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Pro-EU zealot quietly dropped from Ofcom content board

Pro-EU zealot quietly dropped from Ofcom content board

Hallelujah! Quietly, a significant positive development in the broadcasting establishment may have occurred.

Might it be that the government is at last waking up to that the liberal figures who occupy the key regulatory posts are a menace to Brexit?

The current deluge of anti-Brexit propaganda emanating primarily from the BBC, but also from Ofcom-regulated services such as Channel 4, is the consequence of their current stranglehold over the regulation of broadcast services.

Back in January, the Department of Culture – as the referendum debate snapped into gear – incredibly appointed arch-Europhile and former editor of The Economist, Bill Emmott as chairman of Ofcom’s content board.

It meant he was in charge of investigations into allegations of bias in commercial radio and television’s coverage of EU affairs.

On The Conservative Woman, I wrote that this was, in effect, appointing a fanatical fox as guardian of the hen house. Emmott, with funding from the EU – and in close collaboration with the BBC – had made The Great European Disaster Movie, which envisaged right-wing Armageddon if the supremacy of the EU was challenged or changed.

Not only that, through his Wake Up Foundation, Emmott was engaged in a full-scale propaganda exercise – with Richard Sambrook, a former BBC Director of News, and using the BBC film as ammo – around the universities of Britain and across Europe to brainwash students  into believing that exiting the EU would indeed be a disaster.

Immediately after the piece appeared, however, Emmott’s appointment began to unravel. On this website, I wrote:

‘After the publication of this post, an Ofcom spokesperson has contacted Newswatch with the following statement: “Any conflicts of interest involving non-executive Board members are managed appropriately and Bill Emmott would not be involved in discussions or decisions related to the EU referendum.”

Ofcom thus formally acknowledged that – at a crucial time in the coverage of EU affairs – Emmott’s interests and pro-EU passions were a conflict of interest.

That was back in February. In the meantime, Analisa Piras, Emmott’s partner in the making of The Great European Disaster Movie, wrote to News-watch:.

the piece… (about The Great European Disaster Movie) is slanderous and full of falsities. Please remove the slanderous comments or take it down immediately.

Please note that in the absence of any action from you I will be taking legal action.

That was back in June. News-watch replied robustly that the item was fair comment on a matter of public and national importance and there has been nothing back since.

There matters hung. It seemed that Emmott was gradually taking up his role at Ofcom, despite the contradictions and his unbridled campaigning pro-EU zealotry. But then – without fanfare – it has been announced that he is definitely leaving. The Guardian here discusses the reasons without – surprise, surprise – mentioning the elephant in the room, Europe, at all. Neither side is commenting ‘for legal reasons’ but it is clear that Ofcom finally woke up to the massive conflict of interest issues.

This begs the question of why the hell the Department of Culture sanctioned the appointment in the first place – it was plain as a pikestaff to anyone with access to Google that Emmott’s pro-EU passions were a central driving force in his life.

But could now it be that the new Culture Secretary Karen Bradley has seen – and is taking action on  – the crucial issue  that such appointments are the core reason why the broadcasting establishment is so fundamentally biased?

Ofcom will become the court of appeal for complaints against the BBC from next year when the new Charter comes into force. Meanwhile, BBC Trustee Chairman Rona Fairhead – drawn from the same mould and outlook as Emmott – has also been given her marching orders. The crucial next phase will be the appointment of the new BBC management board. Watch this space.

 

 

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Complaints from both sides (again)

Complaints from both sides (again)

This is a guest post from Craig Byers of Is the BBC Biased?
The BBC must be happy today.

Yesterday came Boris at the Conservative Party conference saying (accurately) that the BBC is sometimes “shamelessly anti-Brexit” before adding (doubtless to the BBC’s delight), “I think the Beeb is the single greatest and most effective ambassador for our culture and our values”.

Today in strode (Sir) Craig Oliver in The Times saying that David Cameron had pressured the BBC in the other direction for “mistaking balance for being impartial”, demanding that “BBC editors should have been stamping their own independent authority and analysis on the output” (thus echoing the BBC’s very own John Simpson).

Inevitably, in response, in rides the BBC – bugles blaring, banners raised high – crying out its favourite mantra: “We’re getting complaints from both sides; ergo, we must be getting it about right!”…

and Politics Home quotes a BBC source as saying that very thing:

There’s nothing new in people having strong views about our coverage, but the public will notice a distinct irony in the BBC being accused of failing to do enough to stop Brexit on the one hand while being criticised for being anti-Brexit on the other. As we’ve said before, our job is to challenge politicians from all sides and interrogate the arguments. That’s what we’ve been doing and what we’ll continue to do.
Of course, the two complaints are different in kind. The first is saying that the BBC is biased; the second is saying that the BBC is impartial, but too impartial and ought to be taking sides – i.e. its side. Neither is saying the BBC is pro-Brexit (of course, as that would be ridiculous).

Where the BBC’s ‘complaints from both sides’ argument falls down (as so often) is that anyone claiming that the BBC has been either balanced or impartial over Brexit since the referendum result is arguing from a very sticky wicket. (To put it poetically, in the manner of Sir Andrew Motion, “The evidence is strong/That they are wrong”.) The BBC has had a heavy anti-Brexit bias since June 23 (as demonstrated by Radio 4’s Brexit Collection, for example).

And, despite the bias being not as severe before the referendum result, the bias even then still ran overwhelmingly against one side (the same side) – as (hopefully) both Is the BBC biased? and News-watch demonstrated (in considerable detail, and despite honourable exceptions).

Boris was right. The BBC is sometimes shamelessly anti-Brexit.

The campaign from the likes of John Simpson, Mark Thompson, Chris Patten, Paul Johnson of the IFS, Roy Greenslade, Timothy Garton Ash, (Sir) Craig Oliver and David Cameron, etc, however, for the BBC to become even more biased in their direction goes on and is evidently gathering pace. And they are probably knocking at an open door.

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BBC News Chief James Harding shows anti-Brexit bias

BBC News Chief James Harding shows anti-Brexit bias

James Harding, the BBC’s Director of News, has fired a broadside against those poor, misguided souls who have dared to think that the BBC’s coverage of the referendum and its aftermath have been out of kilter.

His chosen medium for this homily? Why, where else but that neutral newspaper so loved by the BBC – The Guardian?

For those not versed in BBC obfuscation (otherwise known as complaints handling), this was a classic piece. His wheeled-out-a-thousand-times defence was that he and his battalions of heroic, do-no-wrong journalists have received complaints from both sides in the referendum debate, so the coverage must therefore have been balanced.

For good measure, he also quotes BBC audience research, which he says shows that 90% of the UK population tuned into BBC programmes – further ‘proof’ that everything in the impartiality garden was rosy.   That’s alright then.

Never mind that the BBC audience domination is only achieved because of the enforced regime of the television licence fee.

There’s also – as is customary in such exercises – an obligatory mea culpa. Harding accepts at the very end that mistakes in the EU coverage have been made, and states that the BBC must do better. But – as is also customary – there are no details, no examples to back this up.  Whatever it was that the BBC accepts it got wrong is not disclosed.

How very convenient (for the BBC) this is. Nothing to check, nothing to look at – only a nebulous, vague misdemeanour that only the Corporation knows about.

That aside, Harding, in fact, takes up most of the space in his article in dealing with those on the Remain side who think the BBC gave too much prominence to the lies and distortions of the Brexit side.  Clearly, he thinks that bias against Remain was the biggest problem. What does that say about his unconscious (and real) bias?

