Saturday 30 November 2019


I have come to realise that my pro-Israel focus is of relatively minority interest, even for BBC bias nerds. It’s a bit niche, or it was until a few months ago. While this stuff is important to many of us (me) I could easily dominate this blog with material that would invite “people” to dismiss it as “Zio" - not that I need approval from them - but for that reason I’ve condensed this material, harvested from a particularly vibrant link-rich post on the Elder of Ziyon website into what Craig referred to the other day as a ‘pamphlet’. 

It’s turned into a giant post, but I hope it isn’t dismissed as another tl;dr  - It’s more of a digest, a compendium. Dip in.

1) For me, a must-read. Many of EoZ’s pieces are American-authored and primarily aimed at an American audience. However, since the Labour Party’s antisemitism hit the fan, British politics has been catapulted into the spotlight.

Jeremy Corbyn Reminds Us Why Israel Exists. National Review
As Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis correctly points out, Corbyn hasn’t merely “tolerated” anti-Semitic attitudes — as so many publications like to claim — but rather he has actively transformed Labour, once one of the most important political parties in the free world, into a safe haven for Jew-hatred. As Mirvis notes, under Corbyn, a self-proclaimed democratic socialist, Labour has “hounded parliamentarians, members and even staff out of the party for challenging anti-Jewish racism.” 
Perhaps Corbyn’s rise simply reflects a new — or is it a renewed? — reality in Europe? A recent ADL poll claims that a quarter of Europeans hold anti-Semitic views. Around 45 percent of Poles and 42 percent of Ukrainians admit to pollsters that they believe that “people hate Jews because of the way Jews behave,” a view that over 30 percent of our old friends the Austrians and Germans share. And one of the fastest growing groups in Europe, Muslims, are importing an even deeper enmity towards Jews than is found in Poland, Ukraine, Germany, and elsewhere. Muslims in Western Europe are anti-Semitic at almost three times the rate of the general population. Thus far, Corbyn has appeased, rather than tried to extinguish, this hatred. 
If Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party ends up winning next month, Britain will be led by an openly anti-Semitic government. Mirvis warns that such a result is an existential threat to Britain’s Jewry. What he can’t say, but implies, is that people such as Corbyn are exactly why Israel must exist.


2)That fake letter This David Collier piece has been on our sidebar for a short while. A piece that can genuinely be described as ‘investigative’ journalism.


3) Here’s Gisela Stuart. Labour’s lossGuido Fawkes


"The British legal academic Julius said that “Antisemitism is stupid. It makes people stupid. It is not a coincidence that the least accomplished leader of the Labour Party is also its only antisemitic one…This is not a party that cares about the concerns of the Jewish community, save insofar as those concerns might have a damaging impact on its electoral fortunes.”
I tackled this issue in an earlier post, but it’s worth adding this:
"Julius concluded his letter stating: “To purge the party of antisemitism will be the work of a generation. The evidence that the political will exists to undertake this task is not compelling: members are not yet ashamed enough of their party’s antisemitism. The driving out of leading Jewish (and non-Jewish) politicians from the party, who cited its antisemitism, did not have a substantial impact on party morale, still less commit its officials and elected members to decisive action. We cannot leave the work to the party itself. Supporters have to lend a hand. Depriving the party of a vote is a start.”


5) This is a short article from the Campaign Against Antisemitism, but I thought this quote was worth passing on to our readers.

Respected Rabbi Menachem Margolin / blistering attack on Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn

“There is no nuance, no clever turn of phrase or election soundbite that can undo what is done by Jeremy Corbyn. His record of supporting terrorists who want nothing short of the destruction of the world’s only Jewish State, his sympathy with those who murder and maim women, children, the elderly – any civilian – as long as they are Jewish – is a matter of public record that no amount of spin or whitewashing can erase. This is his legacy. He must live with it, and the solid and justified judgement and abhorrence that comes with it from the vast majority of Jews, not just in the UK but in Europe too.”



John McDonnell leaving an 'arts' event with hard-left ‘veteran’ agitator Tariq Ali, supporter of Hamas and throwback to a previous generation of commies. One might have hoped these Peter Pans would have grown up by now. Of course, Peter Pan never grew up if I remember correctly.

Israel to blame for rise in antisemitism, left wing veteran Tariq Ali declares.
Describing Mr Corbyn as his “old friend and comrade”, Mr Ali – who founded the Stop The War movement – said that he wanted to begin his remarks by speaking about “antisemitism that we are told has swept the Labour Party, that we are told is a big problem for the left.” 
He accepted there was prejudice against Muslim, Jew and gay people, but added: “If you were to ask me what is a bigger problem in Europe and north America – is it antisemitism, or is it Islamophobia? 
“The answer is very clear, it is Islamophobia.”

7) For dessert, with a cherry on top, Canceling Roger Waters
Most people who find Roger Waters’ position on Israel and BDS objectionable take the “high road” and do not call for a boycott of the political activist/musician because of a fundamental objection to cultural boycotts. They believe, as do I, that cultural boycotts undermine the peace and understanding that comes from cultural exchange. Others, however, do not initiate a boycott of Waters because they believe it will be fruitless. For the latter, this example might make them think again. 
The activists at the Westwood IPic theater wanted to send the message that antisemitism, like racism and sexism, is toxic to our world and you can no longer be publicly antisemitic without consequences. 
Like everyone else, artists are entitled to express their opinions and advocate for their personal agendas. When they do, however, they invite a public response and fame and fortune should not be a shield.

