.  Saladino stressed his credentials and said the FDF’s members were ‘some of the biggest brands and employers in the country’, with 6,000 businesses employing 500,000.   Wright said he was ‘sombre’, there were a ‘really serious set of challenges’, the government did not know how to respond. He added:

There has been, as far as I can see, no planning at all for this eventuality, and now we have to help them plan, very, very quickly. Now, I think this is the biggest peacetime challenge that the UK has ever faced.

Saladino said that FDF’s members had been 10% pro-leave and 70% wanted to ‘remain’. Wright said:

Because all of the free trade agreements under which we operate are negotiated by Europe rather than the UK, and if they cease to apply we have to go back to WTO tariffs which are in almost every case far, far less advantageous to the UK, and everybody recognised the implications for free movement of labour. A quarter of our workforce comes from the non-UK, non-Republic of Ireland European countries. Many of them are very frightened, many of them are actually very, very, very uncertain about whether they should remain in the UK and that puts an enormous strain on our businesses. And at this stage, we simply don’t know what their status will be.

Saladino said that all week he (Wright) had been talking to businesses that imported billions of pounds; of ingredients; ‘and so the immediate shock was watching as costs went up by the second as the pound fell’. Wright added:

It’s very difficult, in an industry where, remember, the margins are very tight because of the current supermarket competition, the very, very strong price wars.  Any changes to prices in those tight margins are very concerning.

Saladino then spoke to David Thomson, Wright’s counterpart in Scotland, who thought that sales of scotch whisky worth £4.2bn a year were now under severe threat.

Julia Glottz, editor of The Grocer magazine. She said the horsemeat scandal, in effect, paled by comparison.  The price of raw materials would rocket with ‘huge impact’ in the longer term. Bakery manufacturers were ‘in despair’ about what would happen to their Polish staff. There were ‘very, very urgent questions about the future’.

Becky Rothwell, of the Magic Rock Brewery, said the fall in the pound meant that the American hops they used were now much dearer because of the fall in the value of the pound. Everything now was going to be a struggle.   Saladino asked whether they could use UK-grown hops. The answer was a decisive ‘no’.  Serious problems were in store.

Illtud Dunsford., owner of Charcuterie Ltd in Wales, was worried about EU subsidies ending in his native Wales because the area was an Objective 1 area. Without EU funding, he would not create jobs. Saladino pointed out that he had received a £120,000 EU grant to build a new processing facility and was going to get help to market his products in ‘Europe’. Now, though, he had a bad feeling. This was because he had seen Nigel Farage’s speech to the European Parliament in which he had said that they were not laughing now. Dunsford said the UK needed a good trade deal but this was not the way of getting it. There was no complete and utter uncertainty. There were no plans to deal with exit. He declared:

And since last week, it’s been my responsibility to them (my staff) that we continue, that we forget about growth, that we forget about expansion, that it’s about securing all our livelihoods.  And it’s scary. 

This was followed by Professor Tim Lang, who was introduced as being from the City University Centre for Food Policy. He said it was a deep troubling time and we had ‘a serious problem’. The political class was failing to rise to the challenge.  Saladino referred to Lang’s research papers on the impact of the EU and noted that they had concluded that membership of the EU kept food prices stable.  Lang said:

We then did a study looking at the big picture, of Brexit versus Bremain, and that made us even more concerned.  We thought the enormity of this really is not featuring in the debate.  Why? Why?  This is food.  This is what was one of the main motivations for the creation of the common market in the first place.  The Netherlands have had a famine in 1944, Europe had been devastated.  And then we did two other studies, one on horticulture in particular, because Britain is highly  exposed, we get . . . huge amount, big percentage of our horticulture, fruit and vegetable, from the European Union.  So, to summarise all of those papers, we concluded we could vote to leave and indeed we did, but if the people chose it a period of major reorganisation was needed.  And that was our final point.  We didn’t think the British state was ready for it, and what we’re seeing now in politics is a sign that we were absolutely right. There is very little civil service expertise, the politicians haven’t thought about it, there’s no Plan B.  The secretary of state even gave a speech in January saying there is no Plan B.  I mean, I nearly tore what her I’ve got left out of my head. There should be Plan B, there should be Plan C, D, E and everything.  So dear British consumer, think very carefully about this.

Saladino amplified this. He observed that Lang believed that a country that only just feeds itself is a fragile state, and asked if he was overstating this. Lang said not – the UK produced 54% of its own food, 30% came from the EU and the food trade gaps was £21bn – by any definition, that was a fragile state to be in.

Next, a Food Programme phone-in listener asked Lang if food prices would go up. He said there was absolute agreement among academics that they would. More local food would sell, but were those who voted for Brexit prepared to go pick cabbages? There was no sign they would Eastern Europeans, however, would do so.

Saladino said that some believed that Britain was wealthy and so could buy food on the global market.

Lang claimed that Michael Gove had told the BBC that he wanted to open up trade with the rest of the world and in a ‘throwaway remark’ had said that cheaper food could be got from Africa. Lang said:

I thought Africa had a problem and it needed to feed itself? Is that option really moral and justified? I don’t think so. It’s a fantasy of free trade – very strange politics.

Saladino observed that this, however , was not strange to people working hard to take Britain out of the EU.

(After hearing from the Adam Smith Institute and New Zealand meat farmers), Saladino noted that New Zealand farmers were forced to change their business plans. He asked:

But should we expect a future in which food production becomes simpler, more vibrant and free from unnecessary red tape?  Well no, says journalist and food writer Rose Prince.  She spent her week reflecting on a story she investigated 16 years ago.

Prince explained that she had worked in 2000 on the story of UK abattoirs closing down in huge numbers. Saladino said the numbers had fallen from 1000 in 1985 to 200 today. Prince said that Brussels red tape had been blamed, but said the real culprit – as had been established by an inquiry in Parliament – had been the UK ministry, which had interpreted the rules in a way that was ‘almost hostile’.    She asserted:

There was a willingness to believe that it is all the fault of Brussels.  We would be reading stories about straight bananas and people absolutely loved to believe all of that.  When it came to more difficult subjects like the meat industry, if you went to an editor and said, ‘I really need to tell you that this actually not the case, and it’s our government to have the problem’ they weren’t that willing to go along with that. And I mean, this is where it’s been for absolutely years.  And is even now.

Saladino said that ‘we were learning’ that the Breixt story would likely take generations to unfold. He said that meanwhile Oliver Letwin was leading negotiations, and Tim Lang believed the exercise had to be treated as a ‘top priority’. Lang declared:

In Mr Letwin’s new unit, which Prime Minister Cameron has said he’s setting up, there needs to be a big bunch of food specialists in there, or else people like me are very worried, indeed.  Why?  Because food security matters.  Food has a great capacity to create riots.  Food ought to be for health, for biodiversity, for good things in life, all the things the Food Programme has celebrated since Derek Cooper started it.  We want to maintain that, but we’re now in tricky waters.  Food has got to be in those negotiations, we’ve got to have specialists brought back out of retirement, because DEFRA has sacked huge swathes of its workforce, and we’ve got to make sure that the public health and environmental interests, and consumer interests are right in the centre of those EU negotiations.

Saladino implored Lang to say something positive. He said:

‘…why have young people voted so strongly for Europe? Because they’re Europeans in their food culture.  So I think there is an opportunity for progressive food movements to come forward and say we want a good food system for Britain.  If the political classes can’t deliver that, well we have to push it onto them.

Saladino said the podcast edition had more on ‘the unfolding story of Brexit’ including that Rosie Prince was deeply concerned about the 73 British foods which were under the EU’s Protected Name Scheme, including Stilton and Scotch beef. Prince said:

If we, through leaving Europe, lose the right to participate in the Protected Food schemes, it will be a tragedy. It’s good for our industry.

Saladino said that the chef Angela Hartnett was worried about the restaurant world with its 600,000 employees. She said:

The one thing that comes through more than anything in the restaurant industry is movement of people. My restaurant, 70% are Europeans – easily.

Two voices in favour of Brexit were included.

A fisherman – who said only that he had been praying for exit.

Tim Worstall, from the Adam Smith Institute think-tank, was introduced by Saladino  as someone who did not think it morally wrong to take food from Africans.  He said the vote to leave was the first decent decision in 20 years.  Saladino said he was a former speechwriter for Nigel Farage. Many of his arguments revolved around food, then asked him if he had expected a degree of panic. Tim Worstall agreed there would be a period of ‘headless’ chickens’ but then things would settle down.  Saladino said that on a Skype call from his home in Portugal, Worstall thought there would be a more stable and affordable food future. He said:

The bigger problem I think that people have got here is that they really just don’t quite understand how markets work. We do not buy food from the European continent because we are members of the European Union. It’s some farmer, it Georges or Jacques or Joaquim or somebody who sells something to Sainsbury’s, and why would that change just because we’ve changed the political arrangement?  Whatever tariffs food faces after Brexit will be determined exactly by the British government.  We get to decide what our import tariffs are.  Why are we going to make the things we want to buy more expensive for ourselves?  So, obviously, you know, we like buying continental food, great, we won’t have tariffs on continental food.  What’s the difference?

Saladino asked him if he agreed that food had got cheaper, and as TW answered suggested it had happened ‘under EU membership’.   TW said that tariffs had to be paid on food from outside the EU and could be up to 35%. If the UK was outside the EU it could choose where to buy products like sugar from wherever it wanted. He added:

Here in the UK, or you there in the UK, should be growing the high value stuff that Britain grows really well. I mean, our grass-fed beef, for example, is some of the best in the world.  People line up to buy joints of it.  But it’s simple stuff like turnips or wheat.  Why should we even think about trying to grow it in the UK when there’s the vast steps of the Ukraine, or the American Midwest or the Canadians, at hundreds of dollars a ton, and ship it to us? Why would we bother to make this cheap stuff when we’re a high income, high cost nation.

Saladino said Tim Worstall’s vision was based on the economic model of Beef and Lamb New Zealand which came into existence in the 1980s when subsidies came to an end. Dave Harrison said the number of sheep had halved but the businesses were now profitable.

ANALYSIS: Saladino’s programme was deeply biased against the impact of  Brexit on the food industry , and, indeed, appeared deliberately constructed to be negative towards the prospect. On a basic, logistical level, there were eight contributors who expressed serious concerns about what would happen next as a result of the ‘exit’ vote, against only two who favoured the UK’s departure from the EU. One of those – a fisherman – was a token inclusion in that he spoke only one sentence. Saladino explained next to nothing about the fishermen’s concerns about the EU.

In sharp contrast, the supporters of ‘remain’ were all given full opportunities to explain their respective stances, often with help from Saladino, who reinforced their points, or added details clearly designed to show their importance and validity.

Another point of negativity against ‘out’ was that Tim Worstall, the sole Brexit supporter who gave reasons for his stance, was introduced as a speechwriter for Nigel Farage. Why was this emphasised? By comparison, for example, Saladino did not mention that one of the ‘remain’ contributors, Professor Tim Lang, is deeply connected to the green movement through the highly partisan campaigning organisation Sustain. Those from such organisations view Farage and Ukip as racist and xenophobic. The suspicion must be, therefore, that Saladino wanted to stress the Farage connection for negative political reasons, and to undermine his contribution.

What Tim Worstall did say boiled down to two fundamental points – that tariffs in future could be negotiated according to British needs – meaning that some tariffs would go down – and that the UK should start buying low-cost food staples that need not be grown here from other markets and concentrate on developing high cost, high value food products in keeping with the UK’s status as a high-cost nation.

There was thus, at best, only minimal effort to bring pro-Brexit ideas into the frame.

By contrast, those who wanted to point out the problems of Brexit were given virtually a free rein. With Ian Wright of the Food and Drink Federation, Saladino stressed his authority by explaining that he led an organisation representing 6,000 businesses and half a million employees, and which imported billions of pounds’ worth of ingredients. To summarise his contribution, Wright suggested that Brexit was the biggest peacetime challenge ever faced by the UK; that there was a danger that higher WTO tariffs would be imposed on food: and that hundreds of thousands of workers in the food industry were now living in fear.  Saladino made no attempt to challenge anything he said, and at the end of his contribution added another problem – the shock to food importers as the value of the pound ‘went up by the second’.

The next contributor, Wright’s counterpart in Scotland David Thomson, issued another warning, that the £4.2bn Scotch whisky export was in dire danger. Saladino amplified this, too, by pointing out that although Scotland sold whisky to China, ‘the biggest market was Europe’. Another problem, he said, was that whisky distillers saw ‘EU membership as giving them more clout’. Thomson added (to reinforce the point) that membership was seen as vital because of  ‘the weight of Europe in trade negotiations and protecting their intellectual property’.

Saladino ‘s introduction to Julia Glotz of The Grocer magazine was as glowing as that of Wright and Thompson. The magazine, he said, had been around for 150 years and had covered the UK’s biggest food stories.  Ramping up the drama, he added that Glotz had been trying that week, in connection with Brexit, to keep track of the sheer quantity of stories from inside an industry which was the UK’s largest manufacturing sector. He suggested that exports worth £20bn were at stake.   Glotz in summary, said events of the week had felt more dramatic than the horsemeat scandal, there were ‘very, very urgent questions to answer’, prices of raw materials had gone up overnight, businesses – some in ‘absolute despair’ were very worried about the long-term impact, and whether lay-offs of overseas staff would be necessary.

Saladino introduced Becky Rothwell of the Magic Rock brewery by saying that they had plans to sell in Europe, but were now feeling an immediate effect of the referendum vote. Rothwell said there had already been huge price increases for American hops. A lot of people would struggle with this, they did not know what was happening.  Introducing Illtud Dunsford  oif Charcuterie Ltd, Saladino noted that though Wales had voted for exit, his story painted a ‘less familiar side of the EU’.  He explained that through the EU, he had received £120,000 to build a new processing plant and had ambitions to move into Europe with his products.  Dunsford claimed that all this had changed because Nigel Farage had attacked the European Parliament for not believing him about Brexit. There was an extract from the Farage speech. In the next sequence, Dunsford claimed that this was not the way to reach trade deals. Now everything was at risk without a Plan B, or any plan at all.

Saladino picked up this theme, and introduced Professor Tim Lang, who, he said, believed no plans were in place and this therefore was a ‘serious problem’. Saladino added that Lang’s papers on the EU showed that it had helped keep food prices stable. Lang himself, in this framework, issued a series of dire warnings about the prospects for the food industry. His thesis was the EU had been set up to create security in the food supply, there was no plan to deal with Brexit, and not even the expertise to facilitate it.     Saladino noted at this point that Lang’s papers had also pointed out that a country which only just fed itself was a very fragile state. He asked whether this was an overstatement. Lang’s answer was resoundingly not. For numerous reasons, the food industry was going to suffer. Saladino asked if the UK could import food from the rest of the world. Lang’s answer was simply that Michael Gove had suggested such food could come from Africa. This was impossible because Africa needed to feed itself. He claimed the ‘leave’ approach was thus a ‘fantasy of free trade’.

Saladino made no effort to challenge this, or to suggest Lange had side-stepped a huge  topic (the possibilities of free trade) by an ad hominem attack.  The reality is that African producers do want to export to the EU, but are seriously disadvantaged in doing so because of tariffs and green concerns ion the EU about air transport.

After the sequence with Tim Worstall already mentioned above, Saladino noted that there were claims that the EU created red tape in food production.   Rose Prince’s contribution was to debunk the idea that the closure of hundreds of UK abattoirs in the 1990s , despite what newspapers said, was down to the EU. It was rather overzealous interpretation of the EU rules by British ministry officials.

Saladino observed as he headed towards the conclusion that ‘we are quickly learning that the Brexit story….will take years and more like generations to unfold’. He noted that a cabinet team under Oliver Letwin had been set up. Professor Lang then warned that there needed to be food specialists in the equation, because food had a great capacity to create riots. He finished off with ‘something positive’ – at the invitation of Saladino  – that young people had voted strongly for Europe  ‘because they are Europeans in their food culture’ If the political classes would not accept that ‘we will have to push it onto them’.

Quoting all that has been necessary to show the strength of the anti-Brexit sentiment and opinion included in the programme.  Stripped down it amounted to a tsunami of negative speculation about the likely consequences of Brexit a re-run of the arguments for ‘remain’ that Lang, and the Food Federation had already advanced in the run-up to the vote, and strident complaints that an exit plan was not already in place.   The only concrete development contained in all the comment was that some food prices had gone up to British importers (such as the Magic Rock company) of overseas ingredients in the backwash of the Brexit vote.

Arguably, that was also the consequence, however, of actions of market speculators. Saladino could have chosen to analyse that but chose not to – it was considered only through the negative Brexit prism.

Overall, Saladino acted only as midwife to the compilation of what amounted to a treatise against Brexit. The inclusion of what meagre counter-opinion was qualified by his  undermining by association of the sole at-length supporter of exit.

A further point here is that Professor Tim Lang was projected without qualification as an expert on EU-food issues. He has, of course, written extensively on this subject. But what the programme did not mention at all – or seek to challenge – was that he his highly partisan in his approach. He is a member of the Sustain organisation, which works to influence food policy through the green agenda, and which receives significant financing from the EU.

Equally, the Food and Drink Federation has a highly partisan agenda and for years has been strongly pro-EU. The job of programme such as this is to step outside such frameworks of self-interest and promotion. Arguably, the FDF is big business looking after its own needs. In this programme, its narrow perspective set the whole programme agenda. That is bias of the worst kind.  There was also gross bias by omission – of voices who thought that Brexit offers new horizons for the British food industry.

Transcript of BBC Radio 4, The Food Programme, 4th July 2016, 12.30pm

ANNOUNCER:    Now, a special edition of the Food Programme with Dan Saladino.

DAN SALADINO:                            I need to ask you a question: how has your week been?

UNNAMED FEMALE:       The UK has voted to leave the European Union (cheers)

DAVID CAMERON:          The British people have voted . . .

MISHAL HUSSAIN (?):     There were big wins for Leave.

DC:        . . . and their will must be respected.

MISHAL HUSSAIN:           In The City, shares plunged, and the pound fell dramatically.

DC:        The country requires fresh leadership.

MH:       Northern Ireland voted to remain in the EU.

NICOLA STURGEON:       A second referendum must be on the table.

DS:        As if you need reminding.  But that question I posed, ‘how has your week been?’ isn’t intended to sound flippant, it’s actually the question I’ve spent the last couple of days put into people whose lives and livelihoods revolve around food and drink, farming and retailing. So, if you are feeling a little Brexited out, I’m genuinely sorry, but the last 10 days has served up a way to big a food story for the Food Programme to ignore.  And in many ways it’s an untold story.  So this our Plan B – a fast and sometimes furious exploration of a newly unpredictable food future.

UNNAMED MALE:           It has thrown what I’ve known pretty much throughout my farming career all up in the air.

UNNAMED FEMALE 2:   I have no knowledge of what it’s like to be outside the EU.

DS:        Think of this programme as less a guide as to what’s going to happen next and more a road map of the food issues to be aware of, or even just what questions we need to start asking when it comes to food. I can’t promise you a huge amount of joy, but I think there’s at least one laugh tucked away in the programme, and I think we’ve found a way of ending on a positive note. But first, let’s hear from a small sample of the people who really matter. That’s you, me, and the other 60-odd million of us, all following events as best we can.

UNNAMED MALE 2:        Food wasn’t something that I heard anyone talk about, or recognise that some things might get more expensive.

UNNAMED MALE 3:        Everybody talks about the price of food going up, and yet, by the pound valuing, British farmers are going to get a better deal from a lot of the supermarkets, we’ll be buying a lot more British products.

UNNAMED FEMALE 3:   I don’t think it will make much difference to ordinary working class people, to be honest. I wonder where my shopping bill’s taking me every week, so it doesn’t make any difference.

DS:        Well, is Brexit making any difference?  Let’s go back to our central question: ‘how has your week been?’, one I put to a man who has an eye across the vast majority of food consumed in the UK. And it’s safe to say his was a stressful week.

IAN WRIGHT:     The real question was what on earth do we do now, because (fades out)

DS:        Ian Wright is the director of the Food and Drink Federation, which represents some of the biggest brands and employers in the country, from Nestlé and Unilever to smaller producers including Nairn’s oatcakes and Hawkshead Relish, and it all adds up to more than six thousand businesses, and a workforce of close to half a million.  He says after the initial shock, he started to plan.

IW:        I’m sombre and of a mood that we’ve got to get on with it and get to a solution now.  We’re faced with a really serious series of challenges; we do not know how the government will respond and that’s because the government doesn’t know how it will respond. There has been, as far as I can see, no planning at all for this eventuality, and now we have to help them plan, very, very quickly.  Now, I think this is the biggest peacetime challenge that the UK has ever faced.

DS:        And an issue for his membership, who make up a large part of the UK’s food supply.  The reason is that 10% of the FDS members are thought to have been pro-Leave – and 70% backed remaining in the EU.

IW:        Because all of the free trade agreements under which we operate are negotiated by Europe rather than the UK, and if they cease to apply we have to go back to WTO tariffs which are in almost every case far, far less advantageous to the UK, and everybody recognised the implications for free movement of labour.  A quarter of our workforce comes from the non-UK, non-Republic of Ireland European countries.  Many of them are very frightened, many of them are actually very, very, very uncertain about whether they should remain in the UK and that puts an enormous strain on our businesses.  And at this stage, we simply don’t know what their status will be.

DS:        And all week, he’s been talking to businesses who import billions of pounds ingredients, and so the immediate shock was watching as costs went up by the second as the pound fell.

IW:        It’s very difficult, in an industry where, remember, the margins are very tight because of the current supermarket competition, the very, very strong price wars.  Any changes to prices in those tight margins are very concerning.

DS:        North of the border, Ian Wright’s counterpart as a man called David Thomson.  Members of the Scottish Food and Drink Federation make up 20% of Scotland’s economy.  David had been looking forward to Friday June 24.

DAVID THOMSON:         I was lucky enough to be wondering around the Royal Highland Show which is a big agricultural show in Scotland, with lots of food companies there.  And most people’s immediate reaction was one of confusion and uncertainty.

DS:        Confusion and uncertainty quickly turned to anxiety for a group of members who campaigned hard for Remain – Scotland’s distillers.

DT:        Scotch whisky is the UK’s biggest food export, and therefore is Scotland’s biggest food export worth something north of £4.2 billion a year.  So, it’s not anything that can be played with.

DS:        Because however popular whisky has become in China and India, Europe remains the biggest market.  But their anxiety isn’t just about sales.  They also see EU membership as giving them more clout.

DT:        Not least of which is the weight of Europe in trade negotiations and protecting their intellectual property all over the world.

DS:        But for others in Scotland, June 24 was a long-awaited day of celebrations.

FISHERMAN:      It’s a totally new ballgame.  We just have to take stock and see where we go from here.

DS:        Unlike the distillers, Scotland’s fishermen wanted Out.

F:           You see I’m a bit emotional.  The strong we’ve had er . . . the last few years, watching the Europeans steal our fish away from us, it, yes, it was an emotional night.

DT:        They feel that they can better manage the seas than Brussels negotiations would ever get them, and so it has not been a unified picture in Scotland.

DS:        Someone else who I asked how their week had been had simply been trying to keep up with the quantity of stories coming from inside the food industry, which, I should mention, is the UK’s largest manufacturing sector, with more than £20 billion of exports at stake.

JULIA GLOTZ:     It’s been an absolutely extraordinary week (fades out)

DS:        That’s Julia Glotz, managing editor of The Grocer magazine, and during the publication’s 150 year history, they’ve covered the UK’s biggest food stories.

JG:         I remember the horsemeat scandal very well, but it didn’t feel quite as dramatic as this past week has been.  Some smaller manufacturers in particular, have told us that the price of their raw materials searched overnight and they’re very worried about the impact that is going to have longer term.  The conversations I’ve been having have been more, been more emotional than, than usual.

DS:        You mentioned this felt like a week . . . like no other, I mean, was there one conversation, one story that made you realise that?

JG:         (exhales) It’s the account of our bakery manufacturer, who, who told us just of her absolute despair, her worry for her Polish staff, whether she would be able to retain them, her concern about soaring raw material prices, and as a small business owner just some very, very urgent questions about her future.

DS:        Which got me thinking about a few people I thought might be vulnerable to the clear signs of economic shock, as George Osborne has described it, caused by the Brexit vote.  The young, small food businesses we feature each year in our BBC Food and Farming Awards.  And at this point, I think we all need a drink.

UNNAMED MALE 4:        A pint of (word unclear) please.

UNNAMED MALE 5:        Cannonball, which is our flagship IPA, full of American hops.

DS:        Magic Rock in Huddersfield is one of the UK is 1,300 breweries riding the wave of the craft beer revolution.  Its small, creative and inspirational team produce a growing range of beers, and with plans to expand and sell into Europe.  I arranged to meet one of the Magic Rock team as they arrived into King’s Cross Station to promote their beers in London.  I asked Becky Rothwell about her week.  She told me that after the referendum result there was an immediate effect.

BECKY ROTHWELL:         We’ve already experienced huge increases.  We get a lot of our hops from the USA, our container of key kegs that we used to package the beer cost an additional £800 to what it normally costs.  The . . .

DS:        £800 . . .

BR:        £800 extra, just because of the devaluation of the pound. We’re going to have to reconsider various things erm . . .

DS:        Like what?

BR:        The margins in beer are very small, so I can imagine a lot of people are going to struggle with it.  We just don’t know what’s going to happen.

DS:        Because their approach and their entire businesses is dependent on overseas ingredients – malt from Germany, specialist hops from the US.  Prices of both went up fast.

BR:        It’s already incredibly hard for small UK breweries to secure hops. Although we’re guaranteed the hops that we’ve got, they can’t guarantee the exchange rate.

DS:        One argument is it’s good for British hop growers?

BR:        Well, yeah, that is one of the things, but if you look at modern craft beer, everyone wants these US flavours that are coming out.

DS:        I predict a revival of Fuggle’s.

BR:        (laughs) Well, it’d be really interesting to see if in, you know, a few years we’ve got Fuggle’s IPA . . . is just dominating the market, because of this.

DS:        Fuggle’s – as many of you know – is a classic English hop. Meanwhile, in West Wales, another story was unfolding, the sounds of the pedigree Welsh pig.  Meet the owner of these pigs.

ILLTUD DUNSFORD:        I’m Illtud Dunsford and I’m the owner of Charcuterie Ltd.

DS:        As we now know, the majority of people in Wales voted to leave the European Union.  For Illtud, that came as a disappointment because the place where he lives, farmers and is building his business reveals a less familiar side of the EU story.

ID:         The farm’s in the Gwendraeth Valley in West Wales, and we’re classed as an Objective 1 area, so it’s seen as one of the areas with the most poverty really, in Europe, and because of that, because of its classification as an Objective 1 area, we’ve had funding over the last few years to invigorate the area, both in terms of jobs but also in terms of community. We’re a post-industrial area, we’re right on the edge of the South Wales coalfield, very, very high levels of disability, very high levels of unemployment. It’s hard to run a specialist business in an area like this, but it’s the right place to do it because we have access to widespread agriculture, but without that funding we wouldn’t create jobs.

DS:        Illtud’s business produces some of the finest cure meets in the country.  And the EU funding he received – a grant of £120,000 – was to build a new processing facility and create new jobs.  He’s done that.  And those jobs were going to help him sell his products into Europe.  That’s still his ambition, and so he is keen future negotiations with the EU are positive.  But when he turned on the television last Tuesday, he had a bad feeling.

NIGEL FARAGE: I said I wanted to leave a campaign to get Britain to leave the European Union, you all laughed at me – well I have to say, you’re not laughing now, are you?

ID:         (dry laugh) watching the response of the European Parliament to Nigel Farage, for somebody who wants to, or needs to have a good trade deal, that is not the way to approach it.  Who is the person that’s going to be doing this negotiation?  Because it has such wide-ranging impact on . . . on everything, all our lives. It’s just complete and utter uncertainty. We’re definitely on Plan B – Plan B, C, D . . . I guess it’s business as usual this, this week and for the next few weeks, er, while we, while we work out what the future holds. There was a great realisation a few years ago when one of our staff was talking about getting a mortgage, and . . . that was the key moment for me, that I realised how much responsibility I had as a business owner to my staff.  And since last week, it’s been my responsibility to them that we continue, that we forget about growth, that we forget about expansion, that it’s about securing all our livelihoods.  And it’s scary.

DS:        From West Wales, to a hotel lobby near Victoria train station in London.  I’d arranged to meet someone who’s been researching the implications of Brexit for the past two years, Professor Tim Lang of City University Centre for Food Policy.  Inside the hotel tourists were arriving, all were glued to television screens.

TOURIST:            Scary, yeah it’s just scary.

TOURIST 2:         Yeah.

T:           What’s going to happen to everyone. The, the whole economy in the world.

T2:         Yeah, how it’s going to bring all others into a recession.

DS:        Erm . . .

T:           Is there a plan in place?

DS:        Is there a plan in place? No, says Tim Lang, who is clearly having a bad week.  Because when it comes to food, having no plan translates as ‘we have a serious problem.’

PROFESSOR TIM LANG:  I think it’s deeply troubling time (sic). Our Centre wrote for briefing papers preparing for this, and the analysis we gave was very sober, saying this is an enormous impact on the food system if we choose to do it. We’re now in that reality. And what worries me mostly is that the political class is currently failing us.

DS:        The analysis Tim Lang mentioned consists of four research papers, covering a range of different aspects of the UK’s food system.  The Common Agricultural Policy and other EU food policies are far from perfect, he says, but his team’s conclusion was that they have helped to keep food prices relatively stable.

TL:         We then did a study looking at the big picture, of Brexit versus Bremain, and that made us even more concerned.  We thought the enormity of this really is not featuring in the debate.  Why? Why?  This is food.  This is what was one of the main motivations for the creation of the common market in the first place.  The Netherlands have had a famine in 1944, Europe had been devastated.  And then we did two other studies, one on horticulture in particular, because Britain is highly  exposed, we get . . . huge amount, big percentage of our horticulture, fruit and vegetable, from the European Union.  So, to summarise all of those papers, we concluded we could vote to leave and indeed we did, but if the people chose it a period of major reorganisation was needed.  And that was our final point.  We didn’t think the British state was ready for it, and what we’re seeing now in politics is a sign that we were absolutely right. There is very little civil service expertise, the politicians haven’t thought about it, there’s no Plan B.  The secretary of state even gave a speech in January saying there is no Plan B.  I mean, I nearly tore what her I’ve got left out of my head. There should be Plan B, there should be Plan C, D, E and everything.  So dear British consumer, think very carefully about this.

