Thursday 31 October 2019


I had to go out earlier than usual this morning so I missed most of this. Much as I’d like to, I haven’t time to dissect it further, but Douglas Murray’s own account of the ambush is all you really need to know. 

"Ah, the BBC. There’s really nothing like it is there? 
This morning I had the pleasure of appearing on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme. I know what you’re already thinking: ‘You fool, you fool – it’s a trap’. But I was phoned last night and asked if I would come on this morning to discuss Barack Obama’s recent remarks against ‘wokeness’. 
At some inconvenience to myself I rearranged my schedule, got up early and headed to the BBC. Only to discover that I was today’s BBC effort at replaying the recent Rod Liddle – Emily Maitlis exchange. 
 In recent years, a lot of people from the BBC have approached me to ask what has gone wrong with their own programmes. I’m also fairly often approached by people from the corporation asking me to help them get on various prominent guests who they are having trouble booking and who they wish me to help persuade. 
In recent years these asks have increased because a growing number of people no longer need the BBC and regard it as an ever-less attractive or necessary platform to appear on. There are a number of reasons for that. One is that in the age of long-form podcasts listened to by millions it is unclear why anyone would want to go on a programme where you are in a four-minute ding-dong, most of the airtime in which is taken up trying to correct the presenter’s mischaracterisations of you. 
Another is the certainty that if you accept an invitation your good will almost certainly will be abused by pulling exactly the sort of unenlightening ambush that Nick Robinson tried this morning. Another reason is simply the growing sense that the real conversation is happening elsewhere.

"Ambassadors of Palestine"

Can anyone fill in the missing words? Look at the video of Husam Zomlot, the PLO representative in the UK who calls himself the "Ambassador of Palestine at the UK.” The speech was made during the Pearson Global Forum in Berlin earlier this month. (H/T EoZ)

I transcribed it as best I could, but if anyone can decipher the two missing words I’d be grateful. (Click on the first link above) I want to ‘trouser’ it for when I need to explain why I think people are wasting their time thinking of a future Palestinian state as any kind of ‘solution'.

“About the two state solution. Let me explain something that I think is missed in the discussion. 
"People think the two state solution is a Palestinian demand. Wherever we go now they tell us, “ah yea I know: you demand a two state solution, you aspire, in territory you claim to be yours!” Language like that. Even in major, you know, newspapers, that the Palestinians want to be their state - the land territory that the Palestinians want to the theres. This is really really…..  it must end! 
"Number one, the Palestinians, you know, the two state solution was never a Palestinian demand; it was a Palestinian concession! And it was a Palestinian concession towards becoming ????? with international ????????? 
For Palestinians it doesn’t make sense that early on, the starting point of foregoing 78% of what was rightly yours, you don’t start there. Start somewhere else."
Guido’s video here is another beauty. 

“Also, thank Phyllis Starkey for all her work for Palestine while she was in parliament…..
I felt the urge to transcribe the first few words of this clip because who the hell is “Phyllis Starkey when she’s at home, as the saying goes. At first, I thought he was saying “Thanks for Liz Starkey” then I realised my mistake - but why does Milton Keynes, or for that matter the UK Parliament,  need someone to “work for Palestine”?
Oh look, she supports Isis too! (joke)  "Member of Isis Community Boatrd (sic)

Wednesday 30 October 2019

Half-hearted valedictory


Before I throw in the towel, (I haven’t quite made up my mind yet) I have to relieve myself of some of the things I’ve been fretting about.

First of all, a number of worrying articles have popped up recently concerning potential Labour Party candidates, which reveal depressing indications that the Islamisation of this country is inevitable

Although ‘racism’ is deemed a crime beyond the pale, and antisemitism (unfortunately for some) is universally accepted as racism in its purest form, I can’t understand how the BBC gets away with - not just turning blind eye to antisemitism, but actively promoting individuals with antisemitic views. Everyone colludes in this charade, all the time. Let’s pretend it isn’t there. Massive elephant.

As regular readers will know, I enjoy reading the once-upon-a-time left-wing, pro-Israel website Harry’s Place. The current left-wing antisemitism issue has put the kibosh on HP’s default pro-Labour position, but this radical swing could be purely down to the Corbyn factor since enthusiasm for Conservative politics isn’t really there either. 

Personally, I believe the Labour Party’s antisemitism and Islamisation have already gone too far. It’s endemic, at least as fas as its outright and vote-winning opposition to Israel and Zionism is concerned, and the potential resignation or abdication of Jeremy Corbyn, with or without the shadow chancellor, will make very little difference. It’s irreversible - and it still will be even if the antisemitism factor itself manages to creep back under the stone for another while.  