His defence here is that the BBC (from dear Newsnight presenter Evan Davis to that nice economics editor Kamal Ahmed) made it abundantly clear that the weight of economic opinion overwhelmingly showed – just like the BBC so rigidly maintains that there is a ‘consensus’ of scientists in favour of alarmism in the climate change debate – that leaving the EU was foolhardy.

In Harding’s book, the BBC had thus fulfilled its duty – and it was voters who got it wrong by having the temerity to ignore ‘the facts’.

Harding’s, analysis of the Brexiteers’ complaints, in sharp contrast, takes up only one paragraph, so little space that it can be quoted in full. He declared:

‘The Leavers’ complaint will, in no small part, be answered by what happens next and how we report it. The fact is that, since the EU referendum, there has been a revaluation of sterling, the Bank of England cut interest rates because it says the outlook for economic growth has weakened markedly and the government’s plans for Brexit are unclear. But consumer confidence has bounced back and manufacturing and services sectors have rebounded accordingly. In the months ahead, our job is to understand what Brexit actually means – without relish or alarm.’

This is yet more obfuscation.  Of course, no-one can yet tell the outcome of Brexit, and the ‘out’ side’s complaints are not rooted there.

The reality is that since the referendum vote, there have been mixed signals about the economy, but the IMF, the OECD , the Treasury and all those who the ‘remain’ side wheeled at as ‘proof’ that Brexit would spell immediate disaster for the British economy have been proved wrong.

The nub of the ‘out’ side complaints is that the BBC has been at best mealy-mouthed and begrudging about reporting this slow-motion car crash of economic forecasting. Night after night during the referendum campaign, Davis, Ahmed and Co. trumpeted the predictions of doom with relish; the reporting of the retractions and the back-tracking since June 23 have been delivered through gritted teeth.

The reality, too, is that since Brexit, there has been a torrent of BBC negativity about the consequences of out, and all normal rules of reporting seem to have been suspended to ensure that those 90% who Harding claims watch BBC bulletins can be in no doubt that they have made a grave mistake in ignoring the economic forecasters of the OECD and elsewhere in the BBC canon of approved sources.

Take, for example, the series of reports launched on BBC Radio 4’s PM programme called Brexit Street, which is supposedly a typical ‘out’-voting area in Thornaby-on-Tees.  The reality is that this is a hugely deprived inner city area with a highly atypical quota of asylum seekers.  The purpose seems to be to show primarily that ‘out’ voters are bigoted, bitter, irrational xenophobes.

And what of the killing of a Polish man in a Harlow pizza parlour at the end of August? BBC reports immediately speculated that there was a fear that this was is was a racial attack triggered by Brexit – even though police had made no charges, and had only confirmed that they had not ruled out such motivation from their inquiries. John Sweeney muttered darkly on Newsnight that Nigel Farage might now have blood on his hands.

Such sensationalist reporting by the BBC  gave European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker the ammunition to attack the Brexit vote and to insinuate it had unleashed a tide of racism.

James Harding has thus – as is usual for the BBC – ignored the elephant in the room.  The BBC has never reported the EU impartially, fundamentally because they totally do not acknowledge or understand the case for ‘out’.  Harding’s clumsy obfuscation confirms that – in spades.

Diane Abbot has reportedly asserted at the Labour Party Conference that those who voted ‘out’ were racists. How much has the BBC’s  reporting supported her in coming to that conclusion?

 

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BBC Concedes Political Bias – But Only Against Corbynistas

BBC Concedes Political Bias – But Only Against Corbynistas

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

Something highly unusual and rather disconcerting happened on Radio 4’s Feedback this week. Questions about BBC bias were put and a senior BBC editor repeatedly admitted that the BBC had got things wrong.

I cannot recall ever hearing such an interview before on Feedback – except over climate change, where various BBC editors have publicly confessed to the sin of not being hard enough on unbelievers like Nigel Lawson and Quentin Letts.

Still, this interview was even more striking than those because the BBC editor in question – BBC Political News Editor Katy Searle – admitted error on the BBC’s part not once, not twice but three times in the course of a single interview.

That must be unprecedented.

The issue at hand was: ‘Is the BBC biased against Jeremy Corbyn?’

Roger Bolton took the question very seriously indeed.

The first Corbynista complaint was that Traingate was a “non-story” and that the BBC should not have spent much time on it. Katy Searle rejected that particular complaint, saying that Traingate certainly was a significant story. (That is the one bit where she behaved like a typical BBC editor on Feedback).

The second Corbynista complaint was that an edition of The Week in Westminster had featured two Labour figures – Chris Mullen and Caroline Flint – discussing Jeremy Corbyn, both of whom said that Jeremy could not win an election. ‘Why wasn’t there a Corbyn supporter present?’ was the question asked. Katy accepted that complaint and said, yes, on that occasion, more could have been done to find a Corbyn supporter.

The third Corbynista complaint was that the BBC has run “factually incorrect” stories about thuggish behaviour by Corbyn supporters, citing the BBC’s reports about protests surrounding Stella Creasey that got where the protests happened wrong. Katy accepted that one too, saying, yes, a mistake was made there. “We” got it wrong, she said, adding: “In live broadcasting mistakes are made and I only think it’s right we put our hands up to that”.

The fourth Corbynista complaint was that the BBC has not been reporting what Jeremy Corbyn has been saying at packed meeting up and down the country. Katy rejected the idea that the BBC has not reported those meetings. However, she agreed that the BBC should talk more about the issues and said, “I would accept actually that we have done perhaps a little bit too much on the party leadership.”

Katy Searle was remarkably contrite and appealed, more than once, to Radio 4 listeners to believe that the BBC takes complaints about bias “very, very seriously”:

“Any accusation or perception of bias is taken very seriously and I, on a day to day basis, look at what we are doing on output and make sure we correct that”.

Isn’t that something?

Given all the years people like us have complained about BBC bias on issues of concern to us and got pretty much nowhere in terms of official concessions about, say, BBC pro-EU bias, or BBC pro-immigration bias, or BBC anti-Israel bias, etc, etc,…

…and given how often we have been told that single editions of ongoing programmes cannot be taken as proof of bias but must be judged, bias-wise, over time and many episodes, and how often our side is excluded from discussion after discussion (or utterly overwhelmed numerically on programme after programme) without the slightest chance of an admission of bias from the BBC…

and given how long and arduous the process of complaining about BBC bias usually is….

…isn’t it then utterly remarkable how easily Katy Searle conceded those points to Roger Bolton and his Corbynista listeners, and just how apologetic she sounded?

We have had pretty much all such complaints dismissively waived away on programmes like Feedback and Newswatch for donkey’s years only now to find that the merest whiff of grapeshot from a few Momentum types has the BBC bowing and scraping.

As I say, a truly remarkable interview.

Curiously, as Politics Home reports, the day before this edition of Feedback saw an intervention from far-left film director Ken Loach urging Jeremy Corbyn supporters to flood the BBC with complaints about bias.

Speaking to a Corbynista gathering, Mr Loach twice read out the number of the BBC Complaints line and coached his audience on the dos and don’ts of complaining to the BBC. (He did not mention Feedback though.)

