Newsnight

Farage demands BBC apology for ‘blood on hands’ race hate claims

Farage demands BBC apology for ‘blood on hands’ race hate claims

Nigel Farage has responded to the latest developments in the Harlow killing of last August. He has demanded an apology for a BBC2 Newsnight package which included claims that he now had ‘blood his hands’ The full story is here.

 

Confirmed: BBC complaints process is unfit for purpose

Confirmed: BBC complaints process is unfit for purpose

At the heart of the BBC’s reform under its new Charter – due to come into effect imminently – is that for the first time, an outside body, Ofcom, will become the final court of appeal in complaints about impartiality.

The idea is that this will clean the Augean stables and the Corporation will end its rampant bias towards Brexit, climate alarmism, the impact of immigration, multiculturalism and rafts of other issues.

This is looking increasingly like poppycock. For a start, the members of the Ofcom Content Board are drawn from exactly the same prejudiced background as the BBC Trustees. But putting that aside for one moment, the tale below illustrates precisely why.

On August, 31, Arkadiusz Jozwik, a Polish man living in Harlow, was killed in a late-night fracas in the pizza parlour where he worked.

In the immediate aftermath of the crime, police arrested six local youths (all under 16) but quickly released them on bail without charge.   There were no further developments until this week when a 15-year-old from Harlow was charged with Mr Jozwik’s manslaughter. Of fundamental importance, it has also emerged that a race hate charge in connection with the death is not being pursued.

When news of the killing emerged, the BBC’s news operation went into hyper-ventilating overdrive.

On the BBC1 News at Six, reporter Daniel Sandford compiled a report in which the fulcrum was there were now fears that this was a ‘a frenzied racist attack triggered by the Brexit referendum’.

A few hours later, John Sweeney, on BBC2’s Newsnight – one of the Corporation’s main investigative journalists – took matters a step further in the editing of his report. He included as the conclusion so that it could not be ignored this inflammatory sounbdbite from another local Polish man:

But I mean, Nigel Farage, I mean, thank you for that, because you are part of this death, and you’ve got blood on your hands, thanks to you, thanks for all your decision, wherever you are, er . . . yeah, it’s your call.

Clearly in play and being reinforced to maximum extent by the Corporation was the central idea – evident in other programmes, too, as is documented on the News-watch website here –  that June 23 had unleashed a torrent of racist venom. In the BBC’s world the jackboots were now out – and on the march.

The following Monday, Guardian columnist and political activist (sorry, ‘rights campaigner’) Garry Younge was allowed to put together for a BBC Radio 4 series a barrage of sensationalist allegations in the same vein: that Britain, overnight since June 23, had become a seething cesspit of race-hate. Attacks were underway in terrifying, unprecedented volume.

On the advice of a senior BBC news executive – who claimed that the Corporation was listening to problems about post-Brexit coverage – News-watch submitted a formal complaint about the coverage of Harlow killing to the BBC Complaints Unit, focusing principally on the Sandford report.

Over seven-pages, it detailed that his approach was sensationalist, deliberately contrived to give maximum impact to the race hate claims, and also pointed out that it was seriously irresponsible and premature – in the light of the facts known to the police on August 31 and more generally about race-hate crime – to speculate so prominently either about race-hate motivation or about the crime’s possible link to Brexit.

The BBC’s response? A curt high-handed letter. It asserted that such speculation was legitimate because there had been a rise in reports of race-hate crime since June 23, and because other possible motives for Mr Jozwik’s death had been included in Sandford’s report.

The letter – which was mostly in an obviously standard format, and was so slipshod that it even spelled the name of Sandford incorrectly, omitting the ‘d’ – glossed over with what can only described as haughty arrogance the key points.

In response, News-watch submitted a second complaints letter pointing out the omissions and stating that the reply was totally unsatisfactory. That was on October 20.  On November 30 (ironically, the day of the manslaughter charges were laid) came the Complaints Unit’s second reply. It states:

‘We are sorry to tell you that we have nothing to add to our previous reply. We do not believe your complaint has raised a significant issue of general importance that might justify further investigation. We will not therefore correspond further in response to additional points, or further comments or questions made about this issue or our responses to it.’

The lessons learnt? The core BBC complaints process, which will remain as the conduit which will deal with most of the complaints submitted to the BBC after Charter renewal, is intrinsically and, irrevocably unfit for purpose. The Corporation remains the primary judge of what is deemed a ‘significant issue of general importance’

The second Complaints Unit letter does point out that the BBC Trust, in some circumstances, does entertain appeals. But the fact is that – as Richard Ayre, one of the current Trustees, has admitted – it has not upheld a complaint on EU-related matters in its entire existence.

Will Ofcom change that approach? Don’t hold your breath. And meanwhile, the totally inaccurate BBC assumptions about Brexit and race-hate continue to spew forth.

 

 

Newsnight uses poll to push ‘remain’

Newsnight uses poll to push ‘remain’

At the beginning of Newsnight on Friday night was a poll by Ipsos Mori about alleged post-vote attitudes to the EU referendum.

Presenter James O’Brien said that 56% of leavers and 76% of remainers thought negotiations would not yield a good ‘exit’ deal, 16% thought the UK would not actually leave (with 22% not knowing), and that ‘almost half’ of voters thought there should be a general election to vote on the ‘exit’ deal.  The commentary linked to the 5% disc above, used in the graphics about the poll, suggested that significant numbers of ‘leave’ voters now wanted to change their minds – planting the idea that if there was a re-run, there might be a ‘remain’ vote.

The rest of the programme magnified this, suggested that ‘Brexit’ sentiment was closely linked with the Front National in France and further posited that, against the background of the uncertainties, the 48% who had voted ‘remain’ might now effectively be without representation.

After the poll intro, the next sequence of the programme investigated what was happening over the Labour and Conservative leadership struggles. Political editor Nick Watt concluded:

British politics is being refashioned right in front of our eyes. But even in the middle of a revolution, perhaps it will be the steadiest member of the crew who will guide us to the next stage.

O’Brien then reminded viewers that immediately after the referendum vote, Newsnight had visited a pub in Burnley to canvass opinions. He said that Nick Blakemore had re-visited the pub to find if there had been much change.

The opinions he gathered were:

Delighted with the poll outcome

Got to work together to make it work.

We are all in the same boat – not now leave or remain and must move forward

The UK has left

The UK was leaving but voters had to remember that many had voted remain

Friends who are on either side but not falling out.

England is not an easy touch – you cannot come here and take advantage of the country

Tired of paying out for people who think it a career option to be a dosser, get a council house and take, take, take. We are working men and are sick of this

A remain voter said:

I actually voted ‘In’ last week. The reason was because erm . . .  I just feel that Britain has a massive role to play in the European Union and it doesn’t make sense for me for us to come out of that. I’m a second-generation Italian, so my mum and dad came over here. What I think the biggest thing is that . . .  I was born here but all my friends around here in Burnley have no issue whatsoever with any foreign people coming to this country, because, as long as the foreign people that come here contribute, that is the main thing. The biggest problem this country has is any foreign people who come over here and grab from the state, I think that’s the biggest issue.

I voted leave because I want a say in the laws we make

I voted leave, but I am not sure if it was the right thing to do.

People are making laws that we don’t have a say over 

There’s been a decline in living standards in the North of England, compared with, say, Basingstoke.

Anyone who is annoyed with the vote should get involved in politics.

If the left are to win ever again they have got to realise they have to respect the voice of normal working people.

We are going to get screwed either way.    

The longest most prominent contribution was from a remain supporter who strongly supported immigration and said it made no sense for Britain to leave the EU. The reporter found no one who was equally eloquent in supporting the leave position. By contrast. the ‘leavers’ statements were staccato and fragmentary – they didn’t like scroungers, laws being made elsewhere or being taken for granted by people who thought they were smarter.

James O’Brien then turned to studio guest novelist Kazuo Ishiguro, a man he said was ‘responsible for a lyrical evocation of interwar England so powerful and convincing that it won a Booker prize’. He added that he was thus a literary poster boy for a multicultural Britain and full integration – and was worried that ‘Britain may be in some sort of mortal threat’.

Ishiguro said he thought that the claim was ‘melodramatic’, but there was a serious threat. The nation was now bitterly divided, was leaderless and anxious. He said that if he was a strategist for the ‘far right’ he would now be getting very excited; it was the best opportunity since the 1930s to push Britain towards neo Nazism racism. People had to show decent heart.

James O’Brien suggested that in this connection, there had been some ‘grim tales’ this week. Ishiguro agreed that he was shaken, but despite what had happened, he had faith in the essential decency of the country.  He said he had grown up often as the only foreigner but the National Front and the BNP had never got a hold of the country – the UK did racism really badly. It was important, though, not to get complacent now, the decent part of the country needed something to rally around.

O’Brien responded:

….as you refer to in your piece, who voted to leave the European Union, and will be just chilled by the spectre that you portray as anybody on the Remain side is. It’s a challenge to really separate, isn’t it, the toxicity that seems to have been emboldened by the result and the people who will be just as alarmed by that emboldening as, as anybody else is. How, how can we do that?

Ishiguro said the majority of the people who voted leave were not racist…but some were. He wanted a petition from the leave side to say they were not in favour of the xenophobia and racism that was threatening to take over.

O’Brien asked if he had experienced any of that. He said not but said lots of people were really anxious, and there were reports that things that were not acceptable before were seeming to be so now. O’Brien asked if this included people being asked to go home. Ishiguro said the leave side needed to declare that they were not racist. O’Brien asked if this should include a hashtag. Ishiguro said he agreed it should. He then declared:

. . . you know, thing, I, I’m one of the people that would like to see a second referendum, not a replay of the last one.  But I think we, what we lack now is a proper mandate for the new Prime Minister, whoever it is, on what sort of Brexit we are going to go for.  And I think we need another . . . some sort of discussion for a referendum.

JO:         (speaking over) And you, you’ve, you’ve pulled the pin on a second r— a second referendum grenade just as our time together comes to an end. So we shall, we shall have to leave it there . . .

O’Brien then introduced a sequence about France’s attitudes towards Brexit. He noted that growing numbers of people there might want a referendum. Gabriel Gatehouse’s first port of call was George Bertrand, who during the referendum campaign had appeared on Newsnight to say how strongly he opposed both the holding of the referendum and a UK exit.  They had ended his ‘European dreams’.  His first words in this report were:

I’m sad and angry. I always wanted Britain to be part of European dreams… The results for Britain are extremely complex difficult to manage. But it is not only a domestic issue, but as it concerns us too….We consider Britain as an exceptional country. As itself, the role it has played in two wars, the way democratic life was developed… At the same time, we were absolutely aware that Europe without Britain was not Europe. The English Parliamentary tradition has a very positive influence on the European Parliament started to evolve.