You might not see (any of) these items on the BBC -  that's why they're here.

Agenda-pushing or a faux pas?

As discussed on the Open Thread, here's Evan Davis on last night's PM talking to the former Assistant Commissioner for Specialist Operations of the Metropolitan Police Service Sir Mark Rowley about the terrorist attack in London. Sir Mark had to correct Evan Davis:

Sir Mark Rowley: While the ideology here looks more Islamist - that looks most likely - we shouldn't forget the sort of significant right-wing that the intelligence services are dealing with. So a big challenge.
Evan Davis: Yeah, I was going to ask you that because, I mean, I think at one point we were hearing there was as much going on in anti-terror towards right-wing, far-right, as there was towards Islamists.
Sir Mark Rowley: I don't think that's quite accurate, Evan.
Evan Davis: OK.
Sir Mark Rowley: The bigger problem has always been in recent years Islamist. The challenge though is that the faster-growing part...
Evan Davis: OK. I think that's where I'm, yeah, getting...
Sir Mark Rowley: ...the faster-growing part is the right-wing, but it's still smaller. They're both significant issues to be wrestled with - one more home-grown, one driven by international factors - but they're big challenges for the police and security services.

Not reassuring

The BBC's Frank Gardner writes:
So we’re now told that the attacker in the London Bridge shooting was a convicted terrorist, a former prisoner out on licence. Quite a number of convicted terrorists are coming to the end of their sentences.
Calling it 'the London Bridge shooting' is odd though, isn't it? It was a terrorist stabbing spree. The only shooting was by the police, who were doing their job. 

Unreality check?

Ah, a BBC reality check!

Did Samira Ahmed give the BBC's Chris Morris a tough time on 'Newswatch'?

Reality Check
The claim: That Samira Ahmed really put the BBC's Reality Check chief reporter Chris Morris through his paces on 'Newswatch' this week.
The verdict: No, she didn't, It was a very soft interview. But our boss did great.
Well, maybe not...

Here's a transcript of this week's Newswatch main interview:

Samira Ahmed: Disputes over facts and figures are part of any election campaign but this time around, the arguments seem more numerous and acrimonious than ever - hence the need for independent and neutral verification of the claims made, by organisations such as the charity Full Fact, Channel 4 News's FactCheck, and Reality Check on the BBC. The latter is usually fronted by Chris Morris, and recently, he's been very busy man. Here he is on Wednesday scrutinising Labour's claims that the NHS was at risk under a post-Brexit trade deal with the US:
Chris Morris: Of course, there's going to be pressure - that's what trade talks are all about. There will also be trade-offs. If the UK turns down some of these American requests, then we can expect the Americans to reject some key British demands for access to their market. But none of this is really proof that the NHS is somehow for sale, even if the US would like it to be on the table. But producing a definitive verdict on what the politicians are saying is not a straightforward affair. 
The adjudications of Chris Morris have themselves faced judgement, with journalists from the Daily Mail and the Daily Telegraph over the past fortnight criticising his findings. And, of course, the whole business of fact-checking has come under the spotlight since the Conservative Party entered this area for last week's leaders' debate on ITV, as Jessica Parker reported:
Jessica Parker: Looking online, what to take at face value? Last night, a brief rebrand of a Conservative Party Twitter account to factcheckUK. The Conservatives say it was still clear who is running the account, but one senior Labour figure said Twitter should have taken it down. 
Well, undeterred by such self-styled entrance into the fact-checking market, Chris Morris from BBC Reality Check is with me now. Thank you for making the time. I know you're busy. 
Chris Morris: Hi, Samira. 
Samira Ahmed: Has this election already been particularly angry and more contentious when it comes to doing Reality Check? 
Chris Morris: Yeah, probably. I mean, elections are always times when there's a lot of attention on exactly what politicians say, a lot of numbers come out in manifestos, and obviously, this election is seen as one of the most important for decades. So there's been an awful lot to check, and what we try and do basically is if we see things which we think - where we think politicians have either misspoken, said something that's incorrect, said something that's misleading, we'll write about it. Do we spot all of them? No, because there are a lot of them about and there are only so many hours in the day. Do we get it right all the time? Possibly not. You know, no-one is infallible. But I think the point is we are trying to hold them to account for what they say. And if somebody says something and then keeps repeating it, then we will try and go back and say again, "We still think this is wrong. We said it last week, we're saying it again now". 
Samira Ahmed: Well, as you've hinted, there are a lot of claims being thrown around out there, so how do you choose which ones to investigate? 
Chris Morris: It's partly things which do get repeated. I mean, politicians have their stump speeches, whether it's Boris Johnson or Jeremy Corbyn. If there are numbers in there which we think clearly don't really stand up to scrutiny, those are things will we investigate... 
Samira AhmedSo this might be something like nurses, or something? 
Chris MorrisNumbers of nurses, numbers of police officers. And the thing about statistics as well is that you can present them in different ways. So one of the things you can do is say we are putting another 20,000 police on the streets, but maybe not mention the fact that in the last nine years, 20,000 - the police numbers have gone down by about 21,000. So it's partly putting numbers into context, as well, because numbers don't always tell the whole story. 
Samira AhmedOK. Are you happy to say something is a lie, or to call someone a liar? 
Chris MorrisA lot of people get very exercised about this on social media. My personal view is it doesn't actually help that much for us to call people liars. I think what we should do is say, "This is what somebody said. Here is what we believe are the facts of the situation". And I think the audience is smart enough to decide whether somebody is lying or not. I think me going on, into a studio like this and pointing at a politician and saying, "Liar, liar, pants on fire" - that's more reality TV than Reality Check. 
Samira AhmedIt is interesting, because obviously the editorial policy director David Jordan has said exactly that - it's not the BBC's job to be calling out politicians as a liar. 
Chris MorrisWell, I don't think it is. And I think that's partly because I think a lot of what we're dealing with at the moment - and other people disagree. The head of Channel 4 has made the point that we should be calling people liars, Dorothy Byrne. My point is a lot of what we're dealing with at the moment is not necessarily so much lying. It's bluster, it's smoke screen, it's - I probably can't say to the full word on a family show like this - but it's BS. And the thing about that is it's not so much trying to conceal the truth, it's about not quite caring what the details of the truth are. And I think if you start throwing around labels like "liar," it almost gets in the way of saying it's really difficult sometimes to pin people down on these things. That, of course, then raises a whole other question of well, is there any point in fact-checking if they're gonna keep saying things? And I think there is a debate to be had about how useful fact-checking is. But I do think our primary purpose has to be to focus on the facts as we see them. 
Samira AhmedYou will know that your fact checks themselves have been disputed by some newspaper commentators. Is it also the reality that some fact checks are disputable, they're not just black-and-white? 
Chris MorrisThey can be. There's always been political spin, and so there should be in any vibrant democracy. There's always gonna be people trying to persuade their part of the electorate that you look at the numbers and you lean this way, or you look at these numbers and lean that way. So spin is part of the process. But I do think it's increased in recent years - that's partly because social media amplifies everything. Partly because also social media means parties can very easily sort of put out little bits of video or audio, little bits of - which are almost unfiltered. Now, they might say "That's good - we can get past the bias of the media". We would say "Actually, it's bad, because then you can spin it too much without us being able to say - and it's our job - to say 'We think you've gone too far with this one'." 
Samira AhmedWell, you mentioned the filter of the media. A lot of viewers are concerned that Reality Check masks a failure in the first place by BBC News journalists to adequately analyse before reporting politicians' promises. And by the time Reality Check gets to dealing with them, these claims have been out there for several hours. Oh, you know, this leader has promised this, and that has not been challenged until you get around to it. 
Chris MorrisI don't think any presenter can be expected to be an expert in absolutely everything. So one of the roles I have is to come after and say "We heard all of that but those numbers there, we don't think Whether it be a Labour claim of you're gonna be spending £500 million extra a week on NHS medicines after a trade deal with United States, or whether it be the Tories saying Labour's spending plan adds up to £1.2 trillion. You know, there are numbers you can dispute, and I think it's very difficult for a presenter to interrupt every time somebody gives a number, otherwise an interview would never get anywhere because as well as numbers, you do want to hear opinions. 
Samira AhmedChris Morris, thank you. 

