Sunday 30 June 2019

Red Len v Red Andy (featuring Red Paul Mason)

I'm late in catching up with today's The Andrew Marr Show

Andrew's interview with far-left Len McCluskey of the Unite union was particularly gripping viewing.

My favourite bit needs transcribing:

Andrew Marr: Have you ever heard the suggestion around the leader's office that he's going to step down towards the end of this year?
Len McCluskey: Absolutely not. It's fake news. Jeremy is a strong leader and people should stop putting him under pressure. This idea, even from comrades of the Left - Paul Mason. He seems to have lost his marbles -...
Andrew Marr: (interrupting) No, he hasn't lost his marbles!
Len McCluskey: He's wanting...
Andrew Marr: (interrupting) No, that's not fair!
Len McCluskey: sack everyone around Jeremy...

Now I, of course, was mainly laughing there at Red Len's denunciation of Comrade Mason, ex of the BBC's Newsnight (though I shocked myself by finding myself agreeing with Len on quite a few things during the whole interview)...

...and I also laughed at Red Len saying that Jez is "a strong leader" and then saying "and people should stop putting him under pressure". (Who needs satire?) 

I then saw from Twitter that far-left ex-BBC Newsnight economics editor Paul wasn't at all happy with Red Len about that, and that made me laugh even more. 

The endless fallings-out of the present day extreme-Left are grimly comical, in a Monty Pythonish kind of way, but what if they - and their anti-Semitic hordes - got into power via a Jeremy Corbyn premiership? What price laughter then?

Weekend supplement.

That’s why Jeremy Corbyn is such a strong leader!

 Oh Len, on the Marr show, saying such weird things. 
I know!  Someone must have dared him to try and get away with playing ‘opposites’ all the way through the Marr show. 
Like the time when Penny Mordant took on the challenge of seamlessly introducing some outlandish word into her speech.

Wait till tomorrow, when he’ll admit he was playing ‘opposites’ and the joke was on the Beeb.


During a bout of insomnia, I turned on the radio - as you do - it’s a very effective soporific for we inso-maniacs. What I heard was something called A History of Hate 
Not wanting to appear like an apologist for the Serbs, or even worse, like an inverted version of a Nazi enthusiast who insists that “the Jews brought it on themselves” -  heaven forfend  - but I had the distinct impression that this programme was coming at me through a prism of rose-coloured, Islam-washing specs.  The moral of the story was that hatred of Muslims led to the Srebrenica massacre.

I don’t know as much about the Bosnian war as I ought, and I have no business moralising about it. Perhaps it was indeed a straightforward matter of ’good versus evil’ but the programme presented it as virtue in the form of tolerance, diversity and religious freedom versus evil in the shape of Hitler-style, racial purity.  If it was a lecture, the message was a warning not to mess with far-right/alt/right anti-Islam bigotry.  

Admittedly I may have got it all wrong, but in my half-awake state it seemed to me that a good deal of the actual ‘hate’ came from the programme itself, and it was aimed at ‘the far right’, a term that I took to mean ‘critic of Islam’. What’s more, I felt that as a critic of Islam, the hate was being directed at me and the message they were sending was: "you’re a hater and ‘look what hate leads to’ "The Srebrenica massacre. 
This sleep-time paranoia wasn’t ameliorated when the next item included someone eulogising about hijabs and gaily coloured headscarves.

See Rod Liddle? What is he like?

I’m not sure what the reproduction rules’n’regs are on stealing huge chunks of content from paywalled articles but I’ve only stolen the section about the Labour party. If you’ve got the  Sunday Times or have online access to it you’ll have read it by now, but if not it’s hidden over t’fold. 

But Rod, I haven’t forgotten - it’s not so long ago that you were still rooting for Labour (long, long, long after things went bad.)

Doing our duty

Doing our usual duty, I ought to report that the Labour leader in the European Parliament, Richard Corbett (who attends Jeremy Corbyn's shadow cabinet), has charged the BBC with 'pro-Brexit bias' over Question Time.

(Yes, I know!)

And pro-EU types have been making hay with his stats ever since:

Now, to be fair, his stats about MEPs on Question Time are correct and they do look startling. And maybe the BBC should have tried to get some Labour MEPs (like him) - and others - on.

