Easy money, expensive words

The BBC have given £45,000 to the head of the Muslim Council of Britain, Muhammad Abdul Bari, to settle a legal case brought by him against the BBC for comments made by Charles Moore on Question Time in March. Charles Moore accused the MCB “leadership” of failing to condemn attacks on British soldiers, thereby implicitly condoning them, and this was deemed libellous of Mr Bari.

I read Cranmer’s response to it, and it simply reinforced my sense that a wrong had been done. The big question seems to be why the BBC so tamely ponied up telly-taxpayer’s money and imply that even mild indirect criticism of Islam is not within the law in the UK. I understand from Cranmer’s comments that Mr Moore is seeking legal advice of his own. The BBC don’t mention him in their own report, possibly mindful of such escalation, but it seems to me this is an attack on the mildest kind of free speech, and the BBC are binding themselves to being wary of who they allow to speak on the BBC. We often express dismay at the liberal-leftist consensus which the BBC supports by stacking their panels with centre-leftists; here the BBC are accepting legal reinforcement of their natural instincts; perhaps it’s no wonder they surrender so meekly to the heap big chief of the MCB.

Needless to say, the libel lawyers in this case were Carter-Ruck, tyrants of the UK libel laws renowned for squeezing money out of the flimsiest cases of offence and reputational damage. What a bunch of evil shysters they are.

Splash!

That’s the sound of the BBC going way overboard in covering what they seem to think is a big scandal of Dick Cheney’s doing- some secret “plan” concocted with the CIA without Senate knowledge. Last week it was phone-tapping of public figures in the UK by the News of the World, this week Dick Dastardly and his Mutley CIA. Well just as last week’s soft scoop has turned into a damp squib, so will this one, probably. The thing that gets me about this “plan” is that as the BBC admit, “even now its nature is not known”. Wouldn’t it be better to wait until it was before screaming blue murder? Especially as this is midway through a partisan spat focussing on whether House Speaker Pelosi lied about briefings from the CIA. I’m not sure if the BBC is trying to influence anybody (as if, eh?), but this storm in a teacup strongly suggests to me that Aunty’s bias is showing.

The legal approach

Charles Moore writes about his decision not to pay the licence fee. He’s taken every precaution- a donation to charity of the sum in question; an equivalent sum set aside in case the BBC accept his case that they are in breach of their Charter, and amend accordingly.

Of course I think he’s right that the BBC are in breach, but more precisely I think the concept of a Charter such as the BBC have (and updated just a couple of years ago) an absurdity, a political charade, a conceit played upon the conscience of the public. Moore grounds his case on the failure to remove Jonathan Ross from his post following RossyBrandSachsgate. Fair enough, I would say, yet as Moore also points out, there are many reasons to wish not to pay the BBC for the use of your television. John Kelly for example has been summoned to court to answer for his non-payment, and grounds his case on the BBC’s lack of balance in coverage of the EU.

Obviously we should watch both cases carefully. I note that the BBC renewed their charter a couple of years ago. In the new Charter I believe there is no reference to impartiality, which was one of the Labour Government’s friendly touches for the BBC; removing the impartiality clause really left sites like this one in a changed situation. Therefore John Kelly may have a problem since the BBC’s partiality is central to his complaint. Instead, the Charter talks of the BBC’s “public purposes”, which are,

(a)sustaining citizenship and civil society;(b)promoting education and learning;(c)stimulating creativity and cultural excellence;(d)representing the UK, its nations, regions and communities; (e)bringing the UK to the world and the world to the UK; (plus the promotion of digital telly)

Charles Moore is evidently basing his prospective case on the failure in “sustaining citizenship and civil society” exampled by the Ross-Brand-Sachs scandal. I think it’s a good idea to keep this little bunch of purposes in mind in all our considerations of the BBC. I have to say the new Charter was a rotten document from the beginning. The bit I quote is the most substantive part of it concerning the BBC’s responsibilities, yet where does “news” fit in to the above list? Is is “education”? Or “citizenship”? It’s hard to see where to fit the BBC’s coverage of “Global Warming” into this. Bringing the world to the UK and the UK to the world is a nice soundbyte, but how does it differentiate between a tourist slot for Brazil and a report on Israel?