If you follow the links on our sidebar you will have noticed these posts. 
“Labour’s Crank Candidates – Salma Yaqoob, Ali Milani, Jo Bird, Luke Cresswell” and the debate about Shaista Aziz, which is particularly interesting because she styles herself as a modern Muslim who “dabbles” in stand-up comedy. (Mind you, going by the clip I’ve seen my advice would be not to give up the day job) The fact is that any headscarf-wearing person has a lot to overcome before she can win me round. Is that bigotry?

There are several other 'openly anti-Jew' individuals standing (or who wish to be selected) in the forthcoming ‘generalection’ as it’s known, and you can quite easily find them by looking at various strands and sub-strands of Twitter.

A conundrum I’ve been wrestling with a bit is this piece in the Spectator by Qanta Ahmed. The terrifying reaction to a panel debate on Islamophobia. It’s a good article, and she’s bang-on about Sayeeda Warsi - but I’m struggling here with a question that seems pretty obvious to me. Why is Qanta Ahmed still a Muslim? 
There are some outstanding pieces online. I admire Stephen Daisley for his  brave and forthright piece in the Spectator “A Vote For Labour Is A Vote for Antisemitism”  but I always dread looking at the comments, as articles like this attract hostility from the same handful of right-wing antisemitic stalwarts that inhabit the btl ‘community’ that lurks around the conservative blogosphere, (including The Conservative Woman, the Spectator and The Times)

A link within that article takes you to a detailed and lengthy study by Ruth R Wisse; National Affairs. The Functions of Anti-Semitism was written in 2017,  and due to its length and depth it’s not for everyone, but for those of us who are interested in this topic, it’s well worth the effort. One sentence that seemed particularly apposite (for this blog as well as this post) is:
"What we require is less a law to punish discrimination than a commitment to foster awareness of the facts." (emphasis mine)
The steady stream of ahistorical and politically biased misinformation peddled by the BBC plays a huge part in fuelling the problem. 


Oh yes, and before I sign off for the day, I’d like to recommend a sympathetic and sensitive review of a book I haven’t yet read, by Norman Lebrecht “a British commentator on music and cultural affairs, a novelist, and the author of the classical music blog Slipped Disc.” 

I used to look at that blog quite a lot, especially when alleged bullying and abuse, sexual and - I don’t know - coercive (?) at music colleges and conservatoires was topical. (We knew some of the individuals concerned.)
One of the things that struck me then, which I’d gleaned from the odd comment on the blog and from personal experience, is that on the whole, many musicians of the ‘millennial’ generation have been sucked into the anti-Jew animus that goes along with left-wing thinking. (Not that Norman Lebrecht went along with that, but he seemed to me to be ‘keeping out of it’ if you know what I mean) 

I was pleased to read about his book (a taster can be seen here) Genius & Anxiety; How Jews Changed the World 1847 -194J. The first review I read was in the Spectator, titled: Is there no field in which the Jewish mindset doesn’t excel? by David Crane, but the one that I wish especially to recommend is by Tanjil Rashid in The Times:
Jewish Makers of the Modern World   The review is generous and respectful and - go on, I’ll say it - tonally unIslamic.


I can’t praise Margaret Ashworth enough for the fabulous series about Jewish composers that have been appearing in The Conservative Woman over recent weeks. The Melody Makers etc. Her enjoyable, readable posts about hymns and music are gems, packed with video clips and biographical information, they’re jewels in the www crown
 Incidentally, I see David Collier hasn’t updated his blog for a while and in the vacuum, a stubborn infestation of Jew-haters has taken hold. Now we’re on that subject, it seems that Collier’s tenacious approach has borne fruit. For those of you without access, I reproduce the Telegraph report by Camilla Turner, education editor (£) over the page in full

Where Are We Going?

Gauguin inscribed the original French title in the upper left corner:. D'où Venons Nous / Que Sommes Nous / Où Allons Nous. The inscription the artist wrote on his canvas has no question mark, no dash, and all words are capitalized. In the upper right corner he signed and dated the painting: P. Gauguin / 1897.
Admittedly, we’re not doe-eyed Tahitian ladies, but Craig and I have been asking ourselves similar questions. We sort of know where we come from (the facetious answer is “Biased-BBC circa 2009”) but “what are we and where are we going” - with and without a question mark - are pertinent questions. Despite Brexit (or not Brexit) as the case may be.

Everyone and his dog accuses the BBC of bias. As I tried to point out in my previous post, readers who ‘clicked’ on the linky will be reminded that accusations of bias do indeed come from both sides. 

People like myself believe one side (ours) represents the norm, (sanity) while t’other represents the proverbial flat-earth society and its ilk. 

flat-earth society and ilk

Nonetheless, the BBC is obliged to appear impartial and the flat-earth side of the coin is duly represented. (Convenient, too, for bolstering the institutionally not-at-all-impartial-BBC machine’s well-worn “complaints from both sides’ defence.) ”Weaponised” I think, would be the current phrase for it. The BBC has ‘weaponised’ ridiculous, feeble, ignorant and straw-man-like allegations of bias for the sleight-of-hand purpose of discrediting genuine concerns.

