Wednesday 27 June 2018

"Diane Abbott doing your counting?"

This tweet from William Crawley's BBC Talkback programme didn't go down too well:

The long thread beneath the tweet illustrates the 'complaints from both sides' fallacy brilliantly:

One side points out that 'half a million people' is a fake figure, as even the organisers claimed around 100,000 people attended; the other side (many with #FBPE after their Twitter names) rails against the programme for using the phrase "the biggest moan-fest in history".

The point, as so often, is that those condemning the BBC for anti-Brexit bias here by asserting a massively inflated turnout for an anti-Brexit march have a genuine point (it is almost certainly utterly fake - probably out by a factor of five) while those condemning the BBC for pro-Brexit bias by moaning about the "moan-fest" phrase don't have a genuine point. 

Here are some examples from both sides:

  • Well that escalated quickly. At the weekend the BBC reported this as no more than 100,000, now by the miracle of BBC journalism it's gone up to half a million??
  • Factually incorrect and embarrassing tweet for the BBC. Even the organisers only claimed 100,000 (more like 20,000 max) so why say half a million.? Appalling reporting.
  • Get your facts straight wasn't half a million....
  • Suddenly it's half a million? The British Bullsh*t Corporation strikes again...
  • Half a million? When I read this I nearly spat out half of the 60,000 sausages I was having for my tea.
  • Diane Abbott doing your counting?


  • When was the last time BBC described a 500,000 protest march as a “Moanfest”? 
  • Usual biased BBC commentary, you really couldn't make it up. The once respected BBC now just an alt-right mouthpiece. #bbcbias
  • Moan-fest? You wish...!
  • Moanfest? Jesus thank god for an unbiased BBC...
  • 'Moanfest' (what a patronising term!)
  • This is appallingly. Under what authority do you feel enabled to smear it as a 'moan-fest'? At best this is lazy, pandering journalism seeking easy cliches. At worst this looks like craven prejudice. 100k to 500k passionately protested, you wouldn't smear other marches would you?

Of course, the latter crowd are missing the balancing part of the programme's question: "Is that the start of a great awakening?" That's where they're falling down, taking the validity of their point with them. Other might just as (unreasonably) moan about the BBC for daring to use the ridiculous phrase "the start of a great awakening" here.

Quite how such people missed that and managed only to notice the "moan-fest" bit is a question perhaps best left to psychologists (or psychiatrists).


  1. See: for an indication of crowd numbers.

  2. I like the one about the 60 000 sausages.

    •Half a million? When I read this I nearly spat out half of the 60,000 sausages I was having for my tea.

  3. Any advance on half a million? Do I hear one million from Jonathan Freedland at the back??


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