Withdrawalists

BBC Brexit programme shows strong pro-EU bias

BBC Brexit programme shows strong pro-EU bias

With the campaigns to secure exit the EU now launched, the BBC knows its EU coverage is under unprecedented scrutiny.

Before Christmas, Rona Fairhead, the BBC Trust chairman, appeared before the Commons European Scrutiny Committee and swore blind that systems were in place to ensure impartiality in the run-up to the EU referendum.

And – pigs maybe do fly! – the Corporation has now boldly gone into unknown territory, and finally made a programme about what exit for the UK might entail. How to Make a Brexit, compiled and presented by veteran political reporter Carolyn Quinn, was first broadcast on Radio 4 on Tuesday and is repeated this Sunday.

News-watch has been monitoring BBC output for 16 years and this is the first dedicated programme on this subject that has crossed our radar.

So how was it? The transcript is here and the programme can be heard on Youtube. But don’t hold your breath. The reality is that from beginning to end it was a travesty that showed only that those who work for the Corporation are so pro-EU that they don’t even begin to comprehend the depths of their bias.

Evidence for that is so thick on the ground that it’s almost impossible to know where to start, but a favourite moment was when, close to the beginning, Quinn used an extract from a pro-EU rant on the Now Show to illustrate one of her key points. The tone was thus set.

Quinn’s linking commentary and choice of quotes was framed with only one aim in mind – to tell us how desperately complex a departure would be. The first quote in this vein from a contributor was:

“This is the largest scale legislation and policy exercise that has possibly been carried out ever”.

Ms Quinn then added: “…as we’ll discover there would be all sorts of things that would need to be finally negotiated. The trade options alone are staggering and then there’s what to do with EU legislation, citizenship, even devolution.”

Thereafter, almost every element of the programme fitted with the pro-EU propaganda the BBC has been broadcasting for years. It left no room for doubt: leaving the EU is something that only a fool would contemplate.

The most serious and obvious bias was in the treatment of contributors.

The pro-EU speakers who wanted to make exit sound impossibly complex were Charles Grant of the Centre of European Reform – a perennial BBC favourite – and Jean-Claude Piris, a former director of EU legal services. Both EU cronies were afforded clear space to make their respective arguments and were edited to make them sound coherent and persuasive. Their contributions amounted to more than 800 words, and their stance was made crystal clear.

By contrast, ‘eurosceptic’ contributions, for example from Ruth Lea, the political economist from Business for Britain, and UKIP MEP Diane James, were fragmented and edited in such a way that if they provided Quinn with any clear arguments in favour of exit, they were not obvious to the listener. Negotiating separate trade deals was made to sound impossibly complex.

A word count of contributors shows that the clearly pro-EU side, essentially from three main contributors amounted to more than 1200 words and those from the Brexit and clearly Eurosceptic sides added up to 800 words – spread across eight speakers. Of these, only Ruth Lea had more than 100 words.

Of course, bias is not solely about numbers but here there was a clear weighting towards the EU perspective and this was compounded by Quinn, whose main editorial intent both in her own contributions and her editing of comments was to illustrate her central contention that this whole prospect was a fool’s errand.

Other problems? There are legion. Why the choice of Greenland as the peg for the programme? Its experience (a territory with a population of only 57,000) was so long ago as to be almost irrelevant because the rules are now entirely different.

Quinn kept in the programme without challenge – and indeed emphasised them – views from Jean-Claude Piris that suggested that pressing the exit button would mean that British citizens in EU countries would face severe difficulties because their status would change. Others, such as EU expert Richard North, strongly disagree.

Much more than that, however, was the whole tone of the programme. Everything about it emphasised that an EU exit would be problematical. There was no attempt to look at benefits – the Greenland experience of enjoying integrity of its fishing waters was almost totally glossed over.

Of course a programme featuring such a perspective that is chock-full of genuine supporters of withdrawal allowed to put their case might be somewhere in the BBC pipeline. But don’t count on it. Those campaigning for a Brexit have a mountain to climb in countering such blatant propaganda.

Photo by Greenland Travel

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

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

Photo by CJS*64 A man with a camera

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Whose fault is that?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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.

