Friday, 23 June 2017

Open Thread

An even-sided,  balanced Open Thread

Lord Prescott v Huw Edwards

Following Eddie Mair's interview with Boris Johnson on Wednesday's PM this exchange ensued on Twitter:

Incidentally, Wednesday night's Newsnight also covered it with Evan Davis playing a clip and saying:
Now that point was forcefully made to the Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson this afternoon, when he was interviewed by Eddie Mair on Radio 4's PM programme. Mr Johnson tried to rebut it, but it didn't go well.


Did the BBC underplay the latest immigration figures, which show UK population growth rising sharply after record migration levels, increasing by 538,000 in just one year and taking our country's population to 65,648,000?

Well, one way to judge that question is to see how much time was devoted to the issue on the main BBC One news bulletins. 

BBC One's News at Six gave it 28 seconds (midway through the bulletin), reporting it in this way:
The population of the UK has seen its sharpest annual increase in nearly 70 years. The Office for National Statistics says from June 2015 to June 2016 the population rose by 538,000 people. That takes the total estimated population of the UK to more than 65.6 million. It's thought the change has been driven by immigration but also more births and fewer deaths.
BBC One's News at Ten gave it 26 seconds (close to the end of the bulletin), reporting it in this way:
The population of the UK has seen its sharpest annual increase in nearly 70 years. The Office for National Statistics says from June 2015 to June 2016 the population rose by 538,000 people and that takes the total estimated population of the UK to more than 65.6 million. It's thought the change has been driven by immigration, but also by more births and fewer deaths. 
And that was it for both bulletins.

So the news was reported but not dwelt on.

The language used there - "It's thought the change has been driven by immigration but also more births and fewer deaths" - was echoed in Shaun Ley's run-through of the newspaper headlines on the BBC News Channel last night. Coming to the Daily Express's headline 'MIGRANT NUMBERS ROCKET' Shaun said, "The Daily Express argues mass immigration has contributed to the sharpest rise in the UK population in 70 years."

Net international migration remains the largest component of population change. 
Overall, natural change accounted for 35.8 per cent of the population change, net international migration for 62.4 per cent and other changes 1.8 per cent.

'Embarrassing defeat'

The BBC News website's home page has the following headline this morning:

The BBC report's sub-headline is:

And who is being quoted there? A politician or diplomat from one side of the dispute? No, it's the BBC's diplomatic editor James Landale. 

The BBC is highlighting its own reporter's take on the news there.

And that's not his only opinion. James also blames the defeat on the Brexit vote:

Thursday, 22 June 2017

"Well, I don’t think anybody would know whether I was a Brexiteer or, or not"

Here's a transcript (via News-watch) of Nick Robinson's interview with John Simpson on this morning where he defended his claim that this past year has been "the worst year for Britain is (his) lifetime".

It was a remarkable interview on many levels, not least for the complete lack of self-awareness on display as regards bias. 

I had to smile after reading Alan at Biased BBC saying that the BBC "never lets a day go by without some snide passing comment about the Mail" and then hearing Nick Robinson snidely saying to John Simpson, "I can hear someone at the Daily Mail being commissioned now to say, ‘BBC Remoaner John Simpson whinges about Brexit instead of saying what a great dawn, a new dawn it is’".

And I smiled even more broadly after hearing John Simpson insist "Well, I don’t think anybody would know whether I was a Brexiteer or, or not. And, actually, to be really honest, Nick, and I bet it’s the same with you, I can see both sides of the coin" despite everything else he said in that interview (all negative about Brexit) and his previous expressions of opinion of the matter, not least this from 2016 about the EU referendum:

I'm afraid, John, that even if we don't know if you were a Brexiteer or not, we can made a very informed guess that you very, very probably weren't - or you would surely never have expressed yourself in such a way in public. 

Anyhow, here's the transcript:

NICK ROBINSON: Now, John Simpson has just taken up tweeting and he tweeted, 'It was the worst year for Britain in my lifetime', and it produced quite a reaction. So John has been writing a little bit more about that, and he joins us on the line from Oxford........Now, talking of terrible days, you wrote this phrase ‘The worst year for Britain in my lifetime’. I think quite a lot of people then responded to you, and said, ‘Come off it, Simpson! You know, what about ’72? What about ’74? What about the Suez Crisis of 66 (sic)? Why this year do you say it’s the worst?
JOHN SIMPSON: I have to say, only, only a few did, and there’s always somebody that, you know, wants to know better. Erm, but er, if you look back at it, I mean, 1944, the year of my birth, was pretty terrible, V1, V2 rockets crashing down on British cities, but erm, you know, there was real hope, people knew the war was...was over. 1956 was a bad year in many ways, the year of Suez, the year in which Britain really ceased to be a world power. Erm, but there was Harold Macmillan, full of rather phony self-confidence to tell is that it was all going to be well and soon telling us we’d never had it so good.  1972 was a particularly bad year, with Bloody Sunday and the IRA attacks and so on, ’74, when we didn’t seem to have proper government...
NICK ROBINSON(speaking over) Well you’re, you’re reminding us how grim it all was, so why are you saying that...
JOHN SIMPSON(speaking over) But...
NICK ROBINSON...2017 is worse?
JOHN SIMPSONBecause this is a real all-round kind of storm. We’ve got everything, we’ve got utterly weak government, we have got a time when the...Governor of the Bank of England is warning that Brexit is gonna make us poorer, erm, we don’t know where we’re going to be in a year, two years’ time. And, and on top of all that, we have these dreadful incidents, the bombings sure, but that doesn’t send to shake us so much, but . . . 
JOHN SIMPSON... there’s the terrible business of the Grenfell flats . . . 
NICK ROBINSON(interrupting) Indeed, you’re used to this John, but I might as well ask you, give you a chance to get yer retaliation in first.  I can hear someone at the Daily Mail being commissioned now to say, ‘BBC Remoaner John Simpson whinges about Brexit instead of saying what a great dawn, a new dawn it is.’
JOHN SIMPSONWell, I don’t think anybody would know whether I was a Brexiteer or, or not. And, actually, to be really honest, Nick, and I bet it’s the same with you, I can see both sides of the coin. Erm, but the fact is we don’t know where we’re going to be, and it’s that uncertainty, regarding that maybe, there may be wonderful sunny uplands just ahead of others, but at the moment it’s a bad time, and it was ushered in by the dreadful murder of Jo Cox with that awful man shouting out ‘This is for Britain, Britain will always come first’...
JOHN SIMPSON...and it’s come right through, and do you know...
NICK ROBINSON(speaking over) We’ve got to leave it there, I’m afraid. You have stimulated, I think, a national conversation. Perhaps will pursue it, and with two other rather famous Johns here of a certain age, we might be...might be able to do it on another day...
JOHN HUMPHRYS: (speaking over) We must rapidly move on, I think, from that (moves on to next story).