“The BBC is an arm of the State. The BBC is not some objective chronicler of our time – it is an arm of the State,” he told them: “They have this pretence of objectivity where in fact it is propaganda on behalf of the broad interests of the State.”

blockquote text

Given the preferential treatment he is usually accorded by the BBC (see Today here and The World Tonight here) “the State” seems happy about the BBC giving Ken Loach a platform. And yet he is not remotely grateful, is he?

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BBC Archers trial portrays Brexit supporters as prejudiced bigots

BBC Archers trial portrays Brexit supporters as prejudiced bigots

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

Though I’ve listened to Radio 4 every since I was in my teens I’ve never paid any attention to The Archers.

For me The Archers has never been anything more than a happy opportunity to go and brew a nice cup of tea until the next programme comes on.

I know, however, that plenty of people are hooked on The Archers – including (as has become apparent in recent weeks) lots of surprising people who I’d never have expected to be Archers fans.

And I’d have to have been away on holiday to Proxima Centauri not to be aware that a remarkable number of people were glued to their radios last Sunday for the much-hyped one-hour trial special broadcast and that many of them apparently sobbed with joy when Helen was cleared of attempting to murder nasty, abusive Rob by the jury of famous actors.

I would have continued ignoring it but I saw the following tweet from the Salisbury Review/Spectator‘s Jane Kelly:
That got my interest. Was Jane right? Could it really be that the BBC would use the ‘biggest’ Archers episode ever to promote an anti-Brexit worldview? Would Radio 4 be that shameless?
Well, I’ve now listened to the famous episode – my first ever episode of The Archers (the longest episode of The Archers in the history of the programme).
I can’t say I’ve been converted though. All those star-name jurors still couldn’t convince me that the script was anything other than wooden and the emotional ending made me laugh. The word ‘melodrama’ popped into my head near the very end.

And, yes, Jane was right.

Another Twitter user quipped: Bloody hell it’s like Brecht wrote the worst episode of Columbo during a drunken Brexit dinner party.

 

That Brecht reference struck me as a telling one – especially as it occurred to me too. Brecht had strong propagandist designs on his audience. The committee who wrote this Archers script seemed to have propagandist designs too.

(The comparison isn’t spot-on though. Unlike Brecht – who liked his audiences to stay emotionally detached – the Archers‘ scriptwriters were clearly trying to pull on their audience’s emotional levers at every stage).

 
There were certainly quite a lot of ‘agitprop’ bits.
I will simply post my notes on what I heard below, unedited – except from an embarrassingly misplaced apostrophe. (The quotes are exact). See if you can spot any agendas being pushed:

18.04 An unpleasant pro-Rob juror rants in Brexitspeak.

22.29 “I’ve been meaning to say, Parveen, that’s a beautiful headscarf you’re wearing. Very elegant”, says the nice, wise character played by Eileen Atkins. (You couldn’t make it up!!!)

23.25 Nice, dopey-sounding girl with no strong opinions: “It was all the stuff around Brexit…..What if we get the verdict wrong? It’s going to effect so many lives…. It feels like way too important a decision to be left up to us”. (!!!!!!)

25.04 “She’s just a sort of bigoted woman”. (A good juror about guilty-supporting Lisa).

26.14 Nice chap (Tristan) says to nice girl (Holly): “I’m more than upset. I’m ashamed. This is meant to be a cross-section of British society but (guilty-supporting) Dennis and Lisa haven’t got a clue”.

28.44 (Jackie, Eileen Atkins’s character): “Yes, an old post-grad student of mine has been up at Bradford for years in the Faculty of Social Sciences. Anyway, we were chatting over the summer. He’s terribly worried where his funding is going to come from now. So much of his research is in partnership with other universities across Europe. For once I’m glad I’m retired!”

Obviously Muslim Parveen is leaning towards not guilty, therefore good. Love how the nice ones want Helen freed and the not nice ones want her convicted. It’s so Brechtian!

33.37 (Jackie) “The whole reason we have a jury system is because some decisions are too important to be passed by a simple majority.”

38.48 (Nasty juror, Dennis, Nigel Havers, delivers a Brexiter-style ‘rant’): “You are kidding me! So-called experts without the slightest clue what it’s like to live in the real world thinking they know best about how the rest of us should be governed! Well, at least in this room ordinary folks get to make the decisions”.

(Nice  juror, Tristan) “Give me a break! It drives me insane. People going on about the real world. Who doesn’t live in the real world? Just because you don’t like the fact some people might be more educated than you and actually know what they’re talking about!”

40.17 (Nasty ‘bigoted’ juror Lisa to Parveen): “What do you know? Aren’t you supposed to obey your husband?”

Squabble at around 43.30, with Brexit slogans being yelled by the baddies. Holly calls a halt and Jackie takes over. Nigel Havers puts the bad side. Eileen Atkins puts the good side.

Our sub-Brechtian Archers writers made the ‘good jurors’ into Remain/Helen supporters and the ‘bad jurors’ into Leave/Rob supporters, with the in-betweeners going on a journey towards the (Remain/Helen) light. It was very schematic.
Plus, the specific messages the Archers scriptwriters sent out about the Brexit vote were pretty clear, weren’t they? That is, that the result was a result of ill-informed people having a say and that it should have been left in the hands of people who know what they’re actually talking about (parliament?) Plus that our EU membership was too important a decision to be passed by a simple majority in a referendum. (Parliament to overrule the result?) Plus that racism and bigotry played a part in the campaign.
Add the Archers scriptwriters obvious intent to also make a point about Muslims and ‘Islamophobia’ and the agenda-pushing all becomes a bit heavy-handed.
Of course, serious Archers fans may have been so wrapped up in the outcome of the trial that they missed these political messages but, from what I’ve seen on Twitter, I very much doubt it.
To end, here’s a representative sample of Twitter reaction to all the Brexit references:

Wow! One of #thearchers jurors slates ‘the experts’. #Brexit allegory goes into overdrive. Will 48% of them find Helen not guilty?

Just so we are all on the same page – does everyone have the words brexit, referendum & political metaphor in their #TheArchers notepad? 
Correct decision pulled from morass of biased idiocy: it’s not-Brexit #thearchers #freehelen
it’s all going a bit #brexit   #thearchers
‘Experts’ – it’s Brexit bingo! #TheArchers
Thank you #TheArchers for mentioning the problem of university funding and EU links post-Brexit in their biggest ever episode.
Given they have turned #TheArchers into a Brexit allegory, Helen is surely screwed.
I THOUGHT IT WAS ABOUT THE ARCHERS BUT ITS ACTUALLY ABOUT BREXIT 
‘Bigoted woman’ Brexit’ is this a kind of political bingo game? #thearchers
Helen’s trial as a metaphor for Brexit. Discuss. #thearchers
Remember: not all Brexit supporters are pro-Rob #thearchers
#thearchers hating this jury, getting flashbacks to #Brexit. Do I know my own country? Aaargh democracy…

“Well thank you Dennis. I’m sure a lot of us #BrExit fans feel it’s got very unfair for rapists” #TheArchers
 
HOW EXACTLY DID BREXIT BECOME A THING IN THIS?! #TheArchers
 
This is worse than I ever imagined. Helen = Brexit. Come on! Nigel #thearchers
 
#thearchers this jury is a great example of how we got the Brexit vote we got 
*winces at this jury* cf Brexit #thearchers
 
Cheeky #Brexit reference in #TheArchers. Let’s hope Helen #Remains at Blossom Hill and Rob #Leaves Ambridge for good.
 