Photo by tonylanciabeta

BBC charter must not be renewed until pro-EU bias ends

BBC charter must not be renewed until pro-EU bias ends

Lord Pearson of Rannoch, initiated an hour’s debate in the House of Lords about biased BBC coverage of the EU. His main demand was that the BBC Charter is not renewed until the bias is rectified, and his key point that despite repeated assertions to the contrary the BBC simply does not cover the withdrawal perspective fairly or adequately.  The debate can be read in full here: Click here

The peers’ collective words on this vital topic have gone unreported – especially by the BBC. Lord Pearson of Rannoch referred centrally in his contribution  to a News-watch report that said that says that the BBC’s Prebble report (which gave the corporation’s EU coverage a virtual clean bill of health) was unprofessional and ‘incestuous’.

Lord Pearson asserted in conclusion:

“So I ask the Government not to renew the BBC’s charter until they are satisfied that it is capable of fulfilling it. This afternoon, I have dealt only with the BBC’s coverage of the EU. Similar criticisms could be made of its coverage of immigration and manmade climate change, at least. In conclusion, I trust that the Government will ensure that the BBC’s editorial freedom is preserved, but with that freedom must come the fulfilment of the great ideals of its charter. I beg to move.”

Photo by Euro Realist Newsletter

Back to the future: the BBC’s attacks on EU withdrawal

Back to the future: the BBC’s attacks on EU withdrawal

Another European election and the BBC are in full cry again trying to find ways of showing that those who support withdrawal are racist. They have form, and it has been tracked in detail by News-watch.

Their justification, of course, is that the party has ‘controversial’ policies that need probing.

The latest story elevated to front page status is that a supporter of withdrawal who is fighting a local council election (not a European parliamentary seat) has made ‘offensive’ tweets against both the black comedian Lenny Henry and Islam.

In the BBC’s lexicon there is perhaps no higher crime.

Conservative minister Jeremy Hunt is enlisted to say so: overt racism, he claims.

The story also includes ‘balancing’ comments from Roger Helmer, the UKIP MEP, who states that the remarks were not party policy, and also that he believed that the way the story was written amounted to an attempt to smear UKIP.

The problem here is not that the BBC has reported the story, or even that they have included the allegations. If a candidate is racist (but, note, there are different sides to the story), then it is legitimate journalism to say so.

The issue rather this is back to the future:  the wearily predictable way the BBC always reports the ‘come out’ cause.  The important arguments about withdrawal from the EU are totally subsumed by the focus on racism, or some other problem.

The evidence for this is epitomised in a transcript – included fully below because it is so astonishingly negative – from the 2009 European elections. It was broadcast on May 30, 2009, and became the subject of a formal complaint by Lord Pearson of Rannoch which was – of course, as are all complaints about their EU coverage – airily dismissed by the then Today editor Ceri Thomas, who, on a salary of £166,000 a year, has since been promoted and now has a central role in shaping the whole of the BBC’s news coverage.

Most amazing was the 428-word preface by then European editor Mark Mardell, who, with delicious irony, was appointed to the role in 2005 to ensure greater impartiality in the BBC’s reporting of issues such as withdrawal. In three minutes he cobbled together every possible insult against UKIP, without once focusing on its objective of withdrawal; almost gleefully, he heaped against the withdrawal movement the epithet ‘BNP in blazers’ – and claimed MEPs were relentlessly voting against British interests, and were venal.

John Humphrys then kicked off the interview with Nigel Farage with heavy accusations about corruption, followed by…of course, further allegations of racism. This was aggressive interviewing at its most ferocious and gave Mr Farage only minimal space to put points about party policy and withdrawal.

The negative treatment of ‘withdrawal’ in this interview must also be seen in the handling of the topic in the whole election campaign. News-watch surveyed the campaign output across ten flagship news programmes across the BBC output. Among its conclusions were:

·         Only six interviews of withdrawal candidates in the whole campaign 

·         The UKIP “expenses” issue was mentioned in all but one of the interviews, and also in several other reports.

·         Aggressive questioning of the party on alleged racism and inefficiency, with a high rate of interruptions

·         There were only two brief questions about withdrawal and few opportunities to describe EU-related policies. 