Into the sewer

Meanwhile, in the more sewer-like parts of social media, elements of the left and the Islamic community have been heavily promoting the false flag concept. 'Isn't it too convenient that this attack happened during an election, just like the last terrorist attack at London Bridge?' 'Why is there a tweet from Boris Johnson that is time-stamped some five hours too early?' (I remember that one from past right-wing false flag allegations! It's something to do with time zones and Twitter default settings.) And there are Corbyn supporters accusing the police of 'state murder'. And there are others blaming the Conservative Party for producing a fake Jeremy Corbyn tweet (saying 'A man was murdered by British Police in Broad daylight'). Maybe BBC Trending can look into this sewer and report back?

Update: Ah, right on cue. I see BBC Trending's Mike Wendling has picked up on one element of this - yes, the fake Jeremy Corbyn tweet:
There’s a fake Jeremy Corbyn London bridge tweet that appears to have come from an anti -Labour troll account. Not huge traction, but it’s also floating on Whatsapp where who know.
I did wonder if that would be the thing that caught BBC Trending's eye (the Right rather than the Left's disgusting behaviour). 

A one-off

I read a discussion this morning on Twitter re the London Bridge terrorist attack:
Ben Cobley: I wonder how the Guardian's columnists are going to deal with this. Almost everything about it fails to fit their daily narrative. My prediction - they will focus on attacking the right for how it reactsAlso they will no doubt start ordering us to not use language that might help describe events accurately - notably linking 'Islamic' with 'terrorism' as Newsnight did last night. Anyone who does this will be accused of fomenting hate against Muslims and aiding the far right.
Dr Paul Stott: We will see what I call the pivot response to terrorism. After reporting, blandly, what has happened, they will pivot coverage to what they will really want to talk about - the right's reaction, 'Islamophobia,' Tommy Robinson etc etc
That reference to Newsnight linking 'Islamic' with 'terrorism' sounded so unlikely that I checked, and (as I should guessed) it came from Newsnight's excellent Richard Watson - probably the only BBC journalist who dares to use the phrase 'Islamic terrorism' without surrounding it with audible quotation marks:
In the last hour, the press Association has reported the suspect was known to the authorities and had connections to Islamic terrorism. 

