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David Keighley

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Referendum Blog: June 14

Referendum Blog: June 14

BERLIN BIAS:BC Radio 1 decided to visit Germany in its Newsbeat bulletin yesterday evening. The referendum vote is now fast approaching…and the need for balance, it would be thought, would demand a variety of opinions would be included. Wrong.  It was what could best be described as a deluge of pro-Remain propaganda. Reporter Greg Dawson first set the scene by noting that on the Brandenburg Gate – in the tourism centre of Berlin – you could not miss the EU flag. Contributor Nicklaus stepped in to say:

The flag symbolise (sic) unity, freedom . . . freedom of rights, freedom of speech.

Dawson expanded on the theme, and noted that the flag also flew from ‘several buildings here, even the Reichstag, Germany’s parliament’.  He added:

You don’t get that in Westminster.

Now it was the turn of contributor Hendrik. He declared:

The pride is not coming from seeing the flag, but more like seeing Germany as a part of Europe.

In case the listener had missed it, Dawson then chipped in to emphasise their point, and noted  that they were both ‘proud Germans’ – but ‘feel strongly tied to  the European Union’.  Hendrik reinforced the theme. He said:

The EU encourages peace all over Europe, so that’s basically the achievement of the whole European Union. And maintain this peace.

Dawson now warmed to the peace theme. He suggested that Berlin was a city ‘with a lot of history, much of it bleak’, and pointed out that reminders of World War II were never far away. He observed:

People here think the decades of peace since then has much to do with the EU.

The next contributor reinforced that. He warned that if Britain left the EU,  the stability (created by the EU) would not be guaranteed any more. To ram home his message about the need to stay, he added:

If Britain would leave, I feel like this stability would not be guaranteed any more. I think the UK at the moment is a very strong player in the European Union, if they don’t see it sometimes maybe.

Next up was Arthur, a Briton who had moved to Germany to work. He, too, seemed very unhappy about the prospect of the UK leaving the EU.  He declared:

My name is Arthur, I’m from Essex in the UK, I moved out here to take a job, I basically had to fill in no paperwork, there was no risk for me, I just turned up and it’s weird to think that all of that might disappear after June 23.

Mel, from Derby, also working in Berlin, also warned about  the problems of leaving:

Being in the EU it’s kind of, it’s kind of . . . it’s brought a lot of benefits more than it brings negatives I think.

Dawson then piled in with an explanation, He said:

That’s probably not very surprising to hear British people living in another EU country being so in favour of Remain. But it’s not just the expats. Germany does a huge amount of trade with the UK. That noise you can hear in the background is one of the big sellers – last year, about one in five German cars was sold in Britain, and there are worries here about what Brexit means for business.

To magnify how important those concerns were, Dawson then spoke to Markus Kerber, who, said Dawson, ran the German Federation of Industries, ‘a group of more than 100,000 German companies including BMW’.  He helpfully explained – presumably to emphasise the importance of the latter company to UK trade – that BMW made the Mini, ‘a car make in the UK’.  Kerber said:

Hundreds of Britons involved in producing that car regularly travel and get trained in Germany, and all that, I think, would become a little bit more difficult – and I’m not sure whether the parent company BMW would see that necessarily as an incentive to invest more in that company.

Dawson wondered whether Germany was acting in self-interest to push the ‘don’t leave’ message.

No, said Kerber:

I don’t think we’re acting in self-interest, we’re acting out of the common interest between Britain and Germany that together we cannot only shaped the European Union, but we can shape many, many other parts of the world.

Analysis

This was not a news item, but rather could have been put together as a party political broadcast on behalf of the ‘remain’ camp.  Every aspect was positive towards the EU and the UK remaining within it – the framing around the EU flag, the selection of the first vox pop contributors, the observations of the Britons working in Germany and finally the warning from a nigh-level German businessman that if the UK withdrew, BMW was likely to cut back on investment in the Mini. The feature was edited to put across the core message that the EU was responsible for peace in Europe, that it brought co-operation and jobs between member countries and was the passport for industrial expansion in the wider world.

