Friday 30 June 2017

Bias by title

Ms Waters is the founder of Sharia Watch

The most striking thing (for me) about the article by the BBC's Brian Wheeler is how Mr Wheeler uses people's titles. It's quite something.

Mr Wheeler of the BBC repeatedly calls  UKIP's Paul Nuttall "Mr Nuttall" and calls Ms Waters's critic councillor Allen Cowles "Mr Cowles".

That's properly respectful.

In contrast, however, Mr Wheeler calls Ms Waters "Waters" throughout, as if she were a criminal.

(He calls her "Waters" seven times in the piece. The only time she is called "Ms Waters" is when Mr Cowles is quoted calling her "Ms Waters").

Now, 'in fairness', Mr Wheeler of the BBC also calls Tommy Robinson "Robinson" too - though that only serves to highlight the difference even more starkly.

Mr Nuttall and Mr Cowles are evidently (just about) within the pale for Wheeler but Ms Waters and Mr Robinson are very much beyond Wheeler's pale so no respect is accorded them whatsoever.

Ergo, Wheeler is showing his bias.

Another Tale of Two Interviews

Do you recall the days immediately after Jeremy Paxman left Newsnight?

Both the programme's new host Evan Davis and its editor Ian Katz made public statements distancing themselves from the aggressive kind of political interview associated with the not-so-dearly-departed Paxo, arguing instead for a gentler, kinder style of political interviewing. 

Well, that seems to have been well and truly chucked out of the window now - at least as regards interviews with certain kinds of politicians, most noticeably pro-Brexit ones. 

That much-discussed Evan Davis interview with Conservative MP David Jones on Wednesday night's Newsnight, wasn't adversarial in the old Jeremy Paxman way though. It was a different kind of adversarial interview. 

With Jeremy Paxman there was always the sense that it was a game - a serious games that was trying to seek the truth, but a game nonetheless. When he was being rude to his political interviewees it was a species of disinterested rudeness. 

With Evan, however, the aggression and the rudeness appears to be much more rooted in a strong viewpoint. His behaviour seems far from disinterested. 

Evan's apparent agenda during this David Jones interview is laid out by Kathy over at TCW. He was particularly determined to badger his prey into accepting his assertion that the Conservatives' election setback (losing their absolute majority) was down to voters rejecting Theresa May's 'hard Brexit' policy - and he was remarkably insistent on that (especially for an 'impartial' BBC interviewer).

Meanwhile, the following night's Newsnight featured a contrasting, very gentle Evan Davis interview with the strongly pro-EU former BBC Trust chairman Chris Patten. 

Yes, this was a very different kettle of gourmet fish - the kind of interview where this kind of exchange can take place (and note Evan's use of the 'Remainer' term 'hard Brexit'):
Evan Davis: One of the things that we're sometimes told - and I think this is in the end the biggest, the most important question for the country over the next year - is there's really no choice over Brexit. There's a hard Brexit or there's no Brexit, but there's really nothing in between. Do you buy that - that we really either reverse this vote or we go along with the Theresa May version? Because I'm interested in whether you'd vote for the kind of Theresa May Brexit when it comes to the Lords. 
Lord Patten: Well, I think that at the end of the day, as bishops say, there will have to be a vote in Parliament about whatever terms emerge. And at that point, the electorate, given that I suspect by then the economy won't be looking too good, and the electorate will be able to see that you can't have the same relationship with Europe outside the European Union as you have inside it, pace Mr Davis. I think at that point there may be a significant shift in the public atmosphere, the public views on this. But I don't think you can go into these negotiations on the assumption that they'll turn out badly. I think Philip Hammond is right that we should be aiming now for a transitional period, for staying in as much of the single market and the Customs Union as possible. Both of those things were of course anathema to those who thought the big bloody bold thing to do was to head for the precipice and if we jumped off the precipice, there would be Dunlop mattresses at the bottom! 
Evan was at his most obsequious with his body language throughout, and was shown rolling his eyes and nodding along with Chris Pattens's characterisation of Mr (David) Davis's position. Every gesture displayed agreement. (Go to 34.38 on the iPlayer here to get the the full effect).

Newsnight may no longer be watched by many people but it's worth watching for bias. That seems to be spiralling ever more out of control at the moment.

Open Thread

An even-sided, balanced Open Thread.

Tuesday 27 June 2017

More on John Simpson

A few days back we posted a transcript of John Simpson's Today interview where he discussed with Nick Robinson why he thinks the year since the Brexit vote last June has been "the worst year for Britain in (his) lifetime". 

In the course of the interview, John Simpson insisted on his BBC impartiality, asserting "Well, I don’t think anybody would know whether I was a Brexiteer or, or not", and claiming that he "can see both sides of the coin" on the Brexit issue...

...despite everything he'd said in that interview being negative about Brexit and despite telling the Huffington Post last year that the BBC "let (its) viewers and listeners down" during the EU referendum by not telling them the "facts" and that if the BBC had told them the "facts" then "the outcome would have been a bit different, yes".

Well now the BBC's World Editor has expanded on his thoughts over at the New Statesman.and, frankly, my feeling that he's a heavily biased 'hardline Remoaner' has not been dispelled after reading his piece.

Take the following passage for example:
The period of the Heath government had awful moments: 1972, the year of Bloody Sunday and IRA attacks, was especially bad. Yet there was nothing like the appalling Grenfell Tower fire to divide the nation. And 1974 was humiliating for the government, but our membership of the European Economic Community offered a certain stability.
Or take this later passage about how "what was until recently the world’s fifth-largest economy has suddenly found itself on the edge of a trapdoor in the dark":
Even Brexiteers who feel liberated and excited at the prospect of getting out of the EU can’t know if it’s going to work. Friends of mine who voted Leave because they were fed up with David Cameron or thought things needed a shake-up now show a degree of buyer’s remorse. Perhaps, like Boris Johnson in the BBC2 drama Theresa vs Boris, they thought the country was so stable that nothing bad would actually happen. 
... and that despite the polls showing no 'buyer's remorse' whatsoever among Leave voters on the whole...nearly all of whom, it seems, must be outside John's circle of friends.

