BBC Bias

News-watch Referendum survey of Radio 1 Newsbeat finds strong BBC bias towards ‘Remain’

News-watch Referendum survey of Radio 1 Newsbeat finds strong BBC bias towards ‘Remain’

During the EU referendum, the BBC adopted special editorial guidelines which required strict even-handed treatment of the Leave and Remain cases.

News-watch has now completed a rigorous academic survey which shows conclusively that these guidelines were effectively ignored. There was heavy bias towards the Remain side in BBC Radio 1’s Newsbeat, a flagship news programme which reaches millions of the under 30s.

A summary of the findings is below and the full report is here. The key points include that audiences were 1.5 times more likely to hear Remain opinions and speakers, alleged ‘fact checking’ by the programme which favoured the Remain side, and feature reports that were heavily skewed towards Remain arguments, especially with regard to immigration.

A disturbing implication of the survey is that – as the BBC refused to put in place rigorous bias checks – there is a high likelihood that other elements of the output were similarly skewed.

News-watch analysis found during the referendum build-up and campaign numerous examples of bias covering the flagship news and EU-related programmes on Radio 4, BBC1 and BBC2.

  • Newsbeat devoted only 10.7% of its available airtime to the referendum, and 83% of this coverage was in the three weeks immediately before June 23. Many issues particularly affecting young voters were ignored. There was a narrow editorial focus on immigration and the economy. Important topics, such as national sovereignty, the workings of the EU, travel and residence in the EU, and the impact on universities were only very briefly mentioned. This was thus major ‘bias by omission’ and an over-simplification of the issues involved. The BBC news programme with the biggest audience of young people between the ages of 18 and 25 did not explore the referendum sufficiently to meet the BBC Public Purposes requirements.
  • Newsbeat audiences were 1.5 times more likely to encounter a Remain supporter than a Leave supporter. 238 guest speakers contributed to the various discussions on the referendum. The analysis shows that 45% spoke in favour of Remain, 30% in favour of Leave, with a further 25% giving a neutral, undecided or factual perspective.
  • In 38 Newsbeat reports with guest speakers, 19 (50%), showed a speaker weighting in favour of Remain. Only five similarly favoured ‘leave’. Fourteen had even numbers of speakers. This demonstrates a severe imbalance in favour of Remain.
  • Politicians supporting Remain outnumbered those wanting Leave by 47 to 34. In terms of the number of words spoken by politicians, Remain supporters received 64% of the airtime, compared to 36% for Leave – a ratio of approximately 2:1.
  • There was a much greater breadth of opinion in Remain contributions – they came from Conservatives, Labour, the Liberal Democrats and Green Party. Conversely, the Leave side featured only Conservatives and UKIP. There were no Leave contributions from the Labour party or wider Left. There was no input at all from the nationalist parties in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
  • Just over half the contributors were ‘ordinary’ people – vox pop interviewees, members of the public or Newsbeat listeners. On occasions, the programme appeared proud of its ‘anti-politician’ stance, portraying the debate as ‘a playground argument’ and promising in one edition that there would be ‘no boring EU experts’. This trivialised the debate.
  • Throughout, Newsbeat found ways editorially of enhancing or even amplifying the views supporting Remain, and they did not subject such views and alleged related facts to due rigour.
  • Conversely, opinions and alleged facts in favour of Leave were robustly scrutinised, made to look ignorant or contradictory, xenophobic or unfounded (Section 2.4). The most striking example of this was that the Leave claim that EU membership cost the UK £350 million a week was categorically said to be untrue, whereas, George Osborne’s estimation that Brexit would cost each household £4,300 annually was subjected to far less scrutiny.
  • In an immigration special from Wisbech, significantly more prominence was given to views favouring EU immigration, and the ‘fact checking’ sequence was similarly skewed about the economic contribution of EU incomers.
  • A special report from Berlin promoted heavily the role of the EU, over-emphasised its role in creating ‘peace’, featured young expats who strongly agreed with free movement of people, and contained unqualified warnings that Brexit would result in damage to the UK car industry.
  • Overall, Newsbeat presented ‘Fact check’ assessments that were tendentious and imbalanced. It was said without qualification that immigrants contribute more cash to the UK than they received in benefits, when this is disputed. In addition, the impact on the UK of current levels of immigration was minimised.
  • Opponents of current levels of immigration were cast as xenophobic and inward-looking, whereas the comment from those who approved of immigration were made to appear outward-looking, open and broad-minded.
  • Newsbeat attacked editorially the over-presence of ‘experts’ in the EU debate and suggested their contribution was ‘boring’. Their appearances were limited to a handful. That meant conversely that by a large margin, most contributions came from members of the public and politicians.
  • Newsbeat sought strongly to encourage its young audience to register to vote. Was this in the light of the perceived wisdom that young people were more likely to vote Remain?
  • There were several occasions when the Remain case was put by contributors in the strongest possible light, whereas equivalent Leave contributions were edited to be more qualified, less convincing and less robust.
  • Also on this theme, alleged benefits of remaining in the EU were clearly identified in some items, for example, visa-free travel, or ‘very cheap travel’, but there was much more limited mention of the perceived advantages of Brexit. A Newsbeat presenter specifically said that one possible benefit – reduced immigration – might not be guaranteed by departure.

Photo by Fey Ilyas

Humphrys told Farage that Brexit is ‘literally unthinkable’

Humphrys told Farage that Brexit is ‘literally unthinkable’

Back in August, in the backwash of the referendum result, News-watch issued a challenge (during an off-the-record lunch) to a very senior executive of the Corporation: for the BBC to make a programme that properly celebrated Nigel Farage’s achievements as a politician.

The answer? None, directly, so far, but a few days later the Corporation announced the commissioning of Nigel Farage Gets His Life Back, described as a ‘sharp satire’ about the then ex-Ukip leader readjusting to his former life.

It was produced at great speed, broadcast on BBC2 at the weekend, and is now available on the BBC iplayer.

How was it?   A full review of the whole sorry car crash can be read here.

In summary, an alleged ‘satire’ that was not remotely funny. It showed that, without doubt, the comrades at the BBC think the man who many believe was a decisive influence in securing the Brexit vote is a racist, vacuous, inept, unfunny pub bore.

This was called ‘satire’ but in reality was the equivalent of taking gurning pot-shots at the disabled.  And it was exactly in line with how the BBC have been treating Farage ever since he rose to national prominence in the late 1990s as the then 30-something chairman of Ukip.

Proof of the stereotyping of Farage – together with the Corporation’s unwavering adherence to the importance of Brussels – can be found in the News-watch archives. A short interview from back in 1999 illustrates this perfectly, so much so that it deserves a re-airing.

The underlying approach undoubtedly also throws light on why the BBC continues to treat the referendum result with bewildered, indignant disbelief.

In 18 years, the Corporation has not changed its reverence for the Brussels machine one iota.  Farage said he simply wanted his country back on an amicable basis, and free trade; Humphrys’ stance was that this was ‘literally unthinkable’.

