Friday 31 July 2020

BBC guidelines? What are those things of which you speak?

You know that thing where BBC journalists aren't supposed to betray BBC impartiality by expressing points of views on matters of political controversy on Twitter and that other thing where lots of them are happily doing just that, well, here's a collection of Newsnight policy editor Lewis Goodall's tweet on one such matter - the composition and existence of the House of Lords. 

I think it's safe to say that he doesn't even attempt to hide what he thinks - and his behaviour hasn't changed since he's joined the BBC, despite BBC guidelines:

Tweeted after joining the BBC
  • Jul 31,2020: 12 places in the legislature for life for former MPs whose services were either dispensed with by the electorate or who decided they didn’t wish to win a place in the legislature by election a further time. And so the House of Lords continues to swell and swell.
  • Jul 31,2020: Latest honours list announced. Place in the legislature for life for the PM’s brother and a knighthood for the former PM’s husband.
  • Jul 18, 2020: Here we have a front page effectively saying that political allies of the prime minister and others he just quite likes will have seats in the legislature for the rest of their lives. All PMs do the same. And as a result our Parliament has fewer elected members than non-elected.   
  • Jan 18, 2020: Of course, we shouldn’t lose sight of the bigger long standing story- our political leaders can give their friends and allies seats in our legislature for life. That’s...pretty odd.
  • Jan 18, 2020: E-petition written by Goldsmith in 2014: “Genuine Recall would empower voters, increase accountability and improve the relationship between people and power.” As opposed to his new place in the legislature, where there is no relationship between the people and his power at all.
  • Jan 13, 2020: 2014: Zac Goldsmith MP insists that the right of recall is necessary for the members of the lower (democratic) house so that “voters could hold us to account”. 2020: Lord Zac Goldsmith accepts a place in the upper (undemocratic) house for life. Hmm. 🤔
Tweeted before joining the BBC:
  • Dec 19, 2019: This appointment is darkly ironic given Zac Goldsmith was the man who campaigned endlessly for recall for MPs. He’s now just been given a place in the legislature for the rest of his life, where he will be accountable to no-one and where he cannot be removed.
  • Dec 19, 2019: Only in Britain could you be denied your place in the legislature for a fixed term by the electorate only to be put back in it only days later by the government for life.
  • Apr 4, 2019: Viscount Ridley, a man with a seat in our legislature only because of his birth, is rallying against the “despotic majority” of the democratically elected House of Commons.
  • May 10, 2018: They could be Solon-like in quality but I don't think it matters. I just can't see any moral justification for election to the legislature where birthright is required to be a candidate.
And just as I'm about to post this, guess what? Fresh in:

🤔 indeed.

Woke up this morning

I half think it’s inappropriate to make flippant comments about this topic, but you know me. (You actually don’t, but ..)
I woke up this morning old. An old person. Well, that’s been happening a lot lately. I’m that judge who didn’t know what the Beatles were. Also, I didn’t know exactly what Grime is. (I do now because I’ve looked it up.)  
Grime is a genre of electronic music that emerged in London in the early 2000s. It developed out of earlier UK dance style UK garage, and draws influences from jungle, dancehall, and hip hop. Typically characterized by a minimal, prominent rhythm, a very low-pitched bassline, and vocals by an MC.
To be pernickety, I don’t know what garage, jungle etc are either, in terms of ‘dance’ but I do know what the words mean in their non-dance usage, of course. 
The word Grime = dirt ingrained on the surface of something."the windows were thick with grime” see also: dross, pollution, muck, gunge, yuck, crud, goo, grot.
….and it’s also a verb. 
Example: blacken or make dirty with grime."the windows were grimed like a coal miner's goggles” 
(What’s a coal miner’s goggles, mummy?)

Anyway, I assume whoever decides these brand-names had something ‘rude’ and edgy in mind when they chose ‘grime’, but (being so old) it reminds me of 'rebels', like Rik in the Young Ones or, say, Kevin the teenager. ”I’m bad, me” 

Of course, you’d be too young to know what I’m talking about. All those cultural references from the days before woke stole all the laughs. 

Everyone (especially me) was horrified and outraged at the antisemitic outburst by Wiley the grime artist, exacerbated further by the insult-to-injury salt that was truly rubbed into the wound by Twitter’s tardy indifference to the whole business.

However, there’s a ridiculous side to it which is almost funny. I mean, have you seen the ‘exclusive interview’ that took place on Sky? (Is that Lizo Mzimba in the background?)

Apart from a nasty whiff of ‘Sky exploiting something rotten’, the interview did reveal the absurdity of this 41 year-old-mutton-dressed-as-teenager trying to pronounce ‘antisemitic’ and saying he wasn’t racist and apologising for ‘generalising’. Get it? Generalising is sort of what ‘racist’ IS

Okay, the poor chap’s ire is aimed at the Jews in ‘the music industry’. Not every Jew. But, being a little bit thick, (I think that was the problem) he doesn’t appreciate the glaringly obvious - that if it weren’t for that Jews-in-the-music industry no-one would have heard of him. 

Just think. Without them, he could have continued to make his way in the business without any interference from the management he detests. He could have put an imaginary MBE in any frame he likes and stick it wherever he wants and he could have made racist rants to his heart's content and no-one would care; they’d be like a drop in the ocean. Check out the comments below the Sky interview on YouTube.

(Note to Jews-in-the-music-industry. Not the sharpest knives in the drawer, are you?)

Further to Arthur T's post...

Andrew Neil isn't overly impressed with the new artwork on Trafalgar Square's fourth plinth:

Will he be toppling it? 

Every Nozzle Stroke Updates, By Arthur T

Where’s Will Gompertz these days? As there is no Turner Prize in 2020, we might assume he’s been furloughed - but no, he’s around - he reported on the 9th May on the 2020 BP Portrait Award. 

I must admit I missed it - it never made the BBC News website Home page: 

Reading between the lines of his report, Will’s not happy. There’s no political angle to Jiab Prachakul’s portrait. It’s conventional. It tells the story of a couple during a moment of closeness. Unlike so much current portraiture, it isn’t derived from a photograph. 