There's nothing whatsoever 'counter-balancing' to be found in the BBC man's piece about the failings of Remain voters or even about the large tranche of Remain voters who now, according to the polls, accept that Brexit is happening and that we should just get on with it (something that's been much-reported but which doesn't appear to have impinged on Mr Simpson's mind that much). 

Now, the article as a whole is far from uninteresting and I agree with and like parts of it, but John Simpson really ought to try to vigorously shake himself out of the daft idea that he's an impartial observer speaking utterly uncontroversial truths to the nation (and reading this article it's clear to me that he actually does believe that, bizarre as that might seem). 

That he can't see that he's actually deeply biased on the subject of Britain's membership of the EU is probably one for psychologists rather than bloggers like me. 

He risks becoming like one of those comedy stock characters who everyone else can see is biased but who can't see it himself (with hilarious consequences for the audience) - a fate I hope he avoids for old association's sake.

Credit where credit's due

As noted elsewhere, this is a fine piece of BBC reporting from Newsnight's Richard Watson (featuring Col. Richard Kemp):

It may be twenty years too late but it's a wake-up call nonetheless. 

Monday 26 June 2017

Snappy retort 2

While we’re on the subject of snappy retorts, how about this one, from the London Mayor.

The video of Sadiq Khan at the London Mayor’s Question Time refusing to promise  he’d raise the matter of Hezbollah with the Home Secretary, could have gone viral.

Has it gone viral? Or have they deleted it?
Andrew Boff is the name of the man who asked for clarification as to what constitutes a banned terror organisation, after Hezbollah flags appeared during a march in the capital earlier this month.  Khan was riled.

 The Al Quds Day march is no harmless, virtuous Palestine Solidarity thing. The Washington Times has this: England is drunk on PC Kool-Aid
“Make no mistake, there is nothing pro-Palestinian or pro-Arab about Hezbollah. It is heavily engaged in the ongoing killing of Arab citizens of Syria in support of the brutal Assad regime. Hezbollah has been spreading terror around the world for decades. As far back as 1983, Hezbollah murdered 220 U.S. Marines and 21 other service personnel with a truck bomb at a U.S. Marine compound in Beirut, Lebanon. Hezbollah is dangerous, deadly and violent, as everyone knows. 
Among the countries that designate Hezbollah a terrorist organization are: Arab League, Australia, Bahrain, Canada, European Union, France, Gulf Cooperation Council, Israel, Netherlands, New Zealand, United Kingdom, United States.  
Nevertheless, Hezbollah was granted permission to march through London. 
British authorities have gone mad. They have wedded political correctness to a revival of historical Jewish scapegoating, enabling a wave of destruction that threatens to go out of control. Britain has drunk the Kool-Aid. 

Of course Al Quds Day is the kind of thing that would appeal to Jeremy Corbyn’s followers. That kind of march is just up their street, so to speak.

 The Express reports that the BBC is in trouble for its peculiar coverage of Jeremy Corbyn’s Glastonbury gig.  
“The BBC has also been berated by Tory MPs who claimed the corporation is “out of control”.
Mr Corbyn will speak for the first time on the main Pyramid Stage, a year after cancelling an appearance on a much smaller platform.
But this year the Labour leader will take to the iconic stage before introducing hip-hop act Run The Jewels.
Revellers at Glastonbury, a festival long associated with Left-wing activism, have been heard singing ‘oh Jeremy Corbyn’, sung to the tune of White Stripes song Seven Nation Army, this morning.”
Labour politicians have ben spotted at the festival - attended by 200,000 people every year.
Former shadow chancellor Ed Balls and wife Yvette Cooper are at the event and John McDonnell will hold a discussion on Sunday.
Deputy leader Tom Watson is also at the festival which is notoriously difficult to secure tickets for.

Tory MP Philip Hollobone said: “The BBC is riddled with Left-wing bias from the Today programme downwards.
“They will seize any opportunity to get Theresa May out. Jeremy Corbyn at Glastonbury is a typical example of their behaviour… the BBC is out of control.”
Andrew Bridgen, another Tory MP, added: “The BBC will do everything they can to get their hero Jeremy Corbyn into Downing Street. Now with things like this year’s Glastonbury, it’s becoming ever more blatant.
“They are at the stage where if the BBC give it one more push, we will end up with a Marxist in No 10.”

Isn’t it galling that Jeremy Corbyn’s new-found rock-god status has has managed to eclipse his appalling record and get it so quickly brushed under the carpet? It’s even more remarkable when you compare it with certain other BBC bogeymen whose past record is attached to them as permanent fixtures, in perpetuity.

Meanwhile, revellers are pictured at Glastonbury, some of whom seem all too willing to sweep Jeremy Corbyn’s reputation under the carpet

Snappy retort

As a mother it’s often difficult to find time to blog. By the time you get round to it, the subject you’ve been mulling over in your head has gone off the boil. 
You guessed it. We’re talking Andrea Leadsom. 

The entire media seemed to have been pretending that when Andrea Leadsom blurted out the dreaded ‘p’ word, she was actually demanding that the BBC assumes a nationalistic agenda with immediate effect. National anthem before every news bulletin.

No-one said what I, as a mother, thought was quite obvious; that the she was provoked by the unrelenting negativity that pours forth from the BBC day after day, and that the ‘p’ word was goaded out of her by Emily Maitlis in a hostile interview, which turned into the proverbial final straw.

Maitlis’s snappy retort left an open goal that was begging for some robust home truths about the BBC’s attitude problem, but instead all we got from the media was a load of manufactured outrage directed at Leadsom for insulting the BBC by casting aspersions on its world renowned impartiality, and for making scandalous demands of the BBC; that it must adopt a nationalistic, xenophobic, Tory-toff agenda -how very dare she.