If the BBC *really* can’t tell the difference between half-baked assertions by juveniles and fools that the BBC is institutionally ‘right-wing’ or a ‘government mouthpiece’ and rational observations about the glaringly obvious left-wing BBC bias, which everyone and his dog politically to the right of Ash Sarkar is aware of and increasingly vociferous about, then we can simply rest our case.  In other words, the reason the Beeb can’t differentiate one from the other is …..its bias, stupid!

But I don’t think this is the problem. The BBC can tell the difference, but it chooses to ignore ‘us’. It’s not so much that the BBC is run by people who are ‘literally communists’, but the people it is led and run by are stuck within a particularly incurious and settled mindset.

Anyway, as I was saying, ITBB is like the Brexit Party. There comes a time when we no longer have much of a purpose. If pointing out examples of BBC bias, as a kind of ‘campaign’, has lost impetus, that’s mainly because of its success. It's mainstream now. If "we" have helped to make ourselves redundant (but don’t let’s flatter ourselves by boasting that we had much influence over that) then we are in a way the architects of our own superfluousness. 

We’ll either dwindle away or morph into something different. Whichever way the cookie crumbles, as they say on W1A, “it’s all good.”

Cos you’re worth it?

Samira Ahmed and the Beeb babes think they should get as much pay as Jeremy Vine. (I wonder how much Victoria Derbyshire gets?  Oh look, it's £200,000-£249,999. )

Jeremy Vine’s wages are totally bizarre. Personally, if I was forced to choose, I’d rather watch Samira Ahmed than Vine, but neither of them seems particularly irreplaceable. I resent compulsorily paying over the odds for unsatisfactory goods.

Ambushing the Tory

Why has the BBC reignited Ken Loach? He peaked in 1966 with Cathy Come Home. Please just let the hard-left misery-monger lie. Following his appearance on Question Time where Fiona Bruce interrupted the Conservative remorselessly while allowing the Labour chap to drone on and on in the dullest imaginable manner, Ken Loach recounted a rambling anecdote to show how nasty the nasty party is. Enough, one might have thought. But no.  

Monday’s (or maybe Tuesday's) Victoria Derbyshire show featured a sorry tale about “unsecured” tenants in Barnet living in damp, cockroach-infested flats. The information that this particular block is soon to be demolished to make way for a new, mixed-tenancy (private and social housing) development was alluded to, but only in the derogatory and dismissive context that the new housing will be (probably) ‘unaffordable”.

I’m not 100% au fait with tenancy rules and regs, and I certainly wouldn’t like to live amongst vermin and mould; but for the sake of both the tenants and the taxpayers the issue deserved to be treated in an unbiased manner and not as part of the BBC’s covert and overt campaigning for Labour. 

An ex-councillor, apparently the only Conservative spokesperson willing to come on the programme, was duly ambushed by the startled-looking tenant whose cockroaches had featured in the film, a shrill, aggressive Ms Derbyshire and Ken Loach. 

It seems that no other Conservative accepted the BBC’s the invitation to appear on the programme, for obvious reasons, which were sadly noted by the hapless Tory. No wonder people are declining these invitations. They have to weigh up the negative implications of refusal. Which looks worse. a) appearing evasive, or b) being stymied by a scripted assault framed as ‘when did you stop beating your wife?’ 

Tuesday 29 October 2019

Open Thread

Emily welcomes you to a new Open Thread. She can try to interrupt you as much as she likes but she won't succeed here.

Thank you for your comments. 

Circles within circles within circles

Long-term readers will recall that the BBC, for its landmark impartiality reports, called on Cardiff University to do its contents analyses

We slammed Cardiff's surveys for sampling far too little output, and for limiting that even further to just parts of the Today programme over a single week - one-and-a-half-hours of the programme rather than the entire three hours.

Ah, well, we've got Ofcom now. 

Yes, I know. You couldn't make it up. 

And, yes, though they covered three weeks this time (still far from enough), they's still continuing to sample just parts of the Today programme rather than whole editions. 

And this time it's even worse, because rather than examinng half of each edition they're they're looking at just one hour now of each three hour edition (and no Saturdays)

Why? Because it was "beyond their resources" to to do more! (I kid you not.)

Yes, I know. You still couldn't make it up.

I wouldn't ever automatically trust any findings they come up with. 

Sunday 27 October 2019

Brexit bias? BBC faces a difficult balancing act in polarised nation

This article by Roy Greenslade in the Guardian caught my eye.
If you really want to immerse yourself in a parallel, Brexit-dystopia-style world, read the comments. You don’t have to be semi-literate to join in the discussion, but it helps. (As the saying goes.)