But Richard is missing the vital context here. Those anti-EU MEPs were regularly outnumbered - often by large margins - by pro-EU panellists.

And why so many UKIP MEPs? Well, obviously, because UKIP were a major force in UK and EU politics until recently but had next to no seats at Westminster. To represent them the BBC had little choice but to mostly choose MEPs.

Labour and the Conservatives, of course, have had vast numbers of seats at Westminster and have made vast numbers of appearances on Question Time - vastly more than UKIP.

It had nothing to do with BBC 'pro-Brexit bias'. The BBC simply went for the obvious. 

I suppose the fly in my rebuttal's ointment is that Conservative MEP Daniel Hannan featured three times. My only answer to that is that Dan was probably the most high-profile UK MEP after Nigel Farage. 

The cheek of it!

A BBC 'public information announcement' on Radio 4 within the last hour ran as follows:
In June 2020, the Government's funding for free TV licences for the over-75s comes to an end. From then anyone over 75 who receives pension credit will still be entitled to a free TV licence which the BBC will pay for. We're introducing this new scheme to help the poorest older pensioners while making sure we can continue to provide the best programmes and services for everyone. If you currently get a free TV licence you don't need to do anything yet. We'll be in touch before June 2020 to tell you what you will need to do. To find out more about the BBC's decision go to
That really does sound like a party political broadcast on behalf of the BBC from the BBC.

Note how they place all the blame on the Government for ending free TV licences for the over-75s, even though it's actually the BBC's decision to end that funding following the 2017 licence fee settlement.

And note how they paint themselves, Robin Hood-like, as riding to the rescue of the poor. 

Wonder who wrote it? Ex-Blairite James Purnell? 

The BBC's brass neck is truly something to behold!

There but for the Grace of the BBC...

Talking of news about the BBC, the Mail on Sunday had a rum story today headlined Left-wing 're-education camp' is accused of training journalists to flood the BBC's airwaves with pro-Corbyn commentators

The MoS reports that a far-left organisation called the New Economy Organisers Network (Neon) - seemingly a pro-Corbyn equivalent of Common Purpose - is training Corbynista pundits to appear on the media.

"When they appear," the MoS says, "they rail against the ‘mainstream media’ and traditional capitalism, and are taught how to ‘swerve’ difficult questions". 

So far, so good for Neon it seems. They are getting lots and lots of invites.

And the intriguing thing, for the purposes of this blog, is that the bulk of those invites have come from the BBC.

Neon pundits have made more than 60 appearances on BBC shows this year alone.

One of them is Grace Blakeley, who many of us will have seen many times already on the BBC.

The disappointing thing about the MoS article is that it only names Grace Blakely. I'm intrigued to know who the rest are.

It looks as if the Tories aren't happy about it. "Last night, the BBC faced calls from Chief Secretary to the Treasury Liz Truss to explain why it was seemingly co-operating with Neon’s propaganda push", the MoS says. The article contains a couple of juicy quotes too:
Liz Truss: The BBC is of course right to seek a balance of views. However, it should not be willingly or unwillingly taking part in a concerted anti- capitalism campaign worthy of George Orwell’s 1984 to poison people against traditional free-market economics. It’s not as if the Corporation can be unaware as these commentators go on Twitter afterwards to celebrate their appearance. 
'A Government source': The BBC is giving a platform to hard-Left activists posing as journalists and commentators groomed by their very own re-education camp. If they ditched these hateful idealogues, they might be able to produce better quality, balanced shows.
If anyone comes across more names of Neon pundits, please let us know. Is Our Ash one?

BBC news

The BBC has been in the news quite a bit this week. Here's a round-up of some of those stories.

1. Channel 4 has complained to Ofcom about the BBC's plans to expand its iPlayer streaming service to allow programmes to remain available for a year rather than for 30 days. Channel 4 believes it could harm the BBC's rivals (including itself). 

2. Though ending free licence fees for most over-75s, the BBC is spending more on its 'talent' this year than it did last year, with the amount spent rising from £148m to £157m. 

3. There are now three women in Top 10 of the BBC Rich List - Claudia Winkleman, Zoe Ball and Vanessa Feltz. Hurray!

4. Though ending free licence fees for most over-75s, the BBC will be spending £3m on branded mugs, magnets, hoodies and umbrellas - freebies to be given to staff and viewers to promote programmes and “corporate identities”.

