Saturday 7 February 2015

The BBC and Rotherham

Also on the subject of Rotherham, there was a powerfully-expressed piece by Vincent Cooper at The Commentator called The BBC and Islam: Let the children be raped.

Vincent Cooper accuses the BBC of "intellectually dishonest liberal bias" in its attempts to "put a damage limitation or PC spin on Rotherham’s sex crimes".

He places the present coverage in the context of a longer view of BBC journalism:
The BBC for years has been aware of the allegations about Pakistani Muslim sex abuse gangs in Rotherham, yet did nothing to find out the facts.
Instead, almost as an adjunct of the puerile but nasty Unite Against Fascism (UAF) movement, the BBC launched an undercover investigation against those making the allegations, the British National Party (BNP), -- a nasty bunch to be sure, but not a bunch that has raped thousands of children.
In 2004, the BBC made a documentary The Secret Agent which exposed the BNP as racist. The documentary, based on a report by a BBC undercover investigator, did indeed show unsavoury racist BNP characters -- no surprise there -- but it also showed BNP claims about Muslim sex abuse gangs, claims that are now accepted as fact by the police and by the mainstream media, but at the time ignored by the BBC.
The truth is that until recently the only people shouting loudly about the Rotherham child sex scandal were those on the far Right, such as the BNP and the EDL Indeed, the Casey report refers to police concerns about the BNP as possible reasons for backing-off from bringing prosecutions against the Pakistani child-groomers.
For years, what was happening in Rotherham was a time-bomb of a story just waiting to explode, yet the mainstream media left the story to the likes of the BNP. That says as much about the BBC as it does about the BNP itself.
The BBC was more interested in its self-righteous and bigoted United-Against-Fascism-style moral crusade in exposing BNP thuggery (a fact of no surprise to anyone) than it was in exposing the much bigger story of police and local authority evasions of responsibility that left vulnerable little girls to the mercy of criminal Pakistani gangs.
That's hard to disagree with as it's obviously true. 

However, I have some problems with his starting point, his present-day 'Exhibit A' - a comment by Edward Stourton on the The World At One during an interview with Camilla Cavendish
Discussing Rotherham Council’s neglect of vulnerable children with Camilla Cavendish of The Sunday Times, Mr Stourton asked her: 
“To what extent do you think part of the problem is what you might call ‘rotten boroughs’ -- in other words local authorities which have been under the control of one political party for a long period of time where the usual checks and balances that you might expect don’t apply?”
Got that? The Rotherham Council sex abuse problem, according to the BBC, might not be rotten councillors running scared of the Muslim community (one ethnic Pakistani councillor was praised by the police for his ability to stop Pakistani men coming out onto the streets to confront the English Defence League) but simply “rotten boroughs” suffering the usual bureaucratic complacency.
Had the BBC’s Mr Stourton even read the latest report on Rotherham? An objective reading of Louise Casey’s report does not allow for any ambiguity. The glaring fact about Rotherham Council and the local police is that underage children were being abused by Pakistani Muslim men and the authorities ran scared of the problem. 
If you actually listen to that interview with Camilla C, you'll hear Ed ask that question and Camilla describe it as a good one. You'll also hear her, ininterrupted, lay out with considerable clarity the fact that the report shows in devastating detail that political correctness played a big part in making the council behave the way that it did in the face of a predominantly Pakistani problem, that the media bears some responsibility for that (being no less political correct), that the problem is widespread and ongoing, and that the Trojan Horse affair shows that Birmingham Council is up to its neck in it too. Ed's question set in context sounds far less disreputable (especially as these 'rotten boroughs'/one-party-states are a problem).

That said, both that day's WATO and the day before's were notable - having just reviewed them - in the fact that the BBC reporters/presenters were extremely sparing with the 'p'-word ('Pakistani') and clearly very deliberately chose not to focus on matters of race, religion and culture, with reports focusing on the failings of "the Home Office" and "taxi drivers".

And they were even more sparing with the 'l'-word (Labour). Listeners to The World at One would be forgiven for thinking that the council in Rotherham was run by independents. (Had it been a Conservative/UKIP-run local authority, would mentions of its party-political affiliation have been so rare?)

Also interesting was the way the story wasn't the lead story either day, and was dealt with fairly quickly in both editions...

....and, for that matter, the subject's almost total neglect on the Today programme the morning after the report [a few mentions during the paper review notwithstanding]. 

If memory serves me right, it was former Today editor Ceri Thomas who justified the non-reporting of a hugely embarrassing story for a group the BBC is often seen to favour (can't remember which) on the grounds that it had been covered by all the major Radio 4 programmes after it had broke around midday the previous day. I bet that would be the BBC's 'defence' here - a very convenient one those who think the BBC doesn't want to emphasise this story might understandably think. 

An attempted case of 'moving on' it seems.

1 comment:

  1. “To what extent do you think part of the problem is what you might call ‘rotten boroughs’ -- in other words local authorities which have been under the control of one political party for a long period of time where the usual checks and balances that you might expect don’t apply?”

    That was the exact same angle Evan Davis tried on Newsnight. I don't know if you've seen that segment, but it was disgraceful in its studied avoidance of the PC factor. And now we see a different BBC presenter taking the exact same line on a completely different programme on completely different channel. Agenda? What agenda?


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