Thursday 19 March 2015

A BBC historian maligns Margaret Thatcher

(h/t Guest Who)

This section from Steven Glover's Daily Mail article about the Clarkson Affair bears quoting in full:
On Tuesday night, BBC2 showed a programme called Suffragettes Forever [from around the 49:30 mark] in which the historian Amanda Vickery suggested Margaret Thatcher had let down the feminist cause.
In a reference to the 1982 Falklands War, she claimed Thatcher ‘did not shrink from personally ordering the sinking of an [Argentinian] troop carrier with the loss of over 300 lives’.
This was a reference to the Belgrano, a cruiser rather than a troop carrier, which was sunk because, in the opinion of British naval commanders, it presented a danger to our ships.
There was immediately a shot of Mrs Thatcher saying: ‘Just rejoice at that news, and congratulate our Forces and marines.’ We were invited to conclude that she had heartlessly said this in response to the sinking of the Belgrano.
But the truth is she spoke these words a week earlier, after British Forces had retaken the island of South Georgia without the loss of any British lives.
One Argentinian died, though Thatcher did not know this when she asked the nation to rejoice at the recapture of British territory which had been illegally seized.
In other words, that great hate figure of the Left, Margaret Thatcher, has been traduced once again by a supposedly reputable historian.
Will Amanda Vickery apologise? Of course not. Or Danny Cohen and Tony Hall? Not a chance. I’d like to see them submit to a Clarkson-style investigation, but they will sail blithely on.
Having watched that part of the programme for myself, Stephen Glover is completely correct about those factual inaccuracies and about the 'invitation' to viewers to conclude that Mrs Thatcher had behaved 'heartlessly' over the Belgrano. 

All I would add is that Amanda Vickery also implied that Mrs Thatcher was uncaring as regards "health, community, poverty [and] children" and that she had some help in making the case that the first UK female prime minster let down the feminist cause from Kirsty Wark, who was largely of one mind with her over the matter.


  1. Once again the debunked Belgrano narrative finds its way into BBC broadcasting, and once again into allegedly factual programming. Why, it's almost as if, despite available information, the Beeboids have no idea it has been debunked and still think it's true. Agenda? What agenda? Groupthink? What groupthink?

  2. This one deserves to go to the top, as the facts, and their clear inaccuracy seem incontrovertible.

    Sorry I did not see it myself as I would be happy to push that one as far as the Trust saying the ECU got it about right trying to crush any concerns with 'belief' the BBC was actually bang on.

    It doesn't get much more blatant, going beyond possible foul up (by professional historians/researchers) to pretty clear stitch up.

    1. Just between the two of us, I've popped in a complaint on this already. I'll let you know how it goes.

      It is an open-and-shut case.

  3. Well done you. Do let us know.

    Actually, something just came in that got me to thinking more on the whole issue of complaints.

    Me and some guys I work with pop the odd one in every so often. There are areas of annoyance that exercise some more than others so we also share them around to run with, especially once 'the process' is engaged, and especially if the responses are (mostly all) BBC standard BS.

    On occasion we post on our own feeds and blogs, and then other friends pick up and share further.

    But it is hardly coordinated, and hence essentially piecemeal. The BBC relies on this. They can drag out an individual complaint for years, and devote limitless people and resources. What they rely upon is even the exchanges never seeing the light of day. When it does, they can react poorly. Very poorly.

    I was once 'expedited'. Basically they claimed that they were running out of excuses for stuffing up, and so as it was making them look bad to the number crunchers a banning was called for, so muuh. Their stadium, pitch, ball, referee, so what to do? I did appeal, and the Trust had a secret meeting i was not invited to, used 'investigators' they shouldn't have (hence an ongoing ICO investigation, with the support of my MP and DCMS, so that worked out well for them) and... surprise... decided the BBC had got it about right, no backsies.

    I am now back in the saddle, and sticking ruthlessly and politely to factually incontrovertible complaints.

    Like yours.

    By coincidence, I just was handed another.

    One bugbear of mine is the BBC's habit of denying the public fair opportunity to comment on HYS threads by closing them out before working hours have ended, or too often on whim when comments show a fondly held narrative to be spurious.