DS:        Those consumers will have been reading Tim – and this comes from you – history suggests that a country which only just feeds itself is in a potentially fragile state.  Now, aren’t you overstating it?

TL:         No, I’m quoting government figures.  54% of our food is home-grown, about 30% comes from the rest of the European Union, and the rest comes from around the world, coffee or tea for example. And when we look at the figures, the food trade gap is now £21 billion in deficit, so we think that’s, by any definition, fragile situation to be in.

DS:        On my phone, I have a question that’s come in from a Food Programme listener, I’ll just play you this and see if you can provide an answer.

ANGELA FIELD:  My name is Angela Field, and I wanted to know, as a result of Brexit, should we expect the price of imported foods to rise, and should we be looking to buy more from local producers and UK producers?

TL:         That’s a really good question, Angela.  One of the things on which there was absolute agreement among academics who looked was that food prices are highly likely to go up, because the pound, everyone agreed, and indeed it has now, would go down. Therefore imports will cost more.  Is that, the second part of your question, therefore a trigger that Britain produces more of its own?  In the long term, yes.  But who’s going to grow this? We rely upon foreign labour to produce the food, to grow it and to process it in the factories.  And as I’ve said in a Tweet, you know, those who voted for Brexit, are they now prepared to go and work picking Brussels sprouts and cabbage us, and lifting potatoes in Lincolnshire where I’m from?  Do they really want to do that?  I don’t see any sign of them wanting to do that?  Actually it’s eastern Europeans who are prepared to do it.  Come on, let’s get clear guys, this is, call it time here.  Do you want food from Britain?  In which case you’ve got to get going and doing it or not.

DS:        Another point being made is that at this point in time we are still one of the wealthiest economies in the world, we can spend our way out of this.  We can buy food on a global market post-Brexit?

TL:         Mr Gove, in an interview with the BBC, at one point said one of the things that he wanted to leave the European Union for was to open up trade with the rest of the world. So we can (fragment of word, or word unclear) in a throwaway remark he said, ‘We can get cheaper food from Africa’ – I thought Africa had a problem and it needed to feed itself? Is that option really moral and justified? I don’t think so. It’s a fantasy of free trade – very strange politics.

DS:        But not strange to people who spent much of their lives working hard to take the UK out of the EU.

TIM WORSTALL:              My name’s Tim Worstall, I’m a senior fellow at the Adam Smith Institute in London.

DS:        Which is a free market think tank and Tim Worstall was having a good week. For him, Brexit is mission accomplished.

TW:       I have actually been writing about this and working towards it for the last two decades.  Wonderful.  Superb.  First decent decision made in 20 years.

DS:        And among the arguments Tim has put forward for Brexit, either as a former speechwriter for Nigel Farage, or in his role at the Adam Smith Institute, many revolve around food.

TW:       I have a great interest in trade and food, obviously, is the most important thing that we human beings have traded over the millennia.

DS:        When you envisaged this moment arriving, did you expect a period that we’re currently going through that is instability, uncertainty and a degree of panic?

TW:       Yes.  There will be a large number of headless chickens running around, and after a few weeks, a month or two, everyone will realise the sun still rises in the morning, but now we get to make our choices.  That’s the only difference.

DS:        On a Skype line from his home in Portugal, Tim Worstall predicted that when things do settle down we can all look forward to a stable, more secure and affordable food future.

TW:       The bigger problem I think that people have got here is that they really just don’t quite understand how markets work. We do not buy food from the European continent because we are members of the European Union. It’s some farmer, it Georges or Jacques or Joaquim or somebody who sells something to Sainsbury’s, and why would that change just because we’ve changed the political arrangement?  Whatever tariffs food faces after Brexit will be determined exactly by the British government.  We get to decide what our import tariffs are.  Why are we going to make the things we want to buy more expensive for ourselves?  So, obviously, you know, we like buying continental food, great, we won’t have tariffs on continental food.  What’s the difference?

DS:        What would you say to people who point to the fact that we have some of the cheapest food in Europe, in fact, the proportion of the income that we spend on food has decreased.

TW:       Yeah, well, I mean that’s, that’s just . . . part and parcel of getting richer.  Food is what called a . . .

DS:        (interrupting) But that, that has happened under EU membership.

TW:       We have to pay quite large tariffs to import food from outside the European Union.  I think it’s something like 30%-35% on sugar at the moment. Okay, so, we’re outside the European Union, we now decide that we want to buy sugar not from the European Union, we don’t have to charge ourselves 35% on importing sugar from Guadalupe or Martinique or wherever, we’re fifth, sixth, seventh, whatever it is, richest nation on the planet. Here in the UK, or you there in the UK, should be growing the high value stuff that Britain grows really well. I mean, our grass-fed beef, for example, is some of the best in the world.  People line up to buy joints of it.  But it’s simple stuff like turnips or wheat.  Why should we even think about trying to grow it in the UK when there’s the vast steps of the Ukraine, or the American Midwest or the Canadians, at hundreds of dollars a ton, and ship it to us? Why would we bother to make this cheap stuff when we’re a high income, high cost nation.

DS:        And his post-Brexit food vision isn’t based on some theoretical economic model, it actually exists.  To find out more, over to Dave Harrison of Beef and Lamb New Zealand, the organisation that promotes the country’s meat exports around the world.  He remembers the 1980s when the subsidy system came to an end.

DAVE HARRISON:            About 40% of our farmers’ income was coming from subsidies back in those days.  But the government had essentially run out of money, and so overnight it had to go. They were there one day and they weren’t there the next. It was a really difficult time for New Zealand.  Once you’re not being paid to produce, which is what we were being paid to produce, and in those days we had 70 million sheep in New Zealand, and so now we have half that number of sheep, our farmers are focused on genetics, they’re focused on . . . you know, what you can do with feed on the farm.  Back in those days when we had 70 million lambs they were . . . small, and there was a lot of sheep that people don’t want to buy, they don’t want a, like a small leg for a Sunday roast.

DS:        And so the livestock and the food produced changed.  And the country’s farmers were forced to rethink their business plans.  But should we expect a future in which food production becomes simpler, more vibrant and free from unnecessary red tape?  Well no, says journalist and food writer Rose Prince.  She spent her week reflecting on a story she investigated 16 years ago.

ROSE PRINCE:    In 2000, it became apparent that the small-scale abattoirs in Britain were closing down in huge numbers, which was a great problem for . . . farmers in areas where there was a long distance for their livestock to travel.

DS:        In fact, between 1985 and today, the number of abattoirs declined from 1000 to fewer than 200. And for the most part this happened without any real scrutiny by journalists.

RP:         It wasn’t seen as exactly a very sexy story for the newspapers.  You had to fight to get this told, past your editor.  The general consensus at the time, whenever you discuss donor’s regulations, that the fault was always Brussels and that Brussels were imposing all sorts of incredibly thick red tape all over the food industry and making it incredibly hard, particularly for the smaller producer, because, of course, regulations always cost the producer money to implement.  So, everywhere I went, I’d hear ‘Oh, it’s Brussels, it’s Brussels’.

DS:        But then, an opportunity came up to fully investigate the issue.

RP:         There were two committees of enquiry at Westminster looking into the meat regulations at the time.  I worked on one of them, as a committee member.  I learned from this information-gathering on the inquiry that it’s not always Brussels, and that very often it is up to the government of whichever member state to interpret rules.  And the real problem is that I think our Ministry interpreted the rules in a way that was so own arrests to the producers, it was almost hostile.

DS:        The decline in abattoirs accelerated in the years that followed the outbreak of BSE.  And so a heavy-handed approach by government might come as no surprise.  But, for Rose Prince, the media’s handling of the story was shocking.

ROSE PRINCE:    There was a willingness to believe that it is all the fault of Brussels.  We would be reading stories about straight bananas and people absolutely loved to believe all of that.  When it came to more difficult subjects like the meat industry, if you went to an editor and said, ‘I really need to tell you that this actually not the case, and it’s our government to have the problem’ they weren’t that willing to go along with that. And I mean, this is where it’s been for absolutely years.  And is even now.

DS:        We’re quickly learning that the Brexit story, including its impact on food will take years, and more likely, generations to unfold.  But things are moving fast, and the head of the Cabinet Office, Oliver Letwin, is now leading a team that will shape future negotiations with the EU. Our food future has to be treated as a top priority, argues Professor Tim Lang.

TL:         In Mr Letwin’s new unit, which Prime Minister Cameron has said he’s setting up, there needs to be a big bunch of food specialists in there, or else people like me are very worried, indeed.  Why?  Because food security matters.  Food has a great capacity to create riots.  Food ought to be for health, for biodiversity, for good things in life, all the things the Food Programme has celebrated since Derek Cooper started it.  We want to maintain that, but we’re now in tricky waters.  Food has got to be in those negotiations, we’ve got to have specialists brought back out of retirement, because DEFRA has sacked huge swathes of its workforce, and we’ve got to make sure that the public health and environmental interests, and consumer interests are right in the centre of those we negotiations.

DS:        Finally, for people listening to this, saying Professor Tim Lang, please say something positive, what would you say to them?

TL:         I think this is potentially the most exciting and interesting time for food democracy in Britain, and I don’t say that lightly. These are times – so why do I think this is exciting? Because in Britain we have an extraordinary food movement, there has been a renaissance over the last 30 years of food thinking, experimentation, and we see this in the generation gap – why have young people voted so strongly for Europe? Because they’re Europeans in their food culture.  So I think there is an opportunity for progressive food movements to come forward and say we want a good food system for Britain.  If the political classes can’t deliver that, well we have to push it onto them.

DS:        Professor Tim Lang, in the podcast edition of this programme, you can hear more on the unfolding story of Brexit and our future food. Including Rose Prince’s take on why we should pay attention to something that at first glance might appear trivial – the 73 British foods that come under the EU’s Protected Name Scheme, from Stilton cheese to Yorkshire rhubarb, Scotch beef to Welsh lamb.

RP:         If we, through leaving Europe, lose the right to participate in the Protected Food schemes, it will be a tragedy. It’s good for our industry.

DS:        And you’ll also hear from chef Angela Hartnett, and reactions to the Brexit vote from inside the restaurant world – a UK industry with a workforce of more than 600,000 people.

ANGELA HARTNETT:       The one thing that comes through more than anything in the restaurant industry is movement of people. My restaurant, 70% are Europeans – easily.

DS:        That’s all in this week’s special edition of the Food Programme’s podcast, and we will of course be following events and bringing you up to speed as this story unfolds. For now, I hope the next time we ask ‘how has your week been?’ the answer is a positive one.

 

Photo by GinkgoTelegraph

Newsnight uses poll to push ‘remain’

Newsnight uses poll to push ‘remain’

At the beginning of Newsnight on Friday night was a poll by Ipsos Mori about alleged post-vote attitudes to the EU referendum.

Presenter James O’Brien said that 56% of leavers and 76% of remainers thought negotiations would not yield a good ‘exit’ deal, 16% thought the UK would not actually leave (with 22% not knowing), and that ‘almost half’ of voters thought there should be a general election to vote on the ‘exit’ deal.  The commentary linked to the 5% disc above, used in the graphics about the poll, suggested that significant numbers of ‘leave’ voters now wanted to change their minds – planting the idea that if there was a re-run, there might be a ‘remain’ vote.

The rest of the programme magnified this, suggested that ‘Brexit’ sentiment was closely linked with the Front National in France and further posited that, against the background of the uncertainties, the 48% who had voted ‘remain’ might now effectively be without representation.

After the poll intro, the next sequence of the programme investigated what was happening over the Labour and Conservative leadership struggles. Political editor Nick Watt concluded:

British politics is being refashioned right in front of our eyes. But even in the middle of a revolution, perhaps it will be the steadiest member of the crew who will guide us to the next stage.

O’Brien then reminded viewers that immediately after the referendum vote, Newsnight had visited a pub in Burnley to canvass opinions. He said that Nick Blakemore had re-visited the pub to find if there had been much change.

The opinions he gathered were:

Delighted with the poll outcome

Got to work together to make it work.

We are all in the same boat – not now leave or remain and must move forward

The UK has left

The UK was leaving but voters had to remember that many had voted remain

Friends who are on either side but not falling out.

England is not an easy touch – you cannot come here and take advantage of the country

Tired of paying out for people who think it a career option to be a dosser, get a council house and take, take, take. We are working men and are sick of this

A remain voter said:

I actually voted ‘In’ last week. The reason was because erm . . .  I just feel that Britain has a massive role to play in the European Union and it doesn’t make sense for me for us to come out of that. I’m a second-generation Italian, so my mum and dad came over here. What I think the biggest thing is that . . .  I was born here but all my friends around here in Burnley have no issue whatsoever with any foreign people coming to this country, because, as long as the foreign people that come here contribute, that is the main thing. The biggest problem this country has is any foreign people who come over here and grab from the state, I think that’s the biggest issue.

I voted leave because I want a say in the laws we make

I voted leave, but I am not sure if it was the right thing to do.

People are making laws that we don’t have a say over 

There’s been a decline in living standards in the North of England, compared with, say, Basingstoke.

Anyone who is annoyed with the vote should get involved in politics.

If the left are to win ever again they have got to realise they have to respect the voice of normal working people.

We are going to get screwed either way.    

The longest most prominent contribution was from a remain supporter who strongly supported immigration and said it made no sense for Britain to leave the EU. The reporter found no one who was equally eloquent in supporting the leave position. By contrast. the ‘leavers’ statements were staccato and fragmentary – they didn’t like scroungers, laws being made elsewhere or being taken for granted by people who thought they were smarter.

James O’Brien then turned to studio guest novelist Kazuo Ishiguro, a man he said was ‘responsible for a lyrical evocation of interwar England so powerful and convincing that it won a Booker prize’. He added that he was thus a literary poster boy for a multicultural Britain and full integration – and was worried that ‘Britain may be in some sort of mortal threat’.

Ishiguro said he thought that the claim was ‘melodramatic’, but there was a serious threat. The nation was now bitterly divided, was leaderless and anxious. He said that if he was a strategist for the ‘far right’ he would now be getting very excited; it was the best opportunity since the 1930s to push Britain towards neo Nazism racism. People had to show decent heart.

James O’Brien suggested that in this connection, there had been some ‘grim tales’ this week. Ishiguro agreed that he was shaken, but despite what had happened, he had faith in the essential decency of the country.  He said he had grown up often as the only foreigner but the National Front and the BNP had never got a hold of the country – the UK did racism really badly. It was important, though, not to get complacent now, the decent part of the country needed something to rally around.

O’Brien responded:

….as you refer to in your piece, who voted to leave the European Union, and will be just chilled by the spectre that you portray as anybody on the Remain side is. It’s a challenge to really separate, isn’t it, the toxicity that seems to have been emboldened by the result and the people who will be just as alarmed by that emboldening as, as anybody else is. How, how can we do that?

Ishiguro said the majority of the people who voted leave were not racist…but some were. He wanted a petition from the leave side to say they were not in favour of the xenophobia and racism that was threatening to take over.

O’Brien asked if he had experienced any of that. He said not but said lots of people were really anxious, and there were reports that things that were not acceptable before were seeming to be so now. O’Brien asked if this included people being asked to go home. Ishiguro said the leave side needed to declare that they were not racist. O’Brien asked if this should include a hashtag. Ishiguro said he agreed it should. He then declared:

. . . you know, thing, I, I’m one of the people that would like to see a second referendum, not a replay of the last one.  But I think we, what we lack now is a proper mandate for the new Prime Minister, whoever it is, on what sort of Brexit we are going to go for.  And I think we need another . . . some sort of discussion for a referendum.

JO:         (speaking over) And you, you’ve, you’ve pulled the pin on a second r— a second referendum grenade just as our time together comes to an end. So we shall, we shall have to leave it there . . .

O’Brien then introduced a sequence about France’s attitudes towards Brexit. He noted that growing numbers of people there might want a referendum. Gabriel Gatehouse’s first port of call was George Bertrand, who during the referendum campaign had appeared on Newsnight to say how strongly he opposed both the holding of the referendum and a UK exit.  They had ended his ‘European dreams’.  His first words in this report were:

I’m sad and angry. I always wanted Britain to be part of European dreams… The results for Britain are extremely complex difficult to manage. But it is not only a domestic issue, but as it concerns us too….We consider Britain as an exceptional country. As itself, the role it has played in two wars, the way democratic life was developed… At the same time, we were absolutely aware that Europe without Britain was not Europe. The English Parliamentary tradition has a very positive influence on the European Parliament started to evolve.

The report then contained a vox pop regretting that Britain was leaving. Gatehouse also spoke to three members of the Front National, who said they were pleased with the referendum result, and linked themselves to other anti-EU movements in Europe, including Ukip.   He then spoke to Marine Le Pen, leader of the Front National. She said:

It’s the same cocktail than for the Brexit in a way, it’s anti-immigrant feeling, because it’s an open door to immigration, refugees and possibly terrorism, so the second issue is insecurity, law and order. And the third dimension is anti-elites, the idea that the people who govern us, they are so far away, they don’t understand us, the little people. And they are corrupt.

Gatehouse said:

And here is a curious paradox. In a country with a proud, democratic tradition, many people feel disenfranchised. Sure, they can vote for a choice of parties and politicians, but many feel the politicians are all saying the same things, in a language they no longer understand. It’s not just France. In corridors of power across Europe, politicians, the centrist establishment, the people who by and large have governed this continent since the end of the Second World War, are suddenly realising that for a whole variety of different reasons, vast swathes of their electorate simply don’t believe in them anymore. It’s not that the centrists aren’t aware of the problem, they are. They just don’t seem to know what to do about it.

PIERRE LELLOUCH French Minister for Europe, 2009-10:  People have a sense that they are losing the control of their nation. As a result of globalisation, the arrival of huge companies from the other side of the world, who are now controlling the economy. You are losing control of the economy, you are losing control of the people coming into your nation. A lot of poor whites consider they are losing money, they are paying for the newcomers. And I sense this anger all over the country here in France. And I’m worried about that. Because governments are . . . tend to . . .  For example, right now, they are involved in legislation that has no impact on these issues but you know, but it’s like a theatre.

GG:        You’re irrelevant?

PL:         In many ways, yes. Because of lack of courage, essentially.

George Bertrand had the last words. He said:

Britain used to rule the world. Europe used to rule the world. That’s finished….. I’m angry because we are putting our respective security in danger and democracy in danger. In spite of the economic and social divisions in Europe, we are the most balanced part of the world. The most human part of the world, the most socially-advanced in the world. That could be jeopardised.

James O’Brien opened the final sequence by stressing very strongly that the 48% who had voted ‘remain’ found themselves with ‘absolutely nothing’.  He asserted:

Politically your position is, in many ways, no stronger than if you’d won 0%. With all the Conservative leadership candidates now fully committed to Brexit and the winner of course guaranteed to govern, what will opposition even look like? And who will speak for the 48%?

He introduced his next guests, ‘journalist and broadcaster, Paul Mason, The Times columnist Phil Collins, and adviser to Nick Clegg, Polly McKenzie.’

Paul Mason suggested that the Labour party had scored a ‘fantastic success’ by knocking George Osborne away from fiscal rule. The task now was to push for more investment in business and tax cuts. Collins disagreed and said the reason for the change was the massive shock of leaving the EU.  O’Brien suggested that something more fundamental than infighting and squabbles. McKenzie agreed:

I think something has to change, because as you said in your intro, there’s nobody who really represents the 48%, the people who voted for Remain. And we don’t even have a mandate for a government to negotiate our Brexit. As we were hearing earlier, we don’t know what kind of Brexit we want – a sort of economically sensible EEA-type strategy or, you know, full complete distance and we just cut ourselves off and float in the mid-Atlantic?  And actually, unless there’s some sort of election or some sort of realignment of politics, nobody has a mandate to make that decision.

O’Brien asked what the alignment would look like. McKenzie said it was hard to see the Liberal Democrats leading it because they had only eight MPs. O’Brien noted that leader Tim Farron had committed to a campaign that would involve fighting to get back into the EU. McKenzie confirmed that this was the case and felt ‘very strongly represented by that’, but there was not enough support to build a new party. Collins suggested that if the Labour MPs who did not support Jeremy Corbyn broke away and formed a new party, that would be a great outcome.  Paul Mason said that the ‘centrist politics’ that wanted to re-join the EU would have to be a new party because neither Conservatives or Labour would do that. McKenzie said something needed doing urgently in terms of renegotiation, but at the moment there was a Cabinet office team of only three engaged in it. Collins said the referendum vote did not give a mandate for anything – it was only to leave.

ANALYSIS

What were the aims of this programme?  Clearly a central thread was the Newsnight-commissioned opinion poll. The findings were projected by James O’Brien to suggest primarily that the referendum had raised more questions than it answered, and that many ‘leave’ voters were now, in any case changing their minds.

The sequence from Burnley provided a range of opinions about what people had voted for and what they were expecting in the wake of the ‘out’ vote, but gave most prominence to a ‘remain’ voter whose contribution was that Britain still had a big part to play in the EU, and that immigration was vital to the economy.

Following on from that James O’Brien interviewed Remains of the Day author Yazua Ishiguro, who he said was very able and a strong supporter of multiculturalism. O’Brien worked with him – he asked no adversarial questions – in developing several ideas, including that a second referendum might be necessary, that the danger was that ‘the ‘leave’ vote would be a lever for the far right to introduce Nazi-style policies and that intolerance would increase.

The sequence from France gave pride of place to George Bertrand, who had helped take the UK into the EEC and now was angry because the UK had voted to leave. He claimed that this jeopardised the EU’s achievements and Europe’s place in the world. Gabriel Gatehouse also drew attention, as the main focus of his reporting, to that Marine le Pen, leader of the front National, and her supporters strongly supported Brexit and saw it as a means of reinforcing their own position.

The final section was predicated upon O’Brien’s statement that 48% of the electorate were left with nothing by the ‘leave’ vote.  He steered the discussion with the three supporters of remain so that they were given the opportunity to say that Brexit should not happen without a further election and that a new political party was required to represent the ‘remain’ side. He also gave a platform for former Newsnight economics editor Mason to argue extensively for tax cuts and to claim that the decision by George Osborne to, in effect, end austerity was a victory for the left.

In overall terms, therefore, the programme was focused through the prism of the findings of the opinion poll on giving five ardent ‘remain’ supporters a platform for suggesting that Brexit must not actually happen and was a disaster for the EU and the UK. It was a blatantly one-sided presentation and appeared to be a continuation of what looks like Newsnight’s deliberate campaign to reverse the referendum verdict.

Another major issue was the programme’s use of the opinion poll.

The BBC’s editorial guidelines contain clear advice about the use of such polls. It is stated:

Opinion polls, surveys, questionnaires, phone and online votes are useful and fruitful ways of listening to our audiences.  However, when we report them, the audience must be able to trust that the research – and our reporting of it – is robust.  To avoid misleading the audience, we should be rigorous in using precise language and in our scrutiny of the methodology.

We must also avoid commissioning any of our own research that could suggest a BBC position on a particular policy or issue.

There were three direct infringements of the guidelines.

First, Newsnight does increasingly have a position on the referendum result. It is on a mission to present as much evidence as possible to undermine it. The poll was framed to amplify that message, to show that voters wanted a fresh chance to vote in a general election, and had changed their minds.

Second, in the wake of the referendum, there is clear evidence that in this arena, polls are not reliable. Only two of the surveys published close to polling day predicted a ‘leave’ vote. One poll gave  a 10% advantage to ‘remain’ and Ipsos Mori (Newsnight’s pollster) 4%. In the wake of the referendum polls, Populus has issued a guidance note spelling out that, in effect, there is a huge question mark over how the lack of accuracy can be addressed. They state:

Having now studied turnout at the referendum and compared it to our analysis of the demographic composition of the voting electorate at previous referendums and general elections, we have concluded that turnout patterns are so different that a demographically based propensity-to-vote model is unlikely ever to produce an accurate picture of turnout other than by sheer luck.

We will continue to examine these methodological challenges in producing accurate snapshots and predictions of how the country will vote.  We will not publish another such poll until we are confident that it is right.

In that context of uncertainty, it seems extraordinary that Newsnight decided to commission a poll at all. The suspicion must be that the editors were desperate to find another way of showing that voters were now unsure about the result, and projected the findings as an ‘objective’ and reliable verification of that. Nothing of what O’Brien said gave a warning that there was a huge question mark over the reliability of such polls. This was a direct breach of the editorial guidelines.

Third – and even worse, perhaps – two separate statistics of polling information were conflated so as to overemphasise the numbers who said they would change their vote.

92% of the Ipsos Mori respondents said they would not change their minds if asked to vote in a second referendum (with 4% saying they would change their vote, 3% saying they didn’t know, and 1% saying they wouldn’t vote)

Newsnight presented this 92% figure in the graphic shown above. However, O’Brien then introduced an additional statistic: that 5% of Remain voters and 2% of Leave voters said they would now change their vote. Two smaller circles were duly placed on the chart to reflect this, despite these numbers having no direct correlation to the initial 92% figure. Therefore, the graphics and commentary suggested 7% wishing to change their votes, whereas the Ipsos Mori data itself had given a figure of just 4%.

Further, the two smaller circles of 5% and 2% cannot even be fairly compared to each other, given that more voted to Leave in the referendum than voted to Remain. The only way to have fairly reflected this difference would have been to have introduced a second chart, showing the overall numbers of Leave and Remain voters, and how potential shifts in voting intention might have affected the totals.

A closer inspection of the Ipsos Mori data also reveals that, to produce the 5% and 2% figures, two responses were combined: those who would ‘definitely’ change their vote, and those who ‘probably’ change their vote.

Had Newsnight focused only on those who were certain to change their votes, then the chart and commentary would have been even less striking: only 1.1% of those polled would definitely change their Leave vote, and just 0.4% would definitely change their Remain vote – a far less dramatic statistic than the one selected.

Put another way – bringing in the unweighted sample size of 935 voters who were actual consulted to reach these findings –  only FIVE  people told Ipsos Mori that they would definitely change their mind from ‘leave’ and two people said they would definitely switch from ‘remain’.  On that highly tenuous basis, Newsnight told its viewers, in effect  that 5% of total ‘leave’ vote of 17.4m was considering changing sides. This was a preposterous extrapolation.

Is there other evidence that Newsnight is in such campaigning mode? The News-watch post about the previous Friday’s edition is one instance. Further examples of such bias are on the Is the BBC Biased?  website.

Of all this evidence, perhaps the most devastating is Evan Davis’s hugely negative treatment of ‘leave supporter Crispin Blunt MP last Thursday evening (30/6) in his capacity of chair of the Commons foreign affairs select committee.   Blunt argued that it was likely that the UK could get a positive deal in the Brexit trade negotiations with the EU, and would also be able to influence free movement of peoples. Analysis of the transcript indicates that Davis tried extraordinarily hard to prevent Blunt making his points. The full exchange is below. It was 1,420 words.  Evan Davis spoke 624 words (44%) and Crispin Blunt 796 words (56%). There were 37 interruptions, at a rate of six per minute, among the highest recorded by news-watch in an equivalent interview.

 

Transcript of BBC2, Newsnight, 1st July, EU Referendum, 10.30pm (Extract on Polling)

JAMES O’BRIEN:              For once, the clichés seem almost inadequate. It really was a political earthquake. We really are in uncharted waters and we really do have no idea what happens next. So, the search for clarity, and maybe even some certainty, is underway. And while it’s a little previous to suggest that much dust has settled, a week has now passed since the Referendum result was revealed, so we have, at least, had some time to consider its possible ramifications. Time now, then, obviously, for a poll examining where we were, where we are and where we think we might be going with Brexit. It’s thrown up a few surprises and some rather bad news for anyone hoping that they’d seen the back of the ballot box for a while. Have you had enough of voting yet? Apparently not. In fact almost half of voters polled said Britain should hold another general election before the UK starts to negotiate Brexit, so that each party can set out its own vision for life outside the EU. And maybe this is why. 59% told us they were not confident in Britain’s political leaders getting the best possible Brexit deal for Britain. That rises to 76% of Remain voters. And what about buyer’s remorse? All those voters who supposedly want to change their minds? Well, maybe not. 92% of respondents said they would definitely vote the same way. But of them, 5% of Leave voters did say they would now change their vote, compared to just 2% of Remain voters. And finally, imagine if this all just went away. Well, more than a third of voters they think it might. 22% said they don’t know if Britain will actually leave the EU and 16% think the UK will actively defy the Brexit vote and find a way to stay in. Of course, that’s only part of the post-Ref picture. The real action is unfolding at Westminster where just about everything is up for grabs on both sides of the House.

 

Transcript of BBC2, Newsnight, 29th June 2016, Interview with Crispin Blunt, 10.49pm

EVAN DAVIS:     Joining me now, Conservative MP, and chair of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee, Crispin Blunt, who has declared he’s backing Boris Johnson, a very good evening to you.

CRISPIN BLUNT: Good evening.

ED:        (speaking over) You were just explaining something to me, you’re not really worried about the negotiation at all, because you think if it all fails we’re still in an okay situation?

CB:        Well, the Foreign Affairs Committee looked at this and we published our report on the 26 April, I suggest people read it, erm, because it is highly likely our European partners are not going to be able to agree on a negotiating strategy between themselves.  They have to . . . and if they . . . if there’s qualified minority blocking a deal, either those people who want to deal er, er, positively with UK or those who want to be seen to be . . .

ED:        (speaking over) Punish . . .

CB:        . . . to punish us, er, then that doesn’t work, and equally, the European Parliament has to approve this as well . . .

ED:        (speaking over) Right so, if, if, if all of that . . .

CB:        . . . and the mood there is .  .

ED:        (speaking over) fails, then, then . . .