Anyway I thought the story had been put to bed, but it was plucked from its slumber by the BBC because of an article by ex BBC exec Mark Damazer in the Thunderer section of the Times, (£) which I understand is reserved for that kind of thing. 
The BBC even announced it - as news - in the early morning news bulletin. 
Mr. Damazer isn’t a fan of Andrea Leadsom. 
“It is only just over a year ago that she was deemed to have done outstandingly in a different BBC TV environment. Armed with a bunch of prefabricated pro-Brexit lines, she was pronounced the Brexit star in a mass verbal punch-up at the Wembley Arena — optimistically labelled by the BBC The Great Debate. Within a fortnight, the Conservative Party was teetering on the edge of making her PM. Then came this paper’s celebrated interview in which Leadsom mused on how motherhood gave her political insights unavailable to Theresa May.”

His views on the BBC, the EU and so on are quite clear too. 

 “The broadcasters are there to test arguments, allow multiple points of view to be heard and questioned, and to report the unfortunate and doubtless irritating consequences that derive from the different view of Europe to hers held by governments of the other 27 EU countries. By doing this the BBC provides huge dollops of “soft power” for the UK — which may not be its primary purpose but is decidedly more useful than becoming part of the government’s Brexit team.
Mark Damazer CBE

Needless to say, once again, the drubbing is below the line. 376 comments at the time of writing. Subscribing to the Times is well worth it, if only for that.

Don’t forget Andrea Leadsom’s doomed bid for P.M. 
Maybe her ‘motherhood’ remark was a cack-handed declaration of her personal stake in the future. Maybe she was making an offensive jibe at Theresa May’s childlessness. 
Maybe she thought that absence of fecundity was a guarantee of reckless, selfish disregard for future generations. Who knows? Too many sentences beginning with maybe and you begin to sound like Jeremy Corbyn.

Perhaps Theresa May’s non-motherhood is somehow connected with her inability to shed tears in public, the singular, non-negotiable quality currently demanded of its leaders. Maybe a mum is what is needed, after all? Or, if the the Prime Minister needs to behave as the quintessential mother figure, maybe childlessness is a guarantee of undivided, maternal devotion to the nation.

In its own way, that principle certainly works for this blogger. 

Sunday 25 June 2017

Recommended reading

There's an excellent gathering-together of some of the latest BBC bias-related matters from Kathy Gyngell over at The Conservative Woman: Scenting Tory blood, the BBC crank up the anti-Brexit propaganda. It is well worth a close read. 

Another 'No platforming' call

It's notable that it was the BBC guest on this morning's Broadcasting House press review who expressed the point of view that the Finsbury Park attack has to be seen in the context of "we" or "society or the government" having "allowed talkers like Katie Hopkins to have a space and have a voice". Ayo Akinwolere appears to believe that it's irresponsible to allow her a public platform.

Complaints from both sides (Episode 532)

She has a point.

Saturday 24 June 2017

That sinking feeling is back

That sinking feeling is back. Glastonbury time again.

As if Glasto dominating the airwaves wasn’t bad enough, the thought of Ed and Yvette Balls queueing up for the showers and Jeremy Corbyn appearing on the pyramid stage, (presumably to rapturous applause) hearing that Radiohead had been heckled with shouts of  “Free Palestine”  was just about the last straw.

I see Malia Bouattia signed off her NUS presidency by shouting “Free, free Palestine”, doubtless to similarly rapturous applause from her student fans; but a glimmer of light is here, in the form of a lone voice at the BBC, John Ware, who happens to have noticed the Al Quds Day March, even if his BBC colleagues didn’t.

"How's this for hate?
"We are fed up of the Zionists, we are fed up with all their rabbis; we are fed up with all their synagogues; we are fed up with their supporters."
Or this?
"Zionists. are responsible for the murder of people in Grenfell Tower - the Zionist supporters of the Tory Party."
I went to the annual Al Quds Days march in central London last weekend to watch several hundred supporters of Hezbollah, the "Party of God." [...]
“Please welcome Nazim Ali, the Al Quds' Master of Ceremonies for the march, organised by the Khoeminist oxymoronically named Islamic Human Rights Commission
Here's another of Nazim's gags. 
While presenting the IHRC's "Islamophobe of the Year" award shortly after the 2015 massacre by jihadists of 12 journalists and a policeman at the Paris-based satirical Charlie Hebdo magazine, he said: "No one from Charlie Hebdo could make it" (to the awards ceremony). 
Are you cracking up? No? How 's this then?
"We've always been a peaceful, family-friendly, humanitarian protest" Nazim shouted to the marchers. "That's what we're about." 
And then pointing to the protestors, he said ""Do not react to these people... Do not react to the IDF." 
Judging by the frenzy Nazim had worked himself into, my impression was that "react" was exactly what he hoped the Jewish protestors would do. "You've hit the nail," a police officer said. 
"Bye, bye Zionists, bye bye bye" taunted Nazim, waving his hands as the march prepared to move off. 
"Free, free Palestine" he chanted which got the ritual response: "From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.” [...]

"The march was nothing short of a three-hour public hate fest against Jews who regard themselves as Zionists – who are the vast majority of Jews. Nazim Ali repeatedly referred to the only "real Jews" being those marching with him, the tiny fringe from Neturei Karta. "Zionists are the imposters" he said ".Do not talk to them.they like to show themselves as 'victims': 'Oh, we're Zionists; we're victims; we've only killed 10 children today; we're victims - we didn't get a chance to kill 20'." 
So much hate in just 24 hours both in Finsbury Park and central London. It shows just how difficult some of these "difficult and often embarrassing conversations" in countering extremism, are going to be.

They say ‘we mustn’t let the terrorists divide us” but their refusal to connect the causes they support with the terrorism they say they wish to defy, means they themselves perpetuate and exacerbate the division.
Another piece in the JC explains where our government could ‘do the right thing’ if it had a mind to.
"The issue of government subsidies for Palestinian terrorist salaries has returned to the international spotlight. What began in November 2013 as a barely believable revelation — that taxpayers in Britain, the US and other Western nations were bankrolling terrorist salaries — has now become a universally-acknowledged, impossible-to-deny and impossible-to-defend embarrassment for governments.

