Thursday, 30 June 2016

Mark Mardell on Brexit

Mark Mardell's latest website article in the wake of the Brexit vote focuses on "society's sharp divides". 

It's classic MM, in that it doubtless believes itself to be impartial and to be acting as the 'BBC voice of reason' throughout whilst being riddled with bias from start to finish. 

Allow me to explain (with apologies, at some length)...

It begins by saying that the referendum has been a bad thing, socially-speaking. It's done harm in itself and made even worse the problems that were there before:
The referendum has carved our country into two camps, sharpened existing divisions, and created some new ones. 
And "a silence, a vacuum, an absence" has followed immediately, politically-speaking. And "chaos", "the great divide", "betrayal" are facing us in coming months. 

His first link takes us to passionate pro-European Anne Applebaum in the Washington Post. He then links the Tea Party to Trump, and then both of them to the "I want my country back" tendency here in the UK. 

The words "I want my country back" are "a code", he tells us. They could mean this or it could mean that, but in the US "for some, it is a yearning for a time there was a white man in the White House, and official signs weren't in Spanish" - i.e it's simply racism.

And immediately after whistling at any passing dogs with that 'racism' hint he writes:
We heard the same slogan in the referendum too. 
Work out the British meaning yourself.
Nudge, nudge, wink, wink.

Ah but...the irony is that it's now "another lot who feels they have lost their country" (linking to the New Statesman). "To describe these people as "bad losers" is to miss the point", write Mark (linking, in a contradictory spirit, to Richard Littlejohn, boo!, in the Daily Mail, double boo!)

It's then on the "heartless" grief and agony of the losing Remain side - an agony "sharpened by the apparent increase in assaults on people assumed to be foreign or immigrants", which "many who voted Remain...may suspect" is a result of Brexit. 

All the ways to stop Brexit are then mentioned. And Mark says that Leave supporters would have reacted just as furiously and tried just as hard to overturn the referendum result if they'd lost. 

Or so he admits he "assumes". (I'm not so sure that Leave supporters would have behaved like that. Some would, but I suspect not anywhere near so many). 

"Everyone" might soon be really "betrayed" and "left behind" Mark continues, just as cheerfully.

Mr. BBC Impartiality then looks at the issues through Labour's problems before sketching out the two 'outlooks' in doubtless unconsciously loaded language, eg:
Leavers tend to believe in a strong unitary state, based at Westminster, ruling over the whole of the UK. 
They dislike devolution and the EU in equal measure, and believe not so much in the old British Empire, but in what some have called the English Empire. 
Those in the "Remain" camp tend to be more relaxed about more diffused sovereignty and identity, and with power either devolved down to the nations that make up our country, or up to supra-national organisations such as the EU.
And then ol' Cheery Chops ends by returning to the 'badness' of the referendum 'and that which it hath wrought':
Referendums tend to be a device to keep divided parties together. 
This one has not only torn the parties asunder but divided the people. 
It is hard to see how the political process over the next few months and years will serve to heal it.
Woe, woe and quadruple woe!

Incidentally, his previous BBC website piece Brexit: The story on an island apart, written a day after the result, is cut from similar cloth - though doing a James Naughtie and clothing the bias in 'historical' and 'literary' perspective. 

Its framing device is to cite John of Gaunt's famous paean to England from Richard II (his 'this sceptred isle' speech). It begins positive, but ends negative:
We see ourselves as separate, and so we shall soon be cut out of councils and commission that are still shaping a continent. Some in Brussels may reflect smugly on how John of Gaunt's speech in Richard II concludes: "That England that was wont to conquer others/Hath made a shameful conquest of itself."
In between, while trying (briefly) to be 'fair' about Eurosceptics, he argues that - for everyone but the UK - the EU has been "a bulwark against history, against horror". "For all its bureaucracy", the EU "is a deeply romantic project", Mark says.

Then he lists all the reasons why we Brits are considered wrong-headed. They cried when they heard that we wanted to leave them. (We wouldn't do that, Mark said). They speak English. We've won over the EU's economic agenda. They've treated us with kid gloves. Etc....

....and Mark Mardell, as so often, steps out from merely 'reporting' into 'editorialising'. After citing Neil Kinnock joking that "the EU changed forever when the Swedes arrived and started saying "good morning" in the lift", Mark writes:.
One might think that is trivial. But maybe it highlights something we rarely realise in our desire for hard power - the extent of our soft power.
(The "perhaps" in that paragraph is unlikely to fool anyone, I suspect!)

And on MM goes, listing yet more of our 'successes' regarding the EU's direction. And, having made that point (at length) he then writes:
Now we want to be outside the whole shebang. Don't be surprised if the instinct of some is to make sure that we feel some discomfort on our way out.
(Aren't we ungrateful! And haven't we got it coming!)

The piece goes on, but you've doubtless heard enough about it already. Please read both pieces for yourselves though and form your own judgements.


A few minutes after his successful attempt to talk over Crispin Blunt, Evan turned to camera and delivered what can only be described as "an editorial":
Now, economic forecasts are not very likely to be reliable but I thought you might be interested to hear how the City economists have changed their view about economic growth over this year and next. 
The group Consensus Economics track all the reputable forecasts and average them up. And since the Brexit vote the average forecast for this year's British growth has been downgraded - this year by half a percentage point, next year the growth downgraded by 1.7%.   
Now, what does that mean? If you believe the forecasts (you may not) by the end of next year the economy will be 2.2% smaller than it would have been if we'd chosen to remain. 
And his (Brexit-campaign-bashing) punchline?
And I've been asked: What is a loss of 2.2% of national income? Well, you remember the famous bus - £350 million a week we were said to be paying to the EU? 2.2% of national income is £350 million every two or three days. 
The BBC man appears to be on a mission at the moment (and quite how it relates to 'BBC impartiality' is something of a mystery to me).