Transcript of BBC Radio 4, Today, 30th May 2009, Interview with Nigel Farage, 7.32am

JOHN HUMPHRYS:                If we are to believe the opinion poll in The Times this morning, UKIP will get more votes than the Labour Party in the European Election.  A result like that would obviously be calamitous for Gordon Brown, but what effect in the long run would it have on UKIP – seen as one of our fringe parties, perhaps?  It won a dozen seats at the last European elections, but doesn’t have a single MP at Westminster and, more important still, what effect would it have on our future in the European Union.  I’ll be talking to its leader in a moment, but let’s hear first from our Europe Editor, Mark Mardell.

MARK MARDELL: A small sea, more like a pond perhaps, of Union flags drop in front of a diminished group of men in the European Parliament.  They thought their election heralded a revolution, but what have they achieved?  Not, obviously, their main ambition of getting the UK out of the EU.  Most members of the European Parliament regard UKIP as profoundly unserious pranksters with a weird obsession.  ‘Criminal betrayal’ – so said UKIP’s rising star Robert Kilroy-Silk MEP, the former Labour MP and daytime TV host, he’s the man with the orange complexion, you’ll remember, before he quite the party.  ‘An incompetent joke’ – that’s the verdict of another leadership contender.  The pronouncements of sore losers, perhaps, but there’s something of a theme here which real opponents have been quick to pick up on: ‘fruitcakes, loonies, closet racists’ was what David Cameron said about them, and it’s the last bit that annoys the current leadership.  Nigel Farage has dismissed the idea that they’re the BNP in blazers, but their main plank in this election is perhaps their opposition to unlimited immigration, and Mr Farage admits he’s spent a lot of time and energy fighting off a take-over by the far right.  That must say something about the sympathies of some members.  And what about the MEPs?  Of the dozen elected, Robert Kilroy-Silk has disappeared from the political scene and two others have been expelled, one jailed for fraud, the other awaiting trial on similar charges.  UKIP condemns the EU gravy train, but a good proportion seem to have prominent gravy stains all down their blazers.  The European Parliament, for all its bad reputation, is a place where the politicians have a serious job modifying, tweaking, even kicking out proposed new laws.  UKIP don’t boast of any achievements on this front, and their opponents say they’ve voted against Britain’s interests in a host of areas from fishing to trade talks.  A UKIP news release ruefully admits that occasionally UKIP do miss pieces of legislation.  If not the BNP in blazers, then there is something of the golf club militant about UKIP – so old-school they’re in constant danger of being expelled, the boys who didn’t make prefects because they were too ready to cock a snook and put two fingers up at the establishment.  But there’s no doubt there is a market for this at the moment, but in a parliament that’s about quiet conciliation not gestures, they make a lot of noise, no one is unaware of their cause.  For them the risk is that they become part of an institution they despise, the licensed court jester, who can poke fun at the EU’s po-faced pretentions, as long as they make withdrawal look like a lost cause for mavericks.

JH:           Mark Mardell there.  Well, Nigel Farage is the leader of UKIP, he’s on the line, good morning to you.

NIGEL FARAGE:     Good morning.

JH:           Let’s deal with that bit about the gravy train first.  You yourself have done rather well out of it haven’t you?

NF:          Certainly not.  I’ve given up a career in the City of London, I would be earning substantially more money than I am now, but the point is, UKIP MEPs are not in this for a career, they’re not in this for money, they’re in it because they absolutely believe that we’ve got to have a different relationship with the EU, one that is based on . . .

JH:           (interrupting)  Alright, we’ll come that in a minute, the different relationship with the EU, we’ll come to that in a minute, you say you’re not in it for the money.  You have taken, I’m quoting what you said to Denis McShane, the Foreign Press Association asked the other day about your expenses and all that sort of thing, and you said ‘it’s a vast sum, I don’t know what the total amount is, but oh Lord, it must be pushing £2 million’

NF:          We don’t get expenses . . .

JH:           No, no.

NF:          We get set allowances.

JH:           Indeed.

NF:          It’s an entirely different system to Westminster . . .

JH:           (speaking over) Nonetheless, £2 million since you’ve been there?

NF:          Well, every single MEP gets the same, you know, Glenys Kinnock gets the same as I’ll get . . .

JH:           I know.

NF:          And what we have done is we’ve used that money to campaign up and down the country over the last few years, telling people the truth about the EU, and that perhaps is one of the reasons why there’s now a majority of people in Britain who support our view.