The exchange took place on May 20, 1999 in the build-up to the June 10 European Union Parliamentary elections. It was the only interview in the entire campaign by the BBC at national level of anyone from Ukip – even though the party went on to achieve its first electoral breakthrough with 7.7 per cent of the national poll (700,000 votes) and three seats.

The full transcript is included below.  In summary, Humphrys did everything he could to attack the credibility of Ukip and asked nothing about the thinking behind the need for withdrawal.

His opening gambit was to observe that it was ‘funny’ (peculiar) and ’puzzling’ that Ukip was contesting seats in the European Parliament when it wanted to withdraw from the EU.

Humphrys then strongly challenged Farage’s assertion that opinion polls supported Ukip because they showed that up to 50% of the UK population wanted to leave the EU; contended that the party, if it did win seats, would simply jump on the Brussels ’gravy train’; and then asked if Farage was worried that a big supporter of the party was the British National Party, because of a positive article in their magazine Spearhead.

In the opening sequence, Humphrys thus put firmly on the agenda Ukip’s credibility, and bracketed the party with racism and venality. Next came the BBC’s unwavering belief that leaving the EU, and Farage’s hope of ‘getting his country back’ was cloud cuckoo land. Indeed, it was ‘literally unthinkable’.

The sequence dealing with this has to be seen in full to be believed. Humphrys said:

…but of course it can’t happen can it?  I mean the fact is that we are tied by innumerable treaties and it is literally unthinkable isn’t it?

Nigel Farage: No its not unthinkable – you may think its unthinkable but a growing number…

John Humphrys: (interrupting) … well I think in legal terms you know the turmoil that would be created is just, well it’s just extraordinary… (voice tails off) turmoil

Nigel Farage: (interrupting) I don’t think any turmoil would be created. Look, we’ve got countries like Norway, countries like Switzerland…(they) trade quite happily with France and Italy without being members of the European Union. All I am saying is that we want to divorce ourselves amicably from the whole process of the European Union and go back to the free trading agreement that the British people thought it was going to be in the first place.

Humphrys, clearly now lost in the fog of his own disbelief, finished by observing caustically that even if Farage did win a seat ‘he’d be there for a very short time’.

Back to the present, others are planning to honour Farage with a glitzy tribute event in central London next week. The BBC may not be prepared to do justice to Farage by examining his political achievements – but others are.

 

TRANSCRIPT:

John Humphrys: The UK Independence Party is launching its manifesto for the European elections today. The only one saying that Britain should withdraw from Europe entirely. The party Chairman is Nigel Farage. Good morning to you.

Nigel Farage: Good morning

John Humphrys: The thing that puzzles me about this is that you want to get us out of Europe altogether but you are standing for the European parliament and you will take seats if you win any in the European parliament – well that’s a bit funny isn’t it?

Nigel Farage: Yes, we will take seats in that Parliament and we will link arms with the other moderate groups from the other European countries who feel exactly the same as we do, and we will go there and we will find out what information we can about what is going on. We will expose further the frauds and corruption that are taking place within the EU. We will bring that back to this country and when we have elected representatives we will have a voice in the media. At the moment we’ve got 50% of the country that agrees with the UK Independence Party’s point of view …

John Humphrys: Oh, well come on – if that was the case you’d have had an awful lot of votes last time around wouldn’t you?

Nigel Farage: Well no, I’m afraid that’s not the case. I mean, 46% of people in recent MORI polls said they wanted to leave the EU immediately. Now, it takes time for political parties to get credibility and it’s taken the UKIP several years to get to this position.

John Humphrys: And once you’ve got a chance to get it – you will, as your former leader said, jump on the gravy train…

Nigel Farage: No, that is not the case at all – every one of our candidates has signed a declaration that they will take only genuine expenses allowances. All of that will have to be receipted and we will put our expenses up for annual inspection by producing an audit – excess expenses that we have,and there will be excess expenses because they will force us to take money that we don’t really need – will all be given to a fund which we are going to establish to help the legal expenses of victims of the European Union.

John Humphrys: Does it worry you that you have been singled out for praise – you particularly, incidentally – by the British National Party in their newsletter, Spearhead?

Nigel Farage: Well, I haven’t read the BNP newsletter Spearhead and all I would say about that is that we have no links or associations with the BNP whatsoever. We are an alliance of people from the right, from the centre and from the left – all we want is our country back.

John Humphrys: But of course it can’t happen can it – I mean the fact is that we are tied by innumerable treaties and it is literally unthinkable isn’t it?

Nigel Farage: No its not unthinkable – you may think its unthinkable but a growing number…

John Humphrys: Interrupts well I think in legal terms you know the turmoil that would be created is just, well its just extraordinary… (voice tails off) turmoil –

Nigel Farage: I don’t think any turmoil would be created look we’ve got countries like Norway, countries like Switzerland…they trade quite happily with France and Italy without being members of the European Union. All I am saying is that we want to divorce ourselves amicably from the whole process of the European Union and go back to the free trading agreement that the British people thought it was going to be in the first place.

John Humphrys: (seemingly sarcastic) So if you won a seat you’d only be in it for a very short time would you?

Nigel Farage: Hopefully, it will be the shortest job that I have ever had in my life – hopefully we will be so successful we’ll hasten the day at which Britain does leave the European Union

John Humphrys: Nigel Farage thanks very much.

Photo by Euro Realist Newsletter

BBC Radio 4 Brexit Collection: strong bias against leaving the EU

BBC Radio 4 Brexit Collection: strong bias against leaving the EU

The Brexit Collection is a selection of 31 programmes and features, originally broadcast on Radio 4, and posted by the BBC on its iPlayer website. It is presumably thus thought by the Corporation to be a balanced representation of its referendum coverage. Analysis by News-watch has now shown that the Collection was, on balance, very strongly anti-Brexit.

News-watch transcribed and rigorously analysed all the items (24 separate programmes, one collection of four brief clips on personal finance, and six news features in the Brexit Street series) that were posted between the launch of The Brexit Collection on July 11 and August 23 – two months after the referendum. In total, this amounted to eleven and half hours of broadcasting.

Overall, there were no attempts in any programme to explore the benefits of leaving the EU, but conversely, Brexit came under sustained negative attack. This was reflected in the balance of contributions and comment contained within the items. Analysis by News-watch shows that only 23% of contributors in the programmes as a whole spoke in favour of Brexit, against 58% in favour of Remain and 19% who gave a neutral or factual commentary.

Nine programmes and six features, amounting to 5 hours 20 minutes of programming, were strongly anti-Brexit, contained unchallenged predictions that civil unrest and rioting were now on the horizon and cast the ‘out’ vote in negative terms, inferring that the result had been a consequence of racism and xenophobia. The balance of programme guests in all of these items was strongly – and sometimes overwhelmingly – pro-Remain.

