Gabriel Gatehouse, which probably is his real name, would undoubtedly call himself a journalist. Tommy Robinson, who apparently also calls himself a journalist, is actually a scoundrel who goes by the name of Stephen Yaxley Lennon. The BBC constantly sees fit to remind us of this. I seem to recall expanding on that not so long ago.
I’d be the first to admit that I don’t want the kind of mindless impartiality from the media whereby the Devil incarnate gets equal billing to .. who shall we cite… I don’t know, the antithesis of all evil; the epitome of goodness and apple-pie.
No. I want my broadcast media to show a little distinction between the two. However, a problem arises with our old friend ‘value judgement’. However many times we’re told that the BBC advises employees to steer clear of making any, it’s abundantly clear that they can’t.
Those stern, schoolmarmish tones and that irritable, rude, aggressive manner always gives the game away.
Gabriel Gatehouse has been concerning himself with even-handedness recently. He has written and spoken about bias and so on as if he alone is able to take a disinterested and distanced view. But he plainly can’t.
In the short film he produced for last night’s Newsnight he was clearly trying to be even-handed and non-judgemental. I think. But sadly the usual signs and signals crept in. He reiterated one of his recent observations, which is that the far-right doesn’t like the media. We saw a similar example in an earlier film of his, where a Dutch-speaking protester wasn’t keen to engage with “The BBC”, which seemed to baffle Gatehouse.
Former “grooming gang’ victim Sammy Woodhouse spoke eloquently about being raped and mentally and physically abused at the age of fourteen by a perpetrator who is now in prison. She was let down by the authorities and branded a ‘slag’ by some of the social services and the police, whose fear of being thought ‘racist’ prevented them from intervening. “Instead of protecting me, they helped the abuser,” she said.
Gatehouse let this criticism speak for itself, but we soon arrived at the real message he wanted to extract from the conversation. He tells us that Sammy Woodhouse considered Robinson ‘selective’ and that she condemns him for not protesting about white paedophiles. “They should be talking about it as a whole, and not just by Pakistani Muslims”.
Of course, she can’t be expected to sympathise with the fact that Tommy Robinson isn’t solely concerned with the crime that she has endured and survived. It is completely understandable that her primary focus is the extreme sexual abuse of underage white girls. Certainly, Tommy Robinson has alighted on the issue, which serves as an unassailable example of Islam’s incompatibility with “British values’. Certainly, the phenomenon has provided him with more than a little ammunition, which he has exploited to bolster his wider fight against Islamisation.
“The majority of paedophiles in this country are white men,” says Gatehouse, repeating a statement of Ms Woodhouse’s. Well, there is a majority of white men in this country, would be the obvious retort.
“Go to any Tommy Robinson rally and you’ll get the impression that child abuse is somehow linked to Islam,” says Gatehouse, “and that narrative is being perpetuated by…” and so to a clip of Gerard Batten MEP, the current leader of UKIP, speaking into a microphone at a rally.
Speaking on behalf of working-class critics and ex-admires of Tommy Robinson was the aptly named Ivan Humble. He blamed the media’s inappropriate over-exposure of Anjem Choudary for labelling (and thereby unfairly vilifying), Islam. Our voices aren’t being heard, he explained, citing “Undercover Mosque”, and stating: “when we say it, it’s racist but when the media says it, it’s ok.
William Baldet, Prevent Strategy Coordinator, was consulted. I have to assume that there was a lot more footage of this interview than was included in the final film, because (for me) his message was incoherent.
Back to Sammy Woodhouse. The BBC has certainly used her observations as a springboard to promote their case against Tommy Robinson. She thinks that Tommy Robinson is taking credit for exposing the grooming gang phenomenon, when in reality it was courageous people like herself, “survivors”, who were the real heroes. She thinks Tommy Robinson is exploiting the situation to further his own career - “for his own ends” as she put it. But I suggest the BBC is exploiting her in a similar fashion, and, correct me if I’m wrong, I’m not sure that Tommy Robinson himself claims to have ‘exposed’ the scandal, merely raised awareness of it. If you take a look at today’s Politics Live, which I’m coming to in a minute, you might see what I mean.
The rest of the Newsnight item featured a discussion between a ‘fashion-victim-clad' Kirsty Wark, (what is that green thing?) Guardian columnist Nesrine Malik and Danny Lockwood, publisher of the Press, a newspaper from Yorkshire. Kirsty couldn’t pronounce Anjem Choudary’s name no matter how many times she attempted it. “An-jram Chowdy" was her best effort.
Lockwood was rather good, despite giving Gatehouse’s film a little more praise than it was due. Malik was Malik. “Tommy Robinson is an opportunist” she asserted with not a jot of self-awareness. The gist of her argument was that Tommy Robinson shouldn’t have been given a platform. He does it merely to “further his career,” she opined disparagingly, unaware of the possibility that she was doing the very same thing.
Politics Live took up the same theme and ran with it. They plucked relevant bits from Gatehouse’s interview with Sammy Woodhouse to emphasise similar points. Then they brought in Gerard Batten, and Jo Coburn was so rude to him that it positively cried out for a chorus of hooters blaring out “Value-Judgement!” “Value Judgement” raucously, like on Q.I.
Jo Coburn kept on reminding us, with a mixture of indignation and outrage, that Islam is “A religion” rather than an ideology, sounding like Lady Bracknell enunciating “A handbag” but with overstated awe rather than exaggerated disdain. She got herself extremely rattled and accused Batten of the heinous crime of “condemning all Muslims.”
None of the other guests had a good word to say about ‘convicted criminal’ Tommy Robinson. Not even Toby Young nor James Bloodworth. The word “Islamophobia” was bandied about as if sufferers from this destructive affliction were collectively abominable, contemptible and far and beyond the pale and when you come to think of it, not a million miles from (the heinous crime of) “condemning all Muslims”.