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Kathy Gyngell

Kathy Gyngell: BBC lights the red touch paper

Kathy Gyngell: BBC lights the red touch paper

Guest post from Kathy Gyngell – this first appeared on The Conservative Woman

The BBC has just started its latest anti-UK democracy drama, Gunpowder, which plumbs new depths of brutality. One by one, it seems the barriers against barbarity are being crossed in the media, with the BBC in the vanguard. But perhaps it is no surprise when you look at who they commission.

The series is written by a gentleman called Ronan Bennett, a novelist and screenwriter who was once a self-styled Irish republican revolutionary who grew up in a Roman Catholic family in Belfast during the Troubles. So he would know a thing or two about trying to destroy the British state. At the age of 18 he was convicted of murdering an Inspector in the Royal Ulster Constabulary during an IRA bank robbery. After 18 months in Long Kesh his conviction was declared unsafe and he was released. He still cites his time there as an ‘inspiration’ to him.

After moving to London he mixed with people he himself describes as ‘young enemies of the state’: activists, anarchists, revolutionary socialists. Before long, perhaps unsurprisingly, he was arrested again and accused of leading a terrorist gang. He spent 20 months on remand but was cleared after a 14-week trial at the Old Bailey  in which he defended himself, helped by leading Left-wing advocates Michael Mansfield, Helena Kennedy and Geoffrey Robertson.

You might wonder who else apart from the BBC would employ a man such as this self-styled activist who admits his fiction is ‘his way to play his part politically’? Two guesses and both are right. Step forward Jeremy Corbyn, who hired him as a researcher, a position which caused a huge security headache and, not surprisingly, a fair whack of controversy. But don’t worry, in case you want to direct him to the nearest food bank, stay your hand. The Guardian also keeps this ‘controversialist’ in business and keeps his measured suggestions flowing. ‘Let’s put May’s grisly new coalition out of its misery as soon as possible’ being a recent highlight of an outpouring of victim propaganda.

No, this no-doubt talented writer is not on the breadline. His focus on violence and his romanticising of terrorism have made him the darling of the liberal luvvies. No doubt, successful and in demand, our film maker, now a reformed fellow who adores British democracy as much as he values the freedom it gives to propagandise what he wants, would never wish to harm innocent people.

However, I put it to the fair-minded readers of News-watch and members of Biased BBC that had he been a man of Right-wing terrorist leanings, no amount of self-analysis and reform would make him fit to be commissioned to write a BBC drama.

Photo by The British Library

There is plenty of good Brexit news, we’re just ignoring it

There is plenty of good Brexit news, we’re just ignoring it

Guest post by Kathy Gyngell. This Article first appeared on the i.