By contrast, only two programmes, from the series Points of View, were clearly Eurosceptic in tone. They both attacked the EU project as a whole, but did no explore the possibilities presented by Brexit.

A group of six documentaries in the Collection, originally broadcast in 2009 and 2012, looked critically at the EU and examined claims that there were structural faults in the EU project, especially in relation to the euro. However, the vast majority of guests on these programmes were wholly in favour of the EU project, or were EU officials, and as such the issues were observed through a strongly pro-EU lens.

A further eight programmes have been classed as neutral. Many of these, such as the comedy programmes Dead Ringers and The Now Show, contained strong anti-Brexit content, or expressed doubts about it, but did contain some balancing material.

The items that were strongly anti-Brexit were editions of culture series Front Row, The Briefing Room, six editions of the feature Brexit Street on the news programme PM, one edition of A Point of View, How to Make a Brexit (a one-off documentary about Greenland’s exit from the EU), Farming Today, More Less, The Food Programme, The Bottom Line and Call You and Yours.

In some of these, the range of anti-Brexit opinion was astonishing and light years from any definition of ‘impartiality’ and there was no balancing comparable pro-Brexit material. A majority of the country had voted ‘out’ on June 23, but this was not reflected in the space given to each side of the debate, or the thematic emphases of the various programmes.

The Food Programme, for example, contained predictions from ten contributors ranging through civil unrest, substantial food price rises, the demise of food businesses and years of turmoil.  Only one contributor (described disparagingly as a ‘former speech writer for Nigel Farage’), thought that Brexit could have positive outcomes.

And in The Bottom Line, presented by Evan Davis, three strong supporters of Remain (one a former Liberal Democrat candidate) feared a drying up of investment, the introduction of tariffs, an increasing complexity of doing business through the need for additional paperwork, price rises, unfair treatment of workers, unwise and impractical restrictions on immigration, a curtailing of the opportunities available to young people, and a rise of xenophobia and racism to the extent there was imminent danger of ‘personal attack’ for those supporting Remain. They were ranged against a contributor from Switzerland, who – although accepting briefly that Brexit could be positive – also warned that the process was very complex.

In all anti-Brexit programmes, presenters worked with the contributors to ensure that the negatives of Brexit were pushed to the maximum extent, and they did not challenge their extreme claims, for example, about civil unrest and racism.

Analysis of the contributions across the series as a whole raises other major issues of imbalance. Of the 59 politicians to appear, 37 were pro-Remain. With academics and lawyers, 11 supported Remain and none favoured Leave, and with businessmen and financial experts, 19 were Remainers and only six wanted ‘out’.  Another striking imbalance was that, across the board, 41% of the speakers who supported Leave were ‘ordinary’ contributors (i.e. members of the public with no obvious expertise, for example, in vox pops), compared to only 27% of pro-EU guests. In terms of the number of words spoken, members of the public contributed 34% of the Leave total, compared to only 8% on the Remain side.

Eleven of the 20 ‘ordinary’ speakers who spoke in favour of Brexit were from two locations in Northern England, Thornaby-on-Tees and Wakefield. All of these were from social classes D and E and together they were responsible for 80% of the words spoken by ‘ordinary’ Leave supporters.

News-watch research has shown that such serious imbalances have been a feature of BBC coverage of EU-related issues since 1999.

This raises big questions about how the BBC defines ’impartiality’ in the aftermath of the June 23 vote. During the referendum campaign, there were BBC-wide referendum editorial guidelines which stipulated that the Leave and Remain sides should be treated even-handedly. The evidence presented here suggests these rules have now been set aside and that a version of ‘due impartiality’ is in force which gives much greater precedence to the Remain side.

Whatever the reasons, the evidence presented here shows that the Corporation seems to be on a mission to show that Brexit is a fool’s errand, which elements within the BBC are doing their best to frustrate. There can be no other explanation why this flagship collection of programmes is so deeply biased.

The full report, including full transcripts of the 31 programmes analysed by News-watch is available here:


 

 

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Pro-EU zealot quietly dropped from Ofcom content board

Pro-EU zealot quietly dropped from Ofcom content board

Hallelujah! Quietly, a significant positive development in the broadcasting establishment may have occurred.

Might it be that the government is at last waking up to that the liberal figures who occupy the key regulatory posts are a menace to Brexit?

The current deluge of anti-Brexit propaganda emanating primarily from the BBC, but also from Ofcom-regulated services such as Channel 4, is the consequence of their current stranglehold over the regulation of broadcast services.

Back in January, the Department of Culture – as the referendum debate snapped into gear – incredibly appointed arch-Europhile and former editor of The Economist, Bill Emmott as chairman of Ofcom’s content board.

It meant he was in charge of investigations into allegations of bias in commercial radio and television’s coverage of EU affairs.

On The Conservative Woman, I wrote that this was, in effect, appointing a fanatical fox as guardian of the hen house. Emmott, with funding from the EU – and in close collaboration with the BBC – had made The Great European Disaster Movie, which envisaged right-wing Armageddon if the supremacy of the EU was challenged or changed.

Not only that, through his Wake Up Foundation, Emmott was engaged in a full-scale propaganda exercise – with Richard Sambrook, a former BBC Director of News, and using the BBC film as ammo – around the universities of Britain and across Europe to brainwash students  into believing that exiting the EU would indeed be a disaster.

Immediately after the piece appeared, however, Emmott’s appointment began to unravel. On this website, I wrote:

‘After the publication of this post, an Ofcom spokesperson has contacted Newswatch with the following statement: “Any conflicts of interest involving non-executive Board members are managed appropriately and Bill Emmott would not be involved in discussions or decisions related to the EU referendum.”

Ofcom thus formally acknowledged that – at a crucial time in the coverage of EU affairs – Emmott’s interests and pro-EU passions were a conflict of interest.

That was back in February. In the meantime, Analisa Piras, Emmott’s partner in the making of The Great European Disaster Movie, wrote to News-watch:.

the piece… (about The Great European Disaster Movie) is slanderous and full of falsities. Please remove the slanderous comments or take it down immediately.

Please note that in the absence of any action from you I will be taking legal action.

That was back in June. News-watch replied robustly that the item was fair comment on a matter of public and national importance and there has been nothing back since.

There matters hung. It seemed that Emmott was gradually taking up his role at Ofcom, despite the contradictions and his unbridled campaigning pro-EU zealotry. But then – without fanfare – it has been announced that he is definitely leaving. The Guardian here discusses the reasons without – surprise, surprise – mentioning the elephant in the room, Europe, at all. Neither side is commenting ‘for legal reasons’ but it is clear that Ofcom finally woke up to the massive conflict of interest issues.

This begs the question of why the hell the Department of Culture sanctioned the appointment in the first place – it was plain as a pikestaff to anyone with access to Google that Emmott’s pro-EU passions were a central driving force in his life.

But could now it be that the new Culture Secretary Karen Bradley has seen – and is taking action on  – the crucial issue  that such appointments are the core reason why the broadcasting establishment is so fundamentally biased?

