Today Programme

News-watch report finds BBC ‘has not covered left-wing support for Brexit’

News-watch report finds BBC ‘has not covered left-wing support for Brexit’

This paper examines the BBC’s coverage, since 2002, of those on the left who wanted to leave the EU, including during the 2016 Referendum and the 2017 General Election. Data is from 30 individual News-watch surveys, analysing over 5,500 hours of BBC output, and 274 hours of EU-related content.

The BBC’s editorial values commit it to reflect ‘a breadth of diversity of opinion… so that no significant strand of thought is knowingly unreflected or under-represented.’  However, News-watch has found that left-wing arguments for Britain to leave the EU have been avoided on the BBC’s flagship news programmes, in spite of prominent MPs, trade unionists, journalists and commentators from the left supporting the policy, and polls suggesting that up to 3.5 million Labour voters in the 2015 General Election subsequently voted Leave in the 2016 referendum.

The paper shows that a total of 6,882 speakers contributed to this coverage, but that only 14 (0.2%) of the total – one in 500 – were left-wing advocates of Withdrawal; the majority of these appearances were too short to explore their views in any detail.

In total, those 14 guests contributed 1,680 words to the debate, but approximately one third of them came from a single 531-word Gisela Stuart appearance on Today, in which her actual contribution in favour of leaving the EU amounted to just 49 words. So only 1,198 words across the entire 30 surveys came from left-wing speakers making any sort of case for Withdrawal, an average of 86 words per contributor. In comparison, during the same period, strongly pro-EU Conservatives Ken Clarke and Michael Heseltine made between them 28 appearances with contributions totalling 11,208 words – over nine times the amount of space allocated to all left-wing withdrawalists – with an average contribution length of 400 words. BBC audiences were thus made fully familiar with right-wing reasons for Remain. They were, by contrast, kept in the dark about left-wing/Labour support for leaving the EU.

Core left-wing arguments against the EU have been ignored, for example: the EU’s prohibition of state aid to protect jobs, the threat to the NHS from the TTIP agreement, the EU’s treatment of the Greek socialist government and people, unemployment in the eurozone, import tariffs for developing countries, and the belief that the EU has evolved into a ‘neoliberal marketplace’.

Between 2002 and 2014, there were only four left-wing contributors who supported Withdrawal in the Today Programme’s EU output, adding up to just 417 words. There were more than twice as many appearances on EU matters in this period by the British National Party (BNP).

 In the 2015 General Election campaign, despite the proposed EU referendum being a central issue, there was only one interview with a left-leaning advocate of Withdrawal. During the referendum itself, there were only five contributions from Labour supporters of Brexit totalling 161 words (1 minute 31 seconds) on BBC1’s News at Ten, and none at all on BBC Radio 1’s Newsbeat. In the Radio 4 collection of post–referendum programmes, The Brexit Collection, there were only two left-wing supporters of Brexit, and their contributions were minimal.

Even though Withdrawal had evident cross-party support in both Parliament and the country at large, the BBC saw it as a right-wing policy causing ‘splits’ within the Conservative Party, while ignoring ideological disagreements and debate elsewhere on the political spectrum.

The absence of voices offering alternative perspectives in the BBC’s coverage led to the creation of a false dichotomy: forward-thinking, progressive, open-minded, anti-racist pro-Europeans set against the bigoted, inward-looking, nationalist, anti-EU faction.

Despite having been alerted to this failure by News-watch over the last fifteen years, the BBC has continued to deny a voice to millions of the electorate. Had left-wing arguments for Brexit been properly aired, it is entirely feasible that a greater majority of the British people would have voted to Leave.

Full report:

News-watch Methodology:

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Nick Robinson ‘disingenuous’ in defence of BBC bias

Nick Robinson ‘disingenuous’ in defence of BBC bias

The BBC seems to have appointed Radio 4 Today presenter Nick Robinson as its defender-in-chief.

Back in April, he told those who thought the Corporation was biased against Brexit that they were wrong. The referendum was over, so there was no longer a need to strike a balance between the two sides.

He has been in action again, this time delivering a speech in honour of his friend, the former BBC Panorama editor and media pundit Steve Hewlett, who died of cancer at the age of 58 earlier this year. It can be read in full here.