You might need the Antidote below

On squirming politicians

My main reaction to this morning's three main political interviews on The Andrew Marr Show was to give credit where credit's due to Andrew Marr for making all three of them squirm. 

Jo Swinson, Diane Abbott and James Cleverly all ended up having to bring into play some of their favourite party tricks for evading interviewers' questions - questions that today focused, I think tellingly, on the contradictions, absurdities and hypocrisies of their respective positions on Brexit and elections.

Jo flannelled by being all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, channelling (as ever) her inner Tigger. She flailed around very badly, but kept on smiling while blagging away like a dying bagpipe. She was dreadful.

Diane is always dreadful. It's her thing to be dreadful. She flannelled by impersonating herself on Dead Ringers and talking v e r y slowly to Andrew Marr, as if wearily but patiently explaining the blindingly obvious to a stupid child. She kept on repeating the same stupid things over and over again. Andrew exposed her but I doubt she realised it. She's like the world's stupidest armadillo. (No offence to armadillos).

James flannelled most cleverly of all by repeatedly accusing his BBC interviewer of not getting his facts right, and by picking up on and making hay with a stray wrong word by his BBC interviewer. Though the latter felt like a deflection attempt to me, it put Andrew Marr on the back foot and the subsequent 'fact-rebutting' resulted in stalemate. I don't think the whole interview did James Cleverly huge credit though.

You can please yourself (to quote Morrissey), but that's my take on it.

What to say?

Well, it seems - though the BBC remains cautious about this - that the founder of Islamic State, Abu Bakr al-Bigdaddy, has finally been decaliphinated by Donald Trump's special forces.

The BBC's elders are now chewing the cud on the matter:
John SimpsonThe real credit for the death of al-Baghdadi must surely go to the dogged policework of US intelligence - plus, no doubt, the huge reward money to give him up.  
Hugh Sykes: Making up for all the lack of US intelligence which left so many resentful and angry Baathists and army officers without a future after 2003, allowing them to help Zarkawi & Al Qaeda at first and then Baghdadi to kill so many hundreds of Syrians and Iraqis. 
John Simpson: That really was Paul Bremer’s doing. As I understand it the US military and intelligence disagreed. 
Hugh Sykes: Yes. US military I was often embedded with around that time were hopping mad but wouldn't hop madly for my microphone. "Oh, Hugh, I w i s h I could go on the record!" one batallion commander said to me in desperation. And I was thinking of 'intelligence' in the IQ sense as well!

Saturday 26 October 2019

Cat fight

Award-winning anti-Brexit Observer journalist Carole Cadwalladr's close associate Shahmir Sanni is certainly going all claws scratching against the BBC today.

Here's a transcript of his Twitter torrent. (I'll highlight in bold the names of BBC individuals he attacks along the way).

It's quite something!:

  • The BBC actively worked to bury my story. I don’t know how many times I have to repeat this. Just look at the people they’re platforming. All the same people that were complicit in the crimes committed during the Brexit referendum. You need to all stop pretending.
  • Laura Kuenssberg literally set up an interview with Matthew Elliot to defame me and never reached out to me. She gave him a primetime slot. Let him call me a liar, a conspiracy theorist - even though I have been vindicated a dozen times over. Do you think that’s not planned?
  • They stopped me from coming on tv. They avoided my comments. Their journalists spread rumours about me to other media outlets. Editors literally went around lying about my integrity and my evidence. And yet here we are.
  • People like Rob Burley who actively went on tirades on twitter trying to make me out to me some bitter person...justifying my humiliating treatment in ridiculous ways...knowing full well that he is friends with some of the people involved in the electoral crimes.
  • People like Andrew Marr who behind the cameras told people that my story was just, and I quote, ‘a lovers spat’. People like Kuenssberg who allowed people to defame me. People like Andrew Neil who needs absolutely no introduction.
  • We went to the BBC first. They were fully onboard to cover my story. Panorama had began picking filming locations. Then...when it got to senior editors...the story was cancelled. I was abandoned by the BBC because they were too scared. They didn’t want to go after them.
  • Don’t take it from me, just use google and twitter search to come to the conclusion yourself. As I always say, ‘the evidence is there’.
  • Peace out.

So far only Andrew Marr has replied, but his reply could hardly be clearer. It's just two words:

  • A lie. 

Tuesday 22 October 2019

BBC sort-of apologises on behalf of Andrew Marr

BBC Sort-of Apology time!

The Andrew Marr Show, BBC One, 13 October 2019

21 October 2019

Summary of complaint

We received complaints from people who felt that Andrew Marr suggested Priti Patel was laughing during their interview.

Our response

Guests who appear on the Andrew Marr show expect robust interviewing that includes back and forth between themselves and Mr Marr.

Andrew Marr commented on Priti Patel laughing after he glanced up while reading a list of business leaders concerned about the impact of Brexit on their industries. He thought he saw the Home Secretary smile but now accepts this was in fact her natural expression and wasn’t indicating amusement at his line of questioning.