The subject doesn’t resonate with any of Will’s favourite hobbyhorses. The sitters appear to be a straight couple in a conventional setting, and there’s no BLM, anti Western, anti Thatcher, anti Capitalist or Islamophobic angle. Q. How can Will cover this ‘non-story?’ 

A. By comparing the work to several of the Greats from history including Monet, Degas and Rembrandt:
‘It's good…. But I'm not sure if it is great. … Maybe it would be different when seen hanging on a wall, but Night Talk doesn't appear to have the palpable psychological charge that makes a memorable picture, it lacks the atmosphere that gives life to a work by Degas or Hockney.'
Surprisingly, so far as I can see Will hasn’t commented on the above mentioned Banksy Refugee paintings. These are charged with political activism and emotion of the sort Will likes, designed to pull at the heartstrings of the average elite charity-backed SJW - who else would spend that sort of money? It simply doesn’t wash with me. The narrative is false: 

The seascape is quite well depicted - but nothing other than a corny stereotyped manufactured image - of what exactly? 

Shipwreck off the Cornish coast? 
Life jackets washed ashore bereft of bodies they were designed to save - The refugees didn’t make it, but their lifejackets did? 
Discarded lifejackets washed out to sea by tide - refugees made it, but the boat didn’t? 

This is a sentimental image worthy of any romanticised 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle. 

If WG was to review the work, would he compare it to the Greats of seascape painting, JMW Turner, The Wreck of the Minotaur, for example?

Update 2, right on cue. 

As if to order, we are treated to this piece from the BBC News website. It is from an unnamed source at the BBC: 

How’s that for tacky - with a cherry on top, literally! It might be fun, but with its shallow political message, the BBC just loves to tell us all about it. Here are some extracts from the BBC article: 

  • ‘A "beguiling" sculpture depicting a whirl of cream topped with parasites has been unveiled in Trafalgar Square.' 
  • 'The End, by British artist Heather Phillipson, will stay in place until spring 2022'.
  • 'It replaces artist Michael Rakowitz's recreation of a protective deity destroyed by Islamic State in Iraq.' 
  • "I came up with the idea in 2016 which was already, for me, quite a tricky political moment", she said, because of the "Brexit (vote) and the rumblings of Trump's imminent election" in the US'
  • 'The Fourth Plinth commissions have seen many works over the years, including Marc Quinn's sculpture of pregnant Alison Lapper and Yinka Shonibare's scaled-down replica of HMS Victory, contained in a glass bottle.’ 

We know of Marc Quinn from last month when he produced in a matter of days a 3D printed likeness of Jen Reid to replace the ‘fallen Colston Statue’ - as the BBC would describe the vandalism. 

The last paragraph is especially interesting because it fails to include the first Fourth Plinth exhibit - Ecce Homo, Behold the Man - a depiction of Christ wearing the crown of thorns, by Turner Prize winning artist Mark Wallinger. Ecce Homo was a work of 1999. This work is a life-sized statue of a Christ figure, naked apart from a loin cloth, and with his hands bound behind his back. He wears a crown of barbed wire. Any Christian religious work is strictly off-limits to the BBC. 

However, Wallinger’s 2007 prize-winning piece was more up the BBC’s street, one would think. It is a meticulous recreation of a 40 metre long display which had originally been situated around peace campaigner Brian Haw’s protest outside the Houses of Parliament against policies towards Iraq. 

An anti Blair foreign policy statement cannot be seen to outweigh Wallinger’s earlier Christian message, so unlike Quinn he is no longer flavour of the month - mine’s a 99, please.

Thursday 30 July 2020

Trust the BBC

Matti Friedman is my hero. He writes the things that I would write, had I the ability or the education. I’ll ignore any sarcastic references to random scientific masterpieces that I might have created - Large Hadron Colliders and suchlike - but for one or two minor technical disadvantages.

By Jove he gets it. He absolutely gets it. You’ve gotta read his article and please do click on the links as well. Israel Was Ground Zero for the New Woke Religion
“All of this has made me think differently about my experience as a reporter in Israel a decade ago, and particularly about an essay I wrote in 2014 for Tablet, which was one of the first publications to pick up on these trends. That essay, “An Insider’s Guide to the Most Important Story on Earth,” and a second one that appeared in The Atlantic, 
described the replacement of journalism here by activism, the subjugation of objective description to higher ideological truth, and the manufacture of politically driven morality plays in the guise of news.
These diverse applications are unique, if not entirely unprecedented, for a news story. But they make sense if we understand the Israel story as a kind of sacred template that can be used to explain many different situations. A good example became visible this spring in the wake of the protests that followed the killing of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis: the myth that Israel trains American police officers in the same methods of brutality that killed Floyd, and which are deployed more generally against people of color. This conspiracy theory has been promoted as factual by (among many others) senior journalists, members of the British Labour Party, and, in early July, by the biggest Lutheran denomination in America.
It’s not only his empirical, kosher, first-hand experience of 'how the media works' that give Matti Friedman mega bone fides, but his analytical insights enable him to describe where it has all gone wrong.

If only I could nail it as deftly as Matti does I wouldn’t have to spend hours at the grindstone struggling with words, while simultaneously aggravating my bad back and possibly a good many of the readers of this blog to boot.

I’d love to expand on that, but for the time being here is what I set out to write about on this fine sunny morn. (Now afternoon)

Did you see the article that led to the latest post on the Camera UK website? The complaint they made at the time has prompted the BBC to issue a correction. Well, it’s a tiny teeny wee one, in italics at the bottom of the page, but at least it’s there, in ‘footnote’ mode. Look!  There it is,  a few centimetres above the link titled “Why you can trust BBC news”

Anyway, that (and Matti Friedman’s freshly absorbed article) prompted me to revisit the backgrounder in question. I mean, if you were after an ‘agenda’ to furnish your thesis on agenda-driven journalism this would surely fit the bill.

Let’s leave the factual error(s) to one side and concentrate on the language, the omissions and the overall thrust. This BBC ‘explainer’ is presented in ‘misery memoir’ style. It describes a litany of deprivations suffered by the Gazan people without any reference to the (self-inflicted) events that landed them in such a pickle. 

