“There is an obvious solution to MG Rover’s problems,”

writes a reader,

“and I am really quite surprised nobody has yet proffered it. It is as follows.

In order to ensure that MG Rover remains fully funded in perpetuity, all the government need do is introduce a Motor Vehicle Licence of say £116 a year, which would be payable by everybody who owns any car. If you own more than one car, the MVL would be the same, and if your car is black or white you’d get a discount.

“There are about 20 million cars in the UK so this would bring in £2.3 billion a year for MG Rover, a national treasure that the world envies. Thanks to the unique way MGR would be funded, it would no longer need to worry about producing anything people actually want. It would rake in billions a year whether anyone bought a single car or not, and no matter how third-rate its output, we’d all be forced to pay for it regardless.

“To ensure full compliance, the MVL would be enforced by the MVLA, which would criminally prosecute anyone caught without an MVL and would send detector vans around to spy on people to make sure they don’t own any cars. It would assume that anyone who says they don’t own a car at all is lying and it would harass them continually with aggressive letters and vague threats.

“At only £116 a year or barely 35p a day, nobody could reasonably claim they cannot afford this, and it goes without saying that everyone benefits from MG Rover’s existence even if they have never used one of the company’s products and never intend to.

“With an income stream on this scale, it wouldn’t be long before MG Rover became a bloated bureaucracy of 60,000 penpushing lefties all sucking a living off the state teat – God bless them all.”

Our ever-fertile commentariat

also provided this post. Pete_London writes:

We all know how the BBC likes to highlight those Tory misdemeanours yes? And the BBC is impartial and even handed, yes?

“JUDGE UPHOLDS VOTE-RIGGING CLAIMS” (no clue there to the culprits then)

It has been a repeated theme of this blog that headlines unfavourable to the political parties, British or foreign, that the BBC dislikes nearly always specify the party whereas headlines unfavourable to parties the BBC likes tend to leave the party name out. Pete_London continues:

“A judge investigating vote-rigging in Birmingham’s local elections has ruled there was “widespread fraud”, and has ordered new elections.”

“Election Commissioner Richard Mawrey QC upheld allegations of postal fraud relating to six seats won by Labour in the ballot of June 10 last year.”

Nope, they were won by labour but no clue as to the culprit. No mention in the piece either that this government has brought in and encouraged postal voting against the protests of those who predicted this very thing.

Further down we discover the names of the victorious Labour coucillors:

Shafaq Ahmed, Shah Jahan, Ayaz Khan, Mohammed Islam, Muhammed Afzal and Mohammed Kazi. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but there seems to be a pattern in that list of names somewhere. For some reason I don’t think this story will be around for long!

At the end of the piece a spokesman for the The Electoral Reform Society is quoted:

“We do not believe that electoral fraud is confined to Birmingham, to the Labour Party or, most importantly, to particular communities.”

Well that’s ok then.

Well, I don’t believe that electoral fraud is thus confined either. (This excellent story from the Guardian has more about other cases being investigated.) But it is concentrated thus. One of the reasons for that is that people refrain from digging too deep out of political correctness. In some ways this has parallels with the long reluctance to admit that there was a specific black criminal subculture until the problem was out of control. Just as the people who have suffered most from that reluctance were the black victims of black criminals, in this case the people who will suffer most are the Asian / Muslim victims of Asian / Muslim vote stealers. Pete was correct to predict that that particular aspect of the story would not be around for long. The quote from the Electoral Reform Society that he gives, and which was also repeated by the Guardian in the article above, has been stealth edited out and replaced by the supremely bland “The Electoral Reform Society said urgent action was needed to protect and maintain confidence in the voting system.” It seems that even a denial that fraud was confined to Labour and ethnic minorities was too pointed for the BBC.

I’m feeling a little bit sorry for Justin Webb.

Everyone’s piling in on him. A reader writes:

BBC correspondents in America have a huge canvas to draw on. So Justin Webb obviously decided he had found a story that had a moral for British voters when he filed for the Radio 4 6pm News on April 1 that those in Arizona who were worried about a flood of illegal immigration for Mexico – and concerned that the federal government was doing nothing to stop the tide – had formed a group of modern-day “Minutemen” to watch the borders.

