Wednesday, 16 August 2017


Goodness me. What is going on?  

Is this the end of the story


Sunday, 13 August 2017

Open Thread

This isn't how I remember Tom and Jerry:
In the meantime, please post any thoughts about BBC bias below as usual. And thank you.


I read a tweet last night:

Well yes. Here's something I saw cited at B-BBC:

I assumed the B-BBC link would take me to a blog-post by someone like the ever-righteous Katty Kay or the ever-sarcastic Anthony Zurcher - BBC journalists who appear to have carte blanche to be as opinionated as they like (for some reason) despite that whole 'BBC impartiality' thing - but no, the link took me to a bog-standard, byline-free BBC report instead.

So even bog-standard, byline-free BBC reports about President Trump now read as if they are blog posts by opinionated BBC journalists.

(Ed - Shock horror! As if that's really something new!)

Laura Bicker

Those self-same BBC types have been going into a frenzied overdrive against Donald Trump after what the BBC's Laura Bicker (on BBC One's main news bulletin) called his "failure" to denounce white supremacists for yesterday's violence in Charlottesville. 

I happen to agree with Laura there. I think it was a "failure" too.

That said, I'm entitled to express my opinions. I'm not a supposedly impartial BBC journalist. She is.

Yes, President Trump should have specifically slagged off the neo-Nazis, whilst acknowledging that, yes, the violence did initially come in roughly equal amounts from both sides until the neo-Nazi rammed his car into a crowd of protesters from the other side, killing a woman and injuring many more, of course - something which changed that equation considerably.

Slagging off people who bellow Nazi slogans ("Blood and soil"), give Nazi salutes (and yes they did give Nazi salutes!), spew antisemitic chants, march with torches, and tell black women to their face to 'go home' (complete with swear words), etc, is something a democrat ought to be happy to do - indeed consider it their duty to do (whilst simultaneously granting their right to free speech).


Back to the BBC though...

I'd challenge anyone who wishes to be considered fair-minded or objective to read any of the following Twitter feeds and then say that these BBC journalists are tweeting and re-tweeting as neutral, disinterested, purely objective reporters: Laura Bicker, Anthony Zurcher, Nick Bryant, Jon Sopel, Nick Robinson, Hugh Sykes, and Katty Kay.

Each and every one of them expressed (or 're-expressed') strong opinions galore there, and all of them said (or 're-expressed) pretty much the same things. They've been anything but impartial on Twitter.

Is this BBC groupthink in action? Of course, but shouldn't the BBC, which ought to promote democracy, be taking sides against neo-Nazis? Isn't it their duty to promote and protect democracy at the expense of totalitarians of all shades? So isn't this 'good' BBC groupthink?

Yes, of course, the hardcore 'antifa' types are deeply violent and have strong anti-democratic strains too, and it's significant (and predictable) that their violence, despite being much more pervasive, isn't dwelt on by the BBC anywhere near as much...

...but still Donald Trump should have distanced himself from the neo-Nazis - and questioning why he appeared to go all 'Jeremy Corbyn' by criticising violence from "all sides" (quite right actually) without adding that he personally abhors white supremacists (and any other shade of modern-day Nazi) and wants nothing to do with them, is surely appropriate questioning, isn't it?

Well yes, if it doesn't go beyond questioning into outright editorialising.

How fine a line is that?

Heather Heyer

As I wrote earlier, until a white supremacist terrorist, aping Europe's Muslim terrorists, repeatedly rammed his car into a crowd of protesters, killing a woman (Heather Heyer) and injuring many others, the equation of violence at yesterday's 'alt-right' rally in Charlottesville appears to have been fairly evenly spread between the fascists and the anti-fascists - both sides brawling, and clubbing each other, and chucking pepper spray.

A lot of the BBC's early reporting, from what I saw of it, acknowledged that in passing.

Only later did reports like Joel Gunter's begin appearing on the BBC website, painting a different picture of largely one-sided violence (from the violent far-right against peaceful anti-fascist protesters who, according to Joel, only threw bottles and chucked pepper spray).

And then came the terrorist attack from James Fields Jr.