Getting it right

An extremely minor point, but (as per Newssniffer) it took over eight hours for the BBC's main report to be corrected on a factual point.

From 23:44 last night till 8:12 this morning, the BBC report talked of:

 a narwhal tusk - a long white horn that protrudes from the porpoise 

Finally, at 8:12, that changed to:

 a narwhal tusk - a long white horn that protrudes from the whale 

Yesterday in London

"Genuinely proud to live in a nation where a member of the public can heroically take out a terrorist with a narwhal tusk grabbed from a listed building" - 𝖆𝖗𝖈𝖍𝖎𝖉𝖆𝖛𝖊

So, yesterday on London Bridge...

Two innocent people - a man and a woman - were stabbed to death in a terrorist attack. Three others were injured. The attacker, Usman Khan, was a convicted terrorist on a tag who had been invited to a conference on rehabilitation. He was wearing a fake suicide belt. One of the brave members of the public who tackled him and helped bring his stabbing spree to an end was a convicted murderer on day release who used a fire extinguisher and another used a narwhal tusk grabbed from a nearby wall. People stopped their cars to help, and the police responded swiftly, did their job and shot the terrorist.

Friday 29 November 2019

Labour worries

Labour worries

Regular readers will know that I often indulge myself by addressing matters only tangentially related to the BBC
but it’s my blog and I’ll cry if I want to. So can Craig if he wants to too.

I’ve read an article by Stephen Daisley on the Spectator, which expresses concerns that are increasingly bugging me. 

Titled: The shame of Labour’s liberal supporters, I urge everyone to give it a try. 

Before I start, the good news is that Sir Richard Evans, professor emeritus of history at Cambridge has changed his mind. After Anthony Julius’s open letter Sir Richard Tweeted thusly:
“Back from a visit to Germany to find Anthony Julius's persuasive open letter to me in the New Statesman. As much as Corbyn's lamentable failure to apologise in his tv interview, or the intervention of the Chief Rabbi, this has persuaded me to change my mind and not vote Labour.”
However, at the time Daisley’s Speccie piece was written, Sir Richard’s message had been:
‘I’m voting Labour. Great manifesto, pity about the leader, shame about Labour’s support for Brexit, though at least they promise another referendum. The failure to deal with antisemitism in the party makes me very angry. But in my constituency only Labour can beat the Tory.’

(For the record: 
“Sir Richard is the greatest living scholar of modern German history but many know him as the famed Nazi-slayer of Irving v Penguin Books and Lipstadt. When Holocaust-denying pseudo-historian David Irving sued academic Deborah Lipstadt for calling him such, it was Sir Richard who eviscerated the anti-Semite’s reputation as a scholar and helped secure victory for Lipstadt, the truth, and the dead.)
“Those seeking an answer to the undying question, ‘How did good people come to let it happen?’, might turn to Sir Richard’s definitive The Coming of the Third Reich but the man himself has provided a more succinct account. Anti-Semitism makes him ‘very angry’ (as though he were talking about a dog that keeps running through a flowerbed) but ‘only Labour can beat the Tory’ where he lives.” 
explains Daisley.  Then:
“The same question may be asked of Labour MPs like Jess Phillips and Wes Streeting, of the party’s other academic enthusiasts, of its media outriders, of those who will not vote Labour but silently sympathise with Corbyn on this subject. Anti-Semitism is ‘the organisation of politics against the Jews’ but to succeed it requires those who are not anti-Semites to agree to be so organised, to learn to dismiss the Jews, then to blame them, and eventually to hate them.

I think it’s gone beyond the time when the remaining moderates can legitimately claim they’re better off fighting ‘from the inside’.
“There is a nexus of complicity between anti-Semites, their defenders and amplifiers, and those who fail to resist the organisation of politics against the Jews. It includes those who, though awake to the evils of anti-Semitism, will still vote, campaign and stand for an institutionally anti-Semitic part
The toxicity within social media shows that there’s much to worry about. Recent polls indicate that Labour is on course for a humiliating defeat, but it’s also been suggested that polling via landline is nowhere near an accurate representation of ‘the many’. Mobile phones have replaced all the old stuff - landlines, MSM and apparently, common sense and education too. Threads that consist largely of Momentum-orchestrated  Twitterstorms are truly alarming. The vitriol heaped upon Rabbi Mirvis is but one example of where we’re heading.

For once, the below the line commentary is largely sympathetic. Daisley’s pro-Israel themed articles often attract nasty comments, ether innuendo-laden or downright racist from a small but regular group of right-wing contributors. 

There’s a certain type of middle-class left-wing Guardian reader who embodies the righteous “I can’t possibly be an antisemite” delusion. I recognise them and I see them everywhere. Guardian-reader, special middle-class hairdo, nice clothes, well-spoken and unaware of the depth of their ignorance. If they were a race, I’d be the massive racist they already think I must be.

A Question (Time) of Sport

I stayed up past my bedtime to keep guard on Question Time last night. In the current atmosphere, ‘keeping guard’ is a (self-imposed) obligation I feel compelled to fulfil, while the impending storm gathers momentum.  Lunacy? Paranoia? Well, there it is.  

If anyone has the stamina to tot up the interruption quotient they’d conclude that Fiona Bruce had simply forgotten to flick the off-switch of her personal-opinion-regulator before going on air because it was undoubtedly still on ‘ON’.  As a newsreader renowned for her unique method of ‘acting’ the news, Brucie behaved more like an extra panellist than a chairperson. She virtually rolled up her sleeves and got stuck in.