CB:        So . . . then, er, we go to . . . have to sell into the European single market, on most-favoured nation terms of WTO rules, tariffs at about an average of 3% – 10% in some areas, such as on cars and things . . .

ED:        (speaking over) Your point is that is not the end of the world . . .

CB:        That is . . .

ED:        (speaking over) That’s perfectly (words unclear)

CB:        (speaking over) And that’s how we sell into the . . .

ED:        (speaking over) Okay.

CB:        . . . United States. But no, but it’s better than that, Evan, because we then, er, get control of immigration, we have control of free movement of people, and we then don’t have free movement of . . .

ED:        (speaking over) Okay.

CB:        . . . labour into the UK, we don’t have to pay £20 billion . . .

ED:        (speaking over) No, well that, look . . .

CB:        . . . into the EU budget, okay, we then get £10 billion back, but we can at least decide where that £20 billion gets spent.  It gets even better than that.  We are then in a position where we are regulating our own market, and where there are issues . . .

ED:        (interrupting) Okay, so I understand, you basically think the backstop, if everything else fails, is, is, is, not to bad . . .

CB:        (speaking over) I think people should appreciate actually just how strong . . .

ED:        (speaking over) What, what, Boris Johnson, can I just ask you . . .

CB:        . . . the British hand is.

ED:        (speaking over) I want to ask you what you understood by what Boris Johnson wrote in The Telegraph the other day, this line he wrote about British people would be able to go and work in the EU, live, travel, study, buy homes and settle down there.  What do you think he meant by that, when he wrote that was going to be the outcome of the negotiation?

CB:        What . . . I don’t, I don’t know what . . .

ED:        (speaking over) You don’t know?

CB:        I don’t know, I don’t know . . .

ED:        (speaking over) (words unclear)

CB:        I don’t know what, well, well . . .

ED:        (speaking over) Can you, can you foresee any outcome . . .

CB:        (speaking over) I don’t know what Boris, er, meant by that, there is plainly going to be . . .

ED:        (speaking over) You don’t know what he . . . can you see any outcome where that, if that happens . . .

CB:        (speaking over) Yeah, well, if you look . . .

ED:        . . . and we don’t . . .

CB:        (speaking over) Well . . .

ED:        We can restrict them . . .

CB:        Can we go and live in the United States if we have the means and ability to do so, if we get a gre— . . .

ED:        (speaking over) Is that what he meant when he said that? Is that what he meant?

CB:        (speaking under) a green card. Er . . .

ED:        I can’t go and live in the United States . . .

CB:        (speaking over) But . . . but . . .

ED:        I have to get a job and get a green card.

CB:        Er, and get a green card. Now that may be . . .

ED:        (interrupting) Sorry, I’ll tell you why I’m pushing this, you’re supporting him, he’s written this thing which is . . . appears to imply ‘We will stop them coming here, but we will have the right to go there’ . . .

CB:        No, and if that’s . . .

ED:        (speaking over) He’s just been in the middle of a campaign, he ought to know whether that is achievable or not, and I’m asking you whether . . .

CB:        Well, I, I . . .

ED:        . . . you think it is achievable?

CB:        (speaking over) Well . . . er, my view is that, er, we will come, have to come to a deal about how people move between the United Kingdom and the rest of the European Union.

ED:        Can you see . . .

CB:        And we go into those . . .

ED:        (speaking over) that they will allow us freedom of movement without us allowing them freedom of movement? Because that is what your candidate . . .

CB:        (speaking over) No, and that’s why . . .

ED:        . . . from Prime Minister . . .

CB:        That’s why . . .

ED:        . . . who is meant to be an expert on this, having run a campaign on it has just (word unclear due to speaking over ‘written’?)

CB:        (speaking over) Well, if you could . . . I’m quite certain that everyone is now going to disinter everything that Boris has said, because there’s obviously a significant campaign to try and . . .

ED:        (interrupting) What?! Is this unreasonable, to take something he wrote in article for which he was paid several thousand pounds, at the end of a campaign, he wrote something that was reassuring . . .

CB:        Well . . .

ED:        . . . about what would be the position for the British, that appears, to most commentators, utterly incoherent . . .

CB:        (speaking over) There is a . . .

ED:        (speaking over) Does that not worry you about the candidate you’re supporting?

CB:        There’s . . . uncertainty all over the place, erm, amongst the candidates, in certainly, in, certainly in the media, please let me . . . to finish this point, and it is extremely important to the national interest now, that we actually get some, as much certainty as possible about what the bottom line is for the United Kingdom. The bottom line . . . for the United Kingdom (fragments of words, or words unclear due to speaking over)

ED:        (speaking over) You’ve explained the bottom line, which is . . .

CB:        And that position . . .

ED:        (speaking over) But if we take the bottom line . . .

CB:        (speaking over) Wait, wait, well, well, hold on, hold on (fragment of word, or word unclear due to speaking over)

ED:        (speaking over) Will I be able to live, travel, study, buy a home, settle down in France, do you think? Under your bottom line?

CB:        Well no, if the, if the . . .

ED:        (speaking over) Right . . .

CB:        . . . if the negotiations (fragments of words, unclear due to speaking over)

ED:        (speaking over) Right. So how can Boris give me that reassurance in his article?

CB:        Well, because that’s no doubt what he is seeking to achieve.  And it is obviously in the mutual interest of both United Kingdom and our European partners that that is the case, in exactly the same way . . .

ED:        (exhales or laughing?)

CB:        Evan, in exactly the same way as it is in our mutual interest that the tariff regime, particularly in the interests of our European partners, that if they sell nearly twice as many manufactured goods to was as we sell to them, that they would want to see those tariffs reduced.

ED:        Can I give you a quickfire round, because there are some issues, which I know . . . well, do you think, immigration from non-EU countries, if Boris, your candidate wins, will go up . . . or not . . .

CB:        (speaking over) (fragment of word, unclear)

ED:        . . . when we have our new immigration regime?

CB:        (fragment of word, unclear)

ED:        Because promises were made to Asian communities that it would be easier to get relatives in.  Do you think immigration will go up or down?

CB:        Well, my view is that we should regulate immigration from outside the United Kingdom (sic?) consistently across, so people face the same rules . . .

ED:        (speaking over) More or less from outside the EU?

CB:        Both the regulation should be the same from (words unclear due to speaking over)

ED:        (speaking over) Okay, you’re not going to answer that.

CB:        (fragments of words, or words unclear)

ED:        (speaking over) You’re not answering it.

CB:        No Evan, this is, Evan, this is rather more serious, this trying to score . . .

ED:        (speaking over) I’m not, these are just really basic questions . . .

CB:        (speaking over) to try to . . .

ED:        . . . which have not been answered in the campaign . . .

CB:        (speaking over) But you know, you know perfectly well . . .

ED:        (speaking over) and which your candidate is now going to stand for Prime Minister . . .

CB:        (speaking over) But . . . but you know, but you know perfectly well that, er, the numbers of people that come into the United Kingdom are not necessarily, depending on what system you set up, is then going to depend . . .

ED:        (speaking over) Right . . .

CB:        . . . how many people come into the United Kingdom, so if you put . . .

ED:        (speaking over) So maybe . . .

CB:        . . . so if you put a . . . cap on the number of visas you’re going to allow . . .

ED:        (speaking over) Right.

CB:        . . . that’s one way of controlling it. Are you going to seek control . . .

ED:        (interrupting) So it can go a lot of ways . . .

CB:        . . . by the number of, (fragments of words, unclear) by . . .

ED:        (speaking over) Any, any . . .

CB:        . . . by issuing green cards.

ED:        (speaking over) Any suggestion made in the campaign . . .

CB:        And finally . . . and finally, we are going to have control over this. So we are then going to be . . . do the very important business of trying to protect British unskilled and semi-skilled labour from having to compete with people who have professional qualifications, from Central, Eastern and Southern Europe, or indeed, anywhere else in the world.  That’s why they are not allowed into the United Kingdom (words unclear due to speaking over)

ED:        (speaking over) That is a very long way of saying . . .

CB:        . . . outside the European Union.

ED:        . . . you don’t know whether immigration will go up or not. Crispin Blunt (laughter in voice) sorry we have to leave it there, thanks very much indeed.  Thanks.

 

Transcript of BBC2, Newsnight, 1st July, EU Referendum, 10.30pm

Opening Montage

Music with the lyrics ‘The world turned upside down’ repeated throughout.

DAVID CAMERON:          I do not think it would be right for me to try to be the captain that steers our country to its next destination.

EMILY MAITLIS: When you voted leave, was it about the EU, was it picking the government, was about change of any kind? Or was it about something I haven’t mentioned?

UNNAMED FEMALE:       It’s everything.

UNNAMED FEMALE:       Everything.

EM:       Right.

HILARY BENN:   I no longer had confidence in his leadership.

ANGELA EAGLE: I feel that I’ve served in the best way I can.

REPORTER:         Here at Westminster in the last few minutes there are more Labour resignations, three Shadow ministers . . .

UNNAMED FEMALE:       He doesn’t need them shadow cabinets, get an . . . get an election and he’ll get in.

JEREMY CORBYN:            Seumas, I’m not sure this is a great idea, is it?

DC:        And I thought I was having a bad day ! (Laughter)

JEAN-CLAUDE JUNCKER:              You were fighting for the exit. The British people voted in favour of the exit, why are you here?

THERESA MAY:  My pitch is very simple, I’m Theresa May and I think I’m the best person to be Prime Minister of this country.

VICTORIA DERBYSHIRE: Tom, Tom, I’m really sorry to interrupt, but we’re just hearing that Michael Gove is preparing to announce his candidacy as well.

JOURNALIST:     What is your to Michael Gove? What is your to Michael Gove?

BORIS JOHNSON:            I have . . . concluded that person cannot be me.

MICHAEL GOVE:              I came reluctantly but firmly to the conclusion that I should stand and Boris should stand aside.

BJ:         I cannot, unfortunately, get on with doing what I want to do, so it will be up to someone else now. I wish them every possible success.

JAMES O’BRIEN:              For once, the clichés seem almost inadequate. It really was a political earthquake. We really are in uncharted waters and we really do have no idea what happens next. So, the search for clarity, and maybe even some certainty, is underway. And while it’s a little previous to suggest that much dust has settled, a week has now passed since the Referendum result was revealed, so we have, at least, had some time to consider its possible ramifications. Time now, then, obviously, for a poll examining where we were, where we are and where we think we might be going with Brexit. It’s thrown up a few surprises and some rather bad news for anyone hoping that they’d seen the back of the ballot box for a while. Have you had enough of voting yet? Apparently not. In fact almost half of voters polled said Britain should hold another general election before the UK starts to negotiate Brexit, so that each party can set out its own vision for life outside the EU. And maybe this is why. 59% told us they were not confident in Britain’s political leaders getting the best possible Brexit deal for Britain. That rises to 76% of Remain voters. And what about buyer’s remorse? All those voters who supposedly want to change their minds? Well, maybe not. 92% of respondents said they would definitely vote the same way. But of them, 5% of Leave voters did say they would now change their vote, compared to just 2% of Remain voters. And finally, imagine if this all just went away. Well, more than a third of voters they think it might. 22% said they don’t know if Britain will actually leave the EU and 16% think the UK will actively defy the Brexit vote and find a way to stay in. Of course, that’s only part of the post-Ref picture. The real action is unfolding at Westminster where just about everything is up for grabs on both sides of the House. To provide a measure of the mayhem, no pun intended, you could probably argue tonight that the Parliamentary party which didn’t want a leadership battle is having one while the Parliamentary party that desperately does want one, isn’t. Yet. Newsnight’s political editor, Nick Watt, is filling his boots.

Nick Watt talks about plans to ‘ease Jeremy Corbyn out of the door’, and allow him to resign with dignity.

What’s the latest? Nick, you have found out about a plan to help ease Jeremy Corbyn out of the door?

NICK WATT:       Yes, all the signs from the Shadow Chancellor today John McDonald work that Jeremy Corbyn is not going anywhere and he’s going to stay. But I understand there was a delegation of Shadow Cabinet ministers yesterday who tried and failed to meet Jeremy Corbyn to suggest a plan to allow him to resign with dignity. They were suggesting that a commission could be set up over the summer and that would in trench some of his ideas about how you democratise the Labour Party and would also push on the party to commit to some of his core policies on inequality. If that could happen and some of the leadership contenders could agree to that, he would perhaps pre-announced his retirement and he would go after the Labour conference. What is really interesting about this is that people like John McDonald are very wary of this because they are scared that the moment he gives up the power, that is it for the left. But I understand that some members on the left who were in that room last year when his candidacy was approved that they thought with great reluctance and sadness that this may be the wise thing to do because they fear that the party could divide.

JO:         I hesitate to ask, but more bad news for the Labour leader tonight?

NW:      Yes, an interesting YouGov poll of Unite members, whose general secretary is one of Jeremy Corbyn’s most ardent supporters and this shows that 75% of people who voted Labour in the general election last year believe that Jeremy Corbyn will not be Prime Minister. It wouldn’t surprise me if Jeremy Corbyn’s opponent in the Labour Party picked up on this to challenge one of his central arguments. That Central argue it is, I may not have any support at Westminster but I do have support in the wider labour movement. Important health warning, election day to admit that YouGov were not able to do the full weighting you would normally expect because they do not know the full and exact demographic breakdown of Unite members. But we shouldn’t forget that there is a contest to choose the next Prime Minister of this country, so what I thought I would do is take a look at how that is going and also see how the front runner, Theresa May is getting on. (package report) Who would have believed it? The plodder of the Cabinet who issues the political gossip and the party circuit is emerging as the front runner in the Tory leadership contest.

DOMINIC GRIEVE Theresa May supporter:           She brings to her work eight professionalism, dedication and hard work, a willingness to confront difficult problems, and that may be in great measure due to the fact that she is a woman. Which is probably a positive at the present time in my view in terms of our national politics.

NW:      There is an unmistakable buzz around the Home Secretary and her rivals are concerned. 36 hours ago, Boris Johnson appeared to be the slam dunk candidate in the Tory leadership contest. After his former friend Michael Gove ended his lifetime’s ambition to be Prime Minister, the question tonight is whether the Theresa May juggernaut is unstoppable. Like it or loathe it, Theresa May is now defining this leadership contest and even influencing wider government policy.

GEORGE OSBORNE:        It’s incredibly important we maintain fiscal credibility…

NW:      George Osborne indicated today that he would abandon his plan to achieve an overall budget surplus, a day after the Home Secretary said she would do just that. And at his campaign launch, Michael Gove had his sights set on Theresa May when he said that the next Prime Minister must be a Brexit supporter. But Michael Gove knows he has to overcome the perception that he is guilty of a double act of treachery against two old friends, David Cameron and Boris Johnson.

PAUL GOODMAN Editor, Conservative Home:     As we sit here today, you have to conclude that it looks as though he has gone over the Reichenbach falls with Boris Johnson, taken him over the falls but done some damage to his own reputation, who was previously above the fray, but he’s now gone down into the marketplace and has been swinging punches like the rest of them.

NW:      Fans of the Justice Secretary say he has the brains and personal touch to make it.

ANNE-MARIE TREVELYAN Michael Gove supporter:          He is a powerhouse of a man, an intellectual I’ve known for 30 years, I’ve watched him develop. He’s a radical reformer and a man who has always led his politics by conviction. He’s the one who persuaded me to in politics. He has the same vision for our country that I do, which is that we can really bring everyone together.

NW:      But momentum appears to be building up behind Andrei led ‘ — Andrea Ledsom. Perhaps she could become the main leadership challenger to Theresa May.

PG:        Candidates with novelty tend to do well in leadership elections. No one had heard of John Major in 1990, William Hague was a religiously junior figure in 1997. Iain Duncan Smith had been a Maastricht rebel. So Andrea Ledsom could come from the outside to give Theresa May a run for her money.

NW:      Some of Theresa May’s supporters hope this contest could be over by next week. They are nervous that if this goes to the second stage, decided by grassroots Tory members, the support for the Remain side could count against her.

PG:        The main test for Theresa May is whether or not she could persuade that Tory members should elect her when she was four Remain and the majority evidence was that a majority of them were for Leave. There is a form in Tory leadership contests being about Europe.

NW:      British politics is being refashioned right in front of our eyes. But even in the middle of a revolution, perhaps it will be the steadiest member of the crew who will guide us to the next stage.

Full transcription:

JO:         We’re off to the pub now. The one in Burnley next where, you’ll recall, we canvassed the immediate post-vote feelings pretty comprehensively. So, have they changed much? Will feuding friends forgive and forget? In a moment, Nick Blakemore will find out, but first a quick reminder of how those Brexit campaigners reacted when they found out the result.

TANYA THOMPSON Vote Leave Activist (Unnamed here):              I’m over the moon, I don’t know what to say. We did it. Everybody woke up in time. Everybody listened. Everybody understands, yes, it’s going to be rough at the beginning. But we’ve done it.

JO:         So, a week on, how are they feeling? Just to warn you, you may hear some strong language in the background of Nick’s film.

UNNAMED FEMALE:       We’ve got to work together to make this work.

UNNAMED MALE:           It’s like anything, you either go for it or you are left behind.

VOX POP FEMALE 2:       We are all in the same boat. We now move forward. We are not Leave and Remain, we are United Kingdom.

VOX POP MALE:              (speaking over) Leave. No, we are Leave, we’ve left.

VPF2:    We are leaving, but we have to remember that a large percentage of this country voted Remain, and we don’t feel that way.

VPM:     (speaking over)(words unclear) He’s Remain – I’m Out, aren’t I – are me and you falling out?

VOX POP MALE2:            No.

VPF2:    No.

VPM:     We might be in ten minutes, like, but you know . . .

VOX POP MALE 3:           This time we will just carry on. As it were. We just want people to know that England is not an easy touch. You know what I mean? You can’t just come here and take, take, take. To enjoy the advantages of this country, you’ve got to contribute. It’s as simple as that.

NICK BLAKEMORE:          Why do you think Burnley voted for leave?

VPM3:  They’re tired of paying out for people who think it’s a career option to just be a dosser and get a council house and take, take, take. And we’re getting sick of this, you know, you look around, every one of us here are hard working men and that’s what we’re sick of.

VOX POP MALE 4:           I actually voted In last week. The reason was because erm . . .  I just feel that Britain has a massive role to play in the European Union and it doesn’t make sense for me for us to come out of that. I’m a second-generation Italian, so my mum and dad came over here. What I think the biggest thing is that . . .  I was born here but all my friends around here in Burnley have no issue whatsoever with any foreign people coming to this country, because, as long as the foreign people that come here contribute, that is the main thing. The biggest problem this country has is any foreign people who come over here and grab from the state, I think that’s the biggest issue.

VOX POP MALE 5: Did you vote Leave in the referendum?

VOX POP MALE 6:           (words unclear) Did you?

VPM5:  I did, definitely. You know why? Because I want a say over the laws that are made.

VOX POP MALE 6:           I voted Leave which the majority of people round here did. I’m not sure if it were the right thing or the wrong thing, we will soon find out.

VPM5:  People are making laws now that we don’t even vote over. That’s my biggest gripe.

VPM6:  You could definitely say that we’ve seen a decline in our living standards, especially in the north-west. The North of England. I mean, I have family who live down south, like Basingstoke, and you go down there and it’s like a different country.

VPM 5: So, we talk about how it’s . . .  what’s happened down south compared to what’s happened in the north-west, but if you think about it, we, we now have a say over where that money goes. And I’d say to anyone who is annoyed about this referendum, annoyed that we voted to leave and they wanted to remain, get involved in politics right now because at this moment in time it’s the biggest change you can make.

VPM6:  I would say that if that is going to be a left wing ever again, they’ve got to realise that they’re not the super intelligent people that they think they are. They have to respect the voice of normal working people. And we’re not stupid.

BARMAID:          I see the pros and cons, either way, to be honest with you, I think, putting it bluntly, we are going to get screwed, either way!

JO:         Joining me now is the novelist Kazuo Ishiguro, the Japanese-born, raised in Surrey and, and as the author of The Remains of the Day, the man responsible for a lyrical evocation of interwar England so powerful and convincing that it won the Booker Prize and was made into a famous film. Kazuo, I mention those three parts of your past because they paint you, in a way, as a sort of literary poster boy for a multi-cultural Britain and full integration, and yet (exhales) you write in Today’s Financial Times of your fears that that sort of Britain may be in some sort of mortal threat. Why?

KAZU ISHIGURO:             Mortal threat may be putting it a little melodramatically but I think this is very serious, you know, in my whole life time here, I have . . . I don’t think I’ve felt this anxious. I mean, the nation is very bitterly divided. It is leaderless, it is very anxious. Erm, if I . . . if I was a strategist for the far right now, I would be getting very excited, you know, this is, this is probably the best opportunity since the 1930s to push Britain towards some kind of neo-Nazi racism, and I think that we have got to . . .  All the decent people in this country, and I mean both, people on both sides of the referendum divide, have got to rally around some sort of decent heart of, of Britain, and I think that’s decent heart . . .  I don’t doubt that decent heart, you know . . .

JO:         Not even a little?

KI:          I . . .

JO:         There’s been some grim, grim tales this week.

KI:          I was, I was, I was shaken, I was a firm Remain person, you know, and I was shaken, like a lot of people. Er, but in the end I, you know, I have . . . I have a faith about the essential decency of this country.  I speak both as someone who grew up as the only visible foreigner at school, I was always the only foreign boy at school, the only foreign kid in the community, over the years I have lived in various parts of Britain, when very large numbers of immigrants came from the Caribbean, Africa, the Asian subcontinent, the Caribbean, during a time of enormous economic turmoil in the 1970s and 1980s, people like the National Front and the BNP have never gained a hold in this country.  You know, I think . . . and just as it was in the first half of the 20th Century, basically, I know, and I can tell from my perspective, everything I know about this country, is that it is essentially a very decent, tolerant country, it does racism really badly, even worse than football!

JO:         (laughs) (words unclear) a part of the country is doing quite well.

KI:          And when fascism was rampaging across Europe, you know, in the first half the 20th century, it couldn’t get a foothold here. But, I think this is . . . we shouldn’t be complacent now. And I think the country does need to . . . the decent part of the country needs something to rally around.

JO:         Well, let’s try and identify what that may be, but of course, there’ll be plenty of people watching this, as you well know, and as you refer to in your piece, who voted to leave the European Union, and will be just chilled by the spectre that you portray as anybody on the Remain side is. It’s a challenge to really separate, isn’t it, the toxicity that seems to have been emboldened by the result and the people who will be just as alarmed by that emboldening as, as anybody else is.  How, how can we do that?

KI:          I absolutely believe that, you know, the majority of the people who voted leave are not racist . . .

JO:         Of course.

KI:          Some are. But, you know, just at a local level, I would like to see . . . I would like to see some kind of campaign declaration, a petition, I can’t do it, I am from the Remain camp, people from the Leave camp, I’d like them to clearly say that they are against the kind of xenophobia and racism that is threatening to take over.

JO:         Have you experienced any?

KI:          Not personally, no, no, just, just reading . . . I mean, there are a lot of people very anxious, you know, and we’ve heard reports of, just, you know, things that weren’t acceptable before, seeming to be acceptable now.

JO:         (speaking over) People being told to go home (words unclear due to speaking over)

KI:          (speaking over) I think yes, yeah, exactly . . . it’s at that level at the moment, you know . . . I . . . I don’t know how deep it goes, but I would like to see the people from the Leave camp just clearly  . . . isolate the racists, you know, by saying, ‘This isn’t us.’ You know, I would even offer them a slogan, you know “Leave Racism”, you know, you know hashtag whatever . . .

JO:         It needs a hashtag.

KI:          Let’s just, let’s just try and win back the tone of this, this thing.  At a deeper level, at a deeper kind of . . .

JO:         Hmm.

KI:          . . . you know, thing, I, I’m one of the people that would like to see a second referendum, not a replay of the last one.  But I think we, what we lack now is a proper mandate for the new Prime Minister, whoever it is, on what sort of Brexit we are going to go for.  And I think we need another . . . some sort of discussion for a referendum.

JO:         (speaking over) And you, you’ve, you’ve pulled the pin on a second r— a second referendum grenade just as our time together comes to an end. So we shall, we shall have to leave it there . . .

KI:          Okay.

JO:         Kazuo Ishiguro many thanks indeed.

KI:          (speaking over) Thank you very much.

JO:         Of course, the referendum shockwaves reach much further than the shores of these islands. And few countries have been watching events here more closely than France. One of the original architects of the Common Market and, of course, long a historical obstacle to the UK’s membership, the country today hosts a growing strain of Gallic Euroscepticism and may be developing an appetite for what has inevitably been dubbed Frexit. Newsnight’s Gabriel Gatehouse has been taking a breath of French air to find out how events on this side of the Channel have played out over there.

UNNAMED MALE SPEAKER (GEORGE BERTRAND?):          I’m sad and angry. I always wanted Britain to be part of European dreams.

GABRIEL GATEHOUSE:   : It may look like life as normal. Paris in summertime. Cafes, strikes, the odd riot.  But make no mistake, Brexit was an earthquake. The old Europe has changed.

VOX POP MALE:              I was like, no, no! You can’t do that! We have a future together.

UNNAMED FEMALE (MARINE LE PEN?)On the side of the far right, it has come as a divine surprise.

UNNAMED MALE:           One has to react very quickly because as a disease it is very profound.

GG:        In the run-up to the referendum, Newsnight met George Bertrand, one of the founding fathers of the European Union. Brexit, he believes, is a disaster.

GEORGE BERTRAND:      The results for Britain are extremely complex difficult to manage. But it is not only a domestic issue, but as it concerns us too.

GG:        Mr Bertrand played a prominent role in shepherding Britain into the common market. And so, for him, it’s personal.

GB:        We consider Britain as an exceptional country. As itself, the role it has played in two wars, the way democratic life was developed… At the same time, we were absolutely aware that Europe without Britain was not Europe. The English Parliamentary tradition has a very positive influence on the European Parliament started to evolve.

GG:        Today, in France, an unpopular centre-left government is trying to force through reforms to the labour code. It’s not going well. The French, of course, are no strangers to this kind of labour protest. But it does feel now that there is a flight from the centre to the left and to the right. On the left, they see the EU as part of a neoliberal project which they blame for austerity, inequality and rising unemployment. And yet even here, some are dismayed by Brexit.

VOX POP MALE:                             OK, Europe, us, it exists. It’s shit, but we can’t, as we say in French, we can’t throw away the baby with the water of the bath.

GG:        The baby out with the bath water, yes we say the same in England.

VPM:     Yes, we can’t do that.

GG:        In France, discontent with the political establishment is rising. The chief beneficiaries are not on the left but on the right. The Front National was once a fringe movement, the preserve of ageing ex-colonialists bitter about the loss of empire. No longer. Like the left, young FN supporters rail against globalisation, but for them, Brexit is a cause for celebration.

VOX POP FEMALE:          The British have opened the door and I hope they have opened it for us too and for all the other peoples of Europe as well.

VOX POP MALE 2:           It’s a strong message, an historic message.  It’s the most important event since the fall of the Berlin Wall.  It’s very galvanising.

VPF:      In every country, we see the rise of parties with patriotic, anti-globalisation agendas.  We don’t agree with all of them.  We don’t agree with everything Podemos say.  We were very disappointed by what happened in Greece.  We are interested in UKIP, we are interested in the Northern League, Alternative fur Deutschland.

GG:        Polls suggest that the Front National could win the presidency next year. The polls also show a rise in Eurosceptic sentiment. And the Front National leader, Marine Le Pen, has promised a referendum on Frexit.

MARINE LE PEN:              It’s the same cocktail than for the Brexit in a way, it’s anti-immigrant feeling, because it’s an open door to immigration, refugees and possibly terrorism, so the second issue is insecurity, law and order. And the third dimension is anti-elites, the idea that the people who govern us, they are so far away, they don’t understand us, the little people. And they are corrupt.

GG:        And here is a curious paradox. In a country with a proud, democratic tradition, many people feel disenfranchised. Sure, they can vote for a choice of parties and politicians, but many feel the politicians are all saying the same things, in a language they no longer understand. It’s not just France. In corridors of power across Europe, politicians, the centrist establishment, the people who by and large have governed this continent since the end of the Second World War, are suddenly realising that for a whole variety of different reasons, vast swathes of their electorate simply don’t believe in them anymore. It’s not that the centrists aren’t aware of the problem, they are. They just don’t seem to know what to do about it.

PIERRE LELLOUCH French Minister for Europe, 2009-10:  People have a sense that they are losing the control of their nation. As a result of globalisation, the arrival of huge companies from the other side of the world, who are now controlling the economy. You are losing control of the economy, you are losing control of the people coming into your nation. A lot of poor whites consider they are losing money, they are paying for the newcomers. And I sense this anger all over the country here in France. And I’m worried about that. Because governments are . . . tend to . . .  For example, right now, they are involved in legislation that has no impact on these issues but you know, but it’s like a theatre.

GG:        You’re irrelevant?

PL:         In many ways, yes. Because of lack of courage, essentially.

GB:        Britain used to rule the world. Europe used to rule the world. That’s finished.

GG:        Europe is in the grip of a malaise. For some, Brexit presents an opportunity for renewal. For others, it is a dangerous gamble.

GB:        I’m angry because we are putting our respective security in danger and democracy in danger. In spite of the economic and social divisions in Europe, we are the most balanced part of the world. The most human part of the world, the most socially-advanced in the world. That could be jeopardised.

JO:         Lose by 4% of the vote in a General Election and you find yourself in strong Opposition with a fighting chance of halting legislation and embarrassing the Government. Win 48% of the vote in a Referendum and you find yourself with absolutely nothing. Politically your position is, in many ways, no stronger than if you’d won 0%. With all the Conservative leadership candidates now fully committed to Brexit and the winner of course guaranteed to govern, what will opposition even look like? And who will speak for the 48%? Some suggest we’re approaching a fundamental redrawing of traditional party politics but few are prepared to predict what it might look like. Joining me now to survey the scene are, the journalist and broadcaster Paul Mason, The Times columnist Phil Collins, and adviser to Nick Clegg, Polly McKenzie. We’ll get onto the highfalutin stuff imminently, but I’d like to begin by asking you all a very simple question, who’s in the biggest mess at the moment, the Conservatives or the Labour Party, and Polly, I’ll start with you.