The report then contained a vox pop regretting that Britain was leaving. Gatehouse also spoke to three members of the Front National, who said they were pleased with the referendum result, and linked themselves to other anti-EU movements in Europe, including Ukip.   He then spoke to Marine Le Pen, leader of the Front National. She said:

It’s the same cocktail than for the Brexit in a way, it’s anti-immigrant feeling, because it’s an open door to immigration, refugees and possibly terrorism, so the second issue is insecurity, law and order. And the third dimension is anti-elites, the idea that the people who govern us, they are so far away, they don’t understand us, the little people. And they are corrupt.

Gatehouse said:

And here is a curious paradox. In a country with a proud, democratic tradition, many people feel disenfranchised. Sure, they can vote for a choice of parties and politicians, but many feel the politicians are all saying the same things, in a language they no longer understand. It’s not just France. In corridors of power across Europe, politicians, the centrist establishment, the people who by and large have governed this continent since the end of the Second World War, are suddenly realising that for a whole variety of different reasons, vast swathes of their electorate simply don’t believe in them anymore. It’s not that the centrists aren’t aware of the problem, they are. They just don’t seem to know what to do about it.

PIERRE LELLOUCH French Minister for Europe, 2009-10:  People have a sense that they are losing the control of their nation. As a result of globalisation, the arrival of huge companies from the other side of the world, who are now controlling the economy. You are losing control of the economy, you are losing control of the people coming into your nation. A lot of poor whites consider they are losing money, they are paying for the newcomers. And I sense this anger all over the country here in France. And I’m worried about that. Because governments are . . . tend to . . .  For example, right now, they are involved in legislation that has no impact on these issues but you know, but it’s like a theatre.

GG:        You’re irrelevant?

PL:         In many ways, yes. Because of lack of courage, essentially.

George Bertrand had the last words. He said:

Britain used to rule the world. Europe used to rule the world. That’s finished….. I’m angry because we are putting our respective security in danger and democracy in danger. In spite of the economic and social divisions in Europe, we are the most balanced part of the world. The most human part of the world, the most socially-advanced in the world. That could be jeopardised.

James O’Brien opened the final sequence by stressing very strongly that the 48% who had voted ‘remain’ found themselves with ‘absolutely nothing’.  He asserted:

Politically your position is, in many ways, no stronger than if you’d won 0%. With all the Conservative leadership candidates now fully committed to Brexit and the winner of course guaranteed to govern, what will opposition even look like? And who will speak for the 48%?

He introduced his next guests, ‘journalist and broadcaster, Paul Mason, The Times columnist Phil Collins, and adviser to Nick Clegg, Polly McKenzie.’

Paul Mason suggested that the Labour party had scored a ‘fantastic success’ by knocking George Osborne away from fiscal rule. The task now was to push for more investment in business and tax cuts. Collins disagreed and said the reason for the change was the massive shock of leaving the EU.  O’Brien suggested that something more fundamental than infighting and squabbles. McKenzie agreed:

I think something has to change, because as you said in your intro, there’s nobody who really represents the 48%, the people who voted for Remain. And we don’t even have a mandate for a government to negotiate our Brexit. As we were hearing earlier, we don’t know what kind of Brexit we want – a sort of economically sensible EEA-type strategy or, you know, full complete distance and we just cut ourselves off and float in the mid-Atlantic?  And actually, unless there’s some sort of election or some sort of realignment of politics, nobody has a mandate to make that decision.

O’Brien asked what the alignment would look like. McKenzie said it was hard to see the Liberal Democrats leading it because they had only eight MPs. O’Brien noted that leader Tim Farron had committed to a campaign that would involve fighting to get back into the EU. McKenzie confirmed that this was the case and felt ‘very strongly represented by that’, but there was not enough support to build a new party. Collins suggested that if the Labour MPs who did not support Jeremy Corbyn broke away and formed a new party, that would be a great outcome.  Paul Mason said that the ‘centrist politics’ that wanted to re-join the EU would have to be a new party because neither Conservatives or Labour would do that. McKenzie said something needed doing urgently in terms of renegotiation, but at the moment there was a Cabinet office team of only three engaged in it. Collins said the referendum vote did not give a mandate for anything – it was only to leave.

ANALYSIS

What were the aims of this programme?  Clearly a central thread was the Newsnight-commissioned opinion poll. The findings were projected by James O’Brien to suggest primarily that the referendum had raised more questions than it answered, and that many ‘leave’ voters were now, in any case changing their minds.

The sequence from Burnley provided a range of opinions about what people had voted for and what they were expecting in the wake of the ‘out’ vote, but gave most prominence to a ‘remain’ voter whose contribution was that Britain still had a big part to play in the EU, and that immigration was vital to the economy.

Following on from that James O’Brien interviewed Remains of the Day author Yazua Ishiguro, who he said was very able and a strong supporter of multiculturalism. O’Brien worked with him – he asked no adversarial questions – in developing several ideas, including that a second referendum might be necessary, that the danger was that ‘the ‘leave’ vote would be a lever for the far right to introduce Nazi-style policies and that intolerance would increase.

The sequence from France gave pride of place to George Bertrand, who had helped take the UK into the EEC and now was angry because the UK had voted to leave. He claimed that this jeopardised the EU’s achievements and Europe’s place in the world. Gabriel Gatehouse also drew attention, as the main focus of his reporting, to that Marine le Pen, leader of the front National, and her supporters strongly supported Brexit and saw it as a means of reinforcing their own position.

The final section was predicated upon O’Brien’s statement that 48% of the electorate were left with nothing by the ‘leave’ vote.  He steered the discussion with the three supporters of remain so that they were given the opportunity to say that Brexit should not happen without a further election and that a new political party was required to represent the ‘remain’ side. He also gave a platform for former Newsnight economics editor Mason to argue extensively for tax cuts and to claim that the decision by George Osborne to, in effect, end austerity was a victory for the left.

In overall terms, therefore, the programme was focused through the prism of the findings of the opinion poll on giving five ardent ‘remain’ supporters a platform for suggesting that Brexit must not actually happen and was a disaster for the EU and the UK. It was a blatantly one-sided presentation and appeared to be a continuation of what looks like Newsnight’s deliberate campaign to reverse the referendum verdict.

Another major issue was the programme’s use of the opinion poll.

The BBC’s editorial guidelines contain clear advice about the use of such polls. It is stated:

Opinion polls, surveys, questionnaires, phone and online votes are useful and fruitful ways of listening to our audiences.  However, when we report them, the audience must be able to trust that the research – and our reporting of it – is robust.  To avoid misleading the audience, we should be rigorous in using precise language and in our scrutiny of the methodology.

We must also avoid commissioning any of our own research that could suggest a BBC position on a particular policy or issue.

There were three direct infringements of the guidelines.

First, Newsnight does increasingly have a position on the referendum result. It is on a mission to present as much evidence as possible to undermine it. The poll was framed to amplify that message, to show that voters wanted a fresh chance to vote in a general election, and had changed their minds.

Second, in the wake of the referendum, there is clear evidence that in this arena, polls are not reliable. Only two of the surveys published close to polling day predicted a ‘leave’ vote. One poll gave  a 10% advantage to ‘remain’ and Ipsos Mori (Newsnight’s pollster) 4%. In the wake of the referendum polls, Populus has issued a guidance note spelling out that, in effect, there is a huge question mark over how the lack of accuracy can be addressed. They state:

Having now studied turnout at the referendum and compared it to our analysis of the demographic composition of the voting electorate at previous referendums and general elections, we have concluded that turnout patterns are so different that a demographically based propensity-to-vote model is unlikely ever to produce an accurate picture of turnout other than by sheer luck.

We will continue to examine these methodological challenges in producing accurate snapshots and predictions of how the country will vote.  We will not publish another such poll until we are confident that it is right.

In that context of uncertainty, it seems extraordinary that Newsnight decided to commission a poll at all. The suspicion must be that the editors were desperate to find another way of showing that voters were now unsure about the result, and projected the findings as an ‘objective’ and reliable verification of that. Nothing of what O’Brien said gave a warning that there was a huge question mark over the reliability of such polls. This was a direct breach of the editorial guidelines.

Third – and even worse, perhaps – two separate statistics of polling information were conflated so as to overemphasise the numbers who said they would change their vote.

92% of the Ipsos Mori respondents said they would not change their minds if asked to vote in a second referendum (with 4% saying they would change their vote, 3% saying they didn’t know, and 1% saying they wouldn’t vote)

Newsnight presented this 92% figure in the graphic shown above. However, O’Brien then introduced an additional statistic: that 5% of Remain voters and 2% of Leave voters said they would now change their vote. Two smaller circles were duly placed on the chart to reflect this, despite these numbers having no direct correlation to the initial 92% figure. Therefore, the graphics and commentary suggested 7% wishing to change their votes, whereas the Ipsos Mori data itself had given a figure of just 4%.

Further, the two smaller circles of 5% and 2% cannot even be fairly compared to each other, given that more voted to Leave in the referendum than voted to Remain. The only way to have fairly reflected this difference would have been to have introduced a second chart, showing the overall numbers of Leave and Remain voters, and how potential shifts in voting intention might have affected the totals.

A closer inspection of the Ipsos Mori data also reveals that, to produce the 5% and 2% figures, two responses were combined: those who would ‘definitely’ change their vote, and those who ‘probably’ change their vote.

Had Newsnight focused only on those who were certain to change their votes, then the chart and commentary would have been even less striking: only 1.1% of those polled would definitely change their Leave vote, and just 0.4% would definitely change their Remain vote – a far less dramatic statistic than the one selected.

Put another way – bringing in the unweighted sample size of 935 voters who were actual consulted to reach these findings –  only FIVE  people told Ipsos Mori that they would definitely change their mind from ‘leave’ and two people said they would definitely switch from ‘remain’.  On that highly tenuous basis, Newsnight told its viewers, in effect  that 5% of total ‘leave’ vote of 17.4m was considering changing sides. This was a preposterous extrapolation.

Is there other evidence that Newsnight is in such campaigning mode? The News-watch post about the previous Friday’s edition is one instance. Further examples of such bias are on the Is the BBC Biased?  website.

Of all this evidence, perhaps the most devastating is Evan Davis’s hugely negative treatment of ‘leave supporter Crispin Blunt MP last Thursday evening (30/6) in his capacity of chair of the Commons foreign affairs select committee.   Blunt argued that it was likely that the UK could get a positive deal in the Brexit trade negotiations with the EU, and would also be able to influence free movement of peoples. Analysis of the transcript indicates that Davis tried extraordinarily hard to prevent Blunt making his points. The full exchange is below. It was 1,420 words.  Evan Davis spoke 624 words (44%) and Crispin Blunt 796 words (56%). There were 37 interruptions, at a rate of six per minute, among the highest recorded by news-watch in an equivalent interview.