"A recent in-depth study has calculated that all terror incentives and rewards paid by the Palestinian Authority over the past four years total a mind-numbing $1 billion. 
As more citizens are murdered by Islamist terrorists in Great Britain, Europe, the US and elsewhere, Western donor governments have found their financial involvement with the Palestinian Authority terrorist salary programme increasingly indefensible.

‘The Palestinian “Law of the Prisoner” openly rewards those convicted of even the most heinous attacks with generous monthly “salaries” and a phantom job in the PA government. 
The salaries increase on a sliding scale. The more carnage inflicted and the longer the prisoner sentence, the higher the salary. 
Terrorists receiving a five-year sentence are granted just a few hundred dollars each month. The bloodiest murderers are paid as much $3,000 monthly. Cheques are sent directly to the prisoner, who appoints a power of attorney to distribute the funds.”

What about the BBC doing an in-depth study of that preposterous situation? I’m sure John Ware would be up for it.

Ian Hislop: Who should we let on our screens?

Due to recurrent insomnia I often nod off during a programme I’ve deliberately stayed awake to watch, if you’ll forgive the slight oxymoron.
That may have been the case with Ian Hislop's: “Despite all the racist scaremongering in Victorian times we ‘let the Jews in’, so despite the current racist scaremongering we must ‘let the Muslims’ in now” programme. (BBC 2, 22nd June) 

Just in case I missed the bit where Hislop pointed out the difference between the racist scaremongering apropos the Jews (which didn’t turn out quite as bad after all) and the racist scaremongering over current mass Muslim immigration, (over which the jury's still out but it's not looking good) I turned to the press reviews. 

Oddly enough, the only reviews I could find were in the lefty press, plus the Telegraph, a kind of honorary member.

Strange to tell, there was one thing in particular upon which they were all agreed. What got their goat above all else was Katie Hopkins, whose very presence defiled the programme. If twinkly Hislop insisted on having her there, he could at least have punched her in the face. Poor Rachel Cooke of the New Statesman almost threw up, but she gave Hislop a gold star.

Chitra Ramaswamy of the Guardian was full of praise for the programme, but had a caveat: 
“Hislop (granted, another posh, white, Oxbridge-educated man here to teach us about foreigners) is on razor-sharp, twinkly-eyed form, reminding us that it was not ever thus.”
 Oh yes, and another. She wasn’t keen on Katie either: 
“ it’s time to cease giving this preacher of hate a mainstream platform.”

The Telegraph’s Michael Hogan went straight for the jugular:
“Liberal-baiting battleaxe Katie Hopkins will doubtless steal headlines for her typically toxic appearance on Who Should We Let In? Ian Hislop on the First Great Immigration Row (BBC Two) – causing a stir is, after all, the tiresome professional troll’s job – but it would be a shame if Hopkins overshadowed what a thorough and thoughtful film this was. “

I’m pleased to report that the sufferers of ostrich parasitic syndrome who made the programme and wrote the reviews got a bit of a drubbing below the line.

Pedant's Corner

Having a blog affords you the chance to share with the world not only your devastating critiques of BBC bias but also your pedantic tendencies. 

Having spent over a year now very slowly and carefully reading John Keay's excellent if densely-detailed China: A History I do think that I now know more than I probably ought to about Chinese geography. I can actually tell my Shaanxi from my Shanxi

So when Kate Silverton told us about a terrible landslide in China on tonight's BBC One news bulletin my nit-picking ears instantly pricked up. 

The silver-tongued one said, "There's been a massive landslide in the far-west of the country...(in)...a village in Sichuan province". 

Alas, Sichuan is all too prone to devastating landslides. This one occurred in Xinmo village in Maoxian county, Sichuan. 

Sichuan, however, is not in the far-west of China. This, courtesy of Google Maps, is where the latest landslide took place:

The BBC-related point is that the BBC prides itself on being the gold standard of world journalism. It's surely not just being pedantic to point out that it sometimes gets its facts wrong. As here.

Jez they couldn't

Oh dear! 

The BBC has now deleted this tweet from its Radio 1 feed (sent out by some trigger-happy Corbynista within its ranks perchance?):

I'm guessing that the tweet was drawing too many complaints on Twitter (including plenty from well-known, influential righties). I was seeing a lot of those tweets. People were actually impugning the BBC's impartiality. So it clearly had to go. Bye-bye!

Why oh why...?

I haven't listened to Any Answers for some time now. Listening today though shows that little has changed. 

Anita Anand's still there dominating the programme, turning it into The Anita Anand Show.

But, that said, she didn't seem as interventionist as I expected her to be this week. (I expected clucking on an industrial scale).

Just for fun though (Whatever!) I thought I'd count the amount of time Anita talked on today's edition to see whether my impression of her dominance was grounded in any reality whatsoever. (I counted very precisely, of course.)

The result?

Her voice accounted for 37% of the programme's airtime. Callers' voices accounted for 63%.

So Anita Anand talked for over a third of the programme's duration today.

As I say, she struck me as being unusually hands-off this week, so I suspect the ratio is usually even more in her favour.

As the callers today were full of interesting opinions, I'm still of the opinion that I'd like to hear less from Anita.

Make Any Answers a proper listeners' forum again. 

We know them so well

Also concerning last night's Newsnight...

When I saw that Chris Cook was going to give us his take on the UK economy's reaction to the Brexit vote I thought I'd quickly time his 'positive' bits and his 'negative' bits to see how well balanced they were, especially given that I always expect him to tilt things against Brexit. 

We had 24 seconds of 'positive bits' followed by 55 seconds of 'negative bits', which results in a 7:3 ratio in favour of negativity about Brexit. 


Update (21:30)Newsnight's former economics editor Paul Mason, who 'people like us' used to accuse of being a far-Leftist in the employ of the BBC, has, since leaving the BBC, turned out to be a far-Leftist.

As one of the baker's dozen of people who still watch Newsnight, I'm confidently expecting Newxnight's present policy editor Chris Cook to eventually desert the sinking ship and become Gina Miller's official spokesman.