Jeremy Bowen on Brexit

BBC Middle East editor Jeremy Bowen hasn't had much to say about the news from Israel today on Twitter but he has had a fair about to say about the Brexit vote. 

I think it's not hard to guess how he voted from this - and note the re-tweet for the 'second referendum' call:

Marking a murder

Just for the record, neither BBC One's News at Six nor Radio 4's Six O'Clock News reported the brutal murder of a sleeping 13 year old Israeli girl, Hallel Yaffa Ariel, by a Palestinian man - news which has caused deep shock to the people of Israel.  

The BBC News website has included it among the featured headlines on its home page though.

I note, however, that the BBC's online report hasn't used a photo of Hallel:

Nor has it include any quotes from her grieving mother, Rena - unlike, say, the Daily Telegraph.  

A talkative Evan Davis

Here's a curious stat about the interview between Evan Davis and pro-Boris/pro-Leave Tory MP Crispin Blunt on last night's Newsnight

The interview - a hostile one on Evan's part - last  6m 07s from start to finish. Evan talked - and talked over Mr Blunt - for 2m 48s. In other words, Evan Davis talked for 46% of the interview, interrupting frequently (getting on for 18 times). 

He ended the interview with the words, "That is a very long way of saying you don't know whether it will go up of not. Crispin Blunt, sorry about that, we'll have to leave it there. Thank you very much".

The days when Evan was criticising Jeremy Paxman's aggressive interviewing style as "outworn" and "overdone" and slamming journalists (like Paxo) whose concern was in "getting the scalp" and "tripping people into gaffes" appear to be over - at least as regards interviews with pro-Brexit MPs.

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

"Could we overturn last Thursday?" (Part II)

Good Grief! And after last night's Newsnight (see earlier tonight) we've now had Evan Davis and Lord Heseltine teaming up for this tonight:
Evan Davis: And this is why who want us to see exactly what Out looks like and then have a second referendum which chooses between In and Out again? Is that correct?  
Lord Heseltine: I want something just a little different, but fundamentally so. I want to put Boris Johnson and his colleagues in charge of the negotiations. Now, he doesn't need to be the Prime Minister of the leader of the Conservative Party to do that but he got us into this mess and he got us into this mess on a range of platitudes about how glorious the future would be. Let him show us what that future is. My own view - it has to be shown - is that it will be totally unattractive to the majority of members of Parliament...
Evan Davis: Hence the second referendum in the... 
Lord Heseltine: And so how do you carry out the will of the people in this referendum - which I believe you should. The only way is to negotiate so that the members of the House of Commons, where sovereignty lies, can come to a judgement about whether they will vote for it. My view is they won't. But they must be given the chance. And when it comes to it there are only two ways to do that: one is to have a general election; the other is to have a second referendum. 
Evan Davis: And overturn the first referendum...? 
Lord Heseltine: Make sure the will of the people is seen to have momentum. 
Evan Davis: Lord Heseltine, thank you very much.

As well as that (and some Corbyn stuff), the rest of the post-EU referendum stuff on tonight's Newsnight consisted of:

(a) a Mark Urban report (including some ominous music) on how angry some EU politicians are about Brexit, especially about Nigel Farage and his "Nazi" campaigning - and about how others really want us to stay and think we will choose to stay, given time and an overturning of the referendum result.

(b) an interview with Marine le Pen, introduced thus (by Evan):
Not many political leaders in Europe have welcomed the British referendum result but one who did is Marine le Pen, the leader of the French Front National - the far-right party that commanded the support of about a quarter of French voters in the last election there. 
and (c) an extraordinarily downbeat joint interview about the economic effects of the Leave vote, featuring Gillian Tett, formerly of the FT, finding very few silver linings, saying that banks have "clearly been very badly damaged" and are "now in the dust", that "interest rate expectations have collapsed in the last few days", that it's "a self-inflicted wound on an extraordinary scale", that there will be "years of soggy growth", that the financial sector has had "a heart attack", etc, etc, and ex-Barclays boss Antony Jenkins, sounding hardly any more positive!

"Let's just be clear about the potential for short-term financial contagion - the Lehmans Effect, all those kind of things. Antony, you're worried about the next six months, and getting through it", asked Evan, cheerfully.

And, to get us in the mood for all this doom and gloom, the start of tonight's Newsnight coverage of what Evan Davis called "our impending divorce" from the EU was accompanied by the Sex Pistol's Anarchy in the UK, including that famous ending viciously lingering on the word "Destroy!"

Sleep well!

Seumas, I'm not sure this is a great idea

I didn’t get anything done today. I couldn’t stop watching events - with increasing incredulity.

Here’s Rod Liddle. His piece is so short that I can reproduce it here in full for your edification. 
A quick update on the BBC TV News. At ten o clock last night the programme ran a report from its idiotic northern correspondent, Ed Thomas, which attempted to suggest that the Leave campaign was responsible for nasty things being said to immigrants. 
Thomas is an appallingly partisan correspondent and presumably has his job because he is only person within the BBC with a vaguely northern accent. He chose to interview two neanderthals. 
Then over to the inestimable Laura Kuenssssberg, who referred to the UK’s ‘likely’ exit from the EU. No, Laura: exit. We have to keep watching these patently parti-pris buggers. The subtle and not so subtle way they attempt to drive the political agenda. Keep an eye out especially for Thomas. And complain whenever he injects his own bien pensant worldview into his stories, which is sorta every time.
Rod has generously given Laura an extra pair of ‘esses’.