The message? In Robinson’s opinion the BBC is doing very well indeed, thank you. News output is not biased. This is proved, apparently, by that complaints emanate from all parts of the political spectrum and there are appearances by such controversial figures as former Chancellor of the Exchequer Nigel Lawson.  Of which, more later.

The first thing to note is that his analysis is not based on any verifiable evidence.  No surveys seem to have been conducted.  On top of Lord Lawson, Robinson picks out mentions of Nick Griffin here, of Nigel Farage there, to show the inclusion of the ‘right-wing’ figures.  But none of his observations are backed up by anything other than his own subjective judgments.

And he conveniently misses out here that almost every time Mr Farage has been interviewed by the BBC, he has been treated as a racist, told he is incompetent – and very rarely asked about withdrawal itself. More recently, too, of course, he was shamefully and ludicrously accused on BBC2 Newsnight of having ‘blood on his hands’ over the death of a Polish man in Harlow when nothing could be further from the truth.

Robinson claims that the BBC is: ‘…staffed by people who – regardless of their personal background or private views – are committed to getting as close to the truth as they can, and to offering their audience a free, open and broad debate about the issues confronting the country.’  Well that’s OK then. Of course they are.

His analysis boils down to that the BBC – in Robinson’s estimation – is a beacon of light and trust in an increasingly dark world.  The biggest threat to journalistic integrity comes from elsewhere: the ‘fake news’ and commentary on websites such as Westmonster. They, unlike the BBC, spend their time peddling untruths and rumour and are making social and political divisions far worse.

Yet his invective is deeply flawed and It takes only moments to unpick it. Take Lord Lawson’s appearance. He is mentioned as an example of someone who was invited (in August) to appear on Today, even though many thought he should not be allowed to outline his views on climate change. Robinson claims that this was an example of the BBC’s even-handedness and fairness.

But what he then adds proves sharply otherwise. First he stresses that Lord Lawson got his facts wrong – and then claims ‘we’ (the magnificently unbiased staff of the Corporation?) ‘must say so’.

This, however, was a risible misrepresentation of what actually happened. First, Lord Lawson only appeared at all because the arch-global warming alarmist Al Gore was first invited on Today. He was treated with kid gloves, with virtually no challenge, as he outlined that man’s impact on the climate was intensifying to catastrophic proportions.

To ‘balance’ these highly contentious claims, the interview with Lord Lawson was then arranged. But the odds were stacked against him in that he appeared with with two other alarmist figures who countered his every claim.

Lord Lawson made one minor error over statistics. But he immediately owned up to it and a correction was issued. His slip did not affect his basic points that Gore and the climate alarmist faction have been making outlandish and scientifically unsupported claims for years, and continued to do so.

Robinson also did not mention that immediately after Lawson appeared there was an outcry – reported at great length on the BBC –  from climate activists, including the BBC’s own favourite populist ‘scientist’ Brian Cox, who said Lord Lawson’s appearance should never have been allowed. To ram home  Lord Lawson’s error, two more alarmists appeared on Today. They both rubbished everything Lord Lawson had said – with barely a squeak of opposition from the programme’s presenters.

This adds up to a ratio of at least 5:1 against Lord Lawson. This is the sort of ‘fairness’ that actually operates at the BBC on controversial issues. For more than a decade, the Corporation has accepted that climate alarmism is warranted and, arguably, its reporting in this sphere adds up to its own campaign to prove it.

The conclusion? Nick Robinson’s speech as a whole, and especially in the mention of of Lord Lawson was, to put it mildly, disingenuous. His appearance on Today did not show, as Robinson claimed, that the BBC allows dissenting voices to appear and is fair to them. The reality is that the BBC has a skewed agenda in this domain, and any opinions expressed by Lord Lawson were both swamped and twisted. So, too, with Nigel Farage.

Robinson accused in his speech those who write for blogs of living in a bubble. Even if they do, it’s nothing compared to the one surrounding the BBC’s approach to editorial impartiality.