There was no intention to cause offence and we are sorry if viewers felt this to be the case.
I did smile at the Summary, as if it's in the eye of the beholder whether Andrew actually suggested she was laughing when he said "I can't see why you're laughing" to her. 

And I see the apology isn't to Priti Patel herself but to "viewers" who "felt" there was an intention to cause offence.

Still it's a sort-of apology, and that's better than nothing. Probably.

Right on cue!

As The Times reports, just three sarcastic words from the BBC's Political Editor sparked off a right stooshie on t'Twitter the other day. Here is an ITBB transcript of the origin (for your edification):

Laura Kuenssberg: No 10 claims chances of no deal go up if Letwin passes - 'the govt will step up no deal preparations immediately as the risks will have increased substantially - if Letwin defeated + deal approved, no deal preparations will start being turned off immediately'.
Nicola Sturgeon: (commenting on the content of Laura K's tweet) The dishonesty of this is breathtaking. The Letwin amendment is a protection against the risk of no deal at this stage.
Laura Kuenssberg: (in response to Nicola Sturgeon) Right on cue!
Val McDermid: I used to respect you Laura Kuenssberg. Insulting a politician for doing their job, however, reduces that respect to shreds. #Lost Credibility.
Muriel Gray: (in response to Val McDermid) Mocking politicians of all and every party instead of beatifying them used to be the norm in Scotland. We were rather good at it. The bedrock of Scots humour. Not sure I even recognise this ‘worship the great leader or else’ thing. It’s so not ...Scottish.
Val McDermid: She's paid to report, not to deride. If she were even-handed in her 'commentary' I would have no complaint. Don't you dare accuse me of blind worship, Muriel. You should know better than that.
Muriel Gray: Well that was a very loud dog whistle indeed Val. I’m so used to abuse from the usual sources when I dare discuss politics that I’m numb to it. But while I mute this conversation now and go and do something nice please enjoy the comments below and see if they make you proud. X
Anndra: (in response to Muriel Gray) But not all politicians are mocked and furthermore Sturgeon receives death threats and abuse, a figure of hatred. I don’t think she’s ever done anything to justify the hatred she receives. Isn’t Laura K too comfortable in mocking Sturgeon compared to other politicians?
Muriel Gray: (in respone to Anndra) Not a journalist's job to mock I agree. And absolutely nobody’s place to abuse. But we’ve lost something I always cherished in Scotland. Our communal raised eyebrow and witty scepticism of the whole political system. God help you if you don’t revere one ‘side’ or t’other.

Monday 21 October 2019

Bloody boring

Talking about impartial BBC journalists, here's Mr Impartiality himself - the BBC's World Affairs Editor John Simpson being all impartial (as ever) about Brexit:
Our problem with Brexit isn’t that a group of sullen Remainers are blocking the will of the people; it’s that we are divided almost exactly 50-50 over it. Organisations tend to require a 2/3rds majority to change their rules. Surely our nation should have done the same?
No, can't see anything biased about that. That said, I really do need to go to Specsavers, urgently.

Ordure, ordure

As soon as I heard, yesterday, that John Bercow had it within his powers to rule against a new Meaningful Vote today I knew tit was all over for MV3. There was no way on earth Speaker Bercow would ever do anything to help Brexit, so rule against it he inevitably would. And, lo and behold, this afternoon he has. 

A similar thought must have crossed Nick Robinson's mind because this is what he tweeted an hour or so ago:
Breaking news - The Speaker rules that it would be “repetitive & disorderly” for the government to put Johnson’s Brexit Deal to a Meaningful Vote today. In other news Pope is Catholic.  
After a complex & verbose statement John Bercow finally says what he means “The House should not be continually bombarded with requests to consider the same matter over & over & over again” or be “brow-beaten, harrassed or intimidated”.
Mr Bercow is so impartial he should seriously consider becoming a BBC journalist.

'Newswatch' news

In other news...

Newswatch's Samira Ahmed is taking the BBC to an employment tribunal claiming that the BBC paid her less than male colleagues for equivalent work. 

Newswatch fans will doubtless appreciate the irony of what follows:

According to the Guardian, they invited Samira to comment but she declined and referred their request to her lawyers, who declined to elaborate. 

And the BBC declined their invitation to comment too. 


What happens next is inevitable: The BBC's lawyers will go to the tribunal and simply claim that the BBC got it about right. 

Random twittering

Allison PearsonSo the LibDems will support a second referendum. But, as Jo Swinson said on live TV, she would not accept the result of a 2nd referendum if it was Leave again. Roll up, ladies and gentlemen, to have your vote disregarded a second time! Who could resist?

Paul EmberyRather than elect MPs at the next general election, why don't we just choose which activist lawyers we prefer?