I’m hoping Jeremy Corbyn hangs on in there, on the premise that the other lot are even more dangerous. See Melanie PhillipsDumping Corbyn won’t solve Labour’s crisis. (£) 

Her colourful description of Seaumas Milne, Corbyn’s executive director of strategy, eventually led me to the clip featured on Guido’s blog, the very same clip that the BBC aired later this afternoon."Seumas I'm not sure this is a great idea"

I spent far too long watching the EU on the parliament channel this morning, and weird it was. 

Nigel Farage’s spat with Jean-Claude Juncker  was the highlight of course, but there were some illuminating passages from a few other speakers, which the BBC hasn’t necessarily featured in its reports.

The BBC’s 'talking down' of the money markets prevails, despite today’s rally. 

Throughout the day various economically illiterate Corbynistas have been interviewed. They are unaware that wealth has to come from somewhere. None of the interviewers are in the least curious about why they’re all so enthusiastic about a charisma-free pensioner who would tax the rich ‘till the pips squeak’ and redistribute all wealth into a black hole like a bedraggled Robin Hood. 

7 seconds

Also on the subject of BBC One's News at Six, the less 'doom-mongering' economic news today got all of 7 seconds:
The markets have been largely stable today - the pounds and the FTSE 100 regaining some ground after two days of big losses. 
And that was that.

On the BBC's use of the word "stable", please see the exchange here.

"I think maybe now it was the wrong decision"

BBC One's News at Six may not have mentioned President Obama's upbeat remarks about post-Brexit Britain but it did include a piece about the Queen visiting Northern Ireland - HM's first official engagement since the Leave vote from well over 17 million of her loyal subjects. 

As soon as I heard it announced I braced myself. 'What doom-mongering angle will the BBC go for now?', I thought, expecting the worst (given much of the rest of the BBC's post-referendum reporting).

'BBC Ireland correspondent' Chris Buckler, adopting a glum tone of voice throughout, was quick to talk about how un-United the Queen's Kingdom is now in the wake of the referendum. The vote, he said, has "led to uncertainty for the whole UK",

But, he continued, even some Unionists who supported "waving goodbye to Europe" are now feeling full of "worry".

[Of course, those Unionist probably supported 'waving goodbye to the EU' rather than 'Europe', but that's BBC reporting for you at the moment!] 

We heard from one such worried Unionist (worrying about the break-up of the UK), and then from a Unionist Leave voter, challenged by Chris Buckler in the following fashion:
Chris Buckler: But you voted Leave, so you're responsible for that!

Leave voter: Yeah, I know, I know, I know. I voted Leave. I know I voted Leave, Yes. I know, I know, I know. I think maybe now it was the wrong decision.
The "good-natured meeting" between the Queen and Martin McGuinness of Sinn Fein was said to show "how much things have changed" over the course of the Queen's reign, Chris continued, before saying, "But, politically, these are turbulent times", Northern Ireland "as a whole" voted Remain. 

And then it was onto what Sinn Fein and nationalists want - to stay in the EU and to unite Ireland. Here both 'vox pops' were of the same (pro-EU, pro-united Ireland) frame of mind. 

I've seen quite a lot of Chris Buckler in recent days. (He even featured in an image I used to 'show' how gloomy BBC reporters were looking on Friday morning). I believed I've summarised his report fairly. Was this 'impartial' reporting from him?

It certainly didn't seem like it to me.

And this piece of anti-Brexit gloom-mongering was projected to a wide audience on BBC One's widely-watched main evening news bulletin.

What is getting into the BBC at the moment?

"Could we overturn last Thursday?"

“Does my right honourable friend agree we still have a parliamentary democracy and it would be the duty of each Member of Parliament to judge each measure in the light of what each man and woman regards as the national interest, and not to take broad guidance from a plebiscite which has produced a small majority on a broad question after a bad-tempered and ill-informed debate?". 
                 (Ken Clarke MP, House of Commons, yesterday.)

I caught up last night, via Parliament TV, with David Cameron's statement about the EU referendum vote. Besides the obvious dramatic moments (the outgoing PM's jokes and the jeering at Jeremy Corbyn from his own side), the thing that stood out for me - and sent a chill down my democratic spine - was just how little respect many Remain-supporting MPs evidently had for the result of the referendum.

From both sides of the House (and from several parties) came calls for the result to be resisted, whether by simply ignoring it as 'merely advisory' (eg Ken Clarke), or by overturning it though a second democratic method: a new general election (the Lib Dems), or a second referendum. Where David Lammy and his talk of "madness" and "the rule of the mob" led over the weekend, others followed.

And watching last night's Newsnight I noted that Evan Davis & Co. made a cool, clear attempt to 'normalise' such possibilities.

Here's how Evan Davis himself framed the programme's central section:
Well, when the dust settles on the politics the big issue will be 'What is our relationship with the EU and how is it going to be decided upon?'  
Essentially there are three broad outcomes: (1) That we leave properly, exiting the EU and the free market, meaning that we'd no longer have free movement. (2) That we part-leave by going into the European Economic Area, the Norwegian model - that's outside the EU, in the single market and with free movement. And then (3), which must be least likely, is that we somehow remain within the EU. Three possible destinations.  
There are also three roads to those destinations. Parliament and government could make the decision. MPs would probably choose Norway at this point, if they could. Then there's the possibility of a general election to decide with parties pitching their views to the voters. The Lib Dems, for example, have said they'll campaign to overturn the referendum. Then there's the second referendum option: that we talk to the Europeans and have a vote at the end of it. Could we overturn last Thursday? 
And in the closing discussion with two Remain-supporting journalists, Zoe Williams of the Guardian and Tom Newton Dunn of the Sun, Evan pursued the theme again after Zoe mooted an broad alliance against the "sheer vandalism", the "incredibly vandalistic act",  of the UK's 'Leave' vote. Evan intervened to wonder:
Hold an election and say, 'Look, overturn the referendum. Elect us and we stay in the EU"? 
He then asked:
Do you think Labour could campaign and say, 'Let's stay in'? Is that a plausible thing, to overturn the referendum in an election? 
Is this how an inexorable campaign by the losers of the Referendum to overturn the people's vote last Thursday begins? 

And will we look back on this in, say, ten years time, when we're still inside the EU, and say 'And look what part the BBC played in overturning that vote, and just how soon after the 'first referendum' they started doing so?'

From hero to zero?

Given how extensively the BBC covered President Obama's anti-Brexit 'back of the queue' intervention during the EU referendum and how often their reporters stressed at the time that what the President said is important ('whether you agree with it or not'), you might have thought that the BBC would have been just as motivated (being 'impartial') to prominently report the President's latest comments re Britain's Brexit vote - especially as they are so striking, and so in contradiction to what he said a few months back.

Barack Obama told NPR that there's no need for "hysteria" about Brexit, that those in charge of the EU went too far too fast, and that if Britain ends up something like Norway - a successful, Atlanticist, non-EU country - then that's absolutely fine by him and the U.S. 

Whatever you think of Mr. Obama (or about Brexit), that's a calm, measured, positive take on Brexit. 

As Alan at Biased BBC notes, the BBC News website isn't making much of it - to put it mildly. Where once the words of President Obama were all-important, "now he is sidelined to a mere minute or so video story on the sidebar."

I watched the BBC One News at Six. There was no mention whatsoever of Mr. Obama's comments. 

Why haven't the BBC made much of this? Is the BBC so wound up in grief about the outcome of the referendum that it either can't bring itself to even 'notice' less alone report President Obama's dramatic yet reassuring words? 


Of course, it's entirely possible - given how vast the BBC's output is - that some parts of the BBC might have gone mad out it. That's where you come in (if you don't mind). Have you heard counter-examples? 

Have, say, PM or The World at One or the BBC World Service or Jeremy Vine on Radio 2 or Radio 5 Live given President Obama's comments a lot of attention? 

Will tonight's Newsnight make a lot of them?

If you anything about the BBC giving this a decent amount of attention (or any attention), please let me know - because the way the BBC is behaving at the moment I really wouldn't be surprised if much of the rest of the BBC was ignoring it/massively downplaying it too.

Alarm bells

Comments both here and elsewhere, as well as the evidence of our own ears and eyes, have convinced both me and Sue that the BBC has pretty much gawn mad since the EU referendum. 

It has not only subjected us to an absolute deluge of negativity about the result and its consequences but done so in such a sour and sullen way (by and large) that its own bias has rarely ever seemed so obvious before.

As David Keighley writes, over at News-watch, "Clearly, there was – for the first time – an attempt at least to talk to the ‘exit’ side [during the referendum]. But since the result was announced, any semblance of balance seems to have evaporated."

I will admit I was seriously hoping to hang up my blogger's coat for a while after this referendum and just think happy thoughts for a few months, but the BBC's passive-aggressive (and at times simply aggressive) coverage of the 'Leave' vote and the aftermath have been so extraordinary that I'm keeping my blogger's coat on for a while longer and am about to roll my sleeves up again and crack on.

Here are some of things David is regularly seeing across the Corporation's vast output:
  • the vote for ‘exit’ was ultimately based on a form of senile dementia, coupled with hatred of immigrants, and thus on xenophobia and racism;
  • that the young have been deprived of their EU birthright by selfish, reactionary pensioners;
  • that Nigel Farage was the prime mover in an unleashing of ‘hatred’. Presenters such as Martha Kearney now routinely dismiss his approach with derogatory adjectives such as ‘sneering’;
  • to report in close detail any sign of economic unease and magnify it to the maximum extent;
  • to root out with tireless zeal all those who say that ‘Brexit’ is so difficult to achieve and such an inconvenience that it will require at best a snap general election and at worst a second referendum to deal with the issues involved.
  • To support in every way it can the cause of those wanting a second referendum because basically the first time round the electorate did not know what they were voting for.
I bet most of those will ring a bell with you too. They rang alarm bells with me.

Monday, 27 June 2016

James Naughtie isn't taking the EU referendum result very well

There's a telling piece on the BBC News website at the moment by James Naughtie headlined Lessons from history for Europe's future

It probably sums up (in an over-elaborate way) how many other BBC reporters are feeling at the moment too.

I read it as one long, sad, bewildered sigh.


He doesn't exactly disguise his feelings. For him, the "world" has "turned upside down", thanks to the EU referendum result.

Presently in France, he's therefore seeking the consolations of history through reading a magisterial study of the Hundred Years War. 

After comparing the upcoming post-referendum EU summit to a "post-war" peace conference" (some sense of perspective please, Jim?), the former Today presenter goes on to write, "It seems natural to turn to chaotic times [i.e. the Hundred Years War] to feel at home".

(The world turning upside down? Chaos?  A post-war-like summit? Get a grip, Jim!)

He thinks about how if Henry V had just lived a little longer "fate" and "chance" would have seen England and France united, and England playing the role of "a moon" to Paris's "bigger planet". But "fate" and "chance" intervened, and Jim goes on to draw a contemporary parallel...:
Chance. The throw of the dice. The fate of countries that turns on the instant. 
Fearsome mortality, a battle. Or a vote.
Was this vote, when well over 17 million people voted to leave the EU, really a case of 'chance' or 'a throw of the dice'? Isn't that a very dismissive way of alluding to a clear democratic choice? 

"No one...knows where we're heading", he then intones, and despite thinking of Henry V, it doesn't "seem" to him "the moment for the St Crispin's Day speech" (a famous piece of English patriotism). 

And, worse, Marine le Pen is smiling "a lot", so Jim, in Paris, changes the subject with his Parisian friends to football instead.

Fate. Chance. The Somme, And...

...yes, one final, very telling sigh:
But, in Picardy, I might have time to read some more history. 
Funnily enough, there is something about the 15th century that is rather appealing just now.
That's the longest, saddest, most bewildered sigh of all. 

He's not one bit happy about the result of the EU referendum, is he? 

Whoops apocalypse!

The post above was written whilst half-watching the England-Iceland match. (I'm so, so glad I only half-watched it).

Still, just as the BBC keeps asking people if they can see "a silver lining" in the EU referendum result, my silver lining here is that at least it shows that being outside the EU - as Iceland is - doesn't inevitably and irrevocably lead to complete and utter ruination (despite everything I'm now regularly hearing from embittered Remainers and the BBC).

Here's something Icelandic by Iceland's greatest classical composer (and one of my favourites) - reputedly the loudest piece of classical music ever written. It depicts the ferocious Icelandic volcano Hekla - the "gateway to Hell".

(Don't tell James Naughtie though or he might use that as a metaphor).

Fiction, paranoia and all

My late mother looked out at me from the bathroom mirror this morning. When I was young I thought the old girl was stupid, but fast forward a decade or three and now it seems I AM her. I can hear myself saying things she used to say (and sounding quite like her as I do so.)

The constant whinge we’re hearing, which is that the old who voted to leave the EU have ruined the lives of the young who voted to stay, is unpleasant and inaccurate; but even if it weren’t, let’s not forget how cringeworthy most of our own youthful attitudes look, in retrospect. The old may not all be wise, but neither may the young. Especially the ones who are complaining now but didn’t even vote.

Since 24th June, when the country delivered that surprise slap in the BBC’s face, the BBC’s political fraternity have been consistently talking the country down. The financial and business gurus have hugely exaggerated the effect on the pound and the ftse. Britain’s glass is half empty, across the board. Sally Bundock and Ben Thompson were at it earlier today, and Thompson even described what would happen “If we leave the EU” - in fact if I remember correctly he even said “If we vote to Leave the EU”. Eh, what?
funny business

The BBC has a choice. An editorial choice. It can report what it chooses to report and ignore what it chooses to ignore. The most glaring evidence of that is, of course, the MSM’s exclusively negative reporting on Israel. The BBC chooses to ignore multitudes of positive stories about Israel yet ignores mountains of easily accessible examples of the Palestinians’ malevolence. 

You know how small children inadvertently reveal what they’re thinking in fantasy and play?
It’s a peculiar characteristic of the Arab world, which followers of the BBC won’t know much about because the BBC doesn’t report it. 

The conspiracy theories and infantile accusations the Israel haters of the Arab world invent could be used as typical psychological case studies of projection.  Like children, they egg each other on, their tales getting wilder and wilder and ever more revealing of their own thought processes and “unconscious impulses”.  This would be almost comical if only the rest of the world saw it for what it is instead of resolutely taking it at face value. The rest of the world lacks a sense of humor. 

Just one recent example of the EU’s gullibility on this score is the speech Mahmoud Abbas gave to a packed auditorium on 24th of this month.
After he had delivered it, fiction, paranoia and all, he received a standing ovation. Thank goodness we voted “Leave’. Any fleeting twinge of buyer’s remorse - dissipated in one fell swoop.

Thanks to Daphne Anson (comment below) I enjoyed reading this piece by Charles Moore,  (Telegraph) particularly:
“ is the Labour moderates, with their gloopy admiration for the EU and their uncritical endorsement throughout the Blair/Brown era of the excesses of global capitalism, who are the most out of touch with their natural supporters. “
and the final few paragraphs:
It's as if the BBC wishes the world was falling apart
Funny how Project Fear has been even more strongly pushed by the BBC (and Channel 4 News) after Remain has lost. The poor public are encouraged to believe fantasies, such as that all Poles must now go home or that we shall need visas to visit France. Such tales cannot be authoritatively refuted because poor Messrs Cameron and Osborne dare not admit that most of what they told us the week before is rubbish, and the Leave campaign is not the government of the country. 
Into this vacuum rush the doom-sayers. Yesterday the BBC put at the top of some bulletins the exclusive ("the BBC has learnt") that HSBC will move 1,000 workers to Paris if Britain leaves the single market. The following things were not properly explained – that HSBC was contemplating this, not actually doing it; that we might not leave the single market anyway and certainly won’t for more than two years; that 1,000 workers is only just over two per cent of HSBC’s British workforce; and that most of those sent to Paris would probably be French people currently in London. 
Is there any country in the world – apart from Britain – where the British Broadcasting Corporation would greet the return of parliamentary democracy with terror and dismay? 
  Despite the above, there is one person who should be deported at once. During the campaign, Ken Livingstone said that if Britain were to vote to leave the EU, he would leave Britain. When I last looked, he was still around. He should be put on a plane with a one-way ticket to Venezuela or Iran. 

Hysterical lefties really need to grow upAs the culturati weep into their lattes while demonising the poor, old and insecure, the carry-on has been beyond parody. 
It has been a particularly grim couple of days for a soft-left newsaholic like me with a tenderness for the arts world. To quote one performing artist’s tweet — “Ashamed. Terrified. Shocked. Horrified”. Indeed: but it was not the actual vote that shocked, life having taught me that democracy has rough patches. It was the online squawk of reaction by my timeline, my tribe: cultural icons, colleagues, friends. If they feel “let down, betrayed, distressed” by the result, so did I by the mass response of the liberal media and arts sector to this vote against a 43-year-old administrative arrangement. 
 (That’s the accessible bit) Behind the paywall:
These are directors, actors, critics, cultural titans, intelligent lefties. Yet the carry-on was beyond parody: anguished bunker-mentality tinged with patronising. generalising hauteur about those who voted Leave. There had been nonsense from that general direction in the days before, alarm calls like panicked parakeets about how Brexit meant turning your back on Beethoven, Picasso and foreign cooking.”
Do read it all if you’re a subscriber to the Times online, or buy a copy. I disagree with some of the things she says, but after all, she was a Remain voter, and the obligatory comments about Nigel Farage and ‘that poster’ are par for the course.

My dear departed mother and her generation, (both parents staunch Labour supporters and readers of the pre-historic Manchester Guardian) would be turning in their graves if they could see us now

Tom Corbyn. "Palestine campaigner"

Sunday, 26 June 2016

Andy's Final Thought

Sticking with the Marr programme, I was heartened that the news bulletin noted the anniversary of the Islamist slaughter of 38 tourists - including 30 British tourists - in the Tunisian resort of Sousse but, disturbingly, the bulletin avoided any mention of Islamism.

It merely described the terrorist atrocity as being an event where "a lone gunman went on a rampage".

Is the BBC retreating on reporting that story honestly too?


Andrew Marr then teamed up with Andrew Neil to deliver a striking joint 'op-ed' on the EU referendum (prior to the paper review).

Neither said anything that hasn't been said elsewhere a thousand times already, but both - especially Andrew Marr - delivered it with feeling, as if it was 'something worth listening to'.

So let's listen to what Andrew Marr said...

His main point was that Britain is "deeply divided" and "not one country". There's a "yawning gap", he said, between "the posher, better-educated, richer" parts of the UK and "the huge swathes of post-industrial, ex-mining and struggling fishing and agricultural Britain".

So much, so gloomy.

Today's campaigners aren't to blame, he continued. We've been declining for the last 50 years. "Under our last 5 prime ministers we became a shopping nation" (thus, by counting back, locating the problem as starting under Mrs Thatcher). London prospered but the political and media class ignored "industrial Wales, the Black Country and struggling coastal towns", which became "ever poorer, ever more desolate".


(Thank God he didn't mention Morecambe by name when talking of "struggling coastal towns"! 

We're, of course, not struggling in the slightest here in Morecambe, and not remotely desparate. We're on the rise again. 

Please, please, PLEASE come and visit us. I beg you, on bended knees, PLEASE!

We've got lots of excellent new restaurants, a lovely upgraded promenade and stone jetty, the relaunched Art Deco Midland Hotel (as featured in ITV's Poirot), some provocative rusty modernist architecture, a splash park to delight the kids (near to where Blobby Land used to be), new play areas to delight the older kids, several tattoo parlours, the Eric Morecambe statue (on a par with the Angel of the North and Nelson's Column), lots and lots of car parks, a Brexit-supporting Wetherspoons named in honour of Eric Morecambe, and spectacular views - from many angles - of Morecambe Bay, the Lakeland hills and the Pennines. What's not to love?

Mr Marr should holiday here in Morecambe. 

And so should Polly Toynbee, if she can even bear to tear herself away from her beloved Tuscany. I'd happily let her call me a bigot. I'd even buy her an £8.50 ham-and-pineapple pizza at Frankie and Benny's to make her feel as if she was back at home in her former Italian villa).


Mr Marr then talked of the "waves of migration and globalised culture" that "washed among us, eroding our sense of self". The change of "colour and language" left "older people bemused and cut off", he said.

The influx of "eager, white, hard-working" East Europeans "alarmed" the poor parts of the country. The "self-confidently multi-ethnic, liberal, urban class" was "having such a good time they barely noticed".

He went on: "London spoke a lot but didn't listen. Well, it's heard now. This has been the rebellion of the diminished against the cocky, the ignored against the shapers of modern times, and the struggling against the strutting."

His concluding passage, delivered with a rhetoric flourish, said: "We are still today a lucky country, able to fashion our own future and with a wonderful history. But we are also divided, full of bad feelings and in choppy seas, still searching around for a rudder."


I might have been brainwashed by BBC bias here, but I can't find much to disagree with there...

...though the language suggests a typical 'liberal' struggling to be 'honest' in the face of a massive 'shock'. 

And the polls have long suggested that concerns about mass immigration extend well beyond "older people". 

Plus, naturally, I thought he was describing his own circle - including much of the BBC - in his description of the "cocky", "liberal" urban class, and wished he'd admitted as much.

But you probably can't have everything, can you? (Can you?)

On Laura K

Laura K was there all night for BBC One's referendum coverage. 

