Sunday 17 July 2016

Songs of Praise

There's a lot of media and social media activity tonight about that most controversial of BBC programmes, Songs of Praise

It concerns tonight's Brexit special. 

Now, it's fair to say - looking at Twitter and various blogs - that there is a bit of 'complaints from both sides' going on here, specifically on the Brexit question. 

One side is complaining that Songs of Praise is behaving "like a Remainers' memorial service"; the other side is complaining that Songs of Praise included "racists".

It's another useful test case of the 'complaints from both sides'  argument. 

The main target of the latter side's ire was a "racist" UKIP councillor featured on the programme. These people professed themselves "shocked" or "disappointed" at the BBC for giving airtime to her views. (At least one of them has already sent in an official complaint).

Now, from what I heard of her she clearly wasn't remotely racist. These people (as is their way) were merely flinging the word at her. So 'their side's complaint' can be dismissed as nothing more than PC bigotry. 

The 'other side's complaint' - that this was "like a Remainers' memorial service" - is on much firmer ground. 

The imbalance of voices was striking. That UKIP lady was very much in the minority. The featured voices were mainly from the side that didn't want Brexit and was worried about the consequences of Brexit, especially over hate crime. 

And the tone and language of the presenter (Pam Rhodes) tended heavily towards the negative too. 

Here's the programme's introduction. It should give you a flavour of the general tone:
Presenter: Since the results of the EU referendum the country is facing changes and uncertainty on many fronts. The Church is no exception. 
Catholic priest: When you have a seismic event cracks open up and some fairly unpleasant things can come out of those cracks. 
Churches Together spokesman: There have been comments on Facebook that people are going round to European people's doors and saying, 'Would you like us to help you pack?'
Polish migrant woman: If you think that all the situations are just smashing you down you can always go to the church and just pray and just make your own conversation with God. 
Presenter: This week on Songs of Praise we've come to Boston in Lincolnshire - the town that recorded the highest proportion of Leave votes in the country. I'm here to see how the diverse and multi-national church community is reacting to the reality of life after the Leave vote.
If this edition of Songs of Praise was biased (and it was) it was biased in one direction only (against Brexit and in favour of mass immigration). 

The thing that caught the attention of the Daily Mail though is tonight's other main Songs of Praise feature: 

This was the "surprise" encounter in the UK between Sally Magnusson and an Ethiopian illegal immigrant, 'Biniyam', who she'd met in Calais on that highly controversial edition of Songs of Praise last year. He's now living in South Wales and has been granted leave to stay as the authorities believed his story. He's very grateful and wants to be a nurse.

Here's how he was introduced tonight:
Last August Songs of Praise hit the headlines when Sally visited the Calais camp known as 'The Jungle'. There she saw the makeshift church built by Christians in the camp and met 'Biniyam', a young Ethiopian determined to worship in the most challenging of circumstances - and equally determined to get to Britain.
(Was life in the camp at Calais really "the most challenging of circumstances"?)

And now he's "found a sense of community and friendship" in Newport.

Sally then interviewed a refugee charity worker, Sarah Croft: 
Sally: What would you say to people who think, actually, refugees should be here, they should be somewhere else?
Sarah: I would say, 'Put yourself in their shoes'...
Wholly one-sided, of course - and, as so often with this type of BBC programme, having more than a faint whiff of propaganda - but not unmoving despite that. 

(I did wonder about his story though that he fled Ethiopia because the government there was trying to kill him because they didn't like the stories he was writing as a journalist - especially given that Ethiopia ranks among the least deadly countries for journalists to work in (just one journalist killed since 1992), but the UK authorities and the BBC believed him, so who am I to doubt him?)

1 comment:

  1. They're just inventing narratives now.

    Could it be that the Calais jungle was the "most challenging of circumstances" in which to worship because he was a Christian surrounded by angry Muslims?


Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.