JH:           Right, so you have used tax payers’ money to peddle the interests of your own party?

NF:          No, to peddle the interests of our cause.  Last year, the EU . . .

JH:           (interrupting) I’m not sure I see the difference.

NF:          Last year the European Union spent €2.4 million, sorry billions euros, telling students and schoolchildren that the EU was a wonderful thing.  All that UKIP has done is take a little bit of money that’s been given to us and try to counteract some of those arguments.

JH:           I don’t know about ‘little bit of money’, most people would consider two million quid in your case quite a lot of money.

NF:          We haven’t put it in our pockets, we’ve used it in our campaigns.

JH:           Well, you’ve paid your wife to help run your office.

NF:          For seven years she helped me on an unpaid basis, since I was leader of a group in the European Parliament and The UK Independence Party, she’s helped me for the last two years.

JH:           The question is what effect you’ve had and the answer to that is, apart from the fact that you have used a lot of money, spent quite a lot of money to alert people to what you consider the bad things about Europe, in terms of influencing legislation and the like, you have been entirely ineffective, haven’t you?

NF:          Well, I thought Mark Mardell’s report was really grossly unfair.  For the first time in thirty years there has been an opposition group in the European Parliament, which has been my privilege to lead over the course of the last five years, we’re seen as the focal point for eurosceptic groups right across the continent, we’ve played a big role in the French referendum, and in the Irish referendum, the day after the ‘no’ vote, the prime minister in Ireland blamed me personally – and my group in the European Parliament – for the ‘no’ result in Ireland.  I think that’s pretty effective opposition.

JH:           But what you haven’t been doing is sitting there, getting on with the job of being an MEP, and if you run for a post, the post of Member of the European Parliament, surely people who’ve put you into that expect you to . . .

NF:          (interrupting) Well I’m sorry, I . . . .

JH:           . . . to form the part of a constructive opposition.   I mean, the line when you say Mark Madell was unfair, but he’s right about your news release, admitting occasionally you do miss pieces of legislation.

NF:          And so does everybody, just remember John that there are days in the European Parliament where we vote on up to a thousand amendments in the space of sixty or seventy minutes.  I mean this is . . . the mass of legislation going through is such that nobody from any party could ever tell you they’ve got every single thing right, but I’ll tell you this: unlike the other British parties, we have never voted for any new directive that impacts upon British business, we have opposed it, we have fought hard through parliamentary committees to stop things like the exemption on the 48 Hour Week being removed, we’ve played our full role as MEPs, but what we do not do, we do not support any European legislation, believing that we should make those laws in this country.

JH:           The accusation that you are the BNP in blazers . . .
NF:          Well, it’s ludicrous.

JH:           Because of your . . . well, you are hugely opposed to immigration, any more immigration.

NF:          No, we’re not opposed to immigration per se, we believe we should control immigration.

JH:           Well, everybody says that.

NF:          They do, and they’re not telling the truth, are they?  I mean, this has been the problem, the expenses scandal has drowned all of this out.  The British public need to know that what’s being done in their name is we’ve signed up to total, unlimited immigration to the whole of Eastern Europe, and the only party that voted against that was UKIP, and we believe in controlling immigration.  The only people . . .

JH:           (interrupting) But, but, but hang on.  You believe in controlling that, a lot of people came in here from Eastern Europe, they did jobs that needed to be doing, now many of them are going back again.  What’s wrong with that?

NF:          Oh, come on.  We’ve still got about 800,000 people net increase from Eastern Europe since those countries joined, and that figure is due to rise.  I mean look, a few weeks ago, the President of Romania issued a million passports to people in Moldova.  Those people now, if they want, can all come to Britain.  Our argument is the British people themselves should decide who comes to live, work and settle in Britain, not the President of Romania.

JH:           If you get more MEPs in the European Parliament, if – and it’s a very big if – if you do well in the Westminster elections, I say ‘a very big if’ because you’ve made no impact on the Westminster elections thus far, when will you pull us out, given a chance when would you pull us out?  Would you, would you . . . let’s dream for a moment, imagine you were in power, would you pull us out the next day, next week, next month?

