Saturday 14 June 2014

Screw you, Gove - BBC's 'Dateline'

Honestly [as the politician said to the voter], I really wasn't intending to write about Dateline London this week, but my chest has been well and truly sat on by this week's edition...broadcast, as ever, to the world at large by a proud BBC...and now I really need to get it off. 

I managed to get through the Iraq bit, noting that the Iraqi journalist who writes for an Arabic paper which supports the Saudi Royal Family [Mina al Oraibi] was most critical of the present (largely Shia) Iraqi government and that the U.S. liberal - who always seems such a slavish pro-Democrat commentator despite his 'impartial' credentials - [Jef McAllister] was blaming the Bush administration whilst laying no blame whatsoever [or making any criticisms whatsoever] of the Obama administration - all with presenter Gavin Esler's backing - but then we moved onto Michael Gove's call for 'British values' to be taught in schools in the wake of the Trojan Horse affair and my urge to blog about it shot up....

In typical Dateline fashion, everyone agreed that Michael Gove was wrong and that his call risks hurting Muslim feelings in the UK. 

Gavin Esler had started this off right at the start with his eyes-rolling-at-the-thought-of-it introductory tone, but it got worse, much worse... 

The Daily Mail/Independent, ultra-liberal-Conservative guest [Ian Birrell] said it was "absurd", "futile" and "puerile", calling it "wedge politics", then praising diversity and denouncing "Islamophobia". "I think people should remember", he said, "as studies have shown, the most patriotic people in this country are Islamic immigrants from Pakistan". [Ian is surely the BBC's dream Daily Mail writer. If they were all like Ian they'd love the Daily Mail]. 

The BBC Turkish correspondent [Safak Timur] worried about "the alienation of Muslim people in Britain" and praised diversity. 

The pro-Saudi guest [Mina] agreed it risks "alienating certain people" and can be "very dangerous". 

The liberal American [Jef] called it "dog whistle" politics. 

The denunciations of Michael Gove and the defences of Islam went on and on and on, and Gavin Esler didn't make any effort to counter his guests' opinions, instead goading them on, often backing them up, occasionally laughing at Michael Gove - though, in fairness, he very briefly remembered his duties to impartiality later and asked one question [ever so mildly] about extremism [of some unspecified kind]. 

Not all BBC programmes are like this by any means but...Dateline London presents the BBC's face to the world in just the way that its right-wing critics say it does, and there's no honest gainsaying of that.

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