Geoff NorcottNothing unifies people more than hearing a wanker talk loudly on a phone. Maybe post Brexit we should employ them to sit on trains and start the healing.

Angelous Chryssogelos:  I have no opinion either way on Catalonia. But if there were jailed politicians, cars burning & dozens injured under a right-wing government in an Eastern EU state, the 'liberal democracy under threat' pundit-industry would be suffering from 3rd-degree hot take burns by now.

Tom Peck:  People are mocking John Bercow’s Tony Benn impression but bear in mind, he did that from within his ongoing pompous nineteenth century bellend impression. A mask goes on the mask - any actor will tell you how hard that is.

Tim StanleyAh Bercow. Like trying to play a fair game of football when the referee not only supports the other side but keeps stopping the game to do an impersonation of Jane Austen.

Sunday 20 October 2019

...from both sides (zzzzzzz)

If you spend too much time reading Twitter comments about BBC bias you'll come across many a regular.

Such as Simon Maginn. 

He's a Corbynista 'ultra' who regularly rides to the rescue of Labour antisemties.

He sticks in my my mind so much because he once seriously lost his temper with Rob Burley after Rob had described a baseless accusation of BBC bias from him as "mad".

He rampaged across the Twittersphere accusing Rob of branding him as 'mentally ill'.

He was so wild about it that and so immune to reason that, I must confess, I instantly nicknamed him 'Mad Simon Maginn'.

He's still at it - though in his official complaint to the BBC he's holding onto the rails and trying to sound reasonable.

He's complained about a rare Corbyn joke on Radio 4's The News Quiz:

Wonder how he'll get on with that?

...from both sides (zzzz)

If you watched the BBC News Channel yesterday afternoon you'll know that the BBC, as well as covering events in the House of Commons, repeatedly reported on the anti-Brexit protests in London, at times using a split-screen effect to show live footage of the protests as events unfolded in Parliament or the BBC studio. I did think for a few seconds that even the wildest #FBPE types would be pretty happy with the BBC's coverage but - with reality quickly kicking in - I know them too well for that:
Michael #FBPE (V)Dear BBC News. It seems to me that your continuing insistence that we gauge the mood of the nation on Brexit by talking to a few angry men outside a Wetherspoons isn't balanced. A million protestors deserves more coverage and should help divest you of ongoing pro-Brexit bias.
Huw Edwards, BBCI’m sick of the toxicity on both sides. It seems to me that you should actually watch our coverage. I continually drew attention to this People's Vote March on air yesterday over several hours. Our BBC News coverage watched by big audiences. 
To be fair to Huw, he certainly did continually drew attention to this People's Vote March on air yesterday over several hours.

"Not a biased picture. Not at all"

A new Katya Adler piece for the BBC News website is being trailed on Twitter. Both the tweet and the piece use the same main photo:

As Roland Deschain at B-BBC adds, "Not a biased picture. Not at all."

Live and Let Win

I got the strong feeling this morning, while watching The Andrew Marr Show, that Andrew was displaying open sympathy for Sir Oliver Letwin.

He kept on talking about the anger and aggression of the papers against the MP and himself dismissed as 'conspiracy theories' two allegations he later went on put to Sir Oliver for Sir Oliver to reject...

...which he duly did without receiving any further pressing on either of them from Andrew Marr:

A few quotes from this morning's programme should show what I mean:

"Sir Oliver Letwin, the man who ruined Boris Johnson's day yesterday and is ferociously attacked in this morning's papers." 
"Reviewing the papers - some of them very, very angry this morning..."
 Paper review: 
"And now to the front pages. As I said, they can be quite angry." 
"Let's turn, Peter, to the aggression in the papers. 'Oliver Twits' says The Sun there. There's been a lot of hostility to those MPs." 
(Of Sir Oliver): "He's had an awful lot of ordure tipped over his head this morning by the press." 
"And almost everybody I talked to had a conspiracy theory of some kind.  "What's really happening behind the scenes is this or that". There is a good example of it again in the papers. We were talking about Oliver Letwin and he's really being controlled by this lawyer David Pannick, or he's really being controlled from overseas, all of those theories about what the actual motivations are, whereas it's complicated enough just looking full frontal at what is going on.   
 Interview with Sir Oliver Letwin:
"Sir Oliver Letwin was warmly greeted by a People's Vote campaigner after his victory over the Prime Minister. Unwisely perhaps, he grinned broadly and the picture is used in almost every newspaper as evidence that he's fundamentally hostile to Brexit itself. Is that true? And what are his plans for next week? He joins me now". 
Question: "Let me ask you, as it were, about the motivation behind all of this because you were actually named by Number 10 as somebody they accused of "colluding with foreign powers", was the phrase used."  
Question: "A specific lord, Lord Pannick - there are again allegations that, if I may put it this way, he was kind-of pulling your strings, that he was behind what you are dealing yesterday. And he has said himself that he was helping you to draft the legislation." 