Questions the BBC must answer here are whether equivalent balancing material has been broadcast elsewhere. News-watch monitoring suggests otherwise, and – for example – Mark Mardell on the World This Weekend and World Tonight have broadcast from Berlin similarly pro-EU material.

It seems scarcely credible that with the referendum just days away, such a blatantly one-sided piece was broadcast. It would have been relatively easy to introduce contrasting opinion in this item.

An issue here is that the BBC are not transparent about how they are keeping track of bias – the Complaints website has no record of any EU-related complaints, and programmes such as ‘Feedback’ have also carried minimal material on the referendum.

Full Transcript:

BBC Radio 1, Newsbeat, 13th June 2016, EU Referendum and Germany, 5.53pm

PRESENTER:       We’re off to Germany next, just ten days to go now before many of us make a massive decision about our future. So should that future be inside or out of the European Union? Our politics reporter Greg Dawson has been to Berlin, where the main message seems to be ‘please don’t go’

GREG DAWSON:              We’re in Pariser Platz, one of the most touristy areas of Berlin, all the cameras here point towards the Brandenburg Gate, one of the city’s main landmarks.  And here’s another thing you can’t miss:

NICKLAUS:          The flag symbolise (sic) unity, freedom . . .  freedom of rights, freedom of speech.

GD:        The EU flag flies from several buildings here, even the Reichstag Germany’s parliament. You don’t get that in Westminster.

HENDRIK:           The pride is not coming from seeing the flag, but more like seeing Germany as a part of Europe.  My name is Hendrik, I’m from Düsseldorf in Germany.

N:          I’m Nicklaus, I’m from Flansberg, a northern town in Germany.

GD:        Nicklaus and Hendrik say they’re both proud Germans, but feel strongly tied to the European Union.

H:          The EU encourages peace all over Europe, so that’s basically the achievement of the  whole European Union. And maintain this peace.

GD:        Berlin is a city with a lot of history, much of it bleak.  The reminders of World War II are never far away, with memorials and even the shells of bombed out buildings.  People here think the decades of peace since then has much to do with the EU.

If Britain would leave, I feel like this stability would not be guaranteed any more.  I think the UK at the moment is a very strong player in the European Union, if they don’t see it sometimes maybe.

GD:        Another thing you notice as you move around Berlin: British accents.  In recent years, the city’s become home to thousands of young people who’ve left the UK to settle here.

ARTHUR:            My name is Arthur, I’m from Essex in the UK, I moved out here to take a job, I basically had to fill in no paperwork, there was no risk for me, I just turned up and it’s weird to think that all of that might disappear after June 23.

MEL:     Hi, I’m Mel, I’m from Derby.

GD:        How long have you lived in Berlin?

MEL:     About five months now.  Being in the EU it’s kind of, it’s kind of . . . it’s brought a lot of benefits more than it brings negatives I think.

GD:        That’s probably not very surprising to hear British people living in another EU country being so in favour of Remain.  But it’s not just the expats.  Germany does a huge amount of trade with the UK.  That noise you can hear in the background is one of the big sellers – last year, about one in five German cars was sold in Britain, and there are worries here about what Brexit means for business.

MARKUS KERBER:           Britain is our second biggest trading partner. We’re probably not closer to anyone else but, er, Britain.

GD:        Markus Kerber runs the German Federation of industries, a group of more than 100,000 German companies, including BMW who own mini, a car made in the UK.

MK:       Hundreds of Britons involved in producing that car regularly travel and get trained in Germany, and all that, I think, would become a little bit more difficult – and I’m not sure whether the parent company BMW would see that necessarily as an incentive to invest more in that company.

GD:        Is this Germany acting in self-interest to say, ‘don’t leave’, because of the impact it might have on your economy?

MK:       I don’t think we’re acting in self-interest, we’re acting out of the common interest between Britain and Germany that together we cannot only shaped the European Union, but we can shape many, many other parts of the world.