 

Transcript of BBC2, Newsnight, 1st July, EU Referendum, 10.30pm (Extract on Polling)

JAMES O’BRIEN:              For once, the clichés seem almost inadequate. It really was a political earthquake. We really are in uncharted waters and we really do have no idea what happens next. So, the search for clarity, and maybe even some certainty, is underway. And while it’s a little previous to suggest that much dust has settled, a week has now passed since the Referendum result was revealed, so we have, at least, had some time to consider its possible ramifications. Time now, then, obviously, for a poll examining where we were, where we are and where we think we might be going with Brexit. It’s thrown up a few surprises and some rather bad news for anyone hoping that they’d seen the back of the ballot box for a while. Have you had enough of voting yet? Apparently not. In fact almost half of voters polled said Britain should hold another general election before the UK starts to negotiate Brexit, so that each party can set out its own vision for life outside the EU. And maybe this is why. 59% told us they were not confident in Britain’s political leaders getting the best possible Brexit deal for Britain. That rises to 76% of Remain voters. And what about buyer’s remorse? All those voters who supposedly want to change their minds? Well, maybe not. 92% of respondents said they would definitely vote the same way. But of them, 5% of Leave voters did say they would now change their vote, compared to just 2% of Remain voters. And finally, imagine if this all just went away. Well, more than a third of voters they think it might. 22% said they don’t know if Britain will actually leave the EU and 16% think the UK will actively defy the Brexit vote and find a way to stay in. Of course, that’s only part of the post-Ref picture. The real action is unfolding at Westminster where just about everything is up for grabs on both sides of the House.

 

Transcript of BBC2, Newsnight, 29th June 2016, Interview with Crispin Blunt, 10.49pm

EVAN DAVIS:     Joining me now, Conservative MP, and chair of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee, Crispin Blunt, who has declared he’s backing Boris Johnson, a very good evening to you.

CRISPIN BLUNT: Good evening.

ED:        (speaking over) You were just explaining something to me, you’re not really worried about the negotiation at all, because you think if it all fails we’re still in an okay situation?

CB:        Well, the Foreign Affairs Committee looked at this and we published our report on the 26 April, I suggest people read it, erm, because it is highly likely our European partners are not going to be able to agree on a negotiating strategy between themselves.  They have to . . . and if they . . . if there’s qualified minority blocking a deal, either those people who want to deal er, er, positively with UK or those who want to be seen to be . . .

ED:        (speaking over) Punish . . .

CB:        . . . to punish us, er, then that doesn’t work, and equally, the European Parliament has to approve this as well . . .

ED:        (speaking over) Right so, if, if, if all of that . . .

CB:        . . . and the mood there is .  .

ED:        (speaking over) fails, then, then . . .

CB:        So . . . then, er, we go to . . . have to sell into the European single market, on most-favoured nation terms of WTO rules, tariffs at about an average of 3% – 10% in some areas, such as on cars and things . . .

ED:        (speaking over) Your point is that is not the end of the world . . .

CB:        That is . . .

ED:        (speaking over) That’s perfectly (words unclear)

CB:        (speaking over) And that’s how we sell into the . . .

ED:        (speaking over) Okay.

CB:        . . . United States. But no, but it’s better than that, Evan, because we then, er, get control of immigration, we have control of free movement of people, and we then don’t have free movement of . . .

ED:        (speaking over) Okay.

CB:        . . . labour into the UK, we don’t have to pay £20 billion . . .

ED:        (speaking over) No, well that, look . . .

CB:        . . . into the EU budget, okay, we then get £10 billion back, but we can at least decide where that £20 billion gets spent.  It gets even better than that.  We are then in a position where we are regulating our own market, and where there are issues . . .

ED:        (interrupting) Okay, so I understand, you basically think the backstop, if everything else fails, is, is, is, not to bad . . .

CB:        (speaking over) I think people should appreciate actually just how strong . . .

ED:        (speaking over) What, what, Boris Johnson, can I just ask you . . .

CB:        . . . the British hand is.

ED:        (speaking over) I want to ask you what you understood by what Boris Johnson wrote in The Telegraph the other day, this line he wrote about British people would be able to go and work in the EU, live, travel, study, buy homes and settle down there.  What do you think he meant by that, when he wrote that was going to be the outcome of the negotiation?

CB:        What . . . I don’t, I don’t know what . . .

ED:        (speaking over) You don’t know?

CB:        I don’t know, I don’t know . . .

ED:        (speaking over) (words unclear)

CB:        I don’t know what, well, well . . .

ED:        (speaking over) Can you, can you foresee any outcome . . .

CB:        (speaking over) I don’t know what Boris, er, meant by that, there is plainly going to be . . .

ED:        (speaking over) You don’t know what he . . . can you see any outcome where that, if that happens . . .

CB:        (speaking over) Yeah, well, if you look . . .

ED:        . . . and we don’t . . .

CB:        (speaking over) Well . . .

ED:        We can restrict them . . .

CB:        Can we go and live in the United States if we have the means and ability to do so, if we get a gre— . . .

ED:        (speaking over) Is that what he meant when he said that? Is that what he meant?

CB:        (speaking under) a green card. Er . . .

ED:        I can’t go and live in the United States . . .

CB:        (speaking over) But . . . but . . .

ED:        I have to get a job and get a green card.

CB:        Er, and get a green card. Now that may be . . .

ED:        (interrupting) Sorry, I’ll tell you why I’m pushing this, you’re supporting him, he’s written this thing which is . . . appears to imply ‘We will stop them coming here, but we will have the right to go there’ . . .

CB:        No, and if that’s . . .

ED:        (speaking over) He’s just been in the middle of a campaign, he ought to know whether that is achievable or not, and I’m asking you whether . . .

CB:        Well, I, I . . .

ED:        . . . you think it is achievable?

CB:        (speaking over) Well . . . er, my view is that, er, we will come, have to come to a deal about how people move between the United Kingdom and the rest of the European Union.

ED:        Can you see . . .

CB:        And we go into those . . .

ED:        (speaking over) that they will allow us freedom of movement without us allowing them freedom of movement? Because that is what your candidate . . .

CB:        (speaking over) No, and that’s why . . .

ED:        . . . from Prime Minister . . .

CB:        That’s why . . .

ED:        . . . who is meant to be an expert on this, having run a campaign on it has just (word unclear due to speaking over ‘written’?)

CB:        (speaking over) Well, if you could . . . I’m quite certain that everyone is now going to disinter everything that Boris has said, because there’s obviously a significant campaign to try and . . .

ED:        (interrupting) What?! Is this unreasonable, to take something he wrote in article for which he was paid several thousand pounds, at the end of a campaign, he wrote something that was reassuring . . .

CB:        Well . . .

ED:        . . . about what would be the position for the British, that appears, to most commentators, utterly incoherent . . .

CB:        (speaking over) There is a . . .

ED:        (speaking over) Does that not worry you about the candidate you’re supporting?

CB:        There’s . . . uncertainty all over the place, erm, amongst the candidates, in certainly, in, certainly in the media, please let me . . . to finish this point, and it is extremely important to the national interest now, that we actually get some, as much certainty as possible about what the bottom line is for the United Kingdom. The bottom line . . . for the United Kingdom (fragments of words, or words unclear due to speaking over)

ED:        (speaking over) You’ve explained the bottom line, which is . . .

CB:        And that position . . .

ED:        (speaking over) But if we take the bottom line . . .

CB:        (speaking over) Wait, wait, well, well, hold on, hold on (fragment of word, or word unclear due to speaking over)

ED:        (speaking over) Will I be able to live, travel, study, buy a home, settle down in France, do you think? Under your bottom line?

CB:        Well no, if the, if the . . .

ED:        (speaking over) Right . . .

CB:        . . . if the negotiations (fragments of words, unclear due to speaking over)

ED:        (speaking over) Right. So how can Boris give me that reassurance in his article?

CB:        Well, because that’s no doubt what he is seeking to achieve.  And it is obviously in the mutual interest of both United Kingdom and our European partners that that is the case, in exactly the same way . . .

ED:        (exhales or laughing?)

CB:        Evan, in exactly the same way as it is in our mutual interest that the tariff regime, particularly in the interests of our European partners, that if they sell nearly twice as many manufactured goods to was as we sell to them, that they would want to see those tariffs reduced.

ED:        Can I give you a quickfire round, because there are some issues, which I know . . . well, do you think, immigration from non-EU countries, if Boris, your candidate wins, will go up . . . or not . . .

CB:        (speaking over) (fragment of word, unclear)

ED:        . . . when we have our new immigration regime?

CB:        (fragment of word, unclear)

ED:        Because promises were made to Asian communities that it would be easier to get relatives in.  Do you think immigration will go up or down?

CB:        Well, my view is that we should regulate immigration from outside the United Kingdom (sic?) consistently across, so people face the same rules . . .

ED:        (speaking over) More or less from outside the EU?

CB:        Both the regulation should be the same from (words unclear due to speaking over)

ED:        (speaking over) Okay, you’re not going to answer that.

CB:        (fragments of words, or words unclear)

ED:        (speaking over) You’re not answering it.

CB:        No Evan, this is, Evan, this is rather more serious, this trying to score . . .

ED:        (speaking over) I’m not, these are just really basic questions . . .

CB:        (speaking over) to try to . . .

ED:        . . . which have not been answered in the campaign . . .

CB:        (speaking over) But you know, you know perfectly well . . .

ED:        (speaking over) and which your candidate is now going to stand for Prime Minister . . .

CB:        (speaking over) But . . . but you know, but you know perfectly well that, er, the numbers of people that come into the United Kingdom are not necessarily, depending on what system you set up, is then going to depend . . .

ED:        (speaking over) Right . . .

CB:        . . . how many people come into the United Kingdom, so if you put . . .

ED:        (speaking over) So maybe . . .

CB:        . . . so if you put a . . . cap on the number of visas you’re going to allow . . .

ED:        (speaking over) Right.

CB:        . . . that’s one way of controlling it. Are you going to seek control . . .

ED:        (interrupting) So it can go a lot of ways . . .

CB:        . . . by the number of, (fragments of words, unclear) by . . .

ED:        (speaking over) Any, any . . .

CB:        . . . by issuing green cards.

ED:        (speaking over) Any suggestion made in the campaign . . .

CB:        And finally . . . and finally, we are going to have control over this. So we are then going to be . . . do the very important business of trying to protect British unskilled and semi-skilled labour from having to compete with people who have professional qualifications, from Central, Eastern and Southern Europe, or indeed, anywhere else in the world.  That’s why they are not allowed into the United Kingdom (words unclear due to speaking over)

ED:        (speaking over) That is a very long way of saying . . .

CB:        . . . outside the European Union.

ED:        . . . you don’t know whether immigration will go up or not. Crispin Blunt (laughter in voice) sorry we have to leave it there, thanks very much indeed.  Thanks.