    So I complain. The reply to the latest is nothing short of arrogant farce, on par with Jon Donnison's attitude to being handed a double-Oh-who-cares rating to tweet as he sees fit.

    There was the usual 'take it to the Trust if you think that will make any difference' taunt, and I will take it up.

    But I am now offside even more than usual.

    I am wondering if it may be worth creating a Wordpress/Blogger forum specifically to carry complaints and their responses between the public and the BBC as they unfold.

    I am just unsure of how it could be modded for scope or legality.

    I know enough that the truth cannot be libel, but how to control the inevitable shut-down attempts by posting a false flag well-poisoner to get a site shut down?

    Maybe I'll just do my own as a seed, and then create a link to a master blog that archives those of individuals responsible for the accuracy of their own blogs. I presume a caution on E&OE would suffice?

    That master can have advice I (and others) would offer, such as removing codes and names, etc, and making accusations that can get a poster into hot water.

    There would also need to be a warning on the possibility of a banning.

    I know to my cost that if I share with people enough detail that they may in turn share, which the BBC thinks it can link a name to associate with exposure of its bad behaviour, they will unleash the hounds, and a Kraken or two.

    Any thoughts? A passive, 'just the unredacted facts, Ma'am' for any so minded to sift would be an easy way to billboard the BBC's complaint system in a timely, public manner.

    And maybe a rating system so those that strike a chord (vs. the chaff, which will exist, looking at some the Trust does choose to publish, possibly selectively for just the purpose of creating false impressions through editing what people see or do not) can be highlighted and championed?

    1. Good grief, that sounds as if the BBC went well and truly beyond the bounds. Good on you for getting them back into the stadium.

      The rare successes - usually a grudging 'partially upheld', as far as I can see - seem to come only after well over a year of patient slog as the BBC grinds its cogs as slowly as it can. (I'm thinking of the ones that BBC Watch occasionally posts).

      Your plan sounds like a good one. And we'd link to it on the sidebar here at ITBB if you get it up-and-running.

      The BBC will get quite a bit of chaff, so a ratings system is a reasonable idea to help the wheat shine forth.

      Some tips - such as you've given there - could be a valuable possible side-feature. I agree that clear factual errors are the ones it's best to go for. Going in all-guns-blazing about bias doesn't seem to get people very far. That said, picking 'Accuracy' rather than 'Bias' from that drop-down list does allow their stats to show that bias isn't quite the concern it actually is.

    2. Yes, they did. And I aim to make them regret it.

      Of course, as with all things BBC, it becomes a war of attrition, and they have the resources not just to make the other guy blink, but feel very much under threat. Telling you they are tracking you round the internet is daft of them, but still spooky.

      Having secured an ICO ruling they could not use the all purpose 'journalism, arts & literature' exclusion clause to my request for information held on me, they tried to be clever and sent just short of 1,000 pages of essentially useless redacted data dump paperwork.

      Trouble was, I decided to go through every page, and found they had sent a bunch of personal exchanges from others with my name, including addresses, mobiles, emails etc. It was one of few fun moments to advise them they had just breached the Data Protection Act again, with a bunch of other folk. Bet that went down a storm in whichever office 'handles' such things.

      You are right about rare successes, I have had one, but it scored well, in addition by exposing the whole sordid backstory of how the lower rungs in the hierarchy of complaints (initial handlers, ECU Directors) all flat out claimed there was no problem... until I faced down the Trust and they had to concede there was. As precedent I treasure this, as it clearly showed that all the stages of the BBC complaints system, the people and the costs involved, are essentially a waste of time and space. They exist purely to grind you down and make it all go away.

      Hence my seeing value in a public archive of them doing this, over and over (apt, as so often they use thought-free templates to do so).

      You mention BBC Watch. I think they are magnificent. A level of fisking and factual filleting that is almost always perfect in exposing the BBC when they are inaccurate or unethical in their reporting, and on occasion sharing their (or readers') experiences with the complaints system. It is actually seeing the precise template I had used on another that set me on this course.

      Like this forum, and others, I will be happy to link my proposed complaints blog(s - master and my personal seed version) with you all as sources of information and advice... united we stand and all that.

      Thanks for the feedback; you have given me a few new ideas for the formatting.