Lionel Shriver must be shell-shocked. I hope she’s okay. I had a peek at social media. That is truly, truly gruesome.

Caroline Lucas droned on interminably with that trick of theirs, where they start another sentence almost before the last one has reached a full-stop and carry on seamlessly in a continual filibuster to stop anyone else getting a word in - that’s where the chairperson should step in - but  this particular chairperson only sprang into action when  it was Brandon Lewis’s turn. Whenever he began to speak she interrupted confrontationally, whereupon the audience joined in, preventing him from completing a sentence. Meanwhile, the increasing volume of the moaning and booing resonated the more the audience scented blood. 

"I think there is a bias towards saying Israel is a democracy in the Middle East"

Here's (apparently) newly-found footage of Jeremy Corbyn on Iran's Press TV (naturally) talking about BBC bias and Israel: 

Huffington Post editor Paul Waugh's thread continued:
  • His supporters may say Corbyn was clumsily trying to say BBC spent too much time referring to Israel as a democracy with security concerns and as a state with a right to exist, but neglects *Palestine*'s democracy, right to exist + security concerns. But that's not how it sounds.  
  • Of course the real point of his remarks is to claim the BBC is 'biased' towards Israel (a charge it would vigorously deny and demand he showed evidence) *because* of pressure from the Israeli govt. Itself feeding the old trope of global Jewish manipulation of the media.

Ex-cathedra pronouncements to the flock

For those who missed Mr Moore's 'love-bombing' of the BBC's reality-checker-in-chief, here it is:

“Get Brexit done”, is the Conservatives’ principal slogan and unique selling point, so obviously it should be open to scrutiny. One should object, however, to the pretence that this is merely a factual question on which the media, rising above base politicians, can shed the clear light of truth. 
One of the minor agonies of the Brexit process since 2016 has been the existence of the BBC’s Reality Check, usually presented by Chris Morris. Rather than arguing the issue with political leaders, Morris gives ex-cathedra pronouncements on where the truth lies, which are then unquestioningly accepted by his flock of fellow-BBC staff. Funnily enough, his version of reality seems always to coincide with the view from Brussels. 
On the Today programme yesterday, Morris was asked by a deferential Mishal Husain to pronounce on whether “Get Brexit done” was misleading. He said, in essence, that it was. He complained that the slogan gave the “impression” that everything would be settled by 31 January 2020, whereas in fact the Tory “rush” for a trade agreement by December 2020 was itself unrealistic. 
Morris might well be right about the struggles ahead, but he made no allowance at all for the fact that we are dealing with political issues here, not just technical ones. When (and before) Boris Johnson became Prime Minister, BBC experts kept telling us that the EU would never reopen negotiations or offer Britain better terms than those they had given Mrs May. Yet they did, very quickly. 
Nor, in applying “reality” to the Tory manifesto yesterday, did Morris mention that Brexit is an event in law: if the new Parliament votes to approve his deal, that event of leaving the EU will indeed take place by 31 January. In that important sense, we will have got Brexit done. 
If I had the resources of the BBC (over £5 billion a year, the great bulk coming from a compulsory licence fee), I would set up a Reality Check on its own claims. It would keep several hundred reporters busy throughout the “24/7 news cycle” 365 days of the year.

No showmanship

As mentioned by MB, here's Andrew Marr in The Spectator on the question of how to interview/how not to interview:
My Sunday job is to ask questions; but in this campaign there is a line of criticism of television interviewing which makes me pause. The rise of misnamed social media (mostly Twitter) makes it all too easy to clip and post ‘Gotcha!’ moments, when a politician appears to be gasping for air at a particularly pertinent question. Two or three such moments now win the wearisome accolade of ‘a car crash interview’. So (goes the criticism) interviewers are under increasing pressure to skew their shows that way — go for cheap shots, get them online, and hope they go viral. I admit it’s a temptation. But as compared with fact-primed, carefully planned and constructed interviews — of the kind Andrew Neil does — to go for ‘car crash’ moments would be folly and a disgrace. It’s a temptation (just wallow in the Twitter applause) which must be resisted. If I’ve fallen into it, I hereby apologise. And after all, the single most watched and damaging television interview of recent times, Emily Maitlis with Prince Andrew, contained no showmanship on Emily’s part whatsoever. There is nothing more effective than the right question at just the right moment, calmly put.
He's not getting a good response below the line, but then that's the "misnamed social media" for you again, eh Andrew?
Then, as now, we were obsessed by Russian plots ...". "For millions of people, the real political issues are ... our behaviour in an age of global warming ...". Marr reporting from deep inside the bubble. 

BBC Complaints

Thursday 28 November 2019

The Truth

No, it's not my birthday, but I'm still posting 'a political opinion' because it's the truth. H/T EoZ

Mr Impartiality Updated

Are you not ashamed?  Andrew Neil. Villain or Hero? Yes, we all praise Andrew Neil when he slaughters deserving targets. Robust, tenacious and well-briefed probing is a joy to behold, and Andrew Neil is widely considered to be the master - but is he merely the king, the one-eyed man in a country of the blind?

I’d like to point out that sometimes his whole approach is inexplicable and indefensible. For example, when he attacked Barry Gardiner yesterday, many of Gardiner’s fans thought their man had come away from the encounter as the winner.