POLLY MCKENZIE:           Probably the Labour Party, because at least the Conservatives have a process which will get them to a leader they will broadly all be happy with, even if the country has to like it or lump it.  Whereas the Labour Party, frankly, this could go on for months or even years.

PHILLIP COLLINS:             Well, the Conservative Party’s mess is more important because they are visiting it on the rest of us, they are visiting it on the country. So their mess is more important in that sense, but the bigger mess if it weren’t for that obviously important fact is the Labour Party, which is facing the prospect it might not even exist quite soon.

JO:         An existential threat to the Labour Party, Paul Mason?

PAUL MASON:   Yes, well I noticed your political editor, comprehensive though he was on the unnamed sources inside Westminster omitted to report that there had been tens of thousands of people on the streets here in Manchester, in Cardiff and Birmingham, just tonight, supporting Jeremy Corbyn.  Now, Labour is in a mess and what you’ve seen so far is the equivalent of the kind of Haka before the rugby match. If the actual rugby match actually kicks off, it’s going to get very brutal.  And I think what we all need to do, on all sides of this debate, I’m a Labour member and I voted Remain, is to try and find a way to de-escalate it , because this generation of people who signed up to depose Jeremy Corbyn, these young, centre-left MPs, have no idea what an actual struggle inside the labour movement looks like. Those of us who saw the miners’ strike and have seen what people are getting ready for right now, fear . . .  It is, it won’t disappear, it may, however, seriously split.

JO:         Who speaks for you at the moment, politically? As a Corbyn-friendly Remainer?

PAUL MASON:   Well, Jeremy Corbyn.  I think he’s speaking but we, the wider Labour family, have to find some way of de-escalating this, and of course, focusing on the policies, the policies . . .  The fact is, Corbyn and John McDonnell scored a fantastic success this week, not one you would want to score, but they’ve knocked Osborne away from his fiscal rule.  We were calling for him to do that, he’s dropped it, but now we have to come up with a new fiscal policy for Britain. I would be arguing for a fiscal stimulus, tax cuts for businesses to attract investment now, investment tax spending to boost investment, all that needs to happen, but of course, it’s going to canon straight into the Brexit negotiations.  We need both parties, actually, to be on the ball . . .

JO:         Okay . . .

PAUL MASON:   . . . and thinking in a centrist and national interested way.

JO:         Okay Paul.  Phil Collins, the credit for the fiscal retreat of George Osborne being handed there to Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell.  I’ll let you respond to that in a moment.  I’m interested also, in the notion of Jeremy Corbyn speaking for Labour Remainers while Labour Remainers in the main blame him for the Brexit?

PC:         Yeah, which I think is a bit harsh, actually, I think there’s a lot more in the vote to leave the European Union than could have been solved by Jeremy Corbyn, so I don’t think it helps to blame him. He was a pretty lukewarm advocate for it but that’s because he’s not very good. It’s not because he had a particular bad day, it’s that he was as good as he can be, which is not very good at all. I think it’s . . . as scientists say of a bad theory, that it’s not even wrong. And it’s not even wrong to suggest that Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell are to gain the credit for George Osborne changing his rule, he’s changed the rule because the country has had a massive economic shock and we’re going to come out of the European Union. It’s perfectly reasonable in politics to try and claim your opponent’s shifts, so I’ve no objection to them attempting to do so, but it’s not credible to think that that’s the reason it’s happened.

JO:         Polly are we looking at something rather more fundamental than the usual local difficulties, infighting and squabbles that typify your world?

POLLY MCKENZIE:           I think something has to change, because as you said in your intro, there’s nobody who really represents the 48%, the people who voted for Remain. And we don’t even have a mandate for a government to negotiate our Brexit. As we were hearing earlier, we don’t know what kind of Brexit we want – a sort of economically sensible EEA-type strategy or, you know, full complete distance and we just cut ourselves off and float in the mid-Atlantic?  And actually, unless there’s some sort of election or some sort of realignment of politics, nobody has a mandate to make that decision.

JO:         What would that realignment look like?

POLLY MCKENZIE:           At the moment, God only knows.  I mean, you know, there is this growth in the Liberal Democrats but with only eight MPs it’s hard to see Tim Farron leading . . .

JO:         (interrupting) Tim Farron has committed to a campaign, a manifesto that would involve doing everything possible to get back into the European Union.

POLLY MCKENZIE:           To get back in, absolutely, and, you know, I feel very strongly represented by that but they only have eight MPs and it’s hard to see that as being enough to build a new centre party.

PC:         It’s possible that a break could come if Jeremy Corbyn digs in and then he’s challenged and he wins again and then the 172 Labour MPs in Parliament who have declared no confidence in him declare themselves a new party, that’s not beyond the balance of possibility at the moment. So we might, we’re closer perhaps than we’ve ever been before. I’m not sure it’s a great solution or a great outcome but that is entirely feasible at the moment.

JO:         Have we found something on which you can all agree, Paul Mason, that a fundamental realignment might well be on the horizon?

PAUL MASON:   I think centrist politics, which wants to rejoin the European Union after this . . . i.e. overtly and proactively rejoin the European Union, would be . . . would have to be a new party. Because neither the Conservatives nor Labour are going to do that, as parties. But I do think there is a big problem for centrist politics, full stop. Centrist politicians from both sides are going to be called upon to act in the national interests in a way that they are not really used to defining.  You know, what should happen right now is we should slash business tax and boost business investment. The moment we do that, the people we are across the table from in the Brexit negotiations, the French and the Germans are going to say ‘hold on a minute – this is unfair competition, Mr’ – whoever it is they are talking to, ‘Please withdraw your tax cut in order to get back into the EEA’ – I favour going into the EEA,  I also favour doing rapid tax cuts to boost growth and business investment. So, we need a political class that knows how to do this sort of thing, they’re not used to it, because they’re used to 40 odd years of multilateralism that they triggered the breakdown of.

JO:         Mr, or of course, it may well be a Mrs . . .

PAUL MASON:   It could be a Mrs, very sorry, yeah, yeah, yeah.

JO:         (speaking over) That’s quite alright, they’ll be negotiating with.

POLLY MCKENZIE:           Most importantly, there isn’t anybody to make those decisions. We’ve had this unbelievably hectic week in British politics but actually we have no more clarity one week on about what on earth we’re going to do next. And it’s that complete vacuum, whatever negotiating strategy we adopt, the truth is we need to start doing something because all across Europe and especially in Brussels, people are planning for how to negotiate this in their interests and not in ours, whereas we, you know, we’ve got a Cabinet Office team of three people thinking about this.

PC:         (word or words unclear) a referendum doesn’t give you a mandate for anything in particular, it’s a mandate to leave the European Union.

JO:         It’s a binary question.

PC:         There are no, sort of, terms . . .

JO:         (speaking over) How big a part do you think that’ll play in the Conservative candidate battle, do you think they’ll be putting forward rival visions of Brexit, or do you think they’ll just be trying to sort of woo the party faithful in the normal way?

PC:         It’s very interesting that the overwhelming favourite appears to be someone who voted Remain, that was on the Remain side, Theresa May. I mean, I guess nobody would have predicted that this time last week, but then I suppose nobody would have predicted anything that’s happened this time last week. But it does appear that she’s moving ahead. As yet, as we said in the introduction, everybody there is committed to exit. I don’t think any of them really have the first idea what it means, yet. So I think, if they do put forward any plans, they’ll be very meagre plans indeed.

JO:         Paul Mason?

PAUL MASON:   Hello?

JO:         I beg your pardon, Paul, I was expecting you to respond to what Philip Colins said.

PAUL MASON:   Yes, look, I’m sorry, look, what is amazing at the moment is the fact we’ve got this, all the political class cannot utter the words that we have uttered on this discussion, EEA, European economic area. It is the obvious solution, to apply for the European Economic Area, to design a variation on free movement, ask for the emergency brake you can get and then start from there. You may not get it and you may have to recoil back to a complete break with the EU, but it’s logical to go for that. What frustrates me on all sides of Parliament is that people are not prepared to do that and that is because the party machinery is fractured.

JO:         Paul Mason, Polly McKenzie, Phillip Collins, many thanks indeed.

 

 

 

BBC CONTINUES PROJECT FEAR OVER EU SCIENCE

BBC CONTINUES PROJECT FEAR OVER EU SCIENCE

On yesterday’s Today programme, Sarah Montague spoke to BBC science editor Tom Feilden about what Brexit would mean to the scientific community.  She said the scientific community was not exactly unified but there was ‘very overwhelming support’ for the EU, ‘not least because they argue the UK gets out more than it puts in.

Feilden said that with ‘one or two’ notable exceptions, the community was devastated with the result of the referendum, and threw in that there were ‘no two ways about that’. He ad,ded that he had spoken to Nobel laureate Sir Paul Nurse who was shortly to be director of  the Francis Crick Institute. He had described Brexit  as the worst disaster for UK science.  Feilden stated:

…the real underpinning behind that is . . . these days, science is not about one bloke in a garret, you know, thinking away about a problem, like Einstein did, and coming up with a solution, it’s a collaborative venture. And the UK has thrived and played a leading role in this wider collaborative, cooperative atmosphere within the European Union. Erm . . .

Montague asked if it was therefore the freedom of movement that was the principle concern. Fielden agreed and said it boiled down to that the UK had been able to attract the best brains to the best universities, so that the UK had become a ‘scientific powerhouse’ and a ‘leading light for science in Europe’.

Montague suggested that they were also worried about money. Feilden again agreed with her. He responded:

They, they, they, basically the two concerns come down to: we pay in quite a lot of money into the scientific kitty, if you like for Europe, but we get out a lot more in terms of the grants, and that’s because we’re doing so well at science. And the second is this idea of free movement. Those are the two key things, that it is a collaborative venture and people have to be able to move around and come and share their ideas and do their good science here at universities here.

Montague finally asked if anyone had any ideas in the new world, whatever it looked like. Feilden responded:

Well, that’s part of the problem. I mean (fragments of words, unclear) and I spoke to Sir Paul, he talked about a political vacuum, about nobody being in, nobody knows what the plan is, there was no preplanning ahead of the referendum result. And I think, you know, we’re going to hear some initial thoughts from Jo Johnson later today, because there isn’t a plan and the plan depends so much on what deal we can strike with the European Union over the coming two years.

At 7.49am, Montague  said that Sir Paul Nurse, the Nobel laureate, had said that research in the UK was facing its biggest threat in living memory. She explained that UK universities and research centres received billions from the EU and relied on the free movement of people; a quarter of the scientists working at Cambridge ‘were from the EU’. Montague said the science minister Jo Johnson  would be making a speech setting put what would happen next.  She added that Dame Anne Glover had told her of her fears. Glover said that exit would affect funding streams such as Horizon 2020 and would limit the ability to get the best minds to come to the UK and to contribute to science, technology and engineering. Montague said that countries like Turkey had access to the money even though they were not in the EU. Glover said that they had to pay for access and were the poor relatives – they could not influence anything. Montague asked if we were getting more out of the EU than was put in. Glover replied that this was substantially the case, the UK put £5.4bn in and got £8.8bn out. Montague asked if the funding could be protected and free movement of people to get better control of immigration that would satisfy scientists. Glover replied:

Not really, because . . . we want free movement of people, that’s what we rely on to get the best possible advantage from Horizon 2020. And there’s a precedent here in that Switzerland was a full associated country of Horizon 2020, as soon as they voted in a referendum to restrict immigration in Switzerland, overnight they became a non-associated country, and could no longer have access.

Montague suggested that she was doing down Britain’s brilliant scientists and asked what would really happen. Glover said that they would still be here, but the problem was that science was ‘truly global’ and if papers were published with only British scientists on the by-line they would not have the same impact – papers needed international co-authors. Montague suggested that if the UK was out of the EU it could still work with European partners and others from the rest of the world. Glover replied that a funding mechanism would have to be found. She declared:

We have a perfect system at the moment, and that’s going to be undermined or denied to us as part of leaving the European Union.

SM: And on that costing, how much would the UK government need to put in to make up for the loss?

DAG: I think that UK government would have to fund UK science just shy of an extra £1 billion per annum. Now, we could provide that funding, but we still wouldn’t have the minds, so that won’t be addressed just by the UK government putting in a lot of funding.

Montague then introduced Professor Angus Dalglish, who she said was a spokesman for Scientists for Britain’ which had campaigned for Brexit’. She asked him if damage would be done to scientific research by removing free movement of people and limiting funding. Dalglish said this was hysterical. Science was not restricted by borders and leaving the EU would not limit the collaboration that had always gone on.  He added:

What they’re talking about here is the funding which is the money that we pay in and get out, and it’s very focused on, that sum of money which was mentioned there, which is for the peer-reviewed funding. They’ve . . . she didn’t mention the fact that there’s a large structural fund thereto, which we pay a fortune into and get very little out. And the Scientists for EU freely admit that an enormous amount of that money cannot be traced, it just goes on corruption and waste, which I think largely defines . . .

Montague interrupted to ask what size it was and what it was for. Dlaglish said it was 57 billion and Britain got 2 billion out, of the 57 billion, the UK contributed about eight billion. Montague asked if therefore there was a net gain of six billion that could be spent across the board. Dalglish replied: .

Yes, I do. And that, that’s just a part of the budget that goes on scientific related issues, and there’s all the other budget money, erm, that we put in, that we don’t get back. And as you quite rightly say, a lot of other countries participate in these programs without being in the EU, and really, can you tell me that in the European Union, the top ten universities, the top eight are UK, er, one of them is Switzerland, not in the EU, so in the top ten universities.

Montague pointed out that Glover had suggested that when Switzerland had tried to restrict immigration, they had been excluded from the fund. Dalglish said the next step would be to negotiate. Britain was the fifth biggest economy and there would and had high scientific standing. Montague interrupted to say that there was issue of free movement of people. Sir Paul Nurse and probably the majority of senior scientists in this country of all the universities thought ending that  would be bad not just for funding but free movement itself, ‘the ability of people to come and work here’.  Dalglish said people would still want to come – there would be freedom of labour as opposed to people, and there would be no restrictions on people who came for jobs Montague riposted:

Why not, why are the rules about freedom of movement not going to apply to scientists, if they apply to everybody else?

Dalglish said the subject would be settled by negotiation, the UK would not stop essential workers from the EU such as doctors coming to the country, and suggested there had been a confusion between the movement of people and the movement of labour. Montague replied:

. . . so, on the numbers, because a lot of people would say, ‘Look, the numbers have to come down’, you would say, from what you’re suggesting, numbers don’t necessarily have to come down, it’s just who we get in?

PAD:      No, we’ve always suggested that one way round this is a points-style system, like they have in Australia, and then people come immediately back and say that’s to increase immigration, but the same thing can be used here to decide the quality of people who you have, in. And I think that this idea that we won’t get the best brains if we’re outside the European Union is clearly not true.  I can think of half a dozen really top people who are here from Australia and New Zealand, and they’re not in the European Union, so I do not think that for people of really high calibre it’s going to make any difference to [them] at all.

ANALYSIS: Today’s approach assumed from the outset that there was massive support for remaining in the EU from the scientific community.  In doing so, yet again, the BBC was amplifying to the maximum extent the dangers and negativities of Brexit.

But how strong was support for ‘remain’ in the academic community? Professor Dalglish in his comments above underlined that at least some scientists and academics think strongly that Brexit will not affect funding or the range of research.  The organisation he represents, Scientists for Britain, has a website which explains why and also challenges the numbers that think EU support is vital for the science community.   It specifically claims that numbers supporting ‘remain’ have been exaggerated.

Tom Feilden, in his overview report (broadcast at 6.10am), seemed to totally reject this. He said that with ‘only one or two exceptions’ academics supported staying in the EU.

He did not say how he had arrived at this conclusion. One possibility is that the Times Education Supplement published about a week before the poll a survey of the views of academics about the referendum.

If so, Feilden was on dubious territory. Of the 403,385 staff working in higher education in 2014-15, only 1,082 responded to the survey. That equates to around 0.27% (fewer than one in three hundred) of the target group. More than 99% of academics did not feel motivated to vote or were not consulted. It could therefore be argued that the vast majority of academics do not actually care about the EU’s role in research.

Feilden might also have drawn on a release by the formal ‘remain’ organisation British Stronger in Europe, which claimed that 5,000 scientists supported ‘remain’. This was based on that the 5,000 had written to newspapers outlining their concerns. Thus undoubtedly happened and indicated that some of the scientists were militantly concerned.

But the question here is how representative or typical this grouping was. The initiative was pushed by BSE.  Those who signed the letter were clearly politically motivated, and for example, Sir Paul Nurse, one of the key figures behind the letter, is an active member of the Labour party.  These are important caveats which should have been pointed out to the audience.

But Feilden did not do so. He gave the impression instead that the scientific community was devastated and that this, that it was believed, was ‘the worst disaster’ for UK science.  He emphasised this by stating the claims expressed in the BSE letter (and later by Dame Anne Glover) that this was because their research was a ‘collaborative venture’ which would now come to an end.

Sarah Montague compounded the negativity by asking Feilden if (the possible ending) of ’freedom of movement’ was also a ‘principle concern’. Feilden asserted that such movement had allowed the UK to become a ‘scientific powerhouse’. Montague’s then asked if the loss of EU money was also a problem. Feilden noted that the UK paid money into the EU, but ‘got a lot more out’ because the UK was doing so well in terms of science.  Winding up, Feilden pointed out that Sir Paul Nurse, had also warned there was now a ‘political vacuum’  and there was no plan for what happened next.

Thus overall, Feilden put forward that Brexit would be deeply damaging to scientific research in the UK, said all but one or two researchers wanted to remain in the EU, and pushed hard Sir Paul Nurse’s agenda that this was a disaster without a plan of repair or way forward.

At 7.49am, in her interviews with Glover and Dalglish, Sarah Montague in effect picked up where Feilden had left off, and amplified his negativity about Brexit further. She first noted that Sir Paul Nurse, ‘the Nobel Laureate’ – thus emphasising his credentials – had claimed research was facing its biggest threat in living memory. Next she stressed that UK universities received ‘billions’ from the EU, and repeated the claim that this research activity relied upon the ‘free movement of people’ – further emphasising its importance by also pointing out that a quarters of research staff at Cambridge were from the EU.

In the pre-recorded interview with Dame Anne Glover, Montague put a couple of mildly adversarial points – such as that Turkish researchers received money even thought they were outside the EU – but the main aim of the sequence appeared to be to let Glover push that almost everything in this domain was now at risk, that Britain got far more from the EU than it put in; that the free movement of people was essential because science was ‘truly global’; and that Switzerland, which was outside the EU, could not have access to the EU funding because it did not accept free movement. Glover concluded – without challenge from Montague – that the current system was ‘perfect’ and it was now threatened by Brexit.

Montague moved on to Dalglish at this point. She did not tell the audience anything about him (unlike with Sir Paul Nurse) other than he was a spokesman for Scientists for Britain. She could easily have dug out that he is a leading oncology with a distinguished international career and sits on the European Commission Cancer Board, making him especially knowledgeable about the EU, but did not do so. She could also have explained more about Scientists for Britain in terms of its potential credibility but did not. The editorial effort was entirely the other way in underlining that the credentials of those who challenged Brexit were high and impressive.

That said, she allowed Dalglish to put across clearly that he believed that the EU money was not as crucial to scientists had had been claimed, that the UK did not get much money out of the structural research fund, and that reaction to the potential changes was ‘hysterical’; that the EU administration of the research budget was inefficient and even corrupt; that free movement of people was not actually the issue – what counted was that free movement of labour would continue after Brexit, allowing academics to come to the UK. Montague pushed the discussion towards the critical importance of the ending of free movement of people issue, but Dalglish was able to put across his counter views.

The main issue here overall was therefore the undoubted bias of Feilden and Montague in their explanation and determination of the issues being considered. They both in different ways underlined the strength of the scientific community’s concern about Brexit and the related allegations that the UK was going to suffer to disaster level. Dalglish vigorously disputed this, but by the time he appeared the potential importance of what he said had already been undermined – it seemed from the set-up that he was a lone voice against the undoubted and incontrovertible weight of academic opinion.

This was thus another part of the BBC’s continuation of Project Fear about Brexit – greater credibility and weight was given to those who were warning of the consequences, and arguably this was a continuation of the BSE fight against Brexit.

 

Transcript of BBC Radio 4, ‘Today’, 30th June 2016, Scientists and the Referendum, 6.12am

SARAH MONTAGUE:      The Science Minister, Jo Johnson will be speaking to leading scientists today, not least to consider what Brexit will mean for the scientific community and research.  Tom Feilden is our science editor, and Tom, the science community in a way, not entirely unified, but very overwhelming support for the EU, not least because they argue that the UK gets out more than it puts in?

TOM FEILDEN:   Well, I certainly think it’s fair to say that the scientific community, with, as you say, one or two notable exceptions was devastated by the result of the referendum, there’s no two ways about that.  I spoke to Sir Paul Nurse yesterday, that’s the Nobel laureate, he’s going to be boss of the new Francis Crick Institute, former president of the Royal Society.  He described it as ‘the worst disaster for UK science . . . ever.’ Erm, and (short laugh?) (fragments of words, unclear) the real underpinning behind that is . . . these days, science is not about one bloke in a garret, you know, thinking away about a problem, like Einstein did, and coming up with a solution, it’s a collaborative venture.  And the UK has thrived and played a leading role in this wider collaborative, cooperative atmosphere within the European Union.  Erm . . .

SM:       So it’s freedom of movement is their particular concern?

TF:         Yeah. I mean, basically, what it comes down to is we’ve been able to attract the best brains to the best universities, some of the best universities in the world and have really been able to become a scientific powerhouse here in the UK, a leading light for science in Europe.

SM:       They’re also worried about money though, aren’t they?

TF:         They are. They, they, they, basically the two concerns come down to: we pay in quite a lot of money into the scientific kitty, if you like for Europe, but we get out a lot more in terms of the grants, and that’s because we’re doing so well at science. And the second is this idea of free movement.  Those are the two key things, that it is a collaborative venture and people have to be able to move around and come and share their ideas and do their good science here at universities here.

SM:       And does anybody have any ideas as to how to address those concerns in the new world, whatever the new world looks like?

TF:         Well, that’s part of the problem. I mean (fragments of words, unclear) and I spoke to Sir Paul, he talked about a political vacuum, about nobody being in, nobody knows what the plan is, there was no preplanning ahead of the referendum result.  And I think, you know, we’re going to hear some initial thoughts from Jo Johnson later today, because there isn’t a plan and the plan depends so much on what deal we can strike with the European Union over the coming two years.

SM:       A story we’ll be returning to, not least at ten to eight this morning, Tom Feilden, thanks very much.

 

Transcript of BBC Radio 4, ‘Today’, 30th June 2016, Scientists and the Referendum, 7.49am

 SARAH MONTAGUE:      The Nobel Laureate and former president of the Royal Society, Professor Paul Nurse has said research in this country is facing its biggest threat in living memory.  UK universities and research centres receive billions from the EU, and the scientific community relies on free movement of people.  A quarter of the scientists working at Cambridge from the EU.  The science Minister, Jo Johnson, will be speaking to scientists today who want to know what happens now.  Dame Anne Glover was the first and last scientific adviser to the President of the European Commission, she is now at Aberdeen University.  And she told me about her fears.

DAME ANNE GLOVER:   My concern will be that a negotiation to leave the European Union will somehow affect our ability to be able to access both the funding stream, which is Horizon 2020, to influence the strategy of what that funding is focused towards, and will limit our ability to get the best minds in the world to come to the UK and to contribute to science, engineering and technology here.

SM:       But there are countries like Turkey and Israel who have access to Horizon 2020 funding, and they’re not part of the EU.

DAG:     They have to pay for what they get, they cannot influence anything done in Horizon 2020, so they’re really poor relatives.

SM:       And the argument is that . . . what, as things stand we get more funding out of the EU than we put in?

DAG:     Substantially, when it comes to research.  So, if we look at the last funding programme, we got about €8.8 billion out of that program, and our proportional contribution was €5.4 billion.

SM:       If there was some way to protect that, but to change freedom of movement, so we have better control of immigration, would that satisfy scientists?

DAG:     Not really, because . . . we want free movement of people, that’s what we rely on to get the best possible advantage from Horizon 2020.  And there’s a precedent here in that Switzerland was a full associated country of Horizon 2020, as soon as they voted in a referendum to restrict immigration in Switzerland, overnight they became a non-associated country, and could no longer have access.

SM:       Okay, say the worst happens, and we lose these things you’re talking about, what difference would it really make, because a lot of people would say, ‘hold on a second, you’re doing the UK down here, we have brilliant scientists, we’ll still have brilliant scientists.’?

DAG:     Yeah, and you’re absolutely right, we still will be able to science.  But science is unusual, because it is truly global, and so if I publish a paper but just with other UK scientists, all the evidence says that that paper will have less impact than if I publish with international co-authors.

SM:       But you absolutely made the point, science is global, sites will still be global if we are out of the EU and we can still work with European partners as well as the rest of the world, surely?

DAG:     But we have to find a funding mechanism to allow us to do that.  We have a perfect system at the moment, and that’s going to be undermined or denied to us as part of leaving the European Union.

SM:       And on that costing, how much would the UK government need to put in to make up for the loss?

DAG:     I think that UK government would have to fund UK science just shy of an extra £1 billion per annum.  Now, we could provide that funding, but we still wouldn’t have the minds, so that won’t be addressed just by the UK government putting in a lot of funding.

SM:       Dame Anne Glover, talking to me earlier. Well, here in the studio is Professor Angus Dalglish, who’s a spokesman for Scientists for Britain and campaigned for Brexit, good morning to you.

PROFESSOR ANGUS DALGLISH:  Good morning.

SM:       Do you accept these arguments about the damage that would be done to scientific research by removing free movement and limiting the funding?

PAD:      No, I don’t.  I think it’s rather hysterical actually, because science . . . er, scientists are rather like fish, they don’t really know where the waters are, territorial boundaries, etcetera, and er, I really don’t think it would interfere with the collaboration that we’ve always done.  What they’re talking about here is the funding which is the money that we pay in and get out, and it’s very focused on, that sum of money which was mentioned there, which is for the peer-reviewed funding.  They’ve . . . she didn’t mention the fact that there’s a large structural fund thereto, which we pay a fortune into and get very little out.  And the Scientists for EU freely admit that an enormous amount of that money cannot be traced, it just goes on corruption and waste, which I think largely defines . . .

SM:       (interrupting) Structural funding, how much? What sort of . . . what size is it and what’s it for?

PAD:      The size is about 57 billion (no denomination given) and we get less than 2 billion out of it.

SM:       How much do we put into it?

PAD:      About 8 billion, as far as I (word unclear due to speaking over)

SM:       (speaking over) So you’re saying there’s a net gain of £6 billion that we could get from that, which we could spend on, on, across the board?

PAD:      Yes I do. And that, that’s just a part of the budget that goes on scientific related issues, and there’s all the other budget money, erm, that we put in, that we don’t get back. And as you quite rightly say, a lot of other countries participate in these programs without being in the EU, and really, can you tell me that in the European Union, the top ten universities, the top eight are UK, er, one of them is Switzerland, not in the EU, so in the top ten universities . . .

SM:       (speaking over) But she made a point about Switzerland, which is that the mo— . . . when they voted to restrict immigration . . .

PAD:      Hmm.

SM:       . . . overnight they were effectively excluded from this fund?

PAD:      Well, one of the things I think we have to negotiate, we’re not Switzerland, we are the fifth largest trading organisation in the world, we’re probably the most important scientific voice in the world, we have more Nobel Prize winners, etcetera, and they impact on the rest of Europe, so I don’t see why we’re not going to have a voice if we just participate as we’re doing, and I don’t see (fragment of word, unclear due to speaking over)

SM:       (speaking over) (fragments of words, unclear) I mean, (fragments of words, unclear) there’s the funding, there is also this question of free movement, you have Professor Sir Paul Nurse, a Nobel Laureate, you have the majority, probably of senior scientists in this country, all the universities saying that this would be bad, and if not just for the funding but also for the free mood (sic) movement. That ability for people to come and work here.

PAD:      The ability for people to come and work here has always been the case, and I don’t think it’s going to be affected by this.  What we’re talking about is freedom of labour, as opposed to freedom of movement of people, and if we don’t . . . we will not have restrictions on people to come here for jobs, and for basically (fragments of words, unclear due to speaking over)

SM:       (speaking over) Why not, why are the rules about freedom of movement not going to apply to scientists, if they apply to everybody else?

PAD:      Well, they’re not going to apply, this is one of the things that’s going to be thrashed out in Brexit, they’re not going to apply to people who you really need.  You’re not going to stop people from the EU coming to be doctors or nurses etcetera here, when there’s a job to go to.  That’s not going to change. I mean, half the people who come here aren’t even in the EU, and that’s not going to change if they’re needed. So I think that that’s . . . there’s been a big confusion about movement, freedom of movement of people and freedom of movement of labour.

SM:       So can I . . . so, on the numbers, because a lot of people would say, ‘Look, the numbers have to come down’, you would say, from what you’re suggesting, numbers don’t necessarily have to come down, it’s just who we get in?

PAD:      No, we’ve always suggested that one way round this is a points-style system, like they have in Australia, and then people come immediately back and say that’s to increase immigration, but the same thing can be used here to decide the quality of people who you have, in. And I think that this idea that we won’t get the best brains if we’re outside the European Union is clearly not true.  I can think of half a dozen really top people who are here from Australia and New Zealand, and they’re not in the European Union, so I do not think that for people of really high calibre it’s going to make any difference to [them] at all.

SM:       Professor Angus Dalglish, thank you very much.

Photo by Trondheim Havn

The gloves are off in BBC’s fight against Brexit

The gloves are off in BBC’s fight against Brexit

Many – including the writers of a Daily Mail editorial and the Mail on Sunday’s columnist Peter Hitchens – claimed that the BBC had changed its spots during the EU referendum campaign, and was bringing impartial coverage.

