Thursday, 14 April 2016

More pro-EU propaganda on the BBC's The World at One



As the series unfolds, this is adding up to straightforward pro-EU bias – with Martha Kearney giving the daily impression that what is on offer is somehow objective. It blatantly is not.   
                                              David Keighley, News-watch

David Keighley is talking there about The World at One - specifically its continuing series on the workings of the EU, the first part of which - on the EU's institutions - I slammed for outright bias a few days ago. And he is, in my view, absolutely spot-on.

Martha Kearney introduces the feature every day as if we're being given a disinterested, academic overview on the subject in hand - an overview designed to clarify matters and help us Radio 4 listeners to make up our minds. 

And yet that is obviously not what we're being given. 

In fact, what Professor Anand Menon of King's College, London has been telling BBC Radio 4 listeners has been so glaringly helpful to the Remain side that I've got to put this down as being one of the clearest examples of BBC bias on a particular subject I've heard in a long time.

If neither BBC Radio 4 nor Prof. Menon can see that then, frankly, they both have a serious problem. 

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David has been keeping up, with daily posts which I'd urge you to read.

The second episode left me confused, but the third - on the EU and the law - struck me (as it struck David) as being clearly pro-EU again.

And then I listened to today's talk and, as they say in Last of the Summer Wine country: Ye Gods!!!!

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Today's 'expert primer' for Radio 4 listeners was on the EU's single market.

 Anand's talk presented it, in glowing terms, as "a customs union with bells on". 

He gave an illustration of how it works, and how well it works - thanks to the European Court of Justice, and then said:
And that is the root of the single market: that we can all sell and buy whatever anyone else in Europe is selling and buying in our own country.
Sounds wonderful!

Anand then gave two more reasons why the EU single market is good, but then gave us two areas "where it hasn't yet been allowed to intrude". 


Was this the pro-Brexit counter-balance we've long been waiting for? 

No. 

The first area concerns problems of cross-EU digital and broadcasting sharing, and the problem is that there's not enough of it. But fear not, Anand's blessed EU Commission could soon ride to the rescue. After outlining the problem, the professor said: 
The European Commission is trying to open up the digital market at the moment and it will be interesting to see how well it does. 
The second area concerns the UK's services sector - and, to be honest, I hadn't a clue what point Prof Menon was making here. Can you explain it to me?
The other crucial area for Britain is services. We are uniquely competitive in the services sector but the single market doesn't include service as yet.
Is that a pro-Brexit or a pro-Remain point? And what is the point he's actually making? Ich verstehe nicht, I'm afraid.

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And then came the coup de grace. He began using statistics. And he used them to make an emphatic statement: 
There are lots of claims being made about the levels of our trade with the European Union. It is certainly true that if the UK left the EU the remaining EU would export more to the UK than anywhere else, with the possible exception - depending on the figures you use - of the US. 
So the UK would represent 16% of EU exports, or about 3% of EU GDP, compared to the 13% of UK GDP that our exports to the EU would represent. 
So, in summary, if we were to leave the EU, if trade continued at levels we see now, the EU would export more to us than we do to them,
So we would export less to the EU than the EU exports to us "if we were to leave the EU" - according to Professor Menon...

...which is a highly disputed point...

...yet here - thanks to  the BBC's The World at One - it was given 'impartial expert' imprimatur status.

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It's hardly 'impartial' BBC broadcasting, is it, to present such a talk as if it's from a strictly non-partisan source, if the source (however he sees himself) is very far far being 'impartial'?

Is it?

4 comments:

  1. Anand's talk presented it, in glowing terms, as "a customs union with bells on".

    Pull the other one. It's got bells on it.

    Menon is a professor of European politics, and is Director of 'UK in a Changing Europe', FFS. Rule #1 in effect as usual.

    What's funny is that his claim about the tables being turned in the service sector essentially undermines the Remain argument that making deals with individual European countries will be a nightmare, taking years and years. He can't be so certain about that particular outcome unless he's also certain that deals will be made in a reasonable amount of time.

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  2. Yes I had a "Ye Gods" Moment when I heard that:

    "So the UK would represent 16% of EU exports, or about 3% of EU GDP, compared to the 13% of UK GDP that our exports to the EU would represent. "

    It's a typical Remain gambit. Could any casual listener be expected to follow tha? Was this academic trying to elucidate and educate or conflate and confuse? The Leave position on this is clear and correct: the EU exports much more to us than we export to them which is why the EU will negotiate with us seriously in the run up to Brexit. It is clear to me that Anand did not wish to concede this point and so chose to obfuscate.

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    1. I have to admit that I had trouble following it at first, so I'm relieved you wrote that. I had to re-listen to it (twice) to fully understand what he was arguing. And I was listening very carefully.

      Pretty much everything else he's said hasn't been anywhere near as obscure, so you might well be right about him deliberately obfuscating here. Why else would he express himself in such a complex fashion in a series of talks intended to "make" the EU "clear"?

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    2. I was confused by what he said when I heard it but my sense of smell told me there was something fishy and I was intending to listen to it again on I Player but thankfully your transcipt avoided the need to re-listen! He actually said it v. quickly and in a flat tone (that also helps confuse people - that's what scammers do!).

      I have to say that after an early QT that seemed to hold out the hope of a balanced approach I have completely given up on the BBC. They are clearly mounting a pro-Remain campaign (check out Katie Razell's Newsnight segment on Referendum sentiment in Cornwall for further confirmation). Our only hope is some residual sense of communal self among the people of the UK. It's amazing given the onslaught of pro-Remain media that the pro-Leave sentiment is holding up.

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