If I was arguing the case for either Mr Kelly or Mr Moore I would want to point out that the current Charter is utterly inadequate as a moral foundation for a compulsory tax on British-based TV owners. Then I would argue that its education is false, its citizenship flawed, its culture impoverished and its mission in the world ill-conceived and superfluous. After ten minutes of that, I would apologise for going on (as I am now, in fact), and say that the amount of rational criticism that one can make of the foundation of the BBC is evidence of the injustice by which it is sustained. The BBC’s ring-fenced status outside the democratic ebb and flow is entirely unjustified. The only comfort from the terrible inadequacy of the BBC’s charter is that it arose from the friendship between the BBC and an overwhelming Labour majority in Parliament. Therefore logically if the majority is overturned, so can be the BBC Charter, and the institution itself.

A devotion to education

Over at Old Holborn Paul Weston has a blog about the BBC and their GCSE “religious studies” materials. Recommended reading:

Although the BBC has a reputation for bias, dishonesty and the promotion of cretinous infantile ideologies designed to destroy civilised society, they appear to have surpassed themselves…

Left, Left, Left

Listening to this BBC Today segment concerning the positon of Trident, I was reminded how much the BBC wallow in debates among their ideological confreres (they are enjoying it while they still can). In this segment, the BBC presented the views of George Robertson and various leftist thinkers (the presenter calls it a “phenomenal list”), Robert Peston (the left-oriented BBC commentator), and the Labour Government minister Bill Rammell. Rammell defends the Gvt’s position in persisting with Trident by saying that Britain is at the forefront of nuclear disarmament- pointing to cutbacks in the arsenal. He does this because his critics are coming from the CND legacy left. The BBC offers no counterbalancing voice, and indeed the presenter barbs caustically “can we afford it?”- something I don’t recall hearing concerning any other item of public expenditure ever from the BBC. Biased.

Changing the subject

Douglas Carswell MP was listening to the BBC talk about their expenses today…

“Listening to Radio 4 news item on BBC executives’ expenses.

They spivishly turn it into a feature on social attitudes to money. They’ve even got some moocher “expert” attacking Thatcherism. That’s right; when in doubt over how you’re spending the license fee, blame Maggie.

I imagine there a few MPs who’d like the BBC to have turned news of their expenses into a feature on attitudes to money and Thatcherism.”

Ah, to be the watchman, eh? But who will watch him?

English Lawns

I hope DB doesn’t mind, but his comments on the latest Mark Easton drivel bear putting up here. I know that not a few other comments could be similarly worthy. Pot luck really, but as I steer clear of reading Easton for the very smug, ignorant, conformist liberalism which DB notes, it seems fair’s fair to highlight it.


With US First Lady Michelle Obama ploughing the White House lawn to plant organic vegetables, with climate change making lawn maintenance more problematic in Britain, with the fashion for the natural and with a global economic downturn, it may be that what was once a status-symbol is now a little bit naff.
The pampered lawn looks increasingly like an unsustainable relic from an era of excess.

Gratuitous mention of the Obamas – check. Climate change reference – check. Bit of leftie ideology – check. And all in the space of two sentences about English lawns. Good going, Mark. Of course, to be a perfect encapsulation of BBC journalism you needed a couple more items:


The pampered lawn looks increasingly like an unsustainable relic from an era of excess, a throwback to the dark days of George W. Bush, and as out of place in the landscape as a partition barrier in Israel.

The last points are just a little extrapolation ;-), btw.

Credibility Gap

The BBC and the Government are constantly on the look out for good news about the economy, while bad news is given the heave ho. For the BBC, this is big news, this, not so much. Then you have fatuous features like this one.

My point is that it doesn’t do any good to demean journalism for political purposes. Gordon Brown doesn’t do himself any good pretending that his actions aren’t dictated by his need to avoid responsibility for past mistakes. He’ll be far better off when he follows Susan to the Priory. The BBC does no good pretending that the crash isn’t a crash but merely a hiccup in domestic demand which is being overcome pronto. It’ll be far better off when it’s being looked after by someone who understands the media in society, like Simon Cowell. Denial is the way to turn a crisis into a greek drama.

All about Gordon

I do recommend the BBC’s reporting on Gordon Brown’s statement of angst. It’s a merciful sight shorter than the Guardian’s version.