 

Transcript of BBC2, Newsnight, 1st July, EU Referendum, 10.30pm

Opening Montage

Music with the lyrics ‘The world turned upside down’ repeated throughout.

DAVID CAMERON:          I do not think it would be right for me to try to be the captain that steers our country to its next destination.

EMILY MAITLIS: When you voted leave, was it about the EU, was it picking the government, was about change of any kind? Or was it about something I haven’t mentioned?

UNNAMED FEMALE:       It’s everything.

UNNAMED FEMALE:       Everything.

EM:       Right.

HILARY BENN:   I no longer had confidence in his leadership.

ANGELA EAGLE: I feel that I’ve served in the best way I can.

REPORTER:         Here at Westminster in the last few minutes there are more Labour resignations, three Shadow ministers . . .

UNNAMED FEMALE:       He doesn’t need them shadow cabinets, get an . . . get an election and he’ll get in.

JEREMY CORBYN:            Seumas, I’m not sure this is a great idea, is it?

DC:        And I thought I was having a bad day ! (Laughter)

JEAN-CLAUDE JUNCKER:              You were fighting for the exit. The British people voted in favour of the exit, why are you here?

THERESA MAY:  My pitch is very simple, I’m Theresa May and I think I’m the best person to be Prime Minister of this country.

VICTORIA DERBYSHIRE: Tom, Tom, I’m really sorry to interrupt, but we’re just hearing that Michael Gove is preparing to announce his candidacy as well.

JOURNALIST:     What is your to Michael Gove? What is your to Michael Gove?

BORIS JOHNSON:            I have . . . concluded that person cannot be me.

MICHAEL GOVE:              I came reluctantly but firmly to the conclusion that I should stand and Boris should stand aside.

BJ:         I cannot, unfortunately, get on with doing what I want to do, so it will be up to someone else now. I wish them every possible success.

JAMES O’BRIEN:              For once, the clichés seem almost inadequate. It really was a political earthquake. We really are in uncharted waters and we really do have no idea what happens next. So, the search for clarity, and maybe even some certainty, is underway. And while it’s a little previous to suggest that much dust has settled, a week has now passed since the Referendum result was revealed, so we have, at least, had some time to consider its possible ramifications. Time now, then, obviously, for a poll examining where we were, where we are and where we think we might be going with Brexit. It’s thrown up a few surprises and some rather bad news for anyone hoping that they’d seen the back of the ballot box for a while. Have you had enough of voting yet? Apparently not. In fact almost half of voters polled said Britain should hold another general election before the UK starts to negotiate Brexit, so that each party can set out its own vision for life outside the EU. And maybe this is why. 59% told us they were not confident in Britain’s political leaders getting the best possible Brexit deal for Britain. That rises to 76% of Remain voters. And what about buyer’s remorse? All those voters who supposedly want to change their minds? Well, maybe not. 92% of respondents said they would definitely vote the same way. But of them, 5% of Leave voters did say they would now change their vote, compared to just 2% of Remain voters. And finally, imagine if this all just went away. Well, more than a third of voters they think it might. 22% said they don’t know if Britain will actually leave the EU and 16% think the UK will actively defy the Brexit vote and find a way to stay in. Of course, that’s only part of the post-Ref picture. The real action is unfolding at Westminster where just about everything is up for grabs on both sides of the House. To provide a measure of the mayhem, no pun intended, you could probably argue tonight that the Parliamentary party which didn’t want a leadership battle is having one while the Parliamentary party that desperately does want one, isn’t. Yet. Newsnight’s political editor, Nick Watt, is filling his boots.

Nick Watt talks about plans to ‘ease Jeremy Corbyn out of the door’, and allow him to resign with dignity.

What’s the latest? Nick, you have found out about a plan to help ease Jeremy Corbyn out of the door?

NICK WATT:       Yes, all the signs from the Shadow Chancellor today John McDonald work that Jeremy Corbyn is not going anywhere and he’s going to stay. But I understand there was a delegation of Shadow Cabinet ministers yesterday who tried and failed to meet Jeremy Corbyn to suggest a plan to allow him to resign with dignity. They were suggesting that a commission could be set up over the summer and that would in trench some of his ideas about how you democratise the Labour Party and would also push on the party to commit to some of his core policies on inequality. If that could happen and some of the leadership contenders could agree to that, he would perhaps pre-announced his retirement and he would go after the Labour conference. What is really interesting about this is that people like John McDonald are very wary of this because they are scared that the moment he gives up the power, that is it for the left. But I understand that some members on the left who were in that room last year when his candidacy was approved that they thought with great reluctance and sadness that this may be the wise thing to do because they fear that the party could divide.

JO:         I hesitate to ask, but more bad news for the Labour leader tonight?

NW:      Yes, an interesting YouGov poll of Unite members, whose general secretary is one of Jeremy Corbyn’s most ardent supporters and this shows that 75% of people who voted Labour in the general election last year believe that Jeremy Corbyn will not be Prime Minister. It wouldn’t surprise me if Jeremy Corbyn’s opponent in the Labour Party picked up on this to challenge one of his central arguments. That Central argue it is, I may not have any support at Westminster but I do have support in the wider labour movement. Important health warning, election day to admit that YouGov were not able to do the full weighting you would normally expect because they do not know the full and exact demographic breakdown of Unite members. But we shouldn’t forget that there is a contest to choose the next Prime Minister of this country, so what I thought I would do is take a look at how that is going and also see how the front runner, Theresa May is getting on. (package report) Who would have believed it? The plodder of the Cabinet who issues the political gossip and the party circuit is emerging as the front runner in the Tory leadership contest.

DOMINIC GRIEVE Theresa May supporter:           She brings to her work eight professionalism, dedication and hard work, a willingness to confront difficult problems, and that may be in great measure due to the fact that she is a woman. Which is probably a positive at the present time in my view in terms of our national politics.

NW:      There is an unmistakable buzz around the Home Secretary and her rivals are concerned. 36 hours ago, Boris Johnson appeared to be the slam dunk candidate in the Tory leadership contest. After his former friend Michael Gove ended his lifetime’s ambition to be Prime Minister, the question tonight is whether the Theresa May juggernaut is unstoppable. Like it or loathe it, Theresa May is now defining this leadership contest and even influencing wider government policy.

GEORGE OSBORNE:        It’s incredibly important we maintain fiscal credibility…

NW:      George Osborne indicated today that he would abandon his plan to achieve an overall budget surplus, a day after the Home Secretary said she would do just that. And at his campaign launch, Michael Gove had his sights set on Theresa May when he said that the next Prime Minister must be a Brexit supporter. But Michael Gove knows he has to overcome the perception that he is guilty of a double act of treachery against two old friends, David Cameron and Boris Johnson.

PAUL GOODMAN Editor, Conservative Home:     As we sit here today, you have to conclude that it looks as though he has gone over the Reichenbach falls with Boris Johnson, taken him over the falls but done some damage to his own reputation, who was previously above the fray, but he’s now gone down into the marketplace and has been swinging punches like the rest of them.

NW:      Fans of the Justice Secretary say he has the brains and personal touch to make it.

ANNE-MARIE TREVELYAN Michael Gove supporter:          He is a powerhouse of a man, an intellectual I’ve known for 30 years, I’ve watched him develop. He’s a radical reformer and a man who has always led his politics by conviction. He’s the one who persuaded me to in politics. He has the same vision for our country that I do, which is that we can really bring everyone together.

NW:      But momentum appears to be building up behind Andrei led ‘ — Andrea Ledsom. Perhaps she could become the main leadership challenger to Theresa May.

PG:        Candidates with novelty tend to do well in leadership elections. No one had heard of John Major in 1990, William Hague was a religiously junior figure in 1997. Iain Duncan Smith had been a Maastricht rebel. So Andrea Ledsom could come from the outside to give Theresa May a run for her money.

NW:      Some of Theresa May’s supporters hope this contest could be over by next week. They are nervous that if this goes to the second stage, decided by grassroots Tory members, the support for the Remain side could count against her.

PG:        The main test for Theresa May is whether or not she could persuade that Tory members should elect her when she was four Remain and the majority evidence was that a majority of them were for Leave. There is a form in Tory leadership contests being about Europe.

NW:      British politics is being refashioned right in front of our eyes. But even in the middle of a revolution, perhaps it will be the steadiest member of the crew who will guide us to the next stage.

Full transcription:

JO:         We’re off to the pub now. The one in Burnley next where, you’ll recall, we canvassed the immediate post-vote feelings pretty comprehensively. So, have they changed much? Will feuding friends forgive and forget? In a moment, Nick Blakemore will find out, but first a quick reminder of how those Brexit campaigners reacted when they found out the result.

TANYA THOMPSON Vote Leave Activist (Unnamed here):              I’m over the moon, I don’t know what to say. We did it. Everybody woke up in time. Everybody listened. Everybody understands, yes, it’s going to be rough at the beginning. But we’ve done it.

JO:         So, a week on, how are they feeling? Just to warn you, you may hear some strong language in the background of Nick’s film.

UNNAMED FEMALE:       We’ve got to work together to make this work.

UNNAMED MALE:           It’s like anything, you either go for it or you are left behind.

VOX POP FEMALE 2:       We are all in the same boat. We now move forward. We are not Leave and Remain, we are United Kingdom.

VOX POP MALE:              (speaking over) Leave. No, we are Leave, we’ve left.

VPF2:    We are leaving, but we have to remember that a large percentage of this country voted Remain, and we don’t feel that way.

VPM:     (speaking over)(words unclear) He’s Remain – I’m Out, aren’t I – are me and you falling out?

VOX POP MALE2:            No.

VPF2:    No.

VPM:     We might be in ten minutes, like, but you know . . .

VOX POP MALE 3:           This time we will just carry on. As it were. We just want people to know that England is not an easy touch. You know what I mean? You can’t just come here and take, take, take. To enjoy the advantages of this country, you’ve got to contribute. It’s as simple as that.

NICK BLAKEMORE:          Why do you think Burnley voted for leave?

VPM3:  They’re tired of paying out for people who think it’s a career option to just be a dosser and get a council house and take, take, take. And we’re getting sick of this, you know, you look around, every one of us here are hard working men and that’s what we’re sick of.

VOX POP MALE 4:           I actually voted In last week. The reason was because erm . . .  I just feel that Britain has a massive role to play in the European Union and it doesn’t make sense for me for us to come out of that. I’m a second-generation Italian, so my mum and dad came over here. What I think the biggest thing is that . . .  I was born here but all my friends around here in Burnley have no issue whatsoever with any foreign people coming to this country, because, as long as the foreign people that come here contribute, that is the main thing. The biggest problem this country has is any foreign people who come over here and grab from the state, I think that’s the biggest issue.

VOX POP MALE 5: Did you vote Leave in the referendum?