Ofcom will become the court of appeal for complaints against the BBC from next year when the new Charter comes into force. Meanwhile, BBC Trustee Chairman Rona Fairhead – drawn from the same mould and outlook as Emmott – has also been given her marching orders. The crucial next phase will be the appointment of the new BBC management board. Watch this space.

 

 

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Complaints from both sides (again)

Complaints from both sides (again)

This is a guest post from Craig Byers of Is the BBC Biased?
The BBC must be happy today.

Yesterday came Boris at the Conservative Party conference saying (accurately) that the BBC is sometimes “shamelessly anti-Brexit” before adding (doubtless to the BBC’s delight), “I think the Beeb is the single greatest and most effective ambassador for our culture and our values”.

Today in strode (Sir) Craig Oliver in The Times saying that David Cameron had pressured the BBC in the other direction for “mistaking balance for being impartial”, demanding that “BBC editors should have been stamping their own independent authority and analysis on the output” (thus echoing the BBC’s very own John Simpson).

Inevitably, in response, in rides the BBC – bugles blaring, banners raised high – crying out its favourite mantra: “We’re getting complaints from both sides; ergo, we must be getting it about right!”…

and Politics Home quotes a BBC source as saying that very thing:

There’s nothing new in people having strong views about our coverage, but the public will notice a distinct irony in the BBC being accused of failing to do enough to stop Brexit on the one hand while being criticised for being anti-Brexit on the other. As we’ve said before, our job is to challenge politicians from all sides and interrogate the arguments. That’s what we’ve been doing and what we’ll continue to do.
Of course, the two complaints are different in kind. The first is saying that the BBC is biased; the second is saying that the BBC is impartial, but too impartial and ought to be taking sides – i.e. its side. Neither is saying the BBC is pro-Brexit (of course, as that would be ridiculous).

Where the BBC’s ‘complaints from both sides’ argument falls down (as so often) is that anyone claiming that the BBC has been either balanced or impartial over Brexit since the referendum result is arguing from a very sticky wicket. (To put it poetically, in the manner of Sir Andrew Motion, “The evidence is strong/That they are wrong”.) The BBC has had a heavy anti-Brexit bias since June 23 (as demonstrated by Radio 4’s Brexit Collection, for example).

And, despite the bias being not as severe before the referendum result, the bias even then still ran overwhelmingly against one side (the same side) – as (hopefully) both Is the BBC biased? and News-watch demonstrated (in considerable detail, and despite honourable exceptions).

Boris was right. The BBC is sometimes shamelessly anti-Brexit.

The campaign from the likes of John Simpson, Mark Thompson, Chris Patten, Paul Johnson of the IFS, Roy Greenslade, Timothy Garton Ash, (Sir) Craig Oliver and David Cameron, etc, however, for the BBC to become even more biased in their direction goes on and is evidently gathering pace. And they are probably knocking at an open door.

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BBC News Chief James Harding shows anti-Brexit bias

BBC News Chief James Harding shows anti-Brexit bias

James Harding, the BBC’s Director of News, has fired a broadside against those poor, misguided souls who have dared to think that the BBC’s coverage of the referendum and its aftermath have been out of kilter.

His chosen medium for this homily? Why, where else but that neutral newspaper so loved by the BBC – The Guardian?

For those not versed in BBC obfuscation (otherwise known as complaints handling), this was a classic piece. His wheeled-out-a-thousand-times defence was that he and his battalions of heroic, do-no-wrong journalists have received complaints from both sides in the referendum debate, so the coverage must therefore have been balanced.

For good measure, he also quotes BBC audience research, which he says shows that 90% of the UK population tuned into BBC programmes – further ‘proof’ that everything in the impartiality garden was rosy.   That’s alright then.

Never mind that the BBC audience domination is only achieved because of the enforced regime of the television licence fee.

There’s also – as is customary in such exercises – an obligatory mea culpa. Harding accepts at the very end that mistakes in the EU coverage have been made, and states that the BBC must do better. But – as is also customary – there are no details, no examples to back this up.  Whatever it was that the BBC accepts it got wrong is not disclosed.

How very convenient (for the BBC) this is. Nothing to check, nothing to look at – only a nebulous, vague misdemeanour that only the Corporation knows about.

That aside, Harding, in fact, takes up most of the space in his article in dealing with those on the Remain side who think the BBC gave too much prominence to the lies and distortions of the Brexit side.  Clearly, he thinks that bias against Remain was the biggest problem. What does that say about his unconscious (and real) bias?

His defence here is that the BBC (from dear Newsnight presenter Evan Davis to that nice economics editor Kamal Ahmed) made it abundantly clear that the weight of economic opinion overwhelmingly showed – just like the BBC so rigidly maintains that there is a ‘consensus’ of scientists in favour of alarmism in the climate change debate – that leaving the EU was foolhardy.

In Harding’s book, the BBC had thus fulfilled its duty – and it was voters who got it wrong by having the temerity to ignore ‘the facts’.

Harding’s, analysis of the Brexiteers’ complaints, in sharp contrast, takes up only one paragraph, so little space that it can be quoted in full. He declared:

‘The Leavers’ complaint will, in no small part, be answered by what happens next and how we report it. The fact is that, since the EU referendum, there has been a revaluation of sterling, the Bank of England cut interest rates because it says the outlook for economic growth has weakened markedly and the government’s plans for Brexit are unclear. But consumer confidence has bounced back and manufacturing and services sectors have rebounded accordingly. In the months ahead, our job is to understand what Brexit actually means – without relish or alarm.’

This is yet more obfuscation.  Of course, no-one can yet tell the outcome of Brexit, and the ‘out’ side’s complaints are not rooted there.

The reality is that since the referendum vote, there have been mixed signals about the economy, but the IMF, the OECD , the Treasury and all those who the ‘remain’ side wheeled at as ‘proof’ that Brexit would spell immediate disaster for the British economy have been proved wrong.

The nub of the ‘out’ side complaints is that the BBC has been at best mealy-mouthed and begrudging about reporting this slow-motion car crash of economic forecasting. Night after night during the referendum campaign, Davis, Ahmed and Co. trumpeted the predictions of doom with relish; the reporting of the retractions and the back-tracking since June 23 have been delivered through gritted teeth.

The reality, too, is that since Brexit, there has been a torrent of BBC negativity about the consequences of out, and all normal rules of reporting seem to have been suspended to ensure that those 90% who Harding claims watch BBC bulletins can be in no doubt that they have made a grave mistake in ignoring the economic forecasters of the OECD and elsewhere in the BBC canon of approved sources.

Take, for example, the series of reports launched on BBC Radio 4’s PM programme called Brexit Street, which is supposedly a typical ‘out’-voting area in Thornaby-on-Tees.  The reality is that this is a hugely deprived inner city area with a highly atypical quota of asylum seekers.  The purpose seems to be to show primarily that ‘out’ voters are bigoted, bitter, irrational xenophobes.