It’s a backgrounder with the actual background selectively excised. 

Imagine a piece written in a similarly emotive way about the deprivations of the inmates of Broadmoor. Those poor souls probably suffer a few restrictions too. If a journalist decided to get on his high horse and write empathetically about how incarceration affects the inmates’ quality of life without mentioning the fact that it’s a high-security psychiatric hospital, anyone would immediately realise the article was a tad skewed. 

This comparison was not made to suggest that the inmates of Gaza are criminally insane, but if you rely on the BBC, which continually defends Hamas by reminding us that they were ‘democratically elected’, then the people of Gaza must bear some responsibility for their situation merely by ‘voting them in’.

That’s the reason I used Broadmoor to illustrate a point. In both cases the ‘victims’ themselves are the architects of their own misfortune. At least the people of Gaza had a certain amount of choice, one might argue, whereas the inmates of Broadmoor can, in mitigation, claim insanity.

Now, let’s look at the article. A picture is worth a thousand words as someone once said and the images used here are a fine example of that. Under the header:  FREEDOM OF MOVEMENT the BBC gives us, well, here it is.

Can you see what I’m getting at yet? (As Rolf Harris might have said) You need hardly bother to read the text; suffice it to say it offers scant explanation for the restrictions, apart from a reference to “a crackdown on the network of smuggling tunnels”. 

Smuggling tunnels? What on earth could they be for? Covertly bringing home the medical supplies, dialysis machines and prosthetic limbs that they’re being so cruelly denied, perchance? Or for importing material to construct the home-made rocket contraptions they’re particularly fond of,  leaving a few spares that accidentally happen to emerge in the middle of residential Israeli areas for luck.  

The section, ECONOMY is equally unhelpful. I think we’re supposed to assume that the ‘poverty rate’ has nowt to do with Hamas; it's probably just the ‘siege’. 

This should be good. EDUCATION. While a cursory Google reveals a plethora of articles about this topic, you have to go to the ‘right-wing“ or pro-Israel press to learn about the type of incendiary anti-Israel material that is fed to Gaza’s schoolchildren. The BBC is just one of many news organisations that routinely sanitise the radicalisation that is so commonplace in UNRWA text-books as to be ‘unremarkable’. 
However,  the government is mildly interested, and one can download a PDF about it. 
Radicalisation in the Palestinian school curriculum 3
DFID says that it has always been clear that it expects textbooks used by the Palestinian Authority to be academically rigorous and must not to incite racial hatred or violence under any circumstances. DFID also reports that it does discuss issues of concern about radicalisation with the relevant PA representatives from time to time.

DFID also pushed the EU to commission an independent review of Palestinian textbooks. This is being carried out by the Georg Eckert Institute. The interim report will be completed in Spring 2020 with the full report due later this year. 
While we’re on the topic, UNRWA is in a spot of bother too. To continue: POPULATION.

While 5,479 per sq km is quite dense, (so much for ethnic cleansing) it’s not a patch on, say, Monaco (26,337) or even Singapore  (8358) and the UK has 280.6 (and as we speak they’re all down in Cornwall or crawling along the A30) I see this chart also has, at No 14, State of Palestine: 847.4  (wherever that is) And please note the increasing number of ‘nought-to-fours’ in the graphic.

Another litany of passive-aggressive and factually incomplete innuendo-laden swipes at Israel. 
More of the same. 

This agenda-driven backgrounder is a good example of obfuscation and omission - it is supposed to provide ‘background’ and background is the very thing it lacks. “The Strip gets most of its power from Israel,” it says. 

What? Must Israel provide its aggressor with power, gratis? Oh, dear. There’s a lot of missing bits in this misery memoir-style segment, such as: 
“First, electricity imported directly from Israel and Egypt is paid for by the Fatah-ruled Palestinian Authority (PA), based in the West Bank city of Ramallah, not by the Hamas government in Gaza. The cost of the Israeli supply is deducted from the revenue that Israel collects on imported goods destined for the Palestinian territories and, under normal circumstances, transfers to the PA. Since the 2007 Fatah-Hamas split, the government in Ramallah has become increasingly frustrated with incurring the costs of electricity supply for the Gaza Strip. In a highly politicized move in June, PA President Mahmoud Abbas requested that Israel reduce the supply of power to Gaza. During much of 2017, power supply was limited to three to four hours per day. 
Further, Abbas’s hard-line stance on the supply of not only energy but also the importation of key medical equipment into Gaza has exacerbated the gap in trust between Gaza and the West Bank government. Even as Israel proposed a plan to international donors for $1 billion toward Gaza reconstruction last week, including new power lines from Israel, who will pay remains unclear.
All this is bad enough, but it’s the first section of the BBC’s article that sets the scene for the rest.
Israel-Palestinian conflict: Life in the Gaza Strip
“Originally occupied by Egypt, which retains control of Gaza's southern border, the territory was captured by Israel during the 1967 Middle East war. Israel withdrew its troops and around 7,000 settlers in 2005.
It is under the control of the militant Islamist group Hamas, which won Palestinian legislative elections in 2006 and ejected forces loyal to the then governing Palestinian Authority after a violent rift in 2007.
Since then, Israel and Egypt have effectively blockaded the territory, restricting the movement of goods and people in and out in what they say are security measures against militants in Gaza.
Hamas and Israel fought a brief conflict in 2014, with the Israelis attempting to end rocket fire from Gaza and the militants fighting to end their isolation.
Throughout, the framing is cavalier in its brevity and lack of explanatory detail. It glosses over the violence in Hamas's 2007 overthrow and ignores the violence that followed Israel's withdrawal from Gaza.  It squeezes in a gratuitous "What they say is" in respect of Israel's security measures but on top of all that the bottom paragraph, which was emboldened by the BBC (not me) is plain weird.
“Hamas and Israel fought a brief conflict in 2014” 
Is that grammatical? No. Does it make any sense? No. Does it really tell the story? No. Anyone who has followed 'the conflict' would know that a) the conflict is anything but 'brief' - (although the the ‘flare-up’ was relatively so) - and b) asymmetric warfare shouldn’t be presented as if the parties involved are ‘equal’ in any way shape or form. 

