BBC news is clueless about balance

Last week director-general of the BBC Tony Hall restated the BBC’s abject lack of understanding of balance in broadcasting.  In the BBC’s ‘Annual Plan’ Hall said

[The BBC] needs to stand up for impartiality.  Making sure all sides of a debate are heard – all different views and voices – is fundamental to our mission.  We must stand up for it and defend our role like never before.  It is essential if we are to continue to be the place people know they can trust to get to grips with what is truly happening in the world, and to hear the broadest range of views.” Quotes taken from Guardian report.

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Tony Hall

Hall’s comments above may appear to be banal platitudes but they were much worse than that. 

Impartiality
To practice “impartiality” a broadcaster is supposed to remain neutral in a political disagreement and to interrogate both sides of a disagreement.  Impartiality” in broadcasting does not mean that falsehoods should have the same exposure as facts and it does not mean that every statement that is broadcast requires a contrary statement to be broadcast in response.  

The BBC has demonstrated frequently that it does not understand what “impartiality” means.  It is normal for the BBC to allow charlatans airtime to spout drivel in response to reasoned argument.  For example, any report on racism is always “balanced” with a voice from the cantankerous right to argue against whatever intelligent human opinions are being expressed.  Offensive screaming heads such as Douglas Murray, Toby Young, Isabel Oakeshott and David Starkey pop up like foul-smelling weeds on BBC news shows whenever bigotry is being discussed.

Of course, the BBC is selective with which news reports require the application of its definition of “impartiality” and which do not.  Reports on Venezuela, Yemen and Israel seem to require significantly less adherence to any “impartiality” directive.  Press releases from Downing Street, normally packed full of lies and misrepresentation, are passed onto the viewers and listeners without inspection or fact-checking.

All sides of a debate
The problem with “making sure all sides of a debate are heard” is that some opinions are trash and insincere.  

A debate about climate change does not benefit from the opinion of someone employed by the fossil fuel industry; a debate about healthcare provision does not benefit from the opinion of someone employed by an exploitative health insurance provider or the pharma industry; a debate about military action does not benefit from the opinion of someone who is employed by the arms industry; a debate about racism does not benefit from the opinion of a racist.

Allowing “all sides of a debate” is lazy and cowardly and is a ruse to cause destruction of a debate via the inclusion of disruptive voices.  The intent of the BBC, for some issues, is to stifle facts and reason with agenda-driven PR.  Secretly funded right-wing think-tanks are presented frequently by the BBC as legitimate voices in debates on any topic; the financial backers of the think-tanks are never revealed by the BBC.

The broadest range of views
What is gained by allowing the “broadest range of views” in a debate?  For a debate to work parameters of the extent of the discussion need to be agreed; otherwise, it is just a succession of disparate views spoken in turn with no progress made.  

Hall’s claim to offer the “broadest range of views” was an admittance of a lack of understanding of basic facets of high quality political broadcasting.  Effectively, Hall claimed that the BBC is too fearful to make any decisions itself regarding usefulness, sincerity or veracity of any opinion.  It was another display of laziness and cowardice.

And, again, his claim was selective.  The BBC’s “broadest range of views” is set within restrictions.  Politically, the BBC positions the centre well to the right of where it should be.  Often on BBC news programmes the “broadest range of views” is very narrow; for example, when Nicholas Witchell is gushing about the royal family.

BBC misunderstands balance and is dishonest about how it applies balance
Hall’s summary of balance at the BBC showed how inept he and his colleagues are regarding the role of news broadcasters.  Equally, his analysis was a lie; evidence contradicts his assertions.

Radical change is needed at BBC news to rectify errors of recent decades and a complete revamp of recruitment policy is vital.  Otherwise, it will descend further into farce.

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Screaming heads and professional trolls

BBC news is clueless about balance

Far-right dregs around Westminster

Yesterday, on what was originally Brexit Day, Metropolitan Police allowed a concoction of far-right bigots to wander around the environs of the Palace of Westminster, Whitehall and Downing Street and to display their extremism blatantly.

All the scum were in the same place at the same time.  The dregs included a grifter with a string of criminal convictions – Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, his occasional boss and anti-Islam lobbyist Gerard Batten, aggressive gangs of violent racist gammon, members of Generation Identity (linked to Christchurch mass murderer) with fascist insignia, some idiots with confederate flags and, most sickening of all, a sectarian Unionist marching band with sectarian flags and uniforms.  

Police claimed that they wanted to allow free speech and free assembly but their record toward left-wing protests and pickets differs.  It is not legal for an Orange marching band to march without permission.  The use of militia-style uniforms and sectarian flags and insignia by a marching band is illegal.  No intervention was made by the police to stop it.  It is not clear whether the police inaction was due to complicity or cowardice.

The mob was roused by professional rabble-rousers, including Yaxley-Lennon, who had the use of sound systems and large screens to convey their hate; consequently, violence was used near to Downing Street.

Support, encouragement and plaudits from political activists and politicians emboldened the mob’s members.  Relaxed policing, until they got too close to Downing Street, legitimised their right to behave as they saw fit.  The behaviour included physical assaults on journalists and anyone they viewed as an opponent.

In the months leading up to the original Brexit day, anger, hatred and violence had been encouraged  by activists and politicians.  As well as Batten and Yaxley-Lennon, MEP Nigel Farage and convicted criminal Darren Grimes had elucidated their predictions of unrest if Brexit was delayed or cancelled.  Effectively, the mob had been instructed what to do.  Yesterday afternoon, Bruges Group supporter and Tory MP Mark Francois, a keen fan of no-deal Brexit, took a TV crew with him to film him shaking hands with some elements of the mob.

There is a direct causal link between calls to arms from visible politicians with media platforms and the mob in the street executing violence and displaying extremism.  Francois, Jacob Rees-Mogg, Farage, Boris Johnson, etc. know what they are doing and what will ensue.  The privately educated financially detached conservatives (not necessarily all Tory) are delighted if knuckle draggers enact the tactics that they call for.

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Etonian Lord Pearson invited Yaxley-Lennon to the House of Lords

 

 

 

Far-right dregs around Westminster

Change UK

Change UK is a soft conservative political party whose primary aim is to obstruct the election of a socialist government.

Eleven MPs, elected as either Labour or Tory MPs, joined Change UK without calling by-elections.  By doing so, they stole democracy from voters in their respective constituencies.  The theft of democracy by its members demonstrated the disdain Change UK has for voters.

Change UK, and the associated private business Independent Group a.k.a. Gemini A Ltd., was created to be imaginary opposition to the Tories as a ruse to take votes from real opposition parties.  It has no pretensions of winning any elections but it could acquire a small percentage of votes cast that might be sufficient to tip marginal seats in favour of the Tories rather than Labour or SNP.

The political stance of Change UK is indistinguishable from that of former Tory leader David Cameron and former Tory lap dog and Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg but its objective is to con the voters into believing that its politics differ from the Tories.  This con is a popular trick of conservatism in scenarios where the traditional conservative party has become toxic.  The toxicity of Theresa May’s Tories allows Change UK to pretend to be a different animal while sticking rigidly to a pro-exploitative fiscal management of the economy.

(Arch Thatcherite and puppet of exploitative corporatism Emmanuel Macron used the same con trick in France where he succeeded in fooling the French voters.  Today, France is at war and Macron is bunkered down.)

Most of Change UK’s critical rhetoric is aimed at Labour.  The fear of socialism is the strongest aroma emanating from the members of Change UK.  Chuka Umunna, in his What Are Progressives For?, described Change UK’s objective as not being bad capitalism.  

Capitalism is dysfunctional and needs to be repurposed so it is more inclusive and responsible.”

On the other hand, according to Umunna,

Labour’s leadership has talked about rewriting the rules of British capitalism and in the past has referred admiringly to the economic approaches of, for example, Bolivia, Cuba and Venezuela.”

Change UK uses a variety of deceptive PR terms to describe its non-politics.  Umunna banged on about “progressives” a lot in his rambling paper but the progression seemed to be just a few little tweaks to what the Tories are offering and a lot of dismissal of any radical change.  Catatonic is a more accurate word than progressive to describe the Change UK manifesto.  Umunna’s positing of “progressive” versus “regressive populism of the left” evoked a choice between Rick Wakeman’s ‘Six Wives of Henry VIII’ and Buzzcocks’ ‘Spiral Scratch’ although, conversely, it is Change UK who are “whining in the dining room.” (1)

Every word and phrase that Change UK uses to describe itself is a con.  It is a small group of witless anti-socialists whose aim is to stifle change and who are intellectually and politically bereft of usefulness.

