Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Knickers in a twist

It seems to me that the entire blogosphere has cottoned on to the fact that the BBC is biased. The only entity that hasn’t noticed is of course the BBC itself. One might say the BBC is becoming increasingly isolated in this. 

It’s almost embarrassing, like they’ve come out of the washroom with their skirt tucked into their pants.  I say washroom to avoid committing a non-binary  gender offence. Perhaps I shouldn’t have used the word ‘skirt’.

We haven’t heard enough yet about Harvey Weinsteen or ”stine" as in Einstein, because we have also to discuss the ones who ‘knew but didn’t speak out’, rather like the BBC over Jim’llfixit, and we have to listen to endless stories from hashtag ‘me too’. However, if we just hang on a little longer, universal transgenderism will take care of all sexual bullying, organically. It’s only a matter of time.

 I’m thinking of self-expressive ideas to use as my own personal pronoun. You know, instead of ‘her’ and ‘she’. You have to choose your own. I was thinking in terms of vowels and consonants, like in Countdown.  I think, maybe no vowels. Make me sound Polish.

The BBC’s enthusiasm for diversity is coupled with its diktat  against using value-laden terms such as ‘terrorist’ or making discriminatory value judgements; rather, a dread of its staff being caught out making one, which throws up elephantine cognitive dissonance; the inconsistency that dare not speak its name. 

Having embraced cultural Islam, the default BBC position is institutionally hostile, if not to individual Jews, (Apart from Harvey W) then to Israel. But like the lady with the pants, they can’t actually see what has happened till it’s pointed out.

A glimpse into what things could be like - but for the BBC’s attitudinal negativity, was apparent  in this interview on Sky News Australia, posted on Daphne Anson’s blog.  As she frequently attests, ‘down under’, the negative influence of Islam and antisemitism is by no means absent. However. Put to one side those intrusive images of Dame Edna, possums - and the refreshing attitude of these two rather camp presenters is, to coin a phrase, like a breath of fresh air. They interview Melanie Phillips with sympathy, empathy and admiration.   
When would you ever get that on the BBC?

Of course the BBC can’t suppress all those pesky value-laden tweets and slips of the tongue by their employees, and any fule kno that Andrew Neil and Nick Robinson are closet Tories / Nazis, which would explain Andrew Neil’s invitation to address the Holocaust Educational Trust Dinner
The speech was nice, but flawed, as many commenters pointed out. His remarks about Trump, and Islamism  were copybook BBC. Typical curate’s egg, but the good parts were worth their weight in honesty.

There have been several excellent pieces in The Conservative Woman recently, back to Mr Wine-stain again,  but we all know, and have known for years, that Tinseltown is completely bonkers and doesn’t represent real life. I don’t know why everyone’s knickers are in such a twist about it. “Casting Couch” is normal currency isn’t it? Part of the furniture so to say, and has been for ever. 

The really, really excellent piece on The Conservative Woman was by Karen Harradine about UNESCO. That is one you really should read. It may not be quite so interesting to you as the antics of  Mr. Wankstain, but it  is to me.

Talking of TCW, I started reading “How To Write Stylishly” by Margaret Ashworth, which is on their sidebar. Forgetting for a moment that I am not a writer or reporter in all media, I thought it would help. There are lots of instructions, particularly on things never-to-do, and even though I am a bit anal about apostrophes, I felt totally intimidated by the lengthy list of crimes against literacy. Specially the one headed “Banned”. But then I remembered that as a blogger, the rules don’t necessarily apply. So, as I like to use outmoded phrases like ‘tuning in’ for their retro appeal, I will cherry pick. (That’s what we bloggers do) From the bottom of the page, this is what I picked:
terrorist: As we all know, one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter. I don’t see much problem with ‘terrorist’ for anyone who uses violence to cause terror, but if you have a view on the aims of a particular group and are sympathetic to them, better words could be ‘rebel’ or ‘militant’.

 "If you have a view on the aims of a particular group and are sympathetic to them, better words could be ‘rebel’ or ‘militant’."  The BBC woz here!

The BBC’s commemoration of the Balfour declaration continues. “My Father’s Israel”.
 I didn’t tune in. Here’s what (not a very)Happy Goldfish had to say:
“BBC bias: Presented and also produced by his own son, this very one-sided programme avoided saying (and nobody was asked) why there was such opposition to Tazbar.
It failed to point out that Tzabar wanted the West Bank Golan Heights and Sinai to be returned without any peace treaty, and despite the loss of thousands of Israeli lives to attacks launched from those territories.
Tzabar is described only as playful, profound, just a little bit annoying, a star of Ha’aretz, artist, and writer of five popular children’s books. No mention of his Israel Communist Party membership, nor his holocaust comparison.”


Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Open Thread

Here's a new Hillary-Clinton-approved open thread. Thank you in advance from me, Hillary and the team at Women's Hour for any comments you care to submit. Cheers!

When the BBC banned Vera Lynn

Stalin and Suzie Klein

Recommendation time: Tunes for Tyrants: Music and Power with Suzy Klein on BBC Four has been superb. 

It's a sweeping three-part series that looks at the uses and abuses of music by the Nazis and the Soviets, and its uses by their democratic opponents.

It raises some thought-provoking questions about music and morality.

One section from the final episode taught me something that I had absolutely no idea about: that some in authority thought that Vera Lynn and her songs weren't helping the war effort, especially following the loss of Singapore and the set-backs in North Africa in 1942. 

Questions were raised in Parliament to that effect and the BBC, in response, set up the Dance Music Policy Committee to police the Forces' Sweetheart and her sort of music. 

Their ruling was that performances by women singers would be controlled and an "insincere and over-sentimental style" would not be allowed. "No numbers will be accepted for broadcasting which are slushy in sentiment", the BBC said. 

So Vera Lynn's radio show Sincerely Yours got taken off the BBC's airwaves and jolly, upbeat music programmes which emphasised a collective spirit, such as Music While You Work and Workers' Playtime, became the order of the day instead. 

That policy failed, however, as Vera was far too popular and struck back in 1943 with a film called We'll Meet Again. whose roaring success convinced the authorities that she was actually a clear morale-booster after all and, in fact, just the ticket for civilians and soldiers alike. 

Weirder still, the Nazis created their own answer to Vera Lynn, Zarah Leander - except that (being Nazis) she was far from 'the girl next door' type. She was 'the statuesque Teutonic goddess next door' type instead.

Zarah Leander and the least-angelic angels ever

In the smash film The Great Love her sentimental songs wowed the German public, and she sang surrounded by angels who were SS guards in drag (with the cameras keeping them at a considerable distance).

Well, fancy that!

Norman Smith, sadly

Our Norm

This lunchtime's BBC One News at One featured the following exchange, with the BBC's assistant political editor Norman Smith letting slip a word he ought not to have let slip:
Sophie Raworth: Let's talk to Norman Smith, who is in Westminster. Well, we've got the OECD, the international think-tank, saying that a second referendum would have a positive, a significant effect on the UK economy if it reversed Brexit. That's not a realistic option though, is it?  
Norman Smith [shaking head]: Sadly not now. Mr Hammond has already said this lunchtime it's not happening and, to be honest, even the most optimistic of Remainer would probably concede it's about as likely as the Loch Ness Monster putting in a surprise appearance. At least for now. 
'Sadly', eh, Norman?

Monday, 16 October 2017

Weather report

Andy Marr's Thought for the Day

Here's another memorable quote from Andrew Marr to add to the collection, delivered on this morning's Start the Week. Andy was talking about the potential benefits of a Donald Trump-Kim Jong-un meeting:
However bizarre the thought of two fat, angry men with strange haircuts sitting in the same room together and trying to talk through translators - and this is a very, very strange thought - it's clearly better than the alternative.

Opinions on the Austrian election

In the News

Sometimes the quality of BBC reporting raises your eyebrows. Being up early this morning, I was watching BBC World News's pre-breakfast paper review and heard BBC business reporter Sally Bundock describe Susanne Thier, the girlfriend on the incoming Austrian chancellor Sebastian Kurz, as "his wife". Not a major error, of course, and I wouldn't have commented on it had Sally not gone on to interject her own opinions into the following discussion (and she wasn't the only one). Under discussion was the Austrian election result with guest Priya Lakhani of Century Tech.
Priya Lakhani: It is incredible. He [Sebastian Kurz] doesn't have enough of the votes to lead Austria by himself so he's looking to form a coalition, and politics in Austria has obviously shifted now to the right. There's been a rise...
Tim Willcox: Significantly so.
Priya Lakhani: Significantly to the right, yes, with the rise of this sort of anti-establishment, anti-immigration party, and so what Sebastian Kurz is looking at is to form a coalition with the Freedom Party...
Sally Bundock: Which is a real worry because they're a far-right party. 
Priya Lakhani: Absolutely. They're very anti-Islam. I think it's mentioned all over the papers. Quotes here about are anti-Islam...talking about fascism and Islam and Muslim symbols, and it is really worrying, and there's definitely a rise in these parties. So it will be interesting to see with the coalition and how it's formed and the type of weight that's given to the Freedom Party. 
Tim Willcox: A very similar campaign in tactics to what Donald Trump did and, as you mentioned, Macron as well. "Austria first" for example...Trump, you know, "America first"...and appealing to those instincts in a very populist way. Too much migration. 
Priya Lakhani: Absolutely. Absolutely. There has been a real focus on the country, who you are and what we should be doing for you, absolutely. And I think the problem is if that's a real precedent at to elections going forward and how the world really responds to this, so...

Sunday, 15 October 2017

The BBC and social conservatism?

Here's a little something from Rod Liddle's latest Sunday Times column. (I obviously can't vouch for how true it is): 
I often get asked by broadcasters to put a socially conservative view. When the BBC needs someone to advance these opinions, the producers refer to it as “dial-a-c***”.

Showing some bias?

Mark Mardell's preview of The World This Weekend on this morning's Broadcasting House began like this:
Well, as the rest of the West shows some backbone and stands up to President Trump after his Iran speech we'll be talking to the man who actually led the British negotiating team about what next and we'll be looking at reports from Washington that the President is unravelling. 
That phrase "shows some backbone" isn't exactly a neutral one, is it? It makes it sound as if Mark Mardell is praising 'the rest of the West' for standing up to President Trump. 

I was going to leave my question there as an 'Unanswered Question' but decided to answer it anyhow because, also during this preview, Mark Mardell told Paddy that he'd never heard of the American composer Charles Ives.

More recommended reading

There's a very interesting post at Biased BBC from VX which questions the impartiality of the man responsible for those hate-crime figures which the BBC cites so often in connection to the Brexit vote. 

It's well-sourced and worth a close read.

It's to be presumed that the BBC's home affairs/crime reporters are familiar with Superintendent Paul Giannasi. Should they be taking his figures on trust?

A Thank You Open Thread

A thumbs-up from Eric too

Thank you to all of you who have kept commenting during our Rip van Winkle tribute act these past couple of weeks or so. Much appreciated.

P.S. Time for a bit of celebrity name-dropping.

On the Wolverhampton to Stockport leg of my train journey home yesterday I had Radio 4 presenter Michael Rosen sitting across the aisle from me. It was nice to see that his Trotskyite principles didn't prevent him from opting to travel first-class with me instead of showing solidarity with the downtrodden proletarians in standard class.

It was the first time I've travelled first-class on a train. You get free cups of tea, fruitcake and crisps and a bit more leg room. If you're lucky you might also get a free breakfast bun. (We weren't, as the trolley service took two and a hour hours to get to us and it wasn't on offer by that stage. Mustn't grumble though.)

I wonder which Radio 4 presenter will be joining me next time? My money's on Laurie Taylor. 

Saturday, 14 October 2017


A BBC radio programme I particularly enjoy is Radio 3's Free Thinking.

It's like a higher-quality version of Radio 4's Start the Week, and it's usually on for five nights a week. Its presenters are excellent and the range of topics is wide. It goes pleasingly deep too. And it's surprisingly broad-minded too on matters political.

Catching up with the more promising-looking editions of last week's offerings I came across an interview with Ronan Bennett, the writer of a new, three-part, prime-time BBC One historical drama about the Gunpowder Plot.

My ears pricked up as he talked about his intentions and reading the BBC's mission statement about the series confirms those intentions. 

Yes, this high-profile drama (which the Telegraph's Tim Stanley says is "edge-of-the-seat" stuff) will be about "showing the consequences of what can happen when a religious minority is persecuted". And it will have a "contemporary resonance”. 

The Catholic would-terrorists of 1605 will be cast as sympathetic human beings who had valid reasons to feel anger against the "relentlessly repressive" state, though there would be plenty of nuance and their violent intentions won't (it appears) be condoned.

Presenter Rana Mitter pointed out that James I began as a good deal less repressive towards Catholics than Elizabeth I, but Ronan was sticking to his guns (so to speak) and was clearly not allowing facts to get in the way of a good plot (so to speak). 

Rana also drew out of Ronan Bennett what those "contemporary resonances" would be. They would be (a) to suggest to English Brexit voters that they take a good long look back at history and realise that English nationalism isn't a good thing and (b) that Muslims today are in a similar situation to Catholics in Jacobean England and that the state shouldn't be repressive towards them.

Why do BBC dramas have to always be like this, pushing messages all the time (and almost always the same kind of messages to boot)?

Rana reminded us of Ronan's controversial past and asked if it led him to sympathise with the would-be terrorists of 1605. (That's why I like Free Thinking. It doesn't give its guests a free ride).

Now Rana said that, yes, the series does have plenty of nuance and Ronan said that he wasn't trying to be propagandist. So we'll have to see.

Alas I remember Ronan Bennett's last high-profile BBC drama - a much-promoted radio play for Radio 4 about the migrant crisis called 'Our Sea'. I wrote about it at the time, calling it "agitprop" and "shocking bias from the BBC".

If it's anything like that then the anti-Brexit, be-nice-to-the-Muslims stuff will be laid on with a Spanish Armada-sized trowel.

I do hope not (but I will not be holding my breath).

We have to talk about Iran

Times lead story

If British intelligence claimed that Russia had launched a cyber attack on the UK's parliament I suspect that it would be a lead story on the BBC, with much fulmination from studio guests. Today both the Times and the Guardian are reporting (after independently verifying the story) British intelligence's claims that Iran launched a cyber attack on the UK's parliament over the summer, hacking the emails of dozens of MPs (an event that was originally blamed on Russia), and yet - despite other media outlets also taking up the story - it looks as if the BBC is no rush to report it. The BBC reported on the cyber attack at the time. Why not follow it up now?

Update (15/10): And, yes, the BBC did eventually get round to reporting this too, sometime around 6 o'clock yesterday evening

Goodbye James Harding

What is there to say about the imminent departure of James Harding as BBC Head of News? Well, I've got nothing to say, so I'll refer you on to News-watch's David Keighley who provides a short audit of Mr Harding's 'achievements'

Apparently the names most likely to replace him are all BBC insiders. They include: Jonathan Munro, Gavin Allen, Fran Unsworth, Jay Hunt, Peter Barron, Ian Katz and Amol Rajan.


It is striking how some stories get dropped like stones, for whatever reason. The third story on the Sky News website this morning is an update on yesterday's story of the release of a Canadian/American family from captivity at the hands of Taliban allies in Afghanistan. On arriving in Toronto, the father has now claimed that the Islamist faction raped his wife and murdered his baby girl. The BBC News website, however, has no updates on this story, and yesterday's original BBC report is now only to be found low down on the Asia page. Curious.

Update: The story is now on the BBC News home page.
Further update: It's now the lead story for the BBC.