Friday 19 March 2021

March Still Continuing Open Thread


Thank you for your comments. Bring on spring!

And the Open Thread really is continuing (above the closure post). 

We close the blog, then everything starts happening!

Sunday 14 March 2021

Closure Post

To every thing there is a season. A time to blog, and a time to stop blogging.

Due to too many circumstances to bang on about, both Sue and myself need to stop blogging - at least for the time being.

Thank you all so much for all your support over the years. 

Whither (or wither?) the BBC, only time will tell, and we may be back. 

But for now, good bye and best wishes.



Thank you so much for your very touching comments. Both myself and Sue deeply appreciate them.

There will continue to be an open thread for our little community of commenters. We'll both make sure it keeps going. 

And now to bed...

A nest of singing birds


The Atticus column in The Sunday Times brings news of a revealing (if unsurprising) email:

PM and Beeb coo in harmony

Much has been said about Boris Johnson’s war on the BBC, with threats to decriminalise non-payment of the licence fee and appoint critics to prominent positions. But its current leadership appears to think relations are just fine.

Atticus has obtained an email from Tim Davie, the Beeb’s director-general, to David Clementi, then chairman, shortly after the former met the PM in the Commons last September.

His verdict: “It was friendly,” he cooed. “We landed a few points on the importance of the BBC in Covid etc. They outlined some of their thoughts on key messages.”

Davie, 53, added: “At the end, the PM volunteered that we should meet again soon to catch up more generally on the BBC.” A nest of singing birds, then.

Saturday 13 March 2021

Sir David Clementi's Last Stand

Nebuchadnezzar (Blake)

The outgoing BBC chairman Sir David Clementi has risked ridicule by using a very small-scale internal BBC study of 70 households carried out 6 years ago - before Netflix, Amazon and other streaming services had become fixtures in so many British homes - to allege that most people "cannot cope" without the BBC, whatever people he calls "professional detractors" and "right-wing thinkers" may say. 

After just 9 days of BBC deprivation two-thirds of the BBC licence fee sceptics in the study underwent a 180° change of heart, saying they couldn't live without the wonderful BBC and expressing the belief that the licence fee is worth every last penny. 


I wonder how that ever-growing number of people who have rejected the wonders of the BBC and cancelled their licence fees are faring. 

Are they all at their wit's end and eating grass? I very much doubt it. 

Not taking it very well


Meanwhile, from an alternate universe near you...

Guess what's agitating these four people?

Yes, they're talking about the BBC's decision to end Nish Kumar's The Mash Report! 

As Francis Howerd would have said, Oooh noo, please, it's wicked to mock the afflicted! 

Roger Harrabin wins the battle


When we last met the BBC's (environmental activist) environment analyst Roger Harrabin he'd published 8 separate BBC News website articles about the proposed new coal mine in Cumbria within the space of a month. 

He didn't stop there. He got up to 9 with:

Cumbria coal mine plan 'damaging PM's reputation'

Boris Johnson has been warned by some of his foreign ambassadors that a planned coal mine in Cumbria is damaging his reputation.

And made it in a piece headlined UK environmental protections 'being flouted'

Here's a question: Did his (campaigning) reporting contribute to the Government's U-turn this week by piling on the pressure against the mine? I'm assuming yes.

Whatever, he contented himself with merely providing an inset 'analysis' to the BBC's main report on the story this week:
The government could still decide to approve the mine, but given the amount of anger it's caused that seems unlikely - at least until after the UN climate conference.

Local Conservatives strongly supported the scheme and the employment it would bring.

But the government's climate advisers, along with a crowd of green groups, warned it would increase carbon emissions when the UK's committed to cutting them.

What's more, it would harm Britain's international reputation before the UN conference, they said.

One of the world's leading climate scientists, the American James Hansen, warned Boris Johnson risked humiliation over the mine.

The US climate envoy John Kerry warned against it on Monday. And yesterday Alok Sharma was again rebuked by MPs over the plan.

It was too much pressure.

See more here.  