Like David, who 'live blogged' the results on a comments thread below, I felt as if she looked - especially as the night went on - as if she'd been crying prior to her every single contribution. Either that or she was extremely tired. 

Knowing what I know about the unrelenting hatred for her from the Corbynistas, I gulped when her BBC One news bulletin reports in the immediate wake of the BBC's official calling of the referendum for Leave included some somewhat sarcastic-sounding criticisms of Jeremy Corbyn's underwhelming role in the campaign. I knew exactly what that would result in (and, checking Twitter, it did result in that very thing). 

(From my experience, 'somewhat sarcastic-sounding' is her default tone of voice when presenting reports for BBC bulletins). 

And the poor thing was a paper reviewer on this morning's Andrew Marr show

I gulped again when she, of all people, was invited to talk about the attempted coup against Jeremy Corbyn and was struck by how - in relating the story of the sacking of Hilary Benn - she kept on calling the Blairite Mr Benn "Hilary" whilst slipping into calling Mr Corbyn "Corbyn", and how she kept on stoking the story in a way the Corbynistas emphatically wouldn't have liked.

I didn't think that would help her either.

Trying to stand back and blog impartially about this, was Laura wrong to make criticism of Mr Corbyn one of the angles in her initial BBC One reports? And was she wrong to call Mr Benn "Hilary" so often whilst slipping into calling Mr Corbyn "Corbyn" (as if she was some kind of Blairite insider)?

On the first one I will give her the benefit of the doubt. The Labour leader's role in the referendum was equivocal, to put it mildly. The subsequent post-referendum spate of resignations from the shadow cabinet have shown that Laura K was onto something (though Corbynista diehards are free to air conspiracy theories that Laura K was 'in on' the conspiracy and helped give it a fair wind via the BBC).

On her repeated use of "Hilary" for Hilary Benn and her parallel slip in calling Jeremy Corbyn "Corbyn", well, I think that calls for an 'Hmmmm!' at the very least.

I certainly think it's beyond dispute that she's not biased in favour of the Bearded One.

P.S. And the plot thickens. The aforementioned Laura K has been at the forefront of this afternoon's major breaking news story concerning claims from Labour "sources" and documents leaked to the BBC, that JC's office "deliberately sabotaged" the EU Remain campaign.

That isn't going to help her either with the Corbynistas! (though I can't imagine the Blairites and Brownites disapproving, of course!)...

...though it might earn Jeremy Corbyn some grudging admiration from some Leave supporters, if true!!

Time for a joke...

Football news...

Here's the wonderful but resolutely non-BBC Radio 4 comedian Andrew Lawrence on the latest Euro 2016 result:


In giving Evan Davis a little credit at the end of that last post for behaving himself more on last night's Newsnight special (after he behaved so badly on Friday night's Newsnight), I forgot the bit where he (seriously) plugged that petition calling for a second referendum (at 26:55):

Evan Davis, plugging that petition

As soon as I heard about that seriously undemocratic petition (long before Evan mentioned it on Newsnight) I thought it had better reach around the 18 million mark - and then have to be checked very thoroughly for massive fraud - before anyone in their right mind would even begin to start to take it seriously.  

And yet here was Evan plugging it, with a serious face.

I've been trying so hard to catch up today that I've fallen a long way behind, so I'm relying (if you don't mind!) on you for help....

Has the BBC kept on plugging this petulant, childish petition without raising all the obvious caveats about fraud (and charges of fraud are being widely made about this petition now) or raising the even more obvious points about how undemocratic such a petition is? 

(If it has, good on it. If it hasn't, shame on it).

P.S. I see Alan at Biased BBC is saying that "the BBC seems to be trying to incite a civil war and the overturning of democracy", which would be quite something.

And on we go (starring Evan Davis)....

Would Monet have been for Frexit?

Impressions, Sunrise (or Sunset)...

The first Newsnight since the referendum result was declared (Friday night's edition) was punctuated by a series of reports, all of which (even Mark Urban's) featured melancholy background music and wistful images. Such music couldn't help but convey a mood of regret.

(Were you thinking what they were thinking? - to paraphrase an old UK election poster).

The programme's newest edition - its new business editor Helen Thomas (once of the FT) - looked weary and depressed while reporting on "the plunge" of the pound:

Helen Thomas, looking happy

Of course, she could just have been tired (having - like me - stayed up all night the previous night, perhaps?).

Then there was Evan Davis, who didn't seem tired at all.

In the three-way discussion between Remainers Ken Clarke and Tristram Hunt and Leaver Suzanne Evans, it was Suzanne Evans who got the tougher challenges from Evan. 

And Evan and Ken Clarke chatted like sad old friends reminiscing, poor things.

And when Dan Hannan duly appeared, Evan outperformed Emily Maitlis. 

He went for Dan over immigration, suggesting that Dan and the Leave campaign had misled the public over dramatically cutting the numbers of migrants once we leave the EU. 

Evan kept putting his head in his hands to demonstrate his disbelief at the sheer dishonesty of the Leave campaign (despite Dan not having said anything different that night to what he's ever said before - and I've been 'following' Mr Hannan for some time, so I know that). 

Of course, I can see the point Evan Davis was trying to make. I know (from talking to them) that quite a lot of the people up here in Morecambe and Lancaster who voted Out did so in the expectation that the number of migrants coming into the UK would be cut substantially after we left the EU. 

That Dan Hannan has never argued that - despite Evan's heavy and repeated implying that he has - is something known to me (and, probably, you) but perhaps not to most Leave voters. 

Dan has always been openly pro-immigration and has always been clear that, for him, it's about us being able to control our own immigration and choose who we want to come in, even if that amounts to huge amounts of people. 

That could prove to be a problem with voters up here - and elsewhere. Most of them don't want that at all.

That, however, is beside the point of this post. Its point is that Evan Davis gave the impression of being petulant and spiteful towards Dan Hannan...

Evan, in full flow on Friday

...and, after all his theatrics and heavy hints about Mr Hannan's dishonesty, he concluded the interview by saying "Wow!" to Dan's final answer, and then saying: 
Dan Hannan, thank you very much. Christine Ockrent, thank you. I had meant to come back to you Christine. We're out of time. But I hit a nerve there with Dan Hannan. Thank you.
He then moved on. 

If there's any BBC presenter I expect pro-EU bias from it's Evan Davis. His performance that night didn't snap me out of that expectation. 

His performance on last night's 'Life after Brexit' Newsnight special was much better. Maybe he'd calmed down a bit.

Well, those are my impressions anyhow.

"Something like 2 per cent of our laws in this country are from the EU"

From Maxine to Martine (whose names often get mixed up by people on blogs!)...

BBC presenter Martine Croxall's opinions on the BBC News Channel's The Papers have caused concern here before - and suggested a pro-EU bias on her part. (Our archive on her can be found here). Finally, it appears she's gone too far - even for the BBC. 

I first spotted that from a mysteriously brief entry on the BBC's Corrections and Clarifications page (whose link took you to another identically brief entry):

It then appeared in an article at Heat Street headlined BBC Presenter Caught Peddling EU myth. That presenter was Martine Croxall: 
While hosting a newspaper review last night at 11.30 on the BBC News channel, Croxall challenged pro-Brexit supporter and former Tory MP Esther McVey over the number of laws imposed on the UK from Brussels. 
McVey was trying to make the point that the EU has become dominant when it comes to legislation in the UK.
She said: “…Fifty per cent of the laws are now coming from Europe…” 
But Croxall interrupted her, and lectured: “That’s not true, though, is it? That’s not true. Something like 2 per cent of our laws in this country are from the EU.” 
Not only was Croxall standing uncomfortably near the impartiality line which BBC broadcasters must never cross, but she was also wrong.
Of course, the BBC only conceded the 'Inaccuracy' point. They didn't concede any 'Bias' point. 

But I would urge you all to watch that edition of The Papers in its entirety. (It's not long). Martine Croxall's challenges towards Esther McVey went well beyond that one intervention. They were relentless and overly passionate. She comprised something of a tag-team with John Stapleton against the former Tory MP. 

Yes, Miss McVey probably talked too much and some balancing points needed making for the sake of BBC balance, but I think Martine went seriously OTT here.

Purely incidentally, it looks as if Martine is going to have to amend her LinkedIn page. One of her 'current' roles looks if it might be ending very soon!:

"And the financial markets collapse"

For those, like me (and David Keighley at News-watch), who have shown (at the very least) that some flagship BBC programmes and some BBC reporters/presenters did show a pronounced anti-Brexit bias during the EU referendum campaign, it was startling and sobering to keep hearing from so many people who we like and admire and who usually agree with us about BBC bias (including prominent pro-Leave types) that they thought that the BBC had in fact behaved in an unexpectedly fair way and covered itself in impartial glory. 

One of those people was Peter Hitchens. He wrote again a couple of days ago about "the creditable efforts of the BBC to be impartial, which I absolutely did not expect", having previously written, "I underestimated the BBC, which has, perhaps thanks to years of justified and correct criticism from people such as me, taken its duty of impartiality seriously". Interestingly, he now thinks that the BBC has reverted to type - since the referendum result came through:
Parliament is pro-EU. The Civil Service is pro-EU, the judiciary is pro-EU, the BBC is pro-EU and is now returning to its old bad habits after an admittedly creditable attempt at balance. Its 6am radio news bulletin on Friday said, falsely and dangerously, that the pound had ‘collapsed’ following the result and there will be a lot more of this foolish panic-mongering in days to come.

Saturday's excellent Dateline London gave proof for his closing point. Presenter Maxine Mawhinney began by saying, in doom-mongering fashion: 
Britain leaves the European Union. The Prime Minister stands down. And the financial markets collapse. Plenty to talk about.
Alex Deane, who was on superb form throughout, didn't let that pass without comment: 
No, hang on a minute. Let me answer the question who asked everyone else. The market didn't crash. The FTSE finished higher on Friday than it was last Friday. And it's extraordinary to hear someone from Bloomberg reinforce your false premise that there was a big crash or the pound slumped. The pound is where it was in February.  
The 'someone from Bloomberg' he was talking about was Stephanie Baker. Along with French regular Agnes Poirier, she took the anti-Brexit line. 

The final guest, German regular Thomas Kielinger, took up a position closer to Alex's. He may be a Europhile but he's always been a passionate Anglophile and thinks we'll prosper outside the EU. I found his contribution rather moving. 

All credit to the makers of Dateline London for assembling such an interesting and varied panel. Less credit to Maxine for framing the debate in such a loaded, doom-mongering fashion.


Alex Deane's appearances on Dateline and a highly sparky Sky News paper review last night have - inevitably - drawn some very ugly comments at places like Digital Spy and on Twitter. Thankfully, Twitter has also deluged him in praise too - quite a few from Labour supporters saying how suprised and pleased they are to agree with him. Alex's response to the ugly comments on Twitter is usually to re-tweet them and add a good-natured joke.

Here's another of Alex's jokes today. It made me smile: