Sunday 23 September 2018

Catch up

Not blogging for a week leaves you stranded like a beached whale. You end up having too much to catch up on, also like a beached whale but one that's rescued and put back to sea and which then has to swim frantically after its pod. And then Time, like Captain Ahab, keeps on chasing you on its wooden leg. [Ed - And how, pray, does Time have a wooden leg?]. And you end up writing long, unfathomable posts like Moby Dick. And then the Norwegians come after you with their Norwegian model of EU non-membership and the Eskimos come furiously demanding you call them, I think I'm taking this extended simile too far.

Anyhow, here are some things I missed or just grabbed today...

1. Springtime for Labour and Jeremy

Mr Marr was in Liverpool this morning for the Labour Party conference and devoted his interview with Jeremy Corbyn to (1) Brexit, (2) Labour antisemitism and (3) the party's new policies.

(Questions on the later felt like a waved-through afterthought though).

A fellow blogger who I like and follow on Twitter - and who most definitely isn't a fan of Andrew Marr - was complimentary today, saying that Andrew was "doing a not half bad job" in "exposing that Corbyn wants to do just as much cherry-picking in any negotiations with the EU as he accuses the Govt of". He also gave "Kudos to Marr for being persistent in his questioning" over Labour antisemitism.

I agree, but I don't think he drew blood on the antisemitism question It was almost as if he was ticking off a checklist written with his production team. Mr Corbyn slithered away.

Meanwhile, it goes without saying that the far-Left were absolutely furious at Andrew Marr for focusing on antisemitism at all. The man is an out-and-out Tory lickspittle who has it in for Jeremy apparently, and they want nothing but questions about Windrush and Tory racism with Theresa May next week. Given all this pressure, it will be interesting to see if Andrew Marr raises those very subjects next week.

Incidentally, the paper review contained 'the new normal' for BBC programmes. No, not the fact that it was an all women guest list, but the fact that a far-left guest was platformed. Sitting next to Camilla Tominey on the sofa was Laura Parker from Momentum. To paraphrase Samira Ahmed, isn't the BBC guilty of 'normalising' far-left extremism?

(I don't actually mind one bit. I'm just highlighting the paradoxical position of the likes of Samira Ahmed here. And Laura was useless.)

2. Mark Mardell This Weekend

Today's The World This Weekend was Labour Conference-focused.

Its main subject was the (apparent) demand for a People's Vote among Labour Party activists (i.e. a second people's vote after the first one went the wrong way).

Mark Mardell went canvassing views, almost all in favour of a People's Vote, and then gave a less-than-impressive Labour shadow minister a grilling for (apparently) going back on her previous calls for a People's Vote.

If Nick Robinson is to be believed, this report and those questions were just the BBC doing its job and not adding to the push for a People's Vote.

Well, maybe it is just a harmless fact of BBC reporting that a programme we've spent huge amounts of time proving to have an anti-Brexit bias today led on the People's Vote push, featured mostly pro-People's Vote voices and then made a backsliding Labour MP squirm over her backsliding over the People's Vote question. Or maybe it isn't.

Ah but, there was another strand to this Labour Conference segment today. It questioned Labour's deselection process. Lord Hattersley was on hand to decry the deselection of nice, 'moderate' Labour MPs (i.e those from the pro-EU 'right' of the party).

So here was The World This Weekend leading on calls for a People's Vote within Labour and calls for the Labour leadership to be nice to the (pro-EU) 'right' of the party.

Entirely innocent, as per Nick Robinson? Hmm.

3. What Ed and Bob Said

“It’s half past seven. Still to come in the programme, Anjem Choudary, jailed for supporting Islamic State, will soon be released from prison. Is he still dangerous?"

So asked Ed Stourton on Sunday today, before taking sides over the Trump administration's decision to cut funding for "Palestinian projects".

Sue has given this a thorough fisking (above).

Though there was an interesting report on the growth of pilgrimages in France by John Laurenson (one of the BBC's most interesting reporters), there was also a classic BBC hit job on Billy Graham's son Franklin.

He appears to be rather pro-Trump, which might not help.

Franklin Graham is visiting Blackpool this week and Sunday has been kicking up a storm over (or, as Nick Robinson would say, 'reporting') the 'controversy' about his visit over the past couple of weeks.

A report last week and a report this week 'gave both sides' whilst being, very obviously, on the anti-Franklin side.

And then came the interview with Mr Graham himself by Sunday's Bob Walker.

This interview is almost in the same league as the one Sue transcribed, albeit there was just one interviewee here. And though you may feel as unsympathetic towards Franklin Graham as I do, I think you'll see (if you listen to it) that Bob was on a mission to make Mr Graham look as bad as possible.

And I suspect that's because Bob is even more unsympathetic towards him than I am. (AKA biased).

It was a deeply passive-aggressive interview: How dare this man say that Islam is a nasty religion? How dare he, as a Christian, believe that homosexual acts are a sin? "Many" say what he says is offensive. It's offensive, isn't it? Go on, Franklin Graham, say something offensive for me here on Sunday! Go on, go on, go on!

I think that sums it up pretty fairly.

4. From Our Own Biased Correspondent

I'm still waiting for a FOOC piece from Israel that dwells on the positives of Israel. This week's piece wasn't what I was after: "In Israel, Tom Bateman is on the hunt for the finest falafel as he hears what Arab and Jewish Israelis think of the controversial new Nation State law", the blurb on the website read. It featured a Jewish Israeli man "asserting" something (in favour of the law) and an Arab Israeli woman "saying" something (against the law), and it wasn't hard to guess which one Tom felt most sympathetic towards. Please think of the falafel.

5. King Arthur v Lord Adonis

I haven't watched it myself but I was fascinated by the social media reaction to Alice Roberts's BBC documentary King Arthur's Britain. Pro-EU types on Twitter were positively gloating that it would infuriate UKIP types ('gammons') and anti-EU types were absolutely appalled at its twisting of history to hammer home a pro-EU, pro-globalisation, pro-mass immigration message. Can I bring myself to watch it and judge for myself?

So far, no.

6. Salzburg

And to end, a Mozart symphony to reflect the big UK/EU event of the week - a Salzburg symphony no less by the 15-year-old Wolfie (no relation to Paul Mason, despite the Austrian famously being a Freemason):


  1. No. 5 - I saw that and enjoyed the programme. I did wonder vaguely if a point was being made about the EU as the programme's conclusion was that there were two Britains - one that looked to and was culturally linked to mainland Europe (the areas of origin of the Anglo-Saxons) and one that looked further afield, to the Mediterranean where it had trading links. I thought that was a fair thesis and certainly defensible.

    The programme was worth it for the Tintagel dig and the CGI done on that, showing the slate buildings as they likely looked back in the 6th century.

    I thought it was a bit dismissive of the old chroniclers who reported many battles twixt Saxon and Celt. It seems a bit odd that Britain was the only place at that time where differences were being settled by cultural interaction rather than a battle axe... Yorkshire was unlikely to be a major battle site I would think.

  2. No 1. You have to go way back to find BBC voices criticising murderous far left extremism (I don't apologise for the "murderous" since it always is) in the same terms that murderous right wing extremism is so enthusiastically criticised on the BBC.

    I will also say something that might be unpopular re Marr - I don't think he's up to the job because of his disability. It's sad but true. There are certain jobs that require certain attributes. If you want to be a fighter pilot you have to have 20-20 vision and not suffer from hay fever. If you want to be a top notch political interviewer on TV you have to be able to pounce at lightning speed. I really don't think Marr is capable of that. He has to read prepared questions and his follow ups are slow and laboured.

    No. 2 - Let's put it this way, Mardell sounded a lot more enthusiastic intoning about the possibility of the People's Vote Cancellation than he does when reporting on the views of Brexiters! :)

    No. 3 - Sunday must have misunderstood the Grahams. They don't care who's President just so long as they get across the threshold, have a prayer breakfast and photo-opportunity and generally get to promote the ludicrous Graham brand. I think Franklin's father was truly one of the most boring, intellectually stunted and sanctimonious people that ever walked the planet.

    No. 4 As I have pointed out before and as I saw pointed out on bBBC today, the BBC has ABSOLUTELY NO PROBLEM with the Islamic Republic of Iran being an Islamic Republic or the Islamic Republic of Pakistan being an Islamic Republic or Egypt being a United Arab Republic . But they have a problem with Israel being a Jewish state, despite the UN having approved its founding as, specifically, a Jewish state.

    No. 5 - I forgot to mention that our Alice can still skip daintily over the rocks in her cargo pants despite her now advanced age (for a BBC female TV presenter that is, leaving aside the tokenist Marys Beard and Berry). :)

    No. 6 - BBC Trending - "Does listening to Mozart decrease your intelligence? An American Professor from John Hopkins University thinks it does..."


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