'Newsnight' and accuracy


In his regular Spectator column Charles Moore recounts how - and why - he spurned the BBC's advances earlier this week:

On Tuesday, I was asked to appear on BBC Newsnight to talk about the Sussexes’ interview. When told it would be presented by Emily Maitlis, I declined, on the grounds that ever since her political speech against Dominic Cummings on the programme last year, I have had no confidence in her fairness. Sure enough, she spoke on the programme that night of ‘the sense of the attempted suicide’ of the Duchess of Sussex — though Meghan had mentioned only ‘suicidal thoughts’.

At the time, my little gesture seemed rather pointless, so I was pleased to read in the next day’s papers that Ofcom has at last decided that the Maitlis diatribe against Cummings ‘had the potential to be perceived by some viewers as an expression of her personal view on a matter of major political controversy’. Hardly a bold rebuke, but a start.

Emily Maitlis's error was actually on Monday night's Newsnight when she asked John Kerry: 

Just before we end, we are talking on a day that has been dominated by the Harry and Meghan interview. We know how important the monarchy is to soft power. Does anything in it that you've read, any of the accusations of racism or the sense of the attempted suicide change how America views the institution of our monarchy?

The Tuesday edition itself was notable for another error - one which necessitated an on-air 'clarification' from Emily Maitlis. She began one interview by saying:

But first we're joined by Guy Hewitt, former High Commissioner of Barbados, which will leave the Commonwealth in November - a decision that we should say has been years in the making. It wasn't as a result of the last 24 hours. 

I can imagine, as the interview continued and Rev. Hewitt said what he had to say, that alarm bells began ringing in the studio as it dawned on them that they'd made a mistake, and that voices appeared in Emily's earpiece telling her to 'clarify' the matter. Towards the close of the segment, the following happened:

Emily Maitlis: And just let me clear up an inconsistency that I think I made. You will remain part of the Commonwealth, is that right, but you won't have the Queen...? 
Guy Hewitt: Barbados will remain...Yes, we will have a native head of state but we will remain part of the Commonwealth as the majority of members are republics.

 I don't think the "attempted suicide" error has been corrected yet. 

Moving to Channel 5


Kate Humble on Channel 5

So Eggheads Chris, Kevin & Co. are moving en masse to Channel 5, along with Jeremy Vine, where they will doubtless continue to reign supreme over quiz land. 

The Daily Telegraph observes that the show "had disappeared from the BBC schedules as bosses did not believe it appealed to a younger audience" and quotes its host as saying, 

I did more than 1,000 episodes and it’s one of the most successful TV shows in the history of British television, but I think what’s happened is it’s fallen victim to the BBC’s understandable desire to pull in 16-24-year-olds.

The Telegraph's Anita Singh makes a particularly telling point:

[Channel 5] has been encroaching on BBC territory for some time with shows that appeal to older viewers.  
It emerged last year that the BBC had turned down the remake of All Creatures Great and Small because they did not believe it would attract a sufficiently young audience. The show went on to become one of Channel 5’s biggest hits.

(Poor BBC! You'd have to have a heart of stone not to laugh at that.) 

Channel 5 has indeed been attracting me recently with some fine, informative programmes, many presented by old BBC presenters. All power to their elbow!

Friday 12 March 2021

The BBC's bread magnet comes unstuck


Two critics of Nish Kumar

The Independent quotes Nish Kumar's reaction to the BBC's cancellation of his The Mash Report:

Responding to the news on Twitter, Kumar wrote: “A lot of people are asking me for a comment and here it is” – accompanied with an image of himself on the show pointing to a screen that reads: “Boris Johnson is a liar and a racist.”

Of course, Boris Johnson isn't a racist.

The Independent also quotes James O'Brien, the ex-Newsnight presenter, complaining:

The Mash Report, a comedy program critical of the government has been axed by the state broadcaster, reportedly for political reasons, and at the behest of a director general appointed by the government.

Of course, Tim Davie wasn't appointed by the government. JO'B is confusing the BBC director general with the BBC chairman. The BBC chairman is appointed by the government. The BBC director general is a BBC appointment made by the BBC board, and they appointed a BBC insider. 

In the present world of spreading emojis: James O'Brien = ūü§°.

Tuesday 9 March 2021

"Why not BBC News?"