5. Around 7 million people watched England’s win over Norway in the Women’s World Cup quarter-final - more than watched the men's FA Cup final. The BBC's promotion of women's football appears to be working.

6. The BBC got accused of caving into the Foreign Office over its apparent censoring of Boris's comments called the French 'turds' from a BBC Two documentary series. Apparently, the French aren't 'turds'.

7. Boris himself based the BBC at a hustings in Carlisle, calling it "the Brexit Bashing Corporation" and adding, “All of their highly expensive presenters mean that they can’t afford to look after over 75-year-olds when it comes to their TV licence.”

8. The SNP's deputy leader criticised the BBC for an infographic which appeared to minimise the scale of the SNP vote share in the European election. The BBC said that the bar chart was merely indicative, but the nationalists complained that the SNP bar was too short. They wrote an angry letter to the BBC. 

9. Emily Maitlis got into bother for letting her dog take up a seat on a busy GWR train from Cornwall to London. She responded with an article in The Times saying "Photos of my whippet in his own seat tell only half the story. The carriage was not full, and humans had dirtier feet on the upholstery". And her poor dog is poorly.

And that's all we have time for I'm afraid. Stay with us. Now for the weather with Tomasz Schafernaker...

True that

Also on the subject of The World This Weekend, the tone of its Trump-Kim coverage put me in mind of a tweet I'd read earlier from the ever-excellent Alex Deane:
Donald Trump literally walks into North Korea. 
If Obama had done it - in media, fireworks flare from eagles’ wings as choirs of angels sing hymns of praises, the clouds part and the face of God emerges to call the President wonderful, counsellor... 
As it’s Trump... not so much.

Get Boris!

Two Sunday's ago MB described that week's The World This Weekend as a 'Get Boris!' edition. Last Sunday I called the following week's edition ''Get Boris With a Vengeance!'. Well, this Sunday's edition could be subtitled, 'A Good Day to Get Boris!'

Like last week's show, this one featured a 'BBC reality check' on one of the Conservative leadership candidates claims. Last week the leadership candidate Mark Mardell & Co. went after was Boris Johnson. They cast doubt on his claimed policy success over Russia. This week the leadership candidate Mark Mardell & Co. went after was, yes, Boris Johnson. (Jeremy Hunt will be pleased!) This time they cast doubt on his claimed successes in tackling crime in London. Chris Vallance's report did feature a defender of Boris - Kit Malthouse - but he was set against three very critical critics of the former London mayor. The report ended with Chris affirming that Boris's claimed successes are far from clear-cut. 

If this carries on people might start thinking that The World This Weekend has strongly taken against Boris Johnson!

"I feel an udder on my leg"

Oh dear, Evan Davis has fallen out with the farmers!:

What happened was that on Thursday's PM, Evan interviewed Minette Batters of the National Farmers Union - an interview he introduced by saying there was a case for eating less meat when it came to animal welfare, diet, health and the environment. Then this happened:
Minette Batters, NFU: We lead the world in animal welfare standards...
Evan Davis: (interrupting) Yes, but they are not very good, let’s be honest. You wouldn’t want us to go around showing pictures of what goes on in a farm, would you?
This led to Ms Batters tweeting "In 20 years of media interviews I’ve never been more shocked and sickened than by the interview with me today. Will you please, please apologise to Britain’s farmers?" and Evan replying "I acknowledge that my clumsy expression gave the wrong impression that I think all animals are mistreated. Fear not, I’ve been to farms and know that’s false. I’d never argue that, any more than you’d say all animals are well-treated."

On the following day's PM he called it an "excessive overgeneralisation", but didn't quite apologise, and it sounds to me as if he'd been reading an earlier piece in The Guardian (which he namechecked on Friday) before blurting out his original comment.

Hmm. Do you think that will be enough to prevent this happening?

Which senior BBC journalist lied to the BBC that she spoke Spanish?

Answer: Katya Adler

Here are three extracts from today's Sunday Times interview with the BBC's Europe Editor Katya Adler:


On the BBC's Nick Bryant

Nick Bryant

I've just found a post I prepared in July 2010. I was between blogs at the time, so I never published it.