VOX POP MALE 6:           (words unclear) Did you?

VPM5:  I did, definitely. You know why? Because I want a say over the laws that are made.

VOX POP MALE 6:           I voted Leave which the majority of people round here did. I’m not sure if it were the right thing or the wrong thing, we will soon find out.

VPM5:  People are making laws now that we don’t even vote over. That’s my biggest gripe.

VPM6:  You could definitely say that we’ve seen a decline in our living standards, especially in the north-west. The North of England. I mean, I have family who live down south, like Basingstoke, and you go down there and it’s like a different country.

VPM 5: So, we talk about how it’s . . .  what’s happened down south compared to what’s happened in the north-west, but if you think about it, we, we now have a say over where that money goes. And I’d say to anyone who is annoyed about this referendum, annoyed that we voted to leave and they wanted to remain, get involved in politics right now because at this moment in time it’s the biggest change you can make.

VPM6:  I would say that if that is going to be a left wing ever again, they’ve got to realise that they’re not the super intelligent people that they think they are. They have to respect the voice of normal working people. And we’re not stupid.

BARMAID:          I see the pros and cons, either way, to be honest with you, I think, putting it bluntly, we are going to get screwed, either way!

JO:         Joining me now is the novelist Kazuo Ishiguro, the Japanese-born, raised in Surrey and, and as the author of The Remains of the Day, the man responsible for a lyrical evocation of interwar England so powerful and convincing that it won the Booker Prize and was made into a famous film. Kazuo, I mention those three parts of your past because they paint you, in a way, as a sort of literary poster boy for a multi-cultural Britain and full integration, and yet (exhales) you write in Today’s Financial Times of your fears that that sort of Britain may be in some sort of mortal threat. Why?

KAZU ISHIGURO:             Mortal threat may be putting it a little melodramatically but I think this is very serious, you know, in my whole life time here, I have . . . I don’t think I’ve felt this anxious. I mean, the nation is very bitterly divided. It is leaderless, it is very anxious. Erm, if I . . . if I was a strategist for the far right now, I would be getting very excited, you know, this is, this is probably the best opportunity since the 1930s to push Britain towards some kind of neo-Nazi racism, and I think that we have got to . . .  All the decent people in this country, and I mean both, people on both sides of the referendum divide, have got to rally around some sort of decent heart of, of Britain, and I think that’s decent heart . . .  I don’t doubt that decent heart, you know . . .

JO:         Not even a little?

KI:          I . . .

JO:         There’s been some grim, grim tales this week.

KI:          I was, I was, I was shaken, I was a firm Remain person, you know, and I was shaken, like a lot of people. Er, but in the end I, you know, I have . . . I have a faith about the essential decency of this country.  I speak both as someone who grew up as the only visible foreigner at school, I was always the only foreign boy at school, the only foreign kid in the community, over the years I have lived in various parts of Britain, when very large numbers of immigrants came from the Caribbean, Africa, the Asian subcontinent, the Caribbean, during a time of enormous economic turmoil in the 1970s and 1980s, people like the National Front and the BNP have never gained a hold in this country.  You know, I think . . . and just as it was in the first half of the 20th Century, basically, I know, and I can tell from my perspective, everything I know about this country, is that it is essentially a very decent, tolerant country, it does racism really badly, even worse than football!

JO:         (laughs) (words unclear) a part of the country is doing quite well.

KI:          And when fascism was rampaging across Europe, you know, in the first half the 20th century, it couldn’t get a foothold here. But, I think this is . . . we shouldn’t be complacent now. And I think the country does need to . . . the decent part of the country needs something to rally around.

JO:         Well, let’s try and identify what that may be, but of course, there’ll be plenty of people watching this, as you well know, and as you refer to in your piece, who voted to leave the European Union, and will be just chilled by the spectre that you portray as anybody on the Remain side is. It’s a challenge to really separate, isn’t it, the toxicity that seems to have been emboldened by the result and the people who will be just as alarmed by that emboldening as, as anybody else is.  How, how can we do that?

KI:          I absolutely believe that, you know, the majority of the people who voted leave are not racist . . .

JO:         Of course.

KI:          Some are. But, you know, just at a local level, I would like to see . . . I would like to see some kind of campaign declaration, a petition, I can’t do it, I am from the Remain camp, people from the Leave camp, I’d like them to clearly say that they are against the kind of xenophobia and racism that is threatening to take over.

JO:         Have you experienced any?

KI:          Not personally, no, no, just, just reading . . . I mean, there are a lot of people very anxious, you know, and we’ve heard reports of, just, you know, things that weren’t acceptable before, seeming to be acceptable now.

JO:         (speaking over) People being told to go home (words unclear due to speaking over)

KI:          (speaking over) I think yes, yeah, exactly . . . it’s at that level at the moment, you know . . . I . . . I don’t know how deep it goes, but I would like to see the people from the Leave camp just clearly  . . . isolate the racists, you know, by saying, ‘This isn’t us.’ You know, I would even offer them a slogan, you know “Leave Racism”, you know, you know hashtag whatever . . .

JO:         It needs a hashtag.

KI:          Let’s just, let’s just try and win back the tone of this, this thing.  At a deeper level, at a deeper kind of . . .

JO:         Hmm.

KI:          . . . you know, thing, I, I’m one of the people that would like to see a second referendum, not a replay of the last one.  But I think we, what we lack now is a proper mandate for the new Prime Minister, whoever it is, on what sort of Brexit we are going to go for.  And I think we need another . . . some sort of discussion for a referendum.

JO:         (speaking over) And you, you’ve, you’ve pulled the pin on a second r— a second referendum grenade just as our time together comes to an end. So we shall, we shall have to leave it there . . .

KI:          Okay.

JO:         Kazuo Ishiguro many thanks indeed.

KI:          (speaking over) Thank you very much.

JO:         Of course, the referendum shockwaves reach much further than the shores of these islands. And few countries have been watching events here more closely than France. One of the original architects of the Common Market and, of course, long a historical obstacle to the UK’s membership, the country today hosts a growing strain of Gallic Euroscepticism and may be developing an appetite for what has inevitably been dubbed Frexit. Newsnight’s Gabriel Gatehouse has been taking a breath of French air to find out how events on this side of the Channel have played out over there.

UNNAMED MALE SPEAKER (GEORGE BERTRAND?):          I’m sad and angry. I always wanted Britain to be part of European dreams.

GABRIEL GATEHOUSE:   : It may look like life as normal. Paris in summertime. Cafes, strikes, the odd riot.  But make no mistake, Brexit was an earthquake. The old Europe has changed.

VOX POP MALE:              I was like, no, no! You can’t do that! We have a future together.

UNNAMED FEMALE (MARINE LE PEN?)On the side of the far right, it has come as a divine surprise.

UNNAMED MALE:           One has to react very quickly because as a disease it is very profound.

GG:        In the run-up to the referendum, Newsnight met George Bertrand, one of the founding fathers of the European Union. Brexit, he believes, is a disaster.

GEORGE BERTRAND:      The results for Britain are extremely complex difficult to manage. But it is not only a domestic issue, but as it concerns us too.

GG:        Mr Bertrand played a prominent role in shepherding Britain into the common market. And so, for him, it’s personal.

GB:        We consider Britain as an exceptional country. As itself, the role it has played in two wars, the way democratic life was developed… At the same time, we were absolutely aware that Europe without Britain was not Europe. The English Parliamentary tradition has a very positive influence on the European Parliament started to evolve.

GG:        Today, in France, an unpopular centre-left government is trying to force through reforms to the labour code. It’s not going well. The French, of course, are no strangers to this kind of labour protest. But it does feel now that there is a flight from the centre to the left and to the right. On the left, they see the EU as part of a neoliberal project which they blame for austerity, inequality and rising unemployment. And yet even here, some are dismayed by Brexit.

VOX POP MALE:                             OK, Europe, us, it exists. It’s shit, but we can’t, as we say in French, we can’t throw away the baby with the water of the bath.

GG:        The baby out with the bath water, yes we say the same in England.

VPM:     Yes, we can’t do that.

GG:        In France, discontent with the political establishment is rising. The chief beneficiaries are not on the left but on the right. The Front National was once a fringe movement, the preserve of ageing ex-colonialists bitter about the loss of empire. No longer. Like the left, young FN supporters rail against globalisation, but for them, Brexit is a cause for celebration.

VOX POP FEMALE:          The British have opened the door and I hope they have opened it for us too and for all the other peoples of Europe as well.

VOX POP MALE 2:           It’s a strong message, an historic message.  It’s the most important event since the fall of the Berlin Wall.  It’s very galvanising.

VPF:      In every country, we see the rise of parties with patriotic, anti-globalisation agendas.  We don’t agree with all of them.  We don’t agree with everything Podemos say.  We were very disappointed by what happened in Greece.  We are interested in UKIP, we are interested in the Northern League, Alternative fur Deutschland.

GG:        Polls suggest that the Front National could win the presidency next year. The polls also show a rise in Eurosceptic sentiment. And the Front National leader, Marine Le Pen, has promised a referendum on Frexit.

MARINE LE PEN:              It’s the same cocktail than for the Brexit in a way, it’s anti-immigrant feeling, because it’s an open door to immigration, refugees and possibly terrorism, so the second issue is insecurity, law and order. And the third dimension is anti-elites, the idea that the people who govern us, they are so far away, they don’t understand us, the little people. And they are corrupt.

GG:        And here is a curious paradox. In a country with a proud, democratic tradition, many people feel disenfranchised. Sure, they can vote for a choice of parties and politicians, but many feel the politicians are all saying the same things, in a language they no longer understand. It’s not just France. In corridors of power across Europe, politicians, the centrist establishment, the people who by and large have governed this continent since the end of the Second World War, are suddenly realising that for a whole variety of different reasons, vast swathes of their electorate simply don’t believe in them anymore. It’s not that the centrists aren’t aware of the problem, they are. They just don’t seem to know what to do about it.

PIERRE LELLOUCH French Minister for Europe, 2009-10:  People have a sense that they are losing the control of their nation. As a result of globalisation, the arrival of huge companies from the other side of the world, who are now controlling the economy. You are losing control of the economy, you are losing control of the people coming into your nation. A lot of poor whites consider they are losing money, they are paying for the newcomers. And I sense this anger all over the country here in France. And I’m worried about that. Because governments are . . . tend to . . .  For example, right now, they are involved in legislation that has no impact on these issues but you know, but it’s like a theatre.

GG:        You’re irrelevant?

PL:         In many ways, yes. Because of lack of courage, essentially.

GB:        Britain used to rule the world. Europe used to rule the world. That’s finished.

GG:        Europe is in the grip of a malaise. For some, Brexit presents an opportunity for renewal. For others, it is a dangerous gamble.

