Friday 31 August 2018

In the footsteps of John Simpson

Jo Coburn, provoking me into assonance

Oh woe! 

I have to say I’ve got annoyed about all the claims of Brexit bias on the BBC. 
You have to imagine the BBC as this massive information tool broadcasting on radio, on television, on websites. 
Now, do we balance every single interview, every single day, every single time we mention Brexit and who’s judging that? Well, no. But is there some ingrained bias? No – and there certainly isn’t here at political programmes. 
I think we’ve done a very good job of hearing the voices from Leave and Remain and then even within that the shades of complexity. I mean I can’t talk for the whole of the BBC and I don’t listen to all of the BBC output all of the time, but I just don’t think it’s justified.

Altogether now (channelling our collective inner Mandy Rice-Davieses)!: Well she would say that, wouldn't she?

Chosen Images (2)

The news tonight that the Trump administration is stopping funding for UNRWA, the UN agency which gives aid to alleged Palestinian refugees, is being covered by both the BBC and ITV news websites. 

Immediately below their respective headlines is a chosen stock image and a caption. 

They differ quite strikingly.

ITV's chosen image shows confrontational Palestinians accompanied by the caption "The Gaza Strip border with Israel during a protest":

The BBC's chosen image, in contrast, is a classroom of young children (mostly girls) with the loaded caption "Unrwa provides critical services, including education and health care":

How isn't that manipulative reporting from the BBC?

Comparing/Contrasting (again) - and a Quiz

As per earlier comments I 'grabbed' the respective reports on the BBC, Sky and ITV news websites tonight at around 6 o'clock for one of the day's main stories.

The BBC report began:

Theresa May plot: Man jailed for life for Downing Street murder plan
A man who plotted to kill the prime minister in a suicide attack has been sentenced to life in prison with a minimum term of 30 years.

Sky's report began: 

Man jailed for at least 30 years for plot to kill Theresa May and bomb Downing Street
An Islamic State terrorist has been jailed for life with a minimum term of 30 years after plotting to kill Theresa May.

And ITV's report began:

Islamic State terrorist who planned to kill Theresa May jailed for at least 30 years
An Islamic State terrorist who plotted to kill Prime Minister Theresa May by taking "her head off" has been jailed for at least 30 years.

Strikingly, you had to go to the tenth paragraph of the BBC report to find the first mention of Islamic State.

Interestingly also, the BBC was the only one of the three broadcasters to quote the judge, Mr Justice Haddon-Cave, asserting that Islam was "a religion of peace".



In light of the above, here's a Friday night terrorism-based quiz...

(What Friday night would ever be complete without one?)

Here's how the BBC, Sky and ITV reported this story (in summary) on their main early evening TV news bulletins tonight.

Knowing what you know of the BBC's use of language, which of the following do you think was the BBC?:

(a) Police have released footage of the arrest of an Islamic State terrorist, who has been jailed for life for plotting to kill Theresa May. 21-year-old Naa'imur Zakariya Rahman, who is from North London, will serve a minimum term of 30 years. He planned to bomb the gates of Downing Street, kill the guards and then attack the Prime Minister with a knife.  
(b) A terrorist who plotted to kill Prime Minister Theresa May and attack Downing Street is starting a minimum 30 year jail sentence tonight. 21-year-old Naa'imur Rahman, who'd pledged allegiance to so called Islamic State, was arrested in a sting operation in Westminster last November. 
(c) A man who plotted to kill Theresa May in a suicide attack on Downing Street has been jailed for life, with a minimum term of 30 years. Naa'imur Rahman, who's 21, was convicted last month of preparing acts of terrorism. Rahman had planned to detonate a bomb at the gates of Downing Street and then kill Theresa May with a knife or gun.

(Answer in the comments field below).

Wednesday 29 August 2018

More of the same (at one remove)

The 'Must See' section of the BBC News website's front page this afternoon and evening features the following article as its second story:

It's a piece by a Reuters photojournalist called Juan Medina about the "rescue ship" Open Arms. 

As the BBC (emotively) puts it, Juan "documents the search for those lost at sea". 

The piece, as such pieces tend to do, focuses on the terrible story of a woman called Josepha.

The other images, however, suggest that Josepha was a very rare woman amongst those rescued by the "rescue ship".

Juan's Twitter feed (put through Google's translating skills) shows that, despite working for Reuters, he's far from impartial. He's gone native with the "rescuers" and their pro-migration supporters.

That's his business, of course, but why is the BBC telling us that we 'Must See' his take on the migrant situation, especially without caveats? 

