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 . . .
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 . . .
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.