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BBC SPINS FRUIT FARMS MIGRANT LABOUR ’SHORTAGE’

BBC SPINS FRUIT FARMS MIGRANT LABOUR ’SHORTAGE’

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

 

A couple of mornings ago Today sent a reporter to a fruit farm in Godalming and brought back a large punnet of Brexit-related gloom. Nick Robinson introduced the report with these words:
There’s a warning today from Britain’s berry growers that Brexit could crush the industry.
Zoe Conway’s report included various hard-working, efficient migrant workers (as she portrayed them) worried about their future, plus farm managers fearing the collapse of their business. One farm owner was asked if he regretted his Leave vote, especially if it leads to what Zoe called a “hard Brexit”. No contrasting views featured in Zoe’s report.
That’s par for the course, of course. But tied in with that piece was the reporting that very same morning of the results of a survey among soft berry producers – a survey the BBC itself had commissioned (for reasons known only to itself but guessable by others).
The main BBC News website report on the survey (by Emma Simpson) is striking for the way it tries to spin its own findings. The BBC’s spin is deeply negative about Brexit and conducive to advancing arguments in favour of retaining free-movement:

UK summer fruit and salad growers are having difficulty recruiting pickers, with more than half saying they don’t know if they will have enough migrant workers to harvest their crops.

Many growers blame the weak pound which has reduced their workers’ earning power, as well as uncertainty over Brexit, according to a BBC survey.

The results themselves, cited later in the article, are strikingly at odds with the mood music of the report as a whole:
These results say to me that only 3% of the surveyed farmers are seriously alarmed about “migrant labour shortages’. Another 18% are a bit worried. And what the other 79% (though the figures don’t actually add up to 100%)? Well, they either say they have have enough seasonal workers or aren’t sure if they’ve got enough. In other words, that 79% don’t sound alarmed about the situation, despite the BBC’s alarmist headline.

I think this is a clear case of BBC bias (conscious or unconscious).

And it’s far from being the first time that the BBC has spun its own surveys in a favoured direction.

Who can forget the particularly blatant way the BBC spun its own survey on the attitudes of British Muslims back in 2015? While many other media outlets led with the astonishing finding that 27% of British Muslims expressed  some sympathy with those who carried out the Charlie Hebdo massacre the BBC heavily pushed the “Most British Muslims ‘oppose Muhammad cartoons reprisals'” angle.
Plus there was some very dodgy reporting by the BBC’s News at Six and the BBC website into young people’s concerns, also in 2015, where both the TV bulletin and the website article omitted all mention of the third biggest concern of the polled young people – immigration. And it was another BBC poll to boot.
And there was Newsnight and the BBC website’s blatant attempts to rig the debate before freedom of movement was granted to Romanians and Bulgarians back in 2013, where the BBC twisted its own survey by pushing the ‘Few planning to migrate to UK’ angle. Others quickly pointed out that the BBC’s own figures actually suggested a massive influx of Romanians and Bulgarians was coming.
As you’ll note, all of the above have immigration as a running theme, whether directly or indirectly. And all of them were spun by the BBC in the same way – the pro-immigration way.

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News-watch survey of BBC Article 50 survey shows deep anti-Brexit bias

News-watch survey of BBC Article 50 survey shows deep anti-Brexit bias

The latest News-watch detailed analysis of BBC output, covering the UK’s Article 50 letter and its aftermath, shows heavy bias against the case for Brexit.  The report, which included more than 73,000 words of programme transcripts, can be found in full here. Coverage of the survey’s findings is in the Daily Express here.

In the week of the filing of the UK’s Article 50 letter (March 29 – April 4, 2017), BBC Radio 4’s Today programme broadcast six editions which contained almost five hours of material about the letter and its aftermath. This was almost half of the available feature airtime.

The programme coverage was strongly biased against Brexit and made special efforts to illustrate the extent to which leaving the EU could have catastrophic consequences for the UK. There was, by contrast, only minimal effort to examine the potential benefits.

A measure of this overwhelming negativity was that only eight (6.5%) of the 124 speakers who appeared over the six editions were given the space to make substantive arguments that the future for the UK outside the EU would yield significant benefits.

The overall gloom was buttressed by the programme’s editorial approach. Presenters and correspondents, for example, pushed at every opportunity to illustrate potential (and existing) problems. At the same time, they were strongly adversarial towards Brexit supporters, but much less so to guests who advocated that the UK was, in effect, now staring down the barrel of a loaded gun.

Problems that were deliberately pushed to the forefront included the wealth of City of London being under threat, the creation of a ‘legislative soup’, the EU not agreeing with the UK’s preferred path of negotiations, and the possibility the of exit talks extending up to 10 years.

BBC ‘fact-checking’, though presented as objective, was anything but. Chris Morris, the ‘fact checker’ was most focused on choosing topics that showed Brexit in a negative light, and failed at even the elementary level of pointing out that ‘EU money’ was actually provided UK taxpayers.

A series of reports from Sunderland, purportedly to explore both Leave and Remain perspectives, focused most on this negative fact checking. It also gave most prominence in its framework to the possibility of Nissan leaving the area and negative business developments since Brexit and the possibility of arts funding drying up. Local voices supporting Brexit were included, but in vox pops with only soundbite points.

Special effort was made throughout to show that the City of London was under pressure as a result of Brexit. A story that Lloyd’s of London were establishing a Brussels ‘headquarters’ was elevated to major significance in the bulletins, and across several mentions in Business News slots, even though the chief executive admitted that ‘only ‘tens’ of jobs were involved.

By contrast to this blanket negativity, a News-watch report from 2002 covering the introduction of euro notes and coins across the EU was strongly positive about the prospects for the new currency and strained editorial sinews and resources to show that its advent had been joyfully received in the relevant EU countries.

The BBC strongly defended its post-Brexit coverage during the survey period (through a high profile article in Radio Times by Today presenter Nick Robinson) as being in accord with its own rules of ‘due impartiality’. The evidence of this survey is that its assessment methods are seriously skewed against Brexit and in favour of the EU.

The full report is here:

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This election is a battle between the Tories and the broadcasters

This election is a battle between the Tories and the broadcasters

This is an election like no other for the BBC. They have a mission.

Two weeks ago, as is laid out here, Today presenter Nick Robinson effectively declared war on Brexit with his statement that the Corporation would henceforward work flat out to find the problems with Brexit, and not bring balanced coverage of the Leave perspective.  Of which, more later.

Since then, it has become painfully evident what he meant. The Corporation’s Article 50 coverage relentlessly highlighted the difficulties, with pride of place given to predictions by correspondents of decades-long wrangles, inflation of perceived problems over Gibraltar, the continuing need for the European Court of Justice and dire warnings that the British tourist and hospitality industry would collapse if the UK did not have continued access to EU labour.

In the same vein, after the general election was announced, Today’s business news – like a heat-seeking missile – sought out the views of the (ex BBC) DG of the CBI, Carolyn Fairbairn, on the need for continued free movement, reinforced an hour later by the ultra-Remain businessman Sir Martin Sorrell, who predicted that the real reason for the election was so that Mrs May could achieve a soft-Brexit in line with his own objectives.

To be fair, Andrew Lillico, a pro-Leave business figure also appeared, but there was no doubt which views were considered to be the most important.

So what will happen during the general election? This – despite what the Conservative Party machine might say – is effectively a second Brexit referendum, brought about because, as Theresa May has acknowledged, the Remain side are determined to thwart Brexit.

There are, of course, special rules for broadcasters during general elections. Broadly, they provide that much more attention must be paid to balance between the parties contesting the election.

But here, in this election, is an immediate problem. Those rules (as defined, for example by Ofcom in Section 6 of its programming code) are designed mainly to prevent imbalances between political parties.

That creates an immediate problem with an election so inevitably focused on a single issue: that the overwhelming majority of current MPs (most of whom will become candidates after May 3) were Remainers, and after the referendum vote want a strongly-limited and compromised form of EU exit.

Labour, for example, as exemplified by shadow chancellor John McDonnell on Today on Wednesday morning, says it now supports Brexit. But the form of Brexit it wants is continued membership of the single market, and qualified support for free movement. The Liberal Democrats and the SNP, of course, aggressively oppose Brexit – and make no bones about it.

The BBC, in this framework, has oodles of ‘wriggle-room’ to sidestep the election rules, and to continue to pursue vigorously its self-declared campaign to expose to the maximum the pitfalls of Brexit throughout the election period.

Of course, election coverage of the issues involved is also subject to the normal over-arching rules of public service impartiality. But it is precisely here that the BBC – as is clear in the Nick Robinson Radio Times piece – has interpreted the clauses relating to ‘due impartiality’ according to its own anti-Brexit ends. In the Corporation’s estimation, it is on a mission to spread ‘understanding’ about the exit process. In reality, that means something very different: the goal is to portray exit in the most negative light possible.

News-watch coverage of previous general elections has shown that, despite the supposedly strict general election impartiality rules, the BBC’s approach to EU coverage was seriously flawed. After the 2015 poll, it was noted:

…the analysis shows that the issue of possible withdrawal was not explored fairly or deeply enough…Coverage was heavily distorted, for instance by the substantial business news comment on the Today programme that withdrawal would damage British trade and jobs. The message of potential damage to the economy was supplemented by the provision of frequent platforms for Labour and Liberal Democrat figures to warn of the same dangers. The spokesmen from these parties were not properly challenged on their views.

Will this change in 2017? Fat chance. Subsequent News-watch reports have shown that this bias has continued, regardless of the June 23 vote.

The problem now is that – despite the new BBC Charter – the Corporation’s approach to impartiality in news coverage is mainly self-regulated through its own Complaints Unit. Ofcom only enters the frame if there is an appeal against the BBC’s own rulings, and that’s a procedure that takes months. News-watch’s complaint about the BBC’s fantasy race hate murder in Harlow took six months to grind through the BBC machine.

The Conservative Party under David Cameron fluffed the opportunity to achieve genuine reform of the BBC. Will that glaring failure now come back to haunt Theresa May?

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BBC Business News coverage of Brexit ‘continues Project Fear’

BBC Business News coverage of Brexit ‘continues Project Fear’

A report by News-watch into the BBC’s coverage on Brexit covering the six month period after the referendum vote  has found  overwhelmingly negativity about Britain leaving the EU – breaching the Corporations rules on impartiality.

The report into the BBC flagship Today programme on Radio 4 found that of the 366 guest speakers who appeared in the Business News segment, 192 of them (52.5%) were negative about the impact of the vote and only 60 (16.3%) expressed opinions which were pro-Brexit or saw the post-referendum economic outlook as positive. There were 114 (31%) neutral contributions.

That there were three times more anti-Brexit speakers than pro-Brexit ones invited by the BBC to participate in the prestigious slot breaks its charter requirements to be impartial.

The most serious imbalance was that only 10 (2.9%) of the Business News interviews (from six speakers) took place with supporters of withdrawal from the EU. They were a tiny minority in the overall welter of negativity, and their positive points were generally not followed up by programme presenters and the pro-Brexit sector of business was virtually ignored.

News-watch, who carried out the investigation, has been scrutinising the BBC’s EU output since 1999.

In the six months between June 24 (the day after the EU referendum) and December 22, 2016 it monitored all 208 EU-related items broadcast on Radio 4’s Today programme in its Business News slots.

The investigation – which involved analysing more than 130,000 words of transcription – took place to check whether the BBC’s coverage met Charter requirements to be impartial in what the Corporation declares is the ‘agenda-setting’ platform for the Business News sector.

The intensive analysis shows that the overwhelming editorial purpose of the Business News slot was to air sustained and multi-faceted pessimism about the immediate and long-term consequences of the vote to leave the EU.

In classifying 60 speakers as ‘positive’, News-watch has erred on the side of caution. Only 31 were strongly optimistic about the post-Brexit economic landscape. The others were favourable, but only lukewarm or qualified in their assessments.

The BBC’s negativity towards Brexit was also blatant in the introductions to the Business News sequences. Only 22 (10.6%) of the opening sequences were clearly positive – though often even they were immediately followed by negative interviews.

Between them, the negative guests painted a relentlessly pessimistic picture of gloom, doom and uncertainty; of plunging economic prospects; of a collapse of consumer confidence; of rising inflation; of a drying up of investment; of job freezes; of a drain of jobs from London to mainland Europe; of skills shortages because of the ending of free movement; of the introduction of tariffs; and of endless complex renegotiation.

Given the BBC’s over-arching requirement for impartiality, the simple question that must be asked is: how the BBC can justify this gross imbalance given the pro-Brexit vote?

Based on the analysis, it clearly shows that the Today programme has effectively continued the Remain campaign’s ‘Project Fear’, beginning at dawn on June 24 and persisting until Christmas despite mounting post-Brexit positive news.

Another startling finding which has come to light through News-watch analysis is the massive level of bias by omission: a failure to include on Today at sufficient levels those who favoured withdrawal. By largely ignoring and not following up the themes and perceived opportunities which the few pro-Brexit guests did raise, and excluding from coverage important business figures who supported Brexit, the BBC appears to have further compromised itself.

The BBC is now duty bound to explain to the people who fund it how this editorial imbalance could have been allowed to occur. Failure to do so will seriously damage people’s confidence in its future coverage of Brexit.

This analysis is being circulated with the endorsement of a cross-party group of politicians who urgently request that the BBC’s director-general, Lord Hall, tells the truth to all licence fee payers about the astonishing catalogue of failure which News-watch has uncovered.

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More BBC pro-EU bias in Farage ‘painting by numbers’ interview

More BBC pro-EU bias in Farage ‘painting by numbers’ interview

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For 16 years, News-watch has been monitoring in interviews by the BBC of Ukip leader Nigel Farage.

It’s the broadcasting equivalent of painting by numbers.

With wearying predictability, each one has been essentially the same. Question one usually suggests they are racist by wanting immigration controls. Question two posits the party is a flash in the pan, and then that their electoral bubble has definitely burst. Voters are now realising that supporting the party was a bad mistake. And then comes number three: why are there so many nutters and closet Nazis in party ranks?

All the main presenters – from John Humphrys to James Naughtie  and from Justin Webb and Evan Davis to Sarah Montague – have clearly been tutored in  this mechanical interviewing approach, and none of them deviates beyond a few commas and names from the script.

The goal has been relentlessly and viciously the same: to discredit the party and its leader and to sabotage the chances that withdrawal from the EU is properly on the political agenda.

In any other organisation, such lack of originality would be considered a risible dereliction of duty, but this is the Biased Broadcasting Corporation, whose agenda is to attack UKIP’s core policies – restriction of immigration and departure from the EU – with every sinew of its £2bn-a-year news budget. Handling of the party by BBC presenters makes it blatantly obvious they are dealing with the political equivalent of the stench of rotting fish.

It was the turn of Today presenter Mishal Husain to have her crack at Mr Farage on Thursday morning. She did not disappoint – exactly true to form in terms of content. The right-on Ms Husain spiced it up by adopting a sharply judgmental, condescending and authoritarian tone. It was if she was dealing with someone who should be subjected to the worst excesses of Sharia law.

Section 1:  Ms Husain attempted to show that Mr Farage’s concerns about communities becoming segregated as a result of the volume of immigration are actually racist. This is what the Corporation has done for years on the topic of immigration. It has been so blatantly obvious that BBC correspondents such as Nick Robinson have been forced to make apologies for it. But no matter:  This is Ukip and any chance to discredit Mr Farage would clearly do for Ms Husain. Instead of having a sensible, grown-up exchange about the how immigration can be managed, Ms Husain preferred instead to descend into the broadcast equivalent of crude name-calling.

Section 2: Here, Ms Husain tried to rubbish the concept of an Australian-style cap on immigrant numbers. Her ammunition – which she fired with both barrels and with such vehemence that Mr Farage could scarcely get a word in edgeways – was that it is totally impracticable because it is hard to define what a skilled worker actually is and where such immigrants should come from. Mr Farage very patiently persisted that it was possible, but Ms Husain was having none of it. Her focus then shifted to suggesting that if there was a cap on immigrant numbers at all, it would be economically disastrous for Britain. Normally, the BBC hates big business, but here, Ms Husain invoked the authority of the CBI to posit that Ukip policies were dangerously misguided. Mr Farage then raised a very important point: that cohesion of communities is more important than economic wealth. Ms Husain ignored that and moved on….to

Section 3:   Ms Husain kept to the script again, precisely. Now it was time to show that Ukip are a bunch of dangerous, venal nutters, and she had a string of names to prove her case. Her examples were larded with the usual alarming  labels: Nazi, Adolf Eichmann…more painting by numbers. Mr Farage politely pointed out that other political parties have also had similar problems with candidates, but this did not make headlines. Ms Husain was totally unresponsive to his protests. She ploughed on with the theme and ensured that in several different ways she was able to tell the audience that Ukip members are dangerous extremists.

What remains clear is that as the election coverage gathers pace, the Biased Broadcasting Corporation has no intention of portraying Ukip and all it stands for as anything other than a dangerous aberration.  The Commons European Scrutiny Committee recently highlighted that bias. One mercy is that the more these attacks continue, the more voters see through it- Ukip has risen despite the relentless opposition of the BBC. But the Husain interview illustrates graphically that many of the real issues of the campaign are not properly being discussed.

Read the full transcript below:

 

Bias by Omission as Romania and Bulgaria Influx Rises

Bias by Omission as Romania and Bulgaria Influx Rises

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Clarkson – Yes, Immigration – No

Clarkson – Yes, Immigration – No

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

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

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

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

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

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Today Editor’s  ‘Blackpool Rock’ Propaganda

Today Editor’s ‘Blackpool Rock’ Propaganda

Jamie Angus, the young editor of the BBC Radio 4 Today programme appointed to the role a year last May, has risen through the BBC ranks virtually without a trace.

Aged 40, he’s already had stints as editor of sister programme World at One and as acting editor of Newsnight. He was parachuted into that role after the McAlpine libel fiasco, but failed to get the job full-time when director general Tony Hall decided it needed more left-wing influence and would go to Guardian deputy editor Ian Katz.

Despite Angus’s high-profile roles, search Google, and you draw a virtual blank on him, apart from this piece on the News-watch website a few months back.

But now, he’s decided to come down from his BBC mountain and has give an interview to The Guardian.  On first sight, it’s one of those soft-touch meejah ‘profiles’ without an obvious peg. But read between the lines and it speaks volumes about the man and his mission – as well as the Corporation he works for.

‘BBC propagandist’ is emblazoned there as clearly as if it had been extruded through a stick of Blackpool rock.

On the momentous occasion of his first national newspaper interview about his role, his list of priorities seems somewhat narrow. There’s not a squeak about the integrity of its journalism – for example, about how and whether his programme is fulfilling its role as the BBC’s declared flagship news and current affairs programme.

Many doubt that, but Angus’s priorities seem rather different: they are (in no particular order), whether there are enough female presenters, whether Thought for the Day should be changed, the need to make the ‘pop-py’ items he has introduced to the programme more ‘mainstream’, and how to procure more 35-54 listeners, though he appears to already have the answer: new six-second slots that appeal to them.

Of course, such issues have some significance in the overall fabric of the programme because the appeal of Today is that it does have variety and changes of pace and tone as well as the more serious interviews. But they are minutiae.

It seems astonishing that – given that not a single external  BBC interview happens without clearance at the highest PR levels – this would appear to be this thrusting new editor’s main public agenda for the BBC’s flagship programme.

Buried in the interview are some more worrying points. First, it’s clear that Angus is completely sold on what he calls the ‘pluralist’ agenda. He states:

“One of the great things about living in Britain is that we are a pluralist society that is immensely tolerant of a wide range of different religions. I think Thought for the Day is one of the hidden pillars that absolutely supports that architecture.”

That seems like BBC code for something rather less tolerant. What he actually means is that Thought for the Day has in the past been far too Christian and he is working with the rest of his chums to ensure that the need for such ‘pluralism’ ensures that Christian voices are actually heard as little as possible. And in a wider news and current affairs sense, those with ‘establishment’ views are often ignored or swamped out by the need for ‘diversity’.

And far more serious is what he reveals about  his BBC-biased attitude towards editorial impartiality.

Mr Angus says he ‘defended’ his decision to allow Lord Lawson on to the programme to discuss the Somerset floods, despite a complaint being upheld against the programme as Lord Lawson was not an expert on the subject and therefore had only ‘opinions’ and not scientific views.

He asserts:

“The BBC can’t say, ‘we aren’t going to put that point of view on air because scientists tell us it’s not right’.

Actually, he means the reverse, as becomes clear:

“People always raise flat earth at this point, but if you go into a pub on Oxford Street you won’t find anyone who says the earth is flat, but you will probably find a couple of people who are unconvinced by the science on climate change”.

There, in a sentence, is the entire problem with a crucial element of the current BBC treatment of editorial impartiality. Angus clearly thinks, that:

·        In a busy, typical pub (presumably that’s why he chooses Oxford Street) you will find only a couple of people who dare not to believe in the ‘science’ of climate change, and they are akin (but not quite as bad as) flat-earthers.

·        And the ‘science’ of climate change is so well established that those who do not accept it do not have a legitimate position – rather, they have not yet been ‘convinced’ by it.

The article also reveals that young Jamie began his career as a researcher for the Liberal Democrats – perhaps in the orbit of climate change alarmists such as Chris Huhne and Ed Davey.  How very, very fitting.

Photo by creating in the dark