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David Keighley

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

Referendum Blog: June 10

Referendum Blog: June 10

PRO-OSBORNE, ANTI-FARAGE BIAS: Two successive days, two key studio events in which the respective sides in the referendum debate put their respective arguments. One was George Osborne’s appearance (Wednesday) with Andrew Neil and the other, the ITV programme on Tuesday evening in which a studio audience put questions to Nigel Farage and David Cameron.  BBC1’s News at Ten covered both set-pieces as their lead story.

Huw Edwards introduced the coverage of the Neil interview by indicating that the Chancellor had rejected claims that he was trying to scare people into voting to remain in. Political editor Laura Kuenssberg provided commentary.

These are the edited points made by Osborne (Andrew Neil’s questions were mainly removed by the editors):

If we vote to leave then we lose control. We lose control of our economy, if you lose control of your economy, you lose control of everything. And that’s not a price worth paying.

(on screen behind them is ‘£4300 a year cost to UK families if Britain leaves the EU) Leave it out. Because people need to know, people need to know.

You listen to everyone, and they’re telling you that Britain will be poorer, the families in Britain will be poorer. Look, we can talk about any number of numbers, they’ve all got in common one big fat minus in front of each one, that’s the consequence for the people watching this programme.

When pressed, the Leave campaigners have basically admitted their policy would see more immigration from outside the EU

People should be clear, they might have concerns about immigration, but that is not on the ballot paper. Our membership of the EU and all the prosperity and our role in the world, that’s on the ballot paper.

Turkey is a key ally, they’re a member of NATO, by the way an organisation we all talk up on all sides of the campaign. But, is it going to be a member of the European Union? No, it’s not.

The British government policy is it (Turkey) should not join the European Union, today.

I do not want Nigel Farage’s vision of Britain. It is mean, it is divisive. It is not who we are as a country. …Britain is a great country.  …I’m fighting for the soul of this country. …Sadly, Nigel Farage and his vision of Britain has taken over the Leave campaign.

That adds up to 258 words in which Osborne put across the core economic parts of the ‘remain’ case’, dismissed the idea that Turkey would join the EU imminently, that the ‘exit’ side could not tackle immigration, that Nigel Farage had a ‘mean and divisive’ approach, and, sadly, that Farage policies had taken over Vote Leave campaign.

Andrew Neil’s strongly adversarial questions  in which he accused Osborne of telling untruths, and exaggerating the alleged threats to the economy, had been cut out. Kuenssberg’s inserted in her commentary her own alternatives, but they did not match Neil’s robust approach.

She said that Osborne had ‘defended’ the decision to hold the referendum, and the strength of his warnings to exit; that the Chancellor had said the use of financial forecasts rather than facts was justified; that Osborne’s worst nightmare was this becoming a vote on immigration (after which, Osborne claimed that the idea that dealing with immigration was on the ballot paper);  and that Osborne had tried to kill off the outers’ claims that Turkey was on the way to joining the EU.  Kuenssberg thus amplified some of the ‘remain’ points that the Chancellor put.

She concluded:

George Osborne was pretty defiant throughout, saying that he wasn’t trying to scare people but literally in the same breath saying there was a lot actually to be scared about. What I think we will hear more of in the coming days from his side is this claim that somehow the Leave campaign has been hijacked by what he described as Nigel Farage’s mean and divisive message… But I think the Remain campaign have seized on this as a tactic they will try to employ in the next few days in the fortnight just now left to go before the referendum vote itself. They clearly think that it might help their cause if they somehow tarnish the whole Out campaign saying it’s just Nigel Farage’s vision. But Mr Farage himself will be subject to the same kind of grilling in the same studio on Friday night.

FARAGE/CAMERON

The night before, Huw Edwards said at the beginning of the News at Ten bulletin that there ‘was no possibility of controlling immigration if Britain stayed in the EU’. There was a clip:

If we have an Australian-style points system, rather than an open door to 508 million people, then actually it’ll be better for black people coming into Britain, who currently find it very difficult because we have this open door.