Another Letter from Boris

(Via Bruce Lawson):

Letter from Boris. Dear Jean-Claude,
The house apparently needs an extension. So I’m hoping you can recommend a good firm of builders. Cheers. Boris.

The Blame Game

A comment from a favourite BBC pundit (Anand Menon) this morning...

Quentin Letts (The Times): Jaded old hack though I be, am haunted by footage of Jacob Rees-Mogg and his young son being so menaced by protestors that he needed a police phalanx. This is the most polite of men, with his kid, for God's sake. Weird, bad days. And still that idiot Letwin wants delay.

Anand Menon (UK in A Changing Europe): This is the problem. Trying to blame Letwin for the behaviour of a few idiots in the street.

....reminds me that Emily Mailis tried to blamed Boris Johnson for the behaviour of a few idiots in the street.

The Emily Maitlis Saturday Show

Emily meets an ERG backbencher

1. Emily Maitlis certainly made herself the focus of attention throughout. 

2. Emily piled on the challenging interruptions against both Steve Baker of the ERG and Labour's Laura Pidcock. (I counted 17 against Mr Baker and 19 against Ms Pidcock). It got so relentless that Ms Pidcock felt the need to ask "Can you let me finish a sentence?" at one point. It fell on deaf ears though as Emily pretty much continued not letting her finish a sentence!
[Small update: I see that leading Corbyn supporter Aaron Bastani has tweeted "In 68 seconds Emily Maitlis interrupts Laura Pidcock 11 times. Let’s build a new, better media." I see he didn't say that Steve Baker had been interrupted very heavily too. Sheesh, these partisans!]

3. Emily got over-excited during parts of the Steve Baker interview, such as when she interrupted to say, "It is a government that has prorogued Parliament, that has lied or misled the Queen and that has consistently, repeatedly said we could be leaving with no deal. Is it any surprise they are pushing back against that?". Mr Baker repled, "That was a bit of a tirade". 

4. Emily, asking about the  effects of deregulation on workers' rights, was rude to Steve Baker, slipping in, "It will be great for people like you, right?"

5. In sharp contrast, Emily's treatment of Mairead McGuinness, Vice President of the European Parliament (the third of her first set of guests), got the ultra-gentle handling that EU types usually get from the BBC. Her first words to Ms McGuinness were, "Mairead, just clear...Can you clear something up then for us? There are a lot of things that we'll come to you to clear up. Does the extension have to happen now or could Europe still veto that, the EU?". It got no tougher than that.

6. The programme's opening line (from Emily) framed this as The Big Question: "Is our Prime Minister about to break the law?"

7. James Clayton's report featured just one expert talking head - Catherine Haddon from the ubiquitous Institute for Government. 

8. The interviews with Hilary Benn and the SNP's Kirsty Blackman were gentle ones (especially the Hilary Benn one).

9. Emily seemed determined to blame the ugly protests against MPs yesterday (against Jacob Rees-Mogg, Michael Gove, Diane Abbott, Andrea Leadsom, etc) on the Government. Before showing long clips of the three Conservatives listed there being verbally abused by protestors, she said, "If the government strategy was to pit "parliament versus the people", outside on the streets, signs that the slogan could have been working. Protesters showing the passion and raw emotion that Brexit has unleashed when MPs from both sides came into contact with the public." I suspect there are other reasons.

10. During the closing three-way discussion between Isabel Oakeshott, Alastair Campbell and Michelle Dewberry, Emily Maitlis went in much harder against one of them: Isabel Oakeshott (the one closest to the Brexit Party). She was interrupted more and challenged more. Emily even asked her, "Do you still believe in parliamentary democracy Isabel or..?" and when Isabel replied "Of course I believe in it but I don't believe the current Parliament is actually fulfilling that. It is a rotten Parliament, we need to chuck the lot of them out", Emily interrupted to tell her off:
But if you carry on telling everyone that it's a rotten Parliament people believe that it's going to be a rotten Parliament whatever you do. That's not the line to leave people with
"That's not the line to leave people with" could be a Newsnight motto. 

Has Katya been "colluding with foreign powers"?

Several people are pointing out that Boris Johns is the leader of the UK government:
He is the official government and allowed to work with foreign powers. It’s literally in the government’s mandate to do so, not back bench MPs. Your comparison is poorly thought through.
Err... He's the Prime Minister. It is his job. Sounds like this BBC correspondent needs to go on a basic constitutional primer. 

Saturday 19 October 2019

October Open Thread

"Oh, Lord Hall, I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers. It would be terrible if we just skipped from September to November, wouldn’t it?" 

Indeed, though I could do with fewer blustery showers at the moment. 

Thank you for your continued support and comments. 

Bias, bias, bias

Tonight's Newsnight featured a remarkable report from the programme's economics editor Ben Chu.

