Thursday, 18 July 2019

Open Thread

Plastic-free mid-July Open Thread. Recycled and new comments welcome here.

Collateral damage

You will have seen or heard about PMQs with Theresa May’s attack on Corbyn and his mishandling of his party’s antisemitism crisis, and his reflexive counter-attack on the Tories’ you-know-whatophobia.

I’ve just been notified of a programme about male circumcision “A Cut Too Far?”  scheduled for 22:35 tonight in the Question Time slot. (Bated breath.)

By pure coincidence, I also came across a half-hour debate in Westminster Hall about religious slaughter. 

Animal welfare concerns about religious slaughter were expressed by (as it happens) my own local MP George Eustice. Concerns about religious slaughter (and some dodgy practices going on in Halal abattoirs) threaten to undermine the religious freedom currently enjoyed by observant Jews. 
Coincidentally, I’d just written about a related topic in a comment on the open thread

I understand that Shechita (Kosher) and Halal slaughter have certain principles in common - that the animal must be slaughtered ‘uninjured’ (this precludes stunning the animal before its throat is cut) but that the Jewish and Islamic requirements are not identical

This may be a question of my own personal bias, but I have read several accounts of Halal abattoirs where animal welfare is the last of their concerns. As far as I know, Jewish slaughter is considered to be as clinical and humane as non-Jewish slaughter; that stunning is not always effective and that Shechita doesn’t require prayer as part of the procedure.

As I have said before, the Muslims are always ‘spoiling things’ for the Jews. Their demands and prohibitions have antagonised others and Jews are caught up in the flak - collateral damage if you like. 

It seems inevitable that eventually, Britain will have exchanged its Jews for Muslims
Essay By Sebastian Vilar Rodrigez
“I walked down the street in Barcelona , and suddenly discovered a terrible truth - Europe died in Auschwitz ... We killed six million Jews and replaced them with 20 million Muslims. In Auschwitz we burned a culture, thought, creativity, talent. We destroyed the chosen people, truly chosen, because they produced great and wonderful people who changed the world.
This is a controversial topic. You may disagree. Feel free.

Wednesday, 17 July 2019

Early July Open Thread

A spot of high culture for a new open thread, as the great Flemish master Pieter Bruegel the Elder envisions the building of Broadcasting House as early as 1563...

Thank you for your comments. 


At about ten past eight this morning. Today Programme. Cosy chat with John Humphrys and Chief Strategist for Barack Obama, David Axelrod.
The BBC is cherry-picking again. John Humphrys was oh so chummy with David Axelrod as they vied with each other to find the most fitting superlative to emote President Trump’s racism.

“Isn’t Trump racist?  
“Yes he certainly is, but he’s not only racist, he’s playing to his base - a bunch of racists. 
 “Yes, and the more racist he is, the more they love him.  
“Yes, and it’s hard to see how much more racist he could get.  
Yes, and to tell four Americans to go back to their own countries, well, just how more racist-er could anyone be? 
 “No, this is the ultimate racism of all racism, on stilts.  
“And he’s rewarded for it.  

Not verbatim, but that was the gist of it. Then, on the line, Brian Lanser was introduced as one of Trump’s deputy communications directors from his presidential campaign. (I couldn’t find him online - maybe he spells his name differently) 
The atmosphere froze. An argumentative, waspish tone crept into Humphrys’s questioning.

Hear me out while I cite Sir Rod of Liddle. (£) writing about something Matthew Parris (miss)-spoke about (which resonates with what happened in the Humphrys - Lanser interview)
Rod Liddle:
“A perfectly sensible observation from Matthew Parris has incurred the wrath of his colleagues on the Times. Speaking of Trump’s “racist” comments, Parris writes: 
“I don’t like his attacks but I think they will strike a chord among millions who should not be called racists. It’s just futile to suppose that arrivals from another country, and their children, immediately and automatically assume an identity as citizens that is indistinguishable from that of the population already there. They have all the same rights but will be seen, for a generation or two, as neither better nor worse but different.” 
That seems to me precisely the case. And I suspect the majority of Americans think the same, not to mention British people.”

That’s almost exactly what Brian Lanser replied when Humphrys stated confidently that the ‘majority of Americans’ were horrified at Trump’s racist Tweet. Wrong. Most Americans probably agree with Rod and Matthew.

Rod again:

“Yet you would have thought he had donned a pointy white hood to listen to the wailing from Caitlin Moran and Sathnam Sanghera who said:
‘I’m forever being told, as a second generation immigrant, that I should be “more grateful”, when I’m just doing the same job as him, being critical of aspects of Britain. That is racism.’
Followed up with:
‘I’ve left a comment on the website, Matthew often responds, so hopefully he will reflect.’ 

Me sticking up for Parris will simply confirm to people of such Manichean, absolutist beliefs, that Matthew is a raaaccissst. They are impervious to everything else. There is nothing else but racism. No nuance, no context, no truth.”

That’s it. The way the BBC has been running with this story for two days. No context, only Racism. Racism. Raaaccciismmm. Race. Ism.

Trump’s biggest error was probably including the word “back” in that dreaded Tweet. It was technically incorrect, at least in respect of three out of the four. 

The BBC and most of the MSM completely ignore the context around this storm-in-a-teacup, while amplifying the juiciest fragment of ammunition with which to attack Trump is the only thing that interests them. That’s what they all do these days. 

They speak as if the ‘squad’ are clean and unblemished, 'without sin',  confident  (because of their blind-eyed, politically correct reporting) that hardly anyone knows what these four ladies have constantly been saying. If a fraction of their ugly rhetoric had been honestly reported it would be plain to see who the actual racists are. 

Tuesday, 16 July 2019

Newsnight gawn mad

Yesterday Rod Liddle plugged his upcoming appearance on Newsnight in the Speccie. He was a little apprehensive, and with good reason. 

Reinforcements had been brought in to back up Emily Maitlis. Rod is never as biting or quick-witted in person as he is in print, but here he was at a distinct disadvantage; two against one. Emily Mailtis made a particularly revealing onslaught on Liddle's writing midway through, which I'm sure will have antagonised every one of his fans. What was it she called it? Bile something or other?