Edwards added that David Cameron had claimed the reforms he had negotiated meant it was not time to walk away from the EU.

People I’m sure will share many of my frustrations about the European Union, but frustrations with an institution or indeed a relationship are often not a justification for walking away. They’re an argument for staying and fighting for what you need – for jobs, for investment, for security for our country.

Huw Edwards then said both men had been answering questions on a special ITV programme. He added:

Mr Farage rejected criticism, made earlier today by the Archbishop of Canterbury, that the Ukip leader was guilty of legitimising racism.

Laura Kuenssberg then said that Farage had made a career out of being blunt, and then observed that the path to the referendum was proving ‘far from smooth’. She said the audience had demanded to know of him why the economy would be safe outside the EU. Farage said:

12% is exports to the European Union. The other 88% . . .

CHAIR:          (speaking over) Mr Farage this question . . .

MALE AUDIENCE MEMBER:       (interrupting) This is specifically about pharmaceuticals, sorry, yeah .

CHAIR: (speaking over) And also about jobs too.

MALE AUDIENCE MEMBER:       32.4 billion – 2004 (fragment of word, unclear) report from the Government, right, so get that around your head, 32.4 billion.  Now, the European Medicine Agency is in London. It’s all the medicines, all the ground-breaking ones for the whole of Europe are reviewed in London and Brussels listens to us. You can’t do that if you are not part of Europe.

NIGEL FARAGE: I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry (applause) I’m sorry, this is entirely and utterly false.

LAURA KUENSSBERG:      Before long, rather than his warnings about immigration finding favour, several audience members turned instead on him.

FEMALE AUDIENCE MEMBER:   You have basically suggested that a vote to remain is a vote for British women to be subdued to the same horrific assaults.

NIGEL FARAGE: Well, just calm down there a little bit.

CHAIR: (interrupting) She asked it perfectly calmly . . .

NIGEL FARAGE: (speaking over) No, no, no, but I mean, you know, sometimes in life, what it says at the top of a newspaper page and what you have actually said can be slightly different things. Look, I am used to be demonised.

FEMALE AUDIENCE MEMBER:   Are you not embarrassed that Justin Welby today said you are legitimising racism?

NIGEL FARAGE: Well, I’m sorry, and I’m not going to stand here and attack the Archbishop of Canterbury . . .

FEMALE AUDIENCE MEMBER:   But you are anti-immigration. You have used scaremongering and inflammatory comments.

NIGEL FARAGE: (speaking over) Well, look, I’ll tell you what . . .

FEMALE AUDIENCE MEMBER:   . . . in your campaign  . . .

NIGEL FARAGE: (speaking over) I’ll tell you what . . .

FEMALE AUDIENCE MEMBER:   . . . that have gone against people that look non-white.

NIGEL FARAGE: If you really . . .

FEMALE AUDIENCE MEMBER:   How are non-white British people going to stop facing discrimination .

NIGEL FARAGE: (speaking over) If you really want to think that . . .

FEMALE AUDIENCE MEMBER:   . . . about their identity and nationality in this country, that’s what I really want to know? (applause)

NIGEL FARAGE: I’m sorry, I’m sorry . . .

The chosen sequence boiled down to that Farage said briefly that only 12% of British exports went to the EU; made a fleeting denial of a claim that the pharmaceutical industry would be hard hit by exit; and finally, a denial of angry accusation that he was racist (already foreshadowed and emphasised by Huw Edwards, and then mentioned in another link by Kuenssberg).  The 124 words he actually spoke, extracted out, were as follows:

[blockquote]12% is exports to the European Union. The other 88% . . . I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry I’m sorry, this is entirely and utterly false… Well, just calm down there a little bit. …No, no, no, but I mean, you know, sometimes in life, what it says at the top of a newspaper page and what you have actually said can be slightly different things. Look, I am used to be demonised. …Are you not embarrassed that Justin Welby today said you are legitimising racism? …Well, I’m sorry, and I’m not going to stand here and attack the Archbishop of Canterbury . . . Well, look, I’ll tell you what . . . I’ll tell you what . . . If you really . . .If you really want to think that . . . I’m sorry, I’m sorry . . .