ChangeUK1
Reservoir Dregs

Notes
(1) Lyric extract from ‘Time’s Up’ written by Howard Devoto.

Change UK

Fake News campaign: Censoring far-left by conflating with far-right

An old tactic used by opponents of socialism is equality of their criticism of far-left and far-right politics in both volume and depiction of extremes and wrongdoing.  Motivation for the opposite-but-equal line of attack is clear:

  • Basic insult to the far-left by grading criticism of it at same level as that aimed at far-right
  • Attempt to disarm rebukes to the criticisms of far-left by claiming such rebukes excuse far-right behaviour
  • Positioning of an imaginary ‘moderate’ centre as an arbiter when, in reality, it leans heavily to the right

The aim of the conflation of far-left and far-right is to create a spurious reason to censor socialism.  Fear of socialism dominates the political psyche of the centre’s protagonists.  Their disdain for the far-right may be genuine but they fear socialism much more than they oppose the far-right.  The need to address corporate-funded far-right ideology throughout the world is real but, for the duplicitous centre and for conservatives, it provides an opportunity, via sleight of hand and confidence tricks, to apply all the demands for censorship of the far-right to censorship of the far-left.

Tory chair of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport parliamentary committee Damien Collins elevated himself to a crusader against ‘fake news,’ supposedly as a response to alleged interference in the 2016 EU referendum.  He cobbled together leaders of a gang of second division countries to sign The Declaration that advocated worldwide censorship of online communication to protect a particular political system – democracy.  “Representative democracy is too important and too hard-won to be left undefended from online harms.  It is incumbent on us to create a system of global internet governance based on established codes of conduct for agencies working for nation states.”  The “us” in The Declaration meant hegemony of capitalist Western power.  

Supporters of political censorship choose to target online communication because most online activism is beyond the former’s control.  In particular, success of left-wing online news sites caused alarm.  In October 2017 disgraced former Tory minister Damien Green set the tone when he equated left-wing news sites Canary and Skwawkbox with extremist racist corporate-funded far-right propaganda site Breitbart.  Green was unconcerned about Breitbart, most of whose views he shares; his concern was the fact that socialist views are written and read widely.

Professional anti-socialist Nick Cohen splurged bucket loads of false equivalence of far-right and far-left in a typically dishonest piece of trash he wrote in the home of extremist bigotry and prejudice, Spectator.  

The similarities between the extremes are far more striking than the differences.”
They [far-left and far-right news sites] are happy to inflame the prejudices of their readers and they share a disregard for truth and contempt for democratic institutions that fits too easily with our Trumpian times.”
The symmetry between the two sides is shown in their indulgence of racial prejudices and conspiracy theory.”

He claimed that there was equivalence between far-right sites promoting prejudice toward Muslims and far-left sites objecting to BBC’s bias in its reporting of Israel military actions against Gaza civilians. 

Cohen’s motivation for his awful article was to promote a shady, secretly funded and anonymous astroturf lobby group called Stop Funding Fake News (SFFN) that seeks to censor left-wing news sites via pressure on advertisers who use those sites.  “The Stop Funding Fake News Campaign is targeting the far left and far right in equal measure,” declared Cohen but advertisers on right-wing propaganda sites are already persuaded regularly by concerned people to stop paying such sites for adverts.  SFFN provides no enhancement of the lobbying that exists through engagement with advertisers to reduce funding for such (right-wing) sites. 

(N.B. SFFN is a British lobby group and is separate from the US lobby group of the same name.)

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SFFN uses false equivalence of far-left and far-right behaviour and it pretends to be opposed to extremism in a general sense but its real objective is clear.

Key points to note about SFFN

  • It does not reveal the identity of anyone who works for SFFN
  • It does not reveal its sources of funding
  • Its only contact for the public is via social media, an e-mail address and, of course, a GoFundMe page

Tactics of censorship
Censorship of left-wing news sites, and of left-wing activism in general, is a response to the rise in popularity of socialist ideas and ideology.  Attempts to restrict funding – via pleas to advertisers – is one facet of this censorship.  Other tactics include

Fed by fear
Fear is the food that provides the energy for anti-socialist censorship.  Fear of the success of socialist solidarity and organisation; fear of the growing popularity of anti-capitalist politics; fear of the consequences for the exploiters and tax avoiders. 