It's a fascinating case of BBC bias, especially in its use of 'bias by authority' (we get "analysts" and "experts" and " the Treasury") and 'bias by labelling'  (we get "the non-partisan UK in A Changing Europe think-tank" and "credible" and "serious analysts"). 

And, I don't for one moment think coincidentally, every single one of those examples helps Ben to bolster his own argument. 

For starters, I'm afraid, charming as he is, that I don't believe Anand Menon is an entirely neutral analyst/expert. He's never been pro-Brexit, to put it mildly. 

And to describe UK in A Changing Europe as "non-partisan" is only technically correct if you define "non-partisan" as meaning "not affiliated to a party". 

And the Treasury of former chancellors Philip Hammond and George Osborne is far from being a trusted source of neutral 'analysis', given its recent record, so why would large swathes of the public take its word for anything?

Note also that Ben, the ex-economics editor of The Independent, gives Labour something of a thumbs-up in the criticism of Boris's deal - which is unhelpful to supporters of the deal. 

And note that this isn't an 'either/or' kind of balanced report. It's a single-minded argument, with supporting quotes and statistics. No disagreeing voice is included. 

And, finally, note just how inexorably negative it is about Brexit. Twice we get the word "negative" itself, and the piece concludes with the thoughts of "economic damage to the UK".

Kirsty Wark: I will talk to two politicians who oppose the deal in just a minute. But how different is this deal from the Theresa May old failed deal? Of course the backstop has gone - instead, a set of arrangements which critics argue leaves a border of sorts somewhere in the Irish Sea. Beyond that - what kind of Brexit is this? How might it work for our economy - and what about Labour's fears over workers' rights. On which, as you heard earlier from Nick, the Government has made concessions tonight designed to entice more opposition waverers to fall in line. Here's our economics editor Ben Chu on the impact of these historic choices on the UK economy.  
Ben Chu
Jeremy Corbyn: So we believe the deal he's proposed is heading Britain in the direction of a deregulated society.  
Keir Starmer: Why on earth would the Labour Party, the trade union movement back a deal which is starting down a slippery slope to deregulation? 
But are they right? What course does Boris Johnson's unexpected deal with Brussels actually chart for the UK? And what does it really mean for UK businesses, for families, for workers? Analysts say Theresa May's deal pointed to a reasonably close partnership with the EU on things like customs and single market rules but that Boris Johnson's putts us on a very different track. 
Anand Menon (UK in A Changing Europe): The key difference for me is the final destination and ultimately there, Boris Johnson seems to want a far loser relationship with the European Union than that that Mrs May was seeking, and that will have economic consequences for us that will be negative. 
High common social employment and environmental standards are mentioned in the non-legally binding political declaration in the new Brussels agreement. And the Government has tonight made various promises to protect those rights, but experts say the Brussels deal itself does not preclude a divergence on these rights an standards over time, giving some substance to Labour's concerns ant deregulation.
Anand Menon: I think what they are saying to some people on the Labour side is look, we are serious about these regulations don't worry about it, we have no intention of cutting standards, the point is while Mrs May's deal enshrined the level field conditions in law, meaning that you didn't have to believe promises, you had the law to fall back on, this is a question of trust and if there is one thing that is in perilously short supply in our politics at the moment it's trust. 
Furthermore, Mr Johnson has made it clear he is aiming for a very limited Canada-style free trade agreement with the EU that members of the Conservative European Research Group have long said they want. So what's the economic impact of less integration with our largest trading partner? Last year analysis by the Treasury projected a negative impact from Theresa May's preferred deal of 3.9% of GDP over 15 years. Neither the Treasury nor the Office for Budget Responsibility have yet analysed the impact of Boris Johnson's deal, but researchers at the non-partisan UK in A Changing Europe think-tank have, and their work suggests Theresa May's deal would have left the economy smaller by 1.7% per capita than it otherwise be over ten years. That's a cost of £500 per person. By contrast, they estimate that Mr Johnson's destination would leave the economy 2.5% smaller, or £800 per person. And if you add in credible estimates of the impact of more intensive trade on national economic efficiency, the potential hit from Mr Johnson's proposal rises to 6.4% per capita, or £2,000 per person. 
Stephen Phipson (Chief Executive, Make UK): Half the exports of the country are manufactured goods and about half of those go to the EU and that is hundreds of thousands of jobs dependent on us having a close relationship, outside of the EU, we understand that, but a close regulatory alignment in a new free trade arrangements that protects those jobs and those investments. 
Anand Menon: What's worrying is the government is doing this whilst denying that there'll be any sortr of adverse effects. 
These are only estimates, with uncertainty about the precise impacts, and the Government insists there will be long-term economic benefits from Brexit. But the choice for MPs, nevertheless, is whether or not to approve a deal that staves off a no-deal Brexit of which serious analysis still suggests we do economic damage to the UK.