Monday 26 December 2016


I rarely tweet myself but I did actually send someone a 'Merry Christmas!' via Twitter on Christmas Eve and received a reply saying, "I think it's been a good year", to which I replied saying, "So do I. Here's to 2017!" (We were talking politics, of course). 

Stephen Pollard has a fine piece in The Times today expressing much the same sentiment, headlined "For me, it’s been an annus mirabilis". It begins:
I barely seem to have had a conversation this past week without it ending in a cheery “Let’s hope 2017 is better!” — as if it’s a statement of the blindingly obvious with which any stranger would agree that this has been a terrible year. 
Which presents me with a dilemma. Do I treat it as a pre-new-year version of “How are you?” No one in their right mind would reply to that greeting with a genuine answer. “Oh, you know: too many headaches, my back hurts and the cancer isn’t going away.”
Or do I point out that not all of us think 2016 was a disaster? For some of us — the majority, in fact — 2016 was a wonderful year.
Believe me, I’m tempted. Because it’s precisely the cosy, smug idea that “we” all think 2016 has been horrendous that led to the very developments that “we” all so deplore. By which, of course, “we” mean above all Brexit and the election of Donald Trump. 
I did hear quite a lot of Radio 4 yesterday and enjoyed much of it but, curiously, that "cosy, smug idea" that "we" all think 2016 has been "horrendous" kept cropping up in one form or another - along with other related "cosy, smug ideas" of the kind Radio 4 listeners are so often 'treated to'.

Among the things I heard, for example, was Mark Tully on Something Understood asking (re the angels promise of good will on earth to the shepherds), "Where is 'good will' in the politics of hatred unleashed this year?", and Sheila Hancock on Just a Minute's panto special saying that her 'one wish' would be "that 2016 never happened". (The audience laughed, clapped and whooped, and she then clarified that she was talking about Brexit - which they'd evidently already guessed!)

Then there was Marina Warner on From Our Home Correspondent using another panto-related piece to wax indignant about "headlines against Poles and Romanians and refugees or other stock figures of the new populism"- plus the inevitable anti-Murdoch, anti-Tory-governments jokes from Jeremy Hardy on I'm Sorry, I Haven't a Clue, and Sheila Dillon on The Food Programme's 'Wild Boar' Christmas special suggesting that wild boar "does seem to embody a kind of masculinity that seems kind of old-fashioned".

Plus there was Sunday's Christmas special from Hampton Court Palace on the state of religion in England in 1516, with Ed Stourton saying, "Listening to you describe the tide of nationalistic feeling at the time [of Henry VIII's split from Rome], I couldn't help be reminded of our own recent referendum campaign", and Mariella Frostrup beginning Open Book by announcing, "Bolstering borders has been a frequent topic of debate of late so today we've decided to abandon them altogether" and end the programme by announcing, "We're looking forward to another 12 months of transcending borders to bring you the best of books, near and far, in 2017".

Now, much of what I heard on these programmes was interesting and enjoyable but the messages sent out by them - often incidentally, often far from incidentally - were almost always of this "cosy, smug" variety. 

2016 certainly was a "terrible" year when it came to BBC bias (the worst for years, in my opinion). In that respect, yes, here's to a better 2017! Much improvement is needed. 


  1. 2016 as an annus horibilis is just another MSM meme, along with (you may have forgotten some of these):

    - Isn't the Referendum campaign really boring (actually it soon emerged that most people found it gripping and considered their vote very seriously)?

    - The Brexit vote will be followed immediately by a collapse in business and consumer confidence (remember when the BBC suddenly fell in love with the FTSE 250 index).

    - Leave had no chance of winning the Referendum. The polls confirmed that.

    - Trump had no path to the White House. The polls showed that.

    - Trump was a clown with no policies. (Now it seems like he's got too many for the BBC's liking.)

    - To suggest that any undocumented migrant arriving in Europe might be falsely claiming to be a child migrant was a gross racist slur.

  2. We always have a massive Xmas dinner with all of our family - after dinner is normally dominated by the vocal leftys (every family has them) who where saying the very same thing - this year was refreshing in that they got shot down by the rest young and old.

    If nothing else the referendum has engaged people again with politics and in my opinion given the right the courage again to speak and not sit in silence.

  3. As Craig says, it's been a terrible year for blatant BBC bias, but that has had very positive spin-off: they have so over-egged the pudding that people who never used to notice the bias are becoming much more aware of it. Certainly friends of mine who used to roll their eyes & adopt the 'Beam-me-up-Scotty', look whenever I launched into an anti-Beeb diatribe are starting to agree with me and even point out examples of bias themselves.
    What the BBC fails to realize is that constantly repeating the Remainiac 'we're all doomed' mantra, when we can see that the economy is picking up and that the likes of Nissan & Apple are investing here, is destroying, not the credibility of Brexit, but that of the BBC itself.

    1. Yes, I've noticed that this is beginning to happen. My brother's eyes have been completely opened!

    2. I agree. I think many people who previously thought the BBC were in some sense "objective" now realise they construct their message as much as the Sun or the Guardian.

      Why haven't we seen any proper apologies from the BBC for their appalling coverage of both the Brexit and Trump campaigns. To cite just two examples: firstly, that Newsnight panel of "ordinary votes" that voted 9-1 to Remain (that could only have been the result of deliberate weighting of the panel, no poll would ever be so inaccurate); secondly, the constant refrain that Trump was not setting out any policies, when - anyone could find out he was outlining policies (and ironically some of them, like government funded infrastructure investment are actually strongly approved of by the BBC); and thirdly the attempt on Trump's life by a UK citizen (completely played down by the BBC - no investigation of how he came to be so radicalised as to want to kill Trump).

    3. Sorry that ended up being three examples!

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. Deleted because, yet again, it duplicated itself!

  5. Yes 2016 was a year in which the BBC bias became blatant and undisguised. Over Brexit, Trump and, yes, even Corbyn.

    I get the impression that the BBC would just love to be able to settle back into a New Labour groove and ramp-up the anti-Tory messages under the guidance of a soft left elite - the BBC would love to repeat the Major years when they undermined what can now be seen as a pretty solid Government and replaced it with the opportunistic deceitfulness of Blair.

    But it can't. The world has moved on. It doesn't seem that the BBC can. I will call 2016 as the beginning of the end for the mandatory license fee.


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