The fearful will use any tactic they can, no matter how sneaky, underhand, duplicitous or dishonest that tactic may be.

Conflation of far-right and far-left politics is a traditional tactic of anti-socialists and defenders of status quo.  The use of the conflation tactic in order to target income streams for left-wing news sites is new but if a few weak-minded businesses withdraw their adverts it will not be a problem for those sites.

Fake News campaign: Censoring far-left by conflating with far-right

Bercow endorsed democracy theft when he allowed Independent Group amendment

Today, there were several votes in the House of Commons related to Brexit.  An amendment to one bill was tabled by a member of private company Independent Group (TIG).  Most of the supporting signatories of the amendment were members of TIG – the exception was Liberal Democrat MP Tom Brake.

The amendment will be voted down.

The eleven members of TIG occupy seats in parliament they stole from voters in their respective former constituencies.  They are democracy thieves.  Their collective refusal to call by-elections is also an act of cowardice.  Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow’s decision to allow the TIG amendment to be debated and voted upon in parliament was an act against democracy. 

Bercow did not have to accept the amendment – he rejected a different amendment to the same bill.  There are several reasons why the Speaker can justify the rejection of an amendment to any bill.  However, he did not think that he could find a reason to reject an amendment from a private company whose members are stealing parliamentary seats.

The presence of the TIGgers in parliamentary exposed British democracy as a farce.  Bercow’s endorsement of them exposed him as not a supporter of democracy.  Bercow has defecated on democracy.

Related blogs
Independent Group: Theft of democracy
Independent Group: Centrist cheerleaders ignore theft of democracy

Bercow endorsed democracy theft when he allowed Independent Group amendment

Karen Bradley: Historical inaccuracy and ignorance

On the morning of 12th October 1984 an IRA bomb detonated in the Grand Hotel, Brighton that housed many delegates attending the Tory Party’s annual conference.  The bomb operated via a pre-set timer.  It killed five Tories.  Several Tories were injured including Norman Tebbit.

The Brighton Bomb was a significant event in The Irish War.  It demonstrated that the IRA was able to hit the government directly but of greater significance was the reaction from the British public: Many cheered who would not normally be supportive of the IRA’s actions, aims and politics.  The broadcast clip of Tebbit, in pajama bottoms and a vest, being carried from the hotel’s wreckage on a stretcher was an image that was not distressing to many viewers of early morning TV news bulletins.

The key consequence of The Brighton Bomb was that the reaction to it described the division in Britain between those who supported the Tories and those who hated the Tories.  The hatred of the Tories was so intense that a bomb did not lead to universal condemnation.  However, opposition politicians, led by hapless Neil Kinnock, fell into line with scripted criticism and “outrage.”  An opportunity to focus on and make use of the divisions in Britain was dodged by Kinnock; cowardice was the main facet of his political career.

Today, Tory Northern Ireland Minister Karen Bradley spouted deliberate nonsense in the House of Commons, some of which she retracted later for legal reasons, where she differentiated between deaths caused by the two sides in The Irish War.

Over 90% of the killings during the Troubles were at the hands of terrorists, every single one of those was a crime.  The fewer than 10% that were at the hands of the military and police were not crimes.  They were people acting under orders and under instruction and fulfilling their duty in a dignified and appropriate way.”

Bradley’s motivation for her reprehensible comments was entirely political.  Every Tory MP takes every opportunity to create enemies to distract the public even if that requires reaching back into history to point at the “enemy.”  A current particular reason for Bradley’s comments is that parliamentary votes from the DUP are needed by the Tories in order to avoid losing a vote of no confidence. 

(After a chat with a legal advisor, Bradley “clarified” her comments.  She was forced to do so because of outstanding criminal cases against former British soldiers who operated in Ireland.)

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Karen Bradley and her good friend Ian Paisley

Bradley’s recklessness is matched by her venality.

The cheers that greeted The Brighton Bomb, from people who were definitely not supporters of the IRA, showed the hatred that existed in the 1980s for the Tories.  The 2019 Tories are worse.

Related blog: Who takes the blame for Brighton bomb?

Karen Bradley: Historical inaccuracy and ignorance

The Last Leg wants to humanise Amber Rudd

Channel 4’s satire/slapstick/chat show The Last Leg attained nominative determinism, unironically, several series ago but the show’s presenters, writers and producers persist with their objective of stupefying political satire.

On the most recent show (Friday 1st March) the presenters issued an invitation to Tory chief of Social Murder Amber Rudd to appear on the show.  Rudd acknowledged the invitation but has yet to confirm whether she will accept it.

The purpose of Rudd’s invitation to appear on The Last Leg is not to do the following

  • Attack her for her full unconditional support for Social Murder via her administration of Universal Credit
  • Expose her constant lies, misdirection and obfuscation regarding the effects of Universal Credit
  • Expose her multi million pound tax-dodging and bill-dodging via convenient bankruptcies prior to her political career
  • Publicise and criticise her commitment to the Tories’ racist policy against the Windrush generation when she was Home Secretary

The Last Leg’s presenters and producers intend to avoid an honest discussion on the effects of Social Murder, effects that have been felt the most severe by people with disabilities, and they intend to avoid an honest discussion on the devastating effects on livelihoods and lives of those affected by the removal of British citizenship for the Windrush generation.  

Humanise the enemies of humanity
The purpose of Rudd’s invitation to appear on The Last Leg is to humanise her.  

The Tories are defecating in the faces of the majority of the British people while laughing their heads off.  Any TV or radio show that includes a Tory in a light entertainment scenario is laughing along with them.  A faux interview with a character like Rudd, interspersed with knockabout comedy, is unsuitable and offensive.  

The Last Leg’s protagonists know that its TV viewers are aware of how Universal Credit, benefit cuts, bedroom tax and benefit sanctions have caused thousands of deaths and that people with disabilities and people with chronic illnesses have been hit hardest.  Rudd’s political image is accurate: A typical thieving, heartless, dishonest, venal Tory who doesn’t notice the bodies piling up and the livelihoods destroyed.  The Last Leg’s invitation to her to appear on the show is an attempt to alter that image.

Criticising a Friday evening light entertainment show is not trivial if the intent of the show is to provide a PR platform for someone who has repeatedly shown utter disdain for humanity.  If a comedy show is comfortable with providing such a platform then it is party to normalisation of anti-humanity behaviour.  

A mass Social Murderer does not deserve to be humanised.  A relentless liar about the effect of vicious government policy does not deserve to be humanised.  A glib functionary of the racist citizenship policy against the Windrush generation does not deserve to be humanised. 

Run of the melt
Run of the melt comedy is rampant on British TV.  Flat, predictable comedy is a consequence of the coalescence of careerism and limited wit aided by TV executives’ aversion to invention and to risk.  It is safe. 

Mock The Week pushed out its only inventive comedian, Frankie Boyle, because he didn’t stay safe, Stewart Lee’s TV series was cancelled because he was too intellectual for the safists, Have I Got News For You – a factor in the creation of Boris Johnson’s wacky persona – enjoys the comfort blanket of comedy actor luvvies as presenters, and careful comedy trundlers like Josh Widdicombe, Matt Forde and Jon Richardson have their own series while the brilliant Janey Godley doesn’t.

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The Last Leg’s Josh Widdicombe displayed his intellectual prowess on BBC’s This Week

In Britain, popular post-watershed comedy is intellectually and emotionally catatonic. 

A consequence of focussing on safe comedy is that its perpetrators erase the crimes of extremists by indulging in chatty smiley encounters with them; a few mild barbed comments are the extent of the verbal challenge handed to disreputable guests.

Nothing is exempt from comedic observation or satire but humanising those responsible for thousands of deaths, while they continue to cause more deaths, is unacceptable.

Recommended reading
The Poor Side Of Life
Universal Credit Sufferer
Universal Credit Diary
Fighting Universal Credit
Disability News Service
Blue Annoyed
Govt Newspeak blog
Kate Belgrave blog
LeftGreen blog
Politics And Insights
Calum’s List

Notes
run of the melt adj. Adequate but unimpressive, applied to the talent of a melt working in the arts or show business
melt n. Centrist who is disproportionately critical of left-wing politics

Related blogs
Amber Rudd
Social Murder
Austerity
Universal Credit

The Last Leg wants to humanise Amber Rudd