(I'd forgotten I hadn't published it though, so I've had to look hard to find it tonight as it wasn't where I expected it to be).

It concerned the BBC's then Australia correspondent Nick Bryant, now the BBC's New York correspondent (though, famously, it's a rare day that you hear him reporting on news from New York).

This is it:

No worries

The BBC is nothing if not consistent on illegal immigration. It is always 'intensely relaxed' about it.

Looking at Nick Bryant's Australia blog shows this to be the case.

The BBC's Australia correspondent is always on message on the issue of immigration. He is squeamish about Australia's "messy debate over asylum seekers, which never arouses the nobler aspects of the Australian character". He repeatedly characterises illegal immigration as "the most paranoiac issue in Australian politics" (that word 'paranoiac' crops up in at least three of his posts) and is fond of using the phrase "dog whistle" whenever a politician talks tough on the immigration issue.

He quotes at significantly greater length from those advocating a liberal immigration policy and peppers his blog with posts praising Australia's 'multi-culturalism'.


The BBC, represented by Nick Bryant, is clearly disappointed by Australia's new Labor prime minister Julia Gillard. Whereas the chucked-out Kevin Rudd was an out-and-out left-liberal (and a pal of Obama), Julia is rather more conservative and isn't wholly on message over immigration - and isn't pushing hard enough either over 'climate change' (for the BBC's tastes).    
Nick Bryant, of course, still prefers her to the Liberal leader Tony Abbott, who is far more conservative than his predecessor, the Cameron-like Malcolm Turnbull. Tony Abbott once famously described climate change as "absolute crap" and Bryant is fond of quoting attacks on his immigration policies (lots of 'dog whistles'). Nick Bryant's welcome for the "highly erratic" Abbott's election? "By installing Mr Abbott, have the turkeys just voted for Christmas?"  
Several of Bryant's posts swoon (at length) over the memory of Gough Whitlam's left-wing Labor government of the 1970s. He even seems to believe the conspiracy theory that the CIA was involved in Whitlam's removal from office.    
Kevin Rudd is viewed as a tragic figure by Byrant - a fallen hero, once feted by Barack Obama, brought down brutally by his failure to force through plans for an emission trading scheme.    

On Obama:
"I said that a new cadre of politicians was emerging, like Barack Obama, who find partisan politics rather tiresome, counter-productive and ugly." Really?     

In fairness to Nick Bryant though, he is surprisingly fair in his reporting of the debate over AGW. He acknowledges there is a debate for starters -  and, unlike so many of his BBC colleagues, has done for some time now. He even quotes opinion polls that Richard Black wouldn't touch with a ten-mile barge-pole (namely one showing that less than 40% of Ozzies supported Rudd's emissions trading scheme in February.)

How's that for a trip down Memory Lane? (Ex-Ozzie PM) Julia Gillard and (ex-BBC environment reporter) Richard Black in one post? Ah, happy days!

And I did enjoy Nick's typical BBC failure to make predictions. Rather than "turkeys voting for Christmas" by installing the "high erratic" Tony Abbott as Liberal leader in 2010, the Liberal/National Coalition beat Labour in the following 2013 election (under his leadership) by over 12%.

So why am I mentioning all of this?

Well, firstly, because it will make it much easier for me to find it again....

....and, secondly, because that post did put in print some very clear examples of Nick Bryant's often highly overt bias during his time as the BBC's Australia correspondent - especially over the issue of immigration.

But, thirdly, because Nick Bryant has subsequently gone on to be non-too-impartial BBC US correspondent.

On listening to yesterday's Radio 4 Six O'clock News, and hearing that Nick Bryant was doing a report on the G20 Summit in Japan, I began playing my usual Nick Bryant game. I knew some biased comment or other was bound to come, and I guessed it would about Donald Trump (not exactly a difficult guess!), but where would it be - the beginning, middle or end of his report?

I guessed (from past experience, so - again - not a difficult guess!), the end. (It's a bit of a habit of his).

And, yes, his perfectly-coiffured and heavily-loaded dig at Donald Trump, President of the USA, re his proposal to shake hands with Fat Boy Kim of North Korea during his visit to South Korea, landed just where I expected it to do - and with just as much of a deadpan sneer as I expected too at the very end with these sneering words:

...but will he get his date at the DMZ the with his friend from the totalitarian North?
In what way are those words not a sneer from 'impartial' BBC reporter Nick Bryant?