On that occasion, Andrew Neil provoked Gardiner into revealing the inner ‘Wonderful Wizard of Oz’ that lurks beneath that softly spoken ‘patiently explaining things to children’ exterior that many of us find deeply patronising and grating.

In other words, Gardner was forced into no-holds-barred attack-mode in a desperate attempt to make headway. What I’m saying is - Andrew Neil came across as a bully. Hey, one might say, he is indeed a bully but he’s our bully.

But wait! 

A bully is a bully, and sometimes bullying is the only way to counter bullying from the opposition. But if you bully for the sake of it, or for the lack of a substantial case for the prosecution, which it now seems to be what Andrew Neil is doing, it’s  - what’s the term?   Let’s say ‘unbecoming’.

If Andrew Neil really equates Islamophobia with antisemitism then he’s a fool, but if he’s merely going the extra mile to demonstrate his scrupulous impartiality, he’s chosen the wrong weapon. Islamophobia is not racism.

Let’s be frank. You can’t explain away antisemitism by claiming it’s ‘simply because Israel’. These people don’t hate Jews because ‘Israel’. The very opposite. They hate Israel because ‘Jews’. 

so-called Islamophobes fear Islam, the religion / ideology. Within the religion of Islam, there’s a core of anti-Jewish racism, which is the root of anti-Zionism. That is the reason for the Arabs’ stubborn, self-harming, rejectionist position.

On the other side, Antisemites know next to nowt about Judaism the religion. It’s the perceived characteristics of Jews (as a people) they vilify. Greedy Jews. The fabrication The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion. Etc., etc.

Remember the way Andrew Neil disparaged Tommy Robinson? Little or no argument was employed. There’s no need to engage with any argument your victim might put forward when public opinion is behind you; you can rely on pure bullying while the public cheers you on.

Cornering Robert Buckland and forcing him onto the back foot was like slowly pulling the legs off a spider.  Presenting your victim with a false equivalence as a starting point was, in this case, tantamount to defending a blasphemy law. This tactic, based on Baroness Warsi’s ludicrous demands, has crept into public discourse by stealth and is spurred on with the assistance of Andrew Neil’s egotistical drive to become Mr Impartiality.
“I’d defend the devil to show what a clever fellow I am”  might be his motto. A shame.

Update: "Our bully"

A Pointless celebrity tweets

Happy birthday to our Pointless friend Richard!

(I do like your programme).

And if you're going to tweet a political opinion because it's your birthday, and you're a BBC co-presenter, why not really go for it?

Richard Osman, BBC Pointless co-presenter: I try not to tweet political opinions, but as it’s my birthday allow me just one. The Tories do want to sell off the NHS. Not in one go, just bit by bit until it’s unrecognisable. You’ll turn up one day and there will be a priority waiting room. They’ve always been open about it. 

Some people might feel their inner Hyacinth Bucket crying, Oh, Richard!!!!!

Well, at least social media allows people to disagree - even with Pointless BBC left-wing co-presenters. You can even call them out on what you believe to be fake news:

Tom Harwood, The Daily Telegraph: The thing about big lies like this is they've been made for decades and no one has ever answered for them. Somehow they claim that NHS privatisation is always just around the corner. It never is. No accountability for this charlatan.

Wednesday 27 November 2019

R.I.P. Clive James

Victorious in the Eurovision Song Contest (BBC One), the Austrian singer Conchita struck the most triumphant blow for bearded male transvestites since the heyday of Kenny Everett, or possibly even of King Edward II.
Nobody knows what Edward II sounded like when he sang, but now the whole world knows what Conchita sounds like. She, or he, sounds like incoming artillery. One hundred and eighty million people in 45 countries were blown sideways by the uproar emanating from a young woman pretending to be Russell Brand, or perhaps it was Russell Brand pretending to be a young woman.
No, it was neither: it was a bloke called Thomas Neuwirth. Back in Austria he had spent several years developing his identity as a bearded lady, or whatever it is he is. But in Copenhagen, the site of the world’s greatest song contest, his identity stood fully revealed: he was a bearded lady draped in a gold-embellished fishtail gown. He shimmered in the light-storm like an upright carp with a bad shave. Hosting the British TV transmission, Graham Norton explained that Mr Neuwirth’s achievement could be important to all those of us “struggling to come to terms with their sexuality”.
After struggling with my sexuality all my life, I’ve finally realised that I should have been Graham Norton all along. The guy is so at ease with himself. He doesn’t even bother to dream up a few lines in advance, as Terry Wogan used to do. He just reacts to what we can all see. “In a minute, lots of indoor fireworks. Ooh! There you go.”
On the other hand, he was quite Woganesque when he postluded the performance of some moaning Norwegian by saying, “I think he’s delighted that’s over. As are we.” Pretty good gag: we just need more of them.
But Graham has charm. He tactfully played down the inconvenient truth that the UK singer Molly Smitten-Downes came only 17th. I studied Molly carefully to see what she lacked. Alas, it was all too obvious: a beard. She might have done better had she been twins, like the two Russian women tied together by their hair: but to win she would have needed a transgender element. I couldn’t remember Lulu having anything like that, when she won the contest back in 1969: but then, those were different times.
Women have come a long way, if they can now conquer the world by growing a beard and being a man really. And it’s all happened in the lifetime of my generation. 