“The bile that you spew up has to be who you are”

The case for a people's vote made by Tom Baldwin and his cohorts doesn’t make any sense to me.  In my opinion, it’s by no means ‘the only answer’.

First of all, surely a referendum is binary, like tossing a coin. Tails you lose, kind of a thing. The trouble arises when you fail to catch the coin and it lands on its edge and rolls off the table. When the result is close, but you’ve agreed to abide by it come what May, (sorry) you have to abide by it. 
“Oh, sorry, wasn’t ready’” doesn’t cut it.

Remainers argue that the peoples’ vote is the ‘answer’. How can this be? Despite all their claims that “Brexit has divided the country!!”, they now assume that this time the result will be decisive - for Remain.
But what if it turns out to be another half-and-halfie? Worse, what if ‘Leave’ still wins, even by a different (greater or smaller) margin? 
If it’s close, will the “Leavers” make a fuss and call for a third-time-lucky?  Unless Remain wins (decisively) we’re back to square one with all the difficulties of the WA, the backstop and the added obstacle of a slightly different cast of negotiating partners?
Even if they get the outcome they want, and we vote for Remain, can we really remain after all that acrimony?

It doesn’t seem at all logical to me, and Tom Baldwin just seems deluded by his own wishful thinking.


Yesterday the BBC was headlining with ‘Trump is a racist’. (Everyone’s a racist these days.) I must be one. 
The missing bit is that Trump was criticising the congresswomen (who ARE actually racists) for their anti-Americanism and racism, but the BBC could see no further than an opportunity for splashing out on a ‘Gotcha’ over Trump’s ‘gaffe’ in omitting to mention that all but one of the four ladies were born in the USA. (Somalia) 

Well, you can’t take Somalia out of the Somalian (or “Palestine” out of the Palestinian) can you? So to speak.

(We also had the spectacle of Jeremy Hunt’s absurd non sequitur about his half-Chinese (or Japanese) children. Has Jeremy Hunt’s wife ever influenced him to defend China’s totalitarian regime against Britain’s interests and has anyone consequently advised him and his wife to ‘go home and fix his own country’?’ )

I didn’t think so.
 like to get you on a slow boat to China

Are e-petition debates useless?

Since I brought this matter to your attention I felt duty bound to watch the debate at Westminster Hall yesterday. It was billed as an e-petitiion debate on BBC bias, but the entire caboodle was hijacked by the over 75s licence fee debacle. 

The proposed withdrawal of the existing BBC tax exemption or the over 75s is certainly a worthy cause, and the majority of the near-identical speeches on that topic put the blame on the government for passing the buck to the poor cash-strapped BBC, which apparently was left with little choice. I mean how else are they going to maintain Gary Lineker? 

In total, throughout the whole repetitive process, in total, I’d say about two and a half references to the BBC’s actual bias could be detected. If one managed to stay awake.

One speaker made a fleeting observation that the BBC was virtually the mouthpiece of the Guardian. 

There was a lengthy complaint from Clive Lewis. You may be able to guess the type of bias he was worried about. For added emphasis, he cited that dog-eared study by that bastion of impartiality and rigorous academic integrity, Cardiff University. 

There was one other speech that focused on the issue of bias. Graham Stringer MP went into considerable detail about the scandal surrounding a ‘set-up’.
“The BBC procured and presented on BBC Three, when it was a channel, a series of programmes called “People Like Us”. That was based in the ward that I used to represent as a councillor and that is still in the constituency I represent. Frankly, it was poverty porn. It gave the most distorted view of one of the poorest wards in the country. 
Depending on how we count these things—it is not a competition that any ward or constituency wants to win—Harpurhey is the poorest or the third poorest ward in the country. Cameras went along and the people making the programme pretended—it was a pretence—that they were following how people in Harpurhey lived. They were not; they were distorting it. They paid girls to fight each other. They opened a pub and created a most peculiar party of transvestites. I ​have nothing against transvestites, but that kind of situation had never happened in that particular public house, which was being closed for a couple of years. They got a pretend landlord in to talk about how he was very happy for his tenants to take drugs. It was clearly a put-up job. And some of the people who said outrageous things were taken on holiday by the company doing this. 
It was a shocking and terrible thing, and I do not believe that if people from that kind of background had been part of the BBC, that programme would ever have been made. Fortunately, there was not a second series. The head of BBC Three was good enough to see me and Councillor Karney, who represented the ward. I do not know whether it was down to our lobbying, but there was not a second series.”

He also touched briefly on other issues - climate change and Brexit, but that was it.

Many of the speakers were wildly complimentary about the BBC, some inadvertently damning it with faint praise with their emotional pleas that elderly people rely on it 'for company'.  

It was almost as if they hadn’t watched it since 1970. They say MPs are out of touch. I know we at ITBB are a bit geeky about it, but this was a demo of 'Westminster bubble gawn mad'.

Sunday, 14 July 2019


I was just about to switch off the TV when this came up. Sunday Politics South West.
Would you believe that antisemitism problems have penetrated the Cornwall branch of the Labour Party? 

Having lived most of my life ‘undercover’ if you know what I mean, I’ve found myself within earshot of low-level antisemitism from the mouths of people who would have been mortified if they’d realised they were offending an actual Jew and even more surprised to discover that the friend they’d been interacting with quite happily for years was secretly a hook-nosed, money-worshipping, miserly, horned individual with a rudimentary tail and a plan to take over the world.

The most overt antisemitism occurred ‘out of county’ and could pop up unexpectedly in whatever location I happened to be in at the time. (All over the place, that’s me.) In fact when we first returned to Cornwall, (where I grew up) the place seemed so remote from metropolitan politics that the identity thing never seemed an issue. 

However, now that full-on Marxism has taken hold of Labour, we have to acknowledge that the virus of antisemitism is part of the package. When you see messages like ‘Oh Jeremy Corbyn' inscribed in the sand on some of Cornwall’s magnificent beaches, it’s time to wake up and smell the coffee.

Cllr Tim Dwelly seems like a good man. He resigned from Labour because of this scandal and stands as an independent. And here in the regional edition of Sunday Politics, we see the prospective Labour Party parliamentary candidate (Jennifer Forbes PPC) trying to defend dear leader by suggesting we look at “Jeremy’s history”. Of course, the examples of Jeremy's history she specifies include “Signing EDMs in parliament to support Jewish people” and not his ‘history’ of commemorating the graves of terrorists, inviting Raed Salah to tea on the terrace of the HoC, supporting Hamas and Hezbollah, advocating the RoR for the 5 million Palestinian refugees and so on.

Cornwall is currently embroiled in a row about plans to build thousands of new houses in the county, some of which are apparently set aside to accommodate Manchester’s (and other cities’) overspill.
 The councillors have a lot on their plate.

Andrew the tenacious

Shame Craig’s gone (temporarily) AWOL because the Andrew Marr Show is more his baby than mine. My eyes glaze over at the unwatchable bits, which seem to me to be more and more frequent these days. (Could be just me.) 

However, having settled in front of the TV to watch Andrew Marr’s interview with Emily Thornberry, I spent the first half wondering what the pattern on her dress was meant to represent - some sort of snakeskin, perhaps? Crocodile? - and considering whether the dress was exaggerating her bulk, then noticing the exasperating way she does that rapid blinking or closes her eyes completely when she imagines she’s landed a verbal knockout blow. I was still marvelling at her ability to waffle around the questions with nary a moment’s pause for breath when all of a sudden Marr came up with a topic he usually downplays or avoids altogether.

For once in his TV life, Andy was persistent and tenacious. She still managed to waffle around the questions, straddling precariously between her loyalty to the Magic Grandpa whose real name is Jeremy Corbyn, and her … if I heard this right … ‘asaJew’ credentials (?) which she trotted out in preference to looking as if she was siding with Tom Watson. 

Although Andrew Marr wouldn’t let it lie, I couldn’t help thinking that, at the back of his mind,  any caution he showed must have been because he was aware that at any moment she could just launch herself off her chair and squash him.

Saturday, 13 July 2019

Brand Tommy. "A new way of making money"

I should say something about Tommy Robinson, shouldn’t I? 

Almost everyone who isn’t a diehard Tommy fan has reservations, and their comments usually start off with “I’m no fan of Tommy Robinson, but”  - then they go on to express views that look, to varying degrees, just like fandom.

'I’m no fan of Tommy', but I too harbour worries about the Islamisation of Britain and Europe. 

There are so many contradictory messages about the latest Tommy calamity that I can’t be sure what to think.   I admire Tommy’s efforts to acquaint himself with the Koran and to expand his knowledge of Islam, and while I can see that without the stunts fewer people would take notice of him and his campaign, his impetuousness constantly lets him down and damages his ‘brand’.
People are afraid to be seen to agree with him, and he’s kind of toxified his own image with unintended acts of self-harm.

He was quite right to make a fuss about the grooming gangs, and more importantly to draw attention to the way the authorities disgraced themselves by brushing it all under the rug for years. Their stubborn refusal to recognise or acknowledge the abuse that was going on before their very eyes amounted to such gross denial that it was effectively more racist than the racism they themselves were trying so very hard to avoid committing. Extreme avoidance of committing racism just looks racist. 

Could SYL have done all this without resorting to the clumsy live-streaming stunt that ultimately handed officialdom the peg with which to hang him?  After all, the grooming gang scenario is only one branch of the tree, and it is, at long last (and very belatedly) being dealt with. Meanwhile, all the other stuff goes on, while the focus is directed at this incident alone.

The BBC is still bombarding us with its 'normalising Islam' campaign - introducing headscarf wearing at every turn, normalising it and giving it a ridiculous amount of approval. Personally, I dislike the hijab. Wearing it sends a holier-than-thou message; the material surrounding the smug little face signals virtue with added sanctimony. The scarf acts as a frame to the wearer’s sense of superiority. I think I’d even rather have the letter-box. At least it’s comical and makes the wearer look ridiculous.
Brand Casciani, BBC

Now, since this is a blog about BBC (I often forget that) I would like to examine Dominic Casciani’s response to the news that Tommy Robinson is back inside.

Tommy Robinson: The rancour, rhetoric and riches of brand Tommy. We can’t know if Casciani wrote the header himself or if someone did it for him, but let’s just state the bleeding obvious. The title alone implies that Tommy Robinson (whose real name is etc etc) is a cynical, self-promoting spiv, with a chavvy taste for bling who is primarily motivated by greed and now styles himself as a ‘brand’ 

Casciani seems particularly rattled by Tommy’s ‘wealth’, which he sees as ill-gotten gains deviously extracted from the working class poor, their well-meaning contributions selfishly squandered on tasteless frippery. The Twitter thread we addressed previously (about the Gucci loafers) was just a taster. It reveals much more about Casciani himself than about the target of his ire. In the article Casciani indulges in an orgy of sneers
But while Tommy Robinson was rousing the clutch of onlookers in this deprived corner of Greater Manchester, his four-bedroom country home was on the market for £900,000. The estate agency pictures show a Range Rover parked on the driveway, a hot tub in the garden and a TV above the bath
bolstering his theory that Tommy is getting above himself with nouveau riche aspirations; out of his class and tasteless with it.  How snobby and sneery can a BBC journalist get?

Casciani reinforces his theory that Tommy is motivated by greed.
“He became obsessed with his belief that Muslims were predisposed to violence because of the Koran. It was his ticket to a new way of making money.”
Rather spiteful, I'd say. Even if that sentence had a grain of truth in it, its inclusion cries out “deflection!” Casciani is steering the spotlight away from Islam-related scandals and diverting the reader towards  a scandal out of his own imagination - Tommy’s materialistic motive:  “His ‘ticket’ to a new way of making money.”

I don’t know what this is. It’s not news. It’s not strictly an opinion piece. I think it’s supposed to be a kind of backgrounder, but nasty, gossipy and hateful as well as sneery. 

Why do BBC reporters automatically assume such a hostile attitude the minute they detect some criticism of Islam? Is Casciani a follower? Has he ‘reverted’? He’s obviously a defender of it as well as a class-snob. You could cut the air of superiority in this piece with a blunt knife.

I really wonder what has happened to that well-known leftie mantra and favourite saying of Michelle Obama: “you go low, we go high”   I thought that was the kind of thing the BBC was keen on! Dominic Casciani seems to have got it the wrong way round. 

I didn’t have the stomach to fully concentrate on the piece all the way through, but I persevered long enough to recognise the envy and resentment running through it. A wave of nausea came on at about the halfway point and defeated me. I wish someone would take it up where I left off.

Thursday, 11 July 2019

Well, Is Labour Antisemitic?

As ITBB’s resident antisemitism geek it’s a matter of duty for me to discuss the John Ware Panorama

The problem is where to start. A difficulty that constantly dogs my blogging life is the question of background; how much to include and how much to leave out.

If you don’t know what I’m talking about, how can you make sense of what I write? Lacking the ability to summarise complicated and nuanced history succinctly yet fully, I’m left with a choice between laboriously reiterating material that becomes more meaningless with each repetition or just skipping it and assuming that it’s a simple matter of ‘any fule kno'.

For similar reasons, I found some of John Ware’s examples of antisemitism from Labour Party members rather tedious. The Ken Livingstone - John Mann shouty contretemps on the stairs, that mural, etc, seemed like a blast from the past. How many more times do we have to sit through that?

But I suppose they had to be in there to substantiate the existence of the antisemitism in question. (Even so, on the ‘day after the night-before’ edition of the Victoria Derbyshire show it was clear that denial of substantive evidence of antisemitism still thrives in Corbynista land.) 
“All one needs to do,” asserted audience member Salma Karmi-Ayyoub “Is to make an allegation of antisemitism, which then becomes the truth” she opined. And Ms Karmi-Aayyoub has apparently seen no compelling evidence of antisemitism whatsoever.  Yet we’re supposed to believe she watched the programme. 

As far as that viewer and her ilk are concerned Panorama needn’t have included evidence in the shape of Ken and his absurd interpretation of the Havaara agreement and his obsession with Hitler, or heard about the more recent activities of the NCC and various heavy-handed and autocratic individuals - or even the verbal insults and abuse of staff trying to do their jobs, because people see and hear only what they want to see and hear. The antisemitism evaporates into the air like a mist of particles from an aerosol can.

The revelations of the greatest significance in John Ware’s programme concerned interference with the disciplinary process and the testimony of young, ‘disaffected’ Labour members, which was riveting in terms of ‘televisual’ impact and for its political significance. The NDA hypocrisy, too.

(How strange that the media hasn’t yet managed to lure Seumas Milne into the studio for a good grilling. Alistair Campbell and Peter Mandelson were never off our screens back then. Why so shy?)

 Throughout this programme, and even more so throughout the subsequent forum within the Victoria Derbyshire programme - there was a gigantic mammoth squatting menacingly in the room. So massive that one dare not speak its name.

Victoria Derbyshire kept trying  to trip people up by asking “When did this institutional antisemitism arise and why?” ‘Where does it come from?” She was virtually begging for someone to commit ‘Islamophobia’, whilst the participants, panel and audience, stubbornly refused to do so. 
She asked the same thing over and over again, but they all kept schtum. But how can you, now that any negativity about of Islam is off limits? How mischievous of Ms Derbyshire to try that on.

The other elephantine but invisible presence in the room is this thing about Israel. The default position, thanks to years of partial reporting which keeps the majority of concerned citizens in a state of ignorance of 90% of the aggression directed at Israel, is that one has to state one’s abhorrence of “What Israel is doing to the Palestinians” before throwing in one’s twopence-worth of opinion on antisemitism. It’s related to the ‘bad Jew’ syndrome where the only good Jew is an anti-Zionist 

At one point in the programme, an audience member announced that he was a Palestinian whose people were ‘ethnically cleansed’ on the establishment of Israel. Predictably, Victoria Derbyshire let that pass unchallenged.

This post has turned out to be more concerned with Victoria Derbyshire’s de-briefing of the Panorama than the Panorama itself. That’s the way these things go. 

I must say that I’m not one of those who dismiss Ash Sarkar as stupid. She’s obviously sharp and bright, but her ideological principles force her to defend the indefensible. She and Owen Jones are passionately opposed to racism (they’ve been fighting it all their lives, you know) and their dogged anti-racism compels them to ignore the racism that emanates from the ‘race’ of people they’re so focused on protecting.  You can’t oppose antisemitism properly if you’re blind to the primary perpetrators of it.

I will also add onto the tail of this post that over on Harry’s Place Sarah AB has effectively equated Islamophobia with antisemitism.  I doubt that she reads this blog these days, but just in case, Sarah! No! You’re better than that.

Wednesday, 10 July 2019

Is the BBC impartial?

I’ll reserve judgment on tonight’s Panorama till it’s all over, but there is plenty of pre-emptive activity around. (The Times) (£)

In case it seems hypocritical to put one’s faith in any episode of Panorama in the light of the infamously aborted Tommy Takedown, it does seem that there is justification for doing so sometimes.  

The upcoming programme about antisemitism in the Labour Party is the creation of John Ware, who has a uniquely non-BBC outlook, while the aborted Tommy-bashing episode was concocted by John Sweeney, whose agenda is typically Beeb. 

I don’t claim that either of these men is bias-free or that their programmes could be scrupulously impartial and/or agenda-free, but at least John Ware is prepared to go against the grain.

Unlike Dominic Casciani, whose Tweets are ‘deffo’ BBC through and through. (H/T Monkey Brains in a btl comment)

What started out as a stupid and weirdly snobbish remark from Casciani turned into a massive sneer-athon by a trail of Tommy-bashing sycophants - half of them accusing TR (aka SY-L) of squandering £500 (of donors’ hard-earned dosh) on a pair of Gucci loafers, while the other half sneering that they were obviously only a ‘knocked-off” version.

(Yobbo! Know thy place!)

Saturday, 6 July 2019

Carrie Steps In

Carrie Gracie

Carrie Gracie made me grin on Dateline London today. The subject had turned to Brexit and, as so often, the uniformly anti-Brexit panel was making all their usual anti-Brexit points, when Carrie stopped Isabel Hilton just as she was getting into her flow (after both Adam Raphael and Amir Taheri had had their turn at bewailing Brexit) and said, "We don't have a firm Brexiteer on this panel today, so I'm not going to let you make any Remoaning speeches." I was rather too late by then, but at least she tried! Isabel slagged off Boris instead. 

More nonsense

Talking about nonsense, try this gem out:

Now, this wonderful video totals up the various commenters on the old Sunday Politics show and finds that the programme was dominated by the Right, with the Centre coming in second and the Left lagging way behind. It also find that there has never been two left guests on the panel. 

Damning, eh? Except that the chaps behind it chose to put Polly Toynbee, Helen Lewis, George Eaton, Steve Richards, Anushka Asthana, Rafael Behr, Gaby Hinsliff and Ella Whelan in the Centre column rather than the Left column and shoved everyone else not of the far-Left into the Right Column.

Now, if you move Polly & Co, back into the Left column, a very different story emerges. The Centre plummets and the Left soars, and it also turns out that there have been many occasions when there were two left-of-centre commentators on the same programme.

Actually, if you watch the dizzying sequence grow on that video, a proper trend does emerge. As the date gets nearer to today the frequency of the far-Left's appearances grows. (The show sadly ended before Ash Sarkar arrived on the scene!)

"Is there an agenda?"

Here's a tweet I didn't expect to read from the presenter of From Our Own Correspondent:


And guess what! It's not actually the BBC's Kate Adie. D'oh! 

(As ever when I post something stupid, I'll leave this one up for posterity as a constant reminder to myself to always fully check things before posting!)

Friday, 5 July 2019

Dom v Yaz (Part II)


For anyone who's still interested, here's a complete record of BBC Home Affairs Correspondent Dominic Casciani's tweets today concerning the concluding day of the latest Tommy Robinson trial - a day that ended in Tommy aka Stephen being found guilty of contempt of court.

Towards the end of the thread (just before he takes issue with UKIP's Gerard Batten), you'll  spot that BBC Dom makes a snide reference to Fox News's 'We report, you decide'. So, in the same spirit, we'll just post Dom's tweets here and let you decide if they are impartial or not:

  • Hello again from the Old Bailey. I'm here for the second day of the contempt of court case brought by the Attorney General against Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, who in public goes by the name #tommyrobinson.
  • Yesterday we heard the allegation that SYL/TR interfered with a trial at Leeds Crown Court of a sexual grooming gang by filming and confronting the men outside court and breaking a reporting restriction. He denies the allegations. Summary of Day One: [Link to BBC report]
  • Here's the heart of Mr Yaxley-Lennon's defence against the allegation - in essence he says he made checks to ensure there was not a reporting restriction in place. Counsel for the Attorney General says that SYL did not check with court staff:
  • (The BBC article referred to his statement is an old one summarising a preparatory stage of the prosecution - before a later court order postponing coverage of the trial that SYL/TR turned up at.)
  • Andrew Caldecott QC, for the Attorney General, is making his closing submissions. Our primary submission is that Mr Yaxley-Lennon knew that there was a reporting restriction in place, our fall-back position is that he knew that it was likely." #TommyRobinson
  • If that is right, argues Mr Caldecott, "it was a wholly unreasonable risk" for SYL not to find out the terms of the restriction before live streaming outside court.
  • Andrew Caldecott QC: Stephen Yaxley-Lennon's "whole objective [in going to the court in Leeds] was to get the defendants faces out there - and he knew that they were liable to arrive early at court." That, says the barrister, is why SYL ignored the risk of reporting restrictions.
  • "He took a punt. He wanted to say who they were, what charges they were facing - otherwise his live stream was... meaningless." Mr Caldecott argues that SYL didn't want to discover a reporting restriction existed - because that would stop his Facebook broadcast. #tommyrobinson
  • Andrew Caldecott QC has wrapped up for the Attorney General in the #tommyrobinson case. He concludes by saying that if cases are unduly disturbed, then public confidence in the rule of law can be undermined.
  • Hello again from the Old Bailey. Now hearing closing submissions from Richard Furlong who's representing Stephen Yaxley-Lennon in his contempt of court case. #TommyRobinson
  • Mr Furlong questions whether the reporting restriction order imposed at Leeds, that SYL is said to have broken, sought to prevent publication of facts about the grooming gang trial (names of defendants etc) that were already in the public domain.
  • Part of Mr Yaxley-Lennon's defence is that in his Facebook live stream, he was merely talking about what had already been reported by journalists whom, he says, were not reporting the case.
  • For instance, he read out details about the men and the allegations from a BBC report, published before the reporting restriction was imposed.
  • Richard Furlong for Yaxley-Lennon: The better approach to reporting restrictions is "to not seek to enforce impossible orders but accept that material is out there and put faith in the good sense of juries to ignore it."
  • He further agues that official judicial guidance states that a court order to postpone reporting of the facts of a trial can't also be used to prevent reporting of information that's already in the public domain. This is a key point of difference with the Attorney General.
  • Back in court for more from the contempt of court trial of Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, who in public goes by the name #TommyRobinson. His barrister, Richard Furlong is arguing that SYL had no reckless intent - he was trying to be careful in what he said in his Facebook live stream.
  • He shows the court passages of the Facebook transcript where SYL checks with his assistant. SYL believed, says Mr Furlong, that he was broadcasting within the law by only referring to information already in the public domain.
  • Here's one of the examples where SYL is talking to his filming assistant about what he is allowed to say without breaking reporting restrictions:
  • We're now onto the second element of the alleged contempt: That SYL / #tommyrobinson's live stream impeded justice - by interfering with the trial process.
  • The Attorney General argues that #TommyRobinson impeded justice by the manner in which he filmed the defendants (there was a confrontation) because that could have influenced the defendants on bail not to co-operate with the trial.
  • Richard Furlong for Mr Yaxley-Lennon says the question is whether the filming created a "substantial risk" that the trial would be seriously impeded. SYL's case is that his actions did not create that risk.
  • Furlong for SYL: "We say the allegations of harassing [the defendants] and indirectly creating a risk that they would abscond [because they would have been scared] are fanciful."
  • SYL dashed up to some of the defendants and said: "How are you feeling about your verdict, got your prison bag with you..?" And then the defendants started shouting back rather grim sexual insults. Richard Furlong for SYL says his client's questions were "fairly anodyne".
  • His point being that Stephen Yaxley-Lennon did not set out to intimidate or harass the defendants - and therefore there is no Contempt of Court on this second element of the case.
  • "He should not be judged by a different standard of behaviour because of who he is."
  • There was no threat or intimidation of the defendants, says Richard Furlong for Stephen Yaxley-Lennon.
  • Richard Furlong plays a clip of BBC reporter Lucy Manning interviewing Tommy Robinson as he arrived at the Old Bailey for a previous hearing in this saga. His point being that SYL, in throwing questions to the Leeds defendants, was doing no different to journalists.
  • His questions to the defendants were "by and large anodyne, by and large neutral", says Richard Furlong. He says Stephen Yaxley-Lennon was not provoking the defs, but is being judged for his political views and reputation as Tommy Robinson.
  • Richard Furlong has finished his submissions for Stephen Yaxley-Lennon. Short response from the AG's barrister (this is common procedure in cases) then, in theory, it's over to the judges to decide.
  • The judges in the Stephen Yaxley-Lennon aka Tommy Robinson case have retired to consider the evidence.
  • Hello again from the Stephen Yaxley-Lennon / Tommy Robinson Contempt case at the Old Bailey. The judges are back in court.
  • BREAKING: Stephen Yaxley-Lennon aka Tommy Robinson found in contempt of court.
  • Dame Victoria Sharp, President of the Queen's Bench Division: "The respondent's conduct amounted to a serious interference with the administration of justice."
  • Dame Victoria says Tommy Robinson committed contempt of court in three ways: 1) By breaching a reporting restriction at the Leeds sexual grooming case trial 2) His Facebook live was likely to impede justice 3) Aggressively confronting the defendants.
  • More detail for clarity: Dame Victoria said said the live stream outside Leeds Crown Court contained material that "gave rise to a serious risk that the course of justice would be seriously impeded." So while a jury were not being prejudiced, the trial might be derailed.
  • How so? We haven't seen the full reasons from her and Mr Justice Warby - but counsel for the Attorney General argued some of Yaxley-Lennon's actions effectively encouraged his followers to harass the defendants - (or what used to be called "mob rule").
  • And some of the defendants may have gone on the run - fearing confrontations with Tommy Robinson and his followers at the court.
  • Tommy Robinson Contempt of Court - here's one of the key clips from his Facebook live where he is said to have aggressively confronted defendants - judge for yourself:
  • Or as others say ... “we report, you decide”.
  • This is important from Lizzie: guilty men could have walked free.
  • [In reply to a tweet from Gerard Batten of UKIP] 
    As a trained professional journalist since 1995, from Grimsby Magistrates to the UK Supreme Court, I cannot remember committing Contempt of Court once, never mind “every day”
  • UPDATE [Reply to another tweet from Gerard Batten]
    At every hearing in this saga, journalists have been abused. People have been spat at, had cameras attacked. A cameraman was punched. Today it was beer can throwing. Lies have been told about us, our reports and events in court. So, it’s pretty obvious why the police were out.
  • Court security today insisted initially that reporters leave the Old Bailey by a safe alternative door because of the risk of violence @GerardBattenMEP or were they making it up?
  • Here are some of the cans thrown at the TV crews outside:
  • In October - one of the earlier Tommy Robinson hearings - there were bags of human excrement found in the street. Is that a normal crowd?
  • [Dom retweet Nazir Afzal]

Thursday, 4 July 2019

BBC Appeal

My splendid friend David Keighley of News-watch has launched a crowdfunding appeal today called Stop The Bias.

It aims to raise £30,000 to fund a judicial review of the BBC's own methodology for monitoring bias - a judicial review the BBC is bound to fight every step of the way with the licence fee payer's pennies and pounds.

Shouldn't the BBC be held to account by rigorous, independent, external monitoring rather than by its own barely-existent, self-trusting 'checks and balances'? And how will the BBC possibly justify in court its absurd 'opinion polls show we're trusted on bias so, ergo, that proves that we're impartial' line?

The crowdfunding appeal was only launched this morning and is already over a quarter of the way there. There's clearly a public appetite for legal action against the BBC as regards bias. 

If you want to contribute, the Crowd Justice website link is here.

Dom v Yax

For anyone who's interested, here's a complete record of BBC Home Affairs Correspondent Dominic Casciani's tweets today concerning the latest Tommy Robinson trial:

  • TODAY AT THE OLD BAILEY: Anti-Islam activist Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, who goes by the alter-ego/stage name "Tommy Robinson" faces trial for an alleged serious Contempt of Court last year. I'm there to report the whole very complicated business.
  • Mr Yaxley-Lennon is facing serious allegations that his live broadcast on Facebook in May 2017 outside Leeds Crown Court interfered with the trial of men who were accused of running a grooming gang. Why's that wrong, I hear you ask?
  • Under our law, if someone interferes with a fair trial, the defendants can walk free if a jury has been influenced. That's the rule here - other nations have different approaches. Contempt also covers other actions that interfere with justice being done.
  • Today, the allegations against Mr Yaxley-Lennon will be heard in court. I and other bona fide British journalists will be working hard to report accurately and fairly the proceedings.
  • Good morning from Court Two of the Old Bailey. I'm here for today to hear and report the Contempt of Court case brought by the Attorney General against anti-Islam activist Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, also known as "Tommy Robinson".
  • Andrew Caldecott QC will be leading the case for the Attorney General against Stephen Yaxley-Lennon. The allegations concern his live Facebook streaming outside a sexual grooming gang trial in Leeds in May 2017.
  • Andrew Caldecott explains what Contempt of Court means: The sole purpose of the law is to give our courts the power to protect the rights of the public, "to ensure that the administration of justice shall not be impeded or obstructed."
  • Onto the facts: 29 men were charged in early 2017 in relation to a massive alleged sexual grooming conspiracy in Huddersfield. This huge case was split into a number of trials to make it manageable. The case against SYL/Tommy Robinson relates to events in the 2nd trial.
  • Before that trial began, a judge had ordered that all reporting should be *postponed* until all the trials were completed - there was a concern that reporting of the earlier trials could influence a jury in the later trials. (This is quite common in linked trials.)
  • Tommy Robinson/SYL: The trial hears that he asked a security guard about reporting restrictions in the case - but the guard did not know and told him to seek further advice. Instead, he went outside and began his Facebook live stream.
  • Yaxley-Lennon later said: "I was under the impression that the trial had now finished and we were just waiting for the jury verdict."
  • Andrew Caldecott QC: "The primary case is that Mr Yaxley-Lennon knew full well that there was a reporting restriction in place. He was in court and could have ascertained its terms with ease and it was a wholly unreasonable risk to speculate what the terms were or might be."
  • Tommy Robinson: Court has now seen the first and second of the alleged confrontations with some of the defendants.  SYL approaches a group of them and says repeatedly: "How you feeling about your verdict... Got your prison bag?"
  • One of the defendants appears to reply: "Go F*** your mum's fanny." TR/SYL then turns to his camera and says: "Doesn't seem like much guilt ... that anyone is ashamed."
  • (May 2018 - apols)
  • Tommy Robinson/Stephen Yaxley-Lennon: Counsel for SYL, Richard Furlong, is questioning a court official about why there was no public notice of the reporting restriction in the case.
  • The official, Michelle Dunderdale, says the reporting restriction that Mr Yaxley-Lennon is said to have broken was neither added to a computer system nor attached to the door of the courtroom.
  • Ms Dunderdale stresses that court staff should carry out extensive checks to answer a public/press inquiry about whether a reporting restriction exists - including messaging the clerk who's managing the trial in question.
  • She says general office staff were aware of the reporting restriction that Stephen Yaxley-Lennon allegedly broke - and could have found it if he had asked.
  • "Every member of staff in that office knew there was a press restriction in place."
  • Richard Furlong, for Stephen Yaxley-Lennon aka Tommy Robinson, is setting out his client's defence. He says that SYL's did not invite his followers/viewers to harass the defendants in the Facebook livestream.
  • He says his client's live stream was seen by 10,000 initially - but then duplicated to youtube where it was seen by a much larger audience - up to 250,000 - in the days that followed.
  • Mr Furlong says Mr Yaxley-Lennon's behaviour was in the "robust tradition" of challenging criminal defendants. 
  • "It may have been offensive, but did not cross the line into contempt."
  • IN THE WITNESS BOX: Stephen Yaxley-Lennon aka Tommy Robinson now giving evidence in his defence. He's wearing a light grey suit.
  • Mr Yaxley-Lennon/Tommy Robinson says his Facebook page was followed by 1.2m people worldwide.
  • Andrew Caldecott QC, for the AG, is now questioning Mr Yaxley-Lennon/Tommy Robinson.
  • Mr Yaxley-Lennon/Tommy Robinson confirms that he understood before going to Leeds to film his Facebook Live that the huge trial of a grooming gang from Huddersfield had been split into a series of trials.
  • SYL/TR confirms he was aware that the first of the series of trials had taken place and there had been verdicts. Caldecott QC: It must have occurred to you that the reason why the media were not reporting it was because there was a reporting restriction in place?
  • Mr Yaxley-Lennon appears to suggest that it was a confusing situation.
  • Mr Caldecott, for the AG, says it was odd for the media to have reported the pre-trial hearing, but not the actual trial outcome, unless they were aware that there was a reporting restriction in place. (In his video, SYL complains that the media are not reporting the case.)
  • Stephen Yaxley-Lennon says he received training in contempt of court from one of London's top law firms, Kingsley Napley . "I hold my hands up that I made mistakes in previous court cases", he says, so he got some training from the firm before the Leeds incident.
  • Court hears that when Stephen Yaxley-Lennon was doing his Facebook-Live outside court he was quoting from an article about the defendants written in 2017 - ie before the trial and before the reporting restrictions had been imposed.
  • Andrew Caldecott QC is cross-examining Stephen Yaxley-Lennon why he did not establish what the reporting restrictions were before he left Luton to perform his Facebook Live outside court in Leeds.
  • Mr YL is asked if he went into court to find out "if the reporting restriction had been lifted" - in other words that he knew there had been a reporting restriction. "That's correct," says Mr YL.
  • Caldecott QC notes that Mr YL does not disagree with an account of a member of security at Leeds who had advised SYL  to go to the general office in the court to establish the status of the reporting restriction. "He was plainly trying to help you."
  • "I'm saying, from what I remember, that [the security guard] didn't know. I did not get the answer I needed from him."
  • Caldecott: And the reason why you did not take his advice [to ask about the reporting restriction at the office] was because "you wanted to film the defendants... you knew they tended to arrive early at court."
  • Court adjourning for lunch. Back later.
  • Hello again from the Old Bailey where Stephen Yaxley-Lennon/Tommy Robinson is continuing to give evidence in his defence against three allegations of interfering with a sexual grooming gang trial in Leeds.
  • Andrew Caldecott QC, for the attorney general, is asking Stephen Yaxley-Lennon/Tommy Robinson to explain what he did in detail to work out whether there were reporting restrictions in place at the trial in Leeds.
  • The court hears that one of TR's filming assistants with him in Leeds took a picture of the court list screen. It didn't display any warnings of reporting restrictions. This is a key part of SYL's defence.
  • Yaxley-Lennon says prior to being released by the Court of Appeal (for this case to be reheard) "I had given up, I had committed no crime and been sentenced to 13 months. I was genuinely under the impression I had been put in jail to be killed. I wrote letters to my children."
  • Andrew Caldecott, for the Attorney General, says that Yaxley-Lennon's account is inconsistent - that his evidence isn't clear about who checked what at court and online to find out about the reporting restrictions.
  • Andrew Caldecott QC, for the AG, is now asking Tommy Robinson why he confronted defendants as they arrived at court and asked them "How are you feeling about your verdict... have you got your prison bag with you?" 
  • TR says that he was not presuming they were guilty. He had learned not to do so. That had been the main focus of his legal training. "That was the main point I took - not to assume guilt."
  • Andrew Caldecott QC, barrister for the Attorney General: "You see yourself as the people's media channel, don't you?" Yaxley-Lennon: "I do, yes" #TommyRobinson
  • Stephen Yaxley-Lennon denies that, during his Facebook video, that he was trying to whip up an atmosphere among his supporters that could lead to vigilante action over grooming gangs.
  • He tells court he was telling viewers about how some Sikh communities had defended their women.
  • Stephen Yaxley-Lennon aka #TommyRobinson tells Old Bailey that his former assistant @CaolanRob went on to work to "defame" him by providing information to a "far-left organisation" investigating TR's activity.
  • Lady Justice Sharp has just told the court that the trial of Stephen Yaxley-Lennon will continue into tomorrow.
  • TRAINEE REPORTERS: If you want some FREE MEDIA LAW ADVICE head to Court Two of the Old Bailey NOW.  Andrew Caldecott QC, for the Attorney General, is now going to take the Stephen Yaxley-Lennon trial through the law of contempt of court.
  • You won't get in without a press card and trial ticket, mind. So follow my tweets instead...
  • One of the key issues in the Stephen Yaxley-Lennon case is that during his Facebook Live he talked about allegations that the defendants faced - information that had been publicised before a judge imposed a reporting restriction until the conclusion of proceedings.
  • In short, Andrew Caldecott QC explains that even if facts about a case have been previously published, a judge can still impose a reporting restriction on further coverage **if** he or she believes reporting of that trial must be **postponed** to ensure it's heard fairly.
  • The trial of Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, who goes by the name Tommy Robinson, is adjourned until tomorrow. Back then - Thanks for reading.

Oh Ann!

No.3 headline on the BBC News website tonight:

Wednesday, 3 July 2019

Pause For Thought (a post without links)

The BBC says that it's impartial, but large numbers of people simply don't believe it.

The BBC knows that it's impartial. Many people know that it's not. 

So who's to judge if the BBC is impartial or not? And how is the BBC's impartiality (or lack of it) to be judged?

In the past, the BBC was largely its own judge, but - after some strong challenges in the mid 2000s (over its Israel and EU coverage, among other things) - it very briefly instituted counting-style checks.

It then just-as-swiftly dropped such checks for being "unhelpful".

The BBC then stated that it trusted its own editors to maintain the BBC's due impartiality over time - which was, to put it bluntly, little more than the BBC going right back to itself being largely its own judge and knowing best. 

Nevertheless, in the late 2000s and very early 2010s, the BBC launched its own large-scale 'independent' impartiality reviews, which 'found' that the BBC was broadly impartial but needed to do better on some things (like stopping being impartial over climate change). 

Behind those 'independent' reports, ironically, laid largely helpful 'counting' from, above all, Cardiff University.

The main controversy over Cardiff Uni's finding arose over whether the mainly ex-BBC and far-left activist Cardiff researchers cherry-picked their results over miniscule timescales (on one survey, a couple of weeks or so at  years apart) at insufficiently randomly-chosen times (on the same survey, only half a chosen Radio 4 programme when particular, similar news stories were dominating, years apart) 

Other researchers (some ex-BBC, none of them far-left, most of them right-wing), conducted studies over far longer timescales armed with a completist's rejection of randomness (recording every example over days and days, months and months, and years and years) and came up with very different results.

(I was one of them with my comprehensive 2009-2010 '1000+ BBC interviews' ultra-completist interruptions study. News-watch was another, over a vastly longer timescale). 

Anyhow, the BBC has, over the past decade, continued to maintain its total rejection of 'mere counting'...

...except, of course, as regards its endlessly ongoing diversity projects - such as committing itself to counting the numbers of female and male guests on its programmes, etc, and ensuring 50-50 balance - a species of 'mere counting' that the BBC joyously flaunts like an over-exuberant, social-liberal, number-crunching, identity-politics-obsessed peacock/peahen/peawhatever.

(I feel a Rudyard Kipling short story coming on there). 

But the BBC has shifted its ground in the last couple of years or so. It is now (seriously) citing as its MAIN proof of impartiality a few opinion polls (the merest one or two or so) which tenuously appear to show that the public probably thinks the BBC is impartial.

But, as something of a connoisseur of opinion polls about BBC bias, I know that the ground that the BBC's shifted itself onto is brimming and boiling and bebogged with quicksand.

Some of their takes on the poll findings they cite have been questionable at best. And those apparent poll findings are countered by other major mainstream opinion polls, conducted by some of the best-known pollsters, which show (including 'don't knows') that full faith in BBC impartiality is now very much in the minority. 

The detail, however, is irrelevant. The Big BBC Question here is why on earth the BBC thinks that a scattering of dubiously 'helpful' opinion polls is in any way proof of the BBC's impartiality.

Are opinion polls seriously the hill the BBC is prepared to die on in defence of its impartiality claims?

An ever bigger Big BBC Question is: If not (open to question) opinion polls and your own BBC staff's (highly open to question) judgement, then what? 

So what, oh BBC?

Maybe a judicial review is needed to answer that. 

Ah, but, let's not forget, the BBC is now under the charge of Ofcom. The BBC is no longer its own supreme judge. And Ofcom's pack of like-minded, largely ex-BBC-affiliated judges will surely hold their friends to account, won't they?

I put that facetiously, but getting Ofcom to rule on BBC may very well be like getting Jeremy Corbyn's extreme-left, anti-Semitic allies to rule on anti-Semitism in the Labour Party. Their vision isn't exactly unclouded, is it?

Maybe something is needed to burst those clouds?

As they stay on the BBC News Channel, stay with us...(or stay tuned)...