Mr Webb’s main point, though, was not to impart how many immigrants there were, why border controls were not working, or other such facts that would have given the story context and proper meaning. Such crucial details were entirely absent from the report. Instead, he focused firmly on that there were opponents of the group who had labelled the new Minutemen as “irresponsible” and potentially violent “vigilantes”. In BBC liberal speak, beware all those who are worried about immigration…they are not nice people.

In the comments to the post below this, Alex criticises him about his interview with Dan Rather. And in the comments to the post below that everyone but Alex is teed off about this piece on the Schiavo case.

”America is often portrayed as an ignorant lazy sort of place, full of bible bashers and ruled to a dangerous extent by trashy television, superstition and religious bigotry, a place lacking in respect for evidence based knowledge.

I know that is how it is portrayed because I have done my bit to paint that picture, and that picture is in many respects a true one”

However, according to our commenters, his description of the legal position is in many respects not a true one.

USS Neverdock says the BBC are doing a hatchet job on bloggers

Actually I thought that Marc Landers was a little harsh on the BBC’s David Reid in dealing with his treatment of Iranian bloggers. Blogging has improved freedom of speech there, despite the recent appalling state persecution of bloggers. The tone of the BBC article when writing about Chinese and Iranian bloggers was not objectionable to me.

However Marc Landers hit the Beeb fair and square when it got to Rather and Jordan. The BBC talks as if Rather was eased out of his job merely for some error of fact such as any journalist (or blogger) is statistically certain to make every now and then. Wrong. He lost it for sustained, reckless, arrogant, obviously partisan refusal to confirm the authenticity of a major political story both before and after it was broadcast. All bloggers did was make that obvious to the public and his employers. The BBC also makes it sound as if there is room for significant doubt as to what Eason Jordan said to get him fired. As Landers says, if Jordan feels he has been misquoted he has only to release that tape.

And hasn’t David Reid discovered the many highly political blogs on the left?

Deciding the terms of debate.

Another reader writes:

There was an extraordinary example of presenter bias on WATO yesterday about the Archbishop of Canterbury’s warning on the politics of fear ( i.e. don’t mention right-wing issues!).

Nick Clarke: Now, have you seen evidence in the campaign so far of the exploitation of fear?

Rowan Williams: Well, of course the campaign hasn’t formally started yet, has it?

NC: I accept that – in the pre-campaign then, there’s been plenty going on, have you seen any evidence so far?

RW: I think it’s inevitable that there’s an emphasis on this campaign to go that way, and the temptation is to hit that first, I think.

NC: So when, for instance, I know you’re not going to be party political, but the Conservatives have raised, quite often, haven’t they, immigration and crime and so on, that’s the sort of thing that worries you, is it?

RW: It’s a cross-party phenomenon, but yes, that’s the sort of thing that worries me.

Dr Williams had to correct Nick Clarke (!), who assumed, as BBC presenters so often do, that the raising of issues such as immigration is beyond the pale.

One day’s harvest.

Reader Alex writes in with some observations from March 31 2005

– Whilst Sky News for the most part treated the Prince Charles story as a bit of fun, The BBC took a very serious tone indeed and on News 24 invited the Royal Correspondent of The Mirror to comment, he took an even more serious line (well, he would wouldn’t`t he). Amongst his remarks was “…they cost us a lot of money”, no mention of the fact that the BBC cost us quite a bit too.

-Also News 24, and who is invited to comment on Blair’s Political Cabinet….Michael White The Guardian. Quel Surprise!

– Later on The World Tonight, invited to give her comments on Terry Schiavos death, why its NPRs` Diane Roberts. D`oh……

– On radio bulletins PM and also on Radio 4 after midnight, a breathy and uncritical piece about the rehabilitation of Stalin across the former Soviet Union. If a left wing genocidal mass murderer is rehabilitated its reported through misty eyes with sentimentality, imagine the outcry had it been Mussolini or Hitler.

your blog does important work, keep it up.

The demonstration against the Iraq War.

Who was the typical attendee? Here are some pictures of the crowd and their banners. Note