"I haven’t slept in fünfzehn jahren"

The Brexitcast cast

I must admit that I've never listened to the BBC's Brexitcast podcast but it apparently goes something like this:

Slurs and insults

As discussed on the open thread, here's that controversial BBC video report on Marxism - the one which calls it a "slur" or an "insult" to call Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell Marxists! As MB commented:  
Also, the commentary says Marx's ideas were "reasonable".  
The video ends with the upbeat comment of a devotee suggesting that when it comes to Marxism "those ideas have held up".   
Marxists have been responsible for the intentional deaths of at least 50 million and probably as many as 100 million people over the last 100 years.   
Can you imagine the BBC adopting the same tone with the Far Right who are in the same totalitarian Death League?

Another comment on this video comes from writer Sam White:
This functions as Marxist propaganda. It *mentions* the totalitarianism, but with uplifting background music, and an overall slant that, well, the tens of millions dead aren't all there is to Marxism. Can't help thinking the responsible thing to do would be to put the carnage and total lack of freedom up front, and then follow everything else on from there.

The report is by BBC journalist Megan Fisher.

Saturday 29 June 2019

Gettin' Merky

Oh dear! I think Stormzy is making me racist. Forgive me, but definitely having racist thoughts. 
‘Yeah, f***ing repping, innit, I get merky, they get worried If you got a G-A-T, bring it out.’ 
It might be partly down to the lyrics and partly down to the BBC’s wall-to-wall promotion of Glasto.

(Neat patriotic stab-vest, though.)

It all began with Desert Island Discs. I’m having slightly ‘racist’ (elitist (?)) thoughts about Lauren Laverne, if I’m honest. Let’s just say she’s no Roy Plomley. Such intrusive thoughts even led me to question the rationale behind inviting Emily Eavis to present her eight of the best. A particularly dreary selection I thought. That says something - I’m not quite sure what. Oh dear, that’s another mean thing to say. I am a bad person.

‘Shut up’ seems like a catchy number. So I will.

Not quite the whole story

I saw a tweet somewhere earlier today complaining about a BBC online news report headlined Italy migrants: Rescue ship captain arrested at Lampedusa port. It began:
The captain of a migrant rescue ship has been arrested at the Italian port of Lampedusa after a two-week stand-off with police at sea.
Carola Rackete's vessel, Sea-Watch 3, was carrying dozens of African migrants rescued off the coast of Libya.
The Italian authorities had banned it from docking, but the vessel entered the port late on Friday night.
Italy's far-right interior minister Matteo Salvini is taking a tough line against migrant rescue ships.
Ms Rackete's decision to enter the port without permission brought an end to a prolonged stalemate with Italy's coastguard. 
I didn't see much to object to myself, but I thought I'd better compare it to Sky's report Migrant rescue ship captain arrested after stand-off with Italy ends nevertheless. That began:
The captain of a German aid ship has been arrested after the vessel docked without permission on a tiny Italian island - and rammed a police motorboat blocking its way.
Forty migrants stepped on to Italian soil after Sea-Watch 3 arrived in Lampedusa early on Saturday morning. Some of them hugged the crew and kissed the dock after their 17 days at sea came to an end.
Captain Carola Rackete was detained after defying Italian authorities by allowing those on board to disembark.
Matteo Salvini, Italy's anti-migration interior minister, has accused Rackete of putting lives at risk. He wrote on Twitter: "Outlaw arrested. Pirate ship seized. Big fine on foreign NGO. Migrants all redistributed in other European countries. Mission completed."
The BBC report neglects to report the fact that Ms Rackete's ship rammed a police motorboat or that Mr Salvini accused her of putting lives at risk.  

Upheld, upheld, upheld

Yes, complaining to the BBC does sometimes pay off. 

Here are three examples, published over the last three days.

The latest one concerns Sally Bundock's infamous interview with Tim Martin of Wetherspoons. We previously posted an earlier BBC Complaints response to criticism that was typically 'BBC' in its refusal to admit wrongdoing - except that the BBC has now admitted wrongdoing.