On no! The jury’s made up of people who couldn’t decide on the #EURef … & probably voted #Brexit #thearchers
 
#thearchers Are we having the #Brexit debate NOW!?
Brexit reference! #thearchers

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Does Fairhead departure presage May action against BBC bias?

Does Fairhead departure presage May action against BBC bias?

The abrupt and unexpected departure of Rona Fairhead from her post as BBC Chairman is interesting indeed.

David Cameron had appointed her Chairman for the first, crucial phase of the new Charter covering the abolition of the Trustees and their replacement by a souped-up executive board – but suddenly, seemingly as a result of intervention by Theresa May, she’s toast.

Could it presage that the May government – as Brexit gathers pace – has woken up to that something urgent and radical needs doing to curb BBC bias?

This is a Corporation that is still treating Brexit as a major mistake, looking for every opportunity to rubbish the idea, and to link it with racism.  Martha Kearney, for example, on Radio 4’s World at One on Wednesday, chose to pick up with relish Jean-Claude Juncker’s malicious claims that the Brexit vote was linked to a huge upsurge in race hate, including the murder of a Polish man in Harlow – when no such linkage has yet been established by the police.

David Cameron’s approach to the Corporation, from the moment he took office in 2010, was both lenient and laissez-faire – largely, it now seems most likely, because he saw the Corporation as a key ally in his battle to remain in the EU.

Lord Patten, Fairhead’s predecessor as chairman, was (and is) a EU-zealot of the most extreme kind. He was appointed by Cameron in 2011. Patten predictably and obdurately resisted strongly any suggestion that the BBC’s coverage of the EU was biased, most notably by refusing repeated summons to appear before the Commons European Scrutiny Committee in connection with their inquiry into whether the Corporation was adequately covering EU affairs.

After Patten suddenly stepped down because of ill-health, high-flying executive Fairhead,  who had no broadcast experience, was parachuted in.  Precisely why remains a mystery, especially as there were huge question marks about her conduct as a director of HSBC. Some have claimed a link with George Osborne, perhaps via her husband, a former Tory councillor.

The newly-appointed Fairhead did appear before the European Scrutiny committee, under duress. It became clear immediately that she had gone native. Under her regulatory regime, there would be no change in the dead-bat approach to any complaints about EU reporting. She sat smug-faced as her fellow Trustee –a former BBC employee of 30 years – Richard Ayre intoned nonsensically that he knew coverage of the EU was not biased because, well, he said so; his experience told him that it was impossible that his BBC colleagues could ever be biased.

Pardon? Ayre is a past Chairman of the Article 19 ‘journalists’ rights’ organisation which under an alleged ‘neutral’ banner campaigns vigorously for Palestinian rights, against Israel, and to ensure that women’s voices are heard in the ‘climate change’ debate. Here is an example of their ‘unbiased’ approach, to which Ayre presumably subscribed:

‘The threats from climate change are not gender-neutral and it is essential that gender be incorporated into strategies to address climate change. In order to reach adaptation strategies and policies that are truly gender-sensitive, women’s voices need to be heard. To make their voices heard, women need information about their rights and the policies that affect their daily lives. This ARTICLE 19 project seeks to foster the exercise of communication rights to challenge women’s vulnerability to climate change.’

The BBC defence against EU bias (and everything that went with it at the hearing) amounted to similar baloney and obfuscation on a huge scale. The subsequent ESC’s report, written immediately before the 2015 General Election, was excoriating.  Bill Cash, the chairman, concluded in his report about the BBC:

“Accountability to Parliament and proper impartiality must be a key factor in the forthcoming review of the BBC Charter.”

Since then, John Whittingdale – whose appointment as Culture Secretary’s was a huge surprise because of his known antipathy towards the BBC – prepared his Green paper on the BBC’s Charter Renewal.  The predictions were initially that the licence fee could be replaced by subscription.

But then George Osborne intervened. The licence fee would be set in aspic for another decade. That meant Whittingdale’s plans for major reform were in totally scuppered.  What emerged was a messy compromise: the abolition of the Trustees, their replacement by a new executive board with powerful outside, independent directors, and some elements of complaints handling handed to the ‘independent’ Ofcom.

Yet this will solve nothing. The left-leaning Ofcom content board is drawn from the same cadre as the BBC Trustees, and is chaired by the arch-Europhile Bill Emmott,who makes even Patten look tame.

In reality, the changes were only a rearrangement of the deck chairs, and a continuation of the status quo. Cameron’s appointment of Fairhead to oversee the so-called transition period confirmed that.

Today (Thursday), the unknown and untested new Culture Secretary Karen Bradley, an accountant with no previous experience of the broadcasting industry, is due to announce the main details of Charter renewal, following the White Paper in May. The key issue is whether she and the May government will grasp that until there is genuine rigorous, independent scrutiny of BBC content, heavy, left-leaning bias will continue.

And that could well derail Brexit.

 

 

 

Photo by Ashley Pollak

BBC continues to push Brexit race hate line

BBC continues to push Brexit race hate line

Photo of Gary Younge by boellstiftung

So what is it that the BBC is trying to prove about Brexit?

It looks increasingly that, as the dust settles on the referendum result, they are mounting an all-out campaign to find evidence to support the Corporation’s long-held belief that the who support ‘out’ are motivated by xenophobia and racism.

Last week, on BBC2 Newsnight, reporter John Sweeney chillingly gave a platform to a Pole in Harlow – and indeed seemed to encourage him to say – that Nigel Farage had ‘blood on his hands’ in connection with the suspected murder a local Polish man.

This was before an inquest has been held, and before police had properly begun their investigations. But in the BBC’s book, here was race-hate in action.

The Harlow allegations were re-hashed and claims of post-Brexit xenophobia and racism heavily embellished on Monday night on Radio 4, in the first of a two-part series presented by Gary Younge called Eastern Europeans in Brexitland.

Younge visited Bristol and reported evidence that since the Brexit vote, the lives of virtually all the eastern Europeans living there had become, in effect, a living hell.

According to Younge, the streets of Bristol had overnight on June 23/4 turned into an overt, seething cesspit of prejudice. Eggs were being thrown at immigrants, they were so terrified of being identified as Eastern European that they were afraid to speak their own languages, their cars were vandalised, they were spat at and their children’s hair was being set on fire.

So who is Younge? For the uninitiated, he is an equalities campaigner who, it seems, has a brother who is a senior BBC executive, and who works primarily for The Guardian. Of course, many fine journalist work there, and it may be that what he reported from Bristol was a fair reflection of what is going on out in the sticks (in BBC terms): in effect, a breakdown of civil society and tolerance.

But then again, maybe not. Go through Younge’s past articles, and this is what he wrote on June 30, a week after the referendum result:

‘This (the result) did not happen overnight, and the sorriest conduct of the referendum campaign was only the latest indication of the decrepit state of our politics: dominated by shameless appeals to fear, as though hope were a currency barely worth trading in, the British public had no such thing as a better nature, and a brighter future held no appeal.

‘Xenophobia is no longer closeted, parsed or packaged, but naked, bold and brazen and was given free rein. A week before the referendum, an MP was murdered in the street. When the man accused of killing her was asked his name in court he said: ‘Death to traitors, freedom for Britain.’

Despite such overt prejudice (and poor writing) and huge assumptions about the Jo Cox killing, he was commissioned by the BBC to make this Radio 4 series. It seems that the sole intent was for him to go out and collect material that confirmed his view that the Brexit vote was nothing more than the ignorant expression of deep underlying hatred and malaise.