Then,  yet more problematic phrasing:
".....with the Israelis attempting to end rocket fire from Gaza and the militants fighting to end their isolation.
Militants fighting to end their isolation?” I think "terrorists fighting to obliterate the Jewish State and all that sail in her" would be more truthful.

So it’s good that Camera managed to squeeze out a (barely visible) retraction. How did these glaring errors ever get past quality control? But it’s not good at all that the BBC has succeeded in turning an unknowable number of its audience into Israel-haters and antisemites.

Wednesday 29 July 2020

Being fed a huge amount of lies

Did you know that all pro-Israel advocacy from the mouth of a non-Jew (Col Richard Kemp) is worth a million times more than the very same thing from a Jew? Obviously, the theory is that a Jew has skin in the game or a dog in the fight, whereas a non-Jew is trustworthy and less likely to lie. 

No sooner had I digested that sad-but-true observation (in the Stand With Us video) than I was invited to digest a proposal with a similar concept; inversely. And pretty indigestible it is too. 

The theory is, of course, that when an actual Jew defames Israel, his defamation is worth a thousand defamations by the usuals, and the Guardian and its ilk will hang on to every priceless word.

The ilk?

On the Elder of Ziyon site, I read this piece about a comedian named Seth Rogen who, “AsaJew” believes the scales have fallen from his eyes and that he has suddenly discovered the unvarnished truth about Israel. 

This is Rogan's revelation that got The Guardian going:
"And I also think that as a Jewish person, like I was fed a huge amount of lies about Israel my entire life. You know, they never tell you, that oh by the way, there were people there. They make it seem like it was– just sitting there, oh the fucking door’s open!…Literally they forget to include the fact to every young Jewish person: Basically, oh yeah, there were people living there.

Unfortunately, he has yet to realise that those scales have been replaced by the much grimmer lens - the prism of Palestinian propaganda. According to Elder 'any fule (who attended a Jewish school), kno' - or should kno - the relevant history. He explains:
"It is literally impossible to teach Israel’s history without mentioning the Arabs who were the majority before 1948. The riots in 1920, 1921 and 1929; the mini-civil war of 1936-9, the reasons for the British White Paper limiting Jewish immigration, the partition plan, the fighting in 1947-8 and the refugee issue – these topics cannot be avoided if one is taught even a perfunctory history of Israel, no matter how Zionist that history is.
The 1950s book “The Story of modern Israel for young people” features this illustration;

The damage that this silly person will do through his own gullibility and that of others - and (if applicable) his celebrityhood - is of inverse proportion to the substance of his ‘revelation’. The fact that the Guardian 'leapt on it and ran' speaks volumes. 

Not only does the circularity of this brand of propagandising highlight the push-me-pull-you nature of the dissemination of disinformation like a snake eating its own tail, but it gives the Guardian a hook on which to hang further disinformation with its very own potted  “history lesson”.
"More than 700,000 Palestinians were driven out of their homes or fled fighting in the 1948 war that led to Israel’s creation. Today, those families and their descendants make up around 5.6 million refugees.
No! It was not the 1948 war that led to Israel’s creation! Wrong! Wrong and back to front!
  1. End of British Mandate 14th May 1948. 
  2. State of Israel proclaimed 14th May 1948. 
  3. Israel invaded by five Arab states 15th May 1948
It was Israel’s creation that ‘led to’ the war - a war of intended annihilation - started by the Arabs, waged by the Arabs and lost by the Arabs, if you didn’t know, Oliver Holmes or whoever wrote that garbage.  You might ask yourself who’s been feeding you all those lies your entire life? And, Oh, by the way, there were lies everywhere; and you literally forget to mention The Inconvenient Truth About Jews From Arab Lands

In case you can't access content from Haaretz - I think they ask you to register - I'm giving you an excerpt from it below. Don't forget, this is from Israel's equivalent to The Guardian and the BBC's go-to source of news and views from Israel - so don't dismiss it as predictable nonsense from the book of 'they would say that wouldn't they'  Nathan Weinstock, the subject of the article and author of a study about Jews of Arab lands began as a member of the anti-Zionist left - until the scales fell from his eyes and he realised he'd been playing the part of the 'useful idiot'.
"What makes Weinstock’s decision to write about the Jews’ expulsion from the Arab world especially surprising is his own political biography: He was one of the leading figures in the anti-Zionist left in France during the 1960s and ‘70s. From viewing Israel and Zionism as a colonial project aimed at dispossessing the Palestinians, Weinstock underwent a dramatic conceptual upheaval that led him to address a painful and rarely discussed aspect of the Arab-Israeli conflict.
“This book is the story of a tragedy,” he writes in a special introduction to the Hebrew edition, “of the uprooting of hundreds of thousands of Mizrahi Jews, who were torn cruelly from their homes and homelands. Whole communities of Jews, who had always resided in the heart of the Arab-Muslim world, underwent expulsion, persecution and malicious liquidations Nevertheless, this drama remains unknown and it has been denied for a lengthy period.”
In retrospect, Weinstock explains, that event showed him the degree to which he played the part of the “useful idiot” at the time. “I was thrilled when I got up to speak to the Palestinian students,” he told me. “Very naively, I was convinced that the Palestinian students would be happy to hear my pacifist message. So I was astonished when not one of them showed the least interest in what I said. Instead, they listened ecstatically to Radio Cairo, delighting in every word and swallowing the boastful announcements that the Arab armies would soon throw all the Jews into the sea.” 

Tuesday 28 July 2020

Not the Bell end after all

So much for Steve Bell getting cancelled by the Guardian

Steve Bell 'stunned' at reports he has been 'sacked': 'The whole thing has been a bit disturbing

"Dear Dominic
Thanks for your email. I would have appreciated a chat before you went to press because your story is not true. I would be delighted to talk sometime, over a pint of Harveys or whatever, but I would dearly love to know who confirmed it, if anyone did. I know there has been a twitter spat, and my own small contribution seems to have made things worse for me, but surely it is a necessity to at least talk to the subject of a story before publishing it. My contract as it stands is coming to an end next year, but since I have always been on an annual freelance contract, and this has always been a process of negotiation. 
You can imagine that this has been a very difficult time for me. I don’t know how the story that I’d been sacked got about, and nobody has bothered to approach me to confirm or deny it, but it highlights the problem with social media. I certainly didn’t put it out. My tweet was an attempt to counter the disgusting and damaging story that I have been sacked for alleged antisemitism, racism and misogyny. I’m now pretty certain that the Guardian didn’t either. I’m a bit stunned myself, but I’m hoping for the best. I had an approach from the Guardian Press office in response to all the nonsense on twitter, so they’re obviously in the dark too. Since I have for a long time been one of the Guardian’s most well-paid and prolific freelancers, and have been in negotiations with Kath Viner for some time about reducing my overall workload (I currently do seven cartoons a week), my contract as it stands will come to an end at the end of next April. Sadly this probably spells the end for the ‘If…’ strip after 39 and a half years, which I enjoy doing immensely, but is a hell of a lot of work for an old codger like me, particularly in full colour. I do hope to continue after next April doing large editorial cartoons.

What I am absolutely certain of is that, firstly, any changes to my contract are a result of budget cuts, and the full story of what this means for all Guardian staff and freelancers is only just becoming clear. Secondly, no one at the paper that I know of has ever suggested that I am being got rid of for reasons of alleged or supposed misogyny, racism or some other misdemeanour.

I must admit that the whole thing has been a bit disturbing, but I hope to be cartooning for a while yet. 
All the best 
Steve Bell
(emphasis mine)

Don’t you feel happy that the racist, antisemitic, misogynist old codger will continue to be generously remunerated for his imaginative beautifully drawn witty original satirical cartoons?

Every nozzle stroke

Arthur T, in his guest piece earlier, remarked that at the BBC "every nozzle stroke of Banksy is revered". 

Scroll forwards a few hours and what do we see 'BBC News (UK) on Twitter' promoting on the BBC website

Yes, (Wiley) Banksy has done something again, and the BBC immediately stands to attention:

Straight White Male and other languages

Talking of Michael “In Israel they murder each other a great deal” White, indeed, the BBC is losing its stalwarts; they’re dropping like flies. 
“How fluent are you in Straight White Male?” Jeffrey Boakye asks his guest Iesha Small as he stands in for Michael Rosen on Radio 4’s Word of Mouth.

What is this funky new language? I bet it’s something to do with white privilege! Ah! It’s a new name for cultivated eloquence. If I remember, one would aspire to it in the olden days if one wanted to get on in life, or get on the radio. But not any more.  Now, if S.W.M. is, like, your first language - it’s, like, a positive drawback. Mr Boakye is a teacher. His subject is English. He should know.

Everything on the BBC - from the radio to the TV and the web-sphere - is devoted to black people explaining what’s wrong with white people; this must be  ‘good’ racism.

This morning at 19 minutes past seven  Mishal  Husain spoke to a mother about an incident.
 “….the male turned out to be a 12-year-old with a toy gun.” said Miss, in her ‘sugary’ voice before introducing the boy’s mother who described the incident. "Armed police!" "Toy gun!" "Jogging bottoms!" “Was it cos I is black?”  emoted the boy’s mother, the BBC and Miss Husain. Yes indeed. Everything is because that.

Why on earth was a 12-year-old playing with a toy gun? Surely, at that age he should have had a real gun.

Later, Kemi Badenoch MP Treasury & Equalities Minister, (black,) was subjected to The Sanctimonious Schoolmarm treatment. 
“Are you satisfied with a 12-year-old being treated in this way?” asked Miss Husain, menacingly. 
“Do you feel for the mother who felt that the officers would kill her if we’d moved when they arrived at the house?” she probed?

  • Why aren’t there enough people of colour in football management? 
  • Why did the (black) (ex)security guard mistake the (black) editor of Vogue magazine for a delivery driver? 
  • Why must everything on every single programme on every single one of the BBC’s multiple platforms be race-related? (Black-race related I mean. Not just any old race.)  
  • When will it be safe to come out again? 

"BBC seems swept up in an emotional tide"

He used to be that paper's BBC-friendly political editor, and in the first decade of the present century, in blogs hereabouts at least, he was regarded as the absolute epitome of the snooty, 'wine-drinking', (possibly muesli-munching), left-liberal, Labour-Party-friendly, pro-BBC hack - the ying to Polly Toynbee's identical yang, so to speak. 

Anyhow, the great man's thankfully still in action (albeit on Twitter) and this very morning he sent out the following exasperated-sounding tweet
Lots of anti-racist talk on BBC Radio 4's Today (again) today, much of it muddled, conventional thinking (again). It’s an important issue, but BBC seems swept up in an emotional tide. I switched to R3 where there are no complaints (yet) that music is too dominated by dead white Germans.
Now, if BBC Radio 4 has lost 'Michael White of The Guardian' of all people - one of their friendliest friends, often a presenter on their programmes - then I sense huge trouble ahead for the BBC.

The BBC Radio 4 audience includes a good number of 'Michael White of The Guardian'-type people. 

As regular readers will know, that station's increasingly dour, narrow, woke focus has certainly put me off in recent years, but for it to make 'Michael White of The Guardian' despair of it is truly one hell of an achievement!

Check your Israel privilege

Brendan O’Neil is on form. Wiley isn’t ill – he’s racist How identity politics helped to resuscitate anti-Semitism. 

I admit I hadn’t heard of Wiley aka Richard Kylea Cowie Jr., MBE (because grime isn’t my thing) until the latest hoo-ha about his racist Tweets. Oh, and by the way, I don’t Tweet myself - although I do spy on other people’s Tweets when my attention is drawn to them.