"Media: stop gaslighting Jews"

Any passing BBC people should read the following by Maajid Nawaz (which I've arranged from his Twitter feed into a short 'pamphlet') explaining why the lazy or disingenuous attempts at drawing equivalence between Labour antisemitism and Conservative 'Islamophobia' are wrong, deeply misguided and downright dangerous:

Chapter One

I’m getting rather tired of the equivocation around this Labour antisemitism issue, so here’s a thread for confused pundits & voters. Some smart people out there have been hoodwinked by dishonest political hacks, or are simply too tribal to accept the difference in the following (written on twitter so apologies for the choppy style). 

People of any political persuasion must acknowledge:

1) Every party will have some policies you don’t like.

2) Every party will also have rogue members, or leaders, who said nasty things too.

3) Usually, if a party has policies you disagree with, you simply don’t vote for them.

4) For Britain’s Jews & their allies, the issue with Labour Party is none of the above. I repeat: it is *none of the above*. So Corbynists, pls stop obfuscating, strawmanning & deflecting.

5) The issue is Labour Party stands accused of being *institutionally antisemitic* (racist).

6) This is *very* different to finding individual policies you hate, or representatives who utter bigotry.

7) For a body to be institutionally racist (ironically, a phrase coined by a 90s Labour gov. inquiry) *not every member* is necessarily a racist, nor necessarily is the leader.

8) For a body to be deemed *institutionally racist*, intention & individual behaviour isn’t a primary issue. Rather outcomes are considered. If the totality of this body’s procedures, institutions & structure lead to *racist outcomes*, then sincerity & individual intent is no defence.

9) This is why 90s Lab government’s McPherson inquiry (rightly) deemed police ‘institutionally racist’ after unpunished racist murder of black teenager Stephen Lawrence. They were not calling all police officers racist. Nor did it mean that other UK orgs didn’t suffer racism too.

10) So, back to the Labour Party: British jews and their allies are accusing this Labour Party under Corbyn of being ‘institutionally antisemitic’. This means precisely that the party’s mechanisms, procedures and institutions lead to racist outcomes against its Jewish members.

11) This does *not* mean every Labour member is racist. It also does not necessarily imply that even Corbyn is (he might be). Rather, it points to the failure of Corbyn’s ship, with him as captain, to steer away from antisemitism. Sincere individual intent is not a condition here.

12) What British Jews are (correctly) alleging is that the Labour Party discriminates against them, as a party machine. That the outcomes in that party no longer protect them against racism. This is an *institutional* failure.

13) So, back to my opening line about political tribalism: any instinctive defence, “Whataboutery” response, or even allegations of hypocrisy, like “why aren’t you doing more to address racism in your own party?” entirely miss the nature & seriousness of what is (accurately) alleged:

14) British Jews and their allies are *not* in a state of alarm because Labour has individual racists in it (which is bad enough as it is). No. The Tories, Lib Dem’s, Brexit party & others all have bad apples. I repeat: the issue isn’t the existence of bad apples.

15) The issue very precisely & seriously is under Corbyn, Labour seems not only to have ignored the problem, or denied it, but in many cases doubled down on it & worse even blamed the victims for reporting it. In other words: the Labour Party machine has been co-opted by racism.

16) If one understands the nature & seriousness of the allegation, then one would never reply by saying, by way of example: “but what about Johnson and niqabi Muslim letterboxes?” Bad thing to say, but not evidence that the Tory party *machine* discriminates against Muslim members.

17) Also, it’s very important to recognise that criticising ultra-Conservative Muslim dress is a political right, because the ‘choice’ to adopt fundamentalist dress is a valid societal choice that must equally be subjected to scrutiny - like any religious conservatism must be.

18) No. Racism is not the same as criticising my religious choices, or lack thereof. You can (politely) criticise my religion, because it’s an idea. All ideas must be scrutinised. But one cannot insult another’s race, without being rightly deemed a racist.

19) Jews are both a people and a religion. European antisemitic tropes against Jews concern their supposed habits as a ‘people’, not their religion. So, it's racism to suggest that all Jews are secret greedy capitalists, or have large ugly hooked noses, for example.

20) No serious Jewish voice or organisation has ever said it’s racist to criticise Israel. None. I repeat, none. This is a complete Strawman. I criticise Netanyahu’s policies regularly and know many Jews and Israelis who do so too. The issue is about:
a) traditional European antisemitism flooding back into Labour (eg: East London ‘greedy capitalist’ mural that Corbyn defended),
b) holding Israel’s Jews to higher standard than the world,
c) an obsessive focus on Israel for errors that are far worse elsewhere,
d) supporting or otherwise praising genocidal, jew-murdering terrorist groups.

21) Some examples for all of the above can be (non-exhaustively) found here:…

22) So, people like Tory Baroness Warsi, who seems to have made a career of late out of deflecting over this antisemitism issue in Labour, to attacking her own party instead over “Islamophobia” (sic) totally miss the point:

23) Johnson, or any rogue Tory MP or member, can and do say racist or proto-racist things, but does the party with a Muslim-origin Chancellor really discriminate against Muslims institutionally? Does it then double down & deny its racism (I repeat: blasphemy is not racism).

24) This Muslim believes not. And I have *never* voted Tory in my life, and will not do so this time either. There are problems in the Conservative party, yes. I disagree with them, yes. But they are yet to meet the test of being *institutionally* anti-Muslim.

