Posts Tagged ‘BBC’

The EU referendum is Cameron’s mess. So of course the media try to blame Jeremy Corbyn

15/06/2016, 05:31:29 PM

by Jon and Libby Bounds

The leavers are rising in the polls and everyone is starting to get scared that they might actually win. And, of course, it’s Jeremy Corbyn’s fault.

It’s not unusual for Corbyn to come under attack, he doesn’t sing loud enough, or bow at the proper angle, and he baulks at the idea of mutual mass destruction. And we all know what Cameron thinks about his suit and tie. But what is odd is that this time around he’s effectively being criticised for not coming to the aid of his opponent in his hour of need.

David Cameron is struggling to get his message across. For the first time his privilege is not buying him an easy ride with an unusually un-supplicant press: and he’s looking to those with experience of not having everything their own way.

Cameron did not see this coming, but in many ways he is the architect of his own downfall. The establishment is trying to pin the blame on the Labour leadership but everything about this is a Tory mess. Even leaving aside that the very referendum is Cameron’s own fault – a self-serving promise to prevent haemorrhaging even more votes and party “loonies” to UKIP – the actions of the Tories have created a situation in which rational argument has lost its power and a new idiocracy rides the waves of ill-informed public opinion.

When Ed Miliband said that the media has focused on the “sexy blue-on-blue action” in covering the referendum campaign, he may have made Today programme listeners push away their boiled eggs, but he was right. Labour has been hamstrung in getting the socialist case for remaining in the EU across, not through a lack of passion, but through a lack of coverage.

Labour (and especially Ed) are used to this, but it is the first time that sections of the Conservatives have been on the wrong side of the tactics that they have spent the last 10 years developing.

So successfully have they terrified the BBC into a false version of impartiality they call ‘balance’, that ideas are never challenged, only countered. Lies are given equal weight to the truth.

And the right wing press doesn’t even have to pretend to be impartial. So if a view – or most frustratingly a fact – isn’t palatable to the owners and their editors then it will get the shortest of shrift. This is a problem. Yes, social media and the internet means that we can go beyond newspaper bias to get to more of the truth – but only if we have the time, critical analysis skills and networks to do so. (more…)

Facebook Twitter Digg Delicious StumbleUpon

Want to reinvigorate the union? Get parliament and central government out of London

22/06/2015, 11:02:06 AM

by Ranjit Singh Sidhu

The news that the Palace of Westminster must undergo a works programme that could last up to 40 years, and cost more than £7bn, has taken a much greater, deeper significance than that of a simple renovation project of a crumbling structure.

Never has the palace of Westminster so physically  embodied the state of the union of the United Kingdom. We have a choice; either to patch up the old institution as best as we can, or can we be brave enough, bold enough to see it as a chance to re-imagine a new structure.

Let us make no mistake, we need bold changes to deal with the state of the union, which has become the issue of our time in the UK.  With the rise of the SNP, Scotland, naturally, is the poster child of our failing UK, however there is a greater malaise in the union felt by all not in the South East of England. The disconnect from Westminster politics of the Mancunian, Liverpudlian or Devonian is just as great as that of a Aberdonian or Glaswegian.

Coupled with this is the continual economic distress the regions of the United Kingdom have suffered over the last 35 years with the steady flow of jobs and wealth to the south east.

This is in no small part due to us still living in a United Kingdom whose central trappings are those of a conquering empire with all its legitimacy and pillars of governments, be it the head of state, executive, legislature or judiciary having all their seats of power in London. Something which may have been practical for running an empire in the 18th and 19th century, but in the modern 21st century has been one of the key drivers of systemic inequality across the UK.

So let’s fix this imbalance by getting power out of London and siting the House of Commons, the House of Lords and central government departments in different parts of the UK.


Facebook Twitter Digg Delicious StumbleUpon

Schapps is wrong about its anti-Tory bias, but right that the BBC is too big, costly and unaccountable

28/10/2013, 12:30:50 PM

by Kevin Meagher

Why should the BBC be immune from public spending cuts? This is the question Grant Schapps should have raised in his interview with yesterday’s Sunday Telegraph.

But instead the Conservative party chairman fell back on the familiar trope that the Corporation is some haven of left-wing zealotry and anti-Tory bias.

It’s of course a silly argument to prosecute when you consider the Corporation’s Political Editor, Nick Robinson, is a former activist in the Young Conservatives, its main political interviewer, Andrew Neil, is an adent Thatcherite and its chairman, Lord Chris Patten, is a predecessor of Schapps’ as Tory chairman.

The BBC does indeed have a bias, but it’s towards a metro-centric liberalism that despises traditional right-wing and left-wing politics and any opinion not originating from within its rarefied cloister.

The real issue with the BBC remains its humungous cost. The £3.6 billion a year that the BBC spends is seemingly immune from the harsh economising facing every other inch of the British public sector.

Auntie’s annual budget dwarfs the £3.5 billion to be spent on affordable housing over the next four years. And over the five years between 2010 and 2015, the BBC’s total domestic budget will have been £22 billion – half the proposed cost of HS2.

Schapps was on sounder footing, though, in criticising the BBC’s culture of exceptionalism. His calls to see the BBC fully comply with Freedom of Information requests and to open its accounts to the National Audit Office are perfectly in order. As is publication of all expenditure over £500 – a move already commplace in local and central government.

“They have ended up working in this culture which is buried in the last century, which is ‘we are the BBC, we do what we like, we don’t have to be too accountable’,” he rightly pointed out.


Facebook Twitter Digg Delicious StumbleUpon

As the party looks forward to conference season, there’s unfinished business over Falkirk

07/08/2013, 08:20:23 PM

by Rob Marchant

There is a distant rumbling going on within the labour movement, with parliament in recess and the media in silly season, which will surely last until conference. It may, in fact, last until next Spring’s special conference. Or it may even last until the next general election.

Perhaps thanks to the timely intervention of the summer holidays, the media circus seems to have moved on from the Falkirk selection debacle.

But not so fast. This one will continue to rumble, and the reason is simple: we have ended the current chapter with two poles of the Labour party power structure effectively giving diametrically opposing versions of events, and both cannot be right.

This uneasy truce is neither sustainable in the long-term – truth will invariably out – nor making for anything like a trusting relationship in the near future.

To recap: Miliband has supported his party organisation, who seem to be telling him that Unite made moves to fix the selection. Len McCluskey, on the other hand, denies any wrongdoing whatsoever on the part of his union. He, along with various other party figures, is asking for the report of the party’s internal investigation to be published.

This is in spite of the fact that some clear facts are known: that people were signed up as party members without their knowledge and that the clear beneficiary was Karie Murphy, described by Channel 4 as a “close friend” of McCluskey and office manager to Tom Watson MP, his friend and former flatmate. The chair of Unite in Scotland, Stephen Deans, also happened to be, very handily, the chair of Falkirk West constituency Labour party.

We may never know the full contents of that report; if it has not been published or leaked by now, it seems pretty likely that it never will be. It is also completely understandable why: it would very likely cause a massive and unwanted row between the two sides.

Miliband is stuck. One cannot help speculating that McCluskey is perhaps only calling for it to be published out of pure brinkmanship, because he knows that Miliband will not do it. But whatever the answer, the report itself is now key.

In the midst of all of this, BBC Radio 4 made a rather intriguing recent programme called “Fight over Falkirk”. Intriguing because its “storm in a teacup” conclusion seemed to go directly against what insiders have been saying for weeks.

The three key BBC claims were: one, that at least some of irregularities were not down to recruitment through Unite’s Union Join scheme anyway; two, that the NEC didn’t see the full report, only a damning executive summary; and three, that the body of the report didn’t seem to support that summary.


Facebook Twitter Digg Delicious StumbleUpon

Governments of every stripe want to tear down the BBC. Don’t let them.

26/10/2012, 07:00:38 AM

by Ian Stewart

“The only way to strengthen the morale of the people whose morale is worth strengthening, is to tell them the truth, even if the truth is horrible”

R.T.Clark, head of news, BBC, September 1939 in a speech to journalists

Amid the awful revelations relating to the abuse of the young by Jimmy Savile and others we can see a deeper problem for all of us. I don’t mean the toleration of under age sex by the media and music industries, although it is plain to see that sections of the entertainment industry that rely upon the gullibility of teenagers have been getting away with some truly disgusting things for decades. And not just in Britain. What I fear is happening alongside the terrible saga of cover up-investigation-cover up-expose at the BBC is the evisceration of Auntie herself.