 

 

Photo by masochismtango

Referendum Blog: June 12

Referendum Blog: June 12

MORE ANTI-FARAGE BIAS: An earlier blog noted that the coverage by BBC1’s News at Ten of remarks made by Chancellor George Osborne in his high-profile  interview by Andrew Neil, was sharply skewed to the ‘remain case’, and, indeed, that the editing out of Neil’s questions made his comments into what amounted to a party political broadcast. The earlier blog also observed that News at Ten’s treatment of the comments made by David Cameron in ITV’s programme in which both men put their respective referendum cases  reduced Farage’s comments to an incoherent defence against claims that he was racist.

The unfairness to Nigel Farage – and thus to the ‘exit’ case – continued in Friday night’s News at Ten.

Farage was introduced by Fiona Bruce as having said he ‘stood by’ comments that dozens of sex attacks that happened on New Year’s eve could happen in the UK if current levels of immigration continue and had also responded to accusations of racism from the Archbishop of Canterbury. Carole Walker then observed, in introducing the sequence about the interview, that some on his Brexit side were uncomfortable with the Nigel Farage ‘tone and style’.  She added: “Tonight just a sip of red wine ‘before the confrontation at least.” She said that it was no surprise that immigration ‘the big issue for the leave campaign’ was the focus’. In the clip that followed, Walker substituted her own commentary over some of the Andrew Neil questions.

NIGEL FARAGE UKIP Leader, Leave Campaign:    The real point about this referendum is who makes the decisions. Do we have the ability to control the numbers that come to Britain or not?

CW:    Mr Farage said he wanted to get net migration down below 50,000 and he said this was not just about the economics.

NF:    There is something called quality of life, and that means the ability to get your child into the local primary school. It means being able to get a GP appointment.

CW:    He was less keen to talk about his controversial warning on LBC of sexual attacks like those in Cologne if we stay in the EU.

ANDREW NEIL:    So you did predict Cologne style sex attacks.

NF:    I, I may have done months ago but I chose . . .

AN:    (interrupting) Well you did, we’ve just seen it.

NF:    But I chose, but I chose in this referendum to try and make it a non-issue.  Why? Because there are so many other things for us to talk about.  However, is what I said at LBC wrong?  Of course it’s not.

CW:    But what about the criticism from the Archbishop of Canterbury, who accused him of legitimising racism?

NF:    We have good archbishops and bad archbishops.

AN:    Which category does he fall into?

NF:    Given that he was talking specifically about what had appeared in a Sunday newspaper, he clearly had read a headline and not very careful words that I used.

CW:    Nigel Farage insisted Britain would be safer outside the EU and dismissed opponents who said his vision was mean and divisive.

NF:    None of them go out and meet ordinary people and perhaps in my case occasionally have a pint with them, and let me tell you, my vision is to put this country and the British people first, and for us to divorce ourselves from political union and to re-engage with the rest of the world. It is upbeat, it is optimistic, and do you know something, I think we’re going to win.

CW:    Still two weeks to go. But there’s no disguising the upbeat mood in the Leave camp. Carole Walker, BBC News.

Overall, therefore, the Farage sequence contained two positive points from him about ‘exit’:

[blockquote]The real point about this referendum is who makes the decisions. Do we have the ability to control the numbers that come to Britain or not? … There is something called quality of life, and that means the ability to get your child into the local primary school. It means being able to get a GP appointment.

Then, at the end:

‘…my vision is to put this country and the British people first, and for us to divorce ourselves from political union and to re-engage with the rest of the world. It is upbeat, it is optimistic, and do you know something, I think we’re going to win.

Against this, however, the bulk of the interview was taken up with the BBC’s usual concerns about Farage – that he was racist and inept.  The introduction again stressed that Farage was facing accusations that he was racist, that his own side was uncomfortable with him, that he liked a drink, and had made over-stated claims about the sex attacks in Cologne. Then, the bulk of the extract from the interview itself was from the sequence where he was asked about these points.

In other sections of the Neil interview, Farage dealt with topics such as economics, sovereignty and immigration. The extracts chosen by News at Ten included only two fleeting sections of these, in sharp contrast to the programme’s handling  of the equivalent Osborne exchanges in which nearly all the sequences chosen were about the Chancellor’s positive points about the ‘remain’ case.