It is difficult to believe something is good or going well when everyone around you tells you it’s not; when you are confronted with an unmitigated diet of negative stories whenever you turn on the TV or open a newspaper.
I am talking about Brexit.
From the current negotiations, doomed of course (all the cards are in the EU hands you see) to any post-Brexit Britain scenario – business, trade, travel or the general economy – the message is the same. It’s all a disaster. In fact, the apocalypse is imminent.
Brexit now threatens even our very safety. One snowflake civil servant, terrified of having his “safe” space violated, reports how “it is proving worse than anyone guessed”.
Is it though?Not if you look behind and beyond the headlines.
Against this relentlessly pessimistic picture of gloom, doom and uncertainty; of plunging economic prospects (untrue); of collapsing of consumer confidence (untrue); of a drying up of investment (untrue); of job freezes (untrue); of skills shortages because of the ending of free movement (untrue); of the inevitable introduction of tariffs; and of impossible renegotiation (untrue), positive news stories have been, and are consistently, under-reported.
When Brexit good news does crack the surface it is routinely skewed too. “Despite Brexit” reporting is an editorial technique that particular newspapers excel at. Should the UK’s economy prove “resilient”, it is despite, never because of, Brexit. If ever there was a case of cognitive dissonance it’s this method of rationalising every failed gloomy prediction.
Yet there was good news from the start. Within weeks Britain experienced an economic boom; the much-needed depreciation of the pound had an immediate impact on exports and set off a tourism bonanza.
Then no less than 27 countries with a combined GDP of more than £40 trillion – over two-thirds of the global economy – were up for taking advantage of Brexit and striking new trade deals with the UK dwarfing the benefits of the EU’s £12 trillion single market.
Nor did British or international companies succumb to the nervous breakdowns expected. Au contraire.
The US tech giant Amazon doubled down on its commitment to the UK, creating hundreds more highly skilled tech jobs. SoftBank committed to substantial new investment; so too did Google with its development plans for huge new London headquarters.
As for the gloom and doom-mongers who thought the City couldn’t survive without the European Investment Bank, there is no shortage of alternative cash for start-ups. In fact, the rigid approach to venture capital typified by the EIF hindered not helped tech investing. The Channel Tunnel operator is far from the only company to be positive about Brexit – its net profit rose 20 per cent to €30m this last year.
And this week we have had the most bullish CBI Survey of UK manufacturing virtually ever. The volume of output is the highest since January 1999, and total order books are the highest since October 1988. Did we see that in headlines across the press yesterday? I don’t think so.
We didn’t hear it because good news stories like this are not just not widely reported – they are often not reported at all.
Only some defy the rule. The German car manufacturer BMW picked Oxford over Germany and Netherlands to build its new electric Mini. A story hard to ignore.
Demands by Germany’s Free Democrat Party for a special “Brexit cabinet” in Berlin, to safeguard the vital interests of their country, hardly got a mention. Yet the growing alarm among industrial and manufacturing companies there at EU attempts to humiliate Britain is good news for us.
Meanwhile, trade talks have started – Japan is seeking an early deal, and Liam Fox has been impressing free trade advocates in Washington this week. The White House has made it clear it is in US interest to make the deal succeed and has said it will.
In fact the current economic picture in the Britain is “a complete vindication of the Brexit vote” as Britain’s leading investor Jim Mellon – the UK’s answer to the US billionaire Warren Buffett – put it.
The outlook is good. Models of countries thriving through their freedom to trade internationally are not to be found in the EU but outside it.
New Zealand’s success story of reform and liberalisation started when Britain joined the EU in 1973. Now it engages in half of world trade in sheep meat and one-third in dairy products. Its supply chains span the globe.
Singapore, the Asian powerhouse, has averaged a GDP Growth Rate of 6.77 per cent since 1975. It is the perfect model of how Britain can survive and thrive outside the European Union’s customs union.
Such success is only possible if we break free from suffocatingly negative and anti-democratic EU and the shackles of its failed economic environment.
Deep structural flaws remain within the euro and in its big regional imbalances. The 19-country currency zone at the heart of the failing EU project only grew by 0.3 per cent in the last quarter, just half the rate of the UK.
The German banking system will need a bailout soon while the Southern European economies are forced to break the EU’s rules to keep their economies afloat. Yet Brussels profligacy continues to know no bounds.
That’s before we even mention an EU immigration crisis of catastrophic proportions, which its appears the EU has no will or ability to control, and which is spilling over to us. If we stay, their problems will be our problems. We will be well out of it and that is very good news.
It’s time to reject the safe space, terminal fear-of-change disease that drives the negative Brexit news machine.

Kathy Gyngell is co-editor of The Conservative Woman

 

 

Photo by Tomek Nacho

Evan Davis cranks up BBC anti-Brexit rhetoric

Evan Davis cranks up BBC anti-Brexit rhetoric

Scenting Tory blood, the BBC cranks up its anti-Brexit propaganda. That was the conclusion I reached at the end of the BBC’s shameless last week of anti—Brexit coverage a year on from the referendum victory. The Tories’ election debacle appeared to have given them carte blanche to revolt.

Now they have declared all-out war. Last night on Newsnight Evan Davis used that time-honoured tactic to justify what is clearly now the BBC’s official stance. He rewrote history – in this case the very recent history of the election result.

In an aggressive and rude interview with David Jones MP – a minister in the Brexit department until the election – Evan Davis asserted as a fact that the ‘Theresa May plan for Brexit’ was one ‘which clearly didn’t grab the population in the election’. How he was party to this knowledge we were to find out.

“I don’t think it was that,” Jones immediately countered, “I think frankly the big issues were other non-Brexit-related issues, most particularly the issue of social care but also one or two other issues too. But I think so far as Brexit is concerned, we are now in the position where 80 per cent of the electorate of this country voted for parties who want to take Britain out of the EU.

To which our insolent BBC apparatchik replied: “Sorry, what planet are you on?

“Loads of swing voters who might have voted Tory voted for Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party because they so detested the Theresa May version of Brexit. Metropolitan, liberal Remainers . . .”

Yes, of course, this was why the swing voters voted for Corbyn!

Quite rightly, Mr Jones retorted: ‘I don’t see how you can …’ but  before he could finish, Evan bulldozed over him: “….We cannot vote for Theresa May because we don’t like her Brexit . . .’ This was his theory of the election result and that was that.

David Jones once more attempted  to question this thesis: “I don’t see how you can possibly read that into the election result – 80 per cent of the population voted for parties that clearly support Brexit.”

No, they didn’t – not at least according to Newsnight’s mind reader: “ … the polls show more people didn’t like her version of Brexit than did like her version of Brexit. You can’t say that anybody who voted Labour was endorsing Theresa May’s Brexit, because they voted for a party . . .”

Mr Jones tried again, once more to be ridden roughshod over.

Davis was not letting go of his cherished theory:  “But hang on, you were saying if somebody voted Labour they were effectively endorsing Theresa May’s Brexit and that is completely untrue isn’t it? They voted Labour as a protest against Theresa May’s Brexit.”

If that is not a fake fact I am not sure what is.

The valiant David Jones had one more go: “Well, I don’t see how you can possibly read that into it”.

And guess what, Evan couldn’t wait to explain to this poor idiot Tory what was going on in the mind of the man on the Clapham omnibus on the way to vote (according the Book of Evan, and the Holy Gospel of the BBC, that is). It was, he avowed:

“Because they thought they’d get a softer Brexit from Labour and potentially stay in the customs union, because they thought it was bonkers to leave it.”

Is that so? How many voters I wonder would have passed a quick test outside the polling booth on exactly what the customs union is?

You have to be quick with your repartee if you are not going to be a lamb for the slaughter on the BBC. By now poor Mr Jones, like a torture victim who manfully keeps repeating his name, rank and serial number, could only respond: “I think that that is a complete misreading of the election if I may say so”.

It was, of course. But that didn’t stop Evan triumphantly snarling: “Do you accept polls that show more people believe that Theresa May’s Brexit should be amended than support it?”

The much tried Tory didn’t contradict him. A pity. The polls show no such thing.

What one showed with quite crystal clarity on the eve of the election was nine out of 10 people rejected the idea that this was a “Brexit election” at all – insisting that it should also be about public services. A poll for The Independent showed quite simply they did not believe her. They saw the election as being about public services. This, not Brexit, was uppermost in their minds. It was, of course, the ground Mr Corbyn’s Labour fought on and what dominated the public debate – certainly from the ‘dementia tax’ cock-up onwards.

Evan Davis’s interpretation of the election was bizarre. In contrast to his assertions about a lack of support for Mrs May’s Brexit plan, eve of election polling showed that the Conservatives had a strong lead when people were asked which party has the best policy on Brexit – 47 per cent named the Tories against only 19 per cent naming Labour, and of Labour voters one in five thought the Tories had the best approach to Brexit.

I must say I am looking forward now to Evan’s creative take on the rejection of Chuka Umuna’s Remoaner amendment to stay in the single market and customs union in Parliament yesterday – by 322 votes which included the Labour leadership and the majority of Labour MPs.

I can’t imagine he will he let the truth get in the way of a good story. Especially when that story supposedly justifies an all-out BBC assault on the Brexit process over the next 19 months.

 

Transcript of BBC2 Newsnight, 28 June 2017, Interview with David Jones, 10.41pm

EVAN DAVIS:         Well, I’m joined now by Conservative MP David Jones, who was, until very recently, the Minister of State for Exiting the EU. A very good evening to you. How long do you give Theresa May?

DAVID JONES:       Well, I think we have to acknowledge that it was a difficult election campaign, we didn’t do as well as we wanted to. But I think that most Members of Parliament were very impressed by what she did immediately afterwards. She came to the 1922 Committee, she acknowledged that there had been mistakes, she put her hands up to it, and she got a great deal of support from everybody who was present in the room. And I think that slowly but surely, she is building up her credibility with the party and I think that she’s got quite a long time ahead of her.

ED:           It’s interesting you say she’s building up her credibility, because today, the first vote in Parliament, so it was a vote on a Labour amendment to get rid of the public sector 1% pay cap. You stuck with the vote, you voted against the Labour amendment, the morning briefings were you were going to get rid of the cap, despite voting against the Labour amendment, this afternoon retreated on the change on policy. It was like complete confusion. Can the next 1722 days of this Parliament carry on like that?

DJ:            Well, I have to acknowledge that today was not one of the best days. But nevertheless, looking at what has happened over the last two weeks, I have seen Theresa May stabilising the ship, and I think . . .

ED:           (interrupting) Sorry, stabilising the ship? Since the election, which was a disaster, Grenfell – she’s had to apologise to the nation for the reaction to that. And she’s . . . we’ve had today, a complete confusion over policy?

DJ:            It has been a very difficult time, I don’t deny that.

ED:           But you said she’s building up her credibility rather than burning through her credibility.

DJ:            Yes, well yes I do, because quite frankly, at the end of the election campaign, that credibility was very low, in fact, the entire party’s credibility was very low. But nevertheless I don’t detect any appetite within the Parliamentary party to see her go.

ED:           Would you describe your old department, DExEU, the department you were dropped from, would you describe that as chaos?

DJ:            No, I wouldn’t. I would actually say that DExEU is an extremely effective department, I think that it’s got an extremely strong team of officials and I think they’re very well prepared for the negotiations.

ED:           But you were dropped and another one resigned about five days before the negotiations started, that’s madness isn’t it?

DJ:            Well, I’m not second-guessing why the Prime Minister decided to . . .

ED:           Well, why do you think she dropped you? Why did she drop you?

DJ:            I just said, I’m not second-guessing why the Prime Minister decided to dispense of my services. Any politician who takes a ministerial role knows that from the moment he is appointed he is that much closer to leaving.

ED:           Hang on, we basically five days before the negotiations started, we lost two of the people in the department who were going to be doing the negotiating. We had to bring in two new people who had five days’ notice to get ready to meet Monsieur Barnier.

DJ:            Two very competent people who I think will do an extremely good job, but most importantly backed up by an extremely strong team of officials and led by the very competent David Davis.

ED:           It’s all going so well, on your account, do you think David Davis and Philip Hammond can both stay in post for the next two years and agree something between them on . . .

DJ:            Yes, I do. And in fact, quite contrary to the reports in today’s newspapers, they actually work very closely indeed, they have regular meetings and discussions. I think that today’s reports have been overblown and I think that it’s essentially a difference of emphasis. But I think that actually they’re working extremely closely and very effectively together.

ED:           What is the difference of emphasis do you think between them?

DJ:            Well, I mean, this morning for example, there was the suggestion that Philip Hammond wanted us to remain in the customs union and David Davis saying not. But in fact . . .

ED:           (laughs) That’s not . . . that’s not an emphasis!

DJ:            Well it is, because in fact both David Davis and Philip Hammond are agreed that we will have to be out of both the customs union and the single market by the end of this Parliament, in five years’ time.

ED:           But what’s interesting is, because even though you were dropped from the government, you are behaving, if I may say, and this is not being, being rude, you’re behaving in a very loyal way, you clearly think Theresa May should stick it out for quite a while, you’re basically with the party on all of this. In a way it seems like the leadership issue has become a proxy for the Brexit issue. It’s interesting listening to Nicky Morgan thinking, well, the clock’s ticking on Theresa May and Jacob Rees-Mogg in that piece saying, no, she is the right person to steer us through. Is this the case now Brexiteers are putting their faith in Theresa May, soft Brexiteers or Remainers are saying maybe we need to get rid of her and we can get something moving on (words unclear due to speaking over)

DJ:            (speaking over) I think there is no doubt that Brexit is going to be the defining issue of this Parliament and of course, we’ve only got a very limited timetable to work through: we’ve got one year and nine months. And so really, what we can’t afford is the indulgence of talking about alternative leaders, or putting in place somebody else, for someone who actually I think will do a very good job and will lead the country through these negotiations very effectively.

ED:           Well, you’re making my point, the Brexiteers clearly have more faith in Theresa May than anyone else. But you say, you know, ‘this is no time for indulgence’ but it is surely the time for people to discuss and express their concern over the Theresa May plan for Brexit which clearly didn’t grab the population in the election.

DJ:            I don’t think it was that, I think frankly the big issues were other non-Brexit-related issues, I think most particularly the issue of social care but also one or two other issues too. But I think so far as Brexit is concerned, we are now in the position where 80% of the electorate of this country voted for parties who want to take Britain out of the EU.

ED:           Sorry, what planet are you on? Loads of swing voters who might have voted Tory voted for Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party because they so detested the Theresa May version of Brexit. Metropolitan, liberal Remainers . . .

DJ:            I don’t see how you can . . .

ED:           . . . said ‘We cannot vote for Theresa May because we don’t like her Brexit . . .’

DJ:            (speaking over) I don’t see how you can possibly read that into the election result.

ED:           Well, the polls show, and I know we don’t put a huge amount of weight on polls, but the polls show more people didn’t like her version of Brexit than did like her version of Brexit. You can’t say that anybody who voted Labour was endorsing Theresa May’s Brexit, because they voted for a party . . .

DJ:            Brexit, actually, to coin a phrase, does mean Brexit. We have already set ourselves on the course for leaving the European Union.

ED:           But hang on, you were saying if somebody voted Labour they were effectively endorsing Theresa May’s Brexit and that is completely untrue isn’t it? They voted Labour as a protest against Theresa May’s Brexit.

DJ:            Well, I don’t see how you can possibly read that into it.

ED:           Because they thought they’d get a softer Brexit from Labour and potentially stay in the customs union, because they thought it was bonkers to leave it.

DJ:            I think that that is a complete misreading of the election if I may say so.

ED:           Do you accept polls that show more people believe that Theresa May’s Brexit should be amended than support it?

DJ:            Look, Theresa May’s Brexit is absolutely clear and that is to leave the European Union but to seek the best possible relationship with the European Union in terms of a free trade agreement and in terms, of course, of access to the single market.

ED:           (speaking over) Why not have a free vote on it? All those MPs have been honest about their views on the situation in the election, we’ve just had an election, they (words unclear due to speaking over) voted, post referendum . . .

DJ:            (speaking over) We’ve had the vote already.

ED:           Well, then let the MPs vote on which Brexit they want.

DJ:            Forgive me, but we’ve already agreed and decided to leave the European Union, we . . .

ED:           (interrupting) And there are multiple ways of leaving the European Union, it doesn’t have to be the way you want to do it.

DJ:            The ways of leaving the European Union are specified in Article 50, and that’s the process we are going through at the moment.

ED:           Are you saying, sorry, this is really important, are you saying there is literally only one way of leaving the European Union, there are no choices whatsoever in that at all?

DJ:            The choice has already been made, we’ve served the notice under Article 50 . . .

ED:           (speaking over) Yes . . .

DJ:            . . . and we are therefore on our way out of the European Union. What we’re now doing is attempting to seek the best possible relationship with the European Union after we have left. And I think that is something that is shared by members of parties on both sides of the House.

ED:           David Jones, thank you very much.

Kathy Gyngell: Farage is no racist despite ITV’s bid to load the dice against him

Kathy Gyngell: Farage is no racist despite ITV’s bid to load the dice against him

Tuesday night’s ITV ‘debate’ was not just a travesty of this term – you could hardly called this pre-planned, separate tables, Q&A format a debate – it was also a case of helping mud stick with a supposedly impartial broadcaster applying the brush. Nigel Farage may be an old fashioned beer drinking and fag smoking bloke but that hardly makes him a racist.  He may wear clothes more suited to the golf course than Westminster, but neither does that make him a racist.

I imagine he is the first to spot a racist when he sees one. Anyone who’s taken the trouble to read the Ford and Goodwin’s fact-packed account, Revolt on the Right, of the rise of Ukip under Nigel Farage’s tutelage knows that his slate is clean. Far from finding examples of racism, these two left-leaning sociologists uncovered a history of Ukip leadership fighting it and on constant guard against entryism.

None of this stopped  Britain’s mainstream media from going into overdrive a few days ago, accusing Farage of scaremongering for the crime of citing recently released German crime statistics – including sexual offences – which demonstrated  that  migrants are  ‘over represented’. It wasn’t playing cricket, they judged, to warn the British public of the price Sweden and Germany is already paying for uncontrolled male economic migrants from different cultures. Unpalatable truths, it seems, become racist over night, and certainly when Archbishop Welby takes a hand and adds his moral authority to this hypocrisy and sanitising of the truth.

Here in the ITV studio stood a man already condemned as a racist by the ‘tricoteur’ hierarchy of the press  and the Cof E – without resort to trial or jury. And it was inevitable that Farage’s questioning would be more  hostile  than Cameron’s – evenThe Guardian conceded that. So it behove presenter Julie Etchingham, all the more, to be even handed; to allow the already condemned man time  to counter accusations of “inflammatory” scaremongering and racism  – the worst crimes (apart from paedophilia)  you can be accused of today.

She was not and she did not;  she curtailed his defence by pandering to the questioners angry and prejudiced interruptions. ‘Calm down’, Nigel appealed to one of them. Julie leapt, not to Nigel’s but to the questioner’s defence.  The question was stated calmly, she said. No, Julie it was only so in tone. The content was far from calm – it was of itself inflammatory.

Predictably, neither the studio audience nor the commentators afterwards were pressed to explore or deny the facts on which Archbishop’s Welby’s and the audience’s accusations rested. On the ITV news programme that followed, what did we get as a result but the whole debate again – over whether Nigel Farage is a racist or not? There was still no reference to the undeniable evidence of Cologne or why politicians of both parties are so keen to buy into this demonisation of Farage. His accusers should have been challenged on the threat to the morally defunct and out of touch leaderships of both Tory and Labour parties posed by the rise of radicalism and nationalism inspired by the Ukip leader.

You can plant a thought in people’s minds, bed it down with some discussion with eager fellow travellers, then nurture it by interviews with so called ‘ordinary’ members of the public, one of whom gave the game away by referring to Mr Farage as such and the Prime Minister as ‘David’. That in a nutshell is what ITV did with this debate. Mr Farage has to be congratulated on his measured handling of it.

Predictably too the Twitterati verdict deemed Nigel’s interactions with two of the women who questioned him as unattractive and patronising. I thought these rather good adjectives better applied to Mr Cameron, who seemed to me to be p…ing on all of us.

 

Kathy Gyngell is co-founder of News-watch and co-editor of The Conservative Woman, where this article was first published.

Kathy Gyngell: How would the BBC cope if it didn’t have Hezza to fuel Tory Europe splits?

Kathy Gyngell: How would the BBC cope if it didn’t have Hezza to fuel Tory Europe splits?

The BBC’s approach to EU coverage is pretty much on the lines of a word association game.

EU – Conservative Party – split – europhiles – Michael Heseltine – Ken Clarke – reasonable – superior –  prime time. 

Eurosceptics – extreme – xenophobic – inferior – marginalise – diss – interrupt.

Labour  – unified – no story – splits –  never – Tony Benn – past – irrelevant.

That is how it was in 1999 when I started on a BBC/ EU coverage monitoring and transcribing project with David Keighley for Global Britain.  And that is how it still is today.

Yesterday, in fact, on Sunday morning, it was back to the future with Andrew Marr (about 20 minutes in to the programme for anyone who can be bothered to watch):

When it comes to the great Conservative Party debate over Europe,” Marr assured us, “there is nobody who knows the territory better than Lord Heseltine.”

For those of you too young to have been wearied by the tedious and pompous pontifications of this particular peer on the BBC over the years, Lord Heseltine was Deputy Prime Minister under John Major in the 1990s. He retired from his seat and has not been active in politics since 2001. Not that that has diluted his incestuous relationship with the BBC.

They love him because he is an unreconstructed Europhile.

Despite the old boy looking a shadow of his former self, Mr Andrew Deference Marr did his best to big him up:

“He confronted Margaret Thatcher in the 1980s; he stood at John Major’s side in the 1990s and he’s continued vigorously to make the case for Britain to be at the heart of the EU.”

This latter point was, of course, being entirely thanks to the BBC for the permanent platform they’ve offered him for the last 14 years – not mentioned I might add.

Marr then encouraged the old dinosaur to witter on for 6 minutes until he produced the line he was looking for – for the end of programme news headline:

‘Lord Heseltine told this programme that David Cameron was right to tackle the issue of immigration (Is he tackling it? Ed) but he had a warning for the Conservatives: “It is very complex … he (Mr Cameron) is more likely to be successful if the people he’s negotiating with feel he has he backing of the party that he leads.”

The only conceivable reason for having him on – since he is not active in politics any more – is when he can be used to highlight ‘Tory splits’.

One thing those canny BBC news producers can rely on is that he will diss whatever the Eurosceptics are currently doing.

No surprise then that nothing that former Cabinet Minister Owen Paterson – who appeared later in the programme – could say was going to make the headlines – however strong his critique of Britain’s current relationship with the EU. Not even his revelation that Britain, still a great global trading nation, is now represented in world trade councils via the EU by a female former psychiatric nurse from Sweden – no doubt a great expert on trade – demonstrating just how much power over our own affairs we have ceded.

It gets worse. Not content with digging Lord H out of the woodwork the BBC ignored Kate Hoey’s incendiary article in the Mail on Sunday – incendiary for the Labour Party that is – on her Brexit advocacy and on her searing critique of the Labour leadership candidates’ failure to understand why the party lost votes to Ukip.

Was she on Andrew Marr’s sofa? Of course not. Just an obscure SNP MP John Nicholson and Marr’s favourite liberal leftie, self-regarding Shami Chakrabarti.

But then, according to the BBC, the Labour Party is never split on Europe. How convenient since that means it cannot be newsworthy that Kate has criticised Labour for being so pro-EU that its sceptical members aren’t taken seriously.

Yet Kate is one of about 20-30 Labour MPs who want to exit the EU, along with prominent Labour donor John Mills. Yet another prominent Labour eurosceptic the BBC chose to ignore is Kelvin Hopkins, MP for Luton and former Nalgo official, who was on the EU Scrutiny Committee.

The BBC rarely, if ever, talks to Labour Eurosceptics – in the past or currently. News-watch, who have conducted consistent monitoring of the BBC’s Today output for the last 15 years, told the EU Scrutiny Committee recently that across all the programmes they had surveyed only one in 1,400 speakers on EU affairs was a Labour withdrawalist.

Over the May general election, the only speaker on Today representing  a leftist/socialist  withdrawal position was one Ken Capstick from the Socialist Labour Party (the rump of Arthur Scargill’s operation). The exchange with him lasted an entire 15 seconds

Of course the 20-30 Labour ‘dissenters’ does not compare with the 100+ in the Conservative party, but this does not justify the BBC treating the Labour Party as if it is in complete unison when it is not.

Kate Hoey’s article was significant by any standards because it’s the first time she has gone so prominently on the front foot. Nor will you get any enlightenment on this from BBC website.  On Sunday, there was (of course) a story on Labour going strongly pro-EU on the referendum, but nothing about Kate Hoey.

