Tuesday 16 February 2016


Keeping watch over the BBC by night, it's clear that Newsnight hasn't lived up to the BBC's self-declared standards of impartiality over the EU referendum issue:

Yes, so far this year we've had a fair few single-interviewee interviews with pro-Remain types (from the UK and the continent) where the pro-EU guests have been given the chance to explain (at length) why the UK should remain inside the EU. 

But we've had no equivalent interviews with pro-Leave interviewees.

Instead: pro-Leave types have either been (a) pitted against pro-Remain guests in joint interviews; or (b) made to focus almost exclusively on matters of process - i.e. infighting and splits.

And actually, so far it's been a clear case of (c): both.

So, drawing some preliminary conclusions from all of this, it's been particularly striking that none of the pro-Leave guests so far (with the partial exception of Liam Fox, appearing alongside Ken Clarke) has ever been given the chance to properly make the case against our remaining in the EU - unlike those from the other side of the argument.

That's clearly unbalanced.

Last night's edition continued in the same vein but added a new twist. 

I was reassured to hear that Labour donor and Vote Leave campaign leader John Mills was on, along with pro-Remain Labour MP Emma Reynolds. 

I wanted to hear what Mr Mills had to say about why we should leave the EU - and, for that matter, what Ms Reynolds had to say on why we should stay in the EU.

Unfortunately Newsnight had other ideas and John Mills didn't get the chance to make even one point in favour of leaving the EU.

Kirsty Wark was determined to focus on 'Labour splits' to the exclusion of everything else, and Mr Mills had to focus on that to the exclusion of anything else. 

And the same must be said for Emma Reynolds. She too was made (by Kirsty Wark) to keep off the substance of the issue and defend Jeremy Corbyn's tactics instead. 

And like this insubstantial pageant faded, the whole thing left not a rack of substance behind.

I'm still waiting for the first full solo Newsnight interview with a pro-Leave guest that actually focuses on the issue of whether we should stay in the EU or not. 

When will that happen?


  1. Agenda? What agenda? Nice observational work, Craig. It's hard to tell at this point if they even realize they're doing it. Combine this with the various appearances elsewhere on the BBC of 'euroskeptic' Tory MPs who are just waiting for Cameron to announce his 'deal' so they can officially support Remain, and the agenda is pretty clear.

    I stopped watching Dr. Who weeks ago, after getting bored with one too many instances of the writers jamming in ham-fisted Progressive preaching on some pet issue, so I don't know if the pro-EU propaganda has appeared there as well. As bad as it's gotten in previous years, I have never stopped watching altogether, even during the low point of both the Sylvester McCoy and the Tennant's Nostrils & Teeth years. It has become that bad.

    1. That's uncanny, David. I've always been a loyal Doctor Who fan but even I gave up about four episodes into this series. I just thought'Do I really want to watch this?'

      The political signalling has been there for decades (as you know) - the environmentalism of the wonderful Jon Pertwee years, the anti-Thatch episodes of the 1980s - but it's been getting ever more strident since its return (Harriet Jones and the Belgrano, etc) and it's annoying being repeatedly hit over the head by it in such an intelligence-insulting way so often.

      I'm not sure that's way I gave up on it though. I just couldn't be bothered with it any more.

      The Sylvester McCoy episodes were particularly toe-curdling. I was in my late teens though at the time and stuck with it simply the sake of Sophie Aldred.

    2. As for the general 'message' about David Cameron's big, 'nail-biting' deal, Katya Adler's blogposts have been fascinating. She gave the last version a remarkably explicit thumbs-up a couple of weeks ago ("My first instinct is that this is something everyone can work with"). In contrast Leave supporters universally derided it. And now she's playing the 'The Europeans think it's far too tough and it's going to be such a tough negotiation' game. And when those Europeans and David Cameron agree at the end of this week, their nails bitten down to the bone, she's doubtless going to push the 'it suits no one entirely but everyone gets something from it' line again. If David Cameron and the EU crowd don't agree something Katya and those Tory 'Eurosceptics' can somehow live with I'll eat Paddy Ashdown's hat.


    3. The only problem for Cameron is that when you are blowing up a soap bubble it's likely to burst. The referendum is going to be highly focussed - not like a General Election. The EU Parliament have already pricked the bubble by making clear there is no guarantee legislation will be passed.

    4. I was in my late teens though at the time and stuck with it simply the sake of Sophie Aldred.

      Ace, one of the best. Yeah, low budget, often recycled stories, but McCoy plus Ace grew on me quickly, and at that age I only barely noticed any oblique references.

      Having said that, I think it was ep 4 that made me turn off this series. It's a shame, as I really like Capaldi's Doctor, and of course like Clara as co-conspirator. I will probably go back and check them out in a couple years, but ever since that offensively shoe-horned homosexual kiss between two females last year, it all seems like an insult to one's intelligence rather than a plea to suspend belief for a little while and appreciate the work that went behind creating a bit of fun. Instead, it's entitled preaching now.

      Apologies for the rant.

      I was not aware of La Adler's contributions. Pathetic, but not totally surprising given her lame track record while working as the other useful Jew in Israel. Anyone whose first instinct is that Cameron's deal would appeal to both sides simply cannot be respected as a journalist. No conspiracy or editorial directive there. That's just pure moronic personal pro-EU opinion, as nobody even slightly sympathetic to the Out position would think that, never mind think it's a good idea to write it. Oh, wait, they're not supposed to give personal opinion, are they? She's not a titled editor. This is why the bias is institutional.

      I assume you're aware of Lord Hall's new cunning plan to streamline and transform the BBC. You can probably guess that my next line is that this won't solve the real problem.

  2. Tonight's edition was just as bad on the EU negotiations/referendum:

    1. Chris Cook's language was biased. He talked, as Cameron does, of the deal's "migration provisions" but there will be no migration provisions. There will simply be some very marginal tinkering with benefit entitlements for EU migrants.

    2. The Cook segment included two lengthy pieces to camera by the spokeswoman for the shadowy pro-EU Open Europe organisation. There was only one v. brief interview with Farage - in no way a balancing item, particularly as it was being interpeted by the presenter in a way the contribution from Open Europe was not.

    3. The studio discussion had a pro-EU MEP and a pro-EU BSE spokesperson. No one from the leave campaigns.

    4. Davis gave the two pro-EU speakers a VERY easy ride. The BSE spokeperson was simply dodging the questions and needed to be nailed down on whether they were claiming the whole of the deal was not subject to ECJ and EU Parliament approval (if so the claim would be demonstrably untrue).

    5. Davis asked the German MEP if she would "do the right thing". What right thing might that be Evan? Well, it became apparent he meant preserving the deal! - very convenient for Cameron and the pro-EU crowd. Equally one might argue the "right thing" for an MEP to do was preserve the principles of the Union such as free movement and equal treatment for all citizens rather than provide a way for Cameron to resolve internal differences in his party. Or one might argue, as Farage might, that the right thing for an MEP to do would be to sabotage the deal.

    1. Agenda? What agenda? "Do the right thing" is careless talk. They really don't care anymore.

  3. Leave... OUT....GO! When are we going hear the benefits? My mind is made up - and whilst I'm here, anyone else having trouble accessing biasedbbc.org?

  4. Katya Adler managed to squeeze in four references at least to Cameron's "reforms". Reforms is not a neutral word. She could have referred to "changes", "new measures" or something similar.

    Reforms are supposed to be a positive thing and - also - somewhat significant. Those who wish to leave the EU generally think the deal will not usher in reforms in that sense - only minor administrative tinkering which will be insignifcant and may in any case be overturned by the EU Parliament or ECJ.

    So for Adler to constantly refer to "reforms" is to back Cameron against the leave campaign.

  5. The BBC has found religion! They seem most concerned that all American Presidential candidates should be bona fide believing Christians! Whoddathunkit?!!?!

    1. They think the only good Christian is one who uses his religion to promote Socialist values. See St. Giles Fraser or nearly any regular contributor to Thought For The Day.

    2. The BBC are also much exercised by walls such as the one defending Israel and the one proposed for Mexico...but the Pope gets a free pass for the mega wall surrounding the Vatican.

      Trump's comments about Rome (Al Rum as it is referred to in the Koran) being the prime target of IS was completely correct but the ignoramuses on the Question Time panels guffawed at the suggestion.

      These know-nothings don't realise how much IS follow Mo's template and Al Rum remains a, possibly the, key target really. It still makes strategic sense. To conquer or in some sense lay low Rome would have a devastating impact on the already defeatist, collective European pysche.

  6. OFF TOPIC - It was ITV News (6.30pm) but it happens so often with our media, one has to wonder...Farage yet again the victim of a broadcasting failure, so we couldn't hear what he was saying. Can't recall it ever happening with Cameron or the recent Labour leaders. But I've heard people refer to just how often Farage gets cut off.

  7. Did anyone see last night's Question Time? The audience was not even remotely rigged for pro-EU. They sure stacked the audience with teachers for the education segment, but they were unable to do it for the EU. You know they tried. Is this a sign of anything to come?

    I bet there was some anger at Theo Paphitis making June Sarpong look like an idiot and tearing apart the propaganda she was spouting. We can assume he was invited on as a fence-sitter, even though I bet he'd vote for Remain if pressed, but he did more for the Out case than anyone else on the panel. Oh, wait, there was nobody else, since Justine Greening - as predicted - basically announced her joining the In side. Maybe if there had been an actual Out representative he could have challenged their assertions as well. But the QT producers screwed up, and I'd say they paid the price for it.

    Maybe the gratuitous Trump bashing segment will make them feel better anyway. I can't stand him and I was still offended by the display.

    1. A running count is definitely needed for this now.


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