None of this added up to a coherent argument or point about the EU ’exit’ case. The BBC’s presentation in the main body of the report had pushed the ‘racism’ allegations against Farage to the forefront, and it had made the angry woman who pushed the point the fulcrum of the sequence.  The only positive point made by Farage – about the Australian immigration points system was in the introduction.

In the sequence involving David Cameron, Laura Kuenssberg noted that after Farage’s ‘hostile half hour’, David Cameron had faced ‘more tough demands’:

MALE AUDIENCE MEMBER 2:     You wanted to remove the free movement of people so that we could recruit skilled people from all over the world. Not baristas from the EU. You were, basically humiliated on that. So . . . why on earth are you now saying the EU is wonderful, you were saying you’d leave if you didn’t get those reforms?

What I said in the reforms that I sought, I said we need it to be less of a single currency club, so I wanted guarantees for the pound, our currency, and I got those, I said I wanted it to be less bureaucratic so I wanted targets to cut regulation, including on small businesses and I got that.

LAURA KUENSSBERG:      Again, the audience though turned to immigration. The Prime Minister pushed on the promises he made.

MALE AUDIENCE MEMBER 3:     I voted for you in the last election because one of the things on your manifesto was to get immigration down. You haven’t been able to do that because you are not allowed to do that. That’s the bottom line. So, how are you – I can see my standard of living and my family’s standard of living going down because of this influx that we can’t control. Now, I am sorry to say but your closing statement last week was that if we leave the EU, we are rolling a dice with our children’s future. I think quite the opposite, by you telling us to stay in you have rolled that dice already. (applause)

DAVID CAMERON: Well, obviously I, I (pauses during applause) obviously I don’t agree with that. I think the biggest risk we can take is to pull out of the EU, pull out of the single market. We need to be in this organisation, fighting for British interests and for British jobs. Leaving is quitting. I don’t think Britain, I don’t think we are quitters. I think we are fighters, we fight in these organisations for what we think is right.

Mr Cameron thus faced complaints that he had not got he wanted – and had been ‘humiliated’ – in his negotiations with the EU, and then that he had not kept immigration down in accordance with the Conservative manifesto and as a result living standards were under threat. Cameron’s combined response, totalling 134 words, was marginally longer than Farage’s. But unlike with Farage, he was able to make two substantive points, uninterrupted, about his claimed achievements in the EU negotiations and that the biggest risk faced by the UK was not immigration but economic threats that would be caused by an EU ‘exit’.  In addition, in the introduction, he was able to stress prominently the importance of the EU to the UK.

ANALYSIS 

As almost always with dissection of what was actually said and presented, the devil here is in the detail.

Obviously in getting to air by 10pm the Cameron/Farage sequence, BBC editors were faced with a tough, against-the-clock task in whittling down the hour-long ITV programme that finished an hour earlier down to a digestible feature. But the end result showed considerable bias.

The sequence that editors chose featuring Farage contained at its heart an aggressively-put accusation of racism that had seemingly been backed by the Archbishop of Canterbury. It was a heated exchange, and Farage was on the back foot against strong invective, trying to put his response. The panellist was working hard to prevent him doing so, and Julie Etchingham, the ITV presenter, sided with her. As a result, Farage was unable to put forward a considered reply. In the preceding section about the impact of Brexit on the export of medicinal drugs, the Ukip leader was able to make only a fragmentary point about the proportion of British goods that went to the EU.

The editors thus chose a sequence about the ‘exit’ case which made for entertaining and tense television. But almost all elements of the exit case – put on a more measured basis by Farage elsewhere in the ITV programme – were not included. It looked and felt as if the core issue being faced was whether the ‘exit’ camp was racist, and this was emphasised, as has already been noted above, by mentions of this by Edward and Kuenssberg.