That exactly chimes with the treatment of the Harlow murder. A third element of this naked display of BBC xenophobia-themed bias also came on Monday in the latest in the series of Radio 4’s PM reports from what they have dubbed Brexit Street (transcript below).

The show’s editors have claimed that this street in Thornaby-on-Tees is ‘typical’ of areas that voted for ‘out’, but it most certainly is not. Houses there sell for a quarter of the national average, and it has number of asylum seekers, because the local councils on Teesside are the only ones in the North-east to have volunteered to take a high quota.

In the BBC’s world, Brexit voters, of course, are almost invariably downmarket, prejudiced against immigrants, talk in difficult-to-understand local accents and are relatively uneducated.

Emma Jane Kirby’s latest report report ticked all the requisite boxes. She has already concentrated heavily on that the asylum seekers are disliked by the locals, have been forced into isolation, and are generally being treated as sub-human.  Their only solace is the local church and a heroic Somalian refugee who has set up an asylum seekers’ football team.

On Monday, her first guttural, angry Brexit Street interviewee, ensconced with a pint in his working men’s club, complained that asylum seekers received benefits but did not work.

Emma Jane was duly deeply indignant. She told the surly Teessider that in effect, he was ignorant, they were asylum seeker so couldn’t work.

So let’s get this straight. The BBC commissions a series based on a street that it claims is ‘ordinary’ but most definitely is not, not least because an atypical, constant stream of asylum seekers has been housed there. It then highlights how badly these asylum seekers are being treated by the locals – and then starts to berate residents for, in effect, being intolerant and xenophobic, and then imputes that this is the reason for the Brexit vote.

BBC ‘impartial’ reporting in all its glory.

 

Transcript of BBC Radio 4, PM, ‘Brexit Street’, 6 September 2016, 5.41pm

CAROLYN QUINN:              Talking about Brexit, the majority of the North East of England voted leave the EU in the referendum, and since the summer we’ve been following the residents of one street, we’re calling it Brexit Street in Thornaby on Tees near Middlesbrough, to try to understand more about the reasons for how they voted.  Although the street, and Thornaby as a whole, has very few migrants from EU member states, it does how’s a large number of asylum seekers.  In an earlier report, we heard from their perspective about life on Brexit Street, today Emma Jane Kirby’s at Working Men’s Social Club, where Paul, John and Colin, who often work in Europe, are discussing immigration over a pint.

PAUL:     I’m an HGV driver, I go all over Europe.

EMMA JANE KIRBY:           Do you like Europe, when you drive through Europe?

P:           Yeah, I love it.

EJK:        But you just didn’t want to be part of the EU anymore . . .

P:           No.

EJK:        . . . the European Union.

P:           Hm. And I voted out for the reasons of, one, I don’t think the country’s being run right as it was, two there was a lot of money being sent over to other countries that, you know, we’re not getting the benefit from, and three, immigration round here is a big part of why I voted for that.  So that’s why I voted Out.

EJK:        What, what about immigration, you mean on your streets there are a lot of asylum seekers, or . . . ?

P:           Oh, a hell of a lot, yeah. They just seem to be doing nothing, they’re getting everything for free which, it does annoy a lot of people, because we have to go to work to provide for our wife and kids and the houses, and people are just getting it willy-nilly and nothing’s going into our system.

EJK:        You know that asylum seekers can’t work, they’re not allowed to work, while they’re . . . ?

P:           But they’re allowed to claim benefits, they’re are allowed to get free NHS.

EJK:        But don’t forget, a lot of these asylum seekers are desperate to work themselves.

UNNAMED MALE:              Oh, don’t give me that.

UNNAMED MALE 2:           (speaking over) (words unclear) neighbours . . .

UM:       (words unclear) work themselves, but they’ll, they’ll do it for minimum wage, and that’s what knacking us up.  But if they’re doing it for minimum wage, they’ll knack it up for the likes of me.  You get asylum seekers going in, ‘I’ll do it for half of what he does it.’

UM2:     (speaking under) Yeah, but the minimum wage is shite.

UM:       Who are they going to employ.

UM2:     (speaking under) The minimum wage is shite.

EJK:        Can I ask your name?

JOHN HORNSBY:  Yeah, John Hornsby.

EJK:        John, how did you vote, and can you tell me why?

JH:          I was working Holland, I spray aeroplanes for a living and we pay dual tax, UK tax and European tax.  So . . . now we’re out of Europe, as long as they don’t have another vote, we pay one tax and one tax only.  But the government are going to turn round and say now, they’re going to have a second vote – why? It’s been done once, that’s it. They should know for a fact, they’re going to lie to us, and turn round and say, ‘Sorry, we’re going to stay in the EU, and that’s what’s going to happen.’

EJK:        That’s what you think is going to happen?

JH:          Yes, definitely.

EJK:        You think we’ll stay in?

JH:          Yes, because they’re going to turn round and say . . . because . . . I can’t swear, but all these bent people down the South of England, where all the money is are going to say, ‘We’re going to lose too much money – shell (?) the North, sorry, but we’re all staying in.’

EJK:        Can I ask who you vote for . . . usually?

JH:          Well, luckily . . . I don’t.  Because I’m only here for about three months of the year.  Ex-pat if you like. I’ll go back to Malta, I can go anywhere, go to Gibraltar.

EJK:        capitalism that a benefit of being part of the European Union, that you can work in all these countries?

JH:          Well you can work there anyway.

EJK:        Do you think it will be harder, though, for you to find work when Britain comes out of the European Union.

JH:          Yeah, probably it’s just (two second pause) it’s like swings and roundabouts. The country is not Great Britain no more, that’s the top and bottom of it.  You get all the eastern bloc in, so stop them, kick ‘em out.

EJK:        But of course, the people who are here are not European migrants, they’re not from the EU, they’re asylum seekers . . .

JH:          Yeah.

EJK:        . . . fleeing wars and . . .

JH:          How do you know? The best thing we can do: get out of Europe, close the tunnel, the only way you’ll get into England then is by boat or by plane. You can stop them on flights, you can stop them by sea – but with that tunnel open, they’re just walking all the way through.

EJK:        What’s your name?

PAUL:     Paul. And I voted Out for my grandson who is three years old, to make this country great again, because I think it’s gone to the dogs.  That’s my point of view.

EJK:        How’s it gone to the dogs?

P:           Migrants and what have you.  I’ve been self-employed for, what, 30 year – what am I going to get out of the country when I retire? Nothing.  I’m going to be working until I die, because there is no state pension for me.  I go to work five, six days a week, I’m earning . . . probably two to three hundred pound a week.  And I . . . like when I get told I’ve got pay prescription, £8 pounds, when you get told you got to go to the dentist every month, and you’ve got to pay for them, I just can’t afford to do it and I’m a working man.

EJK:        Can I ask who you vote for generally?

P:           I vote for anybody who is not in, because . . . they all promise they’re going to do this that and the other, and if it’s conservative then, I’ll vote for Labour, and if it’s labour in, I’ll vote for . . . Conservative, or I’ll vote for Monster Raving Loony Party, because they all promise the earth and none of them . . . do it. And it stinks. Instead of closing all these steel places down up here, right, when the government, when we opted out of . . . Europe, right, and they said that they’d save 300 whatever billion a month of whatever, right, why didn’t they say, like, ‘The first thing we’ll do is . . . we’ll plough £2 million into the steel works, get them steel companies back up and running, and we’ll, we’ll supply our own steel rather than buy it in from China.  Put all the money into . . . (exhales)  I’m getting annoyed now, but, you know what I mean? But . . . it wouldn’t take a lot of money to get them up and running again, and getting people back into work.  Would it?  It’s about time we made Britain great again.