Should I place a bet on that happening? Will I be able to retire on the proceeds?


A couple of mornings ago Today sent a reporter to a fruit farm in Godalming and brought back a large punnet of Brexit-related gloom. (The edition in question isn't available on the iPlayer for some reason). Nick Robinson introduced the report with these words:
There's a warning today from Britain's berry growers that Brexit could crush the industry.
Zoe Conway's report included various hard-working, efficient migrant workers (as she portrayed them) worried about their future, plus farm managers fearing the collapse of their business. One farm owner was asked if he regretted his Leave vote, especially if it leads to what Zoe called a "hard Brexit". No contrasting views featured in Zoe's report.

That's par for the course, of course. But tied in with that piece was the reporting that very same morning of the results of a survey among soft berry producers - a survey the BBC itself had commissioned (for reasons known only to itself but guessable by others). 

The main BBC News website report on the survey (by Emma Simpson) is striking for the way it tries to spin its own findings. The BBC's spin is deeply negative about Brexit and conducive to advancing arguments in favour of retaining free-movement:
UK summer fruit and salad growers are having difficulty recruiting pickers, with more than half saying they don't know if they will have enough migrant workers to harvest their crops. 
Many growers blame the weak pound which has reduced their workers' earning power, as well as uncertainty over Brexit, according to a BBC survey.
The results themselves, cited later in the article, are strikingly at odds with the mood music of the report as a whole:

These results say to me that only 3% of the surveyed farmers are seriously alarmed about "migrant labour shortages'. Another 18% are a bit worried. And what the other 79% (though the figures don't actually add up to 100%)? Well, they either say they have have enough seasonal workers or aren't sure if they've got enough. In other words, that 79% don't sound alarmed about the situation, despite the BBC's alarmist headline.  

I think this is a clear case of BBC bias (conscious or unconscious).

And it's far from being the first time that the BBC has spun its own surveys in a favoured direction.

Who can forget the particularly blatant way the BBC spun its own survey on the attitudes of British Muslims back in 2015? While many other media outlets led with the astonishing finding that 27% of British Muslims expressed  some sympathy with those who carried out the Charlie Hebdo massacre the BBC heavily pushed the "Most British Muslims 'oppose Muhammad cartoons reprisals'" angle. 

Plus there was some very dodgy reporting by the BBC's News at Six and the BBC website into young people's concerns, also in 2015, where both the TV bulletin and the website article omitted all mention of the third biggest concern of the polled young people - immigration. And it was another BBC poll to boot.

And there was Newsnight and the BBC website's blatant attempts to rig the debate before freedom of movement was granted to Romanians and Bulgarians back in 2013, where the BBC twisted its own survey by pushing the 'Few planning to migrate to UK' angle. Others quickly pointed out that the BBC's own figures actually suggested a massive influx of Romanians and Bulgarians was coming. 

As you'll note, all of the above have immigration as a running theme, whether directly or indirectly. And all of them were spun by the BBC in the same way - the pro-immigration way. 

The BBC is not to be trusted with reporting its own poll findings.


I missed this (among so many other things recently) but DownBoy at Biased BBC made an interesting comment yesterday:

I wanted to highlight something I heard a couple of weeks ago. It is sometimes the throwaway remarks or the way things are phrased that show bias the most clearly. Sarah Montague (aka Lady Brooke – an old Co. Fermanagh title) was discussing the DUP. She described them as the ‘more extreme’ Unionist party. What the hell is that supposed to mean? In her mind, the DUP are a sort of Ulster version of ISIS whereas the UUP are merely equivalent to Al Nusra Front? Very telling choice of phrase I thought.

Checking it out, this is what Sarah Montague said in reference to the DUP (during an interview with Lord Trimble on 13 June):
But you have the of the most extreme unionist parties who we're talking about here. 
That is a very telling choice of phrase.

Andrea Leadsom v Emily Maitlis

And here's a transcript of that Newsnight interview:

Emily Maitlis: Andrea Leadsom was one of the most prominent Leave campaigners. She ran for the Conservative leadership you'll remember in the days after last year's referendum, only to be beaten eventually by Theresa May. She's now  the Leader of the House of Commons. And earlier I spoke to her from her constituency in Northamptonshire. I began by asking what she thought of Donald Tusk's allegation that Theresa May's proposal offer risked worsening the situation of EU citizens. 
Andrea Leadsom: I think that in fact what Theresa May made was a very generous offer but equally it's obviously going to be important to the EU Commission that they stick to their side of the negotiations, and you wouldn't really expect them to say, 'Thanks very much, that's wonderful!', so I think we're going to see a lot more of that in the days to come. 
Emily Maitlis: Isn't it funny, though, when you've got Donald Tusk saying it's not good enough, and last night we had the president of the EU parliament telling Newsnight he doesn't have a clue what Britain wants from Brexit. Does that worry you? 
Andrea Leadsom: Not at all. No. As I've said, when you are in a negotiation you don't immediately jump around clapping your hands with glee at the first sign. In fact you do the opposite. You say, 'No, that's not good enough. We need more. We need more'. And that is what you would expect...
Emily Maitlis(interrupting) But this should be quite a simple one, shouldn't it? This should be a pretty simple place to start, and we are a year on, as you've said, from that vote, and they can't agree with the first thing they're trying to talk about. You think it's just politics, do you? 
Andrea Leadsom: Well, Theresa May give her very initial comments to the meeting of the EU Council to explain to them the generous offer that we will be making, which is right that we should do that. We want to do it. And of course EU negotiators will start off by saying, You know, we need to see the detail. It's a good start but...'. You would expect that. I think we're going to see a lot of the negotiations and the handling of negotiations is going to be a challenging time, but we are determined to continue with a good relationship with our EU friends and colleagues. 
Emily Maitlis: We're weaker than ever before. She's gone to the country. She didn't get the mandate she wanted, and she doesn't have a strong position from which to negotiate. That's the blunt truth.

John Simpson is depressed

Oh dear! What's Andrea Leadsom gone and done now?