The sequence involving David Cameron also contained toughly-put questions and Kuenssberg said in her commentary that he had faced negativity from the audience.  But in sharp contrast to the handling of Farage and ‘the exit’ case’ Cameron was able to make two strong  uninterrupted points about the ‘remain’ case.

With the Osborne sequence, the editors chose to cut out almost completely Andrew Neil’s questions. In so doing, they threw out the baby with the bathwater. The Chancellor had in fact faced a barrage of negative points from Neil. It should have been left to the audience to decide whether he had answered them satisfactorily – but with the News at Ten editing, they had no chance to do so.  The excision of the Neil questions converted a tense, finely balanced piece of broadcasting into the equivalent a party political broadcast on behalf of the ‘remain side’, and nothing Kuenssberg said by way of commentary diluted this impression, if anything, her observations amplified his various messages. Then, in her summing up, she mentioned his reference to Nigel Farage’s ‘mean and divisive’ message. Her choice of this as her ‘out’ message compounded the bias shown the previous evening.  Not only was Nigel Farage, in the BBC’s chosen emphasis, a racist, but also he was – in line with what George Osborne claimed – in danger of dragging the whole ‘leave’ campaign down.

Balance in daily programmes is not required in individual editions, but here, in two consecutive nights, in the treatment by News at Ten of headline issues of the greatest importance in the unfolding referendum debate, the BBC’s main newsreader, its political editor and its editors on its flagship BBC1 news programme, showed strong bias against arguably the highest-profile figure in the ‘exit’ case. By contrast, they gave George Osborne the easiest possible ride, and in effect created a party political broadcast for the ‘remain’ case.

Full Transcripts:

BBC1 ‘News at Ten’ 7th June 2016, Nigel Farage and David Cameron, 10pm

HE:        Good evening. Immigration and economic prospects have featured prominently in the latest exchanges tonight ahead of the referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU. Nigel Farage, who’s campaigning to leave, and David Cameron, who’s campaigning to remain, have both been answering questions from voters in a live television event on ITV. Mr Farage rejected criticism, made earlier today by the Archbishop of Canterbury, that the Ukip leader was guilty of legitimising racism. Our political editor Laura Kuenssberg watched the exchanges.

LAURA KUENSSBERG:     (Nigel Farage arrives on purple bus) He’s waited years for this, so was never going to turn up discreetly. A moment of visible nerves for the man who has made a career of being blunt. (On David Cameron) He wants and needs to win. And despite his demeanour, the path to the referendum is proving far from smooth. Both politicians taking on the toughest challengers, not each other, but the voting public. Without hesitation, the audience demanded to know why believe him that the economy would be safe outside the EU?

NIGEL FARAGE: 12% is exports to the European Union. The other 88% . . .

CHAIR:  (speaking over) Mr Farage this question . . .

MALE AUDIENCE MEMBER:        (interrupting) This is specifically about pharmaceuticals, sorry, yeah . . .

CHAIR: (speaking over) And also about jobs too.

MAM:   32.4 billion – 2004 (fragment of word, unclear) report from the Government, right, so get that around your head, 32.4 billion.  Now, the European Medicine Agency is in London. It’s all the medicines, all the ground-breaking ones for the whole of Europe are reviewed in London and Brussels listens to us. You can’t do that if you are not part of Europe.

NF:        I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry (applause) I’m sorry, this is entirely and utterly false.

LK:         Before long, rather than his warnings about immigration finding favour, several audience members turned instead on him.

FEMALE AUDIENCE MEMBER:    You have basically suggested that a vote to remain is a vote for British women to be subdued to the same horrific assaults.

NF:        Well, just calm down there a little bit.

CHAIR: (interrupting) She asked it perfectly calmly . . .

NF:        (speaking over) No, no, no, but I mean, you know, sometimes in life, what it says at the top of a newspaper page and what you have actually said can be slightly different things. Look, I am used to be demonised.

FAM:     Are you not embarrassed that Justin Welby today said you are legitimising racism?

NF:        Well, I’m sorry, and I’m not going to stand here and attack the Archbishop of Canterbury . . .

FAM:     But you are anti-immigration. You have used scaremongering and inflammatory comments . . .

NF:        (speaking over) Well, look, I’ll tell you what . . .

FAM:     . . . in your campaign  . . .

NF:        (speaking over) I’ll tell you what . . .

FAM:     . . . that have gone against people that look non-white.

NF:        If you really . . .

FAM:     How are non-white British people going to stop facing discrimination  . . .

NF:        (speaking over) If you really want to think that . . .

FAM:     . . . about their identity and nationality in this country, that’s what I really want to know? (applause)

NF:        I’m sorry, I’m sorry . . .

LK:         And look what he was ready to brandish, when asked how leaving the EU would keep us safe.

NF:        This is, should be a British passport, it says European Union on it. All right. I think, to make this country safer we need to get back British passports so that we can check anybody else coming in to this country.

CHAIR:  Can we allow Mr (name unclear) back in?

NF:        I really do. (applause) The project doesn’t work. I want us to get back our independence but to say we’ll be good Europeans, we’ll trade with Europe, co-operate with Europe, but govern ourselves.

LK:         After a hostile half hour, the Prime Minister walked on to more tough demands. A damming verdict on the deal he brokered with the rest of the EU.

MALE AUDIENCE MEMBER 2:     You wanted to remove the free movement of people so that we could recruit skilled people from all over the world. Not baristas from the EU. You were, basically humiliated on that. So . . . why on earth are you now saying the EU is wonderful, you were saying you’d leave if you didn’t get those reforms?

DAVID CAMERON:          What I said in the reforms that I sought, I said we need it to be less of a single currency club, so I wanted guarantees for the pound, our currency, and I got those, I said I wanted it to be less bureaucratic so I wanted targets to cut regulation, including on small businesses and I got that.

LK:         Again, the audience though turned to immigration. The Prime Minister pushed on the promises he made.

MALE AUDIENCE MEMBER 3:     I voted for you in the last election because one of the things on your manifesto was to get immigration down. You haven’t been able to do that because you are not allowed to do that. That’s the bottom line. So, how are you – I can see my standard of living and my family’s standard of living going down because of this influx that we can’t control. Now, I am sorry to say but your closing statement last week was that if we leave the EU, we are rolling a dice with our children’s future. I think quite the opposite, by you telling us to stay in you have rolled that dice already. (applause)

DC:        Well, obviously I, I (pauses during applause) obviously I don’t agree with that. I think the biggest risk we can take is to pull out of the EU, pull out of the single market. We need to be in this organisation, fighting for British interests and for British jobs. Leaving is quitting. I don’t think Britain, I don’t think we are quitters. I think we are fighters, we fight in these organisations for what we think is right.

LK:         Like the wider public, the audience wouldn’t swallow either side’s case without complaint. Tonight’s applause will have faded long before the arguments are won.

HE:        Well, those exchanges ended about half an hour ago, within the last half hour. Let’s go to the Olympic Park in East London where they took place, Laura is there for us, Laura Kuenssberg.  What was your impression then Laura, of the way that Mr Cameron and Mr Farage succeeded or didn’t succeed in getting their cases over?

LK:         Well, Huw, you know, one man, Nigel Farage, came here tonight probably with not very much to lose. One man, David Cameron, came here tonight with pretty much everything to lose. But I think at the end of the debate really neither of them were winners. This was a very hostile, intense hour of conversation with the audience. The clashes were dominated by immigration. But in a sense, I felt the audience was rather frustrated by what they heard from both of them. Nigel Farage was more or less accused of stoking up racism. But the Prime Minister was accused of breaking his promises too. And there was a sense, it’s so interesting and so telling when the public gets hold of politicians on debates like this that they somehow weren’t satisfied with what they have been hearing, either in the last few weeks or tonight here at the Olympic Park. There is a sense that audiences and perhaps the wider voting public wants more answers, more clarity, maybe even still more information from their politicians. But we are hurtling towards this referendum now and there is nothing at all certain about new or different answers being provided.

