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David Keighley

Don’t rewrite history – we voted Leave because of Farage and mass immigration 26/07/2016

Don’t rewrite history – we voted Leave because of Farage and mass immigration 26/07/2016

A few weeks after the Brexit vote in 2016 the official Leave campaign (led by Dominic Cummings)  – aided and abetted by the BBC – were hell-bent on claiming they had won because they had ‘neutralised’ the alleged overt racism of Nigel Farage and the alternative Leave axis. 

26th July 2016

Referendum history is being re-written. The official ‘out campaign’ – in an interview for the Daily Politics and Brexit Britain Newsnight Special – has said that a key element was neutralising ‘the threat’ of Nigel Farage and presenting a more middle ground alternative.

Codswallop!  This is a simplistic and Orwellian re-writing of history. Most of the Conservative party, the BBC and the Left have always hated Ukip and Farage – and now that the dust is settling on the referendum are busy writing a hagiography that chimes with their contempt.

The reality is, however, that without Nigel Farage, there would have been no referendum. And there certainly would have been no ‘exit’ vote. It happened because of a crassly inept ‘remain’ campaign (analysed here) and a range of interlocking factors focused on an intense dislike and fear of the damage to British society and culture the EU has wrought.

Those hagiographers should take on board some basic, sobering facts. Holding the poll was adopted as official Conservative party policy in 2013 only because Ukip – guided by Farage – was making such deep inroads into the Conservative vote that David Cameron had no alternative. Up until that point – it has now emerged – he was a Conservative leader living a lie.

He had conned the Conservative party parliamentary rank and file and grassroots into backing him as leader in 2005 (against David Davis, a true ‘out’ campaigner) because he had told a huge porky – that he was ‘eurosceptic’.

The reality, as emerged in graphic detail during the referendum campaign, is that Cameron – and many of his supporters – is every bit a pro-EU figure as Kenneth Clarke, Michael Heseltine and Edward Heath. He was rashly, perhaps even recklessly, prepared to stake everything – and tell huge economic untruths – on ‘remain’.

Second, although elements of Vote Leave were based on smart online marketing techniques, there were glaring shortcomings in its approach from the outset.

For example, it failed to set up a proper unit to rebut BBC propaganda, and it failed to understand who to put up in the media to argue the Brexit case. The BBC coverage in response to this inadequacy nearly swung it for remain.  The Corporation could not believe its luck.

Vote Leave were also not clear about who they were targeting or what was likely to motivate ‘out’ voters. Control of immigration, for example – and the impact it was having, was scarcely mentioned until the final weeks of the campaign, and then only half-heartedly.

Farage, by contrast, after 25 years of campaigning at grassroots level – and putting up with name-calling, death threats from Scottish nationalists and the abuse of the BBC throughout – knew that the biggest issue for the 17m+ who voted ‘out’ was not how much money we give to Brussels, but that the EU socialist project was swamping our sense of identity, and was causing dislocation by allowing uncontrolled mass immigration on an unmanageable and unprecedented scale.

He knew because he had personally been there and spoken to thousands of voters, that folk in Boston in Lincolnshire, in Sunderland (despite the Nissan plant) and Middlesbrough, in Gravesend and Southend, in Ebbw Vale, in the Tory shires and the so-called ‘working-class North’, were sick to the back teeth of being patronised and lied to about the true nature of the EU project by politicians.

The hagiographers now say that the poster showing a snaking queue of ‘immigrants’ released by Farage on the Thursday before polling was ‘racist’. The BBC has amplified that message in dozens of contexts, and continues to do so. It is being disgracefully projected in lockstep with figures such as Baroness Warsi, Jeremy Corbyn and Eddy Izzard.

The reality is that the poster summed up exactly the frustration of the millions of voters who made Brexit happen, to defend their communities and stand up to the oppression and chaos unleashed on Britain by Brussels.

Of course, such a strategy ran risks. No-one could have foreseen the shooting of MP Jo Cox, and then the relentless and utterly cynical milking of the tragedy by ‘remain’, by Labour MPs totally out of step with their constituents, and the BBC, to suggest that supporters of ‘out’ – and above all, Farage – were all hate-filled racists. The reality is that the totally unforeseeable backlash unleashed by this tide of anti-Ukip/Farage certainly cost ‘out’ many votes.

That, however, was compounded by figures such as Michael Gove, who on the Sunday before voting, on the Andrew Marr show deliberately suggesting that he believed the Ukip poster to be racist and inexcusable.

The sobering, awful reality after the biggest democratic vote in British history is that elements of the Conservative party, aided and abetted by the BBC, are now back in control and are busy re-writing history in Animal Farm style. Such opinions suggest that Brexit is far from assured.

Yes, David Davis, is a genuine ’outer’, an immensely able politician. But he and his main lieutenant, Liam Fox, are surrounded by a party made up many for whom the lessons have clearly not sunk in. The British people did not vote for the Tory party on June 23. They voted with a roar to say that British cultural identity – in its many and tolerant guises – should be protected, and to get rid of the oppressive and destructive clutches of the EU.

We’re right about climate change, say the BBC – and let the facts go hang 16/10/2018

We’re right about climate change, say the BBC – and let the facts go hang 16/10/2018

A milestone in the BBC’s descent into becoming an overt political campaigning group – on a par with Greenpeace or Extinction Rebellion – came in October, 2018 when director of news Fran Unsworth issued a formal directive which decreed in effect that climate alarmism was based on proven facts and could no longer be challenged on BBC airwaves. One of her senior executives, James Stephenson, appeared on BBC Radio 4’s Feedback programme to explain the new directive.