      I am getting my head around ensuring it is all ruthlessly factual, and each individual is personally responsible for what they post. I know what I will share is accurate, but want no part of what some well poisoner may dump to see anything I host closed down. Ironically I may borrow BBC disclaimer terminology to effect this.

      I do have a few concerns. One is volume. Speaking from my own experience, a BBC complaint to Trust level can run to hundreds of pages. This can all be posted up, but would need the patience of a saint to wade though. Which is why they do it, I suspect. Ironic that they limit a complaint from the public to 1500 characters, and then bloat it all out with their internal game playing. Or, worse, use their own game-playing paperwork as an excuse to pull the plug as it is 'costing the licence fee payer too much money' for the BBC to dream up excuses for fouling up. It does get pretty bizarre.

      The other is modding. I am a real fan of free speech, but it seems the authorities and those with a lot of money for lawyers can use a very big sledge to crack small nuts having sent out a false flag for just such a purpose. So before I allow anything to go out I will need to read it first, unless I can think of a way to have a quick scan and leave the responsibility up to the poster. I think my master/slave concept may serve here.

      Fingers crossed!

      I'll let you know when they are up and running.

    3. I didn't know they'd gone that far with you. That's shocking, scary even. Good luck with publicly exposing what they did to you.

      For an organisation that scuttles behind the FoI Act's 'journalism' (get-out) clause every time danger threatens, to breach your privacy to that extent makes me want to swear. It also makes Andrew Bridgen's and Nick Cohen's charges sound ever more plausible.

      I can add something of my own to that...

      After posting replies to complaints on various blogs (well, 'Beeb Bias Craig', 'B-BBC' and 'ITBB' to be precise), I found that the BBC began repeatedly ignoring my complaints.

      And thereby hangs a tale...

      I used to complain using my own email address. It's not that I did it too often, I think, but that I kept publishing the replies (always properly omitting the BBC Complaints Department scribe's name).

      You will possibly remember this (and I'm sure David will), but a post I did at B-BBC featured some biased U.S.-based BBC reporter called Iain (his surname eludes me for the moment). He moaned on Twitter about having wasted a day replying to me. DB spotted that (DB spots everything like that!) and we spotlighted it in a post at B-BBC. He obviously read it, and his reply - after all that hard work! - never came. And no replies to any of my complaints using that email address ever came again either.

      I'd obviously been blocked.

      I've tried other email addresses since, published the replies again, been made persona non grata again...

      ...which, come to think of it, suggests that they monitor blogs about BBC bias more than we might think (actually, mea culpa, more than I've been in the habit of thinking).

      I also had a very weird experience at 'Beeb Bias Craig', where - during the 2010 election period - I was blocked access for a few days to the BBC's websites. No other sites, only the BBC's sites.

      I was really hammering them at the time - and, I think, detailing some proper evidence of bias in the process.

      No one else reported any problems accessing the BBC, just me. It was very disconcerting.

      Though disinclined towards conspiracy theories (especially paranoid-sounding ones about myself), I remain suspicious about that. The thought lingers in my head...though I can scarcely bring myself to believe it...that the BBC might, somehow, have identified my IP address (IP address? Is that the correct term?) and stopped it connecting to their sites.

    4. BBC Watch is methodical and fact-focused. Biased AND accuracy are its joint themes.

      And it must really get under the BBC's skin.

      We certainly know it gets under JonDon's skin as, if you recall, he posted nasty remarks about Hadar on his Twitter feed.

      I wish I was still as focused as Hadar. (I used to be, back in the day).

      When you're up and running, I'll add a 'gadget' or 'widget' or 'whatever they call it' to the sidebar, making the link easy for readers to click on.

      Potential poisoners of the well are definitely something to watch out for. And you should, I think, make the irony of borrowing BBC disclaimer terminology part of your 'mission statement' - as it will (a) show your self-awareness, (b) persuade anyone with any sense that you're pursuing a sensible policy and (c) give the BBC a nice jabbing in the process.

      'Read more' (if such a thing extends beyond Google Blogger) might bear some of the load of a VERY long complaint. I've never posted anything long enough to test how much 'more' it might 'Read' though. Making sense of it though, if the BBC dump is that mammoth, is a problem, unfortunately, I can't even begin to think of an answer to yet.