And what of the killing of a Polish man in a Harlow pizza parlour at the end of August? BBC reports immediately speculated that there was a fear that this was is was a racial attack triggered by Brexit – even though police had made no charges, and had only confirmed that they had not ruled out such motivation from their inquiries. John Sweeney muttered darkly on Newsnight that Nigel Farage might now have blood on his hands.

Such sensationalist reporting by the BBC  gave European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker the ammunition to attack the Brexit vote and to insinuate it had unleashed a tide of racism.

James Harding has thus – as is usual for the BBC – ignored the elephant in the room.  The BBC has never reported the EU impartially, fundamentally because they totally do not acknowledge or understand the case for ‘out’.  Harding’s clumsy obfuscation confirms that – in spades.

Diane Abbot has reportedly asserted at the Labour Party Conference that those who voted ‘out’ were racists. How much has the BBC’s  reporting supported her in coming to that conclusion?

 

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BBC Concedes Political Bias – But Only Against Corbynistas

BBC Concedes Political Bias – But Only Against Corbynistas

This is a guest post from Craig Byers of Is the BBC Biased?

Something highly unusual and rather disconcerting happened on Radio 4’s Feedback this week. Questions about BBC bias were put and a senior BBC editor repeatedly admitted that the BBC had got things wrong.

I cannot recall ever hearing such an interview before on Feedback – except over climate change, where various BBC editors have publicly confessed to the sin of not being hard enough on unbelievers like Nigel Lawson and Quentin Letts.

Still, this interview was even more striking than those because the BBC editor in question – BBC Political News Editor Katy Searle – admitted error on the BBC’s part not once, not twice but three times in the course of a single interview.

That must be unprecedented.

The issue at hand was: ‘Is the BBC biased against Jeremy Corbyn?’

Roger Bolton took the question very seriously indeed.

The first Corbynista complaint was that Traingate was a “non-story” and that the BBC should not have spent much time on it. Katy Searle rejected that particular complaint, saying that Traingate certainly was a significant story. (That is the one bit where she behaved like a typical BBC editor on Feedback).

The second Corbynista complaint was that an edition of The Week in Westminster had featured two Labour figures – Chris Mullen and Caroline Flint – discussing Jeremy Corbyn, both of whom said that Jeremy could not win an election. ‘Why wasn’t there a Corbyn supporter present?’ was the question asked. Katy accepted that complaint and said, yes, on that occasion, more could have been done to find a Corbyn supporter.

The third Corbynista complaint was that the BBC has run “factually incorrect” stories about thuggish behaviour by Corbyn supporters, citing the BBC’s reports about protests surrounding Stella Creasey that got where the protests happened wrong. Katy accepted that one too, saying, yes, a mistake was made there. “We” got it wrong, she said, adding: “In live broadcasting mistakes are made and I only think it’s right we put our hands up to that”.

The fourth Corbynista complaint was that the BBC has not been reporting what Jeremy Corbyn has been saying at packed meeting up and down the country. Katy rejected the idea that the BBC has not reported those meetings. However, she agreed that the BBC should talk more about the issues and said, “I would accept actually that we have done perhaps a little bit too much on the party leadership.”

Katy Searle was remarkably contrite and appealed, more than once, to Radio 4 listeners to believe that the BBC takes complaints about bias “very, very seriously”:

“Any accusation or perception of bias is taken very seriously and I, on a day to day basis, look at what we are doing on output and make sure we correct that”.

Isn’t that something?

Given all the years people like us have complained about BBC bias on issues of concern to us and got pretty much nowhere in terms of official concessions about, say, BBC pro-EU bias, or BBC pro-immigration bias, or BBC anti-Israel bias, etc, etc,…

…and given how often we have been told that single editions of ongoing programmes cannot be taken as proof of bias but must be judged, bias-wise, over time and many episodes, and how often our side is excluded from discussion after discussion (or utterly overwhelmed numerically on programme after programme) without the slightest chance of an admission of bias from the BBC…

and given how long and arduous the process of complaining about BBC bias usually is….

…isn’t it then utterly remarkable how easily Katy Searle conceded those points to Roger Bolton and his Corbynista listeners, and just how apologetic she sounded?

We have had pretty much all such complaints dismissively waived away on programmes like Feedback and Newswatch for donkey’s years only now to find that the merest whiff of grapeshot from a few Momentum types has the BBC bowing and scraping.

As I say, a truly remarkable interview.

Curiously, as Politics Home reports, the day before this edition of Feedback saw an intervention from far-left film director Ken Loach urging Jeremy Corbyn supporters to flood the BBC with complaints about bias.

Speaking to a Corbynista gathering, Mr Loach twice read out the number of the BBC Complaints line and coached his audience on the dos and don’ts of complaining to the BBC. (He did not mention Feedback though.)

“The BBC is an arm of the State. The BBC is not some objective chronicler of our time – it is an arm of the State,” he told them: “They have this pretence of objectivity where in fact it is propaganda on behalf of the broad interests of the State.”

blockquote text

Given the preferential treatment he is usually accorded by the BBC (see Today here and The World Tonight here) “the State” seems happy about the BBC giving Ken Loach a platform. And yet he is not remotely grateful, is he?

Photo by garryknight

BBC Archers trial portrays Brexit supporters as prejudiced bigots

BBC Archers trial portrays Brexit supporters as prejudiced bigots

This is a guest post from Craig Byers of Is the BBC Biased?

Though I’ve listened to Radio 4 every since I was in my teens I’ve never paid any attention to The Archers.

For me The Archers has never been anything more than a happy opportunity to go and brew a nice cup of tea until the next programme comes on.

I know, however, that plenty of people are hooked on The Archers – including (as has become apparent in recent weeks) lots of surprising people who I’d never have expected to be Archers fans.

And I’d have to have been away on holiday to Proxima Centauri not to be aware that a remarkable number of people were glued to their radios last Sunday for the much-hyped one-hour trial special broadcast and that many of them apparently sobbed with joy when Helen was cleared of attempting to murder nasty, abusive Rob by the jury of famous actors.

I would have continued ignoring it but I saw the following tweet from the Salisbury Review/Spectator‘s Jane Kelly:
That got my interest. Was Jane right? Could it really be that the BBC would use the ‘biggest’ Archers episode ever to promote an anti-Brexit worldview? Would Radio 4 be that shameless?
Well, I’ve now listened to the famous episode – my first ever episode of The Archers (the longest episode of The Archers in the history of the programme).
I can’t say I’ve been converted though. All those star-name jurors still couldn’t convince me that the script was anything other than wooden and the emotional ending made me laugh. The word ‘melodrama’ popped into my head near the very end.

And, yes, Jane was right.

Another Twitter user quipped: Bloody hell it’s like Brecht wrote the worst episode of Columbo during a drunken Brexit dinner party.

 

That Brecht reference struck me as a telling one – especially as it occurred to me too. Brecht had strong propagandist designs on his audience. The committee who wrote this Archers script seemed to have propagandist designs too.

(The comparison isn’t spot-on though. Unlike Brecht – who liked his audiences to stay emotionally detached – the Archers‘ scriptwriters were clearly trying to pull on their audience’s emotional levers at every stage).

 
There were certainly quite a lot of ‘agitprop’ bits.
I will simply post my notes on what I heard below, unedited – except from an embarrassingly misplaced apostrophe. (The quotes are exact). See if you can spot any agendas being pushed:

18.04 An unpleasant pro-Rob juror rants in Brexitspeak.

22.29 “I’ve been meaning to say, Parveen, that’s a beautiful headscarf you’re wearing. Very elegant”, says the nice, wise character played by Eileen Atkins. (You couldn’t make it up!!!)

23.25 Nice, dopey-sounding girl with no strong opinions: “It was all the stuff around Brexit…..What if we get the verdict wrong? It’s going to effect so many lives…. It feels like way too important a decision to be left up to us”. (!!!!!!)

25.04 “She’s just a sort of bigoted woman”. (A good juror about guilty-supporting Lisa).

26.14 Nice chap (Tristan) says to nice girl (Holly): “I’m more than upset. I’m ashamed. This is meant to be a cross-section of British society but (guilty-supporting) Dennis and Lisa haven’t got a clue”.

28.44 (Jackie, Eileen Atkins’s character): “Yes, an old post-grad student of mine has been up at Bradford for years in the Faculty of Social Sciences. Anyway, we were chatting over the summer. He’s terribly worried where his funding is going to come from now. So much of his research is in partnership with other universities across Europe. For once I’m glad I’m retired!”

Obviously Muslim Parveen is leaning towards not guilty, therefore good. Love how the nice ones want Helen freed and the not nice ones want her convicted. It’s so Brechtian!

33.37 (Jackie) “The whole reason we have a jury system is because some decisions are too important to be passed by a simple majority.”

38.48 (Nasty juror, Dennis, Nigel Havers, delivers a Brexiter-style ‘rant’): “You are kidding me! So-called experts without the slightest clue what it’s like to live in the real world thinking they know best about how the rest of us should be governed! Well, at least in this room ordinary folks get to make the decisions”.

(Nice  juror, Tristan) “Give me a break! It drives me insane. People going on about the real world. Who doesn’t live in the real world? Just because you don’t like the fact some people might be more educated than you and actually know what they’re talking about!”

40.17 (Nasty ‘bigoted’ juror Lisa to Parveen): “What do you know? Aren’t you supposed to obey your husband?”

Squabble at around 43.30, with Brexit slogans being yelled by the baddies. Holly calls a halt and Jackie takes over. Nigel Havers puts the bad side. Eileen Atkins puts the good side.

Our sub-Brechtian Archers writers made the ‘good jurors’ into Remain/Helen supporters and the ‘bad jurors’ into Leave/Rob supporters, with the in-betweeners going on a journey towards the (Remain/Helen) light. It was very schematic.
Plus, the specific messages the Archers scriptwriters sent out about the Brexit vote were pretty clear, weren’t they? That is, that the result was a result of ill-informed people having a say and that it should have been left in the hands of people who know what they’re actually talking about (parliament?) Plus that our EU membership was too important a decision to be passed by a simple majority in a referendum. (Parliament to overrule the result?) Plus that racism and bigotry played a part in the campaign.
Add the Archers scriptwriters obvious intent to also make a point about Muslims and ‘Islamophobia’ and the agenda-pushing all becomes a bit heavy-handed.
Of course, serious Archers fans may have been so wrapped up in the outcome of the trial that they missed these political messages but, from what I’ve seen on Twitter, I very much doubt it.
To end, here’s a representative sample of Twitter reaction to all the Brexit references:

Wow! One of #thearchers jurors slates ‘the experts’. #Brexit allegory goes into overdrive. Will 48% of them find Helen not guilty?

Just so we are all on the same page – does everyone have the words brexit, referendum & political metaphor in their #TheArchers notepad? 
Correct decision pulled from morass of biased idiocy: it’s not-Brexit #thearchers #freehelen
it’s all going a bit #brexit   #thearchers
‘Experts’ – it’s Brexit bingo! #TheArchers
Thank you #TheArchers for mentioning the problem of university funding and EU links post-Brexit in their biggest ever episode.
Given they have turned #TheArchers into a Brexit allegory, Helen is surely screwed.
I THOUGHT IT WAS ABOUT THE ARCHERS BUT ITS ACTUALLY ABOUT BREXIT 
‘Bigoted woman’ Brexit’ is this a kind of political bingo game? #thearchers
Helen’s trial as a metaphor for Brexit. Discuss. #thearchers
Remember: not all Brexit supporters are pro-Rob #thearchers
#thearchers hating this jury, getting flashbacks to #Brexit. Do I know my own country? Aaargh democracy…

“Well thank you Dennis. I’m sure a lot of us #BrExit fans feel it’s got very unfair for rapists” #TheArchers
 
HOW EXACTLY DID BREXIT BECOME A THING IN THIS?! #TheArchers
 
This is worse than I ever imagined. Helen = Brexit. Come on! Nigel #thearchers
 
#thearchers this jury is a great example of how we got the Brexit vote we got 
*winces at this jury* cf Brexit #thearchers
 
Cheeky #Brexit reference in #TheArchers. Let’s hope Helen #Remains at Blossom Hill and Rob #Leaves Ambridge for good.
 
On no! The jury’s made up of people who couldn’t decide on the #EURef … & probably voted #Brexit #thearchers
 
#thearchers Are we having the #Brexit debate NOW!?
Brexit reference! #thearchers

Photo by bloomsberries

Does Fairhead departure presage May action against BBC bias?

Does Fairhead departure presage May action against BBC bias?

The abrupt and unexpected departure of Rona Fairhead from her post as BBC Chairman is interesting indeed.

David Cameron had appointed her Chairman for the first, crucial phase of the new Charter covering the abolition of the Trustees and their replacement by a souped-up executive board – but suddenly, seemingly as a result of intervention by Theresa May, she’s toast.

Could it presage that the May government – as Brexit gathers pace – has woken up to that something urgent and radical needs doing to curb BBC bias?

This is a Corporation that is still treating Brexit as a major mistake, looking for every opportunity to rubbish the idea, and to link it with racism.  Martha Kearney, for example, on Radio 4’s World at One on Wednesday, chose to pick up with relish Jean-Claude Juncker’s malicious claims that the Brexit vote was linked to a huge upsurge in race hate, including the murder of a Polish man in Harlow – when no such linkage has yet been established by the police.

David Cameron’s approach to the Corporation, from the moment he took office in 2010, was both lenient and laissez-faire – largely, it now seems most likely, because he saw the Corporation as a key ally in his battle to remain in the EU.