On the 8.30am Today Prog news the BBC reported that Meghan had said a member of the royal family asked *her* what colour the baby would be. By the 9am bulletin the word *her* had been dropped but there was no apology for the earlier instance of misreporting. Why not BBC News? 
Listen at 2hr33min35secs in as BBC News misreports Harry and Meghan's claims of racism against the royal family. Bulletin says "Meghan claimed a member of the royal family asked her how dark her and Harry's first child would be." Simply not true. 
By giving this false account BBC News has reported Meghan's claim as first-hand testimony, skewing any attempt at objective assessment about what may have happened. I cannot believe it has not already acknowledged a serious mistake and apologised for it. 
Looks like BBC News is just going to sail on without apologising for its untruth about the Royal Family on the Today Prog, hence further fuelling the idea of "Is it true or did you hear it on the BBC?" One day they'll come to regret such arrogance.

He described what happened correctly and sounded genuinely shocked, even though it's becoming pretty standard BBC behaviour these days. 

(A case of 'Hope springs eternal' perhaps'?).

I'm sure we'll see something on the BBC's Corrections and Clarifications page - which hardly anyone but us knows about, or reads - sometime before the end of 2022, if Patrick's lucky. 

Monday 8 March 2021

Ofcom 'does a BBC' over Emily Maitlis


In news that's unlikely to surprise anyone hereabouts, we learn today that Ofcom won't be pursuing the BBC over Emily Maitlis's infamous Dominic Cummings monologue on Newsnight. 

An Ofcom spoke says:

We consider the programme's opening monologue could be perceived as Ms Maitlis's personal view on a matter of major political controversy. 

But, having assessed the programme as a whole, we also found that a range of different viewpoints were given appropriate weight, including those of the UK government. 

Given this, and taking into account the BBC's acceptance under its own complaints processes that it fell short of its editorial guidelines, we won't be taking further action. 

We have, however, reminded the BBC that when preparing programme introductions in news programmes, to capture viewers' attention - particularly in matters of major political controversy - presenters should ensure that they do not inadvertently give the impression of setting out personal opinions or views.

It's the gentlest of raps on the knuckles. 

Ofcom is famously staffed with ex-BBC people. The language of that is pure BBC.

It "could be perceived" as Ms Maitlis's personal view? Presenters should ensure that they do not "inadvertently give the impression" of setting out personal opinions or views?

Whether or not it was solely Emily Maitlis's personal view, or the Newsnight team's point of view, it's absurd to claim that it wasn't a contentious point of view. 

And there was nothing "inadvertent" about it. It was meant.

Nick Robinson tweets

I've no desire whatsoever to write about Meghan & Harry, but I think Nick Robinson's editorial on Twitter needs recording for posterity:
Nick Robinson: Some dismiss it as a trivial Royal soap opera unworthy of the attention on serious news programmes. Yet Meghan & Harry have given young & diverse Britain all they need to see the Royal Family (tho’ not the Queen) as at best old fashioned & at worst bigoted. That really matters. 
It is, of course, only one side of a story which is, first and foremost, about family tensions. The Royal Family must now decide whether the traditional response - getting on with their duties which defy the caricature whilst saying nothing in public - is enough.

One of the upsides of Twitter is that people get to reply and this is, by some way, the highest rated response so far:

David Robertson: Such impartiality....such empathy...such understanding! You forgot to mention that they also let us see just how intolerant, self-obsessed, narcissistic, wealthy and entitled they are....I guess it just slipped your mind...?!

Sunday 7 March 2021

Naga Munchetty wants us to talk about race


The BBC Press Team is retweeting the following tonight:

Naga Munchetty: My BBC Panorama team and I have been working on this for a year.
This may give some insight to why we think it's important to talk about race.
@BBCOne 7pm Monday

Many, if not most, might very well be thinking, 'Oh, dear God, please no! Please, please BBC, let's not talk about race any more! Just stop nagging us about what you think we should think about race!'

Alas: That's (evidently) not going to happen. X

Naga has been let off BBC editorial guideline breach after BBC editorial guideline breach regarding impartiality over the past couple of years. 

And if you think that's just the BBC being cowardly and scared of offending the 'woke mob', well, the BBC now appears to have gone well and truly above and beyond. They've actually given Naga her own Panorama

And, from her very own tweet, we know for a fact that she's going to be pushing a contentious line that advances a particular, divisive point of view, and panders to a small subset of public opinion that the BBC appears determined to attract. 