Quite why we need to be subjected to Gordon’s musings on his public persona I don’t understand. There seems to be some suggestion that Gordon deserves a right of reply against his critics. It’s as if the BBC thinks that all the British public has been viewing is the coverage of one Guido Fawkes Esq. It’s really a terrible situation. The BBC and Guardian seem to think Gordon’s had a hard press. In fact, he’s had a risibly easy one. The BBC and Guardian seem to think that the scrutiny of his personality has been too intense. In fact, Gordon has been waging personality politics and character assassination cabinet throughout his unelected tenure- unimpeded until the aforementioned Fawkes exploded a bomblet under Damian McBride.

Even the article which they are now using to promote Gordon’s version of events only draws upon Labour sympathisers as sources. Tony Wright (Labour) MP is given the final word, saying that “any PM” who had to preside over Britain through the economic crisis would be unpopular. I strongly disagree- there are many examples of crisis hit countries with popular PMs- but where is the dissenting voice against the Brownian emotional appeal? I think Gordon is extraordinarily lucky that no major media outlet is linking up the dots between the 40% of the world’s o.t.c derivatives trade that Gordon boasted was in British hands in 2006, and the economic crisis which the collapse in credit and demand has caused world-wide (helpful article here). I think the public can join up the dots, but our media has too many interests entwined with presenting the economic crisis as originating elsewhere (the USA if pressed to be specific). This applies in spades to the BBC, whose commitment to the NewLabour project has been unimpeachable since Broadcasting House was littered with empty champagne bottles in 1997.

The audacity of distraction

On the day when the unemployment figures surpass those of any time since “things could only get better”, the BBC have found the perfect story to fill the space and relegate jobs to a lower position on their UK news webpage: racism in Belfast. Normally this would be somewhere tucked into the N. Ireland backwater pages, but somehow this time it’s really critical.

What was fascinating, as I took a glance at the ONS June update on employment was a rather startling figure concerning employment of “British borns” versus overseas workers. I don’t pretend to be able to contextualise this thoroughly, but it does bring perspective on the Romanians in Belfast story. Here goes:


“The number of UK born people in employment (not seasonally adjusted) was 25.28 million in the three months to March 2009, down 451,000 from the three months to March 2008. The number of non-UK born people in employment (not seasonally adjusted) was 3.81 million, up 129,000 fromthe three months to March 2008.”

Needless to say, this was not in the BBC report on the jobs news, which was stuffed with “not as bad as expected” voices.

Establishment

It seems to be the word here at the moment, but it most certainly applies to this “profile” of the new Head of M16 Sir John Sawyers. So boring, from the Pierce Brosnan comparison through the description of him as “astute”, “effective”, “effusive”- sorry that last one describes the tenor of the article rather than the man- it is simply nothing more than p.r. Embarrassing stuff from Laura Trevelyan.

On a related note, the BBC’s chief Sir Michael Lyons is fighting against the proposal to share BBC funding. I think this proposal at this stage is just a ruse to put off the evil day when the BBC has to manage with less or none of the Licence money. The Labour party and the BBC are never really off the same song sheet. This story is reported by the Times, which has its own agenda against BBC exceptionalism, but hypocritically also against the free internet, as is shown by its vicious campaign against the blogger NightJack, among other things.

Lacking perspective: who here is establishment?

I read with interest a BBC article about Lord Rogers’ anger with Prince Charles for an apparent intervention into an architectural tendering process for Chelsea Barracks. He alleges abuse of position which calls into question the constitutional position of the Monarchy. Kind of an overreaction one might have thought, from a man surely aware of the undemocratic vagaries of planning processes.

Having only a fragmentary knowledge of architecture I did a bit of looking round and found, lo and behold, that Rogers A) is one of NuLab’s favourite architects, B) was responsible for the Pompidou centre (knew I knew him from somewhere; the only good thing about the PC I understand is that it is in Paris, and mercifully remarkably well hidden), and C) had a long-term feud going on with the classical architect, Lady Thatcher’s favourite, Quinlan Terry. According to Roger Scruton, “No one has been more malicious in the attempt to deprive Terry of work than the great guru of modernism, Richard Rogers”, and “When at last Terry fought his way through to a public commission in London — the new infirmary at the much-loved Royal Hospital in Chelsea — and had obtained all the necessary consents, Rogers had the impertinence to write to the Deputy Prime Minister asking him to call in the plans.”

Let’s be clear about this: Lord Rogers is the establishment man in this story; any other perspective is studiously ignored. The Prince is branded, Terry is ignored. Rogers’ own ideology and associations are unexamined. The BBC could scarcely be more biased. They must think it is all ok.