EX-PAT BIAS BBC2’s Newsnight examined last night opinion about Brexit among ex-pats in the Costa Del Sol. Reporter Sekunder Kermani had drawn the short straw of being sent to sunny Malaga…and he made it clear that most Brits there were deeply worried about exit. He assembled from his contributors and his own comments a long list of reasons: pensions being hit, ex-pats becoming illegal immigrants overnight and being forcefully sent home to a Britain with room for them, the withdrawal of free health cover, the imposition of border controls, supplies of Yorkshire tea and corned beef being withdrawn from local shops and rising taxes. He found only one ex-pat who wanted to vote for exit. True to BBC form, his contribution was edited to project him as a little Englander whose main reason for wanting Brexit was that he was worried that Tunbridge Wells was being swamped by Eastern Europeans. His choice of camera shots throughout the feature was totally patronising and clichéd: designed only to show how downmarket and narrow the English abroad are, and thus to exaggerate the ‘little Englander’ narrowness of our approach to ‘Europe’. Of course, under BBC rules, daily current affairs programmes are not required to be balanced in each edition; features broadcast on other days can be taken into account in a running tally. News-watch will await them with interest. But meanwhile, the signs are not good – our analysis of World Tonight showed clear bias in similar ex-pat features, especially one contrasting opinions in Freiburg, Germany, and Guildford.
PERFIDIOUS ALBION: Radio 4’s Inglorious Isolation segment continued today after World at One with a contribution from French journalist Catherine Guilyardi. It was sharply intelligent analysis of the genesis of some of the key differences in attitudes towards national identity between the United Kingdom and France. Her main point was that Britain had remained stubbornly ‘isolationist’ towards the concept of European unity whereas France had seen the need to understand that ‘Europe’ as a concept had soul and was prepared to work towards that end. Her analysis ranged through the English Civil War and the French Revolution, to the Sun’s ‘Up Yours, Delors’ headline, and a focus of her argument was that the British pursuit of self-interest through diplomacy – especially after the Second World War – annoyed the ‘straightforward’ French, who in consequence saw Britain as ‘perfidious Albion’. There are still three more editions of this series to go, but it seems from the first two that the over-riding aim is to portray the UK as isolationist, selfish – and rejecting of the sunny uplands of EU integration. The question mark looming increasingly in a series being broadcast during the build up to the EU referendum is, ‘where’s the balance?’.