Thursday 24 November 2016

Wonder why you don't say to those people, "Wouldn't you like to think again about Brexit?"

As I was driving to work this morning, the 7:40 Today paper review made me laugh out loud.

It began:
Nick Robinson: Time for a look at the papers though. They appear to have been listening to two very different Autumn Statements yesterday. At the Guardian, very much in the Remain camp of course, it was all about the cost of that Brexit decision: £59 billion, it said, is the black hole cause by the vote to leave the EU. "Britain's biggest foreign policy blunder", says the leader column. "The the self-inflicted wound of Brexit is going to hurt". The accompanying cartoon has Philip May and Theres...Philip Hammond, I'm sorry, and Theresa May as down-and-outs scavenging in bins. 
Justin Webb: In stark contrast Mr Hammond is pictured with a broad smile on the front of the Brexit-backing Daily Mail, which celebrates his predictions of growth with the headline, "So much for Mr Gloomy!". "The elite said Brexit would spell apocalypse," it said, "but the strength of the economy has confounded Remain doom-mongers." The Mail does admit to deep reservations about the terrifying national debt but in the view of its sketch writer Quentin Letts "Mr Hammond was by his own morose standards almost skittishly optimistic", 
The reason I'd laughed out loud was because I'd watched yesterday's BBC One News at Six and seen last night's Newsnight, and both progammes - especially Newsnight - had taken exactly the same approach as that of the Guardian, as outlined there by Nick Robinson. It was overwhelmingly about doom and gloom and about how Brexit is to blame from the BBC. Optimism, skittish or otherwise, barely got a look in.

And Nick, quite rightly, had explained the Guardian's response in terms of it being "very much in the Remain camp". So where does that place BBC One's News at Six and Newsnight then, given that their reporting was almost identical to the Guardian's? (Answers on a postcard to Polly Toynbee). 

From all that I read yesterday it is definitely the case that "Brexit-backers" tended to note the fact that the OBR and the Chancellor had spelled out that UK growth would continue and would be wholly back on track by 2019 (when we should have left the EU). So no apocalypse after all. The optimistic employment projections were also picked up on, among other things. It was also definitely the case that the "Remain camp" on Twitter and in the press focused on the potential negatives of Brexit, including the lowering of the growth prediction for 2017. Watching both last night's BBC One News at Six and Newsnight it was striking how the official predictions that economic growth would be back on track by 2019 didn't get a mention. 

As so often (these days), however, Newsnight was particularly aggressive in pushing the Guardian/Remain camp line that it's all Brexit's fault. 

The assault was led by Evan Davis (though Nick Watt also did some gloating about 'the revenge of the experts'). 

Evan's interview with (Remain-backing) Conservative Treasury minister David Gauke began with the following questions (which have to be read to be believed). These are not 'impartial' or 'devil's advocate' questions:
- This 2.4% shrinkage in the economy relative to if we'd voted to remain in the referendum, is this the kind of figure that you think is reasonable, a sensible figure to be planning for?
- I mean, it's not that out of line with what the Treasury was saying the cost of Brexit would be before the referendum and everyone said that was "Project Fear". I mean, you must feel to some extent a little bit vindicated by seeing the OBR - completely independently, nothing to do with the Treasury work - come out, look at it again after the referendum and come up with a figure that wasn't quite as pessimistic as the Treasury one but in the same ballpark? 
- And, obviously, some of your colleagues are saying this is too pessimistic. Some of them have had less kind words about the OBR - "Oh, these guys are Remainers" and, you know, all of that kind of stuff. Would you just tell them to "Shut up! We have to accept what the OBR says"?
- One of the very striking things about it is that if you want to the JAMs - the Just About Managings -, if you want to help the people who aren't even managing, Brexit, if we believe the OBR, swamps everything you're doing, doesn't it? You can tinker round the edges but there's this bloomin' great 17 billion or so...15 billion...caused by Brexit which is so much more significant. Wonder why you don't say to those people, "Wouldn't you like to think again about Brexit?"
Mr Gauke said the the public had voted and it's no good picking over old scabs. I doubt that Newsnight will pay the blindest bit of attention to his wise words here!


Newsnight's closing panel discussion on the Autumn Statement also dwelt quite a bit on Brexit. 

Typically, the panel consist of two Remain backers (Polly Toynbee and Rupert Harrison) and just one Leave backer (Stephen Glover) - par for the course for Newsnight.

Also typically, Evan Davis challenged and interrupted Stephen Glover of the Daily Mail significantly more than the others (making it seem as if Stephen was in the dentist's chair) whilst giving underarm questions to the Remainers.

By no stretch of the imagination could this be called 'fair' interviewing, despite Evan's casual style during the discussion. He sided with the pro-Remain majority (on the panel) here.

T'wis ever so at the moment on Newsnight. 


So, to cheer us all up, here are a couple of beautiful pieces of music:


  1. Sadly it's a case of who will Guard the Guardians?

    It's nice to imagine Evan Davis, Ian Katz and Emily Maitlis been interrogated about their inability to predict anything accurately despite being part of a £5 billion news and cultural organisation.

    "But come on Evan, the BBC thought Miliband would be Prime Minister, that we would vote to Remain, and that Hillary would be President - you can't blame it on the're reporters, you should be doing your job...shouldn't you?"


    Classic BBC "fake news" headline: "One dead at French religious home"...does that communicate anything other than someone might have peacefully passed away at a "religious home" - whatever that is. How about "Attack on aged monks' home - 1 dead"?

    And it's placed below "Iceland to sue over supermarket name".

    This might sound paranoid but I've seen this done by the BBC so often with possible terror attacks - an anodyne headline on the international page and put low down the list- when you get to the story headline it's slightly more informative...then you get the pretty non-commital "could be anything" narrative.

    As always, the BBC is keen to say: "There is so far no indication that this is a terrorist incident, sources close to the investigation said." But one could equally say, there is no evidence it isn't, I presume.

    Also I note that at the time I write, this story has not been updated by the BBC for NINE hours - despite the BBC being a multi-billion pound news gathering operation and despite the perpetrator being on the run.

  3. One news item that was almost totally eclipsed by the doom & gloom from the OBR & IFS on Wednesday & Thursday is the discovery that the detailed observations made by Scott & Shackleton in the Antarctic show that the amount of ice there has barely changed in the last 100 years. Wednesday & Thursday were, of course, a good time for the BBC to bury 'bad' news, so for the moment, they seem to have got away with their explanation that more ice has been lost from the Arctic because more people live in the Northern hemisphere.' Now I'm not a scientist, but don't ocean currents, tides and winds - not to mention weather - ensure that heat and cold are pretty quickly moved from one part of the planet to another? Of course, if some idiots had invested most of my pension fund in alternative energy companies, as is the case with the BBC - I, too, would be keen to believe in global warming! Incidentally, President-Elect Trump's hostility towards the global warming lobby might just be an additional reason for the BBC'S hostility towards President-elect Trump!

  4. Craig mentions Wednesday's BBC TV News at 6pm. As I remember, the item on the Autumn statement was delivered by John Pienaar - apparently, his prognosis wasn't gloomy enough, so for the 10 pm news, they wheeled out La Kuenssberg.
    Laura's gleeful gloom-fest began with a close-up of a dead leaf lying on the pavement outside No. 11, Downing Street. We thought at, first, that this was a comment on the charisma of the house's occupant but, as Laura's piece went on (and on), it gradually dawned that that wasn't quite it: the leaf was a metaphor all right, but it, and all the subsequent dead leaves - some lying in heaps, others still clinging to the tree - represented death, change, decline & decay (You know, like wot yer get if you elect a Tory government & vote fer Brexit -geddit?). It's the tree business that worries me - I mean, the first time we saw it, it still had a fair sprinkling of leaves left, but at the end, it was bare. So what happened, did the camera crew hang around for a day or two until the leaves dropped off, or did Laura hike up her skirt, shin up the tree and pick them off? Perhaps she talked them off. The guest appearance by a large black crow was also problematic - we got the symbolism: bird of ill omen, harbinger of death, decline etc, but how was the footage shot? Within the space of a few seconds, we saw the thing in close-up, clinging to a whippy branch with nothing, whatever, behind it and then, suddenly, the same crow was parked on the same branch with the Elizabeth Tower in the background. Did they use TWO cameramen or was it all done by CGI? Is that ethical & what about the expense?
    Seriously,though, Laura K is becoming increasingly difficult to take. She has the patronizing manner of a jaded infant school teacher reading one of the more complicated nursery stories to a particularly dim SEN infant's class; so WORDS are VERY heavily STRESSED in the hope of GETTING the MESSAGE across. For, the moment, she is still stressing the right syllables & words, but then, Robert Preston may have done at one time!
    I was going to say something about the optimistic parts of the OBR report that the BBC has neglected to mention, but several papers have beaten me to it.

    1. LOL - great comments Sisyphus! :) LK started off as quite a decent reporter and obviously at some point decided she was more important than the story. I don't however agree THAT she is stressing the right syllABles and words in HER reports.

      Let's face it the impact of the BBC is pretty minimal these days. Do people really believe the OBR is telling the truth? I doubt it. There is tremendous cynicism around now.

  5. PS Make that "infants'class" - spell-check strikes again!

  6. For full lol, check out Nick R's Twitter feed about Castro right now.


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