      That 1500 character limit for us complainants to the BBC is maddening. 1500 characters sounds a lot but really, really isn't. There is NO reasonable justification for them to put such a low limit on the length of complaints. So it's reasonable, I'd say, to assume that the limit is there to stop complainants from being able to properly lay out their complaint in enough detail as to make it waterproof.

      NO modding works OK if you've got very few commenters (permit me a self-mocking LOL there!), but it is difficult on busy blogs. What should you do about false flags, genuine trolls and...from the other side...friendly commenters who make extreme, abusive, violence-advocating or potentially libelous comments? Delete, delete, delete (as the Cybermen say? That never sits easily with free speech. But allowing such comments to give your blog a bad name isn't great either. It's a perpetual bind for bloggers: what to do about the worst kinds of unfriendly fire and what to do about the worst kinds of friendly fire? Allow a free-for-all? Stop worrying and learn to love the bomb? Run away? Judiciously censor? Delete and ban, delete and ban? Lord knows.

      You will find keeping an eye on comments a bit of a chore - especially when one of your favourite people keeps ending up having to be fished out of 'Spam' for completely unfathomable reasons, never mind how much you (as a blogger) keep trying to stop it happening.

      Take your time but, yes, please let us know when you're ready to go.

  4. [Your HTML cannot be accepted: Must be at most 4,096 characters]

    Well, there's one answer for us both:) A limit is reached even here. Hence:


    I'd apologise for using it on such matters, but I think this thread is now ours alone (especially with no option to be informed of updates, another feature one may miss in choice of platform) to play with, and if I may I will bounce a few more things off you as you clearly have benefitted from some experience creating and hosting such things.

    I am homing in on a format, but it is using Blogger, a platform I started with in my blogging and (like Macs) use now mainly because I always have. I know it and can work it, faults (and there are many) and all. I can see how it would easily handle my concept for the master and slave(s) blogs, with opportunity to offer infinite updates, un/modded commentary (if desired), sidebars, how-tos, searchability, easy archiving, etc.

    However, once committed to what will be a fair amount of initial, and then ongoing work (though I am hoping my 'user-responsibility' concept actually leaves a lot between individuals sharing their complaints experiences on their own sites for audiences to share in or dismiss entirely freely), I do worry about plugs being pulled.

    My wife, who is very savvy in such things, prefers Wordpress. She advises that it can be hosted by them, but once created on the platform can be moved to one's own server, which removes the threat of institutional interference if the monolith that is the BBC leans on others.

    I found this interesting, especially in the comments. Experiences good and bad; hard to get a fix:

    What do you think? I am erring on Blogger still as learning WP may be a royal pain and could lead to errors.

    Thanks for the good wishes on the 'exposure'. Actually all this I share is a result of my confidence in 'the system' waning. My ICO DPA complaint has dragged out for years now, and other than a few 'how awful's' and landing some blows through dogged deployment of rugged reality that even the most boat-rocking averse government department could and cannot avoid, part of me has a sneaking suspicion that all employees on the public purse pretty much look after each other when chips are down.

    So next there is the media. But frankly I trust them little too, on competence or integrity. The Mail would be a logical route, but too often they have blown it by going for the one-off spread, tribal point-scoring or petty media spats, and failing to see the long game. And no Guardian junkie will pay attention to anything they carry, even if true, simply because it is them. The Guardian meanwhile once was a watchword for investigative integrity, but they seem utterly compromised ethically and professionally now.

    1. 2/2

      Which leaves the Wild West of the internet. People's journalism (if sharing data can be called that - Assange and Snowden have, so really fans like the Graun or BBC can't complain if it is used, with much less capacity to hurt the innocent or legitimately secret, on another power too used to not itself being held to proper account), leading to people power... one hopes.

      I just want to lay it out there for all to see, unredacted, and arrive at whatever conclusions a person can come to. The precedent for raw data being processed by those with an interest and desire to pursue the truth, has been set.

      I will certainly also be sharing my experiences regarding the expediting, purely in quoted fact, as people need to know that the BBC can and does abuse its considerable powers, and is a very nasty bit of work when it feels threatened. And threatened it feels a lot these days, if perversely seeming unaware or unconcerned that it or its staff are the architects of what moves them to often ridiculous defensive measures.