So much for Tim Davie getting a grip at the BBC. The BBC appears to be getting ever more out of hand.

Why is this even going out?

The BBC goes Fox hunting

As a blogger, I sometimes feel as if I'm dancing in the dark (hopefully with Monica from Friends) when it comes to the BBC.

What on earth is going on here?...

Actor turned politician turned London mayoral contender Laurence Fox tweeted this today:
Dear Rebecca Cafe from the BBC. Regulations aren’t imposed under the coronavirus act, but the public health act, and thank god we don’t live in a country where the prime minister makes the law. I’m not going anywhere. Kind regards. 
He was responding to this from BBC online reporter Rebecca Cafe, sent by her to someone:

So many questions: 
  • Is Laurence right or wrong about the regulations? 
  • If he's wrong, will his opponents - including the BBC - succeed in getting him barred from contesting the London mayoral election, or even arrested? 
  • Who was Rebecca of the BBC sending this to? 
  • How did Laurence come across it? 
  • And would the 'impartial' BBC ever pursue such an investigation against someone who didn't offend them politically?

Poetry please

This morning's Sunday programme on Radio 4 was "a special programme to celebrate International Woman's Day. 

It was classic Sunday in its unremitting bias. 

Instead of me expanding on this yet again, here are some other people's takes (and Sluff is spot-on):


Jaw-dropping unceasing bias on Toady on Sunday today featuring not only more join-the-dots failings but also a BBC favourite tactic – something highly biased masquerading as something apparently innocuous.

The list was so long I cannot remember everything. It was a showcase for every Left wing cause.

Try these.

A story about Mexican immigration across the border into the USA. Clearly perceived as a good thing. [Presenter Emily Buchanan's questions were all put from a pro-migration angle to a pro-migration nun].

The Archbishop of York bemoaning the increase of only 1% for NHS workers (irrespective of their actual role during the pandemic). [Emily Buchanan pushed him 'from the Left', angle-wise].

A story about the forthcoming Swiss vote on ‘banning the Burqua’. An interviewee expresses the view that the ban would be a bad thing and then for balance a second interviewee…..errr……also expresses the view that the ban would be a bad thing. [It was one-sided in the extreme].

Then it's over to the new female priest who works in the Capitol in Washington. The story is entirely a front for reminding us about the entry into the Capitol on January 6th by the Trump supporters. [It was.]

Then its a reminder about International Women’s Day, apparently tomorrow. A young female poet is featured. She reads one of her poems. The words ‘Black Lives Matter’ appear in the very first line. Later she reveals her love for her work …… Cambridge Central Mosque.

Just a litany of the BBC’s favourite causes with not one single attempt at impartiality.


Dinah Lee K√ľng:

“Sunday” spot re burqua vote not balanced, not even interviewing a moderate Swiss Muslim why they support the ban but minutes of blah blah from an American Yalie academic in Dublin ffs. Swiss voters listening to Swiss Muslim leaders, maybe, not boomer foreign feminists?


Alexei Romanov: 

Poem at the end was coup de grace to this morning's programme...


On which point... 

There were two poems in total featured in the programme. The first began:
I must tell you Black Lives Matter
And I tell you racism must shatter.
And the second one - the coup de grace - began:
Time for us women to increase our visibility,
Celebrate us and call out inequality. 

The young woman's poems had something of the McGonagall style (relentless couplets, no scansion or rhythm, with a contrived rhyme at the end)...

...which gives me the excuse to quote a favourite verse from the great person with the "double X chromosomes" himself. This is from his most wonderful to be seen The Ancient Town at Leith:

Then as for Leith Fort, it was erected in 1779, which is really grand,
And which is now the artillery headquarters in Bonnie Scotland;
And as for the Docks, they are magnificent to see,
They comprise five docks, two piers, 1,141 yards long respectively.

Undiplomatic reporting from the BBC's Mark Lowen


The BBC News website's report on the historic meeting in Iraq yesterday between Pope Francis and Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani has so far undergone 15 revisions.