Plus ca change….

 

This article first appeared on The Conservative Woman

Photo by JULIAN MASON

Kathy  Gyngell: In the BBC’s Alice in Wonderland world, criticism by MPs compromises its impartiality

Kathy Gyngell: In the BBC’s Alice in Wonderland world, criticism by MPs compromises its impartiality

Biased Today, biased yesterday and biased tomorrow,  the BBC  has much to answer for over its uncritical and inadequate EU coverage.

More than any other news outlet the BBC shapes and moulds public opinion. Over the years, it has inspired an unwarranted public confidence in the EU. It has been responsible for conveying a sense of the inevitability and necessity of British membership

Had it not so determinedly stuck to its view that the EU was ‘a good thing’,  a fact of life that anyone in their right mind should accept,  Britain might not be in the mess it’s in today.  We might not have uncontrolled immigration; we might be able to deport who we want when we want; and we might still have a vibrant fishing industry. That’s just three of the many areas over which we have lost national authority at great cost.

The  House of Commons all-party EU Scrutiny Committee’s report, published yesterday, which accuses  the BBC of ‘falling down severely’ in its obligation to provide impartial coverage of the EU, raises these questions.

Its findings confirm what many of us have been arguing for years – that BBC coverage of EU matters is deplorable, that it has a ‘concerning’ pro-EU bias, and that Eurosceptics have been given inadequate airtime.  Specifically the MPs criticise Lord Hall for failing in his role as the BBC’s editor-in chief .

All this rings a profound bell with me, just as does the arrogance of the BBC’s response.  The crux of it is that the BBC cannot be criticised because (in their perverse world) any criticism by MPs (however valid it may be) constitutes a breach of the Corporation’s independence. It can’t be seen to follow MPs criticism – no, not even if it is right.

I wonder which Propaganda (sorry Press) Officer there dreamed this excuse up as he pondered the embargoed document before publication? I know that nothing should surprise me but I am amazed that Lord Hall signed off such a response for release. Perhaps for this particular editor-in-chief,  intent and belief are adequate substitutes for whatever is actually broadcast.  During his appearance before the Committee, his claim that the desire for balanced output “ran deep” within the BBC and that he believed that this was being achieved now, sounded like weasel words.  It isn’t being achieved.

This is far from the first time that the BBC has stonewalled criticism about its EU coverage.  I have in my files copies of an ongoing correspondence with Helen Boaden, the then Controller of Radio Four, back in the early 2000s. Like today’s BBC spokesperson, her response that the Corporation provided extensive and impartial coverage of European and Parliamentary issues was (or should be, she thought) sufficient unto the day.

Boaden refused to consider the consistently logged, timed, comprehensive transcript evidence and analysis,  that we (Minotaur Media Tracking) sent her, as evidence.  In her thinking no external monitoring of BBC output could or would ever constitute evidence – however objective or impartial – because the BBC editorial process meant that the BBC was always impartial – and therefore above criticism. It’s surprising to find she has a degree in English literature;  the concept of tautology could not have featured in her studies.

Despite Lord Wilson’s subsequent critical report, despite the cumulative log of evidence of BBC bias by News-watch, despite the fact that this is far from the first time that the BBC has been called to account, the BBC never wavers in it pre-programmed ‘Boaden’-style response. It refuses to harbour any self doubt – not a smidgeon.

Lord Hall has taken a leaf out of Ms Boaden’s book. “As Lord Hall told the committee, we are and will be impartial in all matters concerning our coverage,” the BBC spokesman said.

James Harding, the BBC’s Director of News and `Current Affairs, was not backward in going on the offensive either. His ‘Aunt Sally’ was that if the public was going to trust the BBC to report on politicians impartially it had to be clear that BBC journalists weren’t “asked by politicians to come and account for what they do and in effect do the bidding of those politicians”.

True to form the Today programme thought there was nothing to defend either.

In its own inimitable way yesterday morning’s edition of Today devoted 8 minutes to a Mark Knopfler record plug but nothing to the EU Scutiny Committee’s report that just happened to criticise the BBC on a subject of fundamental importance to every British citizen!

This article first appeared on The Conservative Woman

Photo by John Christian Fjellestad

Kathy Gyngell: We need a road map on how to quit the EU. Don’t expect head-in-the-sand BBC to help

Kathy Gyngell: We need a road map on how to quit the EU. Don’t expect head-in-the-sand BBC to help

Photo by CJS*64 A man with a camera

Why was I not at all surprised to read of the huge shortfall in EU spending of £259 billion pounds? Yes, the one to which, all of a sudden, Britain will be expected to contribute to some £34 billion?

