Monday 29 August 2016

Driving the agenda

I once read on some internet review site that the blog ‘Biased-BBC’ had bagged the best name in the business. 

However, the downside of having such a specific remit is that it invites the accusation that the BBC has been artificially shoehorned into a topic where the link seems tenuous
Having been accused of committing such deviances, I would argue that most of the things that interest me can be traced back to the BBC’s pernicious influence on public opinion. We put the caveat into our banner to head off such accusations and give us leeway to cover anything that takes our fancy.

Remember the time when Delia Smith only had to use an unusual ingredient or utensil, to find that next day sales of said item had gawn stratospheric? Maybe this effect has tailed off because of the internet and social media, but nevertheless the BBC still has the power to sway the public. 

A news editor’s role is as follows:

Role Responsibility 

Reporting to the Director and Deputy Director of News and Current Affairs, the News Editor will be based on the Newsdesk at New Broadcasting House, where you will sit across the daily news agenda with the aim of driving key stories on behalf of all the daily news outlets.  You will also have an overview of the agendas being pursued by the Newsroom, Newsgathering, Millbank, Programmes and English Regions, and if appropriate the language services within Global News.  You will not seek to draw up running orders or interfere in the decision making of individual editors but will have the authority to demand appropriate staffing and resources on important running stories by relevant parts of News Group.

Unfortunately the job is no longer vacant. Can you visualise someone sitting across the daily news agenda like a bloody great chicken? Not necessarily hatching agendas, but viewing “the agendas being pursued by the Newsroom, Newsgathering, Millbank, ……….”  Not only viewing agendas,  but driving them!

Someone in the BBC hierarchy must have decided to drive this story up the agenda. As Craig reliably informed me,  it was yesterday’s 4th ‘most read’ story.

Of course, the BBC was not the only media outlet that thought this was an important story, (which is  another argument used to defend the BBC against accusations of bias) but making such a fuss about this particular incident seems to me gratuitous in an OMG Daily Mail kind of way

While the ‘sensationalising’ end of the media is driving relatively trivial incidents into full-blown firestorms in order to whip up as much outrage against ‘Islamophobia’ as possible, the BBC  holds back on certain other substantive stories, which would surely generate a similar amount of outrage, should the BBC choose to highlight them.  The trouble is that they reveal other side of the coin, if you like, with the agenda travelling in the opposite direction.

The BBC has an ambivalent relationship with the police. Plod frequently comes under auntie’s disapproving eye, but when the police really do behave like prize provocateurs the BBC ain’t interested.

Both these stories were cited by Sarah AB on Harry’s Place yesterday, and although she got a bit of flak for implying an equivalence between them, it surprised me that, amongst some excellent comments and observations, some of the commenters were so hesitant, so cautious, about being seen to defend Tommy Robinson. One commenter thought he was a racist. 

People often complain about the Westminster/ Metropolitan / Media “bubble”. Career MPs who’ve never had a real job. Leftie journalists who are out of touch. BBC bias. etc etc.

I wonder how many of his critics understand lads like Tommy Robinson? He seems to me to represent a complex mixture of inarticulacy and eloquence, bravery and belligerence. He has both the typical volatility of the ‘working class lad’ and the insight of the independent thinker.  All at the same time. All the video evidence that, admittedly he himself has made available, indicates that he has a very genuine grievance against the police, the state, and the Islamisation of the UK, Europe and specifically his hometown, Luton

Saturday’s spat between Tommy Robinson and the police is only the latest in a string of attempts by the law or the state to shut him up. He’s taking a stand against Islamisation, and the law and the state are taking their stand on behalf of it. 

Of course there are other ways he could have reacted to that particular policeman’s provocative attitude. Maybe some sort of psychological counselling might have shown Tommy Robinson how to handle it, perhaps with mindfulness or anger management, or self-hypnosis. Perhaps he could have learned to head it off, like lessons on avoiding confrontation with your uncontrollable spoilt brats. Tommy Robinson is probably more likely to head-butt than head off a confrontation; result: free ammunition for his critics. In the event, his unanswerable reasoning drove the policeman into a corner from which he could not back down, hence the escalation.

Would he have advanced his cause if he hadn’t lost his rag, hadn’t caused a scene, had gone quietly instead of acting like a perverse version of the Tammimis, making the kids cry for effect. “Now see what you’ve done!” 
Maybe making a scene was a way of deliberately attracting the attention of, say a news editor whose agenda was being deliberately driven in one direction, away from the scene of the crime.


This video popped into my inbox and I thought I’d exercise my freedom to deviate from the strictly  come “Biased BBC” agenda to share it with you. 
In my opinion, it has more than a tenuous link to the BBC’s bias, because the BBC goes out of its way to ignore its content. How can the BBC promote the virtues of Islam without ever alluding to this? 


  1. Thanks for sharing that video - it was very difficult viewing at times.

  2. Superb article, Sue. I couldn't agree with you more in your description of Tommy Robinson. He really is the canary in the post truth coalmine, coughing and ignored. Your entire argument leaves no cracks for a return ball of any substance. It beautifully reveals the hypocrisy of the bizarre and deepening entrenched values at the BBC. Thanks.

  3. A good number of BBC job postings include the chance to drive the day's news agenda and/or influence public discourse. I remember a tweet (not on the In Their Own Tweets page) from some newly hired young Beeboid crowing about his new job on the Jeremy Vine show (or similar) and the chance to influence the thoughts of Middle England. Then there's the fact that Mark Easton has stated uncategorically that driving public discourse is the BBC's remit. One of these days I'll find a safe place to upload the video for all to see.

  4. Slightly O/T but I think your readers may may be interested in this post of mine yesterday (quoting both Craig and Biased BBC) - a reader complained to the BBC over an aspect of bias I cited in the post and already got a response from Al Beeb which I've added in an update. They are incorrigible.)
    Regarding the "agenda" it's astonishing (not) how the agenda just happens to coincide with the Grauniad's agenda, and the ABC's. And often Haaretz's, of course.

  5. If I'd only encountered Tommy Robinson via his video interviews my view of him might be similar to Sue's. But this post very usefully indicates why I remain dubious (although I didn't think, based on evidence available, that he should have been forced to leave the pub in Cambridge.)

    1. Hello Sarah,

      Thanks! I don’t mean to sound crotchety, but I am not as naive as you might think.

      Don’t we all trawl the net to “find stuff”? I concede that dodgy links discredit one - and I’m aware that a similar argument could be used to defend The Jeremy and his dodgy associates; but let’s look at the bigger picture.

      Would we respect TR more if he employed spin doctors to filter his output / burnish his image? I wouldn’t.

      TR’s rawness and impulsiveness are a weakness and a strength at the same time. They are part of his success / notoriety.

      Also, he has a lot to put up with, e.g. Hsaiao-Hung Pai

      We might take, say, Breitbart / JihadWatch / Liberty GB etc with a pinch of salt without dismissing them out of hand. You have to make decisions / take risks sometimes. I mean, proceed with caution, but ultimately, follow your instincts. You might make the odd mistake, but hey - we can’t all be perfect.

      I can see where Beeman is coming from, but more to the point, I can also see where habibi is coming from. Mustn’t forget that the Jamia Islamia Ghousia Mosque is in TR’s home town.


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