Immigration

Craig Byers:  Here is the news. BBC bias revealed hour by hour

Craig Byers: Here is the news. BBC bias revealed hour by hour

Thursday was ‘the big day’ at the BBC, and yesterday morning’s Today was all over Mr Whittingdale’s Charter Review report.

Did the BBC treat the story impartially?

Well, on Today there was Lib Dem peer Lord Lester QC sticking up for the BBC. And Labour’s Tessa Jowell sticking up for the BBC. And former BBC, Sky and ITV employee Professor Lis Howell half-criticising and half-sticking up for the BBC. And BBC presenter Nick Robinson not exactly firing, in ‘devil’s advocate’-style, on all impartial cylinders either.

They did have the SNP’s John Nicholson, for ‘balance’ though, demanding a Scottish News at Six – and getting a rough ride from Mishal Husain in the process. ‘Who wants that?’ was Mishal’s basic point. (A fair point, probably).

Impartial? Hardly.

And then came  The World at One on BBC Radio 4. And that was even worse.

After a short review of events in Parliament came a discussion between the BBC’s Martha Kearney and Steve Hewlett of the Guardian/BBC Radio 4’s Media Show, which suggested the Charter review wasn’t as bad as the BBC and its supporters feared, but that there are still issues of concern for them.

Then came a much shorter interview with Peter Bone MP, a BBC critic. It was the ‘balancing item’ -even though it lasted barely more more than a minute (the shortest interview by far).

Astonishingly, Martha forcefully stopped him in his tracks as as soon as he raised what he described as his “main concern”: BBC pro-EU bias. Martha clearly wasn’t going there for anything in the world. Realising that, Mr Bone just laughed.

Then came Jesse Norman MP saying that the government’s plan is great and the BBC is great.

Then came Labour-supporting former BBC Trust boss Sir Michael Lyons (not that Martha even hinted at such a thing) attacking the Government for going too far but saying that there is a problem with BBC bias: bias against Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn. A somewhat-startled-sounding Martha Kearney not only didn’t cut him off when he raised it (in contrast to how she treated Peter Bone when he tried to air his concerns about pro-EU BBC bias) but actually went on to press his pro-Labour ‘BBC bias’ point with Lord Hall.

And Lord Hall was the big WATO interview.

He didn’t agree with Sir Michael about the BBC’s anti-Corbyn bias (you won’t be surprised to hear), saying that the BBC is impartial (you also won’t be surprised to hear) and that the BBC brings “light to controversy”.

Lord Hall sounded pleased with what the Government has announced. The BBC’s Martha (gently) pressed him largely from a pro-BBC, Wolf Hall director Peter Kosminsky-type standpoint rather than an anti-BBC Andrew Bridgen MP-type standpoint.

And that was that: Lots of pro-BBC types having their say, plus (very briefly) Peter Bone.

Impartial? Hardly.

Meanwhile over on BBC One’s News at One bulletin we got more of the same, plus three items on the EU referendum: Mark Carney of the Bank of England’s dire warnings of the economic dangers of voting to leave the EU came first. A little later came the Vote Leave/ITV spat over whether Nigel Farage should be involved in a TV debate with David Cameron. And finally, immediately before the sports news (i.e. as the last ‘serious’ news item), came the news that the ONS has finally conceded that immigration from the EU has been massively under-represented in the government’s official figures (not that the short BBC news item put it like that) – a point that many people have been saying might well give a huge boost to the Leave campaign.

So why did BBC One choose to ‘bury’ that story as a very short new item near the end of its lunch time news bulletin?

Wasn’t that Peter Bone’s point being proved?

Impartial? Hardly.

And then came BBC’s News at Six.

BBC One’s News at Six began with another pro-Leave point: Bank of England governor Mark Carney’s dire warnings about a vote to leave the EU:

A warning from the Bank of England: Leaving the EU could trigger a recession.