We'd like to apologise

These are from Guido. The perils of live broadcasting?  Or something.

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

The state we're in

I thought it was pretty surprising that the BBC hadn’t shown any interest in last Sunday’s Al-Quds march through central London. Not even with the Hezbollah flags and that menacing drumbeat. It’s even more surprising, the BBC being what it is, that it didn’t even seem interested in the counter demo with those well-funded Zionist flags and inflammatory chanting. (We want peace!)

Have a quick look at page 15 of Today’s Times. What have we got? 

I haven’t seen any of those, but they do sound mighty offensive and Google should take them down sharpish.

In the middle of that article, there’s a highlighted column headed ”Complaints about ITV show.” Apparently ITV has received 72 virgins complaints about “far-right activist” Tommy Robinson. He shouldn’t have been allowed on ITV at all, they say.

Below these two pieces, there’s a double column entitled: 

At the bottom there’s a small photo of Sajid Javid comforting a woman after the mosque attack. 
“We can’t keep sharing hate and violence” says the mother of the Muslim child. “we can’t keep doing this. I’m tired and I want my child to be safe”.

So do I, dear tearful lady,  I want my children to be safe too. 

The facetious side of me was tempted to add ‘I’m so glad I haven’t got a Muslim child’ - but my facetious interior wrestled with my serious interior and it was a draw.

Now for something entirely predictable. From the Guardian. Finsbury Park suspect ‘made abusive remarks about Palestinian march’

It seems that the perpetrator of the Finsbury Park van-ram had been making nasty remarks about the al-Quds Day march (helpful link for any Guardianista who might not realise what a wonderful cause this march was for)
That irrepressible facetious side wants to point out the similarity between the name of the perpetrator and Sharon Osbourne. Either that or I’m going a bit deaf.

Not to be confused

God. At the risk of finding the far-right police a-knocking at my door, I’m tempted to admit I find the whole business laughable. Not the injuries - I’m genuinely sorry about those. But the fact is that for all the sanctimonious verbiage about ‘terrorism’ and ‘far-right’ the man wasn’t very good at it, was he? 
I mean the sole fatality was most probably pre-dead, and the entire incident had an undeniably comedic element.  (I wonder if there are any massively politically incorrect jokes out there - in playgrounds and pubs and places I wouldn’t know about.) 

The young eyewitness who had to speak for his father who "hasn’t got much English” also struck me as hilarious though this was announced on the news with the utmost sobriety. No-one could be blamed for wondering how long the hapless fellow been in the country. Then there was that video of worshippers trying to beat Darren Osborne to a pulp, and the Imam bravely intervening. Cartoon stuff.  
Oh yes, and by the way the Finsbury Park Mosque  has quite a reputation I understand. 
Abu Hamza’s old haunt I believe. No harm in mentioning it, since everyone is quite comfortable with bringing up Tommy Robinson’s disreputable past. 

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Defining terrorism

Some of the visitors to this blog will think I shouldn’t worry my pretty little head about non-BBC matters, but in the name of human rights I beg permission to deviate, alongside my usual hesitation and repetition.

There have been a few dodgy pieces in The Times of late, but recent events have created a mishmash of confused thinking - almost epitomised by Piers Morgan as per my previous post. Such a shame ITV took the video down.

Piers was trying to argue that Islam is a faith, therefore ‘good’, but Islamism, extremism, violence and terrorism are obviously ‘bad’ and entirely different.
A bully like Piers Morgan will typically clutch at any straw to maintain the popularity, if not the adulation, that sustains him.

On that occasion Piers Morgan was torn between associating himself with the views of a figure (Tommy Robinson) whom the mob has deemed to be ‘from the extreme right’ on the one hand, and on the other he was probably afraid of coming across as yet another of those ‘useful idiots’ on the left who pipe up all over the place as apologists for Islam.

The mainstream media have brought the debate down to a matter of semantics. They spend hours dancing on the head of a pin over what is and isn’t “terrorism” and explaining that criticising Islam amounts to calling all Muslims terrorists.

Tactically, they leave themselves with little choice other than to construct a giant haystack from a pile of straw men.

Tommy Robinson has learned a lot since he started his crusade. Are we allowed to call it that?
If we mean it in the sense of: ‘a vigorous campaign for political, social, or religious change’, then it should be okay.

He has developed. Nowadays he is more articulate and his arguments are more mature and substantive than they were before.  They have to be because he has a multi-pronged enemy to defeat.

One is the huge number of people who are completely flummoxed by the crime of criticising any belief system that is labelled ‘religion’.  Religion has to be respected. To tag a bit of religious piety onto a Marxist, a Nazi, a bigot and a racist is to make their toxic political opinions untouchable.

Tommy Robinson now knows the political implications of Islam far better than the bulk of his critics in the media who think of themselves as his superior. Most of them haven’t studied it in any meaningful way but they just know, Islam must be righteous, because ‘faith’. Terrorism is a distorted version. It must be, because ‘religion’.

He also has The State to fight. The state is trying to contain something that looks increasingly uncontainable. When it goes off, it will surely go off with a bang.
Putting Tommy Robinson behind bars, let alone leaving him there at the mercy of bloodthirsty Muslim criminals, is no way for any state to behave, least of all the state that’s supposed to represent the most tolerant country in the world. Silencing Tommy Robinson is not going to contain the problem. Wildfires have a habit of flaring up in unexpected places..

 First, I want to commend this article by Melanie Phillips in The Times (£). Never mind terrorism or Brexit for a minute. Melanie has articulated a very urgent threat to the social cohesion that the State is so cack-handedly trying to maintain.

Left-wing agitators are planning a “day of rage” tomorrow in protest at the government’s austerity policies, which they say caused the tragedy. The protest is being led by the Movement for Justice By Any Means Necessary, whose Facebook page declares: “We must escalate our actions to take down this rotten government, which has lost all authority to govern.”

(I read this when it appeared in the Spectator a few days ago.)
“What’s happening is an attempt to stir insurrection on the streets against the democratically elected Westminster government. Labour’s shadow chancellor John McDonnell has called for a million people to take to the streets on Saturday to force Theresa May from power. 
At a Liverpool conference on March 10, 2012, McDonnell said there were three ways to change society. The first was through the ballot box; the second via industrial action. “The third is basically insurrection, but we now call it direct action . . . we have an elected dictatorship, so I think we have a democratic right to use whatever means to bring this government down. The real fight now is in our communities, it’s on the picket lines, it’s in the streets.”

Give John McDonnell a long nightie and a little crotchet cap and he’d have a free pass to do as he sees fit. Not that he doesn’t have one already. (The free pass rather than the outfit)
Many naive Labour voters believe Jeremy Corbyn is a “nice man”. The reality is frighteningly different. A fearsome tragedy is being cynically politicised. Even before all the dead of Grenfell tower have been retrieved and buried, Labour is unleashing mob rule in their name. Compassion is being hijacked and weaponised in what is nothing short of a planned uprising against democracy itself.

Now, let’s look at Hugo Rifkind whose article happens to appear on the opposite page. He’s doing his Piers Morgan thing for Times readers who don’t watch ITV.

“Not all preachers of hate wear a skullcap and robes. Some wear jeans.” 

That sounds about right. However, I can’t be sure, but I think Hugo is saying that the right is just as capable of radicalising its followers as the skullcap and robes brigade. Then I think he’s saying that to flatter the weirdos with the term ‘terrorist’ is to absolve them from personal responsibility.

Surely, as soon as one commits an act of terrorism one automatically becomes a weirdo. Therefore all terrorists are weirdos, but not all weirdos are terrorists.

Was the Finsbury Park Mosque incident an act of terrorism?
“the unlawful use of violence and intimidation, especially against civilians, in the pursuit of political aims.” is one definition of the term.

The Welsh weirdo who ran down Muslim worshippers had a kind of political aim; allegedly, to “kill all Muslims”.  Was that a political act? If it was designed to put fear into all Muslims as well as bumping a few off, it certainly was. Also, the victims were most likely civilians, so on the whole this incident probably did qualify as terrorism.
But what if it was a revenge thing, or a copy-cat thing or an act of pure weirdoism? The political connection would be tenuous then, would it not?  And anyway, would the term used to define it really matter?
“If you do not like the notion that even mainstream Muslim narratives have a nebulous culpability for Islamist attacks — and I do not — then it seems contradictory to decide that western media narratives are culpable for attacks by people who consider themselves on the other side.”
Says Hugo.

Yup. The MCB won’t accept that Islam bears responsibility for terrorism unless we Islamophobes also accept that Douglas Murray is responsible for the Finsbury Park Mosque van-ramming.

If the MCB thinks it can deflect the notion that Islam bears responsibility for terrorism by arguing that Douglas Murray must accept responsibility for Finsbury Park, that is wrong. There are many flaws in this imaginary comparison. Apart from the huge difference in scale and ‘pattern’, and the differing elements of direct incitement to violence -  (some in the case of hate preachers and none from Douglas Murray) the most fundamental difference is that Islam is the catalyst and “the other side” is the response. The equivalence theory is not going to work.  There is no equivalence and no contradictory principle there.

My take on it is this. It doesn’t actually matter to me whether a murder qualifies as terrorism or just weirdoism, and equally I don’t care whether or not mainstream Muslim narratives have a nebulous or direct culpability for violent acts. The nature of the beast makes the question almost irrelevant.

I see the mainstream Muslim narrative itself as divisive, antisemitic, and wrong-headed. The fact that it’s a religion shouldn’t make it untouchable. Whether it leads to violence or just simmers away in the background fomenting division, it’s not good for Britain.  I don’t like violence or racism from anyone and I don’t want to hear excuses for any of it. Fearing Islam is not a matter of racism.
Journalists can dance on heads of pins as much as they like, but in my opinion they’re wasting everyone’s time.

Now back to the BBC. On the Daily Politics Tom Wilson from the Henry Jackson Society was invited to into the studio to defend Douglas Murray’s eminently sensible suggestion that “we need less Islam” , a remark he made during a discussion about the Prevent strategy. 

Yesterday’s guest on the programme, Miqdaad Versi, wanted the BBC to no-platform Douglas Murray for making that particular remark, which Jo Coburn called ‘inflammatory.’

She turned to her other guest, Lord (Digby) Jones to ask what he thought about it. “Well, we must be clear about the distinction between ordinary Islam and extremism” he opined.
So there you have it. There’s benign Islam, and there’s fundamental Islam. One is good, because ‘faith’. The other is not so good because ‘terror’.

It is a BBC-related matter after all, and I am worried about it and so should you be.

Good Morning Tommy

I’ve never watched ITV in the morning before, but I have seen Piers Morgan on other programmes and I’m aware of his reputation so I sort of know what he’s like. I remember seeing Susanna Reid quite a while ago, hosting one of the BBC’s Sunday Morning shows. They're both assholes in their own way, but controversialist Piers Morgan has his uses and Susanna  probably has nice legs, so I can understand why ITV employs them in the dog eat dog scramble for ratings and advertising revenue.

A member of this household alerted me to it. I hope it will be on YouTube soon. In the meantime, the tabloids have picked it up, and so has the Telegraph. Twitter is ablaze. (link temporarily unavailable)

And now, it IS on YouTube. Enjoy.

"Was lost, but now is found"

Monday, 19 June 2017

Incitement is incitement is incitement

If you have joined “The State’ in hounding Tommy Robinson for inciting violence against the Muslims, you should wash your mouth out with soap immediately.

If anyone says something that’s considered ’wrong’ these days, you can bet that some cloth-eared bully of a media pundit will reinterpret it and encourage the baying mob to ridicule you. Incitement is incitement is incitement.

Guido got a severe bollocking below the line for his post about Tommy Robinson, and quite right too.

Tommy Robinson has made several mistakes along the way, but he deserves to be listened to. He certainly wasn’t taken apart by Andrew Neil or Jeremy Paxman and as for Guido’s cobbled together list of ‘similarities between Tommy Robinson and Anjem Choudary’ it’s as wrong-headed as it is dumb.

Both agree on an expansionist, conquering interpretation of the Quran.
Big difference. Choudary is for and Robinson is against.

Both are denounced by the vast, vast majority of British Muslims.
Who isn’t?

Both have been in prison.
But for committing what crime?

Both led extremist organisations.
Cheap and sloppy.

Both love noisy confrontational street demonstrations where violence and arrests were common.
Sloppy and cheap.

Both have been taken apart in BBC interviews by Andrew Neil.

Both, in their time, loved a beer and a fag.

Both were based in Luton.

Both struggled to keep their language short of incitement to violence laws, treading carefully to avoid official action against them.
Choudary managed to avoid official action for far too long whereas Robinson failed to avoid the patently unwarranted official action that was taken against him.

Both are attention-seeking media manipulators who exploit legitimate grievances.
Aren’t we all?   1/10.

Now go back to exposing the real villains.

Thoughts and Prayers

Craig will tell you that I never did have very much faith in Theresa May. As for Brexit, I like the principle that we can take back control but - ‘That’s all very well’ I’d say, ‘but who is gonna be the ‘we’ that takes it?

It could be Jeremy Corbyn, propelled into P.M-ship by the upcoming post-Brexit dip in the  economy. If Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell were the ‘we’, it would be even worse than the dreaded bad-deal, but by the same token if Theresa May made a pig’s ear of the negotiations we could be lumbered with a deal that could be a good deal worse than a bad deal..

Her first cabinet reshuffle was hardly confidence-inspiring, and her disastrous election campaign with its clumsily presented, ill-judged, and if I may say so, arrogant manifesto, together with Jeremy Corbyn’s fairy-godmother manifesto, not to mention those furious rallies and all the bullying by his antisemitic, politically illiterate Momentumists; between them they created a perfect storm.

For want of a better alternative many people were prepared to settle for Theresa May.

But, and it’s a big but (as Jeremy Corbyn probably said to the Shadow Home Secretary) if there’s one thing I certainly don’t think Theresa May should be criticised for, it’s the absence of that public show of emotion that everyone is clamouring for. I don’t want to see Theresa May or any other politician blinking back tears and I’m fed up of listening to anyone prefacing their political opinion with a sad-faced statement concerning their thoughts and prayers.  What prayers? Does everyone say prayers now?*

After Grenfell surely Theresa May should have been doing exactly what she says she has been doing. Setting up the public enquiry. Putting emergency funding in place. Doing Prime Minister stuff.

Yet we had a veritable stream  of identical-looking women parading through the TV studios (BBC and Sky) reviewing the Sunday papers. They all said the same thing, directly or indirectly, that Theresa May hasn’t shown sufficient emotional incontinence in public.

There’s a theory that economics influences fashion. Something in the current climate - hair straighteners ? - has produced armies of clones with the same infantilising hair-style and the same infantile opinions. They all want everything delivered in the form of a soap opera. To earn their approval Theresa May must be seen in public fanning her red-rimmed eyes and hugging a poor person.
Perhaps Theresa May can take heart from the turnaround within Her Majesty’s opposition.
Jeremy Corbyn outwitted the critics and rebels in his own party whose desire to unseat him evaporated with his electioneering triumph; so if he can ride out the storm, maybe she can too.
All she needs is a good Breakfast Breggsit Brexit.


I was too busy to blog yesterday. Now I’ve got Theresa May’s emotional inadequacy off my chest there's the latest car-ramming incident to respond to. More tear-filled thoughts and prayers. 

The BBC already speaks fluent Muslamic. Announcers pronounce “Muslim’ with the double ‘ss’. ‘Moosslim’, and enunciate the term ‘Friday prayers’ with a familiarity that subliminally incorporates Friday Prayers* into standard British culture, which I suppose, these days it just about has been. Mosque-goers are referred to as ‘worshippers’ in a reverential manner I’ve yet to hear applied to any other religion.

Unlike Theresa May, Jeremy Corbyn has done the right thing. He’s blubbed. He’s just soo  honest.