Clearly, there was – for the first time – an attempt at least to talk to the ‘exit’ side. But since the result was announced, any semblance of balance seems to have evaporated.

News-watch’s BBC Complaints website has been inundated since Friday morning with a deluge of submissions, all saying broadly the same thing: the BBC now sees its mission to undermine Brexit in any and every way it can.

Project Fear might have been masterminded by David Cameron and the Tory high command, but something similar now seems to being pursued with vigour by the BBC as it seeks to bring to light every reason it can as to why the electorate was wrong, and even – as Today presenter Nick Robinson claimed on Tuesday – that the referendum itself was ‘unnecessary’.

Keeping track of the Corporation’s new mission is a major headache because almost every programme seems to have the same multi-pronged obstructive agenda:

  • the vote for ‘exit’ was ultimately based on a form of senile dementia, coupled with hatred of immigrants, and thus on xenophobia and racism;
  • that the young have been deprived of their EU birthright by selfish, reactionary pensioners;
  • that Nigel Farage was the prime mover in an unleashing of ‘hatred’. Presenters such as Martha Kearney now routinely dismiss his approach with derogatory adjectives such as ‘sneering’;
  • to report in close detail any sign of economic unease and magnify it to the maximum extent;
  • to root out with tireless zeal all those who say that ‘Brexit’ is so difficult to achieve and such an inconvenience that it will require at best a snap general election and at worst a second referendum to deal with the issues involved.
  • To support in every way it can the cause of those wanting a second referendum because basically the first time round the electorate did not know what they were voting for.

News-watch will write a full detailed report on this in due course. But meanwhile, Exhibit A in this barrage of negativity came on Newsnight last Friday night. It was the first edition to be broadcast after the BBC referendum guidelines were no longer in force. By golly, editor Ian Katz and his Guardian chums went to town.

Pride of place was given Kenneth Clarke, arguably the most ardent, embittered and vitriolic Europhile of them all (News-watch research shows that he has been delivering the same cracked messages for 17 years), to posit and push hard that the referendum result was not conclusive and had unleashed chaos.

The show was orchestrated by a hyperactive Evan Davis, who seized upon every opportunity to show that Brexit would not work. Star turns included Kirsty Wark, who emphasised that Scotland had voted ‘in’ because Scots were more multicultural and welcoming of immigration than England; and then ‘equality campaigner’ (and ‘transgender rights activist’) Paris Lees, who said it was clear that Britain was now being led down a ‘very dark path’.

There were ‘balancing’ guests such as ‘exit’ supporters Tim Montgomerie of the Times and Suzanne Evans of Vote Leave. They expressed differing views but there could be no doubt of what Newsnight’s overall goal was as the dust on the poll settled:  to establish that Brexit equals turmoil.

Exhibit B is an item written on Tuesday by James Naughtie – one of the Corporation’s eminence gris –  for the BBC website. It has to be read in full to be appreciated.  To cut a long story short, he compares the upheaval now underway to that when Henry V died, and en route betrays that he thinks the referendum ballot, in which 17 million Britons voted for ‘exit’ was a chance occurrence. A magisterial posting by Craig Byers of Is the BBC Biased? betrays the extent of his blatant bias.

Exhibit C is the pushing of the ‘Brexit equals racism’ agenda on multiple fronts. On Tuesday’s BBC1 News at Ten for example, it was stressed that the number of racist assaults had increased in the wake of the vote, and BBC reporter Ed Thomas went out on the streets of Leeds to show, first that local Latvian residents were under attack, and then, for good measure, found what he said was ‘a fascist’ with a swastika tattoo on his biceps to ram home that supporters of ‘out’ meant business.

In the same vein, Victoria Derbyshire assembled for her BBC1 show earlier in the day, a cast of interest groups and campaigners who were angrily determined to show the level of racism in the ‘leave’ vote.   Shazia Awan – who it was said had faced ‘racist abuse’ – stated (over caption overlays illustrating the alleged extent of the abuse):

‘Now, Boris Johnson, Michael Gove and their alliance with Nigel Farage and taking donations from the BNP have caused this. Boris Johnson is not fit to be leader of the Conservative Party.’

Only time, and more detailed analysis, will show the full extent of this BBC bias. But these early signs are that for the Corporation, the poll last Thursday was an aberration to be fought on every possible front.  The gloves are off.

Referendum Blog: June 27

Referendum Blog: June 27

BBC CONTINUES ‘PROJECT FEAR’: How is the BBC going to report Brexit? The early signs are not good.

News-watch, via its sister BBC Complaints website, has been inundated with submissions – many more than during the referendum campaign itself – that the Corporation is treating the Brexit vote as an aberration and a disaster.

One exasperated viewer of BBC1’s news bulletins wrote:

Every time I see any report about Brexit the people who are aired by the BBC are making horrible xenophobic comments. Brexit is being portrayed as the English being xenophobic when they want freedom of law-making among other things. This is not racism. This is not about Europeans at all, it is about the EU regulations and the fact that people want to have control in their own country.’

And a listener to Radio 4’s Any Questions? asserted:

I listened as always to BBC R4s any questions today and was disgusted, but not surprised, at the continuing derogatory bias against Brexit. Just two examples from the programme.

1. The audience was clearly selected to represent those in the population who either choose IN as their active vote or ticked IN because passively they were undecided, did not what to do, felt uninformed, ‘better the devil you know’, keep the ‘status quo’, etcetera. These people were clapping and whooping the Remain points and booing the Brexit side, while the later audience members, in their minority, demonstrated appropriate polite applause.

2. The panel representing the Brexit side were speaking of hope, trade with the world and an upbeat, honest stance. Conversely the Remain panel continue to childishly project fear, with talk of being ‘afraid’ and in a ‘dark place’, in a ‘dark wood’. This sort of unhelpful, inappropriate language does just not have a place, and Jonathan Dimbleby, as the chair, did nothing to address this. Deplorable.

Following on from this, R4 Today’s headlines this morning (27/6) were in full negative mode. Heavy stress was given to stories which suggested the United Kingdom could fracture (with potential exit by both Scotland AND Northern Ireland), and that business leaders would stop investing and cut jobs.

Sarah Metcalf, as the programme closed reflected the overall editorial tone. Yes, there had been a vote for exit, but in the BBC’s estimation, she opined, it was a ‘very confused’ voice.’

Which part of the word ‘leave’ on the referendum ballot paper would that have been?

Nick Robinson stressed after George Osborne delivered his holding statement on Brexit at 7.15am that he was dressed in a ‘funereal’ dark suit. Arguably, this also spoke volumes about BBC attitudes. Leaving the EU is tantamount to death rites; on hand to bolster the impression was a UBS analyst who thought that the coming months would be disastrous for the UK economy.

Maximum prominence was also given to the views of Michael Heseltine in wanting a second referendum, and declaring that dire consequences were inevitable. True, this was immediately balanced by counter views about the positive benefits of Brexit from a pro-‘exit’ businessman. But this ran very much against the flow of the rest of the programme, a begrudging inclusion and a fig leaf.

This overall, all-pervading tone of doom was set only hours after the polls had closed by Exhibit A: Friday night’s Newsnight (transcript below), the first edition of the programme not bound by the strict referendum balance guidelines.

How was it? The transcript needs to be read in full to appreciate the full range of negativity involved. But in summary, it seems that the Corporation has reverted to its a full pro-EU campaigning mode that News-watch has chronicled for the past 17 years. The programme can best be described as a continuation of the remain side’s Project Fear.

In this post-referendum world, Nicola Sturgeon and Kenneth Clarke, it seems, are now regarded as the revered patron saints of the martyred, wronged Remain side. In parallel, a goal appears to be to stress every possible negative about Brexit; no production effort is going to be spared, in demonstrating how ignorant and prejudiced are the grass roots voters who had the temerity to want ‘out’.

Of course the job of journalism is to explore the weaknesses in political stances. But Friday night’s this amounted to a declaration of all-out war on Brexit, complete with funereal music.

A comparison is that when David Cameron announced there would be a referendum on EU membership back in 2013, Newsnight covered his decision which contained 18 pro-EU figures ranged against one who was not. News-watch’s complaint about this went to the BBC Trustees’ Editorial Standards Committee who declared that because this was not a major news event,

Presenter Evan Davis was in full attack dog mode, and for good effect, uttered a theatrical, incredulous ‘wow’ when he detected (wrongly) that pro-exit MEP Daniel Hannan had rowed back from a campaign promise about immigration.

Davis gave maximum exposure to those who still opposed exit, and tried most in his interviewing to undermine the ‘exit’ side. For example, in the opening interview sequence dealing with political reaction to the poll, Kenneth Clarke – who revealed that his political career began because he wanted to join the then European Economic Community in the 1960s – Davis allowed Clarke to push to maximum extent his resentment about the referendum outcome and push his pro-EU ardour.

In the same sequence, Tristram Hunt was not challenged about his highly questionable contention that in reality, Labour supporters in places like Brighton and Exeter supported staying in the EU, and therefore, there was no real problem in Labour’s overall pro-EU stance.

In sharp contrast, Vote leave representative Suzanne Evans was subjected to sharp questioning about whether promises to fund the NHS out of the UK’s EU contribution would be kept.

In her contribution, Kirsty Wark, speculating about the possibility of the break-up of the UK in consequence of the vote, stressed that Scotland (unlike England, it was implied) had sent its sons and daughters all over the world and had welcomed many different nations from time immemorial. She gushed:

‘…we, in turn, have welcomed many different nations here – Russians, Italians, Poles, Pakistanis, and immigration just does not seem to be the same issue here as it is south of the border. Why do you think it is that immigration doesn’t seem to be such an issue as it is in England?

Followed by a Vox Pop contributor who said:

[blockquote]I think that Scotland as a race of people we are just more multicultural, our culture is more varied, if you think about sort of storytelling and music, anything like that, And I just think that we are more accepting of new ideas here.’
During the referendum campaign, the BBC subjected every utterance of ‘exit’ campaigners to fact checks, and usually concluded they were wrong. In this case, some facts about immigration in Scotland are relevant. ‘Multicultural’ or not, only 7% of Scotland’s population is currently foreign born, whereas the proportion in the UK is now 14%, the majority of them in England.

Thus Wark’s assertion was highly misleading. It seemed an overt attack on negative attitudes of ‘leave’ voters’ in England.

Transcript of BBC2, Newsnight, 24th June 2016, EU Referendum, what now? 10.30pm

 

MARK CARNEY: Good morning.

DAVID DIMBLEBY:          Well, at 4.40am, we can now say that . . .

MC:       The people of the United Kingdom have voted to leave the European Union.

VOX POP MALE:              I’ve got my country back! I’m not going to be here a lot longer, I’m nearly 80. But what I’ve got, I want to keep!

JOURNALIST (to Farage) Should Cameron leave?

NIGEL FARAGE: Not yet.

J:            Now?

NF:        Well, by about ten o’clock, I would say, would be about right.

DAVID CAMERON:          I do not think it would be right for me to try to be the captain that steers our country to its next destination.

FEMALE JOURNALIST:    Are you not worried about what you’re hearing this morning? About David Cameron resigning or the strength of the pound?

VOX POP FEMALE:          No, no, not at all. Not at all. No, it’s a good thing.

MALE JOURNALIST:        A letter of no confidence has been tabled with Jeremy Corbyn.

NICOLA STURGEON:       We will begin to prepare the legislation that would be required to enable a new independence referendum.

MARTIN MCGUINNESS: Anybody that doesn’t think this is big stuff needs to get their head around it.

VOX POP FEMALE2:        I’m kind of thinking of moving to another country.

MM:      This is huge.

BORIS JOHNSON:            It was a noble idea for its time. It is no longer right for this country.

VOX POP MALE 2:           Chuffed to bits. We’re better off out. Because the French don’t like us and the Germans don’t like us.

VOX POP FEMALE 3:       Shocked. Bewildered. I don’t know what’s got to happen next.

VOX POP FEMALE 4:       We’ve got nothing. Nothing can get worse, now. We’ve got nowt, so what can get worse than it already is?

MC:       Thank you very much.

EVAN DAVIS:     So, what now? It’s the biggest financial story since the crash, a huge political story, a once in a generation foreign policy shift, all in one day – not to mention the constitutional uncertainty around Scotland. We can keep calm, but carrying on as before, not really possible. The enormity of what happened has been sinking into voters on both sides today. We mustn’t over interpret the result. If a mere one in 50 of all voters had switched from Leave to Remain, we’d be having a different conversation. But we mustn’t under-interpret it either, and all that it represents. Is this, for example, the first vote ever to say it’s NOT the economy stupid, it’s immigration? Is the real story here a revolution? The latest of a wave of insurrections sweeping the West? A challenge to the established order and the political class? The discontented getting their own back? Or should you view it as an inter-generational struggle? The polls showing under 45s voted in and over 45s wanted us out. And there’s an aftermath of bitterness. One young man’s tweet: “I’m so angry”, he said. “A generation given everything – free education, golden pensions, social mobility – have voted to strip my generation’s future”. Well, for some, it comes down to nothing less than a culture war.

UNNAMED MALE IN STREET:      So who’s corrupt and overpaid?

MAN HOLDING BANNER:             Europe. Europe.

ED:        Youthful urban liberals versus older social conservatives. The former worry that Britain will now turn its back on progressive values. The latter think it’s time for their voice to be heard again. It’s not as clean-cut as that of course, but that’s where the argument goes – what kind of country will we now be? Well, it’s for the history books to argue about the causes of this uprising. We’re going to do something different tonight. We’ll look ahead to what comes next. What’s next for politics in this country? The two major parties both looking battered, both with leadership questions to be answered. What’s next for Europe? How will the EU now choose to treat us? And how does our decision affect the EU? And what’s next for the UK, with Scotland voting so differently to England? Well, of the three “what nexts”, politics comes first, as it shapes everything else. At a turbulent time like this, it might be great to have a Nelson Mandela to take over, heal the wounds, articulate a vision for the country and negotiate a new arrangement with goodwill and good grace. Well, Donald Trump flew into Britain today, but he’s not available. David Cameron is on his way out. And Jeremy Corbyn? Many in Labour want him out, too. It is an awful time to be a mainstream politician. I’m going to be talking to some of them in a minute. But first, I’m here with our political editor, Nick Watt. I mean, Nick, in Westminster this morning, shock and awe?

NICK WATT:       Well, they were absolutely shell-shocked in Downing Street by this result. They had a simple thought, Project Fear would deliver them a second referendum win but instead what you saw power and authority seeping away from Number Ten a Number Eleven Downing Street. You might have thought, for example, on a day like this that the Chancellor would calm the markets, but no, that job was left to the Governor of the Bank of England and you just had a couple of tweets from the Chancellor. In the case of Number Ten, We were talking to one Whitehall source who, likened Number Ten to doughnut, whose centre of the shell has fallen apart.  And this source went on to say, no communication from Number Ten, we assume they must have gone to the pub. (moves into package report) As dawn broke today, Britain awoke to the most momentous shuffling of the political order since the Second World War. (Newsreel from Suez Crisis)  Suez, the devaluation of sterling, the defenestration of Margaret Thatcher.

MARGARET THATCHER: We are leaving Downing Street for the last time . . .

NW:      Arguably, they were all trumped today when Britain stumbled out of the EU. Overturning four decades of assumptions about Britain’s place in Europe was of an order of such magnitude that it made the resignation of a sitting Prime Minister a second order issue. David Cameron’s voice cracked as he announced his departure.

DAVID CAMERON:          I love this country. And I feel honoured to have served it. And I will do everything I can in future to help this great country succeed. Thank you very much.

NW:      Any hope the victor had of a Roman-style triumph were soon crushed, when Boris Johnson was greeted by protesters as he left his house. (Michael Gove) The Prime Minister’s nemeses looked funereal at the depth of what they have achieved something.

BORIS JOHNSON:            I want to begin this morning by paying tribute to David Cameron, who has spoken earlier from Downing Street, and I know that I speak for Michael in saying how sad I am that he has decided to step down but obviously, I respect that decision.

NW:      Johnson owns the next few months but his hopes of reaching Number Ten might hinge on whether his assurances of a seamless transition to life outside the EU come true. Gove insists he has no interest in leadership but a fellow Leave campaigner is not so sure.

JACOB REES-MOGG:       The Conservative party has so many talented people, dozens come to mind but my top three would be Michael Gove, Boris Johnson and Andrea Leadsom.

NW:      Do you think the next Conservative prime minister will have been a Brexiter?

JRM:      Well, the Prime Minister has stood down because he feels that having backed Remain he cannot implement the will of the British people expressed in a referendum – that surely applies to anyone else who supported Remain.

NW:      Within months the circus will have moved on. But for the moment David Cameron finds himself as something as a hostage to his former allies as he accepts their timetable for a British exit from the EU. David Cameron had hoped to end his Premiership as one of the great Conservative social reformers but instead, he finds power ebbing away.

CATHERINE HADDON Institute for Government: I’m not sure whether we’d call it a zombie government, but certainly it feels a bit more like a caretaker government for the next few months. We have a government that had a massive legislative agenda, deficit reduction, prison, NHS reform, Universal Credit, all sorts of things, and a lot of it has been on hiatus already because of the EU referendum. Now, partly because of the leadership campaign, because you have a Prime Minister who’s effectively an interim Prime Minister for the next few months, and because of summer, and all of the concerns about the EU and what will happen there with negotiations, even more will probably be in abeyance for the time being.

NW:      You wait and age for a leadership crisis, and then two come along at the same time.  A few hours after the Prime Minister announced his plans to resign, two veteran Labour MPs said they would lay the ground for a challenge to Jeremy Corbyn.  Others share their concerns.

CAROLINE FLINT Labour:              I understand that motion, and I understand the concerns of Margaret and Anne and other colleagues of, you know, looking at the result of yesterday. We went into this referendum campaign expecting 70 to 80% of Labour supporters and voters to vote Remain – I think we barely got 50%.  And if he cannot demonstrate after this massive test that Labour can retrieve ground and he knows how to do it, there are more problems ahead.  We could have a general election within six months, and at the moment, based on the outcome of yesterday, it’s not looking good for Labour and not looking good in terms of Jeremy’s leadership.

NIGEL FARAGE: We’ve got our country back (cheering)

NW:      It was Independence Day for the winners, but the most unashamedly pro-EU party said that Britain should not give up on its European destiny.

TIM FARRON Liberal Democrat: We heard Nigel Farage, rather ungraciously, before the result, when he thought he’d lost, saying there could be a second referendum.  I’m not going to go saying that, erm, if things change, as the months go by and public opinion significantly changes then, you know, we must make sure we keep all options open, we mustn’t shackle ourselves to the corpse of a Brexit government.

NW:      For some, the European dream will never die, but for another generation at least, Britain’s European journey is at an end.

ED:        Nick Watt.  Well, here with me, the former Tory Chancellor Ken Clarke, Suzanne Evans from Vote Leave, and Tristram Hunt, the Labour MP for Stoke-on-Trent, which actually voted to leave the EU with one of the biggest margins in the country.  Ken Clarke, it’s, you know, what, 46 years in politics, all . . . devoted to the European project, you must feel gutted?

KEN CLARKE:      I do. Well, I started in politics as a very active Conservative student politician, supporting Harold Wilson’s first bid to join the European Community, so it’s slightly ironic that 50 years later this neurotic argument’s still going on, and we’re actually leaving the European Union.  But erm, I actually am quite deliberately sort of trying to control my er . . . annoyance and my anger and my distress about the whole thing, er, because at the moment, er, you know, we’ve now got to decide what we do next, which I think is what your programme’s about.  We have a caretaker government, we have no policy of any kind on what our relationship is going to be with the outside world tour Europe in particular, we don’t know what we’re going to do about the immigration, but we know, a lot of people were told to be very frightened about it, and so I think I have to count to ten and decide, well, what the devil do we do now after this extraordinary, very narrow result, it could have gone either way.

ED:        (speaking over) Can I . . . can I just ask you one other . . . sort of personal reflection.  Ed Miliband last year stood in an election against your government and he said, ‘I am better for business, because I’m not going to risk the nation’s departure from the European Union.’ You now, looking back, must’ve thought . . .

KC:         (speaking over) Oh I think . . .

ED:        . . . it would have been much better if Ed Miliband had won the 2015 election.

KC:         No, I don’t think that, but I mean (fragments of words, unclear)

ED:        (speaking over) But we wouldn’t be here if he’d won the 2015 election . . .

KC:         (speaking over) All politicians of my generation think referendums are an absurd way of running a modern, sophisticated country, but I, there was no point in my emphasising that once we’d . . .  gone out and said we were going to have one, and there’s no point in my emphasising that now, because we had one, and we are where we are.  I think everybody on both sides, and I’m sure people on both sides feel as passionately as I do . . . the country at the moment is in a period of great uncertainty, it needs a government, it needs a government that could start getting on with the business of running the country in several crises again, and it needs to decide, as we’ve got to negotiate with the European Union, what exactly do we want to negotiate .(words unclear due to speaking over) negotiating (words unclear due to speaking over)

ED:        (speaking over) Right, what do we want . . . Very quickly, the other two of you – general election?  Do you think a general election is required at this kind of time, Suzanne Evans?

SUZANNE EVANS:            Personally, I’d say not.  While I’m absolutely ecstatic at the result, I do recognise that nearly half the country voted the other way, and will be quite worried, and indeed, I’ve spoken to people today who do have concerns about where we go next, and I’ve been doing my best to reassure them, as of course have various other people today.  I think a general election, for me, would bring in another level of uncertainty . . .

ED:        Right . . .

SE:         . . . which is probably best avoided.

ED:        And just briefly, Tristram, general election?

TRISTRAM HUNT:            I think there’s a high likelihood that if we have a new leader of the Conservative Party, they’ll want to develop their own mandate, so what whether we have an election in autumn, or whether we have an election in spring, and what they’ll have to go to the country on is what their Article 50 renegotiation strategy will be . . .

ED:        (speaking over) What, what, what the plan is.

KC:         I agree there is a serious risk of an election, er, and I, at the moment, can’t quite see how a government can be formed with a parliamentary majority, you know, to make the kind of changes that most of the Brexiteers have been talking about.  They don’t know what they want really.  I actually think to go into a general election would add to the risks to where we are, more uncertainty, more chaos, and actually another daft and dreadful campaign, which might produce . . .

ED:        (speaking over) Okay . . .

KC:         . . . a very indecisive result . . .

ED:        (speaking over) I don’t want to get stuck on this . . .

KC:         . . . it would be disastrous.

ED:        I’m so sorry, we haven’t got much time, I do want to talk about who should be the next Prime Minister.  Before we hear your view, Ken, who should be the Tory leader, Tristram, who do you think it should be?

TRISTRAM HUNT:            Who the next leader of the Conservative Party . . .

ED:        (speaking over) Yes, yes.

TH:        . . . er, should be (words unclear due to speaking over)

ED:        (speaking over) We’ll talk about the next leader of the Labour Party . . .

TH:        . . . from an outside . . . well, I think, from a Labour perspective, I think I regard Boris Johnson as a very, very successful celebrity candidate, who is a very, very clever man, who has used that intelligence to appeal to some very base instincts, who, alongside Michael Gove, would seek to deliver a very neoliberal Tory Brexit. Erm, so I don’t really want any of them, is that, is that an alright answer? (laughs)

ED:        (speaking over) No, that’s okay, you’re allowed to say that.  Suzanne Evans, do you have a view?

SE:         It clearly has to be somebody who is passionate about Brexit and has a very clear vision . . .

ED:        (interrupting) So it can’t be Theresa May, you would say?

SE:         So it can’t be Theresa May, I would say, although I think it’s a shame, because she was clearly one of the front-runners, and I think had she come out for Leave . . . to me, I think Andrea Leadsom had been one of the standout stars of this campaign . . .

ED:        She’s had a good campaign, for sure.

SE:         And certainly if not as Prime Minister, then Chancellor for sure.

KC:         Because nobody has the first idea . . .

ED:        (laughs)

KC:         . . . what the economic policy of the government is now supposed to be . . .

SE:         It’s going to be the same as any other sovereign and independent, free country, Ken . . .

KC:         (speaking over) and nobody has the first idea what, what we’re saying about immigrants and what we’re not, there’s a danger the country is going to fool around with another leadership election, having . . .

ED:        (interrupting) Well it has to.

KC:         . . . having, it does, it does.  But (fragments of words, unclear) we need a balanced government, we need it being headed by somebody of balanced views, not just somebody who’s good at photo opportunities . . .

SE:         (speaking over) Are you suggesting none of the Brexiteers who fronted the campaign are balanced?

KC:         (speaking over) We need . . . we need people who can settle down to the serious business of government.

ED:        Theresa May, was that Theresa May?  Just give us the name, give us the name . . .

KC:         (speaking over) The whole referendum campaign . . . when, when it was, the whole referendum campaign, when it wasn’t bashing immigrants, was all the Boris and Dave show, and if the British, now they’ve caused a crisis for half the Western world, decide to have a real fun Conservative leadership election again . . .

SE:         (speaking over) Half the Western world? This is hyperbole, Ken, are you going to give us the name . . .

ED:        Are you going to give us the name?

KC:         I’m not going to give you a name.

ED:        (speaking over) Okay, right, let’s turn to Labour, let’s turn to Labour because Tristram Hunt, the Tories are fighting each other, Labour seems to be fighting with its voters, and that must be a much, much more serious place for the party?

TH:        I think this referendum exposes some pretty big tensions within the Labour Party and the labour movement and where you see, for example, in Stoke-on-Trent, 70-30 out, and you contrast that with some of the vote in Brighton or Bristol or Norwich or Exeter, other Labour areas, we’ve got this divide between our traditional, working-class Labour communities, who felt real pressure under globalisation in the last 10 years, felt pressure on wage levels from immigration, erm, feel discontent about the level of change, versus, as you said in your intro . . .

ED:        (speaking over) I understand the problem, which you’re describing . . .

TH:        (speaking over) Yes . . .

ED:        . . . but (exhales) I mean it’s an enormous problem for a political . . .

TH:        (speaking over) It is.

ED:        . . . to find that its base, or half of the base . . .

TH:        Yeah.

ED:        . . . is basically completely at odds with it and . . .

TH:        Well . . .

ED:        . . . it doesn’t view the world in the same way at all.

TH:        But we have had these problems in the past, and Ken will know that there are any number of books written called, you know, ‘What’s Wrong With Labour?’, ‘The End of Labour’, ‘Will it Ever Come Back’ you know, in the 60s and 70s, and if you have someone with a convincing vision of Britain as a social democratic future, who people trust and want to put their country in the trust of, well then you can overcome these problems, there’s no doubt about that.

ED:        (speaking over) And Jeremy Corbyn . . . Jeremy Corbyn, does he meets that requirement, that, that, that . . . that job description?

TH:        Well, Ken said an interesting thing about the serious business of government, and we now face really serious, tough and difficult times.  This is a national crisis, and the job of opposition rather like John Smith during the Maastricht Treaty is to provide strategic vision and forensic detail.  Now, Jeremy Corbyn is very, very good at energising the base and making those who are already convinced of Labour ideals feel better about themselves, whether he is the man to make sure that Labour values, Labour values are at the core of a renegotiation strategy (words unclear due to speaking over)

ED:        (speaking over) (word or words unclear) that was a very long way of saying, ‘No, he’s not the right man for the job,’ is he?

TH:        (speaking over) No, no, no, no, no . . . no, no, there’s a serious point here.  Whether he’s the man to have the Labour values at the core of the renegotiation strategy, I’m not convinced he has those capacities.

ED:        Right. We’ve got it. Erm, Suzanne Evans, there’s a problem with trust in politicians, isn’t there, and that’s been one of the reasons why you’ve actually done very well.  When exactly are we going to get the £350 million extra a week, spent on the National Health Service that you promised in your campaign . . .

TH:        (speaking over) Nigel Farage said it was a . . . yeah, he said it was a lie this morning.

ED:        . . . when is that going to happen?

TH:        It’s gone, already . . .

SE:         We actually promised £100 million a week for the NHS . . .

(barracking from others)

ED:        I saw one thing, ‘£350 million for the NHS’

TH:        (speaking over) On a big bus, I saw it on a bus.

SE:         We said, ‘£350 million we could spend on our own priorities, like the NHS’ . . . and they (words unclear due to speaking over) made a specific . . .

TH:        (speaking over) And universities, VAT . . .

SE:         . . . proposal to say £100 million for the NHS, and that is exactly the kind of cash injection that the NHS needs, and it’s fantastic to have this money . . .

ED:        (speaking over) (fragment of word, unclear) When are we going to get the hundred . . . when are we going to get the £100 million a week extra on the NHS?

SE:         When we leave the European Union.  So, let’s say that will be two, three years time?

ED:        Do you not think that there’s just a possibility that the very things that brought the mainstream politicians into such disrepute and low regard and the lack of trust and nothing they say is believed is now about to hit you and all of those who made that case?

SE:         No, I don’t (fragment of word, or word unclear) the British electorate made the decision, they looked at Project Fear . . .

ED:        (speaking over) But there wasn’t, there wasn’t a little asterisk . . .

SE:         . . . and they looked at Project Hope . . . and they chose Project Hope.

ED:        . . . saying read . . . read . . . there wasn’t an asterisk saying, ‘Read this bus very carefully, because we’re not saying £350 million a week.’

KC:         But Evan it (words unclear due to speaking over)

TH:        (speaking over) It said, it said, it said . . .

KC          I mean, both sides, the campaign was dreadful . . .

SE:         Yes. (word or words unclear) awful . . .

KC:         So the public got angry and confused, and were no better informed when they finished than when they started, which is why a lot of old people in particular were so angry with the politicians, anti-establishment and they . . . it’s a protest vote, a lot of this.  The worst thing they did was all these Syrian refugees . . . Britain has complete control over how many Syrians come here and how don’t (sic) how many don’t.  We did on Wednesday, we do now, it’s nothing to do with the EU, whether they’re admitted and settled here. They had a whole poster, showing thousands of them streaming in . . .

ED:        (speaking over) We have to, you know, we have to leave it there, let’s not go back over the campaign . . .

TH:        (speaking over) It was disgusting.

KC:         No, I’d rather not go over the campaign . . . We, we need, we need (fragments of words, unclear) the right man to reunite the party and the country, we need a policy and the sooner the better.

ED:        Thank you all very much indeed. Well, of course, alongside the politics is economics. Famously, we like to describe ourselves as the fifth largest economy in the world. Today, we actually came close to being the sixth. The pound has fallen, you see. So when you convert our pound-based national income into dollars, it isn’t what it was. Well the financial gyrations were considerable, some companies’ shares were pummelled in the expectation that things will get difficult. Our business editor, Helen Thomas, is here. Helen, take us through some of those gyrations.

HELEN THOMAS:             So, you heard about the meltdown, there is ample cause for concern but there are the odd crumb of comfort out there. So, the pound, our best barometer for the overall confidence in the UK economy. So, you can see here it surged higher last night as hopes built for a Remain victory and then it plunged, an absolutely huge move for a currency.

ED:        (laughter in voice) Currencies don’t move like that.

HT:        No. No, but later in the day it found a level, it stabilised around 1.37 to the dollar, stock markets, similar story, so here you can see a very, very dramatic drop at the open of the markets . . .

ED:        It’s on the left there . . . Just on the left, yeah . . .

HT:        . Both for the FTSE 100 and the more UK-focused 250. Banks and property stocks very hard-hit but as you can see, the markets then came back and recovered. Now . . . so what we didn’t see was this sort of downward panicked spiral that would indicate a total loss of confidence in the UK. Having said that, it was a really tough day and that reflects investors marking down their outlook for the UK.

ED:        Now, that’s all the sort of the acute crisis – some might say the worrying thing was not getting through the next week, it’s sort of the longer-term.

HT:        Well, and we may be in this sort of slow, grinding process of figuring out what the economic going to be.  Now, we know some of the areas of concern because the Bank of England helpfully told us last week. So . . . so they said, erm, while consumer spending has been solid, there is growing evidence that uncertainty about the referendum is leading to delays to major economic decisions. And they mentioned a commercial and real estate transactions, car purchases and business investment. Now, the concern is that those areas that were already slowing, the shutters just come down. And most economists I’ve spoken to  do think we’re in, you know, we’ve got a slowdown in store, possibly a recession, the question is, how severe?  Now let’s, let’s leave aside any risk of an outright crisis, erm, you can still have a pretty ugly outcome, if business investment and hiring dries up very quickly, erm, you can see her, business confidence was already falling into the vote, so in that scenario unemployment starts to rise, people worry about their jobs, banks pull back on lending, partly because they’re worried about loans being repaid, that hits confidence and consumer spending. Meanwhile, a weak currency means higher inflation, and the Bank of England, which targets inflation may not feel it can react aggressively to try and stability economy.

ED:        It does get a bit confusing.  Is there any sort of more sanguine . . . more sanguine . . . scenario you can paint?

HT:        Yes, it still probably involves business investment falling on the back of the vote, but a weaker pound could boost exports, erm, and more importantly, the Bank of England might say ‘We’re not going to worry about inflation for now, we’re going to look through that,’ they could cut rates, they could stimulate the economy in other ways, maybe they’ve got enough tools left in their toolkit to do that.  The irony is, the governor, Mark Carney, who’s had a pretty hard time of late, he is crucial to how this all plays out.

ED:        Helen, thanks. Well look, the next of our ‘What nows’ is Europe itself.  After the French Revolution other royal families worried about how to keep their heads, and there’s perhaps a bit of that on the continent. And worry they might about keeping their jobs – if any eurocrats were still harbouring dreams of creating a European superstate, Britain has shown that the old concept of the nation state is not going down without a fight. And critically there is now the looming question of what our relationship with the EU might be. Our diplomatic editor Mark Urban is in Brussels. Good evening, Mark.

MARK URBAN:   Evan, look, the thing that is defining attitudes here is a fear of contagion. Now, we heard Marine Le Pen, some Dutch Eurosceptics and others as well in Europe welcoming today’s result, but none of them are in power right now. And none of them is in a position to deliver an in-out referendum in another European country any time soon. But the attitude that seems to be dominant here, we have certainly heard some of the big hitters in the Brussels machine voicing this attitude, is that Brexit should happen not just quickly but in a very tough or exemplary way. In other words, they want the other countries in Europe that may be watching to see the Brits go out on very tough terms. Fascinating insight tonight from Wolfgang Schreiber, the German finance minister, very influential, a leaked Brexit plan of his suggested trade terms and an association agreement not like Norway, as some people had been discussin in the UK, not like Switzerland, more the sort of deal that Turkey or Canada might be negotiating in the latter case. So very tough terms, all to do with trying to head off a risk, which even last night, almost nobody in this town really had got to grips with the idea of what was about to hit it. (packaged report) (French and German radio chatter)  In the city at the heart of the EU, they woke up to the day that ever-closer union died. Across the airwaves and in many languages, that dread news sank in. With markets plunging across many countries, the woman styled ‘Queen Europe’ by some called for calm.

ANGELA MERKEL (translated):    What the outcome of this watershed will mean to us in the coming days, weeks, months and years will depend on us. If we, the other 27 member states of the European Union, are capable and willing not to rush into any quick and easy decisions which would only further disunite Europe. But if we’re capable and willing to assess the situation calmly and soberly in order to come to a joint decision on this basis.

MU:       At the Commission, leaders of the European institutions met to calibrate their response. And, very soon, it became clear that there would be no further offers to Britain. We are already hearing voices here from the other 27 members of the EU that they should force the pace of Brexit in order to protect their own economies and political systems. And now we’re going to hear from the bosses of the Union’s big institutions, and it’ll be fascinating to see to what extent they think the Union should drive a tough exit bargain with the UK. For the man running the European bureaucracy, even the words to describe this moment seemed to stick.

JEAN-CLAUDE JUNCKER President of the European Commission:  The British people expressed its views on their er (five second pause) next situation. We now expect the United Kingdom government to give effect to this decision of the British people as soon as possible. However painful that process may be.

MU:       As for what it meant for the remaining 27, watch this.

REPORTER:         Is this the beginning of the end of the European Union?

JCJ:        No. Thank you. (applause)

MU:       Blunt but very much to the liking of the non-British journalists and officials. So Europe is in the deepest of crises, as consultations begin prior to a Brussels summit next week. And there are already suggestions by many players here that any deal should be exemplary, with the UK denied access to the single market.

GUY VERHOFSTADT MEP Prime Minister of Belgium, 1999-2008: It is a consequence of the British vote because the single market, or the European Economic Area, includes also the free movement of labour. (laughter in voice) That was the problem in the referendum. So I think that the only way to establish a new relationship between Britain and the European Union is using a trade agreement. Like Europe has trade agreements with a number of countries.

MU:       There’s a statue just outside the Commission.  It shows a step into the unknown. And on the day that the Brexit earthquake hit this town, it has rarely seemed more apt.

ED:        Mark Urban there. Well, earlier I was joined by Jonathan Powell, Tony Blair’s former chief of staff. Did he think the decision to leave was irreversible or was there a still a route he could see where Britain would retain some kind of membership of the EU?

JONATHAN POWELL:      Well, I think this was a vote against something rather than a vote for anything. It was a vote against our current relationship with the EU but it wasn’t a vote for what sort of new relationship we should have. So I must say I think David Cameron is right to delay the start of negotiations until there is a new Prime Minister. But I would go further than that, I think any new Prime Minister needs a mandate for a negotiation. He has to set out what he is for, what sort of new relationship are we going to have with EU? Are we going to be Norway? Are we going to be Canada? Who are we going to be? I think that’s very, very important that they get that mandate from an election. So I don’t think you can really start negotiations until there has been an election, not just the choice of a new Tory leader.

ED:        OK, but that raises lots of issues. So, hang on, is it possible a party could go into an election saying ‘we are in, we’re just going to ignore the referendum and we’ll just negotiate us to remain?’

JP:          Of course you can, that’s what elections are about. You go for an election in a mandate, one of the many reasons Mrs Thatcher was against referenda was because she thought you should decide this in representative democracy through an election. But the main point here is this is a vote against something, it’s not a vote for something. The Brexiteers were completely divided on what they wanted, no one knows what they mean. So someone has got to set out a positive mandate and they’ve got to get a vote for it.

ED:        Right, now look, a lot of the Europeans are saying they want this to happen quickly. The path you are describing, and indeed the path that the Leave campaign has been describing is one that takes, well, one that takes quite a lot of time. We will be waiting months before the negotiation gets going. Do you think we can really keep our European partners waiting that long?

JP:          I think we’ll have to. I mean, David Cameron has already set out the timetable as far as he’s concerned. It’s only us who can start Article 50, not them. So I totally understand why they wanted to be quick, because the uncertainty is hurting them, not just us. But in the end they are going to have to wait for us and I think we would be sensible – A, to have a negotiating position, B, to have a new Prime Minister, and C, for that Prime Minister to have a mandate for his negotiating. This is really important about our future . . .

ED:        Right . . .

JP:          You can’t just go in there not clear what you want.

 

ED:        Now, the other critical thing is, how hardball do you think they’re going to play with us? Because, already we’ve heard some reports saying the Norway option, forget it, you’re not going to get the Norway option, that’s not on the table. You are going to be properly out. Now what, what do you think the European Union, what line do you think they will take? How tough will they be?

JP:          Well, they are not going to try and punish us because they want to have good relations with us. But the point is that they have their interests. They are going to meet at 27 without us next week to start working out what their position is. Their main priority is to keep the EU together, it’s to stop the EU disintegrating. So there are not going to offer us anything that will encourage the Dutch or the Finns for the Danes to leave. So they are not going to offer us a super deal outside the EU because otherwise they will start losing other people. So that will be the last thing they do. They’ve got to take care of their interests and we’ve got to fight for ours.

ED:        And bluffing, do you think there has been some bluff over the last few weeks in the run-up to the referendum?

JP:          Well, I kind of hope so. If you remember, Boris Johnson said before he became the leader of the Brexit campaign, he said his preferred option would be to have a new negotiation and a new referendum, and that the referendum would get us a better deal. So I’m hoping that he becomes leader of the Tory party, which I’m not hoping, but if he does then he will have that mandate, he can go off and make an negotiation and then have a new referendum. Remember, the Irish have done that twice this century. They voted against the treaty, had a second vote, and voted for it. Now, it seems very unlikely at the moment, the EU saying no to it, the Brexit campaign saying no to it, but that is one option when we go forward and when people realise quite how ghastly the alternatives are.

ED:        We’ve been talking about Britain and its relationship with the EU. Let’s just briefly talk about the EU itself. How dangerous is the British vote for other countries . . . for the existence of the EU?

JP:          Well, it is a threat to the existence of the EU because it’s going to encourage other Eurosceptics, and you can see who the friends of the Eurosceptics are, they’re people like Le Pen, people like Trump. Those sort of people are going to be agitating to break Europe up. And of course, European governments are going to resist that, so it is a problem for them. Even leaving that to one side, what’s going to happen to Europe without Britain is it’s going to become less liberal, it’s going to become more integrated and it’s going to become more German and that’s going to worry lots of countries in Europe. That’s why they wanted us to stay in. That’s an inevitable consequence of us leaving.

ED:        Jonathan Powell there.  Well, to pick up on that I’m joined by the journalist and broadcaster, the French journalist and broadcaster Christine Ockrent and one of the leading lights of the Leave campaign Dan Hannan.  A very good evening to you. Christine, how does all of this look from France this evening?

CHRISTINE OCKRENT:     Well, it looks pretty ghastly.  But, at the same time, listening into the very interesting discussion you just had Evan, I think you shouldn’t underestimate the determination of the key member states on the continent not to let Brits play the fiddle, determine the timetable, and you know, we should just sit and wait for them to actually act.  I think very much will depend on what happens on Monday when Madam Merkel meets in Berlin with François Hollande, er, the Italian Prime Minister and Donald Tusk, the president of the European Council.  I think that you will hear what the tone will be and again, as has been said by your Brussels correspondent, there’s that series of meetings next week. And again, you know, the European Union had been functioning for 17 years before Britain was accepted in, so I think there’s a degree of arrogance at times, if I may, even at that late hour in the night . . .

ED:        It wouldn’t be the first time . . .

CO:        . . . and sort of thinking that we are going to disintegrate, er, after this rather ghastly result (fragment of word, or word unclear due to speaking over)

ED:        (speaking over) Can I just push you, sorry to interrupt, can I push you?  David Cameron is stepping down, going to take a good two or three months to elect a new Prime Minister, a new leader of the Conservative Party, no one really feels that David Cameron can do the negotiation, you’re going to have to wait three months before this starts, aren’t you?

CO:        Yes, but you think that people in Brussels will just sit and wait?  I think the process is going to be so complicated, the economic and financial costs, we’ve seen nothing today, of course, the pound lost a great deal of value, and the markets will be shaken for quite some time, so I think there will be a lot of work being done in the meantime, and, you know, it’s not going to be done by a snap of the finger, but again I think on the continent there’s also this idea that the British people, especially the older generation, the ones who really have deprived the young ones of all the benefits of Europe, they are going to feel the brunt, and that is something that on the continent will be closely watched, especially by those Eastern European countries which, may I remind you, Britain wanted so much inside the EU . . .

ED:        Indeed.

CO:        . . . and now complains about immigration from Eastern Europe.

ED:        (speaking over) Christine, let me put your points . . . let me put your points to Dan Hannan.  Dan Hannan, firstly, they don’t want us to take all this time and sit around thinking about it, they just want us to get on with it, and that’s a perfectly reasonable request, isn’t it?

DANIEL HANNAN:           Well, you’ve already answered that point, Evan, we have to wait until there somebody to do the negotiations, so it can’t start until that’s taken place.  I think getting this right matters much more than the time, and by getting it right, I mean, being fair to our friends and allies on the continent, as well as getting a deal that is in our own interests and it would be crazy to rush into something . . .

ED:        (speaking over) (fragments of words, or words unclear)

DH:        . . . after 43 years at the expense of getting something that’s mutually satisfactory.

ED:        Jonathan Powell said we need to have an election (fragments of words, unclear) we haven’t yet worked out what the plan is, what the model is, do you agree with that?

DH:        No I mean (fragments of words, unclear) one of the reasons that Brussels is so unpopular is that it’s seem to be contemptuous of public opinion, it swats aside referendums, it’s incredible that less than 24 hours after the result, we’ve already got people trying to undo it.  But what I would say, if I may sort of temper or soften what I’ve just said a little bit, although, plainly, we have a verdict that says we are going to leave the European Union, it was a narrow majority, 48% of people voted to stay in . . .

ED:        Yeah . . .

DH:        . . . Scotland voted to stay in . . .

ED:        (speaking over) Almost 50-50, yeah.

DH:        . . . right, Northern Ireland, Gibraltar voted to stay in, we have, we who are on the winning side have to be cognisant of the extent to which opinion is divided, we have to try and carry as many Remain voters with us, and that may well mean that quite a lot of the existing arrangements remain in place, that we try and find a status that both Leavers and Remainers can live.

ED:        (speaking over) But you know, look, I’ve heard you talk about this, and it sounds like you Daniel Hannan, I don’t know whether you’re speaking for Vote Leave or for Boris Johnson or for anybody else, it sounds like you are veering towards something closer to the Norway option . . .

DH:        Well . . .

ED:        As a compromise between the 48 and the 52?

DH:        I mean, I . . .

ED:        In the single market, yeah?

DH:        My issue with the EU has always been the lack of sovereignty, the lack of democracy (fragments of words, unclear) you know, of course there are economic issues as well . . .

ED:        (speaking over) You could take Norway.

DH:        It wouldn’t be exactly Norway, obviously, we’re a very different country, we’re 65 million rather than 5 million, but the idea of staying within a common market, but outside the political integration I think that is feasible, yes.

ED:        And that means free movement of people.

DH:        It means free movement of labour, it doesn’t mean EU citizenship with all the acquired rights.

ED:        I’m sorry, we’ve just been through three months of agony . . .

DH:        Well, hang on . . .

ED:        . . . on the issue of immigration, and the public have been led to believe . . .

DH:        (speaking over) (fragment of word, or word unclear)

ED:        . . . that what they have voted for is an end to free movement.

DH:        Here is a very, very important point.  From the moment we joined, we had the right to take up a job offer in another member state, you had a legal entitlement if you presented your contract . . .

ED:        (interrupting) But why . . .

DH:        . . . now, that changed with Maastricht, when EU citizenship was introduced, people were given legal entitlements to live in other countries, to vote in other countries and to claim welfare and have the same university tuition and so on.  That bit, I think, is going to change, that means we can deport people . . .

ED:        (speaking over) Why didn’t you say, why didn’t you say this in the campaign?

DH:        (speaking over) Listen, I said that at every single meeting . . .

ED:        (speaking over) Daniel Hannan, why did you not say in your campaign that you were wanting a system, a scheme where we had free movement of labour . . .

DH:        At every . . .

ED:        (speaking over) Completely at odds with what the public think they have just voted for.

DH:        (speaking over) I have just spent four months addressing rallies virtually every day, and at everyone, I would say, ‘Do not imagine that if we leave the EU that means zero immigration from the EU, it means we will have some control over who comes in and in what numbers . . .

ED:        (speaking over) You’ve given the impression, you’ve given the impression . . . you want to take back control . . .

DH:        (speaking over) (word or words unclear) it’s all there on YouTube, you can see it on there.

ED:        Your, your campaign has given the impression that we will not be able to get immigration down to the tens of thousands if we are out . . . inside the EU, I think most people would say that gives the impression we will get it down to tens of thousands if we’re outside the EU.

DH:        No, we’ve always been clear, we want a measure of control, it will be for a future parliament to determine the numbers, and to determine, you know, how many students, how many doctors, how many family reunifications, whatever, but I don’t think anyone has ever tried to put a number on it, that’s obviously going to depend on the state of the economy . . .

ED:        (speaking over, word unclear, ‘Well’ or ‘Wow’) Dan Hannan, thank you very much.  Christine Ockrent, thank you, I had meant to come back to you, we’re out of time, but I hit a . . . nerve there with Dan Hannan. Thank you so much, thank you. Okay, there’s one other potentially momentous area to look at tonight.  It’s the UK itself, time to dust off those old dis-united Kingdom clichés that were so popular during the Scottish referendum.  And let’s go to Scotland now, Kirsty is in Edinburgh tonight, Kirsty can give us a flavour of the talk in Scotland about a second referendum there. Kirsty?

KIRSTY WARK:   Well, first of all, after such a decisive vote in Scotland to Remain, this country feels a bit like it is in limbo, people are actually bewildered and some of them devastated that England voted to leave the European Union and now Scotland, in a way, is unable to move forward.  Nicola Sturgeon says that an independence referendum’s highly likely, but she can’t afford to lose again.  And she herself has said there is no guarantee that people who voted ‘no’ in the first independence referendum and voted to remain in the EU would vote independence for Scotland.  So, there are so many questions.  What would the impact be on the Scottish economy, look what happened to the pound . . . to oil after the last referendum, would we really have a closed border and tariffs, when we trade 64% of our trade is with the rest of the UK? And what currency would Scotland use?  All these unknowns – can’t use the pound, won’t use the euro.  On the other hand, for many people in Scotland now, membership of the European Union is a fundamental, it is non-negotiable.  So the SNP is looking for a period of calm.  Nicola Sturgeon had absolutely no option but to address the question of an independence referendum straightaway this morning.

NICOLA STURGEON: The manifesto the SNP was elected on last month said this: The Scottish parliament should have the right to hold another referendum if there is a significant and material change in the circumstances that prevailed in 2014, such as Scotland being taken out of the EU against our will. Scotland does now face the prospect. It is a significant and material change in circumstances and it is therefore a statement of the obvious that the option of a second referendum must be on the table. And it is on the table.

KW:       From here, the United Kingdom seems in a very different place and Scotland is very much another country. Now there is a greater period of uncertainty north of the border than there is in England. The mechanics of a second referendum or not clear, but it is unlikely that Westminster would deny Scotland a fresh independence vote because, from the Shetland Isles to the Borders, the majority wants to stay within the European Union. There is a sense of unreality here today. People cannot quite believe their southern neighbours would be such worlds apart.

VOX POP FEMALE:          I cannot believe we have done this. I am very scared. Especially with the Tory government that we have at the moment, and  I think especially in Scotland, we do not have much of a voice in the UK at all.

KW:       Do you feel that we are very different in Scotland from England?

VOX POP FEMALE 2:       Yes, there is going to be a split. With us being in and out, I think there’ll be a split.

KW:       The roots of our relations with Europe are long and deep, the old alliance, the treaty between the French and the Scots was signed in the 13th century and Scotland has a long tradition of sending its sons and daughters overseas, all over the world, and we, in turn, have welcomed many different nations here – Russians, Italians, Poles, Pakistanis, and immigration just does not seem to be the same issue here as it is south of the border. Why do you think it is that immigration doesn’t seem to be such an issue as it is in England?

 

VOX POP FEMALE 3:       I think that Scotland as a race of people we are just more multicultural, our culture is more varied, if you think about sort of storytelling and music, anything like that, And I just think that we are more accepting of new ideas here.

KW:       Are you Scottish or French?

VOX POP MALE:              Neither, I am Italian!

KW:       Italian!

VPM:     Working in a French van.

KW:       And tell me, do you feel welcome in Scotland?

VPM:     This morning, when I came out of my flat, I was feeling a little bit less welcome. But I think that they voted for staying, no?

KW:       Yes.

VPM:     So, I think I will try to feel welcome anyway because in fact I am welcome, maybe! (laughs)

KW:       In six weeks’ time, the world’s eyes will be on Edinburgh for another reason: people will come from all over the world to the biggest international arts festival on the planet.  And the festival was set up in the wake of the Second World War to encourage cultural relations between Scotland, Britain and Europe, to make sure that another war in Europe would be unimaginable.  Nicola Sturgeon made it clear today that she wants to build a consensus in the country around a referendum.  Now, it is possible that senior figures from other political parties would be part of a consensus.  Preferring, finally, to live in an independent Scotland within the European Union, rather than in an increasingly dis-United Kingdom, divorced from the EU.

ED:        Kirsty there, in Edinburgh.  Now, Scotland and England is one division, young and old another.  But there’s more going on too – there’s an anger in large parts of the country that have not felt blessed by the benefits of globalisation.  In contrast to bustling metropolitan hubs like London or Manchester which voted Remain. And that schism has asserted itself to the shock of those at the top. Filmmaker Nick Blakemore has spent the last couple of days in Burnley, which voted two-thirds for Brexit, to see what was motivating voters there.

VOX POP MALE:              We won’t lose control, we have lost control.

VOX POP MALE 2:           For me it comes down to, when we vote somebody in, whoever gets into the government, they make the rules. And at the moment there is somebody above them. That’s why I’m going to be voting to leave.

VPM:     What really gets me is this, I fought for this country in 82.

VPM2:  Fair play.

VPM:     This government now is going, immigrants, here you go, tick, you can all come in. I don’t want it, send them back home. We joined the EU for one thing, yeah? To have a better life, yeah?

VPM2:  But . . .

VPM:     Hang on . . . And then it comes to light, it’s not a better life.

VOX POP MALE 3:           Vote for hope, that was the thing in the paper. Do not vote for fear, vote for hope.

VPM:     You can’t vote for hope, there’s no hope nowadays.

TANYA THOMPSON Vote Leave Activist: We’ve had enough of the Tory scenario, the austerity, the cuts.

NICK BLAKEMORE:          Why is that the fault of Europe?

TT:         The minute this referendum is over and if Remain wins, that’s it, our NHS is gone.

VOX POP FEMALE:          I think we should leave and give it a try and we should get our independence back because it’s just got absolutely out of hand.

TT:         It has, I’ve got to admit, it’s the one thing, it came down to democracy, sovereignty, and the NHS.

VPF:      There is good and bad. There is a lot of people come from abroad and they’ve done good for this country.

TT:         Exactly.

VPF:      I was born in Germany, I’m a foreigner myself.

TT:         We are not little Englanders. We’ve always looked outwards.

VPF:      England was the greatest thing I’ve ever known when I came over here and you were free and if you worked hard you got rewarded. Right?

TT:         Correct.

VPF:      I’ve never had a day’s benefit, I’ve never had anything out of this country. I’m 83 years of age and all I can get is single poll tax allowance. Not that I need it, I’ve got food in my belly, I’m getting by and I’m not complaining.

TT:         Precisely.

VPF:      When I look round there is a lot of folk worse. But I do object to people who have worked all their life, just stuff being taken off them.

VOX POP FEMALE 2:       None of us know what the future holds. I think that’s why everyone is undecided.

TT:         My main point is, you can’t base your argument on a country and an entire superstate that hasn’t got your best interests at heart. That is the be all and end all.

VPF2:    That’s my main reason for leaving, who else is going to look after our country but us?

TT:         Precisely.

DAVID DIMBLEBY:          Here we go. Good evening, and welcome at the end of this momentous day when each one of us has had the chance to say what kind of country we want to live in. At 10pm the polling stations close after weeks, months, years of argument.

SARAH MONTAGUE:      The BBC is forecasting that the UK has voted to leave the European Union after more than 40 years.

TT:         Good morning.

NB:        Hello.

TT:         Come on in. I want to . . .

NB:        Come out first. Tell me, what’s your reaction?

TT:         I don’t know yet, I haven’t switched it on, I’ve put these out and I’m hoping I’m not going to look stupid. Fingers crossed I’m not . . .

NB:        Well, the BBC are calling it for Leave.

TT:         Really?

NB:        Yeah.

TT:         Seriously?

NB:        You need to put the telly on. Tanya, just tell me what’s your reaction to that?

TT:         I’m over the moon, I don’t know what to say. We did it. Everybody woke up in time. Everybody listened. Everybody understands, yes, it’s going to be rough at the beginning. But we’ve done it.

ED:        Some views from Burnley. With me, two historians, David Starkey and Kate Williams, from the Times, Tim Montgomerie and writer and equality campaign Paris Lees. Paris, what’s your reaction as you watched that?

PARIS LEES Writer and Broadcaster:        I recognise those towns, that’s where I’m from Evan, erm, and I think these people are going to be really upset when they find out that they’ve been lied to. I think it’s . . . it’s misguided, erm, obviously the people have voted with good intentions, but I think we are being led down a very dark path.

ED:        Let’s just ask whether the nation is in some way historically unusually divided. Kate do you think we are in an unusual . . .

KATE WILLIAMS Professor of History, University of Reading:         I do think we’re incredibly divided.  I think this is the biggest historical event, the most divisive event since the Civil War and I think it’s the most historical event we’ve seen since the Act of the Union itself.  I mean, we see divisions here between North and South, between young and old, between the fact that Scotland is going to have a referendum (fragments of words, unclear) Northern Ireland . . . concerns about . . . Martin McGuinness saying about joining together, and we know that a Scottish referendum is probably going to trigger questions about a referendum in Wales.  So we’re seeing massive divisions, and when we actually see a petition getting a lot of people signatures saying that London might actually set up as a separate city state . . .

ED:        I think it’s a joke though . . . (fragments of words, or words unclear)

PL:         I’m not entirely sure it is.

KW:       I’m not entirely sure, I think . . . but I think there is certainly, I mean, there is some joking in it, but there is some . . . that, I think, shows the leg (sic) the level of the divisions, it’s huge.

ED:        You’re both, you’re both Remainers, and now you two are both Brexit supporters. David do you think the nation is historically divided at the moment?

DAVID STARKEY:             It is, but I think eight is slightly exaggerating, I can think of Ireland, I can think of Roman Catholicism, I can think of all sorts of things that have split us – even the whole question of whether we fought the Nazis or not, you know, the country was hugely divided.  I think the more interesting question is why this has happened.  It seemed to me your Burnley film was absolutely right.  What has happened is the European Union is a proxy, it’s a proxy for deep discontent with experts, with the political class and so on, and I think it’s also the fact that the political parties have been led for the last . . . nearly 20 years by leaders, Blair on the one hand and Cameron on the other that have thought it was very clever to kick their supporters in the goolies.

ED:        (fragments of words, or words unclear) if it’s a proxy, was it the right thing to get out of it, if it (laughter in voice) was just a proxy?

DS:        (speaking over) Yes . . .

ED:        You’re implying it’s like let’s just kick something, and that’s, the EU’s over there and let’s do that . . .

DS:        Well . . . I think, I think an awful lot of people actually voted on that basis. And it’s very important we recognise that, which of course also allows for the kind of point that Daniel Hannan was making, that perhaps we could begin to reunite as a very real possibility. And I think that what we’ve got to do is something which no recent government has had the courage to do, we’ve got to rediscover a sense of national interest.  Britain has spent the whole of its time arguing ‘we’ve got to be good, we’ve got to support European rights because otherwise the Russians will misbehave’ we’ve really got to start to do a de Gaulle.

ED:        Tim, the voters we saw there in Burnley are actually the ones political parties are finding it quite difficult to reach, any political party, aren’t they? (unknown speaker, words unclear) What, what is the . . . what is the answer to that, because they’re not natural Conservative voters, your party’s nowhere near them.

TIM MONTGOMERIE:    Sure, and you talk about Britain being divided, but, you know, I’m currently based in Washington for The Times, and I’m of course seeing the whole Trump phenomenon over there, we’re all seeing the Trump phenomenon, and I think we’re sort of six, seven years after the global crash now, and I think immediately after the global crash people just wanted governments that stabilised the situation.  But now there’s the hunger for reform and remedy. And I think we are seeing that right across the world . . .

ED:        Can I just make one . . .

TM:       . . . and today’s revolt, yesterday’s revolt by er, poorer Britons, and they were the overwhelming explanation for why we are leaving the European Union, that has to be heeded.  This isn’t just a vote to leave the European Union, this is a cry for help for a huge proportion of our population, who think politics has stopped working for them . . .

KW:       And it is a vote against austerity, I absolutely agree, but when you think of places like Wales has got 500 million subsidy, huge votes against austerity, they talked about poverty, we didn’t really see much talk about sovereignty in the same way, and the concern is that these people, it is not going to give them . . . any, it’s not going be (word or words unclear due to speaking over) for Burnley.

DS:        (speaking over) But sorry, you see, Kate, you’re making a very elementary confusion.  You’re assuming . . .

KW:       No I’m not . . .

DS:        Yes you are. You’re assuming that the economy is always what mattered. What this vote shows . . .

KW:       But austerity is tied up with the economy.

DS:        (shushes her) What this vote shows it that it’s culture that matters . . .

ED:        It can be, it can be.

DS:        . . . and it can be . . .

PL:         Well, it’s the lack of politicians connecting with voters, if you look at Jo Cox, she was doing a good job of it, the SNP in Scotland is doing a good job of it, so I think that Labour and the Conservatives both need to put their hands up and . . . admit that they’re just not getting it right.

DS:        But sorry, you’re point about those voters in Burnley, they are, at the moment, they’re floating voters.  A Conservative leader who was as clever as Disraeli – remember, it’s Disraeli who turns, captures the working man’s vote in 1867, and there’s the possibility now of a Boris, or another charismatic Tory politician who invents the national interest . . .

ED:        (laughs) Alright, let’s ask the Remainers whether you think Boris is a healing, a healing person . . .

PL:         I think Boris, his speech it was, it was just extraordinary.  That wasn’t a victory speech, I think he realises that . . . he’s got it wrong and this is really, really, really serious.  And I just hope that we can actually have another referendum, because I think a lot of people would actually . . .

DS:        (speaking over) Loser – bad loser.

KW:       Jonathan Powell was saying . . .

PL:         (speaking over) Well, I’d rather . . . I think actually I’d rather be a bad loser, I’ve got more important things to worry about than how . . .

KW:       (speaking over) I’m not sure it is about losing, because people actually feel that they have been lied to, and that’s what . . .

PL:         People have been lied to . . .

KW:       There’s so, there’s so much more voter regret than I’ve ever seen before, most people (words unclear due to speaking over)

DS:        (speaking over) You’re now having a clear illustration of why the vote went why it did.

TM:       I think people are going to be surprised with Boris Johnson.  He’s probably the likely next Prime Minister of this, this country.  Actually, you look at his record, he was championing the were living wage before other Conservatives . . .

ED:        (speaking over) Immigration amnesty . . .

TM:       Same sex marriage, he opposed the tax credit cuts that you’re just one proposed, he’s much more of an interesting Conservative than people think.

ED:        (speaking over) We’ve talked a lot about the sort of, the, the Burnley divide, and the metropolitan elite, Paris, what about the generational divide, because that is really quite striking.  The under 45’s would have clearly voted to stay in, and the over 45s clearly voted to take us out.

PL:         Well there was a great headline on Vice today, er, which said, ‘Grandma, what have you done?’ And I think that a lot of millennial’s will be feeling that this morning, I think it’s incredibly selfish and I personally will not

TM:       (speaking over) Why selfish?

PL:         . . . forgive or forget. Because . . . the older generation don’t have to live here as long as the younger generation.

DS:        So, why don’t we introduce, for example, a cut-off point (laughter from TM and ED) beyond which you can’t vote. Are you . . .

PL:         (words unclear due to speaking over)

DS:        (speaking over) Your sense of sublime self entitlement . . .

PL:         No . . .

DS:        . . . are we going to have those under 35 with two votes? (words unclear, multiple speakers talking at once)

PL:         Young people . . . young people have already had so much taken away me (sic) I don’t need you to take away my airtime as well, Mr Starkey. So what we’re actually looking at is a generation of people who . . .

DS:        (speaking over) You haven’t and my question?

PL:         Well, you’re not letting me, because you’re interrupting me, because you’re a privileged white man who just wants to speak over me, and this is the problem.  Young people are getting very sick of it, sick of being spoken over, sick of being patronised and we have to pay for our education (others speak over unclear) the way your generation didn’t have to, you know, we’re just, everything that gets taken away, young people are being cut out, firstly I think there’s a lot of frustration, and, you know, for young people, Europe’s just somewhere where we go on holiday and go clubbing. You know, we don’t have this xenophobia.

KW:       And the young vote is going to be vital in Scotland, of course, the Scottish referendum included 16-year-olds, they were massive in the turnout, and I think that this (fragments of words, unclear) I notice Nigel Farage saying, ‘Well, we can engage with the Commonwealth’, but I’ve been watching the Australian media who have been saying today, ‘Why are we still linked to this country, it’s going to be so diminished, they’re going to lose Scotland, possibly Wales, and the Commonwealth is probably due for the chop as well.’

ED:        Is this . . . this is not what you (fragments of words, unclear) be careful what you wish for is the kind of message (fragment of word, unclear)

TM:       I, I think at the moment, in our relationship with Europe, we have a situation where people from Africa, Asia, Australasia are actually second-class status when it comes to coming into Britain, we prioritise European . . . the problem isn’t Little Englandism, it’s Little Europeanism, Britain now has the opportunity to open ourselves to the world.

PL:         There won’t be a Britain, this time in 10 years.

ED:        And that is about it, what a 24 hours . . .

KW:       Thank you.

ED:        . . . it’s been. Normally we’re meant to be the quietly stable nation that doesn’t do revolutions cut people’s heads off, but today we’ve been rocking the world. That’s all we have time for tonight.

 

Photo by (Mick Baker)rooster

Referendum Blog: June 22

Referendum Blog: June 22

COX BIAS: The lead posting on News-watch about Nigel Farage demonstrates that since the murder of Jo Cox, much BBC coverage has emphasised that those who are opposed to the EU because of related immigration pressures are fired by ‘hatred’.  It has become a ‘dog-whistle’ word. In the BBC1 debate from Wembley last night, London Mayor Sadiq Khan amplified this message in his careful mirroring use of the ‘hate’ word in his remarks about ‘leave’s’ immigration policy. In turn, BBC1 News at Ten continued the ‘hatred’ emphasis by choosing Khan’s soundbite to lead the bulletin headlines.

Clause 5.1 of the BBC’s referendum guidelines (printed in full below) sets out that during the referendum campaign, major news stories not directly on the referendum patch must be treated with great care so that they do not contain bias on referendum issues. The BBC’s editorial handling of the fall-out from the death of Jo Cox – and its related maligning of Nigel Farage over his ‘inflammatory’ anti-immigration poster and related remarks – is thus a clear breach against the ‘exit’ side.

This breach was exaggerated hugely on BBC1’s News at 10 last night (June 21) by the inclusion of an interview with Jo Cox’s widower, Brendan Cox. Laura Kuenssberg, the Corporation’s Political Editor, deliberately steered him towards explaining what ‘hatred’ meant in the context of the EU referendum. This was the relevant extract:

LAURA KUENSSBERG:        Was she worried about our current political culture, do you think?

BRENDAN COX:        Yeah, very worried, erm . . . er, and from left and right. I, I think she was very worried that the . . . the language was coarsening, that people were being driven to . . . er, take more extreme, erm, positions. I think she worried that we were entering an age that  . . .  erm, we hadn’t seen maybe since the 1930s of . . . erm . . .  people  . . .  people feeling insecure, for lots of different reasons, for economic reasons or . . .  security reasons and then . . .  populist politicians, whether that’s Trump in the US or whoever else, exploiting that and, and driving communities to hate each other.

LK:         And this, of course, has happened at a time when Britain is engaged in a big national conversation about our place in the world and our place in Europe. We know that she was clearly for staying in the European Union, but what did she make of how the conversation’s been conducted?

BC:        I think, as everybody knows, that Jo was a passionate pro-European and she definitely worried about the tone of the debate around this. Not that it’s not a legitimate debate to have and that there aren’t completely legitimate views on both sides of the debate, but more about the tone of  . . . erm, of whipping up fears and whipping up, erm, er hatred.

LK:         Do you worry now about people using her in the political debate?

BC:        She was a politician and she had very strong political views and erm  . . . I believe she was killed, erm . . . because of those views. I think she died because of them. And she would want to stand up for those in death as much as she did in life.

Mr Cox pointed out that there were legitimate aspects of the EU-related debate, but the audience could be left in no doubt that ‘populist’ politicians (a word frequently used in BBC reports to define groups who oppose immigration) were ‘whipping up hatred’. He did not name Nigel Farage but there could be little or no doubt whom he meant.

This sequence and those words in a bulletin which led with a soundbite about hatred from Sadiq Khan was thus deeply biased against the ‘exit’ side.  It should not have been included without balancing comment. The breach of 5.1 was made worse by that Kuenssberg deliberately elicited his comments in a way that linked them directly to the referendum.

There is a further dear danger here.  Today (June 22), has been designated by powerful PR companies Portland Communications and Freud’s. as Jo Cox day, with her central message about ‘hate’ at its core.   It is likely that the Brendan Cox interview with Kuenssberg – billed as his first ‘media’ interview – was a curtain-raiser to the day. The suspicion is that the BBC are already therefore closely involved – and that their coverage of the ‘hatred’ word will continue with huge emphasis into evening bulletins.

This is the on the eve of the poll and without question, the ‘hate’ message is so loaded and so emotive that it could sway voters. If the BBC is not careful, and does not change tack so that it follows its own referendum guidelines, it will be arguably guilty of vote-rigging.

EU Referendum Guidlines: 5.1 Political issues

The cut and thrust of other political stories, which may relate either in part or be separate from the issues of the referendum, will continue during the campaign period.   These should be covered in the normal way, with content producers having regard for the general requirement of due accuracy and impartiality, but also aware of any possible influence of other political coverage on the referendum campaign.

In particular, content producers should take care in considering whether, in covering issues such as the economy, migration, environmental issues etc, they may have direct relevance to the referendum debate, or be perceived as relating to the question of the referendum.

If the Referendum Period overlaps with an election period, content producers must also take account of the Election Guidelines and ensure due impartiality is achieved with regard to both votes.

Where prominent campaigners have other roles – political or non-political – care should be taken to ensure that they do not gain an unfair advantage in the referendum campaign.  Where, for instance, an interviewee (such as a Minister or shadow Minister at Westminster) is discussing a separate political issue and makes a significant reference to the referendum campaign, content producers may need to take steps to ensure there is appropriate balance.  It may be necessary for producers – especially in live output – to remind contributors, when they have been invited to take part in items which are not connected to the referendum, to limit their comments to those issues.

 

 

BBC attacks on Farage continue as campaign nears end

BBC attacks on Farage continue as campaign nears end

Last week in BBC Watch, it was noted that as referendum polling day fast approached, that in 17 years of monitoring the BBC’s coverage of the EU, one factor had scarcely changed: the casting of Nigel Farage and the party he leads as xenophobic incompetents.

By both implication and direct association, that means – as a core feature of the BBC’s worldview –  those who oppose the EU are prejudiced and irrational.

The Corporation’s treatment of Farage this week has taken this negativity to a new, menacing level. It is clear, unequivocal evidence of deep prejudice against the ‘exit’ side Last Thursday, Farage unveiled a campaign poster based on a picture of immigrants on European soil that was aimed at drawing attention to the problems caused by the EU’s attitudes towards the issue.  Controversial?  Yes. Unsubtle? Maybe.  But without doubt, a depiction of a legitimate aspect of a debate in which control of immigration has played a central role.

Two hours later, 150 or so miles away, a gunman with mental health issues cruelly killed the MP Jo Cox. Despite the dangers of ascribing rational motives to the deranged, the left instantly hijacked the murder to create political capital, and this has continued relentlessly to the extent that it now defines the ‘remain’ case.

David Cameron, the Kinnocks, John Major, Jeremy Corbyn, George Osborne and legions more of that ilk, each in his own way – as (it seems) an official part of the ‘remain’ campaign strategy – have shamelessly suggested that Cox was slain as a result of an intolerance and ‘hatred’ of a type that that fires Farage’s opposition to immigration.

Any fair-minded analysis would say that this is arrant nonsense. Even if Cox’s killer was pursuing an extremist agenda, it would not mean – as the remain side has now assumed and is projecting en masse – that the whole of the case against immigration is discredited and illegitimate.

For the BBC – with its clear statutory duty to be impartial – the Cox killing should have set major alarm bells ringing about the special need to achieve balance in the referendum debate.  Article 5:1 of the Corporation’s referendum coverage guidelines was written precisely to cover this. It warns that very rigorous steps should be taken to ensure no side obtains a special advantage from a major news event.

So did this happen? Absolutely not. Totally the reverse. Over the weekend, Farage came gradually under fire in BBC coverage for unveiling the poster. BBC coverage subtly amplified the idea that Cox was a victim of EU-related prejudice.

On Monday morning and then throughout the day this became a crescendo against him.

Starting with R4’s Today, editors seized on a story that they clearly then bracketed with the fall-out from the Cox murder (despite the 5.1 guideline): the alleged ‘defection’ from the Brexit camp by Baroness Warsi. A main fulcrum of the BBC’s writing of the story was the ‘xenophobia and hatred’ Warsi alleged Farage had displayed in the choice of the poster.

No matter that the Times story began to unravel before the ink was even dry on the first edition as it emerged that Warsi had never been part of the ‘leave’ campaign. This was an opportunity to kick Farage. It was not to be missed.

So first off, the headlines of Today made the Warsi claims about xenophobia the lead item. Then at 7.10am, Warsi was interviewed by Mishal Husain. She put it to her that she (Warsi) had never really been part of ‘leave’ but allowed her to wriggle off the hook and then gave Warsi ample space to ram home the nastiness and xenophobia of the Farage stance.

Nick Robinson interviewed Farage at 8.10am. From the outset the presenter’s tone was aggressive. Robinson’s rate of interruption was as high as it gets in such exchanges. The bottom line was that Farage was put firmly on the back foot. He mounted a vigorous defence but Robinson relentlessly pushed that the poster was based on what amounted to racism and was designed recklessly to inflame opinions.

The BBC1 News at one continued the Farage attack. There was a quote from Farage. He stated:

I will tell you what’s really going on here and that is the Remain camp are using these awful circumstances to try to say that the motives of one deranged dangerous individual were similar of half the country, perhaps more, who believe we should leave the EU and . . .

Deputy BBC publicity editor Norman Smith was almost apoplectic at this assertion. He demanded that Farage tell him who on the ‘remain’ side had said that.  Smith then summed up:

Another incendiary intervention by Mr Farage, accusing the Prime Minister and the Chancellor of seeking to link the murder of Jo Cox to the way the Brexit campaign has pursued its arguments, suggesting that it has created an atmosphere which perhaps contributed to her killing. Now, privately those around Mr Cameron have reacted with contempt and fury to that suggestion, in public they are urging everyone just to focus on the tributes to Jo Cox this afternoon. But, of course, Mr Farage’s intervention follows that poster, the ‘breaking point’ poster, which Mr Farage this morning expressed no regrets about, saying the only thing wrong with it was the unfortunate timing. He unveiled it just a couple of hours before Mrs Cox’s killing. And all that after the former chairwoman of the Conservative Party announced she was quitting the Leave side because of what she called its nudge-nudge, wink-wink, xenophobic approach. And you sense a real gulf is opening up on the Leave side between Mr Farage and the official campaign – their fear that they become seen as indistinguishable from Nigel Farage’s much more abrasive and inflammatory campaign, and that his interventions undermine their attempts to presents a more optimistic, outward-looking approach.

That’s quoted in full because it illustrates the depths of the BBC bias. They decided to elevate the Warsi story to the main theme of the day, then gave her the headlines and a platform to chant her ‘xenophobic hatred’ line, Farage was given by Robinson a back-foot opportunity to try address some of the claims against him, but was severely constrained by the rate of interruption and Robinson’s clear aggression. During the morning, Farage explained that he believed the attacks against him were being in effect orchestrated by the ‘remain’ side. There is clear evidence in Will Straw’s BSE conference call that that they were. But Norman Smith’s assessment side-stepped that point. Instead, he described Farage’s approach to the whole issue as ‘inflammatory’ and both pessimistic and inward looking.

To the BBC, from the very beginning, Farage has been regarded as a xenophobic, dangerous maverick.  This week they fully reverted to type. How much has their treatment of this issue swayed the referendum result?

Photo by Euro Realist Newsletter

Referendum Blog: June 20

Referendum Blog: June 20

HUMPHRYS PRO-IMMIGRATION BIAS: John Humphrys on Saturday presented a 27-minute Today feature on immigration. It was unusually long and amounted to a documentary inside the Today format.  What was the purpose?  Humphrys opined that the topic was causing a debate of a kind that he had never seen in his 50-year career. He said he wanted to explore whether concern was based on a perceived pressure being on national resources, or was it a ‘fear of being overwhelmed in some ill-defined way’?

It was the latter that undoubtedly emerged as the key fulcrum and purpose of his feature. In Humphrys’ view the recent explosion in immigrant numbers was not worth mentioning, and nor was the EU’s role in triggering.it. That in itself was bias by omission. But he also showed heavy bias throughout towards those who oppose immigration. His approach disproportionately emphasised claims that it is the ‘whites’ who have caused, and are causing, problems of segregation; that mosques are innocent centres of enlightened thinking; and that concern about immigration since the arrival of the Windrush had been based on prejudice.

He included voices that opposed immigration. But – unlike the other side – the editing of their remarks made them sound fearful, unreasonable and disjointed.

It was a carefully-planned piece. It had been constructed over the past few weeks and had involved visits by Humphrys to Keighley in Yorkshire, Shirebrook in Derbyshire and Hackney in East London.

An initial major issue is how Humphrys defined his mission. A central feature of his analysis was a potted history of immigration since the Windrush steamer arrived soon after the war with 500 immigrants from Jamaica.  But missing entirely from his analysis were the subsequent numbers, and how the picture had changed in recent years.

The statistics actually  show there has been a rise in foreign-born nationals in the UK from 1.8m in 1951 to 7.5m today, and a near doubling of the numbers in the last 20 years alone.

Why is this important? Because the current debate is not about whether immigration should happen. It is the scale of the influx, and whether it can be reduced.

Also missing from Humphrys’ commentary was the role of the EU in generating this huge explosion. Immigrants from Eastern Europe were briefly mentioned in the Shirebrook section, but this was not picked up and explored as a theme.  The main focus was rather on the impact of Asians.

There was also clear bias in the opening sequence of short soundbites one from Keighley, one from Shirebrook and one from East London. The first said it was white people who were causing divisions, that Asians were not welcome and were being physically attacked. The second from a Shirebrook resident, in effect confirmed the hostility, and the third was from a London headmistress who said the appropriate response to immigrants should be to welcome them civilly.

Humphrys then looked at the history of immigration. By necessity, it was a whistle-stop account. But, in line with the theme already established, the emphasis was that early opposition to the influx of new people was based primarily on prejudice: landlords deliberately discriminating against black tenants; patronising attitudes; unfair molestation of blacks; youths (clearly white) mounting race riots; and ‘wrong’ predictions in the ‘rivers of blood’ speech by Enoch Powell.

Other problems were:

KEIGHLEY: The sequence from Keighley featured a local (Asian-British) taxi-driver, a series of vox pops from (white) members of a local curry club and a visit to the main local mosque. The main contributions were undoubtedly from the taxi-driver, and from the leader of a local mosque  Both said that immigration was not a problem that any segregation in the town was due to white attitudes and inflexibility.  The mosque leader (in one of the longest individual contributions to the programme) concluded his remarks with this:

You know, they fear Islam but they don’t know Islam, they fear Muslims, but they don’t know Muslims. Like, for example you come to the mosque today, you’ve been inviting, somebody who’s not come to the mosque, they might think there’s a military camp going on in here, and the mosque is training up jihadis who are going to stop long themselves up. But you come in, and there’s nothing like that whatsoever, you see carpet, you see walls, you see chairs, in a short while, you’ll see the worshippers coming in. But not everybody gets to see that, because they’re not willing to take the step like you have to come into the mosque and see what’s actually going on here.

In other words, anything that the local community (or anybody) thought negatively about immigrants was totally unfounded.  The emphasis place by the editing in terms of its length and juxtaposition with other views confirmed that it was designed for maximum prominence. Another issue here is again by omission. Humphrys chose to say nothing at all about the role of mosques in fomenting extremism. Instead, he asked the mosque leader for more words about his version of multiculturalism:

Does it sadden you that . . . that when you come into a town like Keighley, or city like Bradford, you don’t see people of different races living together?

MI:     Put it this way, what type of site would I like to see?  I would like to see a society where you have non-Muslims and Muslims interacting with one another.  But at the same time, you know, being allowed to adopt and keep their own identity, which is reflective of their beliefs, that would be a beautiful situation, where there’s no compromise, there is no assimilation taking place, but they can interact and share facilities and such things, but at the same time, hold strongly their identity, I think there’s a beauty in that.

With this sequence, Humphrys dealt with and, in effect, dismissed, ‘white’ concerns about Islam. They wanted their version of integration and were accommodating.  By contrast, views of ‘whites’ from Keighley were confined to a few apparently narrow-minded remarks about not liking to live in areas where ‘Asians’ lived.  The editing gave no coherence to their standpoint.

SHIREBROOK: The sequence from Shirebrook was the shortest. It was two locals expressing their fears about the level of influx  of ‘Eastern Europeans’ and stating that while they were fearful of numbers, their concerns were focused mainly on that there was trouble-making and pressure on local services and resources. John Humprys asked if they were racists. They were naturally forced to deny this, but the clear implication of the inclusion of Humphrys’ question was to plant strongly in the minds of the audience that they were.  Before introducing the section,  he had said (in one of his longest links):

‘Keighley is the perfect example of how for decades, generations, the debate about immigration in this country has centred on differences, alien cultures habits and religion, above all, the colour of the immigrant’s skin. But that’s changing. A succession of laws outlawing racial discrimination have worked to the magic. Racist movements that have tried to become great national parties have failed miserably. Our vocabulary has been transformed, we’re shocked when we hear the ‘n’ word. The essential difference between the migrants at the heart of this referendum debate and most of us British is that they are poorer’.

Humphrys’ second interviewee from Shirebrook was the man ‘said to be leading the fight to keep the number of immigrants down’. Again, he had clearly been pushed to defend the idea that he was racist. He declared:

‘We’ve had well over our quota in this area. This is not a racist quote . . . we don’t want anymore, because we have got thousands in this village. 95 or more percent of them absolutely lovely, families, all they’ve done is they’ve come over, taken money, money for their families, which I would do if there was no work over here. We’re at us limit, obviously you can’t send . . . them lots good, we’ll keep them, and we’ll manage with what we’ve got, but we don’t need any more.’

And that was it. Nothing about the actual numbers in Shirebrook, Nothing about the extent to which local services were under pressure. And definitely, no detailed arguments about what opposition to immigration was actually based upon. The opinion of the ‘whites’ seemed unfounded and based on unreasoned fear.

IMMIGRANTS: Humphrys’ next sequence involved  exchanges with two immigrants. Both had been in the UK for many years and one was from Poland, the other, Brazil. Both had jobs. Both said that the referendum debate had generated unfairly negative attitudes towards them and had misrepresented them to the extent that one ‘felt more like a foreigner’ and the other that she had been put ‘on the other side of the border’. Humphrys later spoke to Saleema Gulbaha, the daughter of immigrants, who now had a master’s degree and two children. She told him that as a child, she had been spat at by locals at school. Humphrys suggested that her eventual success was possible proof that immigration worked, and that there were few countries that would not want her as a citizen.

Humphrys’ conclusion was:

‘What I’ve tried to do in this report is answer two questions: what effect has immigration had on this country, and if we’re afraid of it, why? The first is relatively easy.  Immigration has had a profound effect on us, on our attitudes to people whom most would once have dismissed as foreigners.  We’ve become to an extent, unimaginable after the war, multicultural country. And we mostly rub along pretty well. If we’re afraid of where growing numbers of immigrants may take is, that fee is based on something different.  It’s about how it will affect our economic and physical well-being, getting our children into a decent school, waiting to long in the GP surgery, competing for jobs and houses. It’s partly about where we live, a couple of thousand immigrants arriving in London is barely noticeable, in a small town in Yorkshire and Derbyshire it can be overwhelming.  I’ve been reporting for the BBC for nearly 50 years, we’ve never had a debate quite like this.  Whatever happens in the referendum, the issues that have been raised will resonate in this country perhaps for generations to come.’

Overall, hese were clearly important issues related to the immigration debate. But Humphrys’ approach was heavily biased. In his world those who oppose immigration do so predominately from a position of prejudice.  He purported to explore the topic in the context of the referendum debate, but missed out numbers and rate of expansion – the key bedrock of opposition to current levels of immigration.

Contributions of those who expressed concerns about immigration came across as shallow and prejudiced, a picture that was made worse by Humphrys’ repeated putting of ‘racist’ claims to them. They had to deny they were racists, and were given only minimal space to advance their fears about numbers.

On the other side of the coin Humphrys heavily stressed the contributions of those who were, in various ways – in their own estimation – victims of prejudice about immigrants.  Immigrants he spoke to wanted a better world, and had been thwarted in that quest only by white prejudice.  What he meant by being ‘overwhelmed in some ill-defined way’ emerged as both the dominant theme – and in his view, it was based on that prejudice.

Full Transcript:

BBC Radio 4, Today, 17 June 2016, Immigration, 8.33am

JOHN HUMPHRYS:       Five days to go and it still the economy and immigration dominating the referendum campaign.  If immigration is indeed at the top of our list of concerns, what is it that worries us about it?  Migrants taking our jobs, driving down wages competing for houses and health services and school places?  Or is it the fear of being overwhelmed in some ill-defined way?  Well, we have tried to answer those questions is to look at the effect immigration had on this country since the war.  So, over the last few weeks I’ve been to 3 areas of Britain each with its own distinctively different experience of it.  I began in the North of England.  50 or 60 years ago, the immigrants started arriving here, mostly from Bangladesh and India, and they kept coming.  Today, Keighley is one of the most segregated towns in Britain.

VOX POP MALE:            It’s not the Asians that are causing the divisions, it’s the white people that are causing the divisions.  There is some areas where we are not welcome, we go there, we buy a house, we get cars vandalised, windows put through.

JH:         Drive an hour down the motorway from Keighley to a little town called Shrirebrook, and you’re here on the frontline of the latest wave of immigration.

VOX POP MALE 2:         You see them coming off the trains from the train station, every single day, at least half a dozen, a dozen, with their cases and everything, it’s like balloon, and you fill it with water, it can only hold so much, then after a bit it’s going to explode.

JH:         Another couple of hours south to what is perhaps the most cosmopolitan city on the planet, and this is a primary school in East London where English is a second language, they’re taught to be British.

VOX POP FEMALE:        I think it’s about demonstrating what we now call British values, such as holding the door open for anybody who is walking along the corridor, sending a thank you letter, being able to shake hands and lift your head and look somebody in the eyes.

JH:         Three different voices from three different parts of Britain.  Three different experiences of immigration.  In this report, I’m not looking at who’s right and who’s wrong in the referendum debate, but rather at the effect that immigration has had in this country since the first wave landed on the shores of post-war Britain.

NEWSREEL:      Arrivals at Tilbury. The Empire Windrush brings to Britain 500 Jamaicans, citizens of the British Empire coming to the mother country with good intent.

JH:  They wanted jobs, they wanted homes, they wanted schools for their children, and doctors when they got sick, and they were welcomed.  The nation was intrigued . . . curious. But when many more crossed the Atlantic and then Asians started arriving that curiosity began morphing into concern.

I’m very pleased to have the opportunity of introducing this series of programmes.

JH:         Ministers felt the need for a public gesture of welcome.

For it is part of their purpose to help you to an understanding of life in this country, so that you can settle happily among us.

JH:         In other words, ‘integrate’.

UNNAMED SPEAKER:  This is a switch on the wall, this is a light.  If I press the switch, the light will come on.

JH:         Breathtakingly patronising.  But the government was starting to get worried, the welcome was beginning to wear thin.

ANNOUNCER: A BBC reporter from Jamaica followed up advertisement.

BBC REPORTER:             I’ve come about the room that you advertised.

LANDLADY:      Ah yes, it’s let already. Sorry.

BR:        Let?

L:           Yes.

JH:         Suspicion and hostility were growing.

A:          Soon afterwards, another reporter went to the same house.

BBC REPORTER 2:         Good afternoon.

L:           Good afternoon.

BBC2:   I rang about the room about half an hour ago.

L:           Yes.

A:          No trouble there. He was white.

JH:         Ten years after the Windrush had arrived, the first race riot in Notting Hill

UNNAMED MALE SPEAKER:    Nobody is supposed to molest us, and we molest no one. You can’t go home – our home is all surrounded by young teenagers, al hurling bottles and bricks.

JH:         Ten years later, Enoch Powell predicted immigration would cause rivers of blood to flow.  He was wrong.  There have been more race riots, but they’ve been modest affairs compared with many other countries.  The last of them in Bradford.

POLICEMAN:    Our offices have come under attack from groups of youths armed with bricks, baseball bats, hammers and petrol bombs.

JH:         That was 2001.  15 years later, there’s no rioting here in West Yorkshire, but it’s very different now from how it was before the immigrants started coming.  Mohammed Iqbal groping Keighley, his family had moved here from Kashmir in the 1960s.  We’ve been driving for a while now, and I’ve not seen a single Asian face.

MOHAMMED IQBAL:  (laughter in voice) No, no . . .

JH:         All white people.

MI:        You, you, you get that.  Through this with you, it was economic was driving, most of them came with the view to come, work, save as much money as they could and send back and support the families, and that meant living with friends and, you know, tend to a room or more.  But as the family started joining, and prosperity, you know, came their way, they did start moving out slowly and steadily, I mean, er, now, you will see some of the Asians living in some of the poshest parts of Keighley as well, but those who are on the relatively poor side clearly have remained in the inner-city areas. There is still sort of large segregation, were predominantly the white community lives and where the Asian community lives.

JH:         We’ve now just come into the town centre, this now from now on is going to be almost entirely Asian.

MI:        Yeah, yeah, my family used to have a takeaway just across there, you get lots of takeaways, restaurants, fabric shops . . .

JH:         More takeaways in this area than anywhere else in Brighton (words unclear due to speaking over)

MI:        (fragments of words, unclear) I would say Bradford’s probably got more, but similarly in Keighley, there’s loads and loads of them.

JH:         Plenty of restaurants too. This, a cut above your average takeaway is the Shama, owned by Gulan Robali (phonetic) he acknowledges it has become a deeply segregated area, but he loves living here nonetheless, and why?

GULAN ROBALI:             The freedom.  The freedom of speech.  You have actually the laws that protect you all the time, your rights are protected, that’s the type of freedom you yearn for when you’re in other places in the world.

JH:         Almost all the customers are white, this being a Monday evening, the curry club has arrived.  A group of middle-aged ladies who have been coming here for donkeys years.

UNNAMED FEMALE:   Hi (name unclear) welcome back from your holiday.

UNNAMED MALE:        Ah, thank you very much.

JH:         They’ve grown to accept the racial segregation in this area. But they’re not all entirely happy about it.

UNNAMED FEMALE 2:              Part of the problem is a lot of them don’t speak English. If they spoke English they would get out and join the community more.

UNNAMED FEMALE 3:              I taught in the school here, in Keighley, and the children speak English in school, but because the mothers didn’t speak English, they went home and spoke Punjabi at home.

UF:        Why should they have to learn English?

UF2:      Because it would make their lives better, they could meet . . .

UF:        What’s wrong with their lives?

UF3:      My grandparents lived in India, but they didn’t integrate, it’s just history repeating itself really.

JH:         Do you think that this, Keighley, Bradford, the whole area, would be richer in all sorts of ways if there was not this divide . . .

UNNAMED FEMALE 4:              Yeah, if they were integrated more yeah, definitely.

UF2:      They are still coming in, immigrants, if you read the papers, so I think we should just be able to close our borders and leave it as it is for the moment.

UF3: Our resources are just so stretched, our education system, our health system, we’ve only a finite amount of money and we’re so liberal, saying that everybody must be equal.  But I do worry, that in the future there will not be enough money for working class white children. And they’re the ones that I think are suffering. Really poor, working class white children, in the centre of Keighley really suffer.

JH:         And what about the poor Asian children?  There’s plenty of them too, some of whom feel alienated from the whites, and, as Mohammed Iqbal told me, resentful.

MI:        I think the resentment largely arises because of political and cultural issues, it’s more to do with the broad image of say, Islam, and what’s going on politically across the world.  There, there are serious differences developing in young people.

JH:         There are four big buildings dominating the centre of Keighley.  Three supermarkets and a mosque.  It’s Imam is Mohammed Ali.

MUHAMMED ALI:        There is hostility, but equally then then you could argue that there some hostility with some Asian people against white people, and I think hostility is one of those things that’s existed since mankind existed, but that’s not, in any way shape or form, based on an Islamic teaching.  There has been an increase, and I think the reason for that increase is ignorance.  You know, they fear Islam but they don’t know Islam, they fear Muslims, but they don’t know Muslims. Like, for example you come to the mosque today, you’ve been inviting, somebody who’s not come to the mosque, they might think there’s a military camp going on in here, and the mosque is training up jihadis who are going to stop long themselves up.  But you come in, and there’s nothing like that whatsoever, you see carpet, you see walls, you see chairs, in a short while, you’ll see the worshippers coming in.  But not everybody gets to see that, because they’re not willing to take the step like you have to come into the mosque and see what’s actually going on here.

JH: Does it sadden you that . . . that when you come into a town like Keighley, or city like Bradford, you don’t see people of different races living together?

MI:        Put it this way, what type of site would I like to see?  I would like to see a society where you have non-Muslims and Muslims interacting with one another.  But at the same time, you know, being allowed to adopt and keep their own identity, which is reflective of their beliefs, that would be a beautiful situation, where there’s no compromise, there is no assimilation taking place, but they can interact and share facilities and such things, but at the same time, hold strongly their identity, I think there’s a beauty in that.

JH:         Behind the mosque is where the mill workers once lived – tightly packed back-to-back terraced houses, with close lines strung across the streets and washing still hanging on them, even though it start now.  Only Asian people live here.  I wanted to talk to some of the boys and young men hanging around, looking bored, but I made the mistake of telling them that it was for a BBC report on immigration.  They didn’t like that, they refused even to let the switch on our recorder.  Why talk to others about immigration, they demanded – we’re not immigrants, we’ve always lived here. Pervais Naka (phonetic) who owns a local taxi firm was more than happy to talk, he says it’s not the Asians to blame for segregation.

PERVAIS NAKA:             No, it’s the Asians that are causing the divisions it’s the white people that are causing divisions . . .

JH:         It’s called white flight.

PN:        White flight. There is some areas, where there’s mostly whites, and mainly council estates where we are not welcomed.  So it’s not that we Asians are creating the division or segregation.  To me, it’s the white people that are creating it.

JH:         Keighley is the perfect example of how for decades, generations, the debate about immigration in this country has centred on differences, alien cultures habits and religion, above all, the colour of the immigrant’s skin.  But that’s changing.  A succession of laws outlawing racial discrimination have worked to the magic.  Racist movements that have tried to become great national parties have failed miserably.  Our vocabulary has been transformed, we’re shocked when we hear the ‘n’ word.  The essential difference between the migrants at the heart of this referendum debate and most of us British is that they are poorer.  And nowhere is that more visible than here in the Derbyshire town of Shirebrook.  The locals know what it’s like to be on the front line in the great immigration debate.

DAVID STRAW:              I mean, now the town is flooded.

JH:         David Straw is the local butcher, he’s lived in Shirebrook for 33 years with his wife Cat.

CAT STRAW:     This time last year, the marketplace was terrible, wasn’t it?  You couldn’t walk over, there was cans everywhere, they were drinking.

DS:        People can’t get into the doctors, because there that many there. People’s . . . I don’t know really, it’s not because they’re Polish or Eastern European, it’s just because there’s too many people for the facilities, and that’s it.  Even schools than that, they’re stretched.

JH:         Some people would say, well, it’s racist not to want other, you know, foreigners to come in here.

DS:        No, not at all, it not racist at all.  I mean, if the place were bigger, yeah, I mean, my young lad if he wanted to get on the housing market, your parents have got to help them out, because it’s shooting the prices up.

JH:         And I suppose you could say it’s making the place richer?

DS:        (exhales) No, because a lot of the money, these Europeans are getting their own shops, so they’re keeping in to their own community.

TROY CUSSAIN:             Can I have a weak coffee, three sugars make please.

JH:         The man who is leading the fight to cut the number of immigrants is Troy Cussain. He acknowledges that things have improved quite a bit since last summer, where the immigrants were making a real nuisance of themselves, urinating and defecating in the streets, drinking a lot, fighting.  And the police were too slow stopping them.

TC:        The problem would be better if you didn’t have this like . . . small minority of trouble causes.  I think there could be a lot of trouble.  Just one really bad incident to the wrong person in Shirebrook, and there could be bad consequences.

JH:         Violence?

TC:        It could kick-off, yeah.  We’ve had well over our quota in this area. This is not a racist quote . . . we don’t want anymore, because we have got thousands in this village. 95 or more percent of them absolutely lovely, families, all they’ve done is they’ve come over, taken money, money for their families, which I would do if there was no work over  here. We’re at us limit, obviously you can’t send . . . them lots good, we’ll keep them, and we’ll manage with what we’ve got, but we don’t need any more.

JH:         Shirebrook and Keighley, two towns at different stages in their immigration evolution. Two small towns – that’s important.  Drive another couple of hours south from Shirebrook, and you’re in one of the world’s great cities, and Londoners where vast numbers end up.  For every 10 foreigners who come to live in Britain, four end up here. Two of them are Juliana Scapine from Brazil, who works for the NHS, and Matchek Polaski (both phonetic) who came as a student 14 years ago from Poland and took up building to make some money.  Now he’s going home.

MATCHEK POLASKI:     I didn’t come here with my family to get a house or a council house or whatever, I came here to study and work, and I think the majority of people aren’t like that, I don’t know anyone who’s come here with that purpose, to live off benefits.

JULIANA SCAPINE:        I understand that loads of people don’t like foreigners, and I think . . . I’ll, I’ll be always a foreigner, but I’ve never felt that people were not happy because I was here.

MP:       As an immigrant, this EU debate shows that there is always an element of putting people on the other side of the border, whether the border is there or not. I think the EU referendum has managed to divide people.

JH:         Made you feel more of a foreigner?

MP:       I think it did.

JS:         Yeah, it’s a little bit . . . difficult to hear that some people think that you are a burden, because people tend to generalise, so ‘all the immigrants are a burden’ – and I don’t think I am.

MP:       I think in general, British attitudes towards immigration was . . . very . . . constructive and open-minded, but recently it’s sort of become a battleground for politicians and, it’s a bit of a shame that we as citizens and as immigrants as well not taking this debate back to create something that will help us to move on and do something constructive, instead of trying to fight one another.

JH:         And fighting one another is exactly what they’ve been doing, with increasing venom, since the referendum campaign began.  Strip away all the dubious statistics and broken promises and at the heart of the debate is whether this country should continue to grow at anything like the rate of the last few years.  Should we try to close our doors or keep them open, or at least exercise more control over who should be allowed in.  The Brexit camp says, if we leave, we’d have more control.  But try getting them to put a figure on how many they’d allow in.  The Tory minister, Priti Patel, is one of their leading voices

PRITI PATEL:     I don’t have a figure, and actually I don’t think this is about having a figure and an immigration target, I think fundamentally the British public want to know that the government of the day is in control of their borders and their immigration policy and system.  And importantly that we are not at the behest of the European Union when it comes to determining the numbers of people that come into Britain.

JH:         The shadow Chancellor, John McDonnell, who wants us to remain in the EU won’t put a figure on it either, but that’s because he thinks it’s all about how well our economy is doing, and how attractive this country is to those who might want to come here.

JOHN MCDONNELL:    I think there’s a natural limit, dependent on the . . . how the economy’s doing, and that’s been our history for a century and a half, where people have come here when the economy is thriving, and there is a need for labour and when there isn’t actually, our own population, and has then shifted, well, all over the world.  So, I think it’s a natural limit that actually takes place, which is largely dependent on the prosperity of the economy.

JH:         Few people would argue with that, immigrants want to go to countries that are richer than their own, for entirely obvious reasons – they want a better life. So, if the British economy’s doing well, and jobs are being created we can expect more people to come here.  But that raises some important concerns. Even if the jobs are here, will they work for less and drive down wages? Where will they go?  Which part of Britain?  And what effect will their arrival have. Shirebrook and Keighley have proved that if you allow disproportionate numbers of immigrants to settle in one small town, the local people pay a price.  But on a national scale it’s not so easy to find cold, hard statistics.  Madeleine Sumption is the Director of the Migration Observatory at Oxford University.

MADELEINE SUMPTION:          In order to answer very specific policy questions about the impact of a particular group on a very particular service, the data that would you need is not always there. If you look at public services, for example, in the NHS, there is necessarily data collected about the nationality of the person who goes to the NHS to use services at a particular point of time, and there are probably good reasons for that.  I don’t want to give the impression that we know nothing about the impact of immigration, there is a lot of quite good evidence about the impact of immigration in a number of different fields, to the extent that it is possible to generalise – most of them have found that the impacts of immigration are actually surprisingly small. The other thing is that the policymakers have to make decisions all the time, in all sorts of fields, where they don’t really have sufficient evidence.

AMANDA PHILLIPS Bengali, Silletti, Catalan, Chinese, (fragments of words, unclear) English, French, Greek, Hindi, Italian, Korean, Latvian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Somali . . .

JH:         Amanda Philips in the playground of Old Ford Primary School in Tower Hamlets in East London, reeling off some of the 32 languages that children here speak. Ms Phillips was the headteacher when I first came here five years ago, and she is now the executive principal of four schools.

AP:        We see groups of pupils who would be playing with their own community because that’s who their parents know for example, but we also see other groups of pupils who we have a whole range, just like we would see in the classroom, playing together in the park, or going shopping together, the older children on a Saturday afternoon.

SALEEMA GULBAHA:   I grew up in East London in the 70s and 80s, I remember being spat at, I remember being called names, you know, there’s no point dwelling on that.

JH:         Saleema Gulbaha has two children at the school, she was born in Bangladesh, she grew up here.

SG:        I’m optimistic, because I think that as a country we have lots to offer.  I think the fact that I grew up on a council estate and I’m . . .  I, I got a masters and I got a good education, and I’d managed to travel and work elsewhere says something.

JH:         And your parents, of course, would have been . . .

SG:        Yeah, my parents are . . . you know, my father’s passed over, my mother is proud, she talks about us erm . . .

JH:         And they were first-generation immigrants?

SG:        Yeah, it doesn’t take long for children to feel British.

JH:         Proof that immigration works?  No.  Proof that immigration can work?  Which country wouldn’t want Mrs Gulbaha as a citizen? And here’s was interesting, I’ve spoken to well over 50 people while we’ve been putting together this report, and all have their own examples of the positive effect of immigration on their own lives, including people like Priti Patel, a government minister and one of the leaders of the campaign to leave.

PP:        My parents came to Britain from East Africa through the exodus that took place, through the Idi Amin expulsions, and of course that was a huge generation of now British Indians who integrated in our communities, contributed to public life, the economy, as well, focused on educating their children, and actually became British.

JH:         On the other side of the referendum debate, the shadow Chancellor John McDonnell.

JM:       My neighbour is Afro-Caribbean on one side, white South African on another, across from me there’s a Punjabi Sikh, next to that family, Pakistani Muslims.  Across the road, is a traditional British white family, if you like, they’ve been there for a long period of time.  And you know, we rub along very well, and we have a really good sense of community.  And I think that’s how our society is evolving.

JH:         There’s one potent word that defines the difference between the two sides in the debate – control.  How to control the numbers coming in and what happens if we stay in a union that insists on the free movement of people?  The pressure group, Migration Watch, which has declared allegiance to neither side has produced its own forecasts of how our population might increase in the years to come.  It was founded by the former diplomat Andrew Green, now Lord Green.

LORD GREEN:  Even If we remain at the present rate of net migration, including non-EU, which is about 320,000 a year, we will, the UK, have a population of 80 million, in 2040. That’s well within the lifetime of anybody under 50.  That would make is probably the most populous country in Europe, because Germany has been going down, the most crowded country in Europe apart from an island like Malta. And it would change the whole social and physical environment of our country.

JH:         But the history of our country, of every country is change.  When the Windrush sailed into Tilbury in 1948, the population was about 50 million.  Today its 65 million, and immigration has played a large part in that growth. In Keighley, we brought together a group of people, most of whom were born before those immigrants arrived from the Caribbean, and we talked about what immigration has meant to them and their lives.

VOX POP FEMALE:        Well, there’s been a lot of prejudice in the past between people coming into this country and . . . and I think that takes some getting over, and we are beginning to get past that now and people are beginning to . . .

VOX POP MALE:            Mix.

VPF:      Yeah.

VOX POP FEMALE 2:    If you were going to buy a house, would you go buy it in the middle of a . . . . black community? You’d go and move where your own people . . . and I think they are in groups because they stay with their own. And they are beginning to mix, but there’s still a lot of people don’t like ‘em, and I think it’s because they’re afraid of them.

VOX POP FEMALE 3:    (laughter in voice) And I remember when I moved into Keighley, it was a great big joke to us, ‘spot the black woman’ you know, because there wasn’t many others around.

JH:         And how do people react to you being married to a white man?

VPF3:   At first, we do get some looks, but er . . . now it’s just a natural thing.

VPF:      Years ago I fostered children and I always took Asian children, I got eggs thrown at my windows, I got notices stuck on my door, ‘go live with them’ – all that’s gone. That doesn’t happen anymore.

JH:         It’s all gone.

VPF:      It’s gone.  I often wonder what they feel now, that were like that with me at that time.

VPF2:  A great deal of the English community believe now that we become overrun by different creeds, people . . .

JH:         Because, putting it bluntly there are too many of them.

VPF2:   Yes that’s my point.

VOX POP MALE:            We’re all but unearthed to be right with one another wasn’t we? So we have to look after one another.  I mean, it’s a different world today than what we remember.  I mean, I’ve met thousands of lovely people.

JH:         And you have met a lot as you say, because you’re 101 years old

VPM:    Yes, and I think it’s right, we want to learn to live with one another.

JH:         What I’ve tried to do in this report is answer two questions: what effect has immigration had on this country, and if we’re afraid of it, why? The first is relatively easy.  Immigration has had a profound effect on us, on our attitudes to people whom most would once have dismissed as foreigners.  We’ve become to an extent, unimaginable after the war, multicultural country. And we mostly rub along pretty well. If we’re afraid of where growing numbers of immigrants may take is, that fee is based on something different.  It’s about how it will affect our economic and physical well-being, getting our children into a decent school, waiting to long in the GP surgery, competing for jobs and houses. It’s partly about where we live, a couple of thousand immigrants arriving in London is barely noticeable, in a small town in Yorkshire and Derbyshire it can be overwhelming.  I’ve been reporting for the BBC for nearly 50 years, we’ve never had a debate quite like this.  Whatever happens in the referendum, the issues that have been raised will resonate in this country perhaps for generations to come.

 

 

Sir Cliff saga shows BBC is ‘impervious to criticism of its journalism’

Sir Cliff saga shows BBC is ‘impervious to criticism of its journalism’

The BBC’s sensationalist coverage of the South Yorkshire police ‘investigation’ of Sir Cliff Richard over alleged sexual impropriety stank to high heaven from the beginning. Now that the 75-year-old singer has been totally exonerated, it stinks even more.

The Richard saga began in August 2014, when – according to an official report by retired Chief Constable Andy Trotter, one of the country’s leading police experts on press relations – the Corporation pressured the South Yorkshire force to make a preliminary search of Sir Cliff’s home into a major primetime television news event.

It should be noted here that although Trotter was as thorough as he could be in reaching his findings, he was handicapped heavily by the conduct of the BBC. Though it had milked to maximum extent the high drama footage of the ‘raid,’ Corporation news chiefs refused point blank to give evidence to his inquiry.

When the report was published in February, this stonewalling was compounded. The only trace on the BBC website of the report is in the South Yorkshire section; in their eyes, therefore it had only local significance.

In his report, Trotter said the BBC had, in effect, misled the police about the amount of information about the investigation it had, and had thus duped the press office into putting pressure on officers to allow them to witness – and, in effect, be part of –  the raid.

The way the two organisations acted together was, according to Trotter, totally unwarranted, and outside proper police procedures.  Leading leftist human rights barrister Geoffrey Robertson – normally a natural ally of the Corporation – said the nature of the BBC’s coverage amounted to a ‘conspiracy to injure’ the singer.

In the aftermath of the raid, the Corporation’s then deputy director of news Fran Unsworth justified the massive intrusion into the singer’s life by blaming the pressures of the news agenda. In other words, an insolent ‘Not us, guv, we were only doing our job’. BBC home affairs correspondent Danny Shaw compounded this by alleging that if anyone was to blame, it was South Yorkshire police in ‘a deliberate attempt to engineer maximum coverage’.

Part of the Corporation’s stonewall response – and refusal to tesify to Trotter – was that it claimed that a hastily-convened Commons home affairs committee hearing held a few weeks after the raid by the pro-BBC chairman, Keith Vaz, had exonerated its conduct.

It did no such thing, because Vaz, in his haste to finger the police and let the BBC off the hook, reached his conclusions long before the full facts were known. It was Trotter, reporting the following February after a thorough forensic investigation, who – despite the BBC’s refusal to cooperate with him – brought to light the correct picture of collusion, incompetence and misinformation.

After this this sorry, obstructive saga, how did the BBC report this week’s exoneration of Sir Cliff?

To be fair, they have published prominently on the BBC website the singer’s statement about the investigation which included his claim that he had been ‘hung out like live bait’ by the police investigation and his anguish over that his ordeal had last almost two years.

That said, the Corporation’s official reaction to its own role in the events was this:

“We applied normal editorial judgements to a story that was covered widely by all media and have continued to report the investigation as it developed including the CPS’s decision today – which is running prominently across our news output.”

Normal editorial judgments? If this is so, then the BBC inhabits a different moral universe. The reality is that, as the Trotter report found, they deliberately chose from the outset to exaggerate the significance of the raid, and used their immense clout to manipulate and hoodwink an incompetent South Yorkshire police in their efforts.

What it boils down to is that in the pursuit of this story, the BBC did not give a damn for Sir Cliff or the laws and journalistic conventions that are designed to protect the innocent from being unfairly presumed guilty.

Why? Probably because, unlike the BBC’s rock-star heroes such as David Bowie – whose recent death was treated as a world tragedy in the Corporation’s coverage – Richard does not flaunt his sexuality, has never espoused drug use as an essential part of the creative process, and now appeals principally to a middle-of-the road, aging, white, middle England audience. In other words, everything that the BBC abhors. That’s what made him fair game for this in-the-gutter journalism.

A principal issue here is that it illustrates yet again the BBC is impervious to criticism of its journalism and is a law only unto itself. Its guaranteed, lavish funding by a regressive tax allows it to be.  In similar vein, as the EU referendum poll fast approaches, it continues to churn out biased pro-‘remain’ coverage for exactly the same reasons. The Corporation is a menace to both the democratic process and moral decency.

Photo by Music News Australia

Referendum Blog: June 15

Referendum Blog: June 15

EASTON BIAS: At what point does a BBC ‘editor’ such as Laura Kuenssberg (Politics) or Mark Easton (‘Home’) cross the line between offering expert opinion and expressing their own political prejudice?  Easton certainly strained that line on his report on the impact of views about immigration on referendum voting intentions in an item for BBC1’s News at Ten last night (June 14).

He opened his report with this statement:

Listening to the voices of Britain over the last couple of months, it’s clear that many voters don’t see this as a referendum on EU membership at all.

An immediate question here is how he formed this judgment. What he was about to discuss were the views of a couple of vox populi interviews collected by him earlier in the campaign which were included in reports from Knowsley and Worcestershire.

The first, from Knowsley, was:

They seem to be getting jobs just like thrown at them, where we can’t get a job in our own country.

And the second:

If I go to our largest Tescos here, there are two long aisles full of Polish food.

It is important to note here that these were sentences chosen by Easton.  There is no way that the viewer could know the full context of how these words were gathered, what the contributors actually said or wanted to say. He used his power as editor to impose on the audience his selection of what he wanted to convey.

In this instance it appeared to be a) that voters were complaining about jobs being unfairly (at the expense of locals) ‘thrown’ at immigrants and b) concern about immigration was based on factors such Polish food appearing in the aisles of Tesco.

From that ambiguous, angled basis, he advanced to his main theme, which was that this (for many) was actually a referendum on immigration, and also about ‘what kind of country we want’. What it was not about, he also declared, was how much child benefit a Latvian received, ‘or even whether we are better off in or out’.

Easton visited Dymchurch, in Kent, for the bulk of his report. He claimed it was ‘reminiscent of a Britain that seems to be disappearing’ but then noted it had hit the headlines when Albanians had to be rescued from a floating dinghy just offshore, with subsequent arrests of the alleged traffickers. He asserted:

The story has become a metaphor for the sense that the UK, its heritage and its way of life are under foreign attack.

There followed two further vox pops (presumably more recently gathered, though this was not stated):

I’m fed up with these immigrants coming over just doing what they want. You know, they’re just changing the culture of our country.

The second said:

The real English, British people seem to be getting pushed to the back. It’s like they haven’t got a voice. They can’t say anything without getting accused of being racist and stuff like that. And that’s not . . .

Easton next observed that the railway line between Dymchurch and Dungeness had been requisitioned by the War Department in the 1940s to defend against possible invasion.  He said that EU immigration had ‘scarcely touched the town, but then asserted that ‘the campaign has become dominated over by claim and counter-claim over the threat from foreigners coming to Britain’.   He then explained that in the middle of the campaign, official figures had been published showing that in 2015, 270,000 EU citizens had come to the UK and that had pushed immigration to the number one concern, ahead of the economy.

He stated:

That’s clearly a boost for the Leave campaign because many people believe that if we vote Out, it’ll stop the foreigners coming in. But is that true? It would, in theory, mean EU citizens were subject to the same controls as migrants from outside the EU. However, that wouldn’t necessarily mean big reductions. After all, non-EU immigration still exceeds immigration from the European Union. Why? Because many immigrants benefit Britain. We welcome tens of thousands every year because they enhance our way of life, they enrich us, financially and culturally.

Two more vox pops followed:

VOX POP FEMALE: We’re a small country. Whether we’re in or out, we’re not going to stop immigrants coming, are we? I’m afraid we’re not. Those who really need it, we should have those from war-torn country.

VOX POP MALE:   Immigration, whether you’re in or out, is still going to be an issue and it needs to be dealt with. The people who are wanting to stay in are probably going to deal with it a little bit more compassionately than the people who want out.

Easton the observed that Britain was known as an island of castles, ‘stoutly defending our values’. He said that for many the referendum was seen as a straight choice between ‘protecting our tradition and our way of life’ and ‘opening the gate to modernity and globalisation’. He concluded:

In truth, the choice is not so stark. People may believe they can vote to stop immigration, but in the modern world, you can’t just pull up the drawbridge.

ANALYSIS

This was not straightforward reporting by Easton, as his earlier pieces in Knowsley and Worcestshire had been. In those features, he, went to different areas, gathered a selection of views, and presented them to the audience.

Here, he deployed a completely different approach. His goal was to exercise his judgment’ (from his position as Home editor) to show that an important element of the voting in the referendum would not be about whether people wanted to be ‘in’ or ‘out’ of the EU, but rather whether they wanted to exclude immigrants.

He further posited that these attitudes ran contrary to evidence that (he believed) showed that immigrants contributed positively to the UK (in his crucial words, ‘they enhance our way of life, they enrich us financially and culturally’), and that voting ’no’ in the referendum would not in any case result in big reductions in the number of immigrants from the EU because ‘after all, non-EU immigration still exceeds immigration from the EU’. On top of that, in his parting shot, he said that you could not in any case ‘in the modern world’ just pull up the drawbridge.

In that context, the inclusion of the first four vox pops – anti-immigrant views based on simple fears was designed to buttress his main theme, to illustrate that such views were prejudiced and shallow – a simple reaction against Polish food, fear of strangers and change, and opposition to evidence that immigration was good for the economy   His commentary throughout reinforced that intent. Thos who were opposed to immigration were pulling up the drawbridge against modernity, were retreating to the British castle mentality to stave off change, and were trying to recreate or protect a Dymchurch that could no longer exist because of ‘globalisation’.

What was his overall purpose? Almost certainly, to demonstrate that fear of immigration was unfounded, based on narrow prejudice and against the national interest, which was to embrace modernity, and with it the continued influx of EU immigrants. They were needed.

Easton thus strayed well beyond the bounds of reasonable exercise of judgment, and went firmly into the territory of political bias in favour of the ‘remain’, pro-EU side. As has already been noted on News-watch, his approach to more straightforward reporting in Knowsley was also not impartial.

 

Transcript of BBC1, News at Ten, 14th June 2016, EU Referendum, 10.28pm

FB:      With just over a week to go before polling day, the EU referendum is increasingly being seen as an argument between the economy and immigration. Throughout the week we’re taking stock of the main themes of the referendum campaign. Tonight, our home editor, Mark Easton, reports from the Kent coast on how immigration has become a key issue of the referendum.

MARK EASTON:      Listening to the voices of Britain over the last couple of months, it’s clear that many voters don’t see this as a referendum on EU membership at all.

VOX POP FEMALE (from May 27, 10.20pm, Knowsley) They seem to be getting jobs just like thrown at them, where we can’t get a job in our own country.

ME:     Nor is it about our trading relationship with our European neighbours.

VOX POP MALE: (from May 25, 10.27pm, Undecided Voters in Worcestershire) If I go to our largest Tescos here, there are two long aisles full of Polish food.

ME:     This, for many, is a referendum on immigration. It’s not really about how much child benefit a Latvian migrant gets or even whether we’re better off in or out, it’s about something more fundamental. It’s about what kind of country we want to be. Dymchurch, in Kent, is reminiscent of a Britain that seems to be disappearing. It hit the news recently when a group of Albanians were rescued from an inflatable dinghy just offshore. Two men have since been charged with people smuggling. The story has become a metaphor for the sense that the UK, its heritage and its way of life are under foreign attack.

VOX POP MALE:      I’m fed up with these immigrants coming over just doing what they want. You know, they’re just changing the culture of our country.

VOX POP FEMALE: The real English, British people seem to be getting pushed to the back. It’s like they haven’t got a voice. They can’t say anything without getting accused of being racist and stuff like that. And that’s not . . .

ME:     The little railway that runs from Dymchurch to Dungeness was requisitioned by the War Department in the 1940s to defend against possible invasion. Although EU immigration has barely touched this town, the campaign has become dominated by claim and counter claim over the threat from foreigners coming to Britain. In the middle of the campaign, of course, we got those official figures showing that last year 270,000 EU citizens came to live in Britain and that’s pushed immigration to the number one public concern, above the economy. That’s clearly a boost for the Leave campaign because many people believe that if we vote Out, it’ll stop the foreigners coming in. But is that true? It would, in theory, mean EU citizens were subject to the same controls as migrants from outside the EU. However, that wouldn’t necessarily mean big reductions. After all, non-EU immigration still exceeds immigration from the European Union. Why? Because many immigrants benefit Britain. We welcome tens of thousands every year because they enhance our way of life, they enrich us, financially and culturally.

VOX POP FEMALE:          We’re a small country. Whether we’re in or out, we’re not going to stop immigrants coming, are we? I’m afraid we’re not. Those who really need it, we should have those from war-torn country.

VOX POP MALE:   Immigration, whether you’re in or out, is still going to be an issue and it needs to be dealt with. The people who are wanting to stay in are probably going to deal with it a little bit more compassionately than the people who want out.

ME:     Britain is known as a land of castles, symbols of our island heritage, stoutly defending our values. For many in Britain in 2016, this referendum is seen almost as a straight choice between protecting our tradition and our way of life and opening the gate to modernity and globalisation. In truth, the choice is not so stark. People may believe they can vote to stop immigration, but in the modern world, you can’t just pull up the drawbridge. Mark Easton, BBC News, Kent.