The bulletin’s reporting was ‘impartial’ in the BBC sense, in that:

  • (a) the bulletin kept using words like “stark” and “strong” to describe the governor’s comments.
  • (b) the BBC’s economics editor Kamal Ahmed, after laying out Mr Carney’s anti-Brexit case in detail, said that “many economists agree with the Bank’s gloomy prognosis” and then featured one such economist doing just that…
  • ‘…balanced’ by (c) a clip of Norman Lamont saying, very briefly, that Mr Carney is wrong…
  • and then (d) BBC political reporter Alex Forsyth setting the context by saying that Mr Carney’s intervention is “undoubtedly a boost” to the Remain campaign as Mr Carney is “a senior, credible figure once again warning in no uncertain terms of the economic risks of leaving.

ITV’s early evening news bulletin also led with that pro-Leave point and, like Kamal Ahmed, ITV’s deputy political editor Chris Ship also laid out the governor’s concerns in some detail.

Unlike the BBC, however, Chris Ship also said “the truth is” that the economic forecasts aren’t great at the moment whichever way we vote, and his ‘talking heads’ included two people who disagreed with Mr. Carney: John Redwood and Wetherspoons boss Tim Martin – both making substantive points against the BoE governor.

ITV struck me as taking its ‘impartiality’ responsibilities far more seriously than the BBC there. The BBC felt outrageously one-sided in comparison.

And after giving us its Mark Carney coverage ITV then moved straight onto the EU immigration question – for many Brexiteers the big story of the day – and those ONS figures with Chris Ship giving us James Brokenshire on one side and Liam Fox on the other, plus talk of economists claiming immigration is good for us on one side and Leave supporters saying we can’t control our border on the side, plus mention of the “true scale” of immigration and the figures taking us into “unprecedented” territory.

The BBC, in contrast, didn’t move straight onto the EU immigration story. It moved on to other stories instead. And we had to wait until nearly the end of the bulletin again for the EU immigration story to appear. And, again, it was given short shrift.

The BBC newsreader, George Aligiah,  introduced it as being a case of Leave campaigners “saying” and the ONS “clarifying”. It’s “quite complicated”, said George. Yes, it’s “not very easy”, said the BBC’s Tom Symonds. Tom said that “Eurosceptics say” it’s an underestimate but “the nation’s number-crunchers” have “tried to explain it today” as being just a matter of short-term migrants. He elaborated somewhat on the the ONS’s explanation, explaining their case in a tone of patient reasonableness. Then he said: Eurosceptics say this, the government says that.

‘BBC impartiality’ duly fulfilled. Story duly downplayed. For those who think that the government shamelessly ‘managed’ this story today (the ONS figures being released on the day the BBC was fixating on itself), this might suggest the government was ‘aided and abetted’ by the BBC here.

Is ITV biased? Is the BBC biased?

On the strength of this I’m definitely going with the latter.

Maybe the Charter review should have focused more on that.

 

This article first appeared on The Conservative Woman

Photo by Ben Sutherland

Newsnight immigration feature casts worried Brits as xenophobes

Newsnight immigration feature casts worried Brits as xenophobes

The BBC’s blizzard of election-related stories that spin immigration as a topic that doesn’t matter is impossible to track. Lift almost any stone and there’s another example.

A Newsnight feature last Wednesday was billed by presenter Emily Maitlis as ‘a long hard look at the subject’.

This, it transpired, was a special piece of BBCspeak. It meant that Newsnight – led, of course, by former Guardian executive Ian Katz- was about to deploy its own form of spin to show in yet another way that those British plebs who support tougher immigration controls are deluded bigots and xenophobes.

The main section of the item was actually a very unequal discussion which Emily Maitlis pushed very hard to ensure was skewed to the pro-immigration side.  Self-styled shock jock John Gaunt, the main contributor who supported more controls on immigration, explains the way he was ambushed and appallingly treated in Podcast episode 24 here.

On display was the same Newsnight approach to balance as was deployed on the day that David Cameron announced his alleged desire to hold an in-out EU referendum. On that evening 18 pro-EU campaigners were pitched against Nigel Farage.

The main analysis in this blog is of the opening report by Duncan Weldon, hired by Katz as an economics pundit from the TUC. It was actually only 670 words, or five minutes of airtime, but it was so blatantly skewed that it stands almost alone as monumental evidence of the deep bias in this arena.

Former Labour acolyte Weldon’s initial point was that immigration in London didn’t matter because ‘it was a fact’ of life; he contended that the changing demographics, ‘were not a political issue’. Says who?

Maybe these things don’t matter to those at the BBC, who worship daily at the shrine of multiculturalism. But to put it mildly, respected think-tank Migration Watch certainly do not agree that an influx of 1.5m foreign nationals over the past decade – the biggest in the capital’s history by a very long way – can be regarded as ‘only a fact of life or is ‘not a political issue’. MW presents compelling evidence that it has created a massive housing crisis and has driven tens of thousands of native-born Londoners away.

After this glaring bias, Weldon next contended that in order to see ‘where things had changed’ as a result of immigration, you needed to go on commuter lines out of the capital, to places such as ‘Peterborough, Stevenage, Welwyn and Hatfield’. Bizarre, perhaps, that he referred only to a few towns on the London to Doncaster East Coast railway line, but most BBC staff inhabit only a narrow metropolitan bubble, so perhaps he is not aware that immigration issues are also hitting communities further afield as well. Places such as Rotherham, say. Or Oxford.

Next, Weldon turned to that old BBC device, the vox pop, a range of voices from members of the public. Many years ago, when I did my basic training as a BBC reporter in what is now the Langham Hotel, I was warned that these can never be – and should never be projected as – a balanced or objective view of public opinion. They are only ever a subjective snapshot.

Weldon apparently now works according to very different rules.

The sequence of three voices was gathered, selected and edited by him with all the subtlety of a jackhammer to show that those with views against immigration are bigoted xenophobes for no other reason that they hate foreign languages and shops selling foreign goods. On the other hand, his pro-immigration contributor made a reasoned response, making the point that immigrants are ‘different brains from different parts of the world’, who set up new businesses and had a wide range of skills.

Weldon then said that if this selection of ‘public opinion’ (which this most certainly was not) was ‘nuanced’, but the view of business was ‘fairly’ clear’. His source here was Katja Hall, the deputy director general of the CBI, who a search on Google reveals is the leading mouthpiece for a totally uncontrolled flow of foreign labour into the country. And blow me down with a feather – she is also a former BBC employee who was responsible for ‘change management’. What better credentials could a supporter of uncontrolled immigration (and, of course, according to her CV, ‘gender equality’) have? And what better an objective source for a Newsnight quote?

Finally, Weldon delivered his own verdict on the immigration debate and evidence. This was , supposedly ‘neutral’ but was actually more of the same; it was a treatise that could have been written by any member of the TUC, the Labour Party or, for that matter, the SNP.

There is only one explanation: a common mindset and a common set of rules are at work. This one-sided approach emanates directly from the Bridcut report, a Gormenghast-style recalibration of the rules of reporting that was deliberately engineered by the Trustees to allow the BBC’s own agendas to be followed on topics such as immigration and climate alarmism.

The same applies to stories about the EU. During the election campaign, when a has-been political leader whines that Brexit would be damaging, it’s automatically elevated to headline status.

Conversely, when the leader of the only party advocating withdrawal is interviewed, his views about the same subject are not even on the agenda. Instead, Evan Davis works hard to pin a new label on him as a ‘hater’ of that nice Paddington Bear’s version of multiculturalism.

You could not make it up.

 

Bias by Omission as Romania and Bulgaria Influx Rises

Bias by Omission as Romania and Bulgaria Influx Rises

Happy New Year – it’s the anniversary of when, courtesy of the EU’s Free Movement of Peoples directive, restrictions were lifted on the numbers of Romanians and Bulgarians entering the UK.

Latest figures released by the Oxford Migration Observatory show that 250,000 are now here and 47,000 arrived during 2014.  That’s equivalent to a city the size of Wolverhampton – and 20% are jobless.

The inflow of around 50,000 a year, it should be noted, is exactly in line with what Migration Watch predicted in January 2013, and as Sir Andrew (Lord) Green pointed out, are likely to cause huge additional pressures in terms of the ability of our infrastructure and services to cope.

The playing down by the BBC of the likely scale of the inflow from the two countries began in earnest in April of 2013, when Newsnight told us that its own survey showed that Romanians weren’t really interested in coming here.

By commissioning such a poll (not cheap, but, hey ho, it’s only licence fee money) , the programme fired a clear shot showing  the extent editors would go to  spike the guns of those who wanted to raise immigration issues.

Then last January, as the restrictions were lifted, programmes continued the effort to tell us that there would be no repetition of the Polish surge of EU immigrants back in 2004. A good example is  this, filed at the end of January 2014. The reporter tells us he could find only one Romanian family in Peterborough. His approach clearly reflected the corporate editorial angle:  nothing to see.

But it was on May 14 – just over a week away from the poll in the European election on May 22 – when the BBC editors demonstrated the full weight of their desire to discredit those with concerns about immigration. Provisional government figures showed a minor blip in the upward trend in entries from Bulgaria and Romania. Such interim totals should always be treated with caution. Not at the BBC.  Political editor Nick Robinson went to town, as this transcript shows.

For him, and the BBC news machine, it seems this was exactly the ammunition for which they had perhaps been praying.

In the BBC1 6pm and 10pm News that day – in a feature bristling with righteous indignation – Robinson first spoke to a Romanian who told him that all his fellow countrymen who wanted to come to the UK were already here.

Then he inserted a soundbite from Nigel Farage deliberately edited, it seemed, to make him look both immoderate and foolish in his predictions. And finally, just for good measure, he lined up Yvette Cooper , Vince Cable and Conservative employment minister Ester McVey all to say what total tommyrot he – and those with fears about immigration – were talking.

Yvette Cooper kicked off, laying into  Farage’s ‘shrill claims’; Cable  referred to ‘scare-mongering’   and Ms McVey said that the latest figures showed Mr Farage was ‘wrong’.

This was a pivotal movement in the election coverage, as the News-watch report covering the campaign, pointed out. It epitomised the Corporation’s main editorial approach – to seek to undermine wherever possible the case for withdrawal from the EU and the restriction of immigration.

Of course, UKIP surged to first place in the European poll and have since won two by-election victories. Many at the BBC argue, therefore, that this shows that their coverage towards those who have concerns about the EU and immigration is fair.

But this is utter nonsense. Close scrutiny of transcripts over long periods shows that their bias both by deliberate skewing and ignoring key reports and evidence. The electoral victories are being achieved despite constant editorial obstruction.  And maybe also – to an extent – because people see through the bias?

What the new Romanian and Bulgarian figures also show is just how much the BBC is prepared to distort or ignore the actual evidence.

The Oxford Observatory report containing the latest figures was released on an embargoed basis to the media on December 29 at the latest and posted on its website on December 30. The report was mentioned widely and prominently in the national press that morning.  But on the BBC website?  Not a peep. On the Today programme? Zip.

Instead, on Today, we got guest editor Lenny Henry doing his level best – in every way he knew – to accuse UKIP MEP Amjad Bashir of being racist and a traitor to ethnic minorities for daring to want a points system for immigration. Yes, the admirable and good humoured Bashir gave us good as he got – but there was no disguising Henry’s vehement distaste.

Photo by Holidayextras

Humphrys Mea Culpa – More Hot Air from the BBC

Humphrys Mea Culpa – More Hot Air from the BBC

John Humphrys ‘admission’ behind a paywall in the Sunday Times that the BBC has botched and skewed coverage of immigration – and failed to reflect genuine concern and genuine cultural and infrastructure issues, not to mention the malign influence in the equation of the EU –  is a classic and totally meaningless Corporation mea culpa.

Why? Well Humphrys produces not a shred of evidence to back up his claim. It’s a lofty pronouncement from a high priest of BBC journalism to us less lesser mortals, the audience.

He doesn’t say in which interview, with which guests or how or when he arrived at the judgment. Was it perhaps when for the nth occasion, he patronisingly told Nigel Farage he was a corrupt fruitcake and failed to treat him seriously? Or maybe when he and his colleagues deliberately ignored yet another report from Andrew Green at Migration Watch, and instead focused on the risibly skewed findings of ‘researchers’ at UCL who said the total influx of Polish immigrants would be 14,000?   Of which, more, later.

No, this ’bias’ happened at some undefined, mysterious time in the murky miasmic mists of the Blair era. It evidently made Humphrys queasy and uneasy, but back then, he and his chums above and below him in the BBC hierarchy did nothing at all about it.

Now, though, says the great man, the bias is fixed – it’s a matter of regret, but move along there, folks, nothing to see: everything in the BBC garden is tickety-boo.

Humphrys joins in the mea culpa confession stakes political editor Nick Robinson – who said pretty much the same thing at the beginning of the year – former television news chief Roger Mosey (ditto, the year before, but only after he had left the Corporation and was safely ensconced as master of Selwyn College, Cambridge), and former director general Mark Thompson (ditto, the year before that).

All the confessions are eerily similar, as if emanating from a common hand in the BBC equivalent of the Politburo. Roughly, give or take a few commas, they should have been tougher in exposing the Blair government’s undeclared unlimited immigration policy, but, whoops, weren’t, because a) it’s jolly difficult terrain, and b) they were afraid of committing the biggest sins of all in the BBC lexicon:  being seen as racist or a spanner in the works of multiculturalism.

This raises two massively crucial points about the BBC £1bn news operation.

First, Humphrys and those he works with don’t have any real knowledge. What his ‘confession’ seems to be based upon is gut journalistic instinct rather than any form of measurement. And it’s only now, when UKIP is winning by-elections and voters are showing that they do deeply care about the impact of the biggest influx of immigrants in British history that they have seen the light, and then only as a flickering flame of shame in the distant past.

Second, the BBC – from Humphrys downward and upward to the Trustees – will never, ever respond to genuine concerns about bias. Here, the facts are incontrovertible.

Back in December 2004, my organisation News-watch (then Minotaur Media Tracking) was commissioned by Sir Andrew Green to investigate across seven flagship programmes whether editors were paying enough attention and were properly balanced in covering precisely the issue and period Humphrys is talking about – the lifting of the controls (because of changes in the EU) that led to an influx of Poles and others from Eastern Europe.

The meticulous 12,000-word report involved the transcribing of every item in which immigration or asylum was mentioned over a three-month period. Its headline conclusions included this:

‘TODAY – for example, despite broadcasting 30 items on the topic, had only three on economic migration as opposed to asylum. It scrutinised poorly the moves towards the dropping of the UK’s EU veto, and paid had disproportionate attention to asylum seeker problems while not investigating the impact of immigration on the UK.’

With the benefit of hindsight, this could have been a little clearer. What the meticulous research actually spotted was that Today was virtually avoiding escalating immigration from the EU while focusing on the bleeding heart cases of those who were trying to obtain asylum – and mixing the two together as if they were the same thing. This was larded, of course, with frequent direct and indirect accusations of racism.

Other conclusions?

‘In the entire three month period in coverage of immigration, there were only around 20 brief mentions of the figures involved….‘The coverage of immigration, therefore, was carried out with only minimal analysis of one of the key components of the debate…This was rather surprising, given the debate itself – for all political parties – is mostly about numbers.’

And:

‘During the 14 weeks, apart from one brief mention of a planning inquiry for a new centre for illegal immigrants, there was no item designed to examine the impact of immigration on British communities, and little effort to cover why there was concern about immigration.’

Sir Andrew Green presented these findings to then BBC news chief boss Helen Boaden soon afterwards – but she did nothing, to the point that (I am told) Sir Andrew now believes that any form of protest to the BBC news management is pointless.

In other words, despite what Humphrys says, the BBC did have knowledge of the glaring inadequacies of its coverage. His ‘confession’ is thus utter nonsense. It boils down to that there was a disgraceful avoidance by he and the BBC of debate in an area of crucial public importance.

Clarkson – Yes, Immigration – No

Clarkson – Yes, Immigration – No

The BBC – as News-watch posted yesterday here and here  – doesn’t give a hoot about complaints about imbalance in its programmes when they relate to important issues such as immigration control.

But if something to do with potential racist name-calling, well, no expense is spared and inquiries are launched, as is reported here in the BBC’s house journal, The Guardian.

News-watch holds no candle for Jeremy Clarkson or his programmes, and nor has it ever investigated his approach to issues of race.

But it’s clear that his alleged use of the N-word has led to major alarm bells ringing inside the Corporation and a full-scale report has been commissioned. What’s clear is that this whole area has been elevated to a major matter relating to the BBC’s approach and image.

Would that the same happened when data is presented to the Trustees that shows beyond doubt that Today presenters regularly skew the debate about EU withdrawal, and, in effect, call those who don’t support the free movement of peoples principle as racist.  In reality, the Corporation ignores it.

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BBC ‘ignores key immigration reports’

BBC ‘ignores key immigration reports’

The BBC keeps telling of us that its coverage of the immigration debate is getting better and fairer.

Remember, for example, when, back in January, political editor Nick Robinson uttered a solemn and very public apology and swore that Auntie was mending her ways? No longer, he suggested, should opponents of the EU’s ‘free movement of peoples’ directive be branded as xenophobic or racist

He also wrote:

“My own organisation, the BBC, has admitted that in the past we made mistakes. We were too slow to recognise and reflect the concern, dislocation and anger felt by many.”

Six months or so on, how is Auntie doing?  Well…

Exhibit A is from the think tank Civitas, which published a few days ago a very important contribution to the topic by respected Cambridge economist Bob Rowthorn.  This former ‘leftist’ (as the Daily Mail gleefully described him)  pointed out that on current trends immigration would lead to a population growth of 20m in the next fifty years, and would create massive strains on the country’s infrastructure while at the same time having few discernible economic benefits and only minimal improvement in GDP per capita.

This is a meticulous 83-page survey by a master of economic theory, a cool-headed, objective look at the immigration debate.  It received widespread coverage in newspapers, including the Independent as well as the Daily Mail and Telegraph.

So what did the new, immigration-aware BBC make of it?

Well nothing.  The BBC website has not mention of it,  and David Green, the director of Civitas, says his office has not received a single call from any of the corporation’s serried ranks of 5,000 or so journalists.

Importantly, Professor Rowthorn’s paper debunks a report by Christian Dustmann, a University College, London, immigration ‘expert’, who argued back in November in a paper for the Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration that immigrants, especially those from Eastern Europe, were having a strongly positive impact on the UK economy through the increased taxes they paid.

The Dustmann report – unlike Professor Rowthorn’s – did receive widespread coverage on the BBC, those massed ranks of newshounds went to town with items in the bulletins and a string of features, including on Radio 4’s Today.  Breathlessly, the bulletins declared:

“A report says recent immigrants have paid substantially more into the public purse in taxes than they have taken out in benefits.  The study, by University College London says migrants from European countries have made a particularly positive contribution.”

Professor Dustmann’s views, it is true, were ‘balanced’ in the Today feature with commentary by Sir Andrew Green of the Migration Watch think tank, who questioned the statistical techniques employed by professor Dustmann. But there was also commentary from BBC correspondent Danny Shaw, who said that the report was ‘the most thorough of its kind’. No partisanship there, then.

Back in March Migration Watch itself published a comprehensive report rebutting Professor Dustmann’s arguments.  The BBC’s reaction?  Well, they completely ignored it.

Exhibit B is that News-watch is now well advanced in the he process of completing analysis of more than 300 transcripts across eight of the major BBC news programmes in the month leading up to European elections, which took place in May.

The clear headline is that throughout, Nigel Farage and UKIP were treated as aberrant, venal incompetents pursuing racist, nasty-party policies focused on immigration. Throughout the coverage there were frequent references to claims by others that the party’s approach was racist.

By contrast, those who favoured the EU’s free movement policies and indulged in the ‘racist’ name-calling, such as the Labour MP Mike Gapes, received a much fairer hearing. Of which, more when the research is complete.

The BBC, as I have already pointed out in a separate posting, have already declared this News-watch analysis to be wrong, without having read or considered it. Their view is that the coverage of the European election campaign was perfectly fair and balanced.

Which leads where? The BBC tells us they are being fair on immigration and indeed, they allow one of the chief correspondents to shout it from the rooftops. But meanwhile, when hard evidence is produced to show that this is not the case, they either ignore it altogether – or say it’s wrong. How very, very Animal Farm.

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Immigration: Anything but the truth.

BBC Political Editor Nick Robinson has announced that the BBC was once – at an unspecified period in the past – biased in its reporting of immigration issues.
He is reported as saying (in connection with pre-publicity for a programme he has made) that the corporation made a ‘terrible mistake’ in not reflecting the public’s concerns about the numbers and issues involved.
Mr Robinson’s mea culpa resonates closely with a similar confession by former director general Mark Thompson. In July 2011, he conceded that ‘taboo’ subjects such as immigration were avoided by the BBC for fear of its appearing too right wing. He said:
“I think there were some years when the BBC, like the rest of the UK media, was very reticent about talking about immigration. There was an anxiety whether or not you might be playing into a political agenda about immigration.”
What’s striking about these BBC admissions about bias in the reporting of immigration issues, however, is they are almost laughably predictable in substance and form.
It’s a routine BBC reaction to criticism that the corporation admits to problems in the past, but then says with total self-conviction (but no objective evidence) that those errors have
now been totally righted.
Then they hire someone from a BBC background and with close connections with the BBC Trustees – such as Stuart Prebble with his recent report into coverage of immigration, the EU and religion – to agree with them.
The evidence of past bias in the coverage of immigration is abundant. In 2004, for example, Newswatch compiled a report based on three months’ output from seven flagship news programmes for Sir Andrew Green’s group Migration Watch that revealed devastating shortcomings, especially with regard to the failure to reflect public concern and in the relentless thrust to portray those who opposed Labour’s immigration policies as xenophobicand racist.
More recently, the think thank The New Culture Forum produced an equally comprehensive report on the topic that revealed in both the past and the present, the corporation was not reflecting properly public concern. Among its conclusions are:
“It would be no exaggeration to say that a foreigner who subscribed only to the BBC might visit this country and be blissfully unaware of many of the social problems associated with immigration. These have never appeared in the national conversation and are instead whispered of in the shadows. This cannot be healthy.”
Nick Robinson says that these failings have been rectified. They have not. Evidence is easy to find. On November 5, the Today programme gave acres of space in bulletins and the main body of the programme to a report by two academics from University College London, in their survey claimed that EU immigrants had made ‘a particularly positive contribution to the public purse’. The editorial goal in giving the item such prominence was clearly to undermine those who are worried about the more negative effects of immigration.
Danny Shaw, the BBC’s home affairs editor, declared:
“I’ve looked back to see what other similar pieces of research have been done, and this does appear to be the most thorough analysis of its kind.”
On that basis, the report’s authors were interviewed and Justin Webb said in the intro:
“People who come to live in Britain make a substantial contribution to the public finances – they make us richer than we would otherwise be. So says the Centre for Research and
Analysis of Migration at University College London. They’ve been studying the figures in some considerable detail.”
Sir Andrew Green of Migration Watch was included in the sequence – ostensibly to give balance – but the set-up and the questioning was undoubtedly designed to allow the
authors to amplify their claim that fears about immigration were unfounded. The effects, despite what public opinion believed, were positive.
What Danny Shore omitted to say – and the BBC has subsequently failed to report – is that even the most cursory analysis of the UCL survey shows that – to put it mildly – the statistical evidence in question was totally unreliable. Who says so? The Civitas think-tank commissioned emeritus professor of statistics at UCL Mervyn Stone to examine the findings. His conclusion?
“Most of the underlying crude assumptions that the all-embracing approach has been obliged to make have not been subject to sensitivity tests that have might been made if the
study had not been so obviously driven to make the case it claims to have made.”
Ouch! In other words, the BBC as recently as November shouted from the rooftops the findings of a report about the positive effects of immigration that the most rudimentary of checks would have shown to be highly suspect.
Danny Shore, the home affairs editor who is paid vast amounts to ensure that what gets to air is accurate, endorsed a report ‘ as the most thorough analysis of its kind’ when it was anything but.
 If, as Nick Robinson maintains, the BBC is no longer biased in their quest to hide and manipulate the truth about immigration – how could this be the case?