More on John Simpson

For those who would like a little more John Simpson, here's the opening of his Radio Times piece (no link available, so I'm transcribing it directly from the magazine, £2.80):

'The BBC hasn't changed'
We're not biased - it's our job to give people arguments they hate
I'm getting really fed up with the complaints and criticisms being directed at BBC News at the moment. Not so much from our usual critics, the hardliners on the left and the right, who habitually claim we're biased because we're not actually biased in their favour. No - it's middle-of-the-roaders who are doing the complaining now. 
The great majority of moderate-minded British people have always been the BBC's strongest supporters. They back us because we try to give them a balanced, unexcitable, honest view of what's going on.  
But now I find myself reading article after article in the newspapers by people who start off, "I've always been a supporter of the BBC, but...". The basic idea is that the BBC has changed. Once it was even-handed, and now look at it.  
Well, I promise you, with the perspective that 52 years of working for it gives me, it's not the BBC that's changed, it's them. Maybe it's because they're so used to social media, and hearing only the kind of views they like, that they're enraged by having to listen to arguments they hate.  
At present it's Brexit. Before that it was Scottish independence. People have allowed themselves to be persuaded that there's something wrong with being given open and unbiased information from BBC journalists. Well, I'm sorry, but I don't think any subject is too important to keep our minds closed about it.

"Well, I'm sorry, but I don't think any subject is too important to keep our minds closed about it", says the man who isn't remotely open-minded when it comes to the subject of BBC bias.

Today's story

And here's this morning's main Brexit news from the BBC News website...

The 'emerging pattern' continues on an almost daily basis now.

Further reading

Here are a pair of powerful pieces from BBC Watch:

Please give them a read. 

Tuesday 28 August 2018

This best of all possible worlds

The main point of John Simpson's Radio Times piece however is that the BBC's World Affairs Editor doesn't believe the BBC has been biased in its Brexit coverage.

At all.

In fact, he's "fed up" with people accusing the BBC of bias. 

Yes, we should all thank our lucky stars and believe in the BBC:
So the next time you’re tempted to yell at your radio or TV because you think that some presenter or reporter is biased, when actually they’re just telling you something you don’t want to hear, pause a moment. You may be listening to the sound of genuine, honest balance.
Well, John, maybe plenty of other people are "fed up" with the likes of you - complacent BBC types - moaning on about us unhappy licence payers!

(Just saying).

The BBC has been biased over Brexit, against Brexit, and you can't even see it when you're being biased.

(This, of course, has, already been discussed on the open thread).


P.S. Ah but...

...'complaints from both sides'!...

The examples cited in the Guardian (in their report about John Simpson) come from 'the other side', and are nonsense.

And the Guardian even presents a 'fake news' take on one of them:
A total of 172 people complained that Newsnight’s presenter should not have described Facebook facilitating illegal campaigning by Vote Leave during the referendum as an “allegation”.
No, that was not what those people were complaining about at the time. I described (in great detail) what actually happened and what they were actually complaining about - and you can read it all again here

Even the Guardian can't report accurately.

John Simpson gets "a formal ticking off". But for what?

According to a report in the iJohn Simpson has told the Radio Times that he got a "formal ticking off" from the BBC's head of news (presumably James Harding)...
...for publicly saying the corporation was “too willing to allow both sides to lie their heads off” during the Brexit campaign.
Hmm, was that really what got him told off? Just for publicly criticising the BBC?

It's possible but, if you recall, this is what he said at the One Young World summit, as reported at the time by the Huffington Post:
The BBC is obliged legally to be balanced between different political ideas and different political viewpoints. That enabled all sorts of people, on both sides, to lie their heads off about what would happen, what might happen, if we left or if we didn't leave the EU.  
So I would say if people looked to television and radio for a clear guidance about what to do, well, we certainly didn't give them clear enough guidance about the lies that were being told.  
I suspect that if people had known the facts and had judged in a more balanced way the outcome would have been a bit different, yes.  
We let our viewers and listeners down.
I strongly suspect it was actually the highlighted passage that got him into trouble as it was such a blatant example of a senior BBC reporter betraying his actual (pro-Remain) views.

It's certainly what caught my attention at the time. I felt it brought BBC impartiality in disrepute. He was openly saying there that if voters had been better informed and used their judgement "in a more balanced way" the outcome "would have been a bit different" - i.e. there would have been a Remain win. 

And I think this is where the problem lies because I genuinely don't believe he could see at the time - or ever since - that he had taken sides there. After all, he'd 'done his duty to impartiality' by saying "on both sides" earlier! 

And could it be that he actually believes he got "ticked off" for being too outspoken in his impartiality? 

Is it actually the case that John Simpson doesn't really understand what he was told off for?.....

...unless John Simpson really did get told off by James Harding for being too outspoken in his impartiality. 

Maybe Mr. Simpson remembered correctly after all and got told off for accusing Remain as well as Leave of "lying their heads off". Maybe Mr. Harding wasn't remotely bothered by the passage highlighted above.

Well, it's a possibility I suppose. I'm still sticking with my first thoughts on this though.

What do you make of it?

At last, they've noticed...

Nigel Goodrich
August 28 2018, 12:01am, 
The Times  (£)

Since its first broadcast almost 90 years ago the BBC has become a significant player on the global media stage. Funded mostly by the UK taxpayer, it generated about £5 billion in income from licence fees and BBC products last year. More than £300 million of that is from Scottish viewers, entitling us to expect impartiality and accuracy. 

The BBC’s unique mandate means that it is supposed to operate according to strict editorial rules, including five public purposes, the first “to provide impartial news and information to help people understand and engage with the world around them”. When it comes to the BBC’s coverage of Israel, this purpose is clearly not being met: coverage is neither impartial nor informative. 
Today the Confederation of Friends of Israel in Scotland (Cofis) will back a UK campaign to raise awareness of BBC bias against Israel. There are numerous examples of the BBC’s editorial rules being breached but let’s focus on one: the frequent rocket attacks that Israel faces on its southern border. 
In the two years to August 2018 the BBC reported on eight occasions that rockets had been fired into Israel. Seven reports led with Israel’s military response to the attack rather than the original attack on Israel, which could give the impression that Israel instigated the attacks. On only one occasion did the BBC correctly reference the chronology. 
During that same period, there were 19 other rocket attacks on Israel from Gaza by Hamas and other terrorist factions, and four attacks on Israel by Isis from the Sinai. The BBC did not report any of them, denying context on who is provoking the violence. There is strong concern that the BBC’s misreporting generates hostility towards UK Jewish communities.

There is no mechanism to contact the BBC board to complain, despite the fact that it is accountable for all of the BBC’s activities. With this in mind, we would urge licence fee payers across Scotland to contact their MPs and MSPs and press them to relay their concerns to the chairman of the BBC board. 
In a world increasingly concerned at the rise of “fake news” we should be able to expect that the public news service that we pay for is scrupulously impartial and accurate. Only then will it be fit for service.

(Apols to The Times for reproducing this article in its entirety - H/T Kolya @ H/P)

Addendum to the above post

This video is part of the campaign mentioned in the Times article in Sue's post above:

Monday 27 August 2018

White House briefing

I think now is the time to retreat into the world of bad lip reading

Views on Venezuela

I saw (via Guest Who) a couple of critical comments about this morning's Today:

They were tweeting about Justin Webb's introduction to the 8.10 feature on the refugee crisis in and around Venezuela:
Venezuela has more oil than Saudi Arabia. It should be very rich. It was very rich, the richest economy in South America. Under its long-time leader Hugo Chavez it used its wealth to reduce inequality and improve the lives of the poorest citizens, but when Chavez died and the oil price tanked Venezuela changed. The new leader President Maduro has steered his nation into what can only be described as a catastrophe - a humanitarian disaster in which children are starving, hyperinflation is among the worst the world has ever seen and people are trying desperately to leave. 
Here's an alternative view: Due to vast overspending on welfare programs and the fixing of prices under Hugo Chavez, and the nationalisation and then abandonment of farmland, and the fact that the late president made the country dependent on selling its oil abroad, when it all came crashing down under his incompetent successor it surely only fell so disastrously because Mr. Chavez had already turned the Venezuelan economy into one huge house of cards.

That's a point of view. So is what Justin Webb said (or read out). And both are controversial, given their relevance to a major political party here in the UK. 

A "13-mile line of lavs"

Over at Biased BBC I see that Roland Deschain has "decided to attempt to keep an ongoing list of pro and anti Brexit headlines appearing on the BBC’s main webpage each day". 

That's a worthwhile project, given that the BBC website seems to be featuring at least one anti-Brexit story a day at the moment and no counterbalancing pro-Brexit ones, and such things need monitoring over time.

On top of the People's Vote story (which was my choice of anti-Brexit story of the day), RD notes: 
Here is today’s, this time in the guise of the paper reviews but guess what gets the prominence?

Well, quite.

Fancy the BBC making the Daily Star its main headline of the day!

The BBC's summary of the story runs as follows:
Leaving the EU without a deal will lead to such long queues at borders that the government is ready to deploy a "13-mile line of lavs", says the Daily Star. The paper says Portaloos could be installed along the motorway leading to Dover to provide "relief to stuck truckers".

OK, let me just end this section by by reading what the Labour spokesman's told the Telegraph...

Professor David Abulafia

I did think myself of posting about Paddy's behaviour here. He often jumps in and challenges or changes the subject (or both) when something controversial-sounding comes up or when he thinks the guest is going too far - and he did it last week when Chris Neal began ranting wildly about Boris Johnson (as I commented here at the time) - but, yes, this was a particularly 'edgy' interruption and a particularly determined change of subject.

As well as being interested in what historian David Abulafia had to say about the story, I was also struck by Paddy O'Connell's dramatic first interruption and then his swift 'moving on' from the story:

Paddy O'Connell: David Abulafia, you want us to start...wherever you like.
David Abulafia: I'd like to start with the Daily Telegraph, at page 17, where there's an excoriating article by John Jenkins, who was British Consul General in Jerusalem earlier this decade, this century, and it's called "To Islamist Jeremy Corbyn is just a useful idiot", Now, the Consul General in Jerusalem - very interesting post, because he's not accredited to the government of Israel. He's effectively ambassador to the Palestinians - and here is somebody who really takes issue with Corbyn over his contacts with Hamas and who particularly takes issue over the fact that, well, if you're trying to talk to one side but you're not talking to the other at all. And indeed the moderates, Palestinian moderates, get totally left out of this as well. And he makes the same point about the Ulster Unionists as well...
Paddy O'Connell: (interrupting) So do you think all politicians should disclose that talks with everyone in the past. I mean, what's the point? How far to go back? And then do we look at everyone? What's the public record? What should it be?
David Abulafia: I think when one's looking at the leader of a major political party and when some of these contacts are with groups which are frankly terrorist groups - I mean, the IRA and Hamas - then it is a matter of very great public interest.
Paddy O'Connell: OK, let me just end this section by reading what the Labour spokesman's told the Telegraph: "Jeremy's a long record of campaigning for peace, democracy and helping to end conflict through dialogue and negotiation, while John Jenkins has argued against Saudi Arabia introducing democratic elections". So we can see that this argument will be back with us next Sunday. Thank you very much. Marie Le Conte, where first for you?

At which the programme’s presenter Paddy O’Connell, with an edge to his voice, asked: ‘Do you think all politicians should disclose who they talk to in the past?’ 
If you listen, you will hear Abulafia standing his ground. With significant weight, he said that when it comes to the leaders of major political parties, and some of these contacts are with terrorist groups, ‘then it is a matter of very great public interest’. 
Amen to that, I thought. But not so Paddy. Was he content to let it rest there? What, let a guest malign the Left’s leader without a comeback? ‘Ok,’ he said dismissively, ‘let me just end this section by reading what the Labour spokesman told the Telegraph: “Jeremy has a long record of campaigning for peace and democracy and helping to end conflict . . .”’ and so on, as though this was necessary balance to a slightly off-the-wall opinion. 
So is this ‘balance’ now the norm when it comes to Mr Corbyn, used to cut off criticism of him? 
And is this the exercise of impartiality or the abuse of it? Are BBC executives using a perverted notion of balance to dissociate themselves from criticism of Corbyn when what they should be doing is investigating and reporting on his known terrorist sympathies? 

I did think myself of posting about Paddy's behaviour here yesterday. He often jumps in and challenges or changes the subject (or both) when something controversial-sounding comes up or when he thinks the guest is going too far - and he did it last week when Chris Neal began ranting wildly about Boris Johnson (as I commented here at the time) - but, yes, this was a particularly 'edgy'-sounding interruption and a particularly determined change of subject. 

And, moreover, it struck me as very odd that in being 'balanced' over 'controversial' remarks about Jeremy Corbyn here (especially as Mr. Corbyn wasn't present to defend himself), Paddy then read out the Labour spokesman's claim that "John Jenkins has argued against Saudi Arabia introducing democratic elections" (without Sir John being present to defend himself). 

And that is 'controversial' too. 

As far as I can see, the Labour assertion is based on something put about by an online London-based news portal called Middle East Eye. (According to Wikipedia, it is Qatari/Muslim Brotherhood-linked, despite its denials.)  That said, the writer is none other than Peter Oborne.

Looking at a transcript of what Sir John Jenkins actually said his point is that the Arab world is a hard place for democracy to grow, that elections there tend to produce "tribal, reactionary, sectarian and unstable governments" and that Islamism and democracy aren't easily reconcilable. I don't get the slightest sense that Sir John would be unhappy if a genuine stable democracy was achieved in Saudi Arabia. 

So, after then reading Peter Oborne's less-than-nuanced take on it, it suggests to me that the claim the Labour spokesman regurgitated wasn't at all fair to Sir John (to put it mildly).

And yet Paddy simply passed it on.

P.S. Here's another Middle East Eye writer tweeting about a "hidden hand" (a phrase with a strong antisemitic pedigree) behind the criticism of Jeremy Corbyn over antisemitism, and a reply:


Waking up to a wind bank holiday morning and checking the BBC News website, their second story today (first thing) is:

Neither Sky News nor ITV News have this story at all. And when you click into it it's a very strange BBC report indeed. It begins: 

Parts of that - and bits of several later paragraphs - read as being lifted from a People's Vote press release.

Who leaked this memo? Well, reading on, it turns out that it's an internal People's Vote memo. So, presumably, it was someone within the People's Vote campaign who leaked it. 

The BBC report goes on:

So to what end was the memo leaked? Well, it can hardly be to damage the People's Vote campaign, given that this BBC report can only help get their message across, puts it across in language that echoes their own, features no criticism of their actions whatsoever, and is written in such a way that it might very well appeal to the campaigners' target audience here: Corbyn supporters. So, presumably, the leak was to advance the cause of the People's Vote campaign. 

And why then is the BBC making this non-story - a leak from the People's Vote campaign helpful to People's Vote campaign - its second story today? Was it to to advance the cause of the People's Vote campaign too?

Unless I'm badly missing something, this seems like an incredible editorial decision by the BBC. Why are they brazenly gifting the People's Vote campaign here?

P.S. A very benign-looking Jeremy Corbyn is the chosen image to illustrate the story:

P.P.S. I agree with this comment at Biased BBC:

R4 Today opening news item:
“A leaked memo shows the People’s Vote campaign is seeking to change Labour policy on a second referendum. It is not an attempt to dislodge the incumbent Labour leadership.” (I paraphrase).
I strongly suspect that the memo’s author – former Labour spinner Tom Baldwin – himself “leaked” the memo directly to his buddies at Al Beeb.
In what sense is this news? The campaign in question seeks to influence the policy of Labour and other political parties consistent with its objective of getting a second referendum – duh, what else would it be doing?
Baldwin has recently written a book (also covered by Al Beeb) about the evils of paid political advertising on social media, which he thinks should be banned.
But he’s got no problem with his buddies at Al Beeb advertising his “People’s Vote” wheeze at the licence payer’s expense.
It’s fake leaks, folks.

A difference of opinion

Rob doesn't agree with John:

Good Sweden/Bad Sweden

Gabriel Gatehouse's thoughtful Newsnight report on Good Sweden/Bad Sweden was discussed on the previous Open Thread

"As usual with GG you get the impression he is thoughtful and not really a virtue signaller like most younger reporters", wrote MB, "he seems to be coming from a previous BBC generation, the post-modernist period, when talk was of "narratives" rather than quotas and virtue. He'll probably be marked down in his annual report".

If you've not seen it yet, here it is:

Gabriel's take on the Good Sweden?/Bad Sweden? question may be boiled down to 'It's complicated', and he ends the piece by saying, "Beware the simple narrative...Don't believe everything you see on TV." 

Though it features the expected digs at Nigel Farage and Donald Trump, it strikes me as a creditable, properly balanced attempt to figure out what's actually going on in Sweden. 

Comments are enable beneath the YouTube video. The top-ranked comment reads, "BBC are bipolar. Tomorrow they will be calling somebody racist for asking the same questions".

Sunday 26 August 2018

Gone tomorrow

You can’t say it’s never worth listening to the BBC. This morning I heard a speaker mention (on Paddy O’Connell’s Broadcasting House) a brilliant piece in today’s Telegraph by Sir John Jenkins, British Consul-General in Jerusalem, 2003-06. 

As I haven’t subscribed to that newspaper since their self-declared ‘move to the left’ I was pleased to be able to access it online by simply ‘registering’. 

Under the heading: “For Islamists, Jeremy Corbyn is a useful idiot”, this erudite piece by a person who actually knows what he’s talking about sums up Jeremy Corbyn and his ridiculous claims about ‘working for peace’.

In the interests of the greater good, I’ll respectfully steal as many passages from it as I dare. 
“When confronted with the evidence of his close association with senior figures from Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood and Hizbollah, and his presence in Tunis at the 2014 wreath laying for Palestinians killed by Israel, including those responsible for the 1974 Munich atrocity, Corbyn says he does it all for Middle Eastern peace: if only we’d all talk to each other more, there would be no more conflict. 
Fine words. But perhaps Corbyn might start by explaining how exactly his meetings with these groups, his clear sympathies with at least some of their aims and activities, and his public support for them has helped promote the peace he claims to want – though has failed so far to achieve. “

How well I remember the BBC’s continual plea - that we should “Talk to Hamas’. It was one of Sarah Montague’s recurring themes.
“When Hamas won the last Palestinian legislative council elections, in January 2006, I was British consul-general in Jerusalem. Progressive opinion immediately demanded that the West should abandon its policy of decades, talk directly to the new Palestinian government and continue funding it – irrespective of its commitment to the politics of physical force, including suicide bombings and other terror acts, its refusal to recognise Israel, its rejection of instructions from the Palestinian president and its structural anti-Semitism. 
And yet the only thing that ever really mattered was for Hamas to talk to Israel. There is no evidence that Western governments or individuals talking to Hamas had the slightest effect on its policies, any more than our talking to Hizbollah in Lebanon, the violent Shia militias in Iraq or the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt had the slightest effect on them. 
The reverse was the case. These organisations used those who talked to them as useful idiots, persuading them against all the evidence that they were committed to peace while continuing to do what they had always done and believe what they had always believed: that the problems they faced could be resolved at the right time through force.[…] 
It may be that I too don’t get Corbyn’s exquisite irony (anti-Semitism as the new anti-racism: who knew?). But for anyone with a normal moral compass, it is hard not to think that Corbyn’s account of his activities is deliberately evasive and deeply troubling. He can clear all this up tomorrow by releasing records of his meetings and revealing himself as the man of peace he claims to be. If he doesn’t, many may unfortunately conclude that he’s just another delusional, virtue-signalling, right-on poseur. “

Since this is bound to be a long post, bear with me or scroll past the following snip from Justin Webb and Tom Barton speaking on BBC Today 24/08/2018

“Labour’s defence of that point in context is that he was talking about a group of people, pro-Israel activists who were made up of both Jewish people and non-Jewish people and he was using….. 
“I see….. 
“… refer to…. this particular group of activists and not, they say,  to the Jewish community.

See? Here we’re talking about a group of activists, not just Richard Millett the blogger who apparently confronted Manuel Hassassian because he didn’t get the irony in the Palestinian Ambassador to the UK's comment: 
“You know I’m reaching the conclusion that the Jews are the children of God, the only children of God and the Promised Land is being paid by God!
I have started to believe this because nobody is stopping Israel building its messianic dream of Eretz Israel to the point I believe that maybe God is on their side. Maybe God is partial on this issue.”
Yes, it’s that old “Chosen People” meme, which is deliberately misinterpreted by most antisemites to infer a nasty kind of Jewish supremacy. 
However, it was Richard Millett himself  - he who supposedly doesn’t understand English irony - who, in his 2013 blog, pointed out the actual irony.  Which is, of course, that Hassassian started that particular rant - the one that Jeremy Corbyn thought demonstrated real English irony - with this gem:
 “We, the Palestinians, the most highly educated and intellectual in the Middle East, are still struggling for the basic right of self-determination.” 
If one needed to spell it out, which one really shouldn’t need to do - one would remind the good Ambassador that he has projected a bucketload of wishful thinking about who’s educated and intellectual and who ain’t. That’s pretty ironic - not the kindergarten-level ‘joke’ about “Children of God”. You know, when little kids crease up when pretending something false is true, that something big is small, or something black is white. Hilarious, if you’re three years old. 
Hassassian's joke is that “God” must be on the side of the devil. Ha very ha. But it’s not irony.

Anyway, for good measure, here’s the last part of the Today banter:

“Do you think this statement will make a difference, within the party - I mean I’m thinking about his own MPs

“Well, y’know I think there is, within the Labour Party a group of MPs, Jewish MPs in particular who have and are, taking an increasingly dim view of the party’s approach to - y’know - this broader issue of antisemitism. There’s the…. the broader row around the code of conduct within the party, whether they should adopt all of the examples that are included in the internationally accepted definition of antisemitism and I think, incrementally, each of these new revelations, and I have to say I think this one, in particular, is causing many to draw breath whether that statement will ease their concerns, frankly I think it’s quite unlikely.

Here’s another report this time introduced by an old BBC favourite, Caroline Wyatt. 

She too introduced Tom Barton.
“I’ve been speaking to Richard Millett who writes a blog about antisemitism, and for that blog he regularly attends pro-Palestinian events - events he where he thinks people might use antisemitic language in order to record what people say and write about to on his blog and it’s in that capacity that the was at a speech in 2013 y the Palestinian representative to the UK Manuel Hassassian, now, in that video that you mentioned Caroline, when Jeremy Corbyn was talking about Zionists who attended that event failing to understand English irony, now Mr Millet, who’s Jewish, said that that characterisation strongly implied that he was not English, and was, therefore an antisemitic statement.” 
When they say that I have no sense of English irony, it strongly implies that I’m not English and that obviously is strongly offensive. It was unnecessary to do it, and racist” 

And to be clear, you’ve lived in Britain all your life and you are Jewish but you also feel English?”
I’m very English - member of the Marylebone Cricket Club, big supporter of Yorkshire Cricket Club, Leeds United Football Club,  my dad served in the army towards the end of the second world war, he built up a fashion chain and gave employment to thousands of people, he’s provided more for this country than Jeremy Corbyn could ever dream that he could provide for the people of this country.

(Hmm! Sterling credentials for Englishness, what? I’m obviously a bit foreign) 

And Mr Millet called on Jeremy Corbyn to apologise to the Jewish community for those comments. 
But Tom, labour sources have told the BBC that Mr Corbyn’s comments were taken out of context. What have other Labour MPs been saying, and has there been any further comment from the Labour leadership? 
Well some Labour MPs have been very critical of Jeremy Corbyn. Wes Streeting said that the language used here was inexcusable and abhorrent while Luciana Berger said the video contained inexcusable comments - it’s also worth noting though that less frequent critics of Jeremy Corbyn, people like Catherine McKinnell MP from Newcastle North, Phil Wilson the Sedgefield MP also tweeted their support for Luciana Berger, which underlines I think, the concern among some Labour MPs.

There is some confusion about whether Corbyn’s irony comment was about a ‘group of Jewish and non-Jewish Zionists’ or just one solitary Richard Millett, but let’s let that go. The most ironic thing of all is that Corbs thinks only the Pro-Palestinians amongst us (and the Palestinians themselves, obvs) “know history.” 
That's so telling. I mean, it’s tantamount to a public declaration of ignorance about, (not to mention complete disregard for)  the whole “other side of the narrative”. 

Anyway, back to the superficial and typically shallow way the BBC has treated this entire here- today-gone-tomorrow debacle. (It looks as if it’s off the agenda already)

The way John McDonnell has repeatedly stated, unchallenged, that Corbyn’s remarks were taken out of context. 

Well, what is the context then? Isn’t it that the remarks were made in the context of an antisemitic conference amongst a whole bunch of virulent antisemites. That puts it in its proper context. There; “fixed it for you”, as they say on the interweb.

As for using the word ‘Zionist’ in its true, political sense - the term ‘Zionist’ may not be a convenient substitute for “Jew” every single time someone utters it, but nowadays it is nearly always used in a derogatory (and antisemitic) manner.  The true political sense is all but forgotten, if not totally toxified.

Back to my opening topic, "Peace." Jeremy Corbyn’s version of peace looks to me like this.  At the very time - the first time since W W ll - that his party is helping to create a more urgent need than ever for a refuge for British and European Jews - Corbyn’s vision of peace means there can be no specifically Jewish state in the Middle East. 

His vision of justice for the Palestinians means the Right of Return and/or international recognition of a hostile, predominantly Islamic, aggressive Palestinian State side by side with a weakened, vulnerable, indefensible Israel. Corbyn’s aspirations for peace amount to the creation of yet another of the most undemocratic, war-like, antisemitic states on the planet. 

Whatever Happened to Milo Yiannopoulos?

Anyone wondering whatever happened to Milo Yiannopoulos need wonder no longer. Here he is: 

Here are some Twitter reactions to his plight from various BBC/Guardian types:

"Ultimately, he was to lose to History in the form of Barack Obama"

It must be said that the BBC is paying handsome tribute to Sen. John McCain today.

Here is Nick Bryant, the BBC's New York correspondent:

(Wonder who he's hinting at there?)

And here is BBC Washington correspondent Chris Buckler's obituary for Sen. John McCain, broadcast today across BBC TV and radio:

John McCain was a politician of principle. A patriot, who believed in his country, and fought for it at tremendous cost to himself. As a young Navy pilot, he was shot down over Hanoi, interrogated and tortured. His captors saw a potential propaganda coup, when his father became the commander of US forces in Vietnam and offered him release. But John McCain refused, despite the many beatings he had suffered. On his return, he was hailed as a war hero and entered politics and would eventually spend 35 years representing Republicans inside Congress. But he was fiercely independent and often spoke out against the party, notably challenging the influence of big money on American politics. 
John McCain: The party establishment will have to finish me off anywhere. 
Reporter: Why is that? 
John McCain: Because I will break the iron triangle in Washington of money, lobbying and legislation and they know that would be very, very disruptive, financially, to a lot of people's lives. 
He may have challenged Washington, but he was respected here, too. And in 2008, he was selected as a Republican presidential candidate. But his campaign was not without mistakes and he was criticised for choosing Sarah Palin as his running mate. Ultimately, he was to lose to History in the form of Barack Obama. 
John McCain: I wish the outcome had been different, my friends. The road was a difficult one from the outset. But your support and friendship never wavered. 
In the divisive and aggressive world of American politics, there was always respect shown between President Obama and John McCain. But Donald Trump didn't always show McCain such courtesy. 
Donald Trump: He's not a war hero. He is a war hero, because he was captured. I like people that weren't captured, OK? I hate to tell you. He was a war hero because he was captured!? 
His influence was still obvious in the twilight of his career. After brain surgery, he walked into the Senate and stopped Donald Trump's attempts to get rid of the Obamacare health reforms. With a grand gesture, he turned his thumb down. John McCain was a fighter till the end. He lived longer than expected after being diagnosed with an aggressive form of brain cancer. His family said it was with his usual strength of will that he chose to stop receiving medical treatment, but he was a man who never gave up hope in politics, or in his own personal battles. 
John McCain: I'm going home for a while to treat my illness. I have every intention of returning here and giving many of you cause to regret all the nice things you said about me. And I hope to impress on you again that it is an honour to serve the American people in your company. Thank you, fellow Senators, Mr President. (APPLAUSE).

And here's the shorter version broadcast on Radio 4's news bulletins:

As a young Navy pilot John McCain was shot down over Hanoi during the Vietnam War. He was tortured, interrogated and kept prisoner for five and a half years. It was an experience that left him with lasting injuries. When he eventually returned to the United States he was treated as a war hero. He eventually enter politics and spent more than three decades as a Republican representing the state of Arizona in Congress. But John McCain was, in his own way, fiercely independent and always prepared to criticise and challenge the party's policies if he felt it was needed. Yet despite that reputation as a maverick in 2008 he was selected to run as a Republican candidate for President. It was a contest he lost to Barack Obama. Although the two men had a clear respect for each other the same couldn't be said for the relationship between Mr. McCain and Donald Trump. He was one of the current President's fiercest critics. Mr. Trump never forgive him for thwarting his attempts to repeal Obamacare health reforms. 

I think we can summarise the BBC's position here: Mr. McCain was a brave, decent patriot who made mistakes (principally in choosing Sarah Palin as his running mate) but, ultimately, was a true giant of US politics - a man who stands in sharp contrast to Donald Trump.

An emerging pattern?

Yesterday's BBC News website featured the following front page headline: No-deal Brexit 'worse than thought' for science. (That was based on an "analysis" by the campaign group Scientists for EU.)

Today's BBC News website features the following front page headline: Grand National 'could be hit by no deal Brexit' warns racing group.

Friday brought us Customs workload will soar on no-deal Brexit warn experts and Thursday brought us UK's 'no-deal' Brexit plans warn of credit card fees.

Lord Adonis, Professor Grayling and Mr Campbell must be delighted.

Don Quixote and his hapless squire had many such adventures, each more similar than the last

Don Sylvester

Amid all the wearying worthiness of so much of Radio 4's daily output these days it's a pleasure to stumble across a bit of pure pleasure-giving BBC broadcasting. And my recommendation today is yesterday's Radio 4 Drama, The Penny Dreadfuls Present: Don Quixote - a very funny take on a book which, like most people who've tried it, I've started but not finished. And it had an intelligent sting in the tail too (which I won't spoil).

It wasn't long before Sancho his new master stumbled across arguably their most famous adventure. It didn't earn this status because it was particularly remarkable, you understand, but because it was the first one and most people don't get very far through the book....

Think of the children

US to cut $200m aid to Gaza and West Bank

Immediately below it a stock AFP image which the BBC has chosen to illustrate the story and captioned The US has cut aid meant for people living in Gaza

Yes, the nasty US is cutting aid meant for this adorable little girl:

That strikes me as being manipulative reporting from the BBC. 

Eavesdropping on a conversation...

Ben Kelly: Speaking of a nationalised Netflix, the BBC has a vast archive of quality programming, from drama to documentary, that could rival Netflix. Yet they totally waste it. If you reply to this to tell me that iPlayer exists you’ve missed the point. Does iPlayer have all BBC sitcoms on it? Can I watch all of Attenborough’s docs?
Vijay Chopra: No, the best of it is usually to be found, guess where? Netflix! From Sherlock to Yes Minister, Netflix seems to have bought the streaming rights.
Ben Cobley: Maybe they don't showcase it because it would highlight how dumbed-down the new stuff they're broadcasting is. A lot of contemporary people would not appear in a good light.


Move over Alex Jones, here's Jonny!.....

Breaking news

UpdateAs observed elsewherecomments most definitely could be going better. The most 'liked' comment sums up the overall tenor of the responses so far:
More bullshit from the BBC. We had the Grand National before the invention of radio ffs. More scare mongering from Project Fear run in part by the BBC and its shady bosses who act like crime bosses of organised crime. The Queen will not be amused with Aunty!!!


Ah, Donald Trump was colouring with some kids and apparently drew the wrong colour on the American flag! Cue a major international Twitter crisis...

...and if there's a bunch of Trump haters taking something way too seriously on Twitter there's bound to be one particular BBC chap close behind taking it even more seriously

Saturday 25 August 2018

Where are they now?

Shami Chakrabarti.

Her omnipresent appearances on Question Time and her sanctimonious manner were more than infuriating, but I feel for Baroness Chakrabarti at this difficult time. 

I mean her embarrassed silence - (well, I hope that’s what it is.) 

Imagine how you’d feel if you’d been elevated to a position above and beyond your merit solely because of an inquiry you undertook at the behest of the leader of Her Majesty’s disLoyal opposition with the sole purpose of exonerating the Labour Party from potentially vote-damaging allegations of racism.
You’d feel pretty rotten, would you not, following the deluge of incriminating evidence exposing your cobbled-together inquiry as the load of distemper it obviously is?

Who wouldn’t be thinking of a way of stepping quietly out of the limelight if they’d concocted a self-serving autobiographical essay rather than a systematically evidenced inquiry, which looks more cringeworthy with every passing revelation?


Chas Newkey-Burden

Well, he zapped his website Oy Va Goy with nary a why nor wherefore a year or two ago. Something must have spooked him because the Israelophile of yore has reappeared as something of an Israelophobe. Which is a shame, because he once wrote a powerful article effectively demolishing the “they of all people” meme, which antisemites often drag out when accusing Israelis of committing Nazi-like genocide against Palestinians. 

It could be that he decided Benjamin Netanyahu was too right-wing. Or he might have had some other kind of epiphany. Anyway, his affection for all things Israel evaporated like a puff of wind. I’m only bringing this up because his Twitter reincarnation (allthatchas) shows that his new allegiance is to veganism, supporting animal rights and defending Jeremy Corbyn. As a couple of H/P. commenters note, he always was ‘a bit of a strange one’ and “I was wary of him”. Quite so.


I have a long memory. Stuff sticks in my mind from years ago, like someone suffering from senile dementia; and I often forget what I went upstairs for. Next, I’ll be looking everywhere for my specs when they’re on my head. (Apart from the fact that I never do that because Specsavers told me it ruins them. I’m very obedient like that, if you must know.)