BON (a common abbreviation) receives some rather hostile comments for his troubles. (Don’t confuse him with Bono. Or Bonio.) He points out that many people are eager to excuse the poor chap - “he’s suffering from a mental illness” 

Then he gets to a broader issue and one I’m very familiar with.
“The NME even referred to Wiley’s tweets as his ‘Israel tweets’. ‘Wiley responds to anti-Semitism accusations over his Israel tweets’, a headline said. Israel tweets? His tweets were about Jews, those snakes who dominate everything, hate black people and are a destructive force. Even where he mentioned Israel, he was really talking about Jews, as is often the case, tragically, in certain sections of the ‘Palestine solidarity’ movement these days. For some people, Israel has become a proxy for the Jews. What they might once have said about the Jews – sly, controlling, bloodthirsty – they now say about Israel instead. We know this from the past few years of Corbynism, which attracted numerous anti-Semites masquerading as critics of Israel.”

The BBC has just come up with something rather spooky. 

After an anti-Semitic tirade that prompted a Twitter boycott, rapper Wiley has written abusive posts aimed at his Jewish critics on Facebook.
Jewish critics” BBC? a truly bizarre description of people responding to an “anti-Semitic tirade.
“The grime artist posted on his personal Facebook page under his name Richard Kylea Cowie, the BBC has discovered.”
Belated discovery, but you could plead ‘better a few days late than never’.
“He specifically named Jewish celebrities - including Lord Alan Sugar, comedian David Baddiel and BBC presenter Emma Barnett.”
Mr Willy’s ’s not keen on Emma Barnett then and I daresay it’s mutual.

A good speech from Barnett. But all this wondering where people like Willy-Kylie-Cowie get their memes from does 'take one aback'. Part of it is down to the organisation that you work for Emma. Look - it’s behind you!  

An Escofet is Missing BBC

A Guest Post by Arthur T 

Few can have failed to have been impressed by viewing press coverage of the latest portrait of Her Majesty. The work was commissioned by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), and is by Spanish-born (in 1967) Miriam Escofet, an artist working in London. She is the daughter of artist Jose Escofet. Her family moved to London in 1979. I don’t doubt that it will be the taxpayer who foots the bill, thus it should be something that would interest our national broadcaster. 

It’s no use, though, looking to the BBC for information on this subject. As far as I can see, the only record they have of the event, is a 30 second Local TV clip on Youtube delivered with an ‘and finally’ smirk from the sofa - concentrating on HM’s quip that no tea was shown in the teacup. 

Not only does this appear to be the only reference from ‘across the BBC’, but the still image of HM sitting in a stateroom had been cropped to show little of the context and space of the portrait, a decision which reduced greatly the impact of the work. One might expect the camera to pan in and out again - but no. 

Personally, I find the likeness in HM’s face to be poor. I can’t believe she would use make-up in such a way as that depicted. There is the inevitable difficulty of using photographs instead of live sitting to capture the correct perspective. In my view, the head is too small, and the body depicted as unnecessarily stout. HM is small in stature. Nevertheless, the detail of the dress, the carpet, the furniture, the gilding, the flower arrangement and the bottom half of the wall-mounted painting are superb. (In my view, that the painting on the wall lacks symbolism and is confirmation that the work was painstakingly derived from a photograph). 

Miriam Escofet is known to the BBC. 

There’s an article from 2018: 

The artist’s attention to detail speaks for itself, it’s a spectacular piece of work showing us through the narrative some of the character of the subject - homemaker and matriarch. 

The portrait’s absence from the various BBC platforms is in sharp contrast to the Marc Quinn Jen Reid sculpture, which was all across BBC. See recent guest post: The BBC’s over-narrow perspective. It was a hastily constructed replacement for the vandalised Colston statue in Bristol, an event that was hailed heartily by the BBC. 

Why might this work, from this artist, be excluded from BBC News? Is it that they don’t like the artist? Independent woman (tick), Spanish born (tick), daughter of artist (tick), attended Brighton School of Art (tick). 

From above BBC News website, Arts and Entertainment pages, 2018:
A slightly surreal portrait of an artist's elderly mother drinking a cup of tea has won the BP Portrait Award. 
Miriam Escofet said she wanted An Angel at My Table to show "the universal mother". Judges praised its "constraint and intimacy". 
Her mother Alma Escofet is shown taking tea, but a closer look reveals some objects on the table seem to be moving. 
The artist said winning was "completely amazing and slightly surreal", adding: "I'm just coming back to earth." 
She was awarded £35,000 and a gallery commission worth £7,000 at the National Portrait Gallery. Escofet, who was born in Barcelona and lives in London, had been selected for the BP Portrait award exhibition four times previously. 
Seemingly, the stage would be set for a follow-up story, keeping the afternoon tea theme in HM’s portrait, from an artist the BBC have featured before. Looking more closely however, we note that it was the BP Portrait award Escofet won in 2018. To some of the Beeboid XR sympathisers, the very mention of BP would be taboo. BP are being stripped of their longstanding sponsorship roles:

There’s that word “Royal’ again. BP fit into the ‘symbols of white British oppression’ category meaning their name must not be spoken. 

Added to that is the Englishness of the Escofet scene - palace stateroom, servants not far away, afternoon tea from Crown Derby or Royal Doulton teacups - and the monarchy itself. In the BBC sphere, art is not art unless it has a strong political message - Will would tell us - and that message must always carry a left-wing message - Christian, or Western art filled with familiar symbolism has no place in the BBC. Conversely, every nozzle stroke of Banksy is revered. 

I fear we have reached the point where statues and now portraits must conform to the narrow BBC worldview and rewritten history before it is acknowledged. Vandalism is the preferred form.

Monday 27 July 2020

But doesn't this apply to the BBC too?

Andrew Neil is no fool, so he knows that people will join the dots when he tweets something like this:

Litigious news and other stories

So the BBC is cancelling Andrew Neil to make way for more diversity and youth-orientated content. Well, there does seem to be support for left-wing, antisemitic-flavour broadcasting.  Jeremy Corbyn’s go-fund-me pot has reached a quarter of a million pounds and rising, so the demand is obviously there.

‘Adolf Hitler’ and ‘B’stard Son Of Netanyahu’ help fund Corbyn’s legal costs  by Adam decker
A Go Fund Me page set up to finance the former Labour leader's court battles has raised £231,000 due in part to the generosity of self-proclaimed racists.
“Among the most generous donors are former deputy leader of Liverpool City Council Derek Hatton who’s given £1,000, prominent anti-Israel campaigner and Labour member Susanne Levin who’s offered £500 and music producer Brian Eno, who’s provided £500.”