      Interesting that you notice that publication of exchanges results in the BBC ignoring complaints. This clearly happens, but their justifications often seem murky. In theory they can't just not answer. They have to. Now in my case they eventually concocted a bizarre collection of self-justifying excuses to impose an expediting to stop things in their terms.

      I'm am not sure if it is written anywhere formally, but I am aware they feel very comfortable with using 'bad faith' or other hard to measure terms like 'flippant' or 'vexatious'. Their audience in using these is of course each other, as all they do is internal, in secret and exclusive. Basically they can do what they like as they set, and change, the rules to suit themselves. And it is all, of course, one way.

      The 1500 character limit is but one hurdle on the input side. I actually can live with it I think, as it does force one to focus. And... to be fair (a phrase I shudder at, as the BBC does not deserve much fairness, and will exploit it mercilessly if afforded), a limit is necessary to handle the volumes at Stage 1. Of course, the BBC whinging about these is pathetic; the best way to avoid dealing with complaints is to stop fouling up in the first place.

      However, what happens after this... no sympathy. Especially when they mandate using the same input system to reply to their reply to the initial complaint, and they have ladled in a bunch of stuff impossible to reply to in the space, on top of a mountain of filler. With a deadline attached to cancel the whole thing like it never happened.

      Publication will be like sunlight to a vampire, and they hate it, and react badly. Often foolishly, as some have then shared their clumsy attempts at playing the heavy, muttering darkly. But if one is dealing in truth, and fact, they have no leg to stand on. And the cover up becomes as damaging as the thing they wish to keep under wraps.

      Their only real power is the censure. But blocking, especially if unjustified, simply adds another cut to the thousands. As with editorial. A Donnison, your Iain... whoever it is, if they pull the plug on a BBC-branded platform to deny access or exchange where others have it, and they show themselves up as being no more than censorious propagandists creating clubby echo chambers.

      Not a good look for a supposedly trusted, transparent, public service broadcaster in theory serving all.

      As is lurking in the shadows, monitoring... taking notes. Don't tell 'im, Craig!

      I can easily prove they do monitor, do bear grudges, and do exceed their remit. And will. Watch this space. Well, that one...

    2. Our experiences of Google Blogger sound somewhat similar.

      It's very easy to use if you're after a fairly basic kind of blog. I've never gone beyond that basic model as I've never really needed to. And I've never paid for anything either.

      I have vaguely experimented with WordPress in the past but I really struggled to get it to do what I wanted it to do. It looked better than Google but that's not much good if you can't actually work the basics...

      ....though that could just be me. I've read quite a few savvy-sounding bloggers saying that for a blogging system with more functions and flexibility, WordPress is probably the better option. And if it backs things up wholesale, then all the better.

      But you could - and probably should - seriously experiment with both a Blogger and a WordPress version of your new site before going live.

      I think you can even publish 'as if live' on WordPress without anyone seeing until you're ready to be seen - so that allow to try out all kinds of things and see what they actually look like without the embarrassing of being watched.

      The big snag with Google remains its comments system. It should work easily but it doesn't seem to. Many find it hard to comment here, and I've no idea why some of their comments get blocked or simply vanish.

      Sue is keen on Disqus, but I made a mess of installing it and reverting back to the original format. Disqus does seem much more flexible though, so whatever platform you use I'd advise you to go the Disqus route.

      Iain MacKenzie...that was the guy. He's left the BBC now.

    3. Many tx. Useful stuff.

      I hadn't thought of running parallel draft test blogs offline. Why not? They are free, after all.

      Comments do seem the main area of frustration, for site creator/admin and user. What I am planning doesn't really need them, though I'd like some interactivity. It's not all BBC staff on breaks trying to block the sink. There can be some decent suggestions and points of view too.

      But I see merit in simply offering the means to share the raw material and then share that facility around. No pressure, no compulsion. If one builds it... and it appeals, people will come. And if it is entirely passive, the trolls will have a fit, and the BBC will hate it.

      Which seems nice.

  5. As is often the case, as one works on a project, new avenues present that do add to the workload, but worth it.

    Hence I am adding FOI requests, especially those via WDTK, to the menu.

    The beauty of these is, once published, all the exchanges ARE in the public domain, from both sides. So the only effort really necessary is posting the initial URL to access the raw data. If that is there, pulling out edited highlights is legitimate to draw focus to anything the BBC may not like to see up in lights.

    Another beauty is the comments aspect can be offloaded to be the moderation responsibility of others, in situ. WDTK are pretty ruthless on staying on topic (I got a very polite slap down once for straying into opinion).

    In passing I see BBBC is suffering one of its periodic denial of service attacks from several posters, and is suffering as those committing them can only hope. This is informing my decisions on comment/modding for my proposed forum(s).

    1. WDTK does look useful - and interesting.

      I'm just looked at the list of FOI requests the BBC rejected on the grounds of Journalism, Art and Literature in 2013 and 2014. An extraordinary number of requests "fell out the scope of the Act" - everything from the Balen Report to the cost of the Beeb's Mandela funeral coverage.

      It's a well-laid out, easy to search site too.

      Do you recall a similar onslaught at BBBC from someone with a very similar style a couple of years ago? He posted as 'Whitman' for a few days in the same frenzied way, with the same style. It looks like it might be him again.

      Having behind-the-scenes access back then, all the posters at BBBC could see the email addresses people use. They didn't even have to look for them, they were just there next to the comment on the dashboard. (I think that might be a WordPress feature. We don't have that here at blog standard Blogger ITBB). So we could see his real name and the school he went to as both featured in his email address. (He was using his school's internet system by the looks of it).

      He'll probably be at uni now, so he might be using the start of his Easter hols to try and mess up BBBC again - if it's the same lad, and his style and manner suggests it could be (though he's a lot swearier these days).

      How's that for data protection!

    2. ....although I didn't read all the stuff where the latest incarnation presents himself as near retirement age, ex-forces, having his knee done, etc.... that could be completely wrong speculation on my part.
      Unless he's making it all up.

    3. There's a certain Adamsian irony (if bitter) to a request for information on requests rejected due on the grounds of Journalism, Art and Literature being rejected... on the grounds of Journalism, Art and Literature.

      I've stuck in two:

      Thanks for the one on rejected FOIs as I have been drafting one on DPA breaches and complaints should my little crusade founder via official channels. I am seeing exposure to sunlight as the best disinfectant more and more.

      Looks like the BBC thinks it can, and clearly does get away with hiding behind the exemptions for anything. I can only hope that as with any blanket overuse, this will result in a messier deluge when the dam breaks.

      I feel so sorry for the BBBC guys, as with anyone walking the 'free speech/censorship' line. Damned all ways. Of course the BBC is again maybe a source of guidance, though the more dedicated troll will be unmoved by the much stricter guidelines they adhere to on such as HYS, and the fact that some FaceBook threads would get lesser hosts banned for hate crimes.

      I also feel a bit (not much, as almost all were/are prone to the abuse they too often whinge about) sorry for the regular trolls. On occasion they provided useful function as checks and balances and kept folk sharp. This new breed are pure deluge denial of service merchants, ironically eclipsing these 'regulars'. Unfortunately a few are so put off by the assault they are claiming to be off. To where, I don't know. If comments are allowed and modding is light, the process is inevitable.

      This new one is a nasty bit of work though. It would be funny if his (? - love the way all stoutly defend who they are or are not like it makes any difference. He could be a trucker called Steve or a BBC researcher called Samira for all anyone knows) details came out in the wash. It is not a noble calling to have on one's CV.

      Whilst a royal pain, I think most simply connect the person's comments with why they are making them. In this the BBC also does not come out well.

    4. I would very much like to read their answer to your Twitter FOI.

      Given everything you, I, David P and DB have seen over the years about BBC reporters and their almost invariably one-sided bias on Twitter (on many fronts), it's a hightly pertinant question to pursue. (Hadar at BBC Watch is also in hot pursuit these days).

      The BBC's Twitter accounts are a sort of semi-governed Wild West, as far as I can see - at least with respect to the BBC's guidelines. Legendary like Jon Don seem able to shoot from the hip at will. Others obey the rules.

      Your questions are good ones, and some answers to them would be interesting on many levels. Answering them, however, will (I think) take quite a number of BBC staff quite a lot of hours (even days) to work out.

      Having encouraged their reporters to use Twitter as a tool of their 'impartial' reporting, however, the BBC SHOULD be monitoring - and quantifying - their employees' official and semi-official Twitter use. (Purely private Twitter use is a different matter). If they don't monitor this new arm of BBC reporting, how can they ever claim they KNOW they are behaving in an impartial fashion?

      Your other FOI request is one I know is dear to your heart! Those four-hours-and-then-close-when-inconvenient comments threads are quite something, and not very democratic - especially for a publicly-funded broadcaster. (Even the Grauniad keep usually keep their askew threads open a lot longer.)

      My eye-opening moment with the BBC moderators happened with a post on a Mark Mardell thread. (You may remember this. And I've cited it a few times since - dining out on it, so to speak!).

      It combined David P and my own observations on MM's highly-opinionated (i.e. deeply biased) coverage of the build-up to the attack on Gaddafi. It was - if I say so myself - detailed and unanswerable (mostly thanks to David). was 'moderated' within minutes - despite not being in any way rude or libellous or breaking any other HYS rule, but merely being calmly detailed in quoting Mark Mardell and showing how those quotes revealed his bias. I still think it's one of the best things I did (along with those comments on the Helen Boaden 'genetic' thread).

      The BBC moderators then kept that comment in purdah until MM's next post was published and the previous post fell into neglect. Then they published my comment again.

      Now, that was clearly underhand behaviour from the BBC, burying polite, telling criticism until no one was around to notice.

      One of my comments on the 'Impartiality is in our genes, x' thread suffered a similar fate. Many a B-BBC voice, including you, were there and many (as well as Not a Sheep) rallied to my support, and it was eventually published. It detailed the stats on Mark Easton's extraordinary pre-2010-election debates on certain subjects. Again, my comment obviously broke no rules, being polite and dispassionate in tone. It was simply the fact of being very unhelpful that saw it sent to Coventry by the BBC mods.

      No wonder Bill Cash & co. are annoyed at the BBC's reporting of their report!

    5. On the subject of 'trolls'...

      Honest disagreement is great for a blog, but dishonest disagreement isn't - either in theory or in practice. Good faith should be everything.

      Though we're not exactly a comments magnet (unlike B-BBC), we have had the odd dissenter.

      Unlike B-BBC, most of them have been polite and interesting, and prepared to stick around to talk things through. (It's very disappointing to both me and Sue when they just hit and run). So I tend to treat them (as I do Jehovah's Witnesses at the door) in a friendly fashion. I like chatting to them and conceding any fair points they make whilst defending my own position. (I may be a bit odd in that respect.)

      It's good when an agreement to partially disagree results, some ground conceded on both sides.

      Anyone who engages like that isn't a troll to me. Anyone who hits and runs and doesn't want to make me see his or her point of view (and change my mind), or even considers the possibility of being willing to change his or her mind, is.

      We've been rather lucky in that respect (so far) - unlike B-BBC.

      As far as B-BBC is concerned, its trolls/dissenters have dropped in quality over the years. (You've opened the floodgates here. I'm on a hobby horse of mine!)

      There were the genuine, open BBC types of the early years (Nick Reynolds of the BBC, John Reith, Sarah-Jane, Dr David Gregory-Kumar). Plus their hangers-on: the Scotts and Peas and Hillhunts. (Hillhunt could be very funny).

      Then they fell away, leaving just Scott (formerly of 'The Stage' magazine)..and, newly-arrived, Dez (who I always imagine working in the 'Guardian' Despatch department in the wee hours of the morning, bored out of his mind).

      Then, in real falling-off, came all the rest.

      The quality has definitely sky-dived-off over the years. Dez still tries (from time to time) but - to coin a phrase - cherry picks like the most cherry-obsessed of obsessive cherry vultures. Scott is, well, er, Scott. (Bless.)

      The extent to which B-BBC is trolled by BBC employees remains an open question. Despite what some B-BBC commenters think, Scott certainly isn't a BBC employee. Scott is far too open about who he is, so long-term B-BBC readers should know that Scott isn't a BBC employee. Dez, though? Who knows?