This, therefore was double bias: it contained the BBC’s usual negative approach to Farage on grounds of his racism and ineptness, and on top of that, the editors deliberately mostly ignored the parts of the Neil interview where he articulated the details of the ‘exit’ case.[/blockquote]

Full Transcript

BBC1 ‘News at Ten’ 10th June 2016, EU Referendum, 10.09pm

FIONA BRUCE:   The Ukip leader Nigel Farage, who’s campaigning for the UK to leave the EU, has said he stands by his comments that the sex attacks on dozens of women that happened in Germany, on New Year’s Eve, could be repeated in the UK, if levels of EU migration continue. Mr Farage also responded to the subsequent accusation of racism from the Archbishop of Canterbury, saying, ‘We have good archbishops and bad archbishops.’  Here’s our political correspondent Carole Walker, and her report contains some flash photography.

CAROLE WALKER:           He’s one of the most high-profile campaigners for Brexit. Though even some on his own side are uncomfortable with the Nigel Farage tone and style. Tonight, just a sip of red wine – before the confrontation at least. No surprise that immigration, the big issue for the Leave campaign, was the focus.

NIGEL FARAGE UKIP Leader, Leave Campaign:     The real point about this referendum is who makes the decisions. Do we have the ability to control the numbers that come to Britain or not?

CW:       Mr Farage said he wanted to get net migration down below 50,000 and he said this was not just about the economics.

NF:        There is something called quality of life, and that means the ability to get your child into the local primary school. It means being able to get a GP appointment.

CW:       He was less keen to talk about his controversial warning on LBC of sexual attacks like those in Cologne if we stay in the EU.

ANDREW NEIL:  So you did predict Cologne style sex attacks.

NF:        I, I may have done months ago but I chose . . .

AN:        (interrupting) Well you did, we’ve just seen it.

NF:        But I chose, but I chose in this referendum to try and make it a non-issue.  Why? Because there are so many other things for us to talk about.  However, is what I said at LBC wrong?  Of course it’s not.

CW:       But what about the criticism from the Archbishop of Canterbury, who accused him of legitimising racism?

NF:        ‘We have good archbishops and bad archbishops.’

AN:        Which category does he fall into?

NF:        Given that he was talking specifically about what had appeared in a Sunday newspaper, he clearly had read a headline and not the very careful words that I used.

CW:       Nigel Farage insisted Britain would be safer outside the EU and dismissed opponents who said his vision was mean and divisive.

NF:        None of them go out and meet ordinary people and perhaps in my case occasionally have a pint with them, and let me tell you, my vision is to put this country and the British people first, and for us to divorce ourselves from political union and to re-engage with the rest of the world. It is upbeat, it is optimistic, and do you know something, I think we’re going to win.

CW:       Still two weeks to go. But there’s no disguising the upbeat mood in the Leave camp. Carole Walker, BBC News.

 

For Europe, Against the EU

For Europe, Against the EU

The case for leaving the EU has never been put by the BBC in a programme wholly dedicated to the ‘out’ case. By contrast, the Corporation has, over many years, broadcast an unbalanced barrage of pro-EU material – as is documented on this site – and in March 2015, presented in prime time The Great European Disaster Movie, made by euro-fanatics Annalisa Piras and Bill Emmott. This was, as Toby Young wrote in the Telegraph, concentrated multi-pronged pro-EU propaganda, with the added twist that it envisaged that major civil unrest in the UK would be a consequence of departure. Young’s parting line in his review of the programme was that he wondered when the BBC would broadcast a similar programme from the ‘exit’ perspective.  The answer is ‘never’.

That is why For Europe, Against the EU, a film by the Spiked website is so important. Uninterrupted by the BBC injecting its own warped version of ‘balance’, it spells out some of the core arguments for leaving the EU and nails once and for all the prevailing myth so often perpetuated by the BBC, that being anti-EU is absolutely not the same as being anti-‘Europe’ and thus xenophobic.

This is what the folk at Spiked! say about their film:

At spiked we have long made the case that the EU is a deadweight around the neck of this exciting continent, limiting the power of its peoples and submitting its parliaments to petty bureaucracy and diktat. In this 20-minute film, featuring Brian Denny, Daniel Hannan, Kate Hoey, Tim Stanley and Bruno Waterfield, we make the democratic case for voting Leave on 23 June.