CQ:         Paul, ending that report from Emma Jane Kirby, and you can hear all of her reports from Brexit Street on the PM website.

 

 

BBC push Farage race-hate ‘ blood on hands’ post-Brexit claims

BBC push Farage race-hate ‘ blood on hands’ post-Brexit claims

BBC programmes have given a  platform for claims that Nigel Farage has ‘blood on his hands’ for Harlow killing – despite local police warning against ‘jumping to conclusions’ about a ‘race hate’ angle.

In Harlow, six teenagers have been arrested and bailed on suspicion of killing a 40-year-old Polish man who was mortally injured in attack in the town centre on Saturday.

At this stage, very little is known about the crime other that frequent disturbances involving youths have recently been reported in the town centre. Local police say they are following up a number of inquiries.

DCI Martin Pasmore, of Essex police, has said: “The widespread media are reporting this as a hate crime, but that is no more than one line of many inquiries that we’re following. We must not jump to conclusions – let us do the investigation and get the facts right.”

It seems clear from the statement that police, if anything, were playing down the ‘race hate’ angle, – it was only one possibility among many.

That, however, has not stopped the BBC speculating strongly on those lines. The full transcripts of three reports, one on the BBC1 News at Six, the other on BBC2’s Newsnight, and the third on the Today programme on Thursday morning are below so that can readers can form their own judgments about the Corporation’s approach.

In the first account reporter Daniel Sandford stressed in the intro the angle that police thought the attack may have been racially motivated, and then specifically stated:

“The fear is that this was a frenzied racist attack triggered by the Brexit referendum.”

In the Newsnight report, presenter Evan Davis and reporter John Sweeney both strongly stressed the ‘post-Brexit’ nature of the crime and then  comment from an alleged friend of the victim was included. This man, Eric Hind, claimed that the Brexit vote had given the green light for British people ‘to do what they want to’.

Then, towards the end,  Sweeney said:

In Harlow tonight people united for a vigil, but for the town’s Polish community the killing of one of their own makes emotions raw.

ERIC HIND:            (fragment of word, unclear) I don’t know if I can mention names but I mean . . .

JS:            Mention names.

EH:           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.

JS:            Nigel Farage has always denied this allegation. As the search for clues and answers continues, the fear is that two poisons have come together to a lethal result.

To be fair to Sweeney, his report also contained comment from local people that youths in the town centre had been behaving badly for some time, and there was local concern that police had not done enough to intervene.  So there was some balancing material.

But the main thrust of his report was that this looked strongly to be a post-Brexit race hate crime that was part of a huge national trend – and he gave a platform for the victim’s ‘friend’ to say that Nigel Farage had blood on his hands. Sweeny pointed out that Farage denied ‘such accusations’ but his commentary suggested that the ‘out’ side in the referendum campaign had unleashed ‘twin poisons’.

In the third report, on Today’s business news, reporter Dominic O”Connell  spoke to the deputy Polish prime minster about efforts he was making to boost investment from the UK and the City of London into Poland.  Towards the end, he asked two questions:

“Now Britain, of course, has a large Polish population, do you expect some of them might want to return home after the Brexit vote?”

“And tragically, we had a Polish man attacked and killed in Harlow in Essex on Saturday, do you fear actually that some Poles might be motivated to return simply because they fear the Brexit vote has stirred some racist feeling against them?”

He thus also deliberately linked the Harlow killing to post-Brexit race hate against the Poles.

Overall the three reports, despite the police’s warning about jumping to conclusions, seem to have strongly inflated the race-hate angle, to the extent that it was treated as the main point. Further, in a recorded news report, John Sweeney gave someone an open goal to attack Nigel Farage as the person responsible. The person making the claims, may or may have not known the victim, and may or may not have had other motives for making such a specific, sweeping attack.

But this was of no account. This was highly irresponsible journalism that (as is reported elsewhere on News-watch) fits with the Corporation’s overall strongly negative approach to the Brexit vote and to Nigel Farage.

 

Transcript of BBC1, News at Six, 31st August, Polish Man Murdered, 6.22pm

FIONA BRUCE:     Five 15-year-old boys and a 16-year-old have been arrested on suspicion of killing a Polish man in Harlow in Essex. Arkadiusz Jóźwik who was 40 was left with fatal head injuries after an unprovoked attack on Saturday night.  Police suspect it may have been racially motivated.  The Polish ambassador to the UK has visited the scene.  Our home affairs correspondent Daniel Sandford’s report contains some distressing details.

DANIEL SANDFORD:          On his first day in the job, Poland’s new ambassador to Britain found himself laying flowers, mourning one of his countrymen – a man murdered while eating a pizza in what may have been a racist attack.  This was compounded by that an alleged  friend of the victim

ARKADY RZEGOCKI Polish Ambassador:   I’m really shocked and deeply concerned on this, on this tragedy.  It’s a great tragedy, not only for Polish community but also for, for British community.

DS:           Arkadiusz Jóźwik was 40, he and two friends were attacked just before midnight on Saturday.  Alerted by one of the men who survived, the manager of the pizza takeaway, who didn’t want us to use his name, told us he was the first to find Arkadiusz as he lay dying.

PIZZA TAKEAWAY MANAGER:         He was on the floor and on his side, it’s . . . a lot of thick blood coming out of his left ear on the floor, and very thick, it’s clumped up really. And . . . you could see that it’s . . . it’s really dangerous, he’s badly hurt.

DS:           The fear is that this was a frenzied racist attack triggered by the Brexit referendum.  But while detectives aren’t ruling that out, it may be that Arkadiusz Jóźwik wasn’t targeted because of his race, but simply because he was there when a group of youths was looking for trouble.  People in The Stow shopping precinct said that teenagers had been causing havoc here all summer, and not just harassing Polish people.  But worrying it could be a hate crime, the local MP made this appeal.

ROBERT HALFON MP Conservative, Harlow:           We need to be a kind and decent nation and we shouldn’t allow . . . people who come from the sewers to exploit divisions.

DS:           As people mourn, detectives are pouring through CCTV footage, and have arrested six teenagers, but all have since been released on police bail.  Daniel Sandford, BBC News, Harlow.

 

Transcript of BBC2, Newsnight, 31st August, Polish Man Murdered, 10.44pm

Introduction

EVAN DAVIS:        Also tonight: a Polish man beaten to death in Essex, could it be the latest example of hate crime post-Brexit? And what does it tell us about anti-social behaviour.

ERIC HIND:            Well, to be honest, since the Brexit, I think, you know, all the British people, the Brits here think they’ve got green, er, green light here to do what they want to . . . you know, they feel very kind of, you know, (fragment of word, unclear) secure to . . . to be racist.

Main Report, 10.44pm

EVAN DAVIS:        Now, the town of Harlow in Essex is in something of a state of shock after an attack on two Polish residents on Saturday night, they killed one of them. Arkadiusz Jóźwik died from his injuries on Monday.  Five 15-year-old boys and one 16-year-old boy, all from Harlow, were arrested on suspicion of murder, all but one of them have been bailed.  Now, there are obvious worries in the Polish community, in Harlow at what looks like a hate crime.  The Polish ambassador was in the town today, along with the local MP, to offer support, and our reporter John Sweeney went to hear the local concerns.