Update! As you were! The fund has so far reached  (a staggering!) £300,000 

Strangely, the BBC seems to be embroiled in a complicated tangle of litigation, would-be litigation and counter-litigation. Who’s suing whom? It’s as farcical as one of those ‘you couldn’t make it up’ farces that cry out for the erudite clarification of a Captain Blackadder.

Panorama has been going since 1953! In all that time the BBC has exposed many scandals and injustices, but I have found just three litigious cases involving something that could be interpreted as vaguely ‘philo-Semitic’. 

In 2005 a case involving the BBC’s John Ware drew a complaint from the Muslim Council of Britain. 
From the BBC report:
"MCB secretary general Sir Iqbal Sacranie complained the show was "purposefully trying to sabotage" the progress Muslims were making in the political mainstream.

Panorama reporter John Ware also found groups affiliated to the MCB promoting anti-Semitic views, the belief that Islam was a superior ideology to secular British values and the view that Christians and Jews were conspiring to undermine Islam.
MCB secretary general Sir Iqbal Sacranie complained the show was "purposefully trying to sabotage" the progress Muslims were making in the political mainstream.
"John Ware's team have made a deeply unfair programme using deliberately garbled quotes in an attempt to malign the Muslim Council of Britain," he said.

The BBC rejected that complaint.

Another case followed a couple of years later when the BBC was made to pay damages. 
"The former general manager of Islamic Relief UK, Waseem Yaqub, today accepted undisclosed libel damages and a public apology from the BBC at London’s High Court over a Panorama programme called Faith, Hate and Charity.
Mr Justice David Eady was told that the programme was broadcast on BBC One and investigated the London-based charity Interpal which gives funds to charities on the West Bank to help needy Palestinians.
It was said to reveal that some of the charities were linked to Hamas and helped build support for the movement by spreading Islamist ideology.
22nd July 2020  and we’re back in the room. John Ware is at the centre of a sue-storm; a blizzard of articles appeared in the press. Who’s suing whom? I can’t reliably put the articles in chronological order, but things are happening. 

'That Panorama’ was aired on BBC Two one whole year ago.  “Is Labour Anti-Semitic?” A bit like this blog - the question is rhetorical. David Collier had already exposed the tsunami of Corbynite/ Momentum antisemitic material that had engulfed Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour, both in real life and on social media. A certain amount of momentum had been created, a demonstration had occurred in London and more and more ‘incidents’ were being unearthed. Yes, we all knew the answer to the question. Labour definitely is antisemitic,  but the Panorama exposé was still unexpected.  The BBC allowing such an overt critique of their beloved Labour Party?  Whatever next?” 

Here’s what was next. The Labour Party’s vengeful treatment of the “Panorama whistleblowers” became the subject of a court case resulting in Labour being forced to apologise and to pay damages to the seven former employees appearing in the programme. The BBC published this report, no byline:
Anti-Semitism: Labour pays damages for 'hurt' to whistleblowers 
The party has issued an unreserved apology in the High Court for making "false and defamatory" comments about seven whistleblowers who spoke out in a BBC Panorama programme last year.
The individuals had criticised the then leadership's handling of complaints.”
Laura Kuenssberg also produced a report
Labour’s agony over anti-Semitism far from over
Astonishing still that the Labour Party, a political movement based on fighting for equality and against racism, found itself in a situation where its members and officials have been playing out a battle over anti-Semitism for so long - on the airwaves, in constituency meetings, in executive meetings and also in the courts. The argument is not settled.”

You can say that again! Next, still on 22nd July, an indication that a challenge is in the offing; The Guardian,

Corbyn-era Labour figures may challenge antisemitism settlement by Jessica Elgot and Lisa O'Carroll
Senior party members understood to be mulling legal action over verdict on treatment of whistleblowers
“Key figures in Labour when Jeremy Corbyn was leader are mulling a challenge to the party’s settlement with a BBC journalist and seven of its former staff over a libel case relating to a Panorama programme last year about its handling of antisemitism.
It is understood the former Labour leader himself as well as his former director of communications Seumas Milne have taken legal advice about the settlement and apology set to be read at the high court on Wednesday.”
and also from The Guardian:
Antisemitism settlement plunges Labour party into civil war 

“Jeremy Corbyn’s statement caused astonishment among litigants in libel action.
Labour’s decision to pay a six-figure libel settlement to ex-staffers who claimed the party was failing to deal with antisemitism has plunged the party back into civil war, with Jeremy Corbyn publicly condemning his successor’s decision to settle the case.
Corbyn’s statement caused astonishment among the litigants in the libel action, with the Panorama journalist John Ware confirming to the Guardian that he was “consulting his lawyers” and raising the prospect of another costly court battle over Labour and antisemitism.
Mark Lewis, the solicitor who acted for Ware and the whistleblowers, revealed to the Guardian that he had been approached by 32 individuals who want to take action against the party for a range of allegations, mainly centring on the fallout from the leaked report.
On the same day (22nd July) The Jewish Chronicle came out with:
The Corbynites have lied with impunity - now they face the legal consequences
"John Ware explains why he sued the Labour Party - and why his case is merely the first of several against alt-Left sites and individuals who lie
A year ago, the Labour Party declared all-out war on the BBC. Why? 
I was the reporter on a Panorama programme in which seven former Labour staffers blew the whistle about antisemitism in Corbyn’s Labour Party. They explained how they felt a growing factionalism had created a safe space for antisemitic views inside the party.
Labour responded by accusing me of having flouted journalistic ethics. I had, Labour alleged, knowingly promoted falsehoods and invented quotes. I had misrepresented and fabricated facts.
You don’t need much experience of television to know that the BBC’s editorial processes simply don’t allow for such mammoth corruption of the editorial process, especially a programme that examines such an incendiary subject as the relationship between the leader of the Opposition and antisemitism. Every line of my commentary was trawled over by the editor, lawyers and the BBC’s editorial compliance panjandrums. The whistle-blowers were also extensively cross examined."
Also on 22nd July 2020, Jewish News printed this:

Panorama journalist John Ware planning to sue Jeremy Corbyn By Jack Mendel
The journalist behind BBC Panorama’s on Labour’s antisemitism row is planning to sue Jeremy Corbyn for libel.
Labour falsely accused Ware of “deliberate and malicious misrepresentations designed to mislead the public” regarding the show.
Media lawyer Mark Lewis said: 'I can confirm that I have been instructed to pursue claims' against the former Labour leader
It’s irritating when journalists like Philip Collins allude to 'journalistic ethics' as if the BBC were a paragon of excellence in the journalistic ethics department. In one paragraph in an otherwise laudable essay, titled “Time to root out Corbybites once and for all” Collins wrote:
“The response of the Corbyn team to the allegation that Labour was not really serious about investigating antisemitism was to pour scorn on the journalistic ethics of the BBC.”
If it weren’t for the fact that this particular Panorama was a remarkably unrepresentative example of the BBC’s normal output, ‘journalistic ethics-wise’  Collins would have had a valid point. 

I can think of but one or two other exceptions to the BBC’s default Labour-leaning perspective, one, in particular, comes to mind.  Jane Corbin’s Panorama titled “Death in the Med’ where she quite rightly sided with the Israelis over the Mavi Marmara affair. If I’m mistaken and the other cases I’ve cited were in fact ‘the norm’ for Panorama, the BBC in general and not exceptions at all, please forgive me. I had the impression that Panorama’s output since 1953 has generally been in accord with the BBC’s left-wing ethics rather than plain and simple ‘journalistic ethics’.
“To declare war on all of the mainstream media is a disastrously stupid strategy for any political leader. In due course, Sir Keir will be well advised to be much more forensic than this in his choice of media enemies. He will need some — a media bogeyman is always handy in politics — but it most certainly ought not to be the BBC.”
..adds Collins. Why ever would a self-proclaimed Labour supporter like Philip Collins suppose Starmer is likely to alienate the BBC? The BBC loves Labour under Starmer and I daresay it’s mutual.

I have no idea what Seumas Milne and Len McCluskey are up to, but if antisemitism is really going to be deemed beyond the pale they’ll have to carefully consider the best use of the monies generously donated by ‘Adolf Hitler’ and ‘B’stard Son Of Netanyahu’

The BBC is dumping Jane Corbin I hear, as well as Andrew Neil. I rest my case. (M’lud.)

Sunday 26 July 2020

A fatal act of self-harm

Tom Mangold, back in the day

Tom Mangold's Mail on Sunday piece headlined "I fear that my beloved BBC’s bizarre obsession with a toxic culture of wokeness will end as a fatal act of self-harm" ought to matter to the BBC because Mr Mangold isn't just any old BBC veteran. He was Panorama's lead investigative reporter for many years and has always been held in high esteem. So for him to speak out in such an outspoken way about "the greasy slope down which [the BBC] is sliding faster every day" is really something, and a major sign of just how bad things have got recently. 

While expanding on his excoriation of Yogita Limaye's "biased, partial, unbalanced, filled with spite and venom" anti-Churchill report (see previous post), he adds the words "Never mind the truth". I doubt he would never the phrase, of course, but essentially what he's saying is that it was 'fake news'. 

'What on earth has happened?', he wonders. After all, the BBC's charter remains "unequivocal" on its statutory commitment to impartiality. Well, he says, the "holy contract" is now "well and truly broken". 

He seems to believe that Ms Limaye's late evening report, given the full backing of the News at Ten and Huw Edwards's "authority and credibility", was a bone deliberately thrown to the BLM movement. 

And the BBC's doing it, he says, because of its "bizarre obsession with youth, diversity and the ever-growing pressure of woke argument" and because BLM - and "the Twitter trolls, the social media addicts, the young, the immature and the often daft" - have become "the BBC’s recruitment and audience target." 

Why this "'threatens to become [the BBC's] final act of self-harm" is because such people are a "minority audience". 

He also quotes another wise old head, Trevor Phillips, saying that "the increasingly woke behaviour by the Corporation is endangering the central justification for special treatment, which is its universal reach." 

All of which is very true. The BBC is alienating its core audience in pursuit of a small demographic that probably won't be watching it regardless. It's a sign of the state the BBC's in at the moment that it doesn't even seem to see the folly of its position. 

The present situation with over-75s having to pay the licence fee from next Saturday is relevant here because 66 Conservative MPs  signed a letter to Tony Hall last week objecting to the BBC's decision over the licence fee, and added: "We question the need for the BBC to allocate the enormous sum of £100 million on diversity, which with strong management could be achieved for minimal cost". 

Tom Mangold in this article makes a related point: "Tony Hall has found £100 million in an ever-ready slush fund to increase diversity in the BBC. Meanwhile it gets rid of talent such as John Ware and Jane Corbin as permanent reporters from Panorama, presumably to save a bob or two". 

Why is the BBC splashing out such huge sums on diversity? After all, as the Observer observes today, it's devoting £12m of its commissioning budget "to making diverse and inclusive content" for the next three years, and devoting £100m of the current television commissioning budget to "on-air inclusivity", and bringing in a mandatory off-screen target for "20% diversity across the networks for new commissions" from April 2021? Because it's signalling to its new target audience. 

Tom Mangold goes on to quote Trevor Phillips saying, "The BBC has to recognise social change, sure, but it is not the institution’s role to lead it." Well, yes, but that's not how the young Turks who have been silently taking over at the BBC see it. To take just one example, on being appointed the BBC's first LBGT correspondent Ben Hunte said "There are a lot of marginalised voices that need to be given a mouthpiece" when he was appointed. He clearly meant that he intended to be that "mouthpiece". There's a lot of that about at the BBC now. 

Wonder what the bulk of the BBC will think about this? I'm guessing a huge chunk of them are too far gone to care what one of the old hands thinks, especially if it's in the Mail on Sunday. But some might take it as a proper, serious wake-up call. If they love the BBC as much as Tom Mangold does, what are they going to do about it?