Lord Patten, Fairhead’s predecessor as chairman, was (and is) a EU-zealot of the most extreme kind. He was appointed by Cameron in 2011. Patten predictably and obdurately resisted strongly any suggestion that the BBC’s coverage of the EU was biased, most notably by refusing repeated summons to appear before the Commons European Scrutiny Committee in connection with their inquiry into whether the Corporation was adequately covering EU affairs.

After Patten suddenly stepped down because of ill-health, high-flying executive Fairhead,  who had no broadcast experience, was parachuted in.  Precisely why remains a mystery, especially as there were huge question marks about her conduct as a director of HSBC. Some have claimed a link with George Osborne, perhaps via her husband, a former Tory councillor.

The newly-appointed Fairhead did appear before the European Scrutiny committee, under duress. It became clear immediately that she had gone native. Under her regulatory regime, there would be no change in the dead-bat approach to any complaints about EU reporting. She sat smug-faced as her fellow Trustee –a former BBC employee of 30 years – Richard Ayre intoned nonsensically that he knew coverage of the EU was not biased because, well, he said so; his experience told him that it was impossible that his BBC colleagues could ever be biased.

Pardon? Ayre is a past Chairman of the Article 19 ‘journalists’ rights’ organisation which under an alleged ‘neutral’ banner campaigns vigorously for Palestinian rights, against Israel, and to ensure that women’s voices are heard in the ‘climate change’ debate. Here is an example of their ‘unbiased’ approach, to which Ayre presumably subscribed:

‘The threats from climate change are not gender-neutral and it is essential that gender be incorporated into strategies to address climate change. In order to reach adaptation strategies and policies that are truly gender-sensitive, women’s voices need to be heard. To make their voices heard, women need information about their rights and the policies that affect their daily lives. This ARTICLE 19 project seeks to foster the exercise of communication rights to challenge women’s vulnerability to climate change.’

The BBC defence against EU bias (and everything that went with it at the hearing) amounted to similar baloney and obfuscation on a huge scale. The subsequent ESC’s report, written immediately before the 2015 General Election, was excoriating.  Bill Cash, the chairman, concluded in his report about the BBC:

“Accountability to Parliament and proper impartiality must be a key factor in the forthcoming review of the BBC Charter.”

Since then, John Whittingdale – whose appointment as Culture Secretary’s was a huge surprise because of his known antipathy towards the BBC – prepared his Green paper on the BBC’s Charter Renewal.  The predictions were initially that the licence fee could be replaced by subscription.

But then George Osborne intervened. The licence fee would be set in aspic for another decade. That meant Whittingdale’s plans for major reform were in totally scuppered.  What emerged was a messy compromise: the abolition of the Trustees, their replacement by a new executive board with powerful outside, independent directors, and some elements of complaints handling handed to the ‘independent’ Ofcom.

Yet this will solve nothing. The left-leaning Ofcom content board is drawn from the same cadre as the BBC Trustees, and is chaired by the arch-Europhile Bill Emmott,who makes even Patten look tame.

In reality, the changes were only a rearrangement of the deck chairs, and a continuation of the status quo. Cameron’s appointment of Fairhead to oversee the so-called transition period confirmed that.

Today (Thursday), the unknown and untested new Culture Secretary Karen Bradley, an accountant with no previous experience of the broadcasting industry, is due to announce the main details of Charter renewal, following the White Paper in May. The key issue is whether she and the May government will grasp that until there is genuine rigorous, independent scrutiny of BBC content, heavy, left-leaning bias will continue.

And that could well derail Brexit.

 

 

 

Photo by Ashley Pollak

BBC continues to push Brexit race hate line

BBC continues to push Brexit race hate line

Photo of Gary Younge by boellstiftung

So what is it that the BBC is trying to prove about Brexit?

It looks increasingly that, as the dust settles on the referendum result, they are mounting an all-out campaign to find evidence to support the Corporation’s long-held belief that the who support ‘out’ are motivated by xenophobia and racism.

Last week, on BBC2 Newsnight, reporter John Sweeney chillingly gave a platform to a Pole in Harlow – and indeed seemed to encourage him to say – that Nigel Farage had ‘blood on his hands’ in connection with the suspected murder a local Polish man.

This was before an inquest has been held, and before police had properly begun their investigations. But in the BBC’s book, here was race-hate in action.

The Harlow allegations were re-hashed and claims of post-Brexit xenophobia and racism heavily embellished on Monday night on Radio 4, in the first of a two-part series presented by Gary Younge called Eastern Europeans in Brexitland.

Younge visited Bristol and reported evidence that since the Brexit vote, the lives of virtually all the eastern Europeans living there had become, in effect, a living hell.

According to Younge, the streets of Bristol had overnight on June 23/4 turned into an overt, seething cesspit of prejudice. Eggs were being thrown at immigrants, they were so terrified of being identified as Eastern European that they were afraid to speak their own languages, their cars were vandalised, they were spat at and their children’s hair was being set on fire.

So who is Younge? For the uninitiated, he is an equalities campaigner who, it seems, has a brother who is a senior BBC executive, and who works primarily for The Guardian. Of course, many fine journalist work there, and it may be that what he reported from Bristol was a fair reflection of what is going on out in the sticks (in BBC terms): in effect, a breakdown of civil society and tolerance.

But then again, maybe not. Go through Younge’s past articles, and this is what he wrote on June 30, a week after the referendum result:

‘This (the result) did not happen overnight, and the sorriest conduct of the referendum campaign was only the latest indication of the decrepit state of our politics: dominated by shameless appeals to fear, as though hope were a currency barely worth trading in, the British public had no such thing as a better nature, and a brighter future held no appeal.

‘Xenophobia is no longer closeted, parsed or packaged, but naked, bold and brazen and was given free rein. A week before the referendum, an MP was murdered in the street. When the man accused of killing her was asked his name in court he said: ‘Death to traitors, freedom for Britain.’

Despite such overt prejudice (and poor writing) and huge assumptions about the Jo Cox killing, he was commissioned by the BBC to make this Radio 4 series. It seems that the sole intent was for him to go out and collect material that confirmed his view that the Brexit vote was nothing more than the ignorant expression of deep underlying hatred and malaise.

That exactly chimes with the treatment of the Harlow murder. A third element of this naked display of BBC xenophobia-themed bias also came on Monday in the latest in the series of Radio 4’s PM reports from what they have dubbed Brexit Street (transcript below).

The show’s editors have claimed that this street in Thornaby-on-Tees is ‘typical’ of areas that voted for ‘out’, but it most certainly is not. Houses there sell for a quarter of the national average, and it has number of asylum seekers, because the local councils on Teesside are the only ones in the North-east to have volunteered to take a high quota.

In the BBC’s world, Brexit voters, of course, are almost invariably downmarket, prejudiced against immigrants, talk in difficult-to-understand local accents and are relatively uneducated.

Emma Jane Kirby’s latest report report ticked all the requisite boxes. She has already concentrated heavily on that the asylum seekers are disliked by the locals, have been forced into isolation, and are generally being treated as sub-human.  Their only solace is the local church and a heroic Somalian refugee who has set up an asylum seekers’ football team.