GB:        I’m angry because we are putting our respective security in danger and democracy in danger. In spite of the economic and social divisions in Europe, we are the most balanced part of the world. The most human part of the world, the most socially-advanced in the world. That could be jeopardised.

JO:         Lose by 4% of the vote in a General Election and you find yourself in strong Opposition with a fighting chance of halting legislation and embarrassing the Government. Win 48% of the vote in a Referendum and you find yourself with absolutely nothing. Politically your position is, in many ways, no stronger than if you’d won 0%. With all the Conservative leadership candidates now fully committed to Brexit and the winner of course guaranteed to govern, what will opposition even look like? And who will speak for the 48%? Some suggest we’re approaching a fundamental redrawing of traditional party politics but few are prepared to predict what it might look like. Joining me now to survey the scene are, the journalist and broadcaster Paul Mason, The Times columnist Phil Collins, and adviser to Nick Clegg, Polly McKenzie. We’ll get onto the highfalutin stuff imminently, but I’d like to begin by asking you all a very simple question, who’s in the biggest mess at the moment, the Conservatives or the Labour Party, and Polly, I’ll start with you.

POLLY MCKENZIE:           Probably the Labour Party, because at least the Conservatives have a process which will get them to a leader they will broadly all be happy with, even if the country has to like it or lump it.  Whereas the Labour Party, frankly, this could go on for months or even years.

PHILLIP COLLINS:             Well, the Conservative Party’s mess is more important because they are visiting it on the rest of us, they are visiting it on the country. So their mess is more important in that sense, but the bigger mess if it weren’t for that obviously important fact is the Labour Party, which is facing the prospect it might not even exist quite soon.

JO:         An existential threat to the Labour Party, Paul Mason?

PAUL MASON:   Yes, well I noticed your political editor, comprehensive though he was on the unnamed sources inside Westminster omitted to report that there had been tens of thousands of people on the streets here in Manchester, in Cardiff and Birmingham, just tonight, supporting Jeremy Corbyn.  Now, Labour is in a mess and what you’ve seen so far is the equivalent of the kind of Haka before the rugby match. If the actual rugby match actually kicks off, it’s going to get very brutal.  And I think what we all need to do, on all sides of this debate, I’m a Labour member and I voted Remain, is to try and find a way to de-escalate it , because this generation of people who signed up to depose Jeremy Corbyn, these young, centre-left MPs, have no idea what an actual struggle inside the labour movement looks like. Those of us who saw the miners’ strike and have seen what people are getting ready for right now, fear . . .  It is, it won’t disappear, it may, however, seriously split.

JO:         Who speaks for you at the moment, politically? As a Corbyn-friendly Remainer?

PAUL MASON:   Well, Jeremy Corbyn.  I think he’s speaking but we, the wider Labour family, have to find some way of de-escalating this, and of course, focusing on the policies, the policies . . .  The fact is, Corbyn and John McDonnell scored a fantastic success this week, not one you would want to score, but they’ve knocked Osborne away from his fiscal rule.  We were calling for him to do that, he’s dropped it, but now we have to come up with a new fiscal policy for Britain. I would be arguing for a fiscal stimulus, tax cuts for businesses to attract investment now, investment tax spending to boost investment, all that needs to happen, but of course, it’s going to canon straight into the Brexit negotiations.  We need both parties, actually, to be on the ball . . .

JO:         Okay . . .

PAUL MASON:   . . . and thinking in a centrist and national interested way.

JO:         Okay Paul.  Phil Collins, the credit for the fiscal retreat of George Osborne being handed there to Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell.  I’ll let you respond to that in a moment.  I’m interested also, in the notion of Jeremy Corbyn speaking for Labour Remainers while Labour Remainers in the main blame him for the Brexit?

PC:         Yeah, which I think is a bit harsh, actually, I think there’s a lot more in the vote to leave the European Union than could have been solved by Jeremy Corbyn, so I don’t think it helps to blame him. He was a pretty lukewarm advocate for it but that’s because he’s not very good. It’s not because he had a particular bad day, it’s that he was as good as he can be, which is not very good at all. I think it’s . . . as scientists say of a bad theory, that it’s not even wrong. And it’s not even wrong to suggest that Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell are to gain the credit for George Osborne changing his rule, he’s changed the rule because the country has had a massive economic shock and we’re going to come out of the European Union. It’s perfectly reasonable in politics to try and claim your opponent’s shifts, so I’ve no objection to them attempting to do so, but it’s not credible to think that that’s the reason it’s happened.

JO:         Polly are we looking at something rather more fundamental than the usual local difficulties, infighting and squabbles that typify your world?

POLLY MCKENZIE:           I think something has to change, because as you said in your intro, there’s nobody who really represents the 48%, the people who voted for Remain. And we don’t even have a mandate for a government to negotiate our Brexit. As we were hearing earlier, we don’t know what kind of Brexit we want – a sort of economically sensible EEA-type strategy or, you know, full complete distance and we just cut ourselves off and float in the mid-Atlantic?  And actually, unless there’s some sort of election or some sort of realignment of politics, nobody has a mandate to make that decision.

JO:         What would that realignment look like?

POLLY MCKENZIE:           At the moment, God only knows.  I mean, you know, there is this growth in the Liberal Democrats but with only eight MPs it’s hard to see Tim Farron leading . . .

JO:         (interrupting) Tim Farron has committed to a campaign, a manifesto that would involve doing everything possible to get back into the European Union.

POLLY MCKENZIE:           To get back in, absolutely, and, you know, I feel very strongly represented by that but they only have eight MPs and it’s hard to see that as being enough to build a new centre party.

PC:         It’s possible that a break could come if Jeremy Corbyn digs in and then he’s challenged and he wins again and then the 172 Labour MPs in Parliament who have declared no confidence in him declare themselves a new party, that’s not beyond the balance of possibility at the moment. So we might, we’re closer perhaps than we’ve ever been before. I’m not sure it’s a great solution or a great outcome but that is entirely feasible at the moment.

JO:         Have we found something on which you can all agree, Paul Mason, that a fundamental realignment might well be on the horizon?

PAUL MASON:   I think centrist politics, which wants to rejoin the European Union after this . . . i.e. overtly and proactively rejoin the European Union, would be . . . would have to be a new party. Because neither the Conservatives nor Labour are going to do that, as parties. But I do think there is a big problem for centrist politics, full stop. Centrist politicians from both sides are going to be called upon to act in the national interests in a way that they are not really used to defining.  You know, what should happen right now is we should slash business tax and boost business investment. The moment we do that, the people we are across the table from in the Brexit negotiations, the French and the Germans are going to say ‘hold on a minute – this is unfair competition, Mr’ – whoever it is they are talking to, ‘Please withdraw your tax cut in order to get back into the EEA’ – I favour going into the EEA,  I also favour doing rapid tax cuts to boost growth and business investment. So, we need a political class that knows how to do this sort of thing, they’re not used to it, because they’re used to 40 odd years of multilateralism that they triggered the breakdown of.

JO:         Mr, or of course, it may well be a Mrs . . .

PAUL MASON:   It could be a Mrs, very sorry, yeah, yeah, yeah.

JO:         (speaking over) That’s quite alright, they’ll be negotiating with.

POLLY MCKENZIE:           Most importantly, there isn’t anybody to make those decisions. We’ve had this unbelievably hectic week in British politics but actually we have no more clarity one week on about what on earth we’re going to do next. And it’s that complete vacuum, whatever negotiating strategy we adopt, the truth is we need to start doing something because all across Europe and especially in Brussels, people are planning for how to negotiate this in their interests and not in ours, whereas we, you know, we’ve got a Cabinet Office team of three people thinking about this.

PC:         (word or words unclear) a referendum doesn’t give you a mandate for anything in particular, it’s a mandate to leave the European Union.

JO:         It’s a binary question.

PC:         There are no, sort of, terms . . .

JO:         (speaking over) How big a part do you think that’ll play in the Conservative candidate battle, do you think they’ll be putting forward rival visions of Brexit, or do you think they’ll just be trying to sort of woo the party faithful in the normal way?

PC:         It’s very interesting that the overwhelming favourite appears to be someone who voted Remain, that was on the Remain side, Theresa May. I mean, I guess nobody would have predicted that this time last week, but then I suppose nobody would have predicted anything that’s happened this time last week. But it does appear that she’s moving ahead. As yet, as we said in the introduction, everybody there is committed to exit. I don’t think any of them really have the first idea what it means, yet. So I think, if they do put forward any plans, they’ll be very meagre plans indeed.

JO:         Paul Mason?

PAUL MASON:   Hello?

JO:         I beg your pardon, Paul, I was expecting you to respond to what Philip Colins said.

PAUL MASON:   Yes, look, I’m sorry, look, what is amazing at the moment is the fact we’ve got this, all the political class cannot utter the words that we have uttered on this discussion, EEA, European economic area. It is the obvious solution, to apply for the European Economic Area, to design a variation on free movement, ask for the emergency brake you can get and then start from there. You may not get it and you may have to recoil back to a complete break with the EU, but it’s logical to go for that. What frustrates me on all sides of Parliament is that people are not prepared to do that and that is because the party machinery is fractured.

JO:         Paul Mason, Polly McKenzie, Phillip Collins, many thanks indeed.

 

 

 

BBC Bias – A Progress Report

BBC Bias – A Progress Report

News-watch’s monitoring of the BBC’s EU referendum coverage has now been underway for three months and this is a progress report.

In one sense, tectonic plates have moved.  Speakers who support British exit have invited on BBC news programmes to discuss the topic. For years anyone who was an ‘outer’ was completely ignored, or – in their rare appearances, as Ukip spokesmen regularly were – treated as xenophobic, or crassly inept, or worse.

But, as always with the BBC, the devil is in the detail.  The reality is that the Corporation has no choice; it has had to change. Research so far indicates there is a very long way to go before anything approaching genuine impartiality is achieved, and the exit case treated with respect.

Exhibit A is from Radio 4’s World at One starting on Monday.  Presenter Martha Kearney introduced a new series which she said would explain how the EU ‘actually works’. The first two were presented by Professor Anand Menon, who, Ms Kearney said, is Professor of European Politics at King’s College, London.

What she did not say is that her guest is not neutral about the EU. Far from it. He is also director of a think-tank called  The UK in a Changing Europe which contains a raft of papers that, to put it mildly, are hugely critical of the Brexit case. The one about the Norway option, for example, is headed: ‘Norwegian model for the UK; oh really.’

Further digging yields that back in 1999 – when the entire European Commission of Jacques Santer was forced to resign because of a financial scandal – Menon wrote a long article for the London Review of Books defending the importance of the Commission and claiming that, in effect, the impropriety involved was inconsequential.