The most dramatic changes came from BBC's Rome correspondent Mark Lowen, whose 'Analysis' got him into trouble

Here are three chronological snapshots (courtesy of Newssniffer):

Profoundly symbolic
by Mark Lowen, Rome correspondent

Today's meeting has been years, even decades, in the making: an encounter between the leader of the Catholic Church and one of the most powerful figures in Shia Islam.

Previous popes have tried to meet him, given his influence across the Middle East.

Today Pope Francis, in this first papal visit to Iraq, is achieving it: a hugely significant encounter for two religious leaders. Their talks were likely to focus on inter-faith dialogue and Iraq's Christian minority, long terrorised by Shia armed groups.

It's a day of profound symbolism - and perhaps the one that will leave this trip's lasting impact.


Profoundly symbolic
by Mark Lowen, Rome correspondent

This has been a meeting years in the making: an encounter between the leader of the Catholic Church and one of the most powerful figures in Shia Islam: Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani. For a pope passionate about reaching out to other faiths, the meeting is arguably the most symbolic moment of his visit to Iraq.

The dwindling Christian community here has suffered violence at the hands of armed Shia groups - and the cleric is seen as a voice of moderation.

The Pope now comes to Ur - the ancient birthplace of the prophet Abraham, hoping that the biblical figure revered by Christians, Muslims and Jews, can spur reconciliation today.
Profoundly symbolic
by Mark Lowen, Rome correspondent

This has been a meeting years in the making: an encounter between the leader of the Catholic Church and one of the most powerful figures in Shia Islam: Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani.

For a pope passionate about reaching out to other faiths, the meeting is arguably the most symbolic moment of his visit to Iraq.

The dwindling Christian community here has suffered violence at the hands of Sunni extremists but some also fear the presence of Shia armed groups - and the cleric is seen as a voice of moderation.

The Pope visited Ur, the ancient birthplace of the Prophet Abraham, hoping that the biblical figure revered by Christians, Muslims and Jews, can spur reconciliation today.
As you can probably imagine, Shia people (inside and outside Iraq) didn't take too kindly to Mark Lowen's characterisation of who it is who has terrorised and inflicted violence on Iraq's Christian community. His tweet along the same lines of his earliest 'analysis'...

...had to be deleted. And people still aren't happy, demanding an apology from him:

Mark Lowen hasn't apologised to anyone yet, so far as I can see. He just amended his contribution to the BBC online article, deleted that tweet, posted another tweet along the lines of his latest 'analysis' and then took issue with someone who questioned that far more defendable post

From Orwell to the Irwell


Rod Liddle's turn of phrase remains a thing of beauty. In his Sunday Times column today he writes about the Treasury's decision to move 750 jobs to Darlington in County Durham and wonder whether it will change the culture of the Treasury...

Or [he asks] will it be more like the BBC’s move to Salford, in which the corporation’s bien-pensant producers simply transported their asinine belief systems 200 miles up the M6 and the only locals who got jobs were electricians?

Saturday 6 March 2021

Clarification Time (again)

Aficionados of the BBC's Corrections and Clarifications page have been treated to five new specimens this week. 

The oddest one is the Andrew Marr correction at the bottom of this post. Why on earth did it take 11 months to correct that?

The most striking one is the George Floyd one, because it's a lapse in journalistic accuracy that they've made before, for it's not the first time that the BBC's been forced into 'correcting and clarifying' that the police officers involved in his death weren't all white. (Two out of four were non-white). This is surely a classic case of BBC groupthink in action, leading to false and inaccurate reporting. 

News at Six
BBC One and BBC News Channel, Friday 26 February 2021
We reported Alex Salmond had said Nicola Sturgeon had broken the ministerial code and that he thought she should resign in his evidence to a Scottish Parliament Inquiry. 
In fact Mr Salmond did not say that the First Minister should resign; he told the Inquiry “I've got no doubt that Nicola has broken the ministerial code but it’s not for me to suggest what the consequences should be”. 

World at One, Tuesday 2 February 2021
We said Israel had vaccinated 5 million people with the Pfizer jab and that a million of these had had two doses. 
In fact, more than 5 million doses of vaccine had been given to Israeli citizens. Over 3 million people had received the first dose of the vaccine at that point and over 2 million the second. 