We argue that the referendum is an opportunity for the British public to strike out against the risk-averse, technocratic elites of Brussels and Whitehall, and an opportunity to inspire publics across Europe to do the same.

Do watch it. It’s revelation to hear the full case for British exit!

Referendum Blog: June 11

Referendum Blog: June 11

DID BBC FAVOUR ‘REMAIN’ IN VOTER REGISTRATION PUSH? The specially-extended deadline to register to vote in the EU referendum passed on Thursday night. According to the BBC, an extra 430,000 voters registered, approximately half of whom were under 35.

The official registration site crashed on Tuesday not long before midnight under pressure of sheer volume as the actual pre-set deadline approached. The government reacted swiftly in response, introducing special legislation to facilitate the extension.  Some – including Aaron Banks, leader of the Leave.EU group – claim this was a breach of electoral law because it broke the terms of a process that had been carefully agreed and set in stone to ensure fairness.

Does Banks have a case?  According to some sources, yes. The is what the Daily Mail wrote about the extra voters:

‘Nearly a quarter of a million people registered to vote on the first day of the extended window to sign up for the EU referendum – five times more than the number of people who were blocked when the website crashed.

‘Brexit campaigners accused David Cameron of ‘desperate cheating’ by extending the deadline for 48 hours, despite the website being down for just 105 minutes on Tuesday night.

‘The move has allowed 240,000 people to sign up for a vote, over half of whom are under the age of 35.’

The fact that over half the number of extra registrants are under 35 is the key point here.  Back in April, an opinion poll in The Guardian observed:

Opinium found that in the 18-34 age group, 53% said they backed staying in, against 29% who wanted to leave. But only just over half (52%) in this age group said they were certain to actually go out and vote.

Thus it was established that young people were heavily more likely to back the ‘remain’ side, but might not actually vote. It seems that in response, David Cameron and the senior command in the ‘remain’ side started (and allegedly funded)  a vigorous online social media campaign to encourage the young to register.

The registration site crash, it seems, would thus have been seen as a blow to the hopes of the ‘remain’ side, and the move to ensure an extension can thus be viewed as a knee-jerk response by Cameron – moving rapidly in his own interest. The upshot is that he has secured an extra 250,000 voters more likely to support him.

The BBC’s handling of the voter registration issue is deeply suspicious. Were they following the David Cameron agenda too closely and thus favouring the ‘remain’ side?

It can first be observed that voter registration isn’t normally a high-profile issue during elections. It is regarded as a procedural matter, even though many millions – up to 30% of the UK population – do not vote, and many of these are not even on the voting register. The proportion of population who voted at the last general election in 2015 was around only 66%.

By contrast, as an issue in the referendum, however, it seems that voter registration was treated as a matter of the highest priority by the BBC. On Tuesday, as the deadline approached,  it was a feature of almost every bulletin, and there were also several features about the topic.

BBC1’s ‘Breakfast’ (6am – 9am) ran registration items approximately every fifteen minutes, including a location report from Stratford in East London, where the studio presenter noted that ‘So far it’s young people under the age of 34 have been making the most applications to register’, but reporter Graham Satchell opened his report by noting, conversely, that the Electoral Commission had identified inner-city areas like Stratford as containing the highest percentages of young people who hadn’t registered to vote in the referendum.

On Radio 4, the Today programme carried an interview with Alex Robertson, Director of Communications at the Electoral Commission, who warned people not to ‘leave it too late’, explained the deadline, and noted that ex-pats who had been registered to vote in the UK in the last 15 years would be able to vote. In the Today sequence John Humphrys made it clear that those who were already on the electoral register did not have to reapply, and Mr Robertson confirmed that there was no ‘kind of special electoral register’ for the referendum.

As the day progressed many shorter bulletins (for example hourly bulletins on BBC Radio 1, BBC Radio 2) noted that this was the last day to vote in the referendum, and provided the website address for voting.

The BBC1 News at Six provided a breakdown of recent registration figures, including the numbers under the age of 35.  There was a location report from Lambeth College, showing young people being registered to vote, with the commentary that, ‘in or out, Britain’s future with the EU will probably impact this generation the most’, and interviews with some young people who didn’t seem enthused about voting, along with a soundbite from Josh Pugh, who was attempting to get people to register.  The correspondent did note ‘if you’re already on the electoral role, you don’t need to do anything, the voting cards should be on their way’ – but the reference was so short as to be potentially confusing, with no explanation, for example, that anyone who voted in the last general election ought to be already registered unless they’d moved house in the meantime.

BBC1’s One Show carried an interview with David Dimbleby, and a reminder that people could register to vote until midnight, and the brief BBC1 Bulletin at 7.59pm simply said “don’t forget you have just four hours to go to register to vote in the EU referendum. You can sign up at www.gov.uk/register-to-vote

BBC 1’s News at Ten again focused on young voters, with Gavin Hewitt reporting from Reading College, and noted the midnight deadline and that millions were still yet to register, and spoke to a variety of young people who had and hadn’t registered, while noting that a number of people were ‘unsure’ whether they were registered.

On Radio 4’s World Tonight, Shaun Ley noted that registrations were closing at midnight, but set out in clearer terms that if people had voted in the general election, or this year’s local elections and hadn’t changed address then there was no requirement to register again.

On BBC2’s Newsnight, correspondent Nicholas Watt revealed in stark terms how voter registration – and a subsequent higher turnout – might benefit the Remain side:

Well, it looks like tomorrow we will get a statement from the Electoral Commission giving us an idea of the numbers of people who registered to vote, and the indications are that more people are registering to vote than registered for the general election, and what is interesting is coming through there, it appears that the 18 to 24-year-old age group, and people who live abroad seem to be registering in higher numbers than they did last year. And those are the sort of people who may vote for Remain. So, that might be quite good news for Remain, because, if you remember, if it’s a low turnout, below 55%, good for Brexit, if it’s between 55% and 70%, it’s good for Remain. But if you go right above 75% then Brexit are back in business.

Evan Davis subsequently noted that this was ‘good news for Remain on that kind of registration process, but there is some good news for Leave as well’ in the shape of a poll which predicted a win for ‘leave’.  Could this have been a further spur to lead ‘remain’ supporters voters to register?

By the end of Newsnight, the registration website was in overdrive and soon afterwards crashed.

In the context of the continuous publicity given to the issue during the day was this surprising?

Before the programme closed, Evan Davis again spoke to Nicholas Watt. He said that at 10pm, 50,000 people were trying to use the registration website at the same time. In a brief interview, Martin Lewis from Moneysavingexpert.com encouraged people to keep trying, given that web traffic in the UK ought to tail off towards midnight. Lewis also observed that there was ‘a democratic question’ in terms of the people who had attempted to register online earlier in the evening but had not been able to vote in what he said was ‘the most important consumer decision of our lifetimes.’ Evan Davis said it would be difficult for any leeway to be given, because the voter registration date is ‘set in law’.  He noted that he had been planning to remind viewers as he closed the programme that they had 50 minutes left to register.

Analysis

The issues here are complex. It could normally be argued that encouraging voters to register is a public service matter for the BBC. However, the referendum created complicating factors. First was that it had been widely been established (and reported by the BBC among others) that young people were less likely to bother to vote or register. That became a matter which David Cameron and the ‘remain’ side was specially pursuing via social networking in order to boost the ‘remain’ vote. In turn, that meant that registration was potentially a partisan matter to be treated with caution and with careful reference (under the BBC’s referendum coverage guidelines) to the issues involved. It seems ’however, that on the Tuesday, as the deadline approached, BBC editors on all the main news programme outlets had no such caution. Instead the volume of coverage, and the high priority afforded to it, suggest that editors went flat out to emphasise the ‘register’ message without any form of qualifying explanation.  It is arguable that the publicity afforded to this by the BBC programmes may have actually been a significant factor contributing to the registration site crash.  The knock-on effect was that David Cameron secured an extra 250,000 registrants who he believed were more likely to vote ‘remain’.

 

Photo by michael_swan