Well, whatever it is John Simpson isn't very pleased with her, that's for sure! 

Metal Machine Music

A little light relief for a Saturday morning...

Update: I'm claiming nothing, but this hilarious BBC piece has since 'gone viral'. We, however, were here (almost) first - like the time-honoured German parking his towel on our English sunbeds in sunny EspaƱa - so I'm claiming this for ITBB. I'm also claiming Antarctica and Mars for ITBB. Sue, as is only right and proper, will be Empress of Mars and I will be more than happy to be Emperor of the penguins (though not without radiators and internet access). 

Friday 23 June 2017

Lord Prescott v Huw Edwards

Following Eddie Mair's interview with Boris Johnson on Wednesday's PM this exchange ensued on Twitter:

Incidentally, Wednesday night's Newsnight also covered it with Evan Davis playing a clip and saying:
Now that point was forcefully made to the Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson this afternoon, when he was interviewed by Eddie Mair on Radio 4's PM programme. Mr Johnson tried to rebut it, but it didn't go well.


Did the BBC underplay the latest immigration figures, which show UK population growth rising sharply after record migration levels, increasing by 538,000 in just one year and taking our country's population to 65,648,000?

Well, one way to judge that question is to see how much time was devoted to the issue on the main BBC One news bulletins. 

BBC One's News at Six gave it 28 seconds (midway through the bulletin), reporting it in this way:
The population of the UK has seen its sharpest annual increase in nearly 70 years. The Office for National Statistics says from June 2015 to June 2016 the population rose by 538,000 people. That takes the total estimated population of the UK to more than 65.6 million. It's thought the change has been driven by immigration but also more births and fewer deaths.
BBC One's News at Ten gave it 26 seconds (close to the end of the bulletin), reporting it in this way:
The population of the UK has seen its sharpest annual increase in nearly 70 years. The Office for National Statistics says from June 2015 to June 2016 the population rose by 538,000 people and that takes the total estimated population of the UK to more than 65.6 million. It's thought the change has been driven by immigration, but also by more births and fewer deaths. 
And that was it for both bulletins.

So the news was reported but not dwelt on.

The language used there - "It's thought the change has been driven by immigration but also more births and fewer deaths" - was echoed in Shaun Ley's run-through of the newspaper headlines on the BBC News Channel last night. Coming to the Daily Express's headline 'MIGRANT NUMBERS ROCKET' Shaun said, "The Daily Express argues mass immigration has contributed to the sharpest rise in the UK population in 70 years."

Net international migration remains the largest component of population change. 
Overall, natural change accounted for 35.8 per cent of the population change, net international migration for 62.4 per cent and other changes 1.8 per cent.

'Embarrassing defeat'

The BBC News website's home page has the following headline this morning:

The BBC report's sub-headline is:

And who is being quoted there? A politician or diplomat from one side of the dispute? No, it's the BBC's diplomatic editor James Landale. 

The BBC is highlighting its own reporter's take on the news there.

And that's not his only opinion. James also blames the defeat on the Brexit vote:

Thursday 22 June 2017

"Well, I don’t think anybody would know whether I was a Brexiteer or, or not"

Here's a transcript (via News-watch) of Nick Robinson's interview with John Simpson on this morning where he defended his claim that this past year has been "the worst year for Britain is (his) lifetime".

It was a remarkable interview on many levels, not least for the complete lack of self-awareness on display as regards bias. 

I had to smile after reading Alan at Biased BBC saying that the BBC "never lets a day go by without some snide passing comment about the Mail" and then hearing Nick Robinson snidely saying to John Simpson, "I can hear someone at the Daily Mail being commissioned now to say, ‘BBC Remoaner John Simpson whinges about Brexit instead of saying what a great dawn, a new dawn it is’".

And I smiled even more broadly after hearing John Simpson insist "Well, I don’t think anybody would know whether I was a Brexiteer or, or not. And, actually, to be really honest, Nick, and I bet it’s the same with you, I can see both sides of the coin" despite everything else he said in that interview (all negative about Brexit) and his previous expressions of opinion of the matter, not least this from 2016 about the EU referendum:

I'm afraid, John, that even if we don't know if you were a Brexiteer or not, we can made a very informed guess that you very, very probably weren't - or you would surely never have expressed yourself in such a way in public. 

Anyhow, here's the transcript:

NICK ROBINSON: Now, John Simpson has just taken up tweeting and he tweeted, 'It was the worst year for Britain in my lifetime', and it produced quite a reaction. So John has been writing a little bit more about that, and he joins us on the line from Oxford........Now, talking of terrible days, you wrote this phrase ‘The worst year for Britain in my lifetime’. I think quite a lot of people then responded to you, and said, ‘Come off it, Simpson! You know, what about ’72? What about ’74? What about the Suez Crisis of 66 (sic)? Why this year do you say it’s the worst?
JOHN SIMPSON: I have to say, only, only a few did, and there’s always somebody that, you know, wants to know better. Erm, but er, if you look back at it, I mean, 1944, the year of my birth, was pretty terrible, V1, V2 rockets crashing down on British cities, but erm, you know, there was real hope, people knew the war was...was over. 1956 was a bad year in many ways, the year of Suez, the year in which Britain really ceased to be a world power. Erm, but there was Harold Macmillan, full of rather phony self-confidence to tell is that it was all going to be well and soon telling us we’d never had it so good.  1972 was a particularly bad year, with Bloody Sunday and the IRA attacks and so on, ’74, when we didn’t seem to have proper government...
NICK ROBINSON(speaking over) Well you’re, you’re reminding us how grim it all was, so why are you saying that...
JOHN SIMPSON(speaking over) But...
NICK ROBINSON...2017 is worse?
JOHN SIMPSONBecause this is a real all-round kind of storm. We’ve got everything, we’ve got utterly weak government, we have got a time when the...Governor of the Bank of England is warning that Brexit is gonna make us poorer, erm, we don’t know where we’re going to be in a year, two years’ time. And, and on top of all that, we have these dreadful incidents, the bombings sure, but that doesn’t send to shake us so much, but . . . 
JOHN SIMPSON... there’s the terrible business of the Grenfell flats . . . 
NICK ROBINSON(interrupting) Indeed, you’re used to this John, but I might as well ask you, give you a chance to get yer retaliation in first.  I can hear someone at the Daily Mail being commissioned now to say, ‘BBC Remoaner John Simpson whinges about Brexit instead of saying what a great dawn, a new dawn it is.’
JOHN SIMPSONWell, I don’t think anybody would know whether I was a Brexiteer or, or not. And, actually, to be really honest, Nick, and I bet it’s the same with you, I can see both sides of the coin. Erm, but the fact is we don’t know where we’re going to be, and it’s that uncertainty, regarding that maybe, there may be wonderful sunny uplands just ahead of others, but at the moment it’s a bad time, and it was ushered in by the dreadful murder of Jo Cox with that awful man shouting out ‘This is for Britain, Britain will always come first’...
JOHN SIMPSON...and it’s come right through, and do you know...
NICK ROBINSON(speaking over) We’ve got to leave it there, I’m afraid. You have stimulated, I think, a national conversation. Perhaps will pursue it, and with two other rather famous Johns here of a certain age, we might be...might be able to do it on another day...
JOHN HUMPHRYS: (speaking over) We must rapidly move on, I think, from that (moves on to next story).

We'd like to apologise

These are from Guido. The perils of live broadcasting?  Or something.

Wednesday 21 June 2017

The state we're in

I thought it was pretty surprising that the BBC hadn’t shown any interest in last Sunday’s Al-Quds march through central London. Not even with the Hezbollah flags and that menacing drumbeat. It’s even more surprising, the BBC being what it is, that it didn’t even seem interested in the counter demo with those well-funded Zionist flags and inflammatory chanting. (We want peace!)

Have a quick look at page 15 of Today’s Times. What have we got? 

I haven’t seen any of those, but they do sound mighty offensive and Google should take them down sharpish.

In the middle of that article, there’s a highlighted column headed ”Complaints about ITV show.” Apparently ITV has received 72 virgins complaints about “far-right activist” Tommy Robinson. He shouldn’t have been allowed on ITV at all, they say.

Below these two pieces, there’s a double column entitled: 

At the bottom there’s a small photo of Sajid Javid comforting a woman after the mosque attack. 
“We can’t keep sharing hate and violence” says the mother of the Muslim child. “we can’t keep doing this. I’m tired and I want my child to be safe”.

So do I, dear tearful lady,  I want my children to be safe too. 

The facetious side of me was tempted to add ‘I’m so glad I haven’t got a Muslim child’ - but my facetious interior wrestled with my serious interior and it was a draw.

Now for something entirely predictable. From the Guardian. Finsbury Park suspect ‘made abusive remarks about Palestinian march’

It seems that the perpetrator of the Finsbury Park van-ram had been making nasty remarks about the al-Quds Day march (helpful link for any Guardianista who might not realise what a wonderful cause this march was for)
That irrepressible facetious side wants to point out the similarity between the name of the perpetrator and Sharon Osbourne. Either that or I’m going a bit deaf.

Not to be confused

God. At the risk of finding the far-right police a-knocking at my door, I’m tempted to admit I find the whole business laughable. Not the injuries - I’m genuinely sorry about those. But the fact is that for all the sanctimonious verbiage about ‘terrorism’ and ‘far-right’ the man wasn’t very good at it, was he? 
I mean the sole fatality was most probably pre-dead, and the entire incident had an undeniably comedic element.  (I wonder if there are any massively politically incorrect jokes out there - in playgrounds and pubs and places I wouldn’t know about.) 

The young eyewitness who had to speak for his father who "hasn’t got much English” also struck me as hilarious though this was announced on the news with the utmost sobriety. No-one could be blamed for wondering how long the hapless fellow been in the country. Then there was that video of worshippers trying to beat Darren Osborne to a pulp, and the Imam bravely intervening. Cartoon stuff.  
Oh yes, and by the way the Finsbury Park Mosque  has quite a reputation I understand. 
Abu Hamza’s old haunt I believe. No harm in mentioning it, since everyone is quite comfortable with bringing up Tommy Robinson’s disreputable past. 

Tuesday 20 June 2017

Defining terrorism

Some of the visitors to this blog will think I shouldn’t worry my pretty little head about non-BBC matters, but in the name of human rights I beg permission to deviate, alongside my usual hesitation and repetition.

There have been a few dodgy pieces in The Times of late, but recent events have created a mishmash of confused thinking - almost epitomised by Piers Morgan as per my previous post. Such a shame ITV took the video down.

Piers was trying to argue that Islam is a faith, therefore ‘good’, but Islamism, extremism, violence and terrorism are obviously ‘bad’ and entirely different.
A bully like Piers Morgan will typically clutch at any straw to maintain the popularity, if not the adulation, that sustains him.

On that occasion Piers Morgan was torn between associating himself with the views of a figure (Tommy Robinson) whom the mob has deemed to be ‘from the extreme right’ on the one hand, and on the other he was probably afraid of coming across as yet another of those ‘useful idiots’ on the left who pipe up all over the place as apologists for Islam.

The mainstream media have brought the debate down to a matter of semantics. They spend hours dancing on the head of a pin over what is and isn’t “terrorism” and explaining that criticising Islam amounts to calling all Muslims terrorists.

Tactically, they leave themselves with little choice other than to construct a giant haystack from a pile of straw men.

Tommy Robinson has learned a lot since he started his crusade. Are we allowed to call it that?
If we mean it in the sense of: ‘a vigorous campaign for political, social, or religious change’, then it should be okay.

He has developed. Nowadays he is more articulate and his arguments are more mature and substantive than they were before.  They have to be because he has a multi-pronged enemy to defeat.

One is the huge number of people who are completely flummoxed by the crime of criticising any belief system that is labelled ‘religion’.  Religion has to be respected. To tag a bit of religious piety onto a Marxist, a Nazi, a bigot and a racist is to make their toxic political opinions untouchable.

Tommy Robinson now knows the political implications of Islam far better than the bulk of his critics in the media who think of themselves as his superior. Most of them haven’t studied it in any meaningful way but they just know, Islam must be righteous, because ‘faith’. Terrorism is a distorted version. It must be, because ‘religion’.

He also has The State to fight. The state is trying to contain something that looks increasingly uncontainable. When it goes off, it will surely go off with a bang.
Putting Tommy Robinson behind bars, let alone leaving him there at the mercy of bloodthirsty Muslim criminals, is no way for any state to behave, least of all the state that’s supposed to represent the most tolerant country in the world. Silencing Tommy Robinson is not going to contain the problem. Wildfires have a habit of flaring up in unexpected places..

 First, I want to commend this article by Melanie Phillips in The Times (£). Never mind terrorism or Brexit for a minute. Melanie has articulated a very urgent threat to the social cohesion that the State is so cack-handedly trying to maintain.

Left-wing agitators are planning a “day of rage” tomorrow in protest at the government’s austerity policies, which they say caused the tragedy. The protest is being led by the Movement for Justice By Any Means Necessary, whose Facebook page declares: “We must escalate our actions to take down this rotten government, which has lost all authority to govern.”

(I read this when it appeared in the Spectator a few days ago.)
“What’s happening is an attempt to stir insurrection on the streets against the democratically elected Westminster government. Labour’s shadow chancellor John McDonnell has called for a million people to take to the streets on Saturday to force Theresa May from power. 
At a Liverpool conference on March 10, 2012, McDonnell said there were three ways to change society. The first was through the ballot box; the second via industrial action. “The third is basically insurrection, but we now call it direct action . . . we have an elected dictatorship, so I think we have a democratic right to use whatever means to bring this government down. The real fight now is in our communities, it’s on the picket lines, it’s in the streets.”

Give John McDonnell a long nightie and a little crotchet cap and he’d have a free pass to do as he sees fit. Not that he doesn’t have one already. (The free pass rather than the outfit)
Many naive Labour voters believe Jeremy Corbyn is a “nice man”. The reality is frighteningly different. A fearsome tragedy is being cynically politicised. Even before all the dead of Grenfell tower have been retrieved and buried, Labour is unleashing mob rule in their name. Compassion is being hijacked and weaponised in what is nothing short of a planned uprising against democracy itself.

Now, let’s look at Hugo Rifkind whose article happens to appear on the opposite page. He’s doing his Piers Morgan thing for Times readers who don’t watch ITV.

“Not all preachers of hate wear a skullcap and robes. Some wear jeans.” 

That sounds about right. However, I can’t be sure, but I think Hugo is saying that the right is just as capable of radicalising its followers as the skullcap and robes brigade. Then I think he’s saying that to flatter the weirdos with the term ‘terrorist’ is to absolve them from personal responsibility.

Surely, as soon as one commits an act of terrorism one automatically becomes a weirdo. Therefore all terrorists are weirdos, but not all weirdos are terrorists.

Was the Finsbury Park Mosque incident an act of terrorism?
“the unlawful use of violence and intimidation, especially against civilians, in the pursuit of political aims.” is one definition of the term.

The Welsh weirdo who ran down Muslim worshippers had a kind of political aim; allegedly, to “kill all Muslims”.  Was that a political act? If it was designed to put fear into all Muslims as well as bumping a few off, it certainly was. Also, the victims were most likely civilians, so on the whole this incident probably did qualify as terrorism.
But what if it was a revenge thing, or a copy-cat thing or an act of pure weirdoism? The political connection would be tenuous then, would it not?  And anyway, would the term used to define it really matter?
“If you do not like the notion that even mainstream Muslim narratives have a nebulous culpability for Islamist attacks — and I do not — then it seems contradictory to decide that western media narratives are culpable for attacks by people who consider themselves on the other side.”
Says Hugo.

Yup. The MCB won’t accept that Islam bears responsibility for terrorism unless we Islamophobes also accept that Douglas Murray is responsible for the Finsbury Park Mosque van-ramming.

If the MCB thinks it can deflect the notion that Islam bears responsibility for terrorism by arguing that Douglas Murray must accept responsibility for Finsbury Park, that is wrong. There are many flaws in this imaginary comparison. Apart from the huge difference in scale and ‘pattern’, and the differing elements of direct incitement to violence -  (some in the case of hate preachers and none from Douglas Murray) the most fundamental difference is that Islam is the catalyst and “the other side” is the response. The equivalence theory is not going to work.  There is no equivalence and no contradictory principle there.

My take on it is this. It doesn’t actually matter to me whether a murder qualifies as terrorism or just weirdoism, and equally I don’t care whether or not mainstream Muslim narratives have a nebulous or direct culpability for violent acts. The nature of the beast makes the question almost irrelevant.

I see the mainstream Muslim narrative itself as divisive, antisemitic, and wrong-headed. The fact that it’s a religion shouldn’t make it untouchable. Whether it leads to violence or just simmers away in the background fomenting division, it’s not good for Britain.  I don’t like violence or racism from anyone and I don’t want to hear excuses for any of it. Fearing Islam is not a matter of racism.
Journalists can dance on heads of pins as much as they like, but in my opinion they’re wasting everyone’s time.

Now back to the BBC. On the Daily Politics Tom Wilson from the Henry Jackson Society was invited to into the studio to defend Douglas Murray’s eminently sensible suggestion that “we need less Islam” , a remark he made during a discussion about the Prevent strategy. 

Yesterday’s guest on the programme, Miqdaad Versi, wanted the BBC to no-platform Douglas Murray for making that particular remark, which Jo Coburn called ‘inflammatory.’

She turned to her other guest, Lord (Digby) Jones to ask what he thought about it. “Well, we must be clear about the distinction between ordinary Islam and extremism” he opined.
So there you have it. There’s benign Islam, and there’s fundamental Islam. One is good, because ‘faith’. The other is not so good because ‘terror’.

It is a BBC-related matter after all, and I am worried about it and so should you be.