Midday Bulletin
BBC Radio 4, 6 February 2021
We reported that it was the 70th anniversary of the Queen’s accession to the throne. As the Queen acceded the throne in 1952, this was in fact the 69th anniversary.

BBC News Channel, Friday 23 July 2020 
We referred to George Floyd’s death as occurring during an encounter with white police officers. The officer who knelt on his neck is white, but two of the other three involved are not. 

Andrew Marr 
BBC One, 19 April 2020 
We referred to the Black Death, which it’s estimated killed millions of people in medieval times, as a virus. In fact it was a bacterial infection. 

'Why is "BBC Bitesize" Promoting Gender Ideology to Children?'

(h/t Stew Green)

Here's a well-presented video from Caroline ffiske concerning the BBC's reaction to criticism over its promotion of a particular ideology:

In response to her complaint about a BBC Bitesize feature pushing new gender pronouns like 'nem'. 'nir', 'viva', 'sphere', 'z', 'zamzia', etc, among school children, the BBC said, "As we have with Stonewall on this article, we have worked with experts to ensure that our content is factually accurate." But are Stonewall "experts"?

On which topic, here's a Twitter thread I was reading this morning which begins:
ripx4nutmeg: The BBC has refused to answer an FOI request about its work with Stonewall (but admitted it gives them thousands of pounds). Reason: 'The public interest is not served by [other] public bodies being less willing to engage in programmes which help them improve LGBTQ+ inclusivity'. 
Solange: The BBC really, really doesn’t want to spill the beans about its relationship with this political lobbying group. 
C Isaksson: Are you appealing? 
ripx4nutmeg: It wasn't me that asked for the FOI but is there even an appeal process? If there is, it probably isn't necessary - the 'impartial' BBC has now effectively admitted it is terrified of doing anything that will risk its project of disseminating Stonewall's gender identity propaganda.
Here is the BBC's response under discussion:


The world turns topsy-turvy and, because of the viciousness of the transgender debate, the Guardian's previously ultra-Guardianista Suzanne Moore left the paper and transitioned to being something I'd never have expected her to be in several months of Sundays: a Daily Telegraph columnist. (What's next? Polly Toynbee writing for The Conservative Woman?)

Today she asks "a few little questions", one of which is: "Why can't the BBC talk about Stonewall funding?"

The same tweeter featured in the post above replied, saying "The BBC's argument seems to be that if they talk about their association with Stonewall this could have a detrimental effect on Stonewall's aims. But they don't explain why this would be the case or why that's any of the BBC's business when they're meant to be impartial."

Further Update:

And The Times's Janice Turner crystallises the argument further here

Here the BBC refuses to answer a Freedom of Information request about what advice it pays Stonewall £6k a year to give it. Because its reply might jeopardise the commercial interests of Stonewall. Amazing.

"Should Jews count as an ethnic minority?"


To recap: 

This week BBC Two's Politics Live discussed Angela Rayner's remarks about the new Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar being the "first-ever ethnic minority leader of a political party anywhere in the UK", even though that honour belongs to Benjamin Disraeli, with three other Jewish UK party leaders to follow. 

The issue was discussed by Jewish host Jo Coburn, four new-Jewish studio guests and, via video link, an increasing appalled Benjamin Cohen of Pink News. 

The programme provoked outrage by running a banner across the screen asking "Should Jews count as an ethnic minority?", and Jo herself added to the outrage by suggesting "Many Jews have succeed in reaching high political office and therefore don't need to be seen as a group needing recognition". 

You would think the answer to the 'big question' is obvious: Jews account for a mere 0.3% of the UK population and around 0.2% of the world population and have suffered a surge in antisemitism in recent years, having previously faced an industrial-scale attempt to exterminate them in their entirety as a race within living memory. 

But voices on the left and many identity politics practitioners, as summed up by Jo's point, increasing see Jews as a group with power - an old and deadly antisemitic trope - and some even see them as white and, therefore, not an ethnic minority needing protection.

The imbalance of the panel was another thing that provoked outrage. People asked: Would LGBT issues or BLM issues be discussed with one LGB or T person or one black person on the panel against 4 non-LGBT and 4 non-black people? 

Matters got worse when Rob Burley, the BBC's editor of live political programmes, sent out a ham-fisted, insensitive, three-tweet defence of the programme in Twitter: “According to the Government — not Politics Live! — Jews aren’t an ethnic group in the UK,” he wrote, misunderstanding government statistics and failing to grasp that there are good, historical reasons why Jews haven't been included in that list or spotting on the very page he linked to that the Government is considering adding them to the census this year.

The Board of Deputies of British Jews put out a statement in response:

We were disappointed by the lack of sensitivity shown by the BBC as regards this discussion. Jews, regardless of whether they are at all religious or not, are subject to antisemitism every day - and have been subjected to mass murder, in living memory, on the basis of their ethnicity. Our community should expect solidarity and support, not questions about whether we deserve any.

There are a lot of good article about this, and I'd recommend the following to begin with:

New Statesman: Debating whether Jews are an ethnic minority is a familiar mistake by BBC Politics Live. The programme’s handling of issues of race and diversity, as well as matters of simple fact, is consistently poor, writes Stephen Bush.

Spiked: Anti-Semitism has been mainstreamed. That’s why the BBC ended up running a debate about whether Jews count as an ethnic minority. Apparently, the relative success of *some* Jews makes this a valid question. How depressing, writes Rakib Ehsan.

Jewish Chronicle: The BBC's defence of Politics Live is almost worse than the show. Rob Burley, editor of Politics Live, has effectively told Jews he knows better than us who we are, writes Stephen Pollard.

Melanie Phillips: Are Jews an ethnic minority? Is the BBC a broadcaster? Another antisemitism row illuminates once again public ignorance about the Jewish people, writes Melanie Phillips.

Friday 5 March 2021

‘Nothing is too good for the ordinary people’

A Guest Post by Arthur T

Amongst the flurry of EO reversals that Joe Biden has been signing willy-nilly - and a story that the BBC has failed to pick up is the following:

… ‘Biden revokes Trump's "beautiful" architecture executive order.'...

Drowned out by the chorus of derision surrounding every policy initiative that Donald Trump sought to promote, was a policy to make public buildings in the future of designs that the public could relate to in terms of what might be described as a comfortably familiar town or cityscape - in Trump’s terms ‘beautiful’. Buildings that would suit DT’s populist support were, perhaps mistakenly, straight-jacketed into the category of ‘Classical’ architecture - a throwback to the ‘white supremacist’ social history of the USA and the UK so despised by the MSM.

With the demise of the high street, and the reliance upon publicly funded buildings to maintain a semblance of identity to town and city centres, is it not perfectly reasonable to imagine that new buildings should be likeable - to be enjoyed by the tax-paying public?

Extension to National Gallery Trafalgar Square

There was a similar debate in the UK during the 1980s at the time of HRH The Prince of Wales’s ‘carbuncle’ speech, when a High Tech Modernist competition-winning design by architects ABK was abandoned in favour of a Classical architecture-derived design. The result was generally accepted as a feature on ‘the face of a well-loved friend’ and has become a familiar, unobtrusive addition, complementing, not detracting form, the townscape of Trafalgar Square.

What Donald Trump wanted was something similar - buildings that most Americans could relate to - buildings for the people, not just for the √©lite to drool over - buildings that were accessible, without the corporate ‘Keep Out’ label.

In London, we are seeing the same trends; the move out of City Hall, a building supposedly designed to encourage public access, (and at least in principle, allow public scrutiny of activities within) - to a more isolated and less accessible site in Newham. I have long held the view that the present day metro-√©lite city-dwellers are the descendants of the champagne socialist Modernists of the inter war period. The tenet of Modernism: ‘Nothing is too good for the ordinary people’ has a hollow ring to it these days.

Monday 1 March 2021

The BBC defends their Slalom Witch Trial


LunchTimeLoather brings us news that the BBC has published its response to complaints about "their 'more BAME people should be skiing' preaching" on Ski Sunday

"Judge. Jury. Executioner. As usual."

I think the word 'supercilious' best catches the BBC's tone here (though if you can think of other, better words, please note them below):

Summary of complaint

We received some complaints about a segment that looked at how snow sports could become more inclusive to people from all backgrounds, from those who felt it was inappropriate.

Our response

We do not agree that it was inappropriate to explore this topic. We do not agree that anything within this report was inaccurate, or biased against anyone who wants to take to the slopes. We included viewpoints and personal stories from multiple contributors as well as experts and commentators in the industry.

If you missed this (and I meant to post about it earlier)...

Last month Ski Sunday followed Countryfile in bending the knee to Black Lives Matter

Countryfile did a 'the countryside is too white' feature, and Ski Sunday did a 'the ski slopes of Switzerland are too white' feature. 

(Cue obvious jokes). 

The fascinating thing - besides the very long, one-sided, dubiously-accurate report itself from a black grievance-monger made a main feature on the programme - was the behaviour of the two regular, white presenters.

There they both were, dressed in their ski gear, standing in the Swiss snow, and preaching like a pair of 'woke' John Calvins. 

And they described the very long, one-sided, dubiously-accurate report itself from the black grievance-monger as "provocative and inspiring".

It was painful to watch them.

The white man (Ed Leigh) preached with particular earnestness, in a way that made me cringe. 

"When you're in the majority you fit in, so why would you question it?", he said, confessing his sins, immediately after the white woman (Chemmy Alcott) had  said, "Almost everyone in these beautiful places is white". 

And the white woman (Chemmy Alcott) literally stood in front of us on TV confessing her guilt at not having previously being sufficiently aware of the (alleged) problem of there not being enough BAME people on the ski slopes: "I'm going to be really honest here. As a person who has a voice in the UK snow sports scene I'm really embarrassed to admit that I didn't realise this was such a big issue". 

They also committed themselves to 'the cause'. 

No wonder people complained. It reeked of an in-your-face agenda from the BBC, but it also made for uncomfortable viewing. 

Did Ed and Chemmy really believe what they said? Or were they made to stand there and say it and humiliate themselves, just so the BBC could tick off yet another 'woke'-pleasing item on a BBC mainstay?

I suspect the latter.

There are, of course, plenty of non-racist reasons why posh people and white European and European-ancestry people dominate the ski slopes. The feature glided over those disingenuously. 

White working class people from Morecambe might be slightly more likely to appear on the kind of slopes that Ski Sunday frequents than black working class people, even black activists with chips on their shoulders, especially given that black people comprise a mere 3% of the population, but if I were to stereotype the kind of British people who do hog the ski slopes I'd brand them as classic BBC types - stars, presenters, journalists and (hideously white) executives - plus lots of other people with enough money and a sense of fun and adventure. 

We know what the BBC was up to here, and all their huffing and puffing about how they "don't agree" doesn't disguise it.

What the BBC chooses to cover, and how...


Here's a Twitter chat that might interested you. 

I saw the BBC article they're discussing being plugged myself early this morning and thought 'What's the point of that?' 

It appears I wasn't alone.

Matt Kilcoyne, Adam Smith Institute: I do find what the BBC choose to cover, and how, one of the hardest things in media to crack. This is a prime wtf example. It is just an advert for a single office firm. It doesn't explore the actual issue or economics or politics, just quotes from their guy.

I can just about get a paper doing that if it's a firm that takes out huge adverts, but the BBC doesn't need to do that... why not do it justice with a look at arguments on mandating returns, employee bargaining, logic of collective action, costs, company policy vs legal reality? 

Helping tens of millions of Brits facing uncertainty over what is and isn't allowed or is and isn't decided yet (both those managing and managed, with liability or not, directorship responsibility or contractual terms) could even be described as a public service broadcast.

Steve Mynott: It's probably just a press release they paraphrased. I'd expect it to appear in other media.

Emma: The question is why such a gigantic news organisation is having to write up press releases to bulk out the website. Surely if there's not enough national news there's some story from BBC Cornwall you can promote instead.

Steve Mynott: BBC journalists work quite hard but if free content arrives in their email they will copy and paste with some image library clipart since it's easier and they are only human. 

Matt Kilcoyne: Yeah except they really get annoyed at that accusation, and they have the staff that other organisations don't to do digging and original stuff. And this kind of piece, organised with the Today Programme, is a multi-day operation. What do they have to show for it?

I do have another explanation, at least as far as the BBC News website piece goes (rather than the Today piece): It's a clickbait article - and a successful one too. It's already received 1,834 comments, and counting.