Something long-cherished by Harold Wilson, Margaret “lets have Jimmy round again for Christmas” Thatcher, New Labour hacks, James and Rupert Murdoch, could well be completed with a cheering chorus of leftists – the final creation of an abject, cowed BBC, fully responsive to the wishes of Westminster, ripe for breaking up. While they cheer, it may be time to pause and remember just what it is that we will be losing, and with whom the cheerleaders are siding in their attack on public service broadcasting.

The BBC has been on the defensive ever since Andrew Gilligan’s slapdash reporting methods led to the death of Dr David Kelly and the subsequent Hutton Inquiry. Whatever the stated aim of Hutton, the result was a disaster for those of us outside Westminster who value a proudly independent news broadcaster.

That’s right – independent – of both government and commercial concerns, allowing it to investigate and expose wrongdoing without the fear of commercial sponsors pulling the plug. Politicians of all stripes loved it, as I suspect did plenty of people in authority.


Facebook Twitter Digg Delicious StumbleUpon

The political classes have forgotten about the victims in the furore over Savile

25/10/2012, 07:00:45 AM

by Peter Watt

Sometimes the political world becomes a parody of itself, and Monday was one of those days.  Faced with a barrage of revelation relating to the grim antics of James Savile how did it respond?  With glee at another political bun fight and the sight of someone else being brought down in front of a select committee.  Congratulations everyone, job well done.

Let’s be really, really clear about what has happened.  An iconic figure from the world of the media, a children’s TV presenter for god’s sake, has got away with abusing children over a period of several decades.  Hundreds of child victims have been sexually assaulted over decades by this man.  And according to the police there appear to have been other perpetrators involved in this tragedy.

Each case of abuse, of violation, is a personal tragedy for the person involved.  It will almost certainly have involved  shame, secrecy, anger and years of trauma.  For many, recovery will have been difficult if not impossible with the consequences of the assault carried into later life and relationships.  Savile may be dead but the consequences of what he did will be very much alive for his victims.

And yes, the abuse took place in dressing rooms at the BBC.  But also in hospitals and in his caravan and no doubt other venues as well.  In other words, this is a human tragedy of immense proportions that spans decades, spans institutions and spans families.  The crimes were hidden in public and as a society we must begin to try and understand how this has happened.  How is it that over the year’s victims were not believed?  Or were too fearful to speak out?


Facebook Twitter Digg Delicious StumbleUpon

Elwyn Watkins would have unsuccessfully lobbied himself on tuition fees

06/01/2011, 11:44:36 AM

Last night the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg interviewed Elwyn Watkins, the Lib Dem candidate in Oldham East and Saddleworth. He gave lots of silly answers but the following section stood out – highlighting the ridiculousness of the broader Lib Dem position:

LK: At the time though during the general election when you came within a whisker you were standing just as a Liberal democrat. You were against tuition fees, you were against big cuts in this financial year. Now you would be an MP as part of a coalition that’s gone against many things that the Lib Dems are campaigning for in the general election. How are people on the doorstep here meant to believe what you’d say to them this time?

EW: …In a coalition you have to compromise and most people I’ve talked  to say given the financial mess that we’ve got ourselves to try and deal with it’s about time parties co-operated and they looked to try and  get things done on behalf of the country rather than for party political advantage.

LK: But on something like tuition fees for example, on the doorstep here in the general election you would have been saying that you’d vote against any rise in them. How would you have voted if you were in Westminster then?

EW: Well I would have fulfilled the coalition agreement, but my view of tuition fees hasn’t changed, I still think they’re wrong and if I was an MP I’d still campaign against them. But when you’re in a partnership with another party sometimes you get what you want, sometimes they get what they want.

So, if Elwyn Watkins had become an MP in May he would have voted for tuition fees – BUT – campaigned against them. What? What do you mean Elwyn?

How can you campaign one way but vote another? How would he have campaigned against himself? Picketing his own office? Shouting at himself? Sending himself furious letters? Distributing leaflets saying “Do not vote for Elwyn Watkins – only the Lib Dems can win here”?

And all the while having to do all this campaigning without trying too hard, in case he convinced himself, and ended up not voting the way he intended.

The Lib Dems are past masters at double-think and double-talk. Recently they added a massive double-cross. But this raises to the level of madness their already vertiginous bar of duplicity and deceit.

It all probably sounded jolly clever when Cowley St gave Elwyn his lines, but hearing it back surely even he must realise that it is rubbish. What a fool.

Facebook Twitter Digg Delicious StumbleUpon

Mandelson tells friends he would love to do Strictly

24/11/2010, 08:35:11 AM

Scandal! Peter Mandelson has told close friends that, contrary to reports, he has never been approached to appear on Strictly Come Dancing.

According to a close confidente of the granddaddy of the Labour movement, if Peter were to be invited to trip the lacquered boards he would readily accept.

This news directly contradicts assurances given to Uncut by the BBC that the dark lord of the dance had been given a chance to embrace his inner Widders.

Something here is amiss. Someone is being economical with the actualité.

Whom does one trust? Lord M, renowned the world over for his candour. Or the BBC? Less an aunty, these days, than a punch-drunk uncle.

Uncut is on the case. Our intrepid journalistic team will leave no stone unturned. We have a source close to the heart of the controversy. We shall call him Brucethroat. We will follow the sequins.

Uncut vows to  get to the bottom of Strictlygate. There will be no whitewash at White City…

Facebook Twitter Digg Delicious StumbleUpon

BBC rules that Strictly will stay a socialist-free zone. No Christmas Mandelson.

22/11/2010, 10:54:24 AM

From: Kate Toft, BBC

To: Dan Hodges, Labour Uncut

Sent: Fri, 19 November, 2010 16:50:27


Dear Dan,

I’m responding to your email to Daniel Maynard and your question around political balance on our entertainment show Strictly Come Dancing.

The BBC’s obligation is “due impartiality”. Due impartiality is defined in the BBC’s Editorial Guidelines: “The term ‘due’ means that the impartiality must be adequate and appropriate to the output, taking account of the subject and nature of the content, the likely audience expectation and any signposting that may influence that expectation.”

Strictly is not a political programme it is an entertainment show. The “subject and nature of the content” and “the audience expectation” is rather different.

Both Ann Widdecombe and Vince Cable are huge fans of the show and of ballroom dancing, as is Peter Mandelson, although he declined an offer to take part in the show.

I have no comment to make on reports that Labour MPs are planning to table a House of Commons motion criticising the BBC, if indeed these reports are true.


Kate Toft
Head of Communications, Entertainment & Comedy

Facebook Twitter Digg Delicious StumbleUpon

Concentrating media influence in the hands of the few will lead to a narrowing of political discussion

07/11/2010, 01:49:17 PM

by Andy Dodd

RECENTLY I heard Lord Tim Bell, ex-advisor to Margaret Thatcher, defend Rupert Murdoch’s bid to take full control of Sky on the BBC world at one.  While Tim Bell’s views on media ownership are predictable, what caught my attention was how he enthused about the plethora of platforms and channels that enable us to have choice over how we access news and information, and how this diversity would ensure plurality and choice in the media.

I was momentarily beguiled by this warm, PR-spun vision of the always connected, always informed society, but then sanity prevailed and I began to realise that this vague, utopian sound bite really doesn’t stand up to any kind of scrutiny.

It’s faintly ridiculous to see someone like Tim Bell using the very philosophy of free and open content provision that Rupert Murdoch hates so much, as a means to justify News Corp being allowed to further eradicate pluralism in the media.

The reality is that large media groups are doing everything they can to roll back openness and return us to the walled garden of the early days of the internet. For example; restricting access to content unless people are prepared to pay for it.  Just because there are dozens of different ways to access information, it doesn’t follow that the content is accessible. (more…)

Facebook Twitter Digg Delicious StumbleUpon