Tuesday 11 September 2018


"The BBC are not referees, they are reporters", someone said today. Well, the BBC's Reality Check suggests they think otherwise. 

Its leading light, Chris Morris, has a new piece tonight and he's definitely playing referee over the claims made by "a group of Tory MPs" and "the pressure group Economists for Free Trade (EFT)" in favour of a "clean break" from the EU with the UK defaulting to WTO terms after we leave the union.

Just look at the first claim examined. Chris Morris immediately rules that some of their calculations and assumptions don't "stand up to scrutiny". He then says they "assert" something, and further undercuts their claims that their "minority view" is in fact the correct one by bringing in one of their keenest critics, Prof. Alan Winters and quoting his rebuttal. A link is then given to another group of economists rubbishing the EFT. Chris then says that the Tory Brexit supporters are, however, "unbowed" (citing Jacob Rees Mogg) and then returns to the EFT and quickly rules one of their figures to be "slightly inflated". And, finally in this section, he then turns another of the group's contentions back on them. 

Now, that most certainly isn't just reporting. He's brandishing yellow card after yellow card, presumably so that readers will assume that the Tory MPs and the EFT deserve a red card for their claims here. 

1 comment:

  1. The fundamental problem here is that the issue under consideration by the useless BBC Reality Check team relates to a future state, so there can be no defined "reality" that the BBC is "checking" on. For things in the past, well yes in principle you might accept there is a "reality" to be "checked" but even there we know everyone has their own version of events. We know the BBC don't think they facilitated Jimmy Savile's offending but a lot of people think they did.

    So, looking at how things will post Brexit, what exactly is the point? They seem to rely on such institutions as the LSE, House of Lords, and Professor Alan Winters, who are all firmly in the Remain camp to find counters to the EFT's claims.

    The truth is nobody knows what will happen after a putative "clean Brexit" so detailed speculation is pointless. There was one thing that struck me though: "If tariffs were removed for all agricultural produce, cheap imports would flood in and food prices would fall - but the UK farming industry could be decimated."

    We know that in New Zealand when subsidies were withdrawn for the agriculture sector it didn't collapse. Instead "To stay competitive in the heavily subsidised European and US markets New Zealand farmers had to increase the efficiency of their operations." They responded well to the new competitive environment.

    Also - why would you necessarily remove ALL the tariffs in one go. You might remove them gradually over a 10 year period. Alternatively you can follow a programme of selective free trade agreements on agriculture with other countries, outside the WTO system.

    This is all about "taking back control" as the campaign slogan had it.


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