Monday 1 January 2018

Scenes from this morning's 'Today' programme

Katya Adler

Here is a transcript of BBC Europe Editor Katya Adler's contribution to this morning's look-ahead on Radio 4's (far-rightToday programme. What do you make of what she said?

Matthew PriceAnd Katya Adler, Lyse Doucet there mentions Islamic State's, so-called Islamic State, fighters lying low in Europe, and that is one of the motivations behind the populism trend that you've witnessed in Europe, even though there were those big election victories for non-populists, so-called. 
Katya AdlerI think 2016 was seen as the year of the populist or the year of the anti-establishment figure in Europe. 2017 saw President Macron being elected in France, it saw Geert Wilders not becoming Prime Minister in the Netherlands; Austria at the end 2016 voted a former Green party leader as its president. But I think if you look at it actually, 2017 was very much the year of the populist anti-establishment, because I think that their discourse has bled very much into mainstream politics. And we've just had, now at the end of 2017, the formation of the new Austrian government. for example, where the centre-right is now married with the far-right, but also Germany - of all countries - the fact that the AfD performed so well in the elections in 2017, and we will probably in 2018 see the formation of another GroKo, as they call it: a grand coalition between the centre-left and centre-right, which is anathema to many, many Germans. And I think in the end this will only go to fuel the far-right AfD, and also the Liberal Democrats. who refused to make a coalition with Germany (sic). Their young leader wants to form his party along the lines of Kurz in Austria as well - centre-right populist, you know, flirting with anti-immigration sentiment but not going too far. And I think we'll see more centre-right movements in Europe going towards that, you know, saying, yes, we are European but we're anti-immigration, we're anti-political Islam, you know, those kind of phrases coming. And I think, you know, this goes against the predictions after Brexit: this idea that the EU would be strengthened. I don't think so. Actually I think you'll see that the strengthening of the Hungarys and the Swedens, the Eurosceptic Danes. These are not countries that want to leave the European Union but they are very distrustful of the European Commission. They want less power from Brussels, so more sovereignty for the member states. 
Matthew Price: What has happened in the last 12 months to Britain's standing diplomatically in the regions in which you work?  
Katya AdlerI think it's been astonishing. When the UK voted to leave the European Union the EU countries went through a whole range of emotions in rapid succession. And it could be tempting to see Brexit as dry politics, but it's not just in the UK this has been linked with emotion. So in Brussels, in Berlin and in Paris there was horror, there was upset, there was a feeling of betrayal - almost like a lover betraying you. It was amazing. This has now gone actually to quite cold pragmatism I have to say. But what's changed very much is the UK standing, because we were seen as 'too cool for school' . We were in the EU but we really didn't want to be in the EU. I know that in a lot of the press in the UK there's this thing, 'They never liked us, they never wanted us and now they want to punish us. But living in the EU, which I've done for so much of my adult life, in different countries, we were seen as so respected for our diplomacy, our international diplomacy, envied for our sense of competition, our kind of roll-up-the-sleeves, can-do attitude (whereas the other Europeans might sit around and have endless cups of coffee), and our political system revered by the more modern democracies in the European Union. We have fallen off the pedestal. That is not to say that we are seen as something to be belittled - not at all! -  but we're seen as 'another European country' but not 'Great Britain' as was so admired before. And this has been through the Brexit process, and the perception in the European Union of the fact that the UK voted to leave, trigger the formal process to leave, Article 50, and then had a massive discussion with itself on a political and social level about why, how, when, what. And it has. It's reduced the standing I think.


  1. What a load of rotten old BS. I very much doubt the vast majority of Europeans give much thought to Brexit or Britain's "diplomatic standing". If they do, they probably just want a deal done with the UK that defends their interests. I doubt many Europeans are too impressed by the Commission's posturing and game playing.

  2. I came across this article by Mark Easton written on the day after the Referendum in June 2016 - 'A less than United Kingdom':

    It gives a fairly straightforward appraisal of the outcome, highlighting the perceived characteristics and differences between Leave and Remain voters, the disappointment felt by the Remain voter etc.

    What struck me though was the total lack of any conciliation by the BBC in their attitude to the electoral outcome since that article was written. During the intervening eighteen months since the referendum, if anything their pro EU bias has hardened - with a corresponding disregard for the majority vote.

    1. I don't think it was a "straightforward" appraisal from Easton. Easton is the intellectual Pope of the BBC. This was the first draft of the received version of Brexit. Here we see all the familiar tropes - and lies - that the BBC has been peddling. In a parallel universe where Mr Easton was as enthusiastically pro-Leave as he is pro-Remain in this one, his analysis could equally have pointed out that there was a strong cross regional unity in the vote - only 3 of the UK's 12 regions voted to Remain and they all have strong particularist tendencies - quasi independent Scotland, London dominated by migrants and Northern Ireland with its peculiar place in the Kingdom.

      That nonsense from Easton about the pro-Leave element being found in the "countryside" is a load of farm ordure. He seems to have a sort of Stalinist mindset on this, feeling that somehow the "landed interest" in the UK has never properly been broken...that's why in other articles you find him such a keen propagandist for concreting over the countryside.

      Easton doesn't even begin to explain why the prosperous South East, well plugged into the world scene and culturally very advanced, voted to straw-suckers, no paranoid taxi drivers, no unemployed welders...

      Easton laid down the templates and the drones at the BBC have been following the ideological playbook ever since. They continue to do so, but I think there are signs of rebellion amongst some commentators who feel their own reputation for accurate reporting is at least as important as the BBC's ideological commitments. People like Kamal Ahmed...looking at his Twitter account you might even say there is a bit of balance there:

    2. My point here is to demonstrate by how little the BBC's attitude to Brexit has changed -ie not in the least way. We might have expected our national broadcaster to respond to the mood of the nation, and not to have become entrenched in the views of the minority.

    3. Mark Easton's name is to be found in the company of some of the most influential people in the land - on the list of Council of Reference for the Westminster Abbey Institute.

      The Institute was set up apparently under the following terms: ... The Institute runs under-the-radar seminars for MPs for peer-to-peer learning and reflection on political and moral resilience. These take place in the Jerusalem Chamber which is close enough to allow MPs to vote...

      One of their big banner headlines is 'Truth' - ...In public service, trustworthiness, dependability, wise decision-making and relationships all depend upon truth....

      On the face of it, we have the current BBC Home Affairs Editor working for this Council of Reference, in a position to influence Westminster MPs as they go about their business. Is this the role of the BBC?

      How Easton's role for the Institute might be different to lobbying is open to debate, but from his broadcasts, his opinions on Brexit have been perfectly clear. Does he leave his opinions at the door here as well?

    4. Interesting - I will look into the Wesminster Abbey Institute...sounds like a kind of Common Purpose front organisation!

    5. The Council of Reference is made up by a series of leading academics, courtiers, civil servants, theologians and members of the House of Lords. At first glance it appears apolitical - even above the grubby business of party politics.

      Having established that, the question is whether Mark Easton likes to promote the impression that he too is above party politics. The Referendum article above reads like a piece written in such a way - with references to the Industrial Revolution etc.

    6. The Westminster Abbey Institute sound very creepy. I see they've got Max "Mad About Stopping Brexit" Hastings in their lead photo, probably delivering some homily about why bombing civilians in WW2 was so moral.

      Seems they also operate the Chatham House "what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas" the plebs can't see what our money (and you can bet our money is being used here one way or another) is being spent on.

  3. Maybe it has reduced our current standing with the other EU countries, as a country we’ve been everything from loved to hated by Europe during our shared history, but we should be respected for being a proper democracy.

    We’ve put two very controversial things to the electorate in the last 10 years and respected both decisions.

    IMO the BBC should be doing everything to promote this respect of democracy to the rest of the world, instead they do everything they can to belittle it.

    1. What a lot of people - even the BBC - can't accept is that thanks to our Imperialist ambitions we are actually not much loved around the world and in many parts positively distrusted or loathed. The Brexit vote is really neither here nor there from that perspective.

  4. So we have 2 similar progs
    You referenced Correspondents Look Ahead & I posted last years mispredictions
    - Over on B-BBC @GCooper covers : R4 round-up of the year
    Yes, they all agreed (especially the hapless Jonny Dymond, who presented the show): Trump is a dangerous moron who colluded with the Russians to steal the US election,
    - Brexit is a tragedy (the hackette insisted we need a re-run so that we can conform to her ill-informed opinions),
    - the Internet is A Bad Thing and must be regulated by government as it stops people of low intellect (that would be us, fellow BBBCers) listening to the ‘balanced’, ‘professional’ lies and propaganda spouted by the likes of Dymond, Martin and whoever this vain and deeply unintelligent woman was. (Christiane Amanpour who said that @cnn and @bbc don't lie.
    CNN Chief International Correspondent.
    currently moonlighting on PBS
    She is a ’British Iranian’,has somehow been given a CBE)


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