HE:        Okay Laura, thanks very much.  Laura Kuenssberg therefore is at those televised debates Thank you.

 

BBC1 ‘News at Ten’ 7th June 2016, George Osborne and Andrew Neil, 10.09pm

HUW EDWARDS:             George Osborne says the forthcoming referendum is a fight for the soul of the country. In a BBC interview with Andrew Neil this evening the Chancellor rejected claims that he’s trying to scare people into voting to remain in the EU. Our political editor Laura Kuenssberg listened to the exchanges.

ANDREW NEIL:  Tonight in the studio live the Chancellor, George Osborne.

LAURA KUENSSBERG:     The money man, the Tories’ tactician, defending the decision to hold this referendum, defending the strength of his warnings about exit.

GEORGE OSBORNE:        If we vote to leave then we lose control. We lose control of our economy, if you lose control of your economy, you lose control of everything. And that’s not a price worth paying.

LK:         The Chancellor said the use of forecasts . . .

GO:       (on screen behind them is ‘£4300 a year cost to UK families if Britain leaves the EU) Leave it out. Because people need to know, people need to know.

AN:        I will leave it out . . .

LK:         . . . not facts was justified. Trying to stick to the economic script.

GO:       You listen to everyone, and they’re telling you that Britain will be poorer, the families in Britain will be poorer. Look, we can talk about any number of numbers, they’ve all got in common one big fat minus in front of each one, that’s the consequence for the people watching this programme.

LK:         But Mr Osborne’s worst nightmare is this becoming a vote just on immigration.

GO:       When pressed, the Leave campaigners have basically admitted their policy would see more immigration from outside the EU

AN:        If all this is . . .

GO:       People should be clear, they might have concerns about immigration, but that is not on the ballot paper. Our membership of the EU and all the prosperity and our role in the world, that’s on the ballot paper.

LK:         He tried to kill off the Outers’ claims that Turkey is on the way to joining the EU and millions of Turks could be on their way here.

GO:       Turkey is a key ally, they’re a member of NATO, by the way an organisation we all talk up on all sides of the campaign. But, is it going to be a member of the European Union? No, it’s not.

LK:         Never ever? Not quite what he said.

GO:       The British government policy is it should not join the European Union, today.

LK:         But the bigger clash he believes of ideas and of instinct.

GO:       I do not want Nigel Farage’s vision of Britain. It is mean, it is divisive. It is not who we are as a country.

AN:        Well (fragment of word, or word unclear)

GO:       Britain is a great country.

AN:        I understand that . . .

GO:       I’m fighting for the soul of this country.

AN:        But, but we’re also fighting for truth . . .

GO:       Sadly, Nigel Farage and his vision of Britain has taken over the Leave campaign.

LK:         Vote Leave led, not by Nigel Farage, remember it’s run by his Tory colleagues. This is a campaign, though, for every political party. And much more importantly, it’s a choice for every single one of us. George Osborne was pretty defiant throughout, saying that he wasn’t trying to scare people but literally in the same breath saying there was a lot actually to be scared about. What I think we will hear more of in the coming days from his side is this claim that somehow the Leave campaign has been hijacked by what he described as Nigel Farage’s mean and divisive message. Now, Nigel Farage, of course, isn’t even part of the official Leave campaign. It’s run by senior Conservatives and some people from the Labour Party too. But I think the Remain campaign have seized on this as a tactic they will try to employ in the next few days in the fortnight just now left to go before the referendum vote itself. They clearly think that it might help their cause if they somehow tarnish the whole Out campaign saying it’s just Nigel Farage’s vision. But Mr Farage himself will be subject to the same kind of grilling in the same studio on Friday night.

HE:        Okay, Laura, thank you very much. Laura Kuenssberg there for us at Westminster.