October 16, 2018

How idiotic has the advocacy of climate alarmism by the BBC become?

Last month, as TCW reported, BBC news director Fran Unsworth issued a formal directive stating, in effect, that alarmism is proven and may not be challenged on the BBC airwaves.

Now one of her key minions, James Stephenson, the BBC’s overall editor of news and current affairs, has appeared on the latest edition of BBC Radio 4’s Feedback to ram home the message.

Full reading of the transcript is recommended to appreciate the jaw-dropping scale of the bias involved, but in essence Stephenson declared that, despite viewer concerns that the Corporation was adopting a partisan approach, ‘the science’ is beyond doubt and the IPCC’s word on the subject must be considered gospel.

His stance amounts to a total junking by the Corporation of basic scientific empiricism, which since Roger Bacon’s Opus Majus in 1267 has been based on the premise that one new set of verifiable data can sweep away any theory.

In that context, the alleged existence of ‘consensus’ between climate scientists on which Stephenson relies for justifying his propaganda position matters not one jot.

In fact – despite all the IPCC’s posturing, politicking and blustering – the study of the workings of the globe’s climate is in its infancy, not least because measurement of variables is so unreliable and incomplete.

A leading anti-alarmist scientist (and true empiricist), the Australian Jo Nova, excoriatingly reports that the world’s major climate ‘record’ – on which are anchored many of the IPCC’s alarmist predictions – is riddled with massive errors, gaps and assumptions.

So extreme was Stephenson’s partisanship in favour of the climate alarmist stance on Feedback that he bloody-mindedly defended a major mistake in the Corporation’s IPCC-related coverage.

Today presenters John Humphrys and Sarah Montague both wrongly said the IPCC report was warning about a 1.5 per cent rise in global temperatures when actually it referred to 1.5 degrees. Whoops, but in the BBC’s manual of climate change reporting, who cares? Stephenson accepted that this was inaccurate, but claimed it did not matter because ‘audiences would have recognised it was a slip’.

Eh? In other words, in the BBC’s climate change universe, never let the facts get in the way of a good scare story.

Ironically, perhaps, the BBC position on alarmism can be compared to that of the Catholic Church as imagined in Bertolt Brecht’s 1938 play The Life of Galileo. In the 1960s this was a ‘must see’ drama for all those on the Left. They wanted to ridicule the play’s projection of the unreason and unbending conservatism of Catholicism, then one of the biggest targets of every Left-winger. Ultra-Marxist Brecht represented Galileo as the voice of ‘reason’ against the Church’s defence of bigoted religious orthodoxy. The BBC, of course, would love to see themselves as Galileo in the climate change debate.

In reality, they are not. The BBC, the IPCC and other bodies such as the EU, politicians and governments who have swallowed the IPCC agenda, the multi-national companies benefiting from ‘green’ energy, and academia are now all vested interests defending the ‘warmist’ status quo at any and every cost – including the rejection of reason itself.

Every man (and woman and non-binary) jack of them, like the Catholic Church in Brecht’s projection, is pitched against true scientific inquiry. Those who question alarmism are not ‘deniers’, as the BBC so insultingly calls them. Rather, it is they, the ‘deniers’, the anti-alarmists, who are heroes and heroines fighting to smash the deeply corrupt alarmist scam, which, on some estimates, is costing taxpayers trillions of dollars a year.

 

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay
David Keighley: So who did pay for the BBC’s latest blast of pro-EU propaganda? 04/03/2015

David Keighley: So who did pay for the BBC’s latest blast of pro-EU propaganda? 04/03/2015

March 4, 2015

Scratch the surface of almost any BBC statement about ‘impartiality’ or ‘bias’ and you unearth rather an unpleasant smell.

The BBC says no EU money was used in the making of its Sunday night pro-EU extravaganza The Great European Disaster Movie, which depicted  in ludicrous, extremist terms  the total disintegration of civil society across the Continent, if, God forbid, the EU was forced out of existence.

Note the weasel words: ‘in the making of’. The reality is that post-production, the film-makers Bill Emmott and Annalisa Piras – both of whom are pro-EU fanatics – have told the outside world they are receiving EU money for the transmission of the film in other languages. So put another way, it is an EU propaganda project.

And the BBC were co-producers of that film.

What’s also not clear is who did fund the project. It was made by Piras’s company Springshot Productions, and that means its financing is totally opaque. Things here don’t add up. It’s unlikely that the budget of a project of such scale and production standards would be anything less than £1m, and yet Springshot is tiny. According to the company website, it has made only one other film, two years ago.

The point here is that it is only larger production companies turning over millions a year that can afford to make glossy hypothetical dramas – and they don’t generally make money, which is why they are so relatively scarce. Someone with deep pockets and a deep desire to spread massively pro-EU propaganda was behind it. The BBC should tell us who this was so we can make up our own minds about the decision to show it.

It seems that someone, somewhere in the higher echelons of the BBC hierarchy has a guilty conscience, because immediately after it was shown, a very rare occurrence happened, the BBC equivalent of a Blue Moon. In a Newsnight special hosted by Robert Peston,  two genuine EU ‘come outers’, Mark Reckless, the Ukip MP, and Peter Hitchens, the Mail on Sunday columnist, were fleetingly allowed to make some of the arguments in favour of withdrawal and to explain why the claims by Emmott and Piras were preposterous.