On Monday, her first guttural, angry Brexit Street interviewee, ensconced with a pint in his working men’s club, complained that asylum seekers received benefits but did not work.

Emma Jane was duly deeply indignant. She told the surly Teessider that in effect, he was ignorant, they were asylum seeker so couldn’t work.

So let’s get this straight. The BBC commissions a series based on a street that it claims is ‘ordinary’ but most definitely is not, not least because an atypical, constant stream of asylum seekers has been housed there. It then highlights how badly these asylum seekers are being treated by the locals – and then starts to berate residents for, in effect, being intolerant and xenophobic, and then imputes that this is the reason for the Brexit vote.

BBC ‘impartial’ reporting in all its glory.

 

Transcript of BBC Radio 4, PM, ‘Brexit Street’, 6 September 2016, 5.41pm

CAROLYN QUINN:              Talking about Brexit, the majority of the North East of England voted leave the EU in the referendum, and since the summer we’ve been following the residents of one street, we’re calling it Brexit Street in Thornaby on Tees near Middlesbrough, to try to understand more about the reasons for how they voted.  Although the street, and Thornaby as a whole, has very few migrants from EU member states, it does how’s a large number of asylum seekers.  In an earlier report, we heard from their perspective about life on Brexit Street, today Emma Jane Kirby’s at Working Men’s Social Club, where Paul, John and Colin, who often work in Europe, are discussing immigration over a pint.

PAUL:     I’m an HGV driver, I go all over Europe.

EMMA JANE KIRBY:           Do you like Europe, when you drive through Europe?

P:           Yeah, I love it.

EJK:        But you just didn’t want to be part of the EU anymore . . .

P:           No.

EJK:        . . . the European Union.

P:           Hm. And I voted out for the reasons of, one, I don’t think the country’s being run right as it was, two there was a lot of money being sent over to other countries that, you know, we’re not getting the benefit from, and three, immigration round here is a big part of why I voted for that.  So that’s why I voted Out.

EJK:        What, what about immigration, you mean on your streets there are a lot of asylum seekers, or . . . ?

P:           Oh, a hell of a lot, yeah. They just seem to be doing nothing, they’re getting everything for free which, it does annoy a lot of people, because we have to go to work to provide for our wife and kids and the houses, and people are just getting it willy-nilly and nothing’s going into our system.

EJK:        You know that asylum seekers can’t work, they’re not allowed to work, while they’re . . . ?

P:           But they’re allowed to claim benefits, they’re are allowed to get free NHS.

EJK:        But don’t forget, a lot of these asylum seekers are desperate to work themselves.

UNNAMED MALE:              Oh, don’t give me that.

UNNAMED MALE 2:           (speaking over) (words unclear) neighbours . . .

UM:       (words unclear) work themselves, but they’ll, they’ll do it for minimum wage, and that’s what knacking us up.  But if they’re doing it for minimum wage, they’ll knack it up for the likes of me.  You get asylum seekers going in, ‘I’ll do it for half of what he does it.’

UM2:     (speaking under) Yeah, but the minimum wage is shite.

UM:       Who are they going to employ.

UM2:     (speaking under) The minimum wage is shite.

EJK:        Can I ask your name?

JOHN HORNSBY:  Yeah, John Hornsby.

EJK:        John, how did you vote, and can you tell me why?

JH:          I was working Holland, I spray aeroplanes for a living and we pay dual tax, UK tax and European tax.  So . . . now we’re out of Europe, as long as they don’t have another vote, we pay one tax and one tax only.  But the government are going to turn round and say now, they’re going to have a second vote – why? It’s been done once, that’s it. They should know for a fact, they’re going to lie to us, and turn round and say, ‘Sorry, we’re going to stay in the EU, and that’s what’s going to happen.’

EJK:        That’s what you think is going to happen?

JH:          Yes, definitely.

EJK:        You think we’ll stay in?

JH:          Yes, because they’re going to turn round and say . . . because . . . I can’t swear, but all these bent people down the South of England, where all the money is are going to say, ‘We’re going to lose too much money – shell (?) the North, sorry, but we’re all staying in.’

EJK:        Can I ask who you vote for . . . usually?

JH:          Well, luckily . . . I don’t.  Because I’m only here for about three months of the year.  Ex-pat if you like. I’ll go back to Malta, I can go anywhere, go to Gibraltar.

EJK:        capitalism that a benefit of being part of the European Union, that you can work in all these countries?

JH:          Well you can work there anyway.

EJK:        Do you think it will be harder, though, for you to find work when Britain comes out of the European Union.

JH:          Yeah, probably it’s just (two second pause) it’s like swings and roundabouts. The country is not Great Britain no more, that’s the top and bottom of it.  You get all the eastern bloc in, so stop them, kick ‘em out.

EJK:        But of course, the people who are here are not European migrants, they’re not from the EU, they’re asylum seekers . . .

JH:          Yeah.

EJK:        . . . fleeing wars and . . .

JH:          How do you know? The best thing we can do: get out of Europe, close the tunnel, the only way you’ll get into England then is by boat or by plane. You can stop them on flights, you can stop them by sea – but with that tunnel open, they’re just walking all the way through.

EJK:        What’s your name?

PAUL:     Paul. And I voted Out for my grandson who is three years old, to make this country great again, because I think it’s gone to the dogs.  That’s my point of view.

EJK:        How’s it gone to the dogs?

P:           Migrants and what have you.  I’ve been self-employed for, what, 30 year – what am I going to get out of the country when I retire? Nothing.  I’m going to be working until I die, because there is no state pension for me.  I go to work five, six days a week, I’m earning . . . probably two to three hundred pound a week.  And I . . . like when I get told I’ve got pay prescription, £8 pounds, when you get told you got to go to the dentist every month, and you’ve got to pay for them, I just can’t afford to do it and I’m a working man.

EJK:        Can I ask who you vote for generally?

P:           I vote for anybody who is not in, because . . . they all promise they’re going to do this that and the other, and if it’s conservative then, I’ll vote for Labour, and if it’s labour in, I’ll vote for . . . Conservative, or I’ll vote for Monster Raving Loony Party, because they all promise the earth and none of them . . . do it. And it stinks. Instead of closing all these steel places down up here, right, when the government, when we opted out of . . . Europe, right, and they said that they’d save 300 whatever billion a month of whatever, right, why didn’t they say, like, ‘The first thing we’ll do is . . . we’ll plough £2 million into the steel works, get them steel companies back up and running, and we’ll, we’ll supply our own steel rather than buy it in from China.  Put all the money into . . . (exhales)  I’m getting annoyed now, but, you know what I mean? But . . . it wouldn’t take a lot of money to get them up and running again, and getting people back into work.  Would it?  It’s about time we made Britain great again.

CQ:         Paul, ending that report from Emma Jane Kirby, and you can hear all of her reports from Brexit Street on the PM website.