Friday 8 July 2016

Look back in incandescent fury

When we first launched this blog we said we wouldn't try to be topical, always reacting to the latest news. In that spirit, I intend to go back to where I left off and bang on about last Sunday on Radio 4.

Broadly put, the station's early morning to mid afternoon' sweep of current affairs programmes - from Sunday at 7.10 to Broadcasting House at 9.00 and The World This Weekend at 1.00, combined with 'topical' editions of Desert Island Discs and The Food Programme - made for a very striking sequence, especially as regards the BBC's post-Referendum coverage.

Most of it went very strongly in one direction (with the exception of the repeat of John Gray's On Brexit edition of A Point of View, about which we've blogged before).

Sunday's post-Referendum coverage was wholly negative. It focused on the apparent steep rise in racist hate crimes since the result came in. Voices from the affected minority communities were heard from, expressing concern and fear. The two interviewees who discussed the issue - Bishop Richard Atkinson near the start of the programme and Rev Rose Hudson-Wilkin at the end of the programme - both linked these crimes to the tone of the (Leave) campaign.

Broadcasting House was mostly negative too. The early stages of the programme were dominated by a post-Referendum political discussion between (strongly pro-Remain) Edwina Currie and (strongly pro-Remain) Shirley Williams. Both were downcast about the result (especially Baroness Williams) and pretty acid about the political fallout. And the final stages of the programme were dominated by the wistful reflections of (strongly pro-Remain) Lord (Peter) Hennessey, who didn't want us to leave the EU. Ah, but here's the BBC's 'impartiality get-out clause!: One of the three paper reviewers was (strongly pro-Leave) Ruth Lea. So 'that makes it all right then'!

Desert Island Discs, recorded post-Referendum, featured the US ambassador to the UK, Matthew Barzun. Ambassador Barzun defended his president's 'back of the queue' comment (in support of Remain) and repeated the Obama administration's reasons for opposing Brexit - namely that Brexit wouldn't be a good thing.

The World This Weekend, with Mark Mardell, started out on a strongly anti-Brexit footing. First, Mark went to speak to the protesters on the the March for Europe - which, by reckoning, aren't the majority 52% (obviously), or even the minority 48%. They are the 0.17%. Why should TWTW have indulged them, and led with them?

Then came a near-quarter-of-an-hour interview with Tony Blair, who put both the anti-Brexit and the 'this referendum result could be overturned' cases. Mark Mardell began by asking him, "Who now speaks for that 48% who voted Remain?"

After him came a surprisingly short interview with Suzanne Evans of UKIP, It lasted three minutes. Mark began by asking her (and then asked her again) whether, as Mr Blair said. we should vote again if the public mood changes (as, he said, her side would have also said if they'd lost).

Now, of course, the question arises: Is using Tony Blair to advance a position really helpful to that side? I can well imagine hordes of BLiar-haters listening to that interview and hearing nothing but variations on 'I hate that man' humming around their heads throughout the entire interview.

Later playwright (pro-Remain) David Hare, spitting mad about the Brexit vote, and House of Cards author (pro-Leave) Lord Dobbs, barely expressing a view on that subject, discussed post-Brexit politics.

There were some vague shades of grey there, but the tendency on the whole was clear - and in the anti-Brexit direction.

And that's without even mentioning The Food Programme...


  1. Dum d dum I hate that man dum d dum

  2. I know that's your point but who does talk for the 52% certainly not the bBBC

  3. You're not the only one noticing that the BBC seems unable to find anyone who voted for Brexit outside of the campaign leaders themselves and one or two aged vox pops.

  4. One point about the 48% - it contains a large proportion of people who would otherwise have voted LEAVE but were scared by a range of narratives including George Osborne's claim that there would have to be an extreme austerity budget (a claim he has explicitly abandoned as he now says there will have to be a stimulus budget!!!).

  5. Who now speaks out for the 48% Let me see. The BBC, the majority of the UK political establishment, the majority of the religious establishment, the majority of the educational establishment, the vast majority of the EU establishment, the IMF. Is that enough?. They are all still fighting the referendum result. They need to accept it and move on. If the 48% want the UK to re-join the EU then use the democratic process in this country. Get the Lib Dems to put the commitment to re-joining in their manifesto and persuade sufficient people to vote for them to either form a government or spook another party into adopting their policy. Let them argue the case for re-joining by all means, but shut up about the result of the referendum and start supporting the country.


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