Friday 12 February 2016

Mark Easton wins it for the EU?

I imagine that some of you may have seen Mark Easton's report from Lichfield Cathedral on BBC One and the BBC News Channel (throughout Wednesday evening).

That was the report where a group of 'undecided voters' were guided through the issues by Mark Easton (and someone from former Gordon Brown pollster Deborah Mattinson's Britain Thinks) and then gave their views on what they'd heard.

They then voted 9-7 to stay in the European Union when asked, "In or out?"

(As you may be aware, that question was judged too biased and replaced by 'Leave or remain?', but that  obviously didn't trouble Mark here).

Did they vote that way because of what their fellow 'undecided voters' had said there, or because Mark Easton had guided them in that direction? (Or because they weren't really undecided?)

We'll never know because we didn't hear what they were told or see what they were shown (or know how they were selected)...

...though we did briefly glimpse one of Mark's reports on a TV screen behind and hear him saying, "The British are reluctant Europeans" - which is, perhaps, a loaded way of putting it, given that it's perfectly possible to say, "Yes, of course I'm European - and proud of it. I just don't want us to be part of the EU".

If Mark Easton's reports swayed them then that might suggest 'BBC bias' in action, and working, might it not? 

(I'd love to see the whole event, perhaps on YouTube - though I suspect the BBC would never put such an unfiltered event on YouTube).


Here then, in order of appearance, are the views expressed by the 'undecided voters' in Mark Easton's BBC TV report (some of whom sounded far from undecided to me):

TOPIC ONE: British Identity and the EU
You can be part of the EU but also keep your own identity. And we've managed to do it for so many years as it is, so why can't we continue?
I think we've already submerged a little bit already being in the EU. [Question: How does that make you feel?] Sad really.
British identity has been diluted but I think quite positively because it makes us more open to greater integration.
I feel I main a certain degree of my cultural roots whilst living in the UK and feeling part of Europe.
TOPIC TWO: The financial benefits/costs of the EU 
All I've read is it costs something like £39 million per day to be in the EU but we're not informed of what benefits we're getting and what we're getting back. I just feel we're ignorant to it all as to what we're informed and what we're told...
Those figures are staggering though, aren't they?...
£39 million...
When you think about it £39 million. Where does all that come from?
Were are forgetting some of the major issues that are lying within this country: poverty within this country, homelessness within this country.
It benefits us because, obviously, if we come out of Europe we're going to have to pay more to deal with them, so the cost of stuff's going to have to go up.
If we do pull out of the EU, there'll be a lot of bad feelings and like it would raise the prices for us - not for us like as the general public but where the businesses are, where the trading's done and the deals are made.
TOPIC THREE: Other benefits/costs of EU membership 
I think it's quite a positive thing that I could work anywhere and a lot of my friends work in other European countries and I think it's really good we've got that passport to go all around.
The problem for me is that you're getting people coming over from Romania or Poland or other countries in the EU - very poor countries. They can come straight here, not necessarily having a job and they can get benefits straight away and they've got free health care straight away.   
There are people who have come from Poland I know of who are doing jobs...without being rude to British people...that the younger people in our generation just won't do. 
We're only small and there's only so many we can take until it puts a strain on our resources to the point where we're one of the countries that will be struggling.
I'm just wondering whether it is just safe to pull up that drawbridge now, or we will be completely sucked up and dried up and Great Britain won't exist any more.
You can't live in splendid isolation. I just don't think you can. I think we do need other countries.


  1. I am fuming (not that there's any point) about the structural bias on display in the BBC referendum coverage.

    I wouldn't trust Easton one inch on an issue like this. If he was really being balanced there would have been topics that were centred on the "leave option". E.g. "Will our national identity be better protected if we are outside the EU?" "Will we be able to keep more of our own government revenues if we leave?" "What are the other benefits and costs of being outside the EU?"

    These aren't hugely different questions, but they are not predicated on the idea of staying in the EU.

    BTW I'm sure Mark Easton would have liked the question to be "stay or remain". In fact that is a very good summary of the balance achieved by the BBC.

    A new trick being deployed by Ed Stourton today on WATO is to talk about the result of the referendum as being almost inevitably to stay (but you are careful to throw in something like "if that is indeed the result").

    Meanwhile, in order to allay voters fears of mass migration - make the invasion of Europe into a nice soap opera about a family (Syrian of course) where - strangely - none of the women wear head scarves, and they engage in good natured joshing...

    A really juvenile piece by Manveen Rana about the family again on WATO.

    1. Oh good grief, "Stay or remain"! I wish I'd meant that as a joke rather than it being an error! Thank you for (discreetly) drawing it to my attention.

      Does Manveen Rana do anything other than report about that family these days?

  2. The only consolation is how many such naked propaganda is exposed to, much less sways.

    As to BBC pre-selection processes, leading to BBC snapshots of voting intentions, maybe reassurance can be found in the shock they had at the last general election, when things were out of their total control for once.

    But I'd still be interested in hearing them justify their methods, though luckily for them unique exemptions mean they can rig away in secret at will.

  3. And has anyone ever seen Mark Easton and Joseph Goebbels in the same room?

    I think not.

  4. The BBC has commissioned a special re-recording of the Clash's biggest hit: "Should I Stay or Should I Go" will be retitled "Should I Stay or Should I Take the Nonsensical Decision to Go Despite All the Evidence from Academics and Commentators About the Calamities that Will Inevitably Ensue Were I to Leave".


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