I am talking about that hole in the EU budget that the BBC has kept the British public so abreast of, the one it made sure we all knew about prior to the EU elections.

Of course the BBC did no such thing. It has never fulfilled its mission to ‘inform and educate’ us about our progressive capture by and capitulation to the EU’s changing agenda since we joined, let alone how it spent our taxes.

The BBC’s output from day one has never reflected the importance of the EU in ordinary Britons’ lives – how it spends their money.  I know.  This is what the consistent and painstaking monitoring of its output by News-watch, the BBC bias monitoring website, since 1999 has demonstrated. The unsurprisingly low turnout for the 1999 European election was described sneeringly by Jeremy Paxman as an ‘outbreak of narcolepsy’. And whose fault was that?

The BBC’s lack of interest persisted through important summits as well as the process of creating the new EU constitution.

Awareness of the the EU’s catastrophic finances has been a long time coming.  Yet the evidence that all in the garden was far from rosy was there back in 2001.  Then the EU’s former chief accountant Marta Andreasen refused to sign off the 2001 European Commission accounts for good reason; she said its accounting system was open to fraud.

Her criticisms ignored, Andreasen went public with her concerns only to be sacked for her pains (she was suspended from her job by the Commission for “violating Articles 12 and 21 of staff regulations, failure to show sufficient loyalty and respect”).

Yet, despite her stand, few people in the UK were made aware of this financial catastrophe in the making; not least because of the BBC’s bias and negligence in its reporting of all matters EU.

They kept the British public in the dark by virtue of that BBC default – bias by omission.

You can either put their indifference down to their being part of a liberal metropolitan conspiracy whose main concern was to avoid reporting the encroaching powers of Europe.  Heaven forfend that they should thereby antagonise the public and made them more Eurosceptic than already.

Or you can accept the BBC’s own excuse (on the rare occasions that they have ‘fessed up’) that much of what takes place in Brussels and Strasbourg is complex and boring and the British public don’t want to know – the lazy excuse of an organisation that had weakened its own raison d’etre by its continuous dumbing down, as the Daily Mail’s Stephen Glover once put it.

You might have thought that the rise and rise of UKip and Nigel Farage would have forced a reconsideration of the BBC’s  approach to EU coverage.  But no,  the BBC continued to forgive all EU failings in the name of that higher cause  – “Europe – the European idea”; the one that European Council President Herman van Rompuy and his predecessors, all the way back to Jean Monnet, adhere to.

Despite the fact that the demand for an EU exit  is now political mainstream – made all the more so by the former Cabinet Minister Owen Paterson’s speech on Monday – the BBC’s coverage remains not just resolutely negative but totally inadequate.  Worse it has continued to smear and sideline Ukip’s best efforts to raise the issue of our membership.

This I believe is why, before Owen Paterson raised it,  there was never any discussion on the BBC of David Cameron’s option of serving notice on the EU – that of invoking Article 50 of the EU’s governing treaties.

Correct me if I am wrong, but my guess is that apart from the Sunday Telegraph’s Christopher Booker, forensic Brussels expert Richard North and Tory MEP Dan Hannan,  few  people in the British Isles would have known this was an option – let alone a strategy.

Whose fault is that?

The Sun thinks we can do without the EU; Ukip’s defiance has changed the game plan. When, if ever, will the BBC catch on?

Yes, I know, Cameron’s promised referendum hangs in the balance of the next election but the pressure to quit the EU is not about to diminish any time soon.

After reading the Telegraph’s headlines this morning, a whole load more people must have been thinking, like me: ‘Wouldn’t it be better to be out before the bill lands on the mat.”?

Ukip, one way or another, may force a referendum sooner rather than later, leaving us with the question of how we are to get out.

Yet, despite Mr Paterson, no one in the BBC is addressing it – anymore that they addressed the EU’s financial black hole.

Have  you heard any discussion of this?  How we get out – outside the hallowed realms of right wing think-tanks?  Certainly nothing serious on the BBC.

Yet, how we do it matters a lot for our future trading prosperity. Never more was there something that we need to get right.

So, since there is no way we can rely on the BBC to inform us, I plan to make my best effort to get an informed debate going – here on TCW.

Soon, I will blog on a lunch-time discussion I attended at the Centre for Policy Studies led by Dan Hannan and founder of the Trade Policy Research Centre Ronald Stewart Brown. It certainly opened my eyes to the question of whether we would be best to negotiate some form of free trade association with the EU or negotiate to stay in a ‘customs union’ on a new intergovernmental basis.

It may sound arcane. It is actually vital that we get it right.

Kathy Gyngell is co-founder of News-watch and co-editor of The Conservative Woman, where this article was first published.