JOHN SWEENEY:                  The killing of Arkadiusz Jóźwik, a 40-year-old Pole in Essex was a particular tragedy, and cause for a wider, more general unease about the politics of identity in Britain today.  Saturday night, just before midnight, 15 or 20 youths are here, and they’re trouble.  Arkadiusz the Polishman goes to that pizza restaurant behind me.  His phone rings, he answers it in Polish, and that, people say, is the trigger for what happens next. The story ends with Arkadiusz down on the ground, where those flowers are there now, a dying man. For Poles in Britain, there is mounting anxiety about what happened here. Today, a very public visit from Warsaw’s man in London.

ARKADY RZEGOCKI Polish Ambassador to London:              It’s the beginning of my mission in the United Kingdom, and I’m really shocked and deeply concerned on this, on this tragedy.

JS:            Eric Hind knew the dead man.

ERIC HIND:            Well, to be honest, since the Brexit, I think, you know, all the British people, the Brits here think they’ve got green, er, green light here to do what they want to . . . you know, they feel very kind of, you know, (fragment of word, unclear) secure to . . . to be racist, to, to, to, to, to swear, to say all kind of rude comments, or just to be sarcastic, to, to saying sarcastic comments every day at work. I’ve been there, and, you know, and er . . . it’s not nice.

JS:            All the British people we spoke to told us they were horrified by the killing and had no problem with the Polish community.  Conrad works in the cafe directly opposite the pizza takeaway.  He spoke to us first in English, and then in Polish.

CONRAD:               Three weeks ago, when I was out shopping, there was a group of people sitting on the bench here.  I think they were under the influence of alcohol.  They threw an empty bottle at me, but I didn’t react, I just kept walking, because I didn’t know what would happen, if there wouldn’t be consequences.

JS:            This is not an isolated experience.  What happened here isn’t only a story of the ugly mood in our country post-Brexit. It’s also a story about antisocial behaviour, of people at night being afraid to walk down a British high street.

MANDY SPARKS:                  They terrorise all the shopkeepers. They terrorise people just walking through. It’s awful. Awful. They go into shops, they knock things off shelves, and then walk back out.  Shopkeepers are too scared to say anything.

MAX EDWARDS:                  We have no problem against any foreign people, there is a problem with the police controlling a group of 25 youths, wheeling pushbikes up and down here.  The police have not got the power to come and do it until it’s too late, like today, and now they want to come and deal with the situation.  Well, it’s too late, someone’s died, someone’s lost their family now – all because the police can’t control the situation.  Why is there a group of youths hanging around here anyway?  The police should disperse them.

JS:            It was not supposed to be like this.  12 years ago today, then Prime Minister, Tony Blair, visited Harlow – why? To laud the local success in tackling antisocial behaviour.

ROBERT HALFON MP Harlow (Conservative):          I believe that Harlow is a kind and tolerant place to live, I’m very proud of being MP here.  The vast majority of people are tolerant, we actually have lower levels of antisocial behaviour than other parts, er . . . of Essex, and er, er, the country, relatively.  However of course there are problems in certain areas, we need to find out what has happened.  Today is a day for the family and the Polish community, and the people of Harlow, but we need to find out what has happened, why it’s happened, and lessons that can be learnt from it.

JS:            In Harlow tonight people united for a vigil, but for the town’s Polish community the killing of one of their own makes emotions raw.

ERIC HIND:            (fragment of word, unclear) I don’t know if I can mention names but I mean . . .

JS:            Mention names.

EH:           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.

JS:            Nigel Farage has always denied this allegation. As the search for clues and answers continues, the fear is that two poisons have come together to a lethal result.

ED:           John Sweeney in Harlow.

 

Transcript of BBC Radio 4, Today, 1st September 2016, Business Update, 8.40am

DOMINIC O’CONNELL:     Ever since the Brexit vote, continental capitals have been laying plans to lure away some big institutions from the City of London, today its Poland’s turn, and with me in the studio is the Deputy Prime Minister of Poland, Mateusz Morawiecki, thank you for joining us, minister. What’s the purpose of the trip? You are hoping to persuade some big institutions to invest in Poland?

MATEUSZ MORAWIECKI:                  Good morning (fragments of words, unclear) the first purpose is to make our friendship between the British nation and the Polish nation, and our two countries even stronger.  Poland is a very good place to invest and many British companies know this very well, regardless of British Brexit referendum. Er, we already host lots of international companies from Great Britain, and, and we have a roadshow across many different countries and we invite British companies, German companies, American companies, because they realise . . . and there are lots of assets, we have a highly educated staff, very and erm . . . high level of security, we have just had World Youth Day and no er, crime happened over the five days, and there were . . . this was, the (word unclear) was visited by 2.5 million people.

DO:          But do you think the Brexit vote provides you with an extra opportunity?

MM:        There might be some opportunity, but we simply continue our job we, we, we really are doing similar things than, as we were doing, erm, before the Brexit referendum.  We will be the biggest economy in the European Union, 40 million people nationwide, the biggest economy in Central and Eastern Europe, er, so a land of opportunity for British companies, and we have a very good track record in our GDP growth over the last 25 years, the only country in the European Union that did not have recession, stable in a regulatory environment, so a good place to invest.

DO:          Now Britain, of course, has a large Polish population, do you expect some of them might want to return home after the Brexit vote?

MM:        Yes, I think so, I, I believe there will be many people coming back, I don’t know how many, but, erm, apparently there are some, there are some . . . 900,000 people, er, here in the Great Britain, I think a couple of (fragments of words, unclear) hundreds of thousands, er, may come back over the next five, er, ten years, and Poland is now a very low level of unemployment, highly educated staff and, and businesses are growing as nowhere in Europe.

DO:          And tragically, we had a Polish man attacked and killed in Harlow in Essex on Saturday, do you fear actually that some Poles might be motivated to return simply because they fear the Brexit vote has stirred some racist feeling against them?

MM:        This is a very sad day, this was a very sad day (words unclear ‘a sad event day’?) er, I think this, this might be the case that some people might think about this in that context, I know one line of the investigation erm, investigation by the police was that it might have been a, a hate crime, it remains to be seen what were the reasons, so condolences for the family and for the local community, I hope it will never happen again, but, but, but yes, this will, this will pose a question mark in many families, Polish families in Great Britain.

DO:          Thank you very much, Mateusz Morawiecki

 

BBC comedy ’spoof’ about Farage sounds alarm bells

BBC comedy ’spoof’ about Farage sounds alarm bells

So finally, then, the BBC is going to make a programme about Nigel Farage.

Not – as might maybe expected from the UK’s main public service broadcaster – a documentary explaining his remarkable role over 20 years in triggering the UK’s exit from the European Union.

That’s not yet in the pipeline. The Corporation is still far too busy finding different ways of telling us what a mistake Brexit is. Monday’s Today programme, for example, had an Oxford historian commenting on whether it was a foreign policy disaster that ranked with Suez.

No, instead, the boys and girls in the BBC so-called comedy department – fresh from this week’s disastrous re-make of Are You Being Served? – have in mind something a bit more in keeping with their thoughts about the former Ukip leader.

For those who did not have the doubtful pleasure of seeing the Grace Brothers’ revival episode, Michael Horgan, the Daily Telegraph’s TV reviewer is helpfully to hand. Among his comments were that it ‘crammed innuendos into the script with a crowbar’, and he then noted:

‘It was 12 minutes before candyfloss-haired Mrs Slocombe (played by a gurning, hammy Sherrie Hewson) made the first reference to her pussy and 17 minutes until Mr Humphries (Jason Watkins) trilled “I’m free”. Both were greeted with cheers yet it wasn’t enough to save this turgid, interminable half-hour.’

What Horgan didn’t say was that the script, by Benidorm writer Derren Litten, also converted the department store’s Young Mr Grace into a nasty speculative, people-hating opportunistic, capitalist who could have walked straight out of the pages of Jeremy Corbyn’s ’nationalise everything’ policy manual. How very, very BBC.

So what do the comedy department plan for Farage? According to the Radio Times, it’s a jolly one-off ‘special’ called Nigel Farage Gets His Life Back, and it will feature ‘the former politician coping with life out of the limelight’.

Now, of course, it may be that something very funny is on the drawing board. And politicians must expect to be the target of satire and mickey-taking as part of being held to account.

The BBC news department – and especially presenters such as Evan Davis – have always faithfully delivered in this respect. They have with clockwork reliability in dozens of interviews treated Farage as something of a a joke, and mechanically – even maniacally – asked questions about him being the BNP in blazers, a one-trick wonder, and worse.

Former BBC perennial presenter Sandi Toksvig – whose mindset underpins much of BBC comedy – was also in on the act, though a touch less subtly. She compared Farage to Hitler at the Hay literary festival.

Something in this equation of Farage + the BBC + comedy sets special alarm bells ringing. One clue is that ‘insiders’ told the Radio Times that his character was already being described as a ‘cross between Basil Fawlty and Enoch Powell.’

A second flash of warning comes from Kevin Bishop, the actor/comedian who has been selected to play Farage. He told the Radio Times:

‘Nigel Farage is the gift that keeps on giving…there is the moustache and now the appearance at the Trump rally, it’s going to be fun’.

Now, of course that might be true. But somehow, in a ‘spoof’ project emanating from the BBC, that juxtaposition suggests that ‘fun’ is likely to be the perennial, wearisome innuendos about of racism and right-wing extremism that have been the hallmark of the Corporation’s entire treatment of Farage.

Craig Byers, of Is the BBC Biased?, has observed:

‘And yes, alas, apparently his wife really will be brought into the mockery too. Which other well-known politician would the BBC do this to? Astonishingly, reports even say, “If the episode is a success it could be given the green light to be turned into a full series”. Just imagine that with your ‘BBC impartiality’ hats on!’

Quite. The BBC would do this to no other politician. Not even Jeremy Corbyn.

Photo by Jennifer Jane Mills

R4 Brexit Street maligns ‘out’ voters

R4 Brexit Street maligns ‘out’ voters

What could be the biggest threat to Brexit?

Tory back-sliding and plotting by remainiacs like Anna Soubry?  Undoubtedly they will have spent much of the summer fomenting new lines of subversion. They are ready pounce on and exaggerate any dissension in party Brexit ranks, as last weekend’s Sunday Times story about the alleged turf-war spat between Boris Johnson and Liam Fox underlined.

Or could Owen Smith confound the whole Westminster village, win the Labour leadership election and, with a miraculously re-unified party behind him, force, as he says he will, a second referendum? Most Labour MPs still obdurately think that voters for Brexit, many of them their constituents, were deluded fools.

Pigs are more likely to fly of course than Owen Smith is to beat Jeremy Corbyn.  But much stranger things in politics have happened in the bewildering battery of developments since June 23.

One constant in the equation, and perhaps the biggest threat of all to Brexit – through the corrosive propaganda they are continuing to generate on an industrial scale – is the BBC. Two months on from the referendum vote, they are still searching relentlessly for reasons why ‘no’ was totally a mistake.

It is impossible to keep track of this deluge. It’s suffused, for example, throughout the Corporation’s business coverage (best evidenced in Today’s 6.15am business news slot), has infected food, environment and comedy programmes, and of course, dominates news coverage. If you have doubts, take a while to browse the Corporation’s Brexit Collection on the iPlayer – almost every programme rams home hard the collective anti-Brexit meme.

Such is the scale of the effort that a whole new mythology is in the process of being forged. In BBC programmes, Brexit voters are mostly unemployed, usually almost inarticulate, and they speak in impenetrable northern or guttural regional accents. They are mostly old and despise the young. Above all, they hate strangers and immigrants to the extent that they are plotting and committing by the hour ‘hate’ crimes on unprecedented levels.

A further bedrock of this new BBC reality is that ‘out’ voters were duped by unprincipled, racist opportunistic politicians such as Nigel Farage who spun a web of fiendishly convincing lies.

Over-egging? No. A manifestation of these fables-in-the-making is being broadcast on Radio 4’s PM programme, Producers have built around a real, but unidentified ‘ordinary’ street on Teesside a series they have dubbed ‘Brexit Street’.

So far reporter Emma Jane Kirby has fronted five reports, each of which has brought listeners – through the views of local residents – what is claimed to be the reasons why people voted out.

In the right hands, this could be interesting, revealing broadcasting. But this is the BBC, and instead it is a caricature of Northern voters that is beyond parody.

For a start ‘Brexit Street’ is not ’ordinary’. The exact location has not been revealed to listeners. All that has been said is that it is in the town of Thornaby-on-Tees, an inner city area sandwiched between Stockton on Tees in the west and Middlesbrough to the east.

A little digging from the facts presented by Kirby (it has terrace houses, a Salvation Army premises, a bookies’ and a supermarket) reveals that it can be only the local thoroughfare, Westbury Street. And once identified, a whole series of alarm bells start ringing.

First, the housing is mainly old inner city stock and a terrace house can be bought there for between £40,000 and £60,000, compared with the local average of around £100,000 and a regional North-eastern figure of around £120,000.  So it’s pretty downmarket, even in an area (Middlesbrough especially) which is facing very tough and exceptional times because of the closure of the local steelworks.

Second – and this is probably the killer blow to any pretence of balanced journalism – Kirby revealed in the opening report that ‘a large number of asylum seekers’ are residents. Further spadework reveals that Middlesbrough and Stockton town councils are the only two in the North-east which are accepting asylum seekers on a large scale. There are nearly 700 in the local government area covering Thornaby, equating to one in 280 local residents.

That said, Westbury Street has only 120 households, and the local average house occupation rate is 2.3 – so it would be expected that only one or two residents there would be asylum seekers. Kirby, however, says there are ‘large numbers’ living there (and of course she’s interviewed many of them) – suggesting that the local council is using the street for their re-settlement because housing there is especially cheap.

What this boils down to is that Westbury Street is not at all average and not at all ordinary. Kirby has focused in two of the first five reports on that the asylum seekers feel isolated and alone and are not integrated, mainly because of the views and implied prejudice of the locals who voted out.

Asylum seekers, of course, are nothing to do with the EU. But never mind the facts. Going there and projecting the alleged prejudice against these unfortunate people (one is a victim of alleged military atrocities in the Congo) as a contributory cause of the Brexit vote fits neatly with the new BBC mythology.

More reports in the series are a treat in store. What has been presented so far is a travesty of balanced journalism.