25) Truth is, there is only one major political party right now that has had senior former cabinet members resign over this (correctly) alleged *institutional* racism. There is only one party that is being investigated by the Equalities and Human Rights Commission over said racism. That party is the Labour Party.

26) AND THIS IS WHERE I GET UPSET: if Boris Johnson, Jo Swinson, or anyone other party leader, let alone individual MP, had SHARED A PANEL in Parliament with members of the now banned violent NEO-NAZI UK-based TERRORIST group National Action, you would all be going ballistic now.

27) Yet Corbyn not only shared platforms with jew-killing Hizbollah & Hamas TERRORISTS, he not only called them friends, but took £20K from their sponsor: holocaust denying theocratic dictatorship of Iran. Now..imagine you’re Jewish, and then imagine Corbyn in No.10 as PM. Precisely.

After all the above has been digested & recognised as a unique problem only with Labour right now, then add that Corbyn is a Brexiter too & may bargain away the UK with SNP (allowing Scotland another vote) just to become PM, you’ll get why we say #NoToAppeasement & #NeverCorbyn.

After the holocaust we vowed in Europe #NeverAgain - then Bosnia happened. Europe is not immune to repeat-offending. We must never be too arrogant to think we are. Brexit or Remain, we do have choices other than Labour. We must not betray our Jewish cousins over a tribal vote.

After all this, if we still choose Labour, at least let’s stop pretending we are “progressives”, or that we care about racism & minorities or that we “listen to victims when they tell us we’re hurting them”. It’s all BS. Just admit that you really don’t give a damn about Jews.


Chapter Two
BBC Politics: "Unfortunately Islamophobia is a serious problem, it’s endemic, it’s institutional within the Conservative Party”. Muslim Council of Britain’s Miqdaad Versi says “no action has been taken” and the party has a “structural problem”. 
Your MCB is dominated by Jamat-e-Islami Islamists (Muslim Brotherhood equivalents in South-Asia) so it’s no surprise you’d say this. Oh & only 2% of us British Muslims actually think you represent us politically. So stop pretending you do.

The day Boris Johnson calls neo-Nazi black & Muslim killing terrorists his friends (he hasn’t) & accepts funds into his personal account from a neo-Nazi endorsing state, is the day you get to equivocate like this.

Media: stop gaslighting Jews.

Chapter Three

My dear media pundits: 

On Labour antisemitism, I understand that you’re generalists, who have to be abreast of everything, and therefore can’t be on top of everything, but I’ve been engaged in these issues of political extremism *all my adult life*, literally from opposing sides. 

So at least (please) do me the favour of reading a thread I write *before* repeating the cliche back to me that “all racism is bad, and the Tories are racist too” (as if I - a Muslim survivor of violent racist attacks, and the War on Terror era - hadn’t thought of that angle).

I’m not saying you have to agree with everything I say, I’d be worried if you did, but on this (clearly my forte) please (for my sanity) read my view in any given thread first & then disagree (preferably without repeating an objection that I’ve already addressed in the thread).

Or better yet *ask* me instead of *telling* me about a topic I’ve spent the last 25 years and 2 additional Islamic languages learning.

Honestly, before responding please pause to consider if it’s slightly patronising, in any way at all for you to respond with tried & tested cliches about Tory ‘Islamophobia’ (sic) when the issues are disgustingly incomparable.

Aside from that annoying misnomer ‘Islamophobia’ (which really reinforces a ‘death for blasphemy’ taboo in my parents’ country Pakistan & here in UK) the comparison of Tory anti-Muslim bigotry would only be appropriate if Boris Johnson had called the Neo-Nazi Christchurch killer his “friend” and had taken money, personally, from a state that funded that killer (as Corbyn did with Hamas while taking up to £20K from Iran).

So, until the day Boris Johnson flirts with actual Muslim-killing terrorists it’s disgusting to draw such analogies, because they are deeply insensitive to our Jewish friends.

What’s also disgustingly insensitive is to compare any policy of the Israeli state with a terror group. Again, the appropriate comparison with Hamas & Hezbollah is to the Christchurch anti-Muslim neo-Nazi killer, not Netanyahu (despite my fierce disagreements with his policies). Netanyahu is a state leader, not a genocidal anti-Muslim terrorist. Only political amateurs and/or morally bereft obfuscators equivocate & confuse statecraft (agree or disagree with it) with genocidal terrorism that eg: targets babies.

So pls, do try to assume I’m not as stupid as you may think I am (no matter how hard that may be) and consider that I may have already thought of what you’re about to say regarding the very real presence of Tory ‘Islamophobia’ (sic).

I dunno, just maybe, during the 4 years I spent studying & debating these issues as a political prisoner in Egypt when surely I had time to rethink many of the political assumptions you now may hold & advocate (that I used to fiercely advocate too), maybe that time allowed me to arrive at a slightly unique perspective? Maybe?

Thank you and forgive me, this isn’t meant to sound like a whinge. It’s just so morally wrong to equate Corbyn’s moral & institutional support for terrorism with ‘mere’ Tory bigotry or crudeness.

And before anyone says it, no, I don’t vote Tory. I’m voting @LibDemsThank you. 

I’m really sorry for this, but you won’t believe the amount of ‘splaining I have to put up with.