      Some of the recent ones, who knows either? They could be, or they could just be passing rightie-bashers.

      Or Scots Nats (though, strangely, given that most Scots Nats hate the BBC, Scots Nats who like the BBC!?!)

    6. Thanks for taking a gander. And finding the questions appropriate. I will await the replies with interest.

      Can't say I am too hopeful. The BBC controls the stadium, ref, linesmen, pitch and ball, and in such matters the crowd is excluded, so it's a lonely exchange at best. They are not above moving goals or changing fundamental rules either.

      It shouldn't be, but as a slight student of how they play things, I have tried to avoid the traps they lay to walk off midway, but it's hard. I consider I have a fair grasp of laying out English, and an argument, but have seen them use very convoluted or literal interpretations of their rules to up stumps and that's that. It is actually incredibly elitist, as it's hard to imagine all who complain to be well versed in their playbook or demands of style. All that should matter is the facts; not how they are laid out.

      I think you are being generous calling BBC twitter accounts 'semi-governed'. Best I can tell too many are allowed to be set up with some corporate-sanctioned absolution phrasing and after that it's 'Heigh-ho Silver, away!' and anything goes. Only when nailed is there a reaction, and that is usually either a blocking, a vanishing or in more public cases, a pathetic plea from on high about not getting caught. Hardly governance.

      As I allude, this privateering nod and a wink may have worked for QE1, but not a global media brand in 2014.

      I hope they do answer in the spirit posed, as they are going to suffer more ultimately for self-inflicted ruptures from within the bulkhead as any impacts from outside.

      If that takes staff and hours, so be it. They need to answer, as their behaviour raises the questions. Helen Boaden's famous 'holding power to account' and all that.

      Though recent attempts by Rona Fairhead and Lords Hall and Patten rather show the trusted and transparent parameters they see that working within. I rather liked the quiet, simple, devastating and unchallenged conclusion to Paul Staine's post-Clarkson interview on the BBC: 'no one believes that'.

      THIS... is the entity so much compulsion and faith and trust is invested in?

      Even a refusal to answer will be a potent reaction to carry forward.

      As you say, the BBC SHOULD be monitoring - and quantifying - their employees' official and semi-official Twitter use.

      Any admission they don't or can't, raises vast questions on unchecked abuse and failures in oversight. Make that more of each.

      I think I do recall the MM incident. Certainly DavidP too had his measure and he didn't like it one bit.

      The response you highlight is familiar, and why I think my proposed log needs a few features added to help tally these cynical tactics.

      Walking off with the ball because the game is going badly for them being one of the list toppers.

      Sticking it back up after the match is simply an admission of how dirty they are prepared to play. But where timeline archives out of their control come in.


    7. As to the trolls on BBBC, I sense a waning in the Dark Side of The Farce. Maybe they have tired of the effort, or the funds dried up?

      I do miss the good ones of old. But they could test one to the limit too. Some not wise to offer concessions just because they were prepared to enter less forgiving territory. And frankly even some of the better ones seem/ed to have short-circuits and fall off the deep end. Scott clearly needs help.

      I hope in my dealings on blogs I have always been fair and respectful with all, but reserve the right to tease, as my favoured weapon is humour. Most times it prevails as it is interesting how even the most brain-dead mantra-wielding drive-by merchant can start taking themselves very seriously. Some of my happiest moments are when an out-and-out troll starts pleading to the crowd and owner about rules of engagement on a blog they are only there to disrupt.

      Funny you should mention Nick Reynolds, as he cropped up in a few of my complaints exchanges. Fair play, he did engage.

      Dr. G also was OK, but things went south between us after he contacted me directly as we were dueling publicly. Not hard to find me 'off grid' but a bit odd I thought. Lived with it though but grew tired of endless 'I want to understand why you think/say that' questions that tied me up, whilst I got very few answers back.

      A technique trolls favour, frankly. Like a toddler simply asking 'Why?" over and over as they continue to try and flush the cat down the loo.

    8. ps: FYI - Just popped in the too long left WDTK on the BBC's all too unique expediting policy:

      Also notice that the twitter one has attracted a bit of interest, and suggests there may be an audience for my planned collation forum.


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