Joel was a candle in the wind. By this evening any sense that the 'antifa' crowd had any violent intentions has vanished - if the reporting I'm seeing on the BBC News Channel is anything to go by. And it was all Democrats (not that the BBC report itself declared any of them as such):
Newsreader: One of the organisers of Saturday's far-right rally in the U.S. city of Charlottesville that resulted in a woman being killed by a car has been forced to abandon a media briefing following protests. Meanwhile the White House defended President Trump after it was claimed he didn't go far enough in condemning violence by white supremacists. Our North America correspondent. Laura Bicker reports.
Laura Bicker: After a violent day of division, Charlottesville has come together to pray, to show that this city condemns the hate brought here by neo-Nazis and white supremacists. The Virginia governor went from row to row, hugging worshippers in this Baptist church. He promised to keep politics out of the pulpit, but there is a message he felt he had to give:
Terry McAuliffe, Governor of Virginia (Democrat): It is about politics in that the political rhetoric in this country today is breeding bigotry.
Laura Bicker: The streets here simmered with tension yesterday before finally erupting into violence, as white supremacists gathered for a rally. The group, which included members of the Klu Klux Klan, said they wanted to take America back. Counter-protesters and anti-racism activists challenged them. Police tried to disperse the crowd but this day was not to end peacefully. A car, at speed, rammed into protesters. Shocked witnesses captured the aftermath. The crash killed 32-year-old Heather Heyer, who'd fought racism all her adult life. Many others are still being treated in hospital. Those who captured the scene on camera said they were not shocked the day ended in tragedy. The police have charged a 20-year-old James Alex Fields Junior with second-degree murder.
Brennan Gilmore (former Democrat aide): The Nazis who came to town yesterday clearly had the intent of causing violence. You don't come to town with shields and helmets and weapons and have a militia with automatic or semiautomatic weapons around their shoulders if you are here to peacefully express an opinion.
Laura BickerOthers, who have lived here all their lives, say the scenes do not represent Charlottesville, and they want politicians to challenge those responsible.
Dr. Wes Bellamy, Charlottesville deputy mayor (Democrat): It is important to call these people what they are - white supremacists. I don't understand why that is so difficult, that is what they are. They're not hiding this behind a statue, they didn't come here because of a statue, they came here because just as David Duke said yesterday, they came here to fulfil the promise of President Trump and take their country back.
Laura Bicker: This city did not want bigotry on its streets. Its people now want to remember those who died trying to challenge it and to keep the peace. Laura Bicker, BBC News.

(Is this a coherent post? Answers on a postcard to the comments thread below.)

A word from Anne Marie Waters's would-be stylist

The BBC is making a fuss about Anne Marie Waters being selected as a potential UKIP leader. To be fair, so are several other channels. 
In case you haven’t heard of her, she’s the Islamophobic Irish lesbian who once said Islam is evil. How very dare she say such an audacious thing. 
Anne Marie joins Tommy Robinson as one of the MSM’s pantomime hate-figures and just as Robinson is forever tied to the discredited EDL, AMW will always be inextricably linked to the one particular ‘stranded soundbite’ of a millstone. 

There is of course much more than that to AMW’s opposition to Islam, and the way she is currently being presented by the media says more about them than about her.  I’ve never voted UKIP by the way, principally (amongst other reasons) because it’s so amateurish. But then, which party isn’t at the moment. 

There are ten other (may I say obscure) candidates of whom no-one has ever heard. The exception is Peter Whittle who’s supposed to be the strong favourite to win, but if I may opine on the matter, I don’t think he has the presence to lead a party. He’s a nice man, but no.

For that reason alone Anne Marie Waters might stand a chance of making UKIP great again. With a bit of work, UKIP could be the anti-Islam Party as well as the party that exists to keep a watchful eye on Brexit.

Mike Hookem strongly disagrees with Anne Marie Waters

MEP Mike Hookem - (yes, the very same Hookem who lived up to his name by flooring former UKIP leadership contender Stephen Woolfe and hospitalising him; whereupon he (Woolfe) withdrew, not only from the leadership contest but from UKIP itself)  - Hookem has resigned in a self-sacrificial gesture of protest. (Although, won't all enraged UK MEPs  be out of a job soon?)

The BBC tells us “Former leader Nigel Farage has warned that UKIP will be "finished" if it becomes an anti-Islam party.” To me, UKIP looks just as “finished” if it doesn’t.

The media is making such a big deal out of this, partly because it’s the silly season and, apart from imminent nuclear armageddon, there’s not much going on. AMW’s eligibility to stand hardly seems uniquely controversial, given that Paul Nuttall stood on a platform of a ‘burka ban’, a policy that seems like more of a provocation than a grown-up, properly thought-through political strategy. I’d strongly advise AMW to drop that one; it’s too confrontational, too soon.  

Googling from the starting point that Anne Marie was a one-time prospective Labour candidate - and a lot of Waters have crossed that bridge since then - I came across Socialist Unity website circa 2013. Andy Newman’s article “Anne Marie Waters - the worst possible potential Labour PPC” indicates that he wasn’t too keen on the idea.  Do have a butchers.
Looking at the hard left’s impassioned defence of all things Islamic with one’s retrospective specs on, one can’t help wondering if those sycophantic, philo-Islamic sentiments are wearing at all thin with those particular authors.  Having witnessed terrorism, mass Muslim immigration, ISIS, Syria, grooming gangs and all the rest of it, I’d hope their attitude towards the matter is somewhat more thoughtful now.  At any rate, as trends go, I imagine an older and wiser general public is presently slightly more inclined to sympathise with AMW than with the Socialist Unity circa 2013. 

Here’s a theory. When many people voted ‘Leave’, Islam was very much at the back of their minds. It was forcibly driven back there for fear of being branded racist. “Suppress those bad thoughts!”
The acceptable, non-racist  justification for opposing free movement and mass immigration was “Numbers”.  “No room! We’re full! Eastern European immigrants, Polish plumbers, Bulgarian fruit pickers. They’re taking our  jobs/ housing /schools /hospitals.” But underlying all this rationalising was the (verboten ) fear of creeping Islamification.

In truth, the driving force behind the victory for “Leave’ was the awareness that continued membership of the EU meant mass Muslim migration was ‘coming your way’. Fear of non-Muslim EU immigration was the pretext. Displacement on a grand scale.

How about that, then? Feel free to disagree, as Craig is apt to say.

Maybe we’re not yet ready for an openly anti-Islam UKIP, but maybe one day we’ll have to be. 
Big smile

If I were advising AMW ( I don’t know why she hasn’t asked me yet) I’d say if you are serious about your leadership bid, you need to consider your image. If other politicians have to do so, then so should you. Rather than present yourself as an “I don’t care what I look like” lesbian, you might take a leaf out of the Ruth Davidson book. Get a decent haircut, a hint of lipstick and a tailored jacket. You can be smart and still be butch. Work on that troubled look. Big smile. 
Don’t think of Jeremy Corbyn as a sartorial role model. Even he has been known to dress to impress.
There. That’s my advice. Sexist and old fashioned, that’s me. 

Friday, 11 August 2017

When Jacob met James

News of James Chapman’s proposed new party, imaginatively called the Democrats, has been floating around for a day or so, but it was this morning’s performance on the Today Programme which set the www. buzzing. Guido has the sound clip. The BBC saw fit to introduce its customary balance by inviting the unflappable Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg into the studio as well.

I suspect listeners were more impressed by the ferocity of Mr. Chapman's interruptions and his somewhat hysterical delivery than by his message, which was roughly that:

  • He has several supporters or sympathisers including 7 ministers, including 2 cabinet members.
  • The Tory brand is damaged and can never again be elected. 
  • A Hard Brexit will make Black Wednesday look like a picnic. 
  • 60% of the Tory Party are/were for Remain.
  • The gap in the centre leaves people politically homeless.
  • We were sold a pack of lies during the referendum campaign.
  • Where is the £350?
  • Brexit is undeliverable and will be disastrous to the economy.
  • Jacob Rees-Mogg has captured my party.

Jacob Rees-Mogg managed:

  • The democratic process.
  • Undermining the democratic process.
  • The will of the people.

Anyway, one of the most un self-aware remarks one is likely to ever hear was John Humphrys saying indignantly  “Let him finish his sentence!”

Thursday, 10 August 2017

Misogyny: Pakistani style

Newcastle Grooming Gang

Is Sarah Champion as opportunistic as she looks? It seems like only yesterday that we were looking at the video of Ms Champion in her constituency (Rotherham) giving an impassioned speech to some sort of committee, mainly consisting of Pakistani gentlemen. A council meeting or something. Ms Champion was demanding that Israel must immediately stop slaughtering Palestinian children. Under the circumstances it seemed quite odd that she was sitting at the head of the table with a disconcerting amount of bare flesh on show. I mean, tut tut. A little modesty, surely.  
Condemning Israel must have seemed the most  appropriate way to serve the interests of her constituents at that time.

When the Pakistani grooming cases were coming to light, Rotherham in particular having occurred under her nose apparently without her noticing, Ms Champion switched her attention from the children of Gaza to the children in her own constituency and became the people’s Champion, with the welfare of children 'closer to home' as her area of special interest.

On the Today programme, having courageously announced that the latest scandal concerned mainly Pakistani men, she thought it was time someone did a study to find out what is going on. Are these cultural issues? Why are we not commissioning research to see what’s going on?

“Do we need the research?” asked Humph. “We know what’s going on.”

“We don’t know why it’s going on though” countered Ms. Champion as if she hadn’t seen any of the headlines that screamed: “ NEWCASTLE GROOMING GANG ‘White women are good only for people like me to use as trash’ "

Of course the BBC has been playing its usual tricks with this story, trying to make the main issue about the police using a convicted child abuser and rapist as an informer, and paying him a tidy sum for doing so.  I’d say it’s pretty obvious to (almost) everyone but the BBC that in this particular case the end (very probably) justified the means. (I don't want to stick my neck out here because I don't know all the facts) but this unfortunate side issue shouldn't be allowed to eclipse the main story.

The only thing ‘new’ is the fact that people are naming ‘Pakistani’ rather than Asian. This might seem like progress, were it not for the fact that people are reminding each other that some of the infamous 17 were from countries other than Pakistan. No-one has so far mentioned anything else that the men might have in common.

Poor Ms Champion is losing sleep over it. “because I know every time I talk about it the level of Islamophobia increases.” Hmm. Since no-one has specifically mentioned the religion of peace, why should that be?

Another Sara (without the H) was interviewed towards the end of the Today programme. Speaking to John Humphrys were the real life heroine of BBC one’s “Three Girls” dramatisation of the Rochdale sex abuse case, (played in the drama by Maxine Peake) health worker Sara Rowbottom, and Nazmin Akhtar, vice chair of the Muslim Women’s Expert (.....when it’s at home.) 

Rochdale Grooming Gang

The one common factor, opined the latter, is that the perpetrators are all men, targeting women. This is about misogyny, and nothing to do with you know what.

You absolutely couldn’t make it up.

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

The Telegraph crumbles

We’ve long been aware that the Telegraph no longer merits its affectionate nickname 'Torygraph' since it turned sharp left. These days it’s virtually a Guardigraph.

Senior Telegraph reporter Andrew Gilligan has cross-posted one of his own blog articles on Harry’s Place, complete with all the details, proper reporter style. 

It’s a sad and worrying tale about the Telegraph’s weak response to aggressive ‘anti-Prevent’ activists, i.e., Islamists who oppose the government’s Prevent strategy.

The BBC is also involved. It aired a story about “Muslims being picked on” and falsely presented an activist in the ‘anti-Prevent Strategy’ group as an ‘ordinary’ parent. 

The Telegraph has adopted a gutless policy of total capitulation to vexatious games played by aggressive anti-government Islamists and has paid out considerable sums in settlement rather than fight. The total surrender of the Torygraph.

A woman scorned

I was in the mood for Poldark and Diana on Sunday evening so I watched Diana on Channel 4 till 9pm,  then switched over to catch Poldark on BBC 1 and finally caught up with the last part of Diana on Channel 4+1.  A kind of sandwich, courtesy of “+1”.

This could have been confusing as the plots were similar, being primarily about women whose husbands loved another. Eventually both Diana and Demelza emerged with glory as they were fundamentally strong women. It could easily be forgotten that one has sadly died and the other was fictional.

The Diana film got a pasting in the Times. Andrew Billen said it was  pretentious and trashy. 
But isn’t everything these days? It was a little ‘long drawn out’, but entertaining, if mainly for its archive footage of Diana. I don’t imagine it will increase the popularity of the future monarch and his good wife, but that will soon blow over. The best thing about the film was that it didn’t feature (or even mention) Paul Burrell.

Poldark got good reviews in the Times, and according to their stats, it won the ratings war. It’s fundamentally a strip cartoon with more emphasis on the ‘fun’ than the ‘mental’ and it has a couple of real bad baddies, particularly George, who is as blatantly evil than anyone in EastEnders.
As it’s a strip-cartoon it seems churlish to complain when certain fictional characters behave inconsistently, but surely George wouldn’t capitulate so easily, let alone be reduced to a quivering jelly at Elizabeth’s new-found defiance, when he had been so cruel and cold for the last few episodes? And surely Elizabeth wouldn’t swear a porky pie on the actual bible? 

There is to be another series. No doubt the BBC will squeeze it dry, as is their wont. They seem determined to do that with everything that proves a hit. They’ll probably introduce the obligatory quota of BAME and religiously diverse characters, just to finish it off completely.

Meanwhile, they could exploit the revival of Princess Diana themed entertainment by dramatising the latest conspiracy theory concerning mysterious circumstances surrounding her “murder“. This talk, by a far-right group named “Keep Talking” was to have been held tonight (I think) in Holborn, but the event has been stopped by police. 
“The Daily Mail reported that at a recent Keep Taking event had seen Holocaust denier Nick Kollerstrom  booked to speak, but that event was postponed after complaints to the council. 
Mr Kollerstrom was stripped of his research fellowship at University College London (UCL) after writing an article entitled The Auschwitz Gas Chamber Illusion for a known Holocaust denial website in 2007. 
A regular attendee of previous events put on by the group was James Thring who has links to former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke.  
Another earlier Keep Talking event was addressed by Piers Corbyn, the climate change-denying brother of the Labour Party leader. 
In a statement at the time, Mr Fantom said that the presence of the Labour leader's brother at the meeting was a "set up by the press in order to smear his brother", and that the "distortion and manipulation" was coming from "the Israel lobby”.

Can you picture that Diana-themed tale, fictionalised and dramatised by the BBC in strip-cartoon fashion, hopefully not set in Cornwall,  but with a full complement of baddies and very, very baddies.