NF:          The very next day.  No question about it.  And we would sack ourselves as MEPs and we would then renegotiate a sensible free trade agreement, rather like the one that Switzerland has.  This is absolutely vital, it’s a majority view in this country, and I believe it will grow. And what I would really like to see is if UKIP can cause an earthquake next Thursday, if we can really send a loud and clear message to the big party leaders, I would like them to go into the next general election promising us, the British people, the right that we can have a referendum to decide whether we’re part of this Union or not.

JH:           Nigel Farage, many thanks.

Photo by theglobalpanorama

Nick Robinson raises spectre of racism against EU withdrawers

Nick Robinson raises spectre of racism against EU withdrawers

One of the problems of the BBC’s coverage of ‘withdrawal’ from the EU is that mostly, they don’t do it – but when they do deign to do so, it’s through a totally negative lens.

The News-watch long-term survey of Today – which goes back twelve years and covers roughly half the programme editions – shows that there have been only 108 appearances by ‘come outers’ where withdrawal has been mentioned. That equates to only one appearance every three weeks, compared to an average 47 EU-related speakers in the same period.

But that’s only part of picture because transcript analysis shows that most of these mentions have been very fleeting, and only very rarely indeed do Today presenters pose questions directly about withdrawal policy. What is also clear from the transcripts is that editorially, the programme tends to focus on negative issues. Are withdrawalists racist, venal, disorganised or opportunist?  These are the favourites that crop up monotonously and almost mechanistically.

Another constant in the treatment of  withdrawal is that the majority of the interviews has been with UKIP.  Of the 108 appearances logged by News-watch, 80 were with members of UKIP. Only three  (in nine years!) were  with Labour figures and only 14 with Conservatives. Others, for example,  were with  those such as Geert Wilders, the Dutch politician, who is usually viewed by the BBC as both ‘extremist’ and ‘racist’.

It’s in that context that the rather startling interview on April 22 by  BBC political editor Nick Robinson of Nigel Farage  must be seen.  Basically, it looks like Mr Robinson sought to inflict maximum damage on the day that UKIP had launched their poster-based  EU election campaign against the EU’s free movement of people directive.

Mr Robinson first established that Nigel Farage was employing his wife (a German) as his secretary.  Here is the exchange:

NR: No British person could work for you as your secretary?

NF: Not at the moment.

NR: You don’t think anyone’s capable of doing that job?

NF: What, of marrying me?

NR: No. Of doing the job of your secretary.

NF: I don’t know anyone who would work those hours, no.

NR: So that’s it. It’s clear – UKIP do not believe that any British person is capable of being the secretary of their leader?

NF: That’s nonsense and you know it.

NR: You just said it!

This is truly jaw-dropping, even by the BBC’s previous standards.  What is seemingly obvious was obvious from the context and what Mr Farage said is that was employing his wife not because she was German but because he worked anti-social hours and nobody else would put up with that.

But Mr Robinson was having none of it.  As Biased BBC notes,  he had already seemingly made up his mind what the story was about.  – that UKIP did not believe that ‘any British person was capable of being the leader’s secretary’.   For his part, Mr Farage was incredulous that  Mr Robinson could make such crass assumptions.

The rest of the interview  touched on the levels of immigration that might be thought be fair by UKIP under the free movement of people directive. Mr Farage suggested  that the current number of 100,000+  per year should be cut to a ‘more manageable’30-50,000 and that there should border controls.

Mr Robinson’s conclusion sidestepped those national interest debating points. He said instead:

‘Mr Farage’s decision to employ his wife at public expense highlights two important questions he and his party now face – about what their immigration policy means in practice and their attitude to public money.’

Put another way:  it seems that rather than looking at the important issues involved in immigration policy, Mr Robinson was determined to focus instead on showing

a)      That UKIP and Mr Farage had very odd attitudes towards employment

b)      His policy and attitudes towards his wife’s employment meant that his ideas about immigration were potentially at least very odd and possibly racist (the word was not said but Mr Robinson’s focus suggested it was somewhere in his mind)

c)       Nothing at all about withdrawalist objections to the free movement of people directive.

Mr Robinson, it has been noted elsewhere on the site, has himself recently suggested that the BBC has not covered the debate about immigration properly; on this evidence, it is easy to see why.

Photo by Jennifer Jane Mills

EU ‘Come-out’ Donor Sykes gets Today Roasting

EU ‘Come-out’ Donor Sykes gets Today Roasting

Newswatch reports show that Today does not give EU ‘come-outers’ the chance to properly air their case.
When they do appear they are usually bracketed with ‘Loonies’, or given no chance to explain their support for leaving the EU.
Today presenter Evan Davis continued the tradition when he interviewed this week (November 18) Yorkshire businessman Paul Sykes about his decision to support UKIP in the 2014 Europe elections. Mr Sykes – who announced his decisions to the Daily Telegraph – said he had decided to resume his political donations because UKIP was the only party clearly campaigning for withdrawal from the EU. But on Today, Evan Davis conducted in an interview that was so crammed full of interruptions that the longest Mr Sykes was allowed to speak was 94 words, about 35 seconds. In an interview lasting five-and-a-half minutes, Mr Davis interjected 35 times…once every 10 seconds.
The transcript here reveals the full gory story.  Read for yourself .
Of course it’s the job of a Today presenter to be adversarial and political donations must be subjected to scrutiny. But this was battering ram questioning that would have been appropriateif Mr Sykes was contemplating an illegal act rather than giving to a mainstream political cause he believed in.
The transcript shows that that Mr Davis deliberately set out to prevent Mr Sykes from explaining either his decision to support withdrawal as a political cause or his reasoning why he thought current policies do not chime with public opinion. It was only the third interview of a clear supporter of withdrawal in the latest Newswatch monitoring period, which is running from mid September until the EU Council meeting in December.

Photo by Astral Media

Newswatch surveys: Since 2005, Today has carried only six minutes a year of those who support EU withdrawal talking about the subject

Newswatch has been monitoring the Today programme for approximately 6 months of the year since 2005. It is the longest-ever, and most detailed, research project of its kind. In the latest survey period it has been established that withdrawalists talking about withdrawal took up minimal programme time.
That fits in with longer-term trends. Since 2005:
Total feature airtime in monitored programmes: 137,479 minutes
Airtime devoted to EU coverage: 9360 minutes
Total number of EU-related speakers: 3441
Withdrawalist Speakers
There were exactly 100 appearances by speakers who were identified as supporters of withdrawal.
Of these, 73% were UKIP, 13% Conservative Party, 7% BNP, 3% Labour Party, 2% were vox pops,
and 1% from Veritas.
Just over half (37 out of 73, equating to 37%) of all UKIP appearances were from Nigel Farage.
Speakers who discussed Withdrawal
58 Speakers of the 100 made an argument for withdrawal as part of their contribution, (with the
remaining 42 commenting on other EU matters but making no case for withdrawal).
Of the 58 speakers:
41 (70.7%) came from UKIP;
10 (17.2%) were from the Conservative Party,
3 (5.2%) were from the BNP,
2 (3.4%) were from the Labour Party
2 (3.4%) were from vox pop contributors.
 Words spoken on withdrawal by withdrawalists
Total words spoken on withdrawal by withdrawalists between March 2005 and June 2013:  6786
At 140 wpm, this equates to: 48 minutes and 27 seconds. That is six minutes per year in the monitored
periods (half of the total output).
This is 0.5% of total EU coverage, and 0.035% of total airtime available on Today.
Word Counts by Party for those who discussed withdrawal
The 6786 words spoken by withdrawalists who discussed withdrawal can be split into the following:
BNP:  115 Words (1.7%)
Conservative Party: 1042 words (15.4%)
Labour Party: 141 words (2.1%)
Vox Pops 29 words.  (0.4%)
UKIP:  5459 words (80%)

BBC Trustees reject Newsnight EU bias complaint

The BBC Trustees have yet again flatly rejected claims that their EU coverage is biased.
Conservative MP Philip Hollobone and Labour’s Kate Hoey filed a complaint about an edition of Newsnight on January 23, when David Cameron announced his policy of holding an ‘in/out’ referendum.
The programme contained just one ‘come-outer’ (UKIP’s Nigel Farage) ranged against battery of 17 studio guests and contributors who were in different ways against the referendum, in favour of staying in the EU or increasing its powers. The Trustees say this was ‘fair’ because the programme was considering the political context and implications of the issues raised by Mr Cameron and therefore the number of supporters of withdrawal was immaterial.
Philip Hollobone Newsnight complaint here: 
BBC response here: 
Transcript of Newsnight programme here: