Well, ten minutes after posting that piece about BBC Europe correspondent Damian Grammaticas’s Remain-biased piece for Monday’s BBC One News at Six
his latest report popped up on tonight’s BBC One News at Six…
…and I think we may now have the winner in ‘Most Biased Report in the BBC’s EU Referendum Coverage’ category.
I know it’s an early call but I really can’t see anything topping it over the next six weeks. It was that biased.
It discussed the UK’s contribution to the EU – a highly controversial issue. And what did impartial BBC Europe correspondent Damian tell us?
Well, firstly, he showed us a dramatic graphic showing the huge amount of money we make as a country each year (UK GDP 2014 – £1,817 bn) and then total government spending (£747 bn). One and a bit columns of huge numbers of coins stacked up next to him. The graphic then shed two tiny coins to show us our EU contribution (£11 bn). It make it look like mere chicken feed (or sparrow feed).
[Of course, comparing our EU contribution to the totality
of the UK economy (and the totality
of UK government spending) is the most extreme comparison imaginable. Of course it will make our EU contribution seem tiny. It makes nearly all
UK government (i.e. UK taxpayer) spending seem tiny.]
A second graph then showed us that we put in way less than Germany and France (and even Italy). Ah, but we put more in that Malta: so a third graph was then used to show that “we pay by far the lowest measured by our share of national income” [his emphasis].
Why this “special treatment”? In two words (Damian’s own two words): “Maggie Thatcher”.
He called the rebate our “discount”.
“What happens to our cash?” he then asked. More than half “comes back to us”, he answered, “to be spent in the UK”. He then listed all the wonderful things the EU spends this money on here before saying:
If we controlled this money we could spend it on other things. But only by depriving these of funding.
And by ‘these’ he meant the list he’d just given: farmers, “poorer regions, roads, ports, businesses”, “research grants, universities, companies like Rolls Royce”.
Would you want to “deprive” those things of funding by voting to leave the EU? That was very clearly the unspoken question Damian Grammaticas was putting to BBC One viewers here.
After all this there’s still the UK’s net contribution to the EU of £5.5 bn [half of that ‘chicken feed’ figure he quoted earlier]. Damian quickly told us that we’re one of 10 countries that pays more in that we get back [so we’re far from alone] and that Germany and France pay more than us anyhow. The money goes to Europe’s farmers, poorer regions and Europe-wide projects – infrastructure, energy, “spent in space even – European rockets and satellites” [and who doesn’t like European space missions involving the UK?].
And this tiny £5.5 bn figure?
Essentially it’s our fee for entry into Europe’s single market, with which we do more than 40% of our trade.
Who wouldn’t want to pay such a tiny amount to get us that much, and as well as saving Rolls Royce?
Frankly, my Biasometer was going off the scale by this point. But then came Damian’s closing comments and it exploded. The BBC man – despite a pretence at even-handedness – played the ‘uncertainly card’ (the ace in Project Fear’s pack):
But all these figures could be dwarfed by what might happen to our economy if we quit the EU. If it grew a lot or shrank a lot the impact either way on our government’s finances and on us all could be huge.
And that was how it ended.