Menon’s first talk was about the Commission set in the wider context of the governance of the EU.. Basically, he argued that the EU – despite claims to the contrary – is no more complex than any other system of governance; that the Commission is not made up of ‘unelected bureaucrats’; that the Parliament and the Council of Ministers acting in concert are a model of democracy in action; and that – although the Commission is the sole originator of EU legislation – this is a perfectly legitimate form of operations because it has the interests of Europe as its main objective. Europe.

In other words, he completely rubbished the ‘exit’ case and presented the Peter Mandelson view of how the EU works.

Exhibit B is a Newsnight special – one of six focused on the EU referendum – on Monday night which examined the issue of sovereignty. A full analysis of this programme will follow in due course,  but one factor immediately stood out.   Someone in the production team decided that the best illustration of what Brexit might look like was Sealand.

Where? Well it’s a very ugly pair defence towers built illegally by the British government during the Second World War in North Sea international waters near to the Thames Estuary. Back in the 1960s the huge ‘fortress’ was stormed and occupied by an ex-army major called Roy Bates and he and his family have since turned it into what they claim  is an ‘independent country’.

Presenter Evan Davis was duly winched down to Sealand, and used this as a subtle-as-a-brick metaphor for how the UK would  look if it was outside the EU: battered, totally isolated, totally eccentric, if not downright batty, completely on its own, a decaying hulk battered by the North Sea and outside the law.

That editor Ian Katz could not see that this was totally negative and totally inappropriate illustrates how far away from understanding the Brexit argument he and his senior BBC colleagues are. Light years.

Exhibit C was Sunday’s The World This Weekend. The presenter was former BBC ‘Europe’ editor Mark Mardell, and he chose to mount the programme from a rather select conference  in Lake Como organised by a strongly pro-EU think thank called The European House – Ambrosetti.

They had  gathered there, it was said, to discuss global economic problems including the possible impact of Brexit. Mardell produced an Obama adviser, a Chinese economist, a German government minister and the president of huge global investment fund (Allianz), all of who, with differing degrees of stridency, attacked the effrontery of such a ‘stupid’ (as one contributor said) prospect. In their collective eyes, membership of the EU was unquestionably absolutely vital to the UK’s future.

This carefully-edited sequence of pro-EU frenzy was followed by a live interview with Labour donor John Mills, who Mardell introduced as ‘the founder of a mail order company’.  Mardell’s tone and approach changed immediately. With his Ambrosetti guests, he had politely elicited their views. With Mills, he became sharply interrogative and sceptical.

To be fair, Mills was given a far crack of the whip in answering the points raised – and gave credible answers – but it was in a much narrower channel, and under far deeper scrutiny. And Mardell’s careful editing meant that every element of the pro- EU side appeared more authoritative and more polished.

Overall, the BBC may have upped its game in terms of the breadth of coverage in in some respects. News-watch analysis has revealed big problems not only in the examples above, but also serially and cumulatively in programmes such as Newsnight and World Tonight. The referendum campaign enters its final stage this week. The BBC is not yet mounting properly balanced coverage, and seems blind to its shortcomings.

Photo by octal

Analysis of Newsnight reveals strong imbalance against Brexit case

Analysis of Newsnight reveals strong imbalance against Brexit case

News-watch has completed preliminary research on 40 editions of Newsnight between January 13 and March 11   based on the full transcription and analysis of the relevant parts of each programme.

Daily news and current affairs programmes such as Newsnight  are not required to be balanced within each edition, but it would be expected that over a two-month period, the handling of the remain and leave sides of the Brexit case would be even-handed, especially as the period covered David Cameron’s Brussels negotiations and the formal suspension of cabinet collective responsibility on the topic.

A major concern is that the analysis of the guests who appeared on the programme speaking on referendum themes on a none-to-one basis showed a strong imbalance towards the remain side. There were 12 occasions (covering 14 guests, because one of the interviews featured three ‘remain’ figures) when guests clearly favouring staying in the European Union appeared in one-to-one interviews. There were only six featuring Brexit supporters.

The ‘remain’ figures involved were: Alan Johnson  (13/1), former Swedish prime minister and Eurocrat Carl Bildt  (27/1), David Liddington , (2/2), Rob Wainwright, from Europol   (8/2), Jose Manuel Barosso  (9/2), Ross McEwan , chief executive of the Royal Bank of Scotland (12/2) , Peter Mandelson    (18/2),  Kenneth Clarke (22/2),   Sylvie Bermann,, the French ambassador to the UK  (23/2),  Damian Green  (24/2), Anne Applebaum, Timothy Garton Ash and Tom Snyder (all commentators explaining why the EU was a vital bulwark against the likely excesses and failures of Donald Trump)   (4/3), and  Inga Beale, chief executive of Lloyds of London ) (7/3).

On the exit side, the guests who appeared in equivalent one-to-one exchanges were: the Conservative MP Maria Caulfield  (2/2),  Steve Baker MP  (3/2), Kate HoeyMP   (5/2);  Nigel Farage MEP )  (18/2), Iain Duncan Smith (22/2),  Richard Tice, one of the founders of the Leave.eu organisation  (8/3),

Analysis of the transcripts of these exchanges shows that each guest was given a clear opportunity to state arguments from their respective perspectives. For example, Inga Beale spelled out in detail why she believed that Brexit would damage her company. There was thus a significant imbalance on one very important level between the two sides.

Looking at EU referendum items as a whole, including the interviews above plus those where ‘leave and ‘remain’ guests were interviewed simultaneously, there were a further 11 guests who were clearly in favour of staying in the EU,  and a further eight who were supporters of Brexit. Thus the overall imbalance between the two sides was 25-14.

The additional remain figures were Lucy Thomas (twice) of the British Stronger in Europe group ( 29/1 and 16/2), the journalist Anne McElvoy (26/2). Charles Powell  (8/2, ) Emma Reynolds MP  (15/2);  Lord Finkelstein)  (18/2): Chuka Umunna (19/2) ; Ken Livingstone and Caroline Lucas MP   (29/2); Heidi Alexander MP (8/3); associate professor Khuloud Al-Jamal (10/2)   and Will Self (who was arguing against the ‘project fear’ allegedly generated by a Brexit supporter  (11/3.)

The remaining Brexit camp figures were:

Daniel Hannan  (29/1);  Anunziata Rees-Mogg ( (8/2) Nigel /Mills, fromn the Vote Leave group   (15/2);  Simon Jenkins (18/2): Tom Pursglove  (19/2) ; Toby Young (26/2);   the cleric and socialist Giles Fraser  (29/2); Gisela Stewart MP (8/3); Professor Angus Dalgleish)(10/2)   Munira Mirza, member of the London Assembly (11/3).

Again, this was a very significant imbalance. Several of the packages that featured both sides  provided impartial and absorbing interview sequences. News-watch’s investigation also found that although the BBC have been warned over many years that their coverage of EU affairs focuses too much on the Westminster bubble, there has been little attempt to go outside it. Only four Newsnight guests were not politicians, journalists, or attached to the political campaigns.

Three striking examples of bias include:

  • On February 5, the Labour MP Kate Hoey appeared – a very rare appearance on the BBC of a Labour figure supporting EU exit.  The main thrust of the interview by James O’Brien was not her reasons for wanting to leave, but rather the extent to which the exit movement was split, and what was happening next. Other interviews of exit supporters focused disproportionately on allegations of discord in the leave campaign.
  • EU figures, the former president of the EU Commission, Jose Manuel Barosso, and  the former Swedish prime minister Carl Bildt, have had the clear opportunity in main interviews to explain why leaving the EU would not be in the UK’s interest. There has been no balancing opinion from similarly weighty figures who support exit.   In associated correspondent reports, other EU figures such as the former Belgian prime minister Guy Verhofstadt, has also been able to express pro-EU and anti-Brexit views.
  • In a feature linked to the continued success of Donald Trump, three commentators on EU affairs – journalist Anne Applebaum, the historian Tom Snyder and  Oxford don Timothy Garton Ash – were given space to collectively explain why it was vital that the UK stayed in the EU, and for the EU to unify even further against the threat of Russia, China and if Donald Trump was elected, the United States.

Another issue with the coverage was that some supporting background packages intended to reflect a range of views, were pro-EU. For example, a feature about the passengers on the Polish bus between Cracow and London, contained only views from those who were coming to the UK to work, and supported the opportunity to do so. Reporter Katy Razzell visited Peterborough but the views in her package emphasised most heavily support for immigration and the EU.

Full analysis of this large sample will be completed as soon as possible.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Photo by Chatham House, London

BBC PLUMBS NEW DEPTHS OF CLIMATE ALARMISM IN EMMA THOMPSON ‘INTERVIEW’

BBC PLUMBS NEW DEPTHS OF CLIMATE ALARMISM IN EMMA THOMPSON ‘INTERVIEW’

An interview on Newsnight of the actress and Labour-supporter Emma Thompson has taken the BBC’s handling of climate alarmism to new depths of shoddy and biased journalism.

Under the editorship of ex-Guardian man Ian Katz, this type of celebrity interview – in which the subject is given virtual carte blanche to put across highly questionable leftist views – has become a regular feature. Here, for example, it was Russell Brand.

For years, the Corporation’s approach to climate reporting has been deliberately and systematically skewed against those who are sceptical about alarmism.

The grossly biased stance was decided by the BBC Trustees and became official editorial policy back in 2011. Since then, the output in all programmes, from news and current affairs to drama, has been hinged to a massive extent upon the mantra that unless we massively curb carbon dioxide output we are doomed.

The policy is so absolute that one appearance by a ‘sceptic’, such as that by the Daily Mail’s Quentin Letts, when he dared to question elements of the prevailing orthodoxy, is met with an internal inquiry and fits of apoplexy by those – such as the BBC’s former ‘environment’ correspondent , Richard Black, now a prominent eco-campaigner- who claim to know with certainty that we are all going to fry.

Meanwhile, as another indicator of how deeply alarmism is engrained in BBC reporting, the Corporation’s overseas aid charity arm,   Media Action, is engaged in extensive operations throughout the world to spread climate alarm in every way it can, while at the same time encouraging developing countries to resent Britain and the West generally for causing the alleged problem.

The latest example of this BBC worship at the altar of climate alarmism was the appearance last Wednesday by Ms Thompson.

Thompson, it should first be said, has become one of the most prominent media supporters of the law-breaking ‘charity’ Greenpeace, as is evidenced here in the pages of the Guardian. She is also a declared life-long member of the Labour party, supports Action Aid, a development charity that is as strident as Greenpeace in its climate alarmism, and is also strongly pro-Palestinian (and thus anti-Israel).

The peg for her appearance was an event that was scarcely reported elsewhere, the decision by Greenpeace to place a giant polar bear outside the HQ of Shell in London in their bid to try prevent the company from drilling for oil in the Arctic.   She did not deign to come live into the Newsnight studios, and rather, presenter Emily Maitlis treated her throughout the recorded exchange as if she was a highly respected dignitary with immense status.

The full transcript is below.

The first question was if Thompson thought she could negotiate with the ‘oil giant’. The essence of Thompson’s answer was that Shell were liars, there was no point in negotiating and ‘if you look at the science’ their drilling for oil would lead to a 4C rise in temperature by 2030.

Maitlis then asked whether there was a path for Thompson ‘to the president of the US’. She replied that she could try, but it would be pointless because governments were in the pockets of big oil.

Next was whether it would help the Greenpeace Arctic campaign if she got arrested. Thompson agreed that arrests were useful publicity for Greenpeace. But she was sure it wouldn’t happen because the legions of Shell PR people ‘in their big buildings’ would bust a gut to prevent it.

Ms Thompson didn’t say it, but she clearly believed they had battalions in the wings ready to do anything to avoid the ruinous impact of a ‘Thompson arrest’ pic.

Finally (in questions about climate), Ms Maitlis wondered how she could choose to demonstrate for Greenpeace when the refugee ‘crisis’ was so pressing. Thompson said the two topics were profoundly connected. She asserted that if climate change was allowed to ‘go on as it’s going’, the current refugee crisis would soon look like a tea party because ‘there are going to be entire swathes of the Earth that would become uninhabitable, and where are those people going to go? We are looking at a human disaster of proportions we can’t imagine’.

Even by the BBC standards this was bad journalism:

In summary, the BBC’s self-declared flagship television news and current affairs programme broadcast inaccurate preposterous propaganda from a woman who is a self-declared activist. There was no effort to challenge her views even though they were obviously extreme.

Of course, the BBC has a duty to give voice to all parts of the sides of public debate. The reality in the climate alarmism stakes, however, is that those in favour are given free rein – to the point of absurdity – while those who think differently are simply not invited to take part.

A ruling last year by the BBC complaints department said that Lord Lawson should not be allowed to discuss climate change on an equal footing to ‘experts’ who believed in alarmism because he himself was not a climate scientist. On which grounds was Emma Thompson, an English graduate from Cambridge, allowed on Newsnight to spout utter nonsense?

Because her views chime with those of Ian Katz?

Transcript:

 

EMILY MAITLIS:     Well, one voice unambiguous in her support of this country bringing in more refugees is the actress, Emma Thompson, whose own adopted son was a refugee from Rwanda. She was about 4 o’clock this morning helping bring life to a giant polar bear, Aurora, who she and some 60 other Greenpeace campaigners took to the Shall Centre on London’s South bank to protest against Arctic drilling. I caught up with her earlier and asked whether she believed she could negotiate with the oil giant.

EMMA THOMPSON:            No, because we’ve been negotiating with Shell for years, and there’s been so much obfuscation and so many lies actually, and so much green-wash, they’ve absolutely put lip-service to ‘Yes, yes, we’re interested in renewables, yes, yes, yes’, but they’ve continued without cessation to extract, and they’ve continued their plans to drill in the Arctic. They have plans to drill until 2030, and if they take out of the earth all the oil they wanted to take out, you look at the science, our temperature will rise 4°C by 2030, and that’s not sustainable.

EM:         Is there a path for you straight to the president of the US?

ET:           Well, I could try ringing him . . . I suppose. But I don’t think that that would help, I think that successive governments including his have been too much in the pockets of the big oil companies. I think it’s very difficult for governments to break away from that.

EM:         Would be useful for you, on a matter of the Arctic for example, to get yourself arrested? Does that sound useful?

ET:           It depends I suppose, I mean, today, I would have been, I suppose, a good news story Greenpeace, and arrests are useful to them. I could just hear the sort of distant sound of all the PR people in the shell offices in the big buildings, going ‘Don’t arrest her, do not arrest the big mouth, please don’t (words unclear) don’t do that.’ So they didn’t.

EM:         How do you choose? I mean, there will be people watching this saying there are currently thousands of people drowning in the Mediterranean, what odds timing to go and talk about Arctic and oil, and the environment?

ET:           Hmm.

EM:         As opposed to, you know, what Britain has to do about the refugee crisis.

ET:           No, I’m really glad that you’ve brought that up, because of course it’s profoundly connected. Our refugee crisis which, let me tell you, if we allow climate change to go on as it’s going, the refugee crisis we have at the moment will look like a tea party compared to what’s going to happen in a few years’ time, because if we allow climate change to continue, there are going to be entire swathes of the Earth that will become uninhabitable, and where are those people going to go? Where do we think they’re going to go? We are looking at humanitarian disaster . . . of . . . proportions we simply can’t imagine.

EM:         So, is that still the answer to the refugees drowning in the Mediterranean today, this week?

ET:           Today, this week, the answer to the refugees drowning in the (slight laughter in voice) Mediterranean is that, is not that, no, it’s to do with bringing in, we have to open our doors certainly to more refugees. The idea of 3000 people in Calais you’ve been through unspeakable things, I mean, makes me feel very ashamed.

EM:         So why do you think we’re not doing it, (words unclear, ‘this time round’?) I mean, you’ve got Germany who seems to be opening its doors and you’ve got . . .

ET:           (interrupting) 800,000.

EM:         The UK . . . that isn’t.

ET:           No. It’s not good enough. And also where not even meeting our quotas, that’s really shaming. Erm, so . . . I think it’s got a lot to do with racism. I think if these people were white, Europeans, that were coming from some dictatorship in Bosnia or somewhere where . . . if they were coming, turning up, I think we would feel quite differently about it. And I think that it is the mark of a civilised and . . . a skilful and humane society, and I use the word ‘skilful’ advisedly because we’re so unskilled in our responses to strangers on our shores.

EM:         Who needs to be the powerful voice that says, erm, what’s happening now . . . is not working?

ET:           Well, you know, it’s a very good question, but I mean, I would hope that there were statesmen and women out there with the kind of . . . sense of decency . . . of common humanity out there, who would find it possible and indeed incumbent upon them to stand up and say ‘We need to help these people’, they’re not just . . . coming over here because they want an easy ride, they’ve been through hell. There’s 3000 of them in Calais – that’s nothing. We’ve got plenty of room for them.

EM:         You’re on record as being a Labour supporter, clearly your heart is with a lot of green issues, is this a moment where you feel more pulled towards the Labour Party than the Green Party?

ET:           I’m very torn . . . I mean the Labour Party have been . . . useless actually on green issues, but I think Corbyn’s quite, quite sound on them. We can’t open the mines again, sorry about that, but it’s the dirtiest energy there is, but, but I think he is very sound and that he would be very, erm, intelligent and face . . . he would be willing to face the transition that we are all going to have to face.

EM:         And do you think Labour could get into power with Jeremy Corbyn?

ET:           Erm . . . yeah. I do.

EM:         Emma Thompson, speaking to me earlier.

 

 

Culture Secretary Javid’s late, late realisation about BBC bias – too little, too late?

Culture Secretary Javid’s late, late realisation about BBC bias – too little, too late?

Photo by mrgarethm

As we head into the final week of this phony, no-real-choice election, the culture secretary, has had a revelation about the BBC.

It seems it came as a bolt from the blue. A remark on the Today programme by Scottish so-called comedienne Rhona Campbell , that all Tories were ‘a cancer’, was responsible. He now sees that the Corporation is biased against his party, and says that’s not fair.

In consequence, culture secretary Sajid Javid is warning that the BBC’s impartiality will be reviewed as part of the Charter renewal process.

Pardon? His revelation is surely five years too late.

For all the years his party has been in power – and arguably for at least a decade before that – the BBC has had its own blatantly obvious agenda, and has put two fingers up towards public opinion on topics such as the EU, multiculturalism, immigration and climate change. The evidence can be seen in abundance here or here.

David Cameron could have tackled BBC reform at any point in the past five years had he summoned up the courage to do so, but he did not. He shook up the world of newspaper regulation – some would say in order to get Rupert Murdoch – so why not the BBC? The suspicion must be because, at heart, call-me-Dave does not demur much from their agenda.

The polls are showing that the prospect of a coalition government based on a shotgun wedding between Labour and SNP looks increasingly likely. The reality is that if this happens, the BBC that David Cameron has chosen not to reform has played a key role in facilitating it.

Without doubt, this has been a political campaign fought by the Corporation. A main agenda is that they want the licence fee to be renewed and increased.

And using the perverse guidance on ‘balance’ emanating from the Bridcut report, which, it is becoming increasingly clear, is actually a manual facilitating deliberate bias, the 8,000-strong newsroom has strained every sinew to ensure that both immigration and the EU, along with a whole range of other topics, have been treated only in the narrow left-wing confines that BBC editors deem are permissible.

What is the overall approach? There are too many facets of this to outline in one blog, but here are some highlights:

BBC manifesto point one is that the Corporation hates with a passion English nationalism, and denigrates with Pavlovian zeal anything that smacks of it. They treat the whole subject as if it is fascist and racist.

Nothing but this can explain the hugely negative treatment of Nigel Farage in interviews by Evan Davis and Mishal Husain highlighted on TCW. Underpinning this approach is the fanatical BBC espousal of multiculturalism, which puts the values and views of incomers to the UK above those of the English, and has at its heart the poison of moral relativity. Behind it also is the view that the United Kingdom in general and English who were in the driving seat was and still is an imperialist power – something that deserves condemnation at every opportunity.

BBC manifesto point two– in the same vein – is that they love Scottish, Welsh and, of course, Sinn Fein nationalism. That’s because by contrast to those who support English patriotism, the rag-tag of parties that advance these causes is deeply socialist and Marxist in their approach to almost every issue, from austerity to childcare and the family.

The blueprint for this approach was laid down in 2008 in this document – a response by BBC management to a Trustees’ report about coverage of the ‘nations and regions’ of the UK. What followed is the elevation of especially Scottish and Welsh interests above those of the United Kingdom as a whole. There is no doubt that Nicola Sturgeon is a competent media performer, but BBC editors have lionized her at every opportunity and – in contrast to Conservative or UKIP spokespeople – have given her a consistently easy ride.

BBC manifesto point three – which will be familiar to readers of The Conservative Woman – is a constant aim to discredit or cast as racists those who want tougher controls on immigration. Evan Davis’ tone throughout his interview of Nigel Farage epitomised this approach, as did Duncan Weldon’s outrageously biased introduction to Newsnight look at immigration. In the BBC’s post-Bridcut world the rights of immigrants take total precedence over the impact on communities.

So, without question, Javid’s late, late conversion to the existence of BBC bias is much too little, far too late. That horse has well and truly bolted. And, in any case, the chances are that his post-election complaints will be dealt with the same negative arrogance as this one, which was lodged by Craig Byers (editor of the Is the BBC Biased? website) about the Duncan Weldon Newsnight piece mentioned above. The complaints department took all of 15 minutes to issue its stock response: you are wrong, we are right – and get lost. Especially, if by then he’s a backbencher.