Most of the Today Programme was devoted to this incident.  John Humphrys consulted Brendan Cox to ask if this was an act of hatred or an act of insanity?

“There is an increasingly strong group of people who are actively inciting hatred against others, and that has certainly been true from bits of the extremist Islamist community in the past and we’e spoken about what we can do to crack down on those hate preachers, but I think it’s also something, in the case of Islamophobia, people, there are extremists again who are driving hatred, who are using language about cleansing Britain of Islam, who are talking about a final solution for Muslims and I think we have to treat this  act of terrorism, if that’s what it ends up being, in the same as any other act of terrorism”

“Final solution” now where have I heard that before? Apart from your actual Hitler, wasn't it his modern incarnation, hate preacher and thought criminal Katie Hopkins? 

“Extremist voices feel more emboldened to act on these views and that’s all about the climate. You know, for example when there is the US president talking about Muslims in a disparaging way and failing to break down the difference between extremists and people that just happen to belong to a community, it changes the entire tenet of the debate. The person that did this is the person that has the responsibility. I said that in the context of the Manchester attack and the London attacks and the murder of my wife; the person that did it is the person that’s responsible, but we do have to look at the context in which these events happen and I don’t think we take that seriously enough.

Is there any evidence at all of any coherent organisation behind this far right extremism?

You’ll see online, and it’s very clear that there are a series of organisations who are actively inciting hatred, not against extremists, but against Muslims as a whole and I think those people are very organised, they’re well funded they’re well financed, and again I think we have to have a dual approach to this cos it’s partly about those extremist organisations, but I also think we all have to have a look at ourselves and actually more mainstream organisations and organisations who probably don’t tip over into that incitement to violence, but I think sometimes we do blur the distinction and talk in a way where people think that Muslims as a whole are represented by the people that committed the attacks in Manchester or London. They don’t, in the same way that this attack doesn’t represent the vast majority of people.
 You know yesterday and over the weekend we had this huge coming together of communities in celebration of the things that unite us across the UK.
That’s what represents our country, but we have to get much better at tackling hatred in whatever community that comes from.”

Who or what is this well organised, well-funded and well financed group? I’d be interested to know.

I didn’t join any of those ‘Get-Together’ celebrations yesterday but I did find time to watch some of the live-streamed footage of the Al Quds march through central London. 

People, including Sadiq Khan, who were talking about coming together were probably too busy to notice the bile that was megaphoned over the streets of London to the insistent beating of a drum. 

If Brendan Cox doesn’t acknowledge that it’s not just the violence of the few that needs to be dealt with, but the extremism of the many, then all his posturing is hypocritical and hollow.

Saturday, 17 June 2017

Open Thread

Kensington and Chelsea 

Time for another Open Thread

Love and hate

I wonder what would happen if any London based participants in The Great Get Together in honour of Jo Cox bumped into the Al Quds march in honour of Iran and Hezbollah as it parades through central London tomorrow? 

Would they pipe up with chants of:
"we have more in common than that which divides us” while the Al Quds brigade retaliate with “Jews to the gas”?

These sentiments are not mutually exclusive, are they? In fact they may complement each other.

The BBC is aware of the former celebration, but apparently not of the latter. It will be interesting to see how (and if) they report these events, particularly Al Quds, should there be ‘trouble’. 
Which event to attend? Jeremy Corbyn must be torn.

Sombre mood

It’s (nearly) my official birthday and I’m releasing a statement: ‘It’s difficult to escape a very sombre mood’ in the country.” And would you believe it, on her official birthday The Queen agreed with me.

A very sombre mood

Terrorist attacks, Jeremy Corbyn set to become the next Prime Minister, the Conservative Party imploding just as we’re about to commit Brexit, Al Quds day tomorrow and the BBC whipping up more and more indignation and fury with its wall-to-wall coverage of those increasingly familiar days-of-rage, sparked off (sorry) by the Grenfell Tower inferno. It’s all part and parcel of living in this country don’t you know, and we’ll just have to get used to it.

As if all that wasn’t sombre enough, on top of that the BBC aired a programme last night featuring a whole load of those really annoying people who always, always laugh at nothing. You know them. They’re the ones about whom you’re thinking ‘why are you laughing like that, you moron’.

Where do they get these people?    Are they real? Like, actually sitting in the audience, laughing at swearing? Or are they spliced in at a later date?

That must be it. I think I know how they do it. Frankie Boyle and clebs from the BBC’s favourite pool of same-olds perform their tedious Theresa May / Donald Trump routines in front of the green background. Then the technical department splices in the laughing audience, which was actually filmed watching people falling down on  “You’ve been Framed”. They do this to make Frankie Boyle look amusing.
Unfortunately things turned out more sombre than ever. Is Frankie Boyle Susan’s brother? Can he sing or anything?

Frankie Boyle’s New World Order is the title of the programme. It's an ironic title - so ironic it's not. Wearing an oddly retro suit and waistcoat combo that made him look portly and awkward Mr. Boyle poured his little heart out. What was wrong with him? It seems that he had a bottled-up stream of resentment against Theresa May and Donald Trump he needed to offload, and the BBC generously gave him a safe space to do so. Sara Pascoe and Katherine Ryan made one or two predictable quips and the diversity quota came in the form of the finger-wagging Mona Chalabi and that American who appeared (mysteriously) on Question Time last week.

“It’s amazing to thunk that that’s the best election result that we could’ve hoped fur. The Conservatuves formung a co-ulushuon with the poluticul wung of the auld testimunt” He said. Oh how they laughed.

All the ire was directed at Theresa May / the DUP and Donald Trump. Not even a squeak about Jeremy Corbyn, Diane Abbott, Emily Thornberry, Seumas Milne, John McDonnell or Sadiq Khan, let alone the perpetrators of the three recent terrorist attacks, which, one would think would have merited at least a tad of ire.

Sombre mood indeed.

Friday, 16 June 2017

Wordplay (Updated)

The BBC reported that an Israeli policewoman was stabbed to death in Jerusalem.

Israeli policewoman stabbed to death in Jerusalem 
“Two of the Palestinians attacked police officers with guns and knives while the third stabbed the policewoman, police say.
The three were identified by police as two men aged 18 or 19 and another man, all from the West Bank.”

BBC News World Tweets: 
“Three Palestinians Killed after deadly stabbing in Jerusalem.” 
“Israeli police shoot them after a policewoman is stabbed and other people injured.”

So, what happened? Who stabbed whom? And why?

Distorted reporting from the most trusted news organ in the world.


H/T David P - more on this topic on ‘Twitchy’. (I assume my first ‘embed’ disappeared when BBC World deleted the Tweet)

It’s remarkable that Israel’s ‘partner for peace’ called the killing of the three brave martyrs a war crime. 

Forgive me for thinking that some of the Palestinian spokespersons and officials have the maturity of a four-year-old.

The BBC’s entrenched bias against Israel.

Since we’re always accusing the BBC of bias against - no, let’s look it it as bias towards - certain issues, it’s helpful when sites like ITBB provide extra substance to to back up such claims. There are some inbuilt biases which we believe fatally compromise its impartiality.

The BBC’s influence on the public, on the matter of domestic politics at least, is tempered by the fact that they’re speaking to an audience that is familiar with the issues. People have grown up with them and are capable of thinking for themselves. The BBC’s ideological affinity with the Labour Party (not so much with the current leadership) is understood by the Right and denied by the Left, but the public consists of all sorts, people with entrenched views who will hardly budge no matter what the BBC puts in from of them; those who waft in the wind; rabid ideologues from the hard left and the far right; the don’t knows and the don’t cares.  The Lib Dems, even. And more, I’m sure.

BBC news editors decide what is or isn’t newsworthy, and the BBC’s political pundits and experts still have a certain influence on public opinion, but access to to all stripes of politics is freely available in the press and online. The BBC no longer has the monopoly it once had on “the news”, and, as someone once said: ‘other brands are available’.

However, while the BBC’s views on domestic politics are becoming less relevant, the vast majority of the British public turns to the BBC for information concerning foreign affairs. For some reason the BBC has shown an almost obsessive interest in the Israeli / Palestinian conflict, and the BBC's negative attitude towards Israel coupled with its rose-tinted view of the Palestinian Arabs has had wide ramifications.

As we face the prospect of Sunday’s annual Al Quds march in central London, where Hezbollah flags and “Hitler was right’ banners abound, it would seem apt for ITBB to offer some kind of ‘fightback’ in the form of a ‘back to basics’ review of some relevant posts that show where the BBC is coming from when it reports, or more importantly doesn’t report - matters appertaining to the Middle East.

Our contention is that the BBC is full of Liberal-Left Arabists who report the Israel-Palestinian conflict from a purely anti-Israel perspective, but that the bias is semi-concealed from the public, many of whom are trusting enough to assume that the BBC’s impartiality obligations, as per the charter, are automatically upheld and monitored.
Tagged-on “Israel claims’” passages in the reporting of Jeremy Bowen or Yolande Knell pay lip-service to impartiality. The BBC sticks them there in order to muddy the waters and give their in-house complaints department something to clutch at.

My objections to Paul Adams’s authoritative-seeming piece on the 6-Day War were based on an instinctive hunch. (That he was no impartial authority, but a typical liberal-left Arabist.) I found just enough information online to confirm my hunch, but  Daphne Anson has written blogposts with detailed background information, and they’re worth revisiting to get an understanding of the wider picture. 
Craig and I have noticed that the amount of time and effort we put into a post inversely affects the response - in the short term, anyway. Our longer pieces tend to slow-burn, and they do get the readership in the end.

For that reason, over the page, I’m going to repost, with her permission, an extract from one of Daphne’s pieces from 2010 and the entire Elder of Ziyon piece from 2015, and link to two of my own posts, which relate to the same subject.

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Nothing much to say

I might as well join the rest of the virtue-signalling community and boast that when me and Craig have nothing to say, we say nothing.  Nothing much, anyway.

It didn’t take long for the usuals to start politicising Grenfell Tower, did it? 


I see Laura Perrins is on Question Time tonight, as is Emily Thornberry. Might be worth staying awake for. Go Laura! (g’wan g’wan)


I listened to Jeremy Bowen’s puff piece about Yassir Arafat.  Another terrible piece. He’s obviously an Arafat admirer , like Barbara Plett - and I do believe Bowen thinks the discredited polonium story is feasible. 


Hugo Rifkind(£) thinks the naturally irascible Corbyn has learned not to be too grumpy in front of the cameras.
“When an ITV reporter asked him a year ago whether he wanted there to be a general election, nobody forced him to say, irritably, “I’m being harassed!”, before storming off to hide behind what turned out to be, awkwardly, a glass door. This is who Jeremy Corbyn was. He was tetchy and he was incompetent, and if anybody with any sense was going to vote for him, then everything any of us knew about anything was wrong.”

He learnt to smile and jest specially for the campaign.

“…..a pivotal moment in this election came during Corbyn’s interview with Jeremy Paxman, when Paxman, in full Spanish inquisition mode, asked him why the Labour manifesto included nothing on Corbyn’s long-held ambition of scrapping the monarchy. “There’s nothing in there because we’re not going to do it,” retorted Corbyn, visibly amused. Hidden beneath the audience’s guffaws, this was the sound of a man wryly acknowledging the fundamental impracticality of his own radicalism. All of a sudden, Jeremy Corbyn was a moderate.”

There are signs that he has reverted.


The BBC may be going overboard with its Grenfell Tower coverage. Sky is the same. All the other stuff that was so important before the disaster has evaporated - obviously the distressing, heart-rending human interest element of this terrible fire makes everything else pale into insignificance, but at the same time continuous interviews with people who knew someone who knew someone who knew someone who is missing or killed, is not ‘news’. Dragging it out too long in a mawkish and voyeuristic way diminishes the tragedy, if anything . 

Monday, 12 June 2017

New wave antisemitism

The BBC hasn’t reported this story, but it reached the Times (£) today. 

You’d think the BBC would be interested, since it concerns a TV film about migrants. 
TV film. Migrants. What’s not to like?

But no. This story is not so much about migrants; it’s more about censorship. The BBC knows about that too, but probably isn’t keen on giving this particular censorship-related revelation the oxygen of publicity. You’ve probably seen the story. It was blogged by Not a Sheep, Breitbart, Pamela Geller and The Times of Israel
COLOGNE — A new documentary on European anti-Semitism was financed with over €170,000 of taxpayer money. So why is it not being shown to the public? Because the TV networks holding the rights refuse to broadcast it. 
The 90-minute film, “Chosen and Excluded — Jew Hatred in Europe” by German producers Joachim Schröder and Sophie Hafner, was commissioned by German public TV broadcaster WDR on behalf of its French-German partner channel Arte. 
Presenting the various ways in which anti-Semitism is expressed in contemporary Europe, the documentary shows right-wing Neo-Nazis, BDS activists and a demonstrator dressed like a hippie who designates himself a libertarian and praises the “Protocols of the Elders of Zion.” Anti-Semitism among worker’s rights activists in France is featured alongside cases of Muslim Jew-hatred, some of which culminate in the torturing and cold-blooded murder of Jews. 
However, once the documentary was submitted — and approved by the editor — the heads of the networks decided that it would not be broadcast because the movie allegedly “fails to meet formal requirements.” 
Throughout Europe, the decision has roused much criticism: The French daily Le Monde and German anti-Semitism researcher Monika Schwarz-Friesel, among others, call it a case of censorship. 
Paying special attention to the denigration of the state of Israel as one of the most prevalent contemporary forms of Jew-hatred, the documentary highlights the activities of NGOs that engage in anti-Semitic Israel bashing while receiving European tax money. In order to contextualize anti-Semitic libel about the Jewish state by contrasting it with the reality on the ground, the producers included footage from Israel and the Palestinian territories. 
That footage, ironically, is what Arte program director Alain Le Diberder, states as the major reason for pulling the plug on the production. 
In a press statement Le Diberder claims that the producers failed to comply with the requirement to deliver a documentary about anti-Semitism in Europe, because they included too much footage from Israel and too little from European countries. 
“This is ludicrous,” says Serap GĂĽler, a member of both the WDR network’s program council as well as the executive committee of German chancellor Angela Merkel’s CDU-party. 
Michaela Engelmeier, a Social-Democratic member of the Bundestag (Germany’s federal parliament), likewise calls Le Diberder’s statement “incomprehensible.”

What’s fascinating, in a morbidly ironic way, is that RT has also featured the story, but they’ve angled it in a different way. They’re focusing on the backlash. “French-German broadcaster faces backlash after ditching anti-Semitism film”    Look how the piece is illustrated.

The comments below the line are rabidly antisemitic, proving a diametrically opposite point to the one intended. 
Backlash? Of a sort, maybe; but not against French-German broadcaster channel Arte. Just unadulterated Jew-bashing mayhem. 

Among the writers and bloggers who are nonplussed by the avalanche of antisemitism unleashed by Labour’s popularity is Marc Goldberg. His piece is enigmatically titled “The Irrelevance of Antisemitism.” ( Harry’s Place)  Of course he didn’t mean he thinks antisemitism is irrelevant. It means he’s staggered by the number of labour voters and supporters to whom it actually is. They deny that antisemitism exists in the Labour Party because "legitimate criticism of Israel is not antisemitic" and accuse the accusers of perpetuating smears.

Were you aware that Jeremy Corbyn wrote to Theresa May in January because he was “concerned that there was a plot against British democracy” ? 

I can’t remember if I knew about it at the time and had forgotten or if it was new to me, but either way it says more about Jeremy Corbyn’s stupidity and spitefulness than it does about hyperbolised theories about Israelis plotting to undermine democracy. 

The plot in question was, of course, al Jazeera’s undercover film that caught a junior member of the Israeli Embassy on camera “plotting” to “take down” Alan Duncan, (which sadly came to nothing.) 

The openness with which antisemitism is being expressed is one thing. The fact that it is based on so much misinformation is something that the BBC has the means to correct, and if they do not do so soon, they will look just as guilty as the next antisemite.

The BBC's 60-year war with Israel

It’s nice that the BBC is covering the 50th anniversary of Israel’s notorious 6-Day war.

17 years ago Jeremy Bowen’s driver Abed was killed by ‘trigger-happy’ young Israeli soldiers who had mistaken their car for the sign of a possible terrorist attack; by a quirk of fate Bowen was filming a ‘piece to camera’ some yards away from the unfortunate Abed patiently waiting for him in the the car and our intrepid reporter lived to tell the tale. He has borne a grudge against Israel ever since. His brush with death left him with survivors’ guilt as well as a deep-seated hostility to Israel. Despite the obligatory grafted-on lip-service to “Israel’s side of the story” his feelings seep into his reporting.

This is where the BBC’s judgement in appointing him their chief Middle East editor comes into question. We’re resigned to hearing events described from the Palestinian perspective by Jeremy Bowen and other here-today-gone-tomorrow BBC journalists who report from the Middle East under his supervision. We know there’s nothing to be done about it. The BBC shares Jeremy Bowen’s outlook and that’s that.

This would be fine if the BBC routinely added one of their famous footnotes to their reports; something like “May contain nuts.”
When Alan Johnson was being taken hostage in Gaza, he pleaded to his captors in a panic-induced outburst of honesty: “But I’m telling your story!”

Now Paul Adams is lecturing us about the Six Day War and I have to ask - by what authority?
Why has Paul Adams been commissioned to write an article called “The Six Day War : Six ways the conflict still matters” on the BBC website? Is he a historian? Did he graduate from Oxbridge with first class hons. specialising in Middle East studies? Did he study history?

Not really. I think he’s an pro immigration BBC correspondent with a left-wing attitude, an English degree and an unapologetically Arabist outlook.  (I Googled)

BBC Watch is able to deconstruct his piece far more knowledgeably than I, but I can make some observations from the perspective of a blogger with a useless fine art degree and an unapologetically pro-Israel outlook.

The slightly florid language with a whiff of menace in the first paragraph is classic BBC. Think Fergal Keane meets a poor man’s Michael Burek. It could almost have been written by Jeremy Bowen.
“For many Israelis, this was a moment of euphoria. Their young state's military prowess had been amply demonstrated. The whole of Jerusalem, and all of Judaism's holiest places, were back under Jewish control for the first time in 2,000 years. Just 22 years after the Holocaust, the Jewish people's future now seemed secure, in their ancestral homeland. This was heady stuff.”
To readers who already see Israel as an expansionist, aggressive and warmongering country, the short phrase: “Back under Jewish control” is loaded with ominous undertones. I’m no authority, but my understanding is that under ‘Jewish control’ (after the 6-day war) people of all faiths visit Israel’s “holiest places”, whereas before the 6-Day war, (under Arab control) only Muslims were allowed - Jews and others were excluded. To omit that small detail is to be economical with the actualitĂ©.

The cavalier: ’both sides have experienced profound division” seems to me to be a throwaway line that compresses a half-truth into the distortion of a whole truth.
My understanding is that the religious minority that holds some sway over the Israeli government bears no comparison to the religiously fuelled turmoil that permanently rages within much of Palestinian society. Added to which, the fact that Hamas and the Palestinian Authority are continually at loggerheads causes massive disruption to everyday life. Failure to pay Gaza’s electricity bill is one consequence of that. However, both Palestinian factions are ultimately committed to the destruction of Israel, each going about the business at their own pace. Paul Adams has:
“the Palestinians have been deeply split for over a decade, between a PLO-dominated Palestinian Authority, willing to negotiate with Israel, and an Islamist militant movement, Hamas, which still says it wants to liberate "all of Palestine”.
“the PA’s willingness to negotiate with Israel “ is stretching it a bit. It’s no secret that Abbas’s negotiators have continually procrastinated and shown little appetite for negotiating with Israel; instead they've invented a series of spurious preconditions before even entertaining the possibility of coming to the table. They’ve painted themselves into a corner with that one and they’re stranded there.

The other side is more up front with their uncompromising plan to liberate all of Palestine from the river to the sea. The Islamist militant movement Hamas are quite clear and open about the fact that they are hell-bent on eradicating Jews, and when Jeremy Corbyn’s followers chant “from the river to the sea”,  make no mistake, that is exactly what they align themselves with.
I digress.
“the Israeli prime minister, Yitzhak Rabin, suffered the same fate as Anwar Sadat: gunned down by a religious zealot” says Adams, using an aberration to draw a false analogy, which is exactly what apologists for lslam do when they wheel out Anders Breivik’s killing spree to deny the specificity of Islamic terrorism the minute someone has the temerity to specify it.
All this would be fine and dandy, if the BBC were honest enough to add one of their special health warnings, for example:
“The author of this article sees things from the Palestinian perspective. Other brands are available.”
BBC Watch is another brand, and is available here

The following sample is BBC Watch's summarising paragraph:
“Like the other recent Six Day War features by Tom Bateman and Jeremy Bowen, this article by Paul Adams is essentially an exercise in advancing a transparent political narrative according to which the modern-day conflict is exclusively rooted in the outcome of those six days in June 1967 – especially the ‘occupation’ and ‘settlements’. And like those other two articles, Adams’ advancement of that narrative does not serve the purpose of enhancing audience understanding of either the root causes of that war, the ones that preceded and followed it or the continued lack of progress in resolving the century-long conflict.”

Saturday, 10 June 2017

Or maybe not!

That said (see the previous post)...

The BBC are clearly more than willing to stick the stiletto into UKIP, when the opportunity arises.....

Later in the same Newsnight special there was a discussion between two anti-Brexit Labour supporters (the ever-dramatic Simon Schama and Kerry Anne Mendoza of The Canary) and Nigel Farage. And Emily (going after the former UKIP leader far more than anyone else) chose to ask Nigel this 'gem' of a question:
When you look to the future now do you think we've become a softer...I mean, UKIP's share of the vote is now, what, 2%? Does that sound to you like a rejection of Nasty Britain or a Britain that didn't like the language of (indecipherable) intolerance? 
And Emily couldn't let it go, as this exchange will show;
Kerry Anne Mendoza: You've got a Labour Party that is reinvigorated, and more importantly a labour movement which is reinvigorated which is actually engaging the young, the old, the gay, the straight, the black, white, and brown, and all the colours in between.
Emily Maitlis (to Nigel Farage): All of kind of inclusivity that UKIP felt uncomfortable with.
That was a gratuitously insulting and deeply biased question from Emily Maitlis, basically saying that UKIP were/are homophobic and racist. 

BBC bias is deeply ingrained. It needs uprooting.