Unlike the unremitting one-sidedness of the film, the views of Reckless and Hitchens were of course offset, notably by a spokesman of the Greek Marxist party Syriza, who agreed with Emmott in ascribing all the current massive economic problems of the EU to nasty ‘austerity’.

There are other BBC-related problems in this film which only surface with digging. Emmott, a former editor of the Economist, and Piras, an Italian who worked as a foreign correspondent in London for many years, are clearly united in their huge desire to ram the need for the EU down our throats.

They are so fanatical that they have set up an organisation called The Wake Up Foundation, a so-called charity, the main aim of which – though clothed in high-flown language – is another vehicle to spread their EU bile. A feature by Emmott on their website in which he compares Nigel Farage to Silvio Berlusconi typifies the approach.

Far more concerning about The Wake Up Foundation, however, is that one of its trustees is Richard Sambrook, who is a former head of BBC newsgathering and Director of News, who was moved sideways to the World Service at the end of his BBC career because of question marks in some quarters over his judgment relating to the BBC’s handling of the fall-out from the Iraq war.

Sambrook, after a spell as a public relations adviser, re-surfaced as a Professor of Journalism at Cardiff University.  His department was commissioned by the BBC Trustees in 2011 to conduct research linked with the Stuart Prebble inquiry into whether the BBC was covering EU-related issues in accordance with the Charter.

That research, as has been reported by Kathy Gyngell on TCW, was ineptly conducted and as a result gave the wholly false impression that BBC news programmes gave adequate coverage to eurosceptic and withdrawalist opinion. Not only that, the main person who conducted the research had recently received a substantial slug of EU cash from the EU for a project designed to ascertain how the EU might better project itself.

So, put another way, the BBC commissioned a rabidly pro-EU programme from a film making duo who have close professional and organisational links with a former Director of BBC News who, in turn, has been appointed by the Corporation to tell the outside world – on a supposedly ‘objective’ basis – how balanced and impartial is the BBC’s output in relation to the EU.

The linkage raises several awkward questions.  Was Sambrook directly involved in the making of the European Disaster Movie? Was he involved in any way in persuading the BBC to show it and to become co-producers? To what extent is he involved in the dissemination of the pro-EU propaganda of The Wake Up Foundation? Were the BBC aware of his links with Emmott when they commissioned his department to do the Prebble survey?

Something in the state of Denmark, if not rotten, smells very fishy indeed.

David Keighley: A star line-up for the new BBC theme park. Russell Brand despatches figures of hate 15/12/2014

David Keighley: A star line-up for the new BBC theme park. Russell Brand despatches figures of hate 15/12/2014

In this satirical piece hinged on plans announced in 2014 by BBC Worldwide to build a BBC theme park on the Thames estuary, it was imagined that a BBC ‘hero’ – the comedian Russell Brand – should act as Lord High Executioner in despatching BBC ‘figures of hate’ such as Nigel Farage and other supporters of Brexit.  

Roll up, roll up…the BBC’s commercial arm Worldwide has signed a deal that could mean BBC programmes becoming part of an entertainment park being built in Ebbsfleet and due to open in 2020.

This has triggered inevitable speculation about which programmes would achieve star-billing – Doctor Who is top of the list. Another hot tip is an Eastenders theme ride where everyone shouts at each other.

In fact, BBC ideology is now so well-defined that it won’t take much adaptation to get the crowds flocking to the park. The blueprints are already on the management board’s desks with former Labour minister James Purnell, the BBC’s head of strategy, in charge of making sure everything fits with Corporation rules about partiality and diversity.

The plans have been leaked exclusively to TCW. Here’s the list:

CHOP-CHOP: Following the rip-roaring success of choosing Hilary Mantel’s fantasy about murdering Margaret Thatcher as the latest Radio 4 Book at Bedtime, Ms Mantel has devised a theme park special game, inspired by her Thatcher fantasies and also based on the BBC 2014 adaptation of her Thomas Cromwell novel Wolf Hall. Each afternoon, in the Thatcher memorial arena – with the centre area lovingly recreating Tower Green – a BBC figure of hate will be publicly ‘decapitated’ by Corporation hero Russell Brand  using the latest BBC £100m special effects techniques to make each despatching look as realistic as possible.  Already on the list are, of course, Nigel Farage, Mark Reckless,  Theresa May, Lord Lawson of Blaby (for being both a Thatcher chancellor AND daring to challenge the BBC orthodoxy of climate change), and – the most popular – a legion of nasty City bankers.

NOT SO FROZEN PLANET: Here, the BBC – inspired by David Attenborough’s nature programmes – invites its public to experience what it knows for certain (because Ed Miliband, Christopher Huhne, scientists and computer models  say so) how the world will be in 2100.  Modelled partly on the geodesic structures in the Eden project, this exciting Epcot-style attraction will feature melting ice, endless storms, flooding and searing temperatures – all of which, it will be explained, were once foolishly called weather but are now known by Corporation correspondents and presenters to be certain evidence of impending disaster. The most exciting feature is at the end – the BBC vision of what must be done to save mankind: the destruction of capitalism and industry, and a reversion to the Stone Age.

QUESTION TIME: In line with focus-group findings that the public now find political debate too boring and must be spiced up, this attraction is set in a re-creation of the Coliseum in Rome. Rival gangs of politicians, aided and abetted – and sometimes led – by their celebrity backers, are invited each afternoon to devise ever-more-gruesome methods of combating each other. Consultants for ensuring maximum visual impact and unpleasantness are Jeremy Clarkson and the team from Top Gear. At the end, the crowd (hand-picked, of course, by the BBC from among Labour supporters) will be invited to decide who among the survivors should be spared.

NO MINISTER: supported by the EU’s diversity and public information fund, this attraction holds nothing back in showing how wonderful the EU is. With lots of polyglot singing. aerial gymnastics and illusionism, there are  a series of tableaux demonstrating how uncontrolled movement of people and endless new regulation benefit everyone. A special feature, drawing on the ever popular Yes Minister programmes (but without the humour, of course), illustrates how the EU is run without any democratic input at all, but is nevertheless entirely democratic. The second phase of this feature – intended when it is built to be star of the park – will allow the public to participate in a whole series of cross-European experiences showing how nationalism must wither and be replaced by a borderless Socialist Utopia.

Photo by Angie from Pexels
David Keighley’s BBC Watch: Radio 4 still fights the last propaganda war against Brexit 17/08/2016

David Keighley’s BBC Watch: Radio 4 still fights the last propaganda war against Brexit 17/08/2016

This item showed that in the immediate aftermath of the 2016 EU referendum,  the BBC went flat out to project that the ‘yes’ vote had been a huge mistake. Their reports from what they dubbed ‘Brexit Street’ on Teesside were fake news of the worst kind and were designed to misrepresent and malign the views of those who voted to leave the EU.  

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 one 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.

Daily Mail jumps on the BBC climate zealots’ bandwagon

Daily Mail jumps on the BBC climate zealots’ bandwagon

HOW much further into the mire of hard-line prejudice can the MSM – particularly the BBC – go in its blatant, militant anti-scientific and anti-free-speech perversion of climate science?

In Saturday’s Daily Mail, under the headline ‘Green fury as BBC tells kids climate change isn’t all bad’, reporter Jim Norton said the BBC had come under strong attack from climate alarmist zealots. 

The Corporation’s crime? It had dared to suggest in the GCSE revision section of BBC Bitesize (dedicated to educational content for children) that increased global temperatures and the so-called ‘greenhouse effect’ might generate benefits such as more vigorous plant growth (fired by rising levels of carbon dioxide), and healthier outdoor lifestyles.

Norton said the offending item had been removed after Guardian writer George Monbiot, ‘a lifelong environmental activist’, had declared that such suggestions were an ‘absolute disgrace’. Such is the power that the BBC house organ the Guardian now wields over the so-called ‘impartial’ Corporation.

Norton larded his Mail article with equally disapproving comments from an array of other outraged climate activists such as the lofty heights of ‘Extinction Rebellion’s southeast group’ and ‘the chief executive of a group of schools in Bedfordshire’. For good measure to drive his alarmist message home, he said the Queen had on Thursday accepted that tackling climate change meant we would have to change lifestyles, and that ‘government advisers’ had last month stated that the UK was woefully unprepared to deal with the climate emergency.

Nowhere in the torrent of greenie outrage and indignation is included a quote from anyone who disagreed with Monbiot, who has no qualifications in climate science.

Norton said the BBC had responded to the onslaught by ‘amending the content’ to be in line with current curricula, and to twist the knife, he also pointed out that the Corporation allegedly had form in terms of not reporting climate alarmism with sufficient disdain. 

He stated: ‘In 2018, [the BBC] accepted failures in its coverage of climate change after a series of apologies and censures for not challenging sceptics during interviews.’

So there we have it. The Daily Mail hath spoken, and the BBC coverage of ‘climate change’ in all its alleged manifestations is simply not alarmist enough.

TCW readers will need no reminding how risible and far from the truth this is. The BBC’s reporting of climate change has since 2005 – when it held a meeting of climate and environmental activists who dictated its stance – been militant hardline propaganda. How this was decided is detailed in a book by Andrew Montford of the Global Warming Policy Forum The Propaganda Bureau.

Far from being balanced, the Corporation condemns all those who disagree with alarmism as ‘deniers’ irrespective of their qualifications or the strength of their analysis. To the BBC they are, in effect, foaming-at-the-mouth, dangerous imbeciles, the equivalent of flat-earthers or Creationists.

James Stephenson, news editor of BBC News and Current Affairs, summarised the Corporation approach on BBC Radio 4 Feedback in 2018: 

‘We will not have the kind of discussions that you’ve heard occasionally in the past, where you have someone who is outlining the scientific position on man-made climate change and someone else who says that’s not the case. We’ve moved away from that and beyond that, on the basis that while they’re entitled to their opinion, and those opinions definitely still exist, they are to the margins of the scientific consensus, and we don’t want to be giving the audience the impression that it’s a sort of 50/50 arm-wrestle between those two positions.’

As the miasma that is the world climate change industry prepares to descend on Glasgow on October 31, and as Boris Johnson doubles down on his efforts to reverse the industrial revolution by forcing us all into a new form of fuel and food poverty, it is of massive concern that the MSM, including the Daily Mail, are reporting with all guns blazing this brand of intolerant, anti-scientific propaganda.

The pandemic has put us all at the mercy of technocratic dictators who have dangerously tampered with the foundations of our democracy and Western civilisation itself. Behind them, ready to take over the reins, are battalions of climate zealots. And instead of seeking to debunk their delusion, Great Britain’s fourth estate is firing it up to new heights of alarmism.

Photo by Karolina Grabowska from Pexels
The Buck Stops with you, Lord Hall 20/08/2018

The Buck Stops with you, Lord Hall 20/08/2018

In 2014, the BBC seriously breached the privacy of Sir Cliff Richard by filming a police raid on his home, and eventually (in summer 2018)  were ordered by the High Court to pay the singer £1.9m in damages and court costs. This article argued that, despite the judgment, the BBC were still disgracefully arguing against it and that because of this, the then BBC director-general Lord Hall should resign.   

Lord Hall, the BBC director general, has immense powers. He is not only the chief executive of the £5billion-a-year Corporation, he is also its editor-in-chief.

The only check on his conduct is the BBC Board of Management, but that is packed with BBC executives and so-called ‘independent’ members, such as Arts Council chief Sir Nicholas Serota and Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson, who are anything but because they share Lord Hall’s liberal-Left ‘diversity’-at-all-costs mindset.

The dual role entails responsibilities beyond those in other large media organisations dealing with news. National newspapers, for example, almost invariably have chief executives to run the business side and editors to run the news content, usually with a dispute resolution mechanism for when clashes occur. The same is the case at the BBC’s only terrestrial broadcast rivals, ITV News and Channel 4 News.

The Cliff Richard breach of privacy court case – with the BBC’s decision on Wednesday not to go to the Court of Appeal despite much blustering to the contrary – has culminated with the Corporation conceding game, set and match to the singer.

It has also generated a damages and legal costs bill of at least £1.9million, the equivalent of almost 13,000 licence fee payments.

Because of his dual role, responsibility for this huge misjudgment lies firmly with Lord Hall. It happened almost two years after he was appointed and had recruited former Times editor James Harding to be his key lieutenant as director of news.

Lord Hall centrally carries the can for the huge breach of Sir Cliff’s privacy and everything that went on in connection with the raid.

According to Mr Justice Mann in his judgment, that included disingenuous, coercive and sometimes lying conduct of BBC staff; the gung-ho and sensationalist pursuit of a perceived scoop; the decision to enter the ‘scoop’ for a Royal Television Society award; the naming of Sir Cliff before he had been arrested, questioned or charged in connection with any criminal offence (or indeed knew anything of any allegations against him); and the grossly over-the-top deployment of a helicopter in the raid coverage.

At the time of the raid in August 2014, leading international human rights lawyer Geoffrey Robertson said it amounted to ‘a conspiracy to injure’ the singer.

Is that, then, the end of the matter? Has Lord Hall come forward to to explain why he has brought the reputation of BBC journalism (such as is left of it) into disrepute? And to apologise unequivocally to Sir Cliff for causing him so much distress by such a flagrant breach of his privacy?

Of course not. On Wednesday, as the decision not to appeal was made public, Lord Hall was – as has been the case throughout this four-year debacle – nowhere to be seen. Nor was Fran Unsworth, his recently appointed director of news, who had signed off on the coverage in a more junior role and was the most senior BBC defendant in the court case.

Instead, it was left to David Jordan, the BBC’s director of editorial policy and standards, to field interviews.

Nevertheless, what he had been sanctioned to say would almost certainly have been cleared by Lord Hall himself. And what was the BBC message?

Well, despite its own legal advice that the Corporation had no chance of winning an appeal, the BBC is not yet ready to bury the hatchet.

Mr Justice Mann said three weeks ago in his reasons why he would not allow an appeal (prompting the BBC to ponder an Appeal Court ruling):

‘It has been suggested that my judgment is remarkable in imposing a new blanket restraint on the reporting of the subject of a criminal investigations. . . That is an erroneous reading . . . My judgment acknowledges that the reasonable expectation of privacy in the fact of an investigation is a presumption or starting point that can give way to countervailing factors; the safety of the public is one example.’

Despite this, the BBC’s message on Wednesday was that Mr Justice Mann is wrong. In the BBC’s eyes, the ruling will endanger public safety and disallow the naming of suspects. They have now written to the Attorney General demanding a change of the law to recognise this.

A second point conveyed by Jordan on His Master’s behalf was that Mr Justice Mann – who meticulously detailed in his core judgment last month why he did not believe the BBC’s account of its dealings with South Yorkshire police over the raid, thus doing what a judge does – had erred.

It boiled down to two fingers from Lord Hall to both the British court process and to Mr Justice Mann for daring to rule that the Corporation could be wrong.

To be fair, Jordan did also repeat an apology to Sir Cliff and acknowledge the distress he had suffered. He also accepted clearly for the first time that elements of the BBC coverage were ‘ill-judged’.

But in the context of the heavy BBC caveats about the judgment, do these words of qualified appeasement add up to anything meaningful or genuinely felt?

Two weeks ago, as the BBC was still considering an appeal, former BBC Chairman Lord Grade waded into the debacle. In an excoriating attack in the Times, he observed:

‘If there is a higher principle at stake, why is the editor-in-chief of the BBC, its director-general Lord Hall of Birkenhead, like Macavity, nowhere to be seen or heard? Why was he not on the steps of the court after the judgment? What and when did he know about the decision to launch helicopters and collude with the police? Is he proud of the scoop?

‘The ultimate custodian of the public interest in the BBC is its publicly appointed board. What action are they demanding over this shameful episode? Is there not a public interest in explaining their position to their paymasters, the licence-fee payers? It’s time the BBC Board spoke out about one of the most shocking lapses in the history of BBC journalism. It’s not too late for the BBC hierarchy to exercise some judgment.’

A further question now outstanding is whether Lord Hall should resign. The buck for this whole sorry saga, and the continuing obfuscation and prevarication, stops with him.

Bashir wasn’t the first BBC royal interview scandal

Bashir wasn’t the first BBC royal interview scandal

DIGGING into the Martin Bashir affair for TCW has reminded me of another huge scandal about BBC integrity in 1985 in which I was centrally involved. It showed that then, as ten years later, nothing would stop senior BBC management from flagrantly breaking editorial guidelines if these got in their way. On that occasion it cost them a rumoured £750,000 in civil damages, equivalent to at least £2.3million today.

In a High Court ruling, the Corporation were adjudged to be guilty of a ‘scandalous breach of copyright’ against the ITV breakfast channel TV-am, which was at that time trouncing the BBC’s Breakfast Time in the ratings, much to senior management’s chagrin.

The fulcrum of the case was the BBC’s piracy of an interview secured by TV-am presenter Nick Owen with Princess Michael of Kent concerning her father’s alleged involvement with the Nazi SS during the Second World War. News of the connection was a huge national story and everybody wanted to get the princess’s reaction.

Owen had known her for some time, and he said at the time that she decided to talk him exclusively to avoid a media scrum and to get the ordeal over in one go.

The BBC were having none of that.

I had joined TV-am as head of the press office from the BBC, where I had been head of news and current affairs publicity, just two weeks earlier.

TV-am boss Bruce Gyngell put me in charge of all external relations in connection with the interview, one of the first major news exclusives secured by TV-am. The station had been through a disastrous launch – to a significant extent because the BBC set out to sabotage it – and in early 1985 was beginning a determined and successful fight back under Gyngell’s expert leadership. In that context, the interview was ratings gold dust, and Bruce was determined to keep it as an exclusive.

The BBC argued however that because Princess Michael was a royal, the material should be made available to other stations under established pooling arrangements which applied on royal events to limit the size of the media pack.

Our legal advice was that this interview was emphatically not pool material because Princess Michael had decreed otherwise. So when, as the hours ticked down to transmission, the editor of BBC Breakfast Time rang me and asked for a copy of the interview for their programme the following day, my answer was an emphatic ‘no’.

He was not happy, and during the evening there followed a series of calls to me from BBC executives of escalating seniority, culminating with the overall boss of BBC News.

They used every trick in the book from honeyed words to outright threats to try to crack my defences, but my instruction from Bruce Gyngell against the onslaught was to stand firm.

At 11pm came the final weapon in the BBC’s arsenal. It was an Exocet. That evening the Queen was hosting a state dinner at Windsor Castle for Hastings Banda, the president of Malawi. Still on duty, I picked up the phone. ‘Are you David Keighley?’ a cut-glass voice inquired. When I replied that I was, the voice continued, ‘Well, I am Michael Shea, the Queen’s press secretary.’ He told me he was rather displeased with TV-am because he been called out of the banquet and acidly continued, ‘And I am telling you, no, ordering you, to give the Princess Michael interview to the BBC because the royal rota rules apply.’

Somewhat shaken, I responded that I disagreed and told him that our legal advice was that it was our exclusive. Shea’s tone turned icy. He told me in very direct language that (a) I was wrong, and (b) there would be ‘consequences’.

We stuck to our guns, but the following morning at 6.50am BBC Breakfast Time showed the interview almost in its entirety. We had started broadcasting 25 minutes earlier and they simply recorded it and re-ran it. As brazen as that. Aware of the possibility that the BBC would try this, we had made our TV-am strapline at the foot of the screen double the usual size. The BBC blanked out the lower half of the screen to obliterate our ID, so on their version it looked as if Nick Owen and the princess were peering over a wall! There was no attribution whatsoever of how the interview had been obtained. In their arrogance the BBC had indulged in an act of major copyright piracy.

After we came off air at 9am, the TV-am news director Bill Ludford and I hurried from Camden Lock to the Inner Temple where we instructed our legal team in seeking a High Court injunction to stop further showings of our interview and return the pirated copies of it. We also applied for substantial damages for breach of copyright.

Two hours later, the injunction and return order were granted with Mr Justice Walton in the Chancery Division calling it a ‘scandalous breach of copyright’. The BBC, again in its arrogance, and with flagrant disregard for licence fee cash, appealed. Another hour later, that too was turned down in equally forthright language.

The subsequent damages case was resolved out of court in TV-am’s favour.

The episode showed in spades that when it comes to journalistic integrity, the Corporation has the morals of an alley cat. TV-am at that stage, thanks to the BBC’s blunderbuss attempts to sink it, was a struggling minnow which had only recently been on the edge of bankruptcy. But BBC news chiefs could not bear the idea of being outflanked or told they were wrong. Their flagrant act of copyright piracy, as with the Bashir and Cliff Richard cases, illustrates that in pursuit of their interests their editorial guidelines are little more than a window-dressing sham.

 

Photo by Anthony from Pexels
Hall and Birt deny responsibility for Bashir fiasco

Hall and Birt deny responsibility for Bashir fiasco

THE Lord Dyson report established that the BBC acted appallingly in its handling in 1995 of the interview of Princess Diana.

Prince William reacted by stating that it showed his mother had been ‘deceived’ and asserted that ‘the ripple effect of (the BBC’s) culture of exploitation and unethical practices ultimately took her life’. He also said: ‘She was failed not just by a rogue reporter, but by leaders at the BBC who looked the other way rather than asking tough questions.

Serious charges indeed from the second in line to the throne. But who was to blame in this catalogue of coercion, forgery, gross professional incompetence and cover-ups?

Why had Martin Bashir been, in effect, cleared of misconduct in 1996 even though he owned up soon after the interview to forging documents? Who were the ‘leaders’ at the BBC who had looked the other way? And why was Bashir, a proven liar, re-hired by the BBC as religious affairs editor in 2016?

That was what the Department of Culture (DCMS) select committee sought to find out last week.  Summoned to appear before the MPs were Lord Birt, director general of the BBC in 1995, Lord Hall, the then director of BBC News (and director general from 2012-20), along with Tim Davie, the current director general and Richard Sharp, the current BBC chairman.

How did the committee, chaired by Conservative MP Julian Knight, fare in its task?  You can judge for yourself here from the 32,000 words or so of transcript.

Put bluntly, it was a textbook example of BBC stonewalling and obfuscation. Far from owning up to failures of leadership, the corporation doubled down in its insistence that such was not the case.

One element stands out like a Belisha beacon. This was that, according to the Tweedledum and Tweedledee of the inquiry, the Lords Birt and Hall – both looking like insolent schoolboys called to see the headmaster – Martin Bashir was the villain of the piece. He was a rogue reporter, a conman and a charlatan who had lied and practised deception on a monumental scale, and had duped senior management into trusting him.

Was anyone else at the BBC at fault? They themselves? Other senior management figures such as the editor of Panorama, who broadcast the show and was thus editorially responsible for the content as well as the conduct of his staff?

Goodness me, no! In both lords’ views, the actions of the main senior management figures involved – Steve Hewlett, the editor of Panorama, Tim Gardam, the head of current affairs, Tim Suter, the managing editor of all BBC news and current affairs, Richard Ayre, the director of BBC editorial standards, and Anne Sloman, the BBC chief political adviser – were beyond reproach.

Not only that, said the two peers of the realm, they had talked the matter through among themselves and with Steve, the two Tims, Richard and Anne, and all agreed they were on the right track and had handled matters correctly. That, they believed, proved that no one was to blame for the fiasco. They knew it to be the case and, lo! – it therefore was.

The MPs on the committee – some of them former BBC staff, including chairman Knight, the SNP’s John Nicholson and Steve Brine – pulled no punches in their attempt to hold Lords Birt and Hall to account. Their tenacity was impressive.

They may have failed in their task of obtaining direct confessions, but in response to their efforts, Hall and Birt did some monumental buck-passing. They showed that then, as now, the BBC is a disgrace to journalism, that those who run it are arrogantly unaware of their shortcomings and that as an institution, the BBC is rotten to the core with shared values of the gutter.

After the Dyson report appeared, on TCW and Briefings for Britain I wrote:

‘Don’t hold your breath [expecting reform] . . . The danger is that despite the evidence of incompetence, almost unlimited arrogance and moral turpitude, the corporation carries on regardless because no one has the political guts or will to tackle a massive overhaul. The core problem is that the BBC will never admit misconduct, and has been immune to outside complaints for most of its history because it is its own judge and jury in that domain in most respects.’

The testimonies of Lord Birt, Lord Hall, Tim Davie and Richard Sharp are remarkable for the reasons already outlined above, but they deserve further analysis in future blogs, and these will appear on TCW in the coming weeks.

As a taster, current director general Davie revealed that – although he never discussed Bashir with him – he ‘fairly regularly’ talks to Lord Birt, and believes him to be ‘a wise and trusted source of advice for me around how we reform the BBC, how we go through this job’.

Be afraid, be very afraid. The man who in 1993 playwright Dennis Potter called a ‘croak-voiced Dalek’ in his approach to BBC management and reform still has a hand on the tiller almost 30 years on.

An end to BBC bias? Don’t count on it

An end to BBC bias? Don’t count on it

The Bashir affair has brought into sharp focus again that BBC journalism is not fair and impartial, as its Charter requires. But after decades of bias in BBC reporting of the EU, what are the chances of genuine change?

Much has been written about the Lord Dyson report into the 1995 BBC Panorama interview of Princess Diana. Columnists and politicians galore are clamouring for urgent action to mend the Corporation’s broken ways. According to Lord Dyson these primarily included lying in pursuit of a story, coupled with massive brick-walling by senior management against any suggestion of wrongdoing.

And it seems that steps to reform and rein in the excesses of BBC bias and rank bad journalism might now be under consideration as part of the Corporation’s mid-term Charter review, due in 2022. Oliver Dowden, the culture secretary, has suggested that structural governance reform will be on the agenda.

But don’t hold your breath. Much in a similar vein was written in 2012 when the BBC was caught entirely wrong-footed over its handling of Jimmy Savile. Or when the corporation in 2019 was landed with a £2 million+ legal bill for its cruel, vastly over-the-top coverage of baseless claims of sexual misconduct against Cliff Richard. Once again, with the latter, senior management disgracefully claimed no wrongdoing in their hounding of the singer. The High Court Judge in the case very strongly disagreed.

Through it all, the BBC has so far survived intact, a bloated, £3.5 billion-a-year protected state relic from an age when broadcast frequencies were a scarce resource. The danger is that despite the evidence of incompetence, almost unlimited arrogance and moral turpitude, the Corporation carries on regardless because no-one has the political guts or will tackle a massive overhaul.

The core problem is that the BBC will never admit misconduct, and has been immune to outside complaints for most of its history because it is its own judge and jury in that domain in most respects.

No government from those of Margaret Thatcher onward has dared grasp the nettle of genuine root-and-branch reform.

Under the new Charter operational from 2017, Ofcom assumed a regulatory role over some BBC matters including the conduct of BBC journalism. But this was too little, too late, and the Ofcom scrutiny has so far proved totally ineffectual, not least because most of its content board appointees are former BBC advisors or employees and have the same mindset as the Corporation itself.

So how can this problem be solved? Over the past 40 years – arguably since Margaret Thatcher became Prime Minister in 1979 –  the BBC  has become increasingly opinionated and left-wing to the extent now that no part of its output is unaffected. Even the BBC1 programme Antiques Roadshow is larded with lectures by presenter Fiona Bruce on topics such as the evils of Britain’s colonial past.

In this vein, News-watch recently conducted a thorough survey of BBC Ideas, a catalogue of 600 or so five-minute videos ‘for the curious minded’

This is a project launched by former Labour culture secretary James Purnell at vast expense when he was BBC director of radio and education. The findings? of the titles, the majority (around 350) have controversial or political content in subject areas such as history, race, capitalism, climate change and feminism. Only 25 of them have points which could be regarded as ‘conservative’.  The rest could have been taken from a manual on how to construct ‘woke’ propaganda based on post-modern critical theory.

News-watch has also thoroughly scrutinised the Corporation’s EU coverage for more than two decades, and – as readers of this blog are painfully aware – this is the domain in which the most crass corporation bias has operated.  The 40 or so News-watch reports since 1999 summarised here show a massive weighting towards pro-EU opinion up to and including the Brexit referendum and then continuing through the Brexit process itself to the present day.  When has the BBC constructed a programme which shows the problems of the EU, and revealing that it is ultimately a huge anti-democratic project?

The BBC’s response to those News-watch reports? It has been characterised throughout by the same arrogance and stonewalling identified by Lord Dyson in his report on Bashir.  Corporation senior management – including many of those involved in the Prince Diana interview – chose to ignore them all. Without providing a shred of evidence, they claimed that they were worthless.

An easy and respectful way of testing their veracity would have been to appoint an independent panel to assess the quality of the News-watch work. But that possibility was never even on the BBC’s agenda.  They preferred instead to launch ad hominem attacks against me and eminent Eurosceptic Lord Pearson of Rannoch, who partially funded the News-watch work.

A key character in the Bashir affair identified by Lord Dyson was Anne Sloman, who was BBC chief political adviser, and therefore one of the key advisers to Tony Hall, who was then BBC director of news. Sloman was among those who investigated in 1996 claims of impropriety against Martin Bashir, and despite abundant evidence to the contrary, concluded that he was ‘honourable’.

She betrayed similar arrogance in her treatment of News-watch and the claims of anti-EU bias. In an editorial meeting in which the Sunday Times columnist Rod Liddle was present (in his then role of editor of the BBC Today programme), she asserted that eurosceptics like Lord Pearson were ‘mad’ and therefore should be ignored. Her treatment of me was even more outrageous. At a summer drinks meeting between Parliamentarians and the BBC attended by Lord Pearson, she told him that the reports I was compiling should be ignored because I had been ‘sacked by the BBC’.  This was an outright and baseless falsehood.  I had worked for the BBC for seven years without a blemish on my staff reports and had been promoted regularly throughout. I left the BBC because I found a more senior job at the ITV breakfast television station TV-am, where I became director of public affairs.

As a result of her claims, I was forced to fire off (at considerable expense) a pre-action letter for defamation of character, and she huffily backed down. But her intention was clear. She wanted me out of the way, to be discredited and taken off the case.

This illustrates that a basic tactic of BBC senior managers at the BBC is to try to destroy or discredit those who oppose it. That applied in the Bashir case with the graphics designer who drew the forged bank statements, with BBC Newsnight journalists in 2011-13 who wanted to blow the whistle on the BBC’s treatment of Jimmy Savile (their BBC contracts were not renewed) and in the Cliff Richard affair, when the BBC tactic was to throw the blame on to South Yorkshire police.

So how can be the BBC senior management be so arrogant and disdainful towards those who oppose the Corporation?  A central problem is that the BBC’s Charter gives the Corporation almost unassailable independence. It was as designed to protect BBC journalism from political interference. Noble aim. But the drafters of the legislation surely never envisaged that the Corporation would, in effect, go rogue – as its approach to EU coverage and BBC Ideas shows – and become an enemy of the country and the culture which pays for it.  A dangerous enemy, too, because its goals appear increasingly to be the complete denigration and destruction of Western values.

A manifestation of its unassailability is that the BBC complaints process is not fit for purpose. It is designed to protect the BBC rather than to deal conscientiously with the concerns of audiences. The complaints process could be a shop window for BBC transparency, and for the further debate of matters of public controversy. Instead it has become another brick wall which the BBC hides behind and a vehicle to discredit opponents. An example of this is that New-watch has within the past month received a warning letter from the complaints unit (which is sub-contracted to facilities company Capita) warning us that we are making too many complaints and that they are too complicated to deal with so we are wasting Corporation resources.

A second manifestation is that the BBC refuses to produce any independent evidence to verify its impartiality. Instead, it relies on opinion polls. This is absurd and simply not good enough. News-watch reports into the BBC output are based on scrupulously-applied academic principles which can be seen and debated by anyone. By contrast, the BBC simply tells the world it knows it is impartial, and therefore it is. Yet the Corporation provides no evidence to support its position and claims it would be a waste of time to do so. That is an absurdly arrogant stance for an organisation in receipt of £3.5 billion of public funding to adopt.

In that context, as cries for reforms intensify, an acid test of the government’s intent will be whether the proposed structural reforms include such monitoring and an overhaul of the complaints system. Only when these operate on an independent basis and thus hold the BBC genuinely to account will BBC bias end.  As things stand, it is an obdurate, arrogant and unprincipled law unto itself.