The directions of travel, bias-wise, here are interesting. The first suggests anti-Catalan independence bias, the second pro-transgender activism bias, and the third anti-Brexit bias.


Up All Night, Radio 5 Live, 21 December 2018: Finding by the Executive Complaints Unit 
The programme included an interview about the political situation in Spain with Irene Lozano, the Secretary of State for Global Spain. A listener complained that terms used by both Ms Lozano and the interviewer had given the false impression that the leaders of the Catalan independence movement had been convicted of crimes. 
As was made clear in the interview, the trial of Catalan leaders had not yet begun. However, the use of terms such as “these crimes that they committed” by the interviewer and “political leaders that have committed criminal offenses” by Ms Lozano conveyed the false impression that their guilt had already been established.
Further action
The presenter has been reminded of the importance of precise language, especially when legal proceedings are imminent.

The programme included a discussion of Martina Navratilova’s recently-published views on trans women athletes, in which the trans woman cyclist Rachel McKinnon participated. Five listeners objected to the fact that an invitation to another speaker, Nicola Williams, had been withdrawn after Dr McKinnon had made that a condition of her own participation, and complained that the resulting discussion was one-sided. 
The decision to accept Dr McKinnon’s terms was a matter for the programme-makers’ editorial discretion (exercised in view of the fact that Ms Navratilova had cited Dr McKinnon in the article in question and that Dr Williams would be invited to take part in a subsequent edition of the programme), and not a matter for judgement by the ECU. In Dr Williams’ absence, however, there was no challenge to the views expressed by Dr McKinnon, either from the presenter or the other guest, and the result was not duly impartial.
Further action
The programme team has been asked to ensure that debates properly reflect due impartiality either in their casting or in the nature of the questioning.

Business Briefing, BBC News Channel, 28 March 2019: Finding by the Executive Complaints Unit 
The programme included an interview with Tim Martin, Chairman of Wetherspoon, who was described by the presenter as a business leader “who wants a clean break from the EU”. Two viewers complained that the interview was not conducted in a properly impartial manner, with Mr Martin being persistently interrupted by the presenter. 
In the ECU’s judgement, it would have been easy for viewers to form the impression that the presenter held a distinct view of her own on Mr Martin’s support for leaving the EU without a deal, and the interview fell short of the BBC’s standards of due impartiality in that respect.
Further action
It has been stressed to the presenter that the way questions are framed should make it clear to the audience that this is for the proper purpose of impartial challenge and that a personal view is not being expressed.

I've seen it all now

Will Gompertz

14 January 1989 was one of the darkest days of recent British history. It saw book-burning on the streets of Yorkshire as a result of a murderous religious edict from Iran's Ayatollah Khomeini against a British-Indian author. That edict (fatwa) resulted in the author being targeted for assassination, going into hiding and receiving round-the-clock police protection. People associated with publishing the book were attacked and even killed. People died in riots around the world. And latent extremism within the UK's Muslim population became overt, with consequences that have echoed down the subsequent decades.

Astonishingly, last night's BBC One News at Ten reported the anniversary without mentioning the fatwa or the deaths that followed it.

And, even more astonishingly, Will Gompertz's piece proved to be nothing less than a celebration of the event, marking the wonderful moment when British Muslims got their voice.

Here's a transcript of this truly jaw-dropping, appalling BBC report:

