Sunday 30 August 2015

Of Profs, Putin, pro-EU MPs and Prokofiev


An investigation of the BBC News website reveals that the most recent of their 'Viewpoint' features (where voices beyond the BBC are giving space on the BBC website) is: Viewpoint: Treat refugees as a development issue, by Prof Alexander Betts (Refugee Studies Centre, Oxford University).

Here's a flavour of it: 
Europe is facing a mass influx of refugees from outside the region for the first time in its history, as people flee persecution and conflict in countries such as Syria and Iraq. And its politicians are struggling to find a coherent response. 
At the European level, the EU's supposed common asylum and immigration policy has been stretched to breaking point. While politicians and the media have inappropriately characterised this as a "migrant crisis", the overwhelming majority of people are coming from refugee-producing countries. 
Europe has a proud history of protecting refugees - it created the modern refugee regime after the Holocaust. This tradition is under threat. 
Europe needs to provide asylum, but it also needs to take a global perspective. Only a tiny proportion of the world's 20 million refugees come to Europe...
Although not a substitute for sanctuary in Europe, the EU needs a comprehensive global refugee policy. The response must include better cooperation within the EU among the 28 states on sharing responsibility within Europe. 
It has to include articulating to the public why we should take refugees ourselves - in terms of ethics, law, economic and cultural benefits, and the symbolic importance of reciprocity. 
But it also requires a plan for how to sustainably support refugees in other parts of the world.
Well, that's exactly the kind of piece I'd expect the BBC to be promoting at the moment if I believed the corporation to be biased on the issue (which I do).


Professor Betts was also on today's The World This Weekend, making some of the same points in a discussion about Europe and the UK's response to the illegal immigrant crisis (as he most definitely wouldn't put it).

Alongside him was migration expert Elizabeth Collett, whose Twitter feed reveals that she comes from a similar standpoint to Professor Betts (and a firmly pro-EU one to boot).

And alongside both of them was a Conservative MP (one of the most liberal and pro-EU), Damian Green, who made somewhat liberal-sounding comments on the issue today.

That followed yet another long interview with a migrant, where the migrant's story of suffering was aired at length but barely questioned.

His story could, of course, very well be true, but how was Shaun Ley to be sure? How were we as listeners to be sure either?

None of which exactly assuages our qualms about the BBC's coverage of the migrant crisis, does it?


Barbie and Ken

And for the sake of completeness...

...then came a segment on the exploitation of the Arctic in the wake of climate change (a very BBC subject) - especially Russia's planned exploitation of the Arctic.

An indigenous type from Canada denounced governments and corporations for exploiting the effects of global warming. A non-Putin-supporting Russian reporter (based in Norway) then teed up the section specifically focusing on Russia by saying that Russia didn't rank 'climate change' as very important in connection with the Arctic. And then someone from the Obama administration added his five-cents-worth about Putin's intended expansion into the region (in a strikingly non-committal [one might almost say appeasing] fashion, despite Shaun Ley's questions tempting him to say something critical of Russia).

If The World This Weekend had been broadcast on the internet a million Krembots would have instantly descended on it, like wolves on Peter's ill-fated duck (a reference for any Prokofiev fans out there).


  1. I think the BBC's pro-migration bias is now confirmed beyond doubt.

  2. It's in the Guardian so the BBC could not have missed it:

    Obama defends Arctic drilling decision on eve of Alaska climate change trip


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