Newsreader: It's 30 years since the publication of the book The Satanic Verses sparked protests right around the world. Some Muslims believed its author, Salman Rushdie, blasphemed the Prophet Muhammad. The controversy prompted a vigorous debate about freedom of speech and respect for religious sensitivities that resonates today. They are themes that will be explored at the Bradford Literature Festival, which opened tonight - in a city where a copy of The Satanic Verses was burned in public in 1989. Our arts editor, Will Gompertz, has more:
Syima Aslam, Director, Bradford Literary Festival: This is the centre of Bradford, the heart of Bradford. 30 years ago, this was also where some rather momentous events took place. This is where The Satanic Verses was burnt. It's the image that became seared in the national consciousness and became associated with this city. For Muslims collectively, it was a moment of crystallisation of identity. Prior to that, you know, everybody was Asian, there wasn't really the religious nuance. What you see at that moment is people saying, actually I live here, this is my country, I belong here, I'm going to spend the rest of my life here and my children are going to grow up here, so if I don't like something I'm going to raise my voice.
Will Gompertz: The festival is hosting a series of events, with contemporary authors reflecting on the politics of writing three decades on from Salman Rushdie's controversial novel.
Will Gompertz (to Ayisha Malik): Would your books - which are about Muslims dating and putting a mosque in a British village - would those have been published, 30 years ago, and would they have created a reaction if they were? Ayisha Malik, author: No, I don't think they would have been published and certainly not a book about a mosque in a village, because that conversation wasn't even happening and I don't think we were part of things in that way. I think a writer should be allowed to write whatever they want to write about, that is just categorical. What I do think, though, is that you have a responsibility. I don't believe in censorship when it comes to writing, but I do think that you have to bear the consequences of what you write. 
A new play, Imam Imran, which is part of the festival programme. It explores issues of identity, perception, protest and faith.
Will Gompertz (to Iqbal Khan): So if you go back 30 years to the burning of The Satanic Verses and that moment and everything that happened since, where does this play bring us to? Iqbal Khan, director: OK, so I think it brings us to a place where I think the confidence to protest is more present now I think than it was then. I think the protest now is more articulate, more subtle and more nuanced. I think also particularly in the way the play deals with these issues, there's the confidence to use satire, to use humour, to use other ways of addressing the issues other than naked anger and frustration.     
The subject of protest is extended to the festival itself. Some authors have pulled out of events after discovering a government counter-extremism scheme had provided funding, proving once again that art and politics are not strange bedfellows, but are intimately connected. Will Gompertz, BBC News, Bradford. 

Friday 28 June 2019

Suspended again!

“It was Keith Vaz - a former minister who is not seen as politically close to Chris Williamson - who had the pivotal vote over whether to readmit the Derby North MP.
He is now calling the process into question and suggesting the whole thing could be re-run - an action replay that could give a different result and defuse a potentially explosive internal row.
Mr Vaz was brought into the process at the last minute and the theory being advanced by some in leadership circles is that he initially and mistakenly did what he thought Mr Corbyn wanted, the better to avoid a deselection threat.
When he saw the strength of the backlash, he suggested effectively re-running the process.
But Mr Corbyn is in a difficult position - one his internal opponents relish.”

(Was this written before the decision to re-suspend Chris Williamson?)

Vim Jaz

“There was a large backlash from Labour peers and MPs after Mr Williamson was allowed back into the party on Wednesday.
Deputy leader Tom Watson was among more than 100 of them to sign a letter calling for Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn to act and remove the whip from the Derby North MP.
Seventy-one Labour politicians also wrote to the chair of the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP), John Cryer, earlier, asking him to begin a process that could have lead (sic) to the whip being withdrawn from Mr Williamson if Mr Corbyn didn't act.
BBC political correspondent Iain Watson said the whip being removed again was "an attempt to defuse" the situation.
Mr Williamson said he "deeply" regretted the remarks and did not want anyone to think he was "minimising the cancer of anti-Semitism".
After his readmission, he told BBC Radio Derby: "Anybody who knows me, who knows my record, knows I'm someone who has stood up against bigotry throughout my political life and indeed beforehand.”

Does not having a single racist bone in your body include the backbone?

This earlier web post is roughly a written version of the broadcast I transcribed earlier. Maybe I needn't have bothered.

It still irks me to read that Mr Vaz's vote was the 'pivotal' one. In the broadcast, Watson explained why the Blairite member of the trio would have voted not to reinstate Williamson, but not a squeak about why the third member would have voted to reinstate him. If Williamson's suspension is for antisemitism, why isn't this lady's rather obvious antisemitism a matter of interest to the public? 


Stephen Daisley on top form.

Sticky Mess

I suspect you’ve had enough of this business, but I’m not quite done yet. I listened with interest to Iain Watson’s ‘romp’ through the Labour Party’s current turmoil on the Today Programme at about 6:32, this am, and I thought I’d share it with you. Of course, you don’t have to read it if you don’t want to. It’s free. Free at the point of delivery.

The biggest obstacle I face as an unskilled manual transcriber is the breakneck speed at which Iain Watson delivered his "romp" through the goings-on "beneath the surface" of the Labour Party’s latest shenanigans as well as not necessarily the greatest vocal clarity. 

The next worry is that there was a bit of skirting around the matter of Keith Vaz (or, as he’s also known, ‘Jim”) Or if you like, Jim Vaz., which some absurdist commenters on Guido’s site have Spoonerized into ‘Vim Jazz'.

So according to Iain Watson, Jim (or Vim) - and let’s face it, no-one wants to impugn anyone’s character - was trying to ‘do what he thought was the right thing’ - i.e., not lose another Labour seat. 

One wonders if the general objective is to bring about a Labour government ‘at all costs’? (One of the costs being that people like Huda Elmi determine the direction of travel)

Iain Watson gave us a deep analysis of what’s just happened without even mentioning Ms Elmi by name. He didn’t elaborate on her role in this particular process, nor did he seem interested in seeking out any justification of her position on the NEC. To me, that speaks volumes about the Labour party and the BBC.  

P.S. I can see that people like Watson must feel a little 'between a rock and a hard place'. One of the Tweets that popped up prominently in a Google search for ‘Iain Watson Twitter’ was this. Vile remarks by deeply antisemitic hard-left  Corbynites point us in the direction we’re heading.  FFS.

Nick R
Jeremy Corbyn is in trouble, deep trouble. Labour’s deputy leader and more than 100 MPs and peers are demanding that he overturns the decision to readmit an MP to the party who was suspended for saying that Labour had been too apologetic about antisemitism. Our political correspondent is Ian Watson. Any sense of what the Labour leader will now do, Ian?

Iain W
I think he’ll stick to his line that these processes need to be followed, Nick, and that he has got no part in it because, what he and his supporters would say, is quite simply this, that when there’s an outrage about when emails were leaked to the Sunday Times and other publications earlier this year suggesting that the leader’s office had been involved in disciplinary cases and many people who are criticising him now said at the time that he shouldn’t be involved, and his staff shouldn’t be involved, so he’s saying actually the independence of this process is quite important, but as you point out he’s coming under pressure.
Jon Lansman, the founder of Momentum saying that Chris Williamson has to go, Labour councillors now signing a statement criticising the decision to reinstate him, you mentioned the Labour Peers and MPs of course there’s also Labour Party staff speaking out as well, so the pressure on Jeremy Corbyn is growing, but I should say there’s an awful lot going on beneath the surface as well here,  time’s limited but I’m gonna romp through it.
Firstly there is genuine outrage in the parliamentary party about the Chris Williamson decision but we should also be aware of the timing, The timing is particularly toxic because the general secretary of the party just really basically had the starting gun on parliamentary selections - only last week she fired that gun, lots of people feel they could be potentially wounded, so they are saying - as one labour MP said to me privately, if they think that the threat of deselections for people who are being disloyal is going to shut us up, in fact it’s going to do the opposite, so maybe the people that signed that Tom Watson statement are also very happy to have a go at Jeremy Corbyn, and the Labour leadership at this particular time.

And there’s a puzzle here, isn’t there, in one of the people actually involved in doing reversing the suspension and bringing Mr Williamson back into the party actually now said he wants it rethought again. 
Ah yes, this is Keith Vaz, I don’t want to impugn his character in any way but this brings us back a little bit to this question of parliamentary selection actually Nick, because interestingly enough and certainly close to what sources close to the leadership think, is that in this panel of three, there’s one person who’s never going to bring Chris Williamson back, George Howarth, a big supporter of Tony Blair in the past as a constituency representative, but Keith Vaz who was fairly pivotal; he was brought into this process at the last minute and some people believed that what he was doing was trying to avoid being deselected by the left in his constituency so he did what he thought the Labour leader’s office would have wanted.
The irony is that partly they didn’t want this at all, that privately their relations with Chris Williamson have completely broken down and they thought the NEC, the National Executive Committee, the officers, would take a tougher line on Chris Williamson than they did.
But they’re now in this difficult situation where they’ve given the deputy leader Tom Watson a stick with which to beat them and they have to hide behind also the defence of these existing processes and therefore Jeremy Corbyn is not coming in and, as his critics would say, leading from the front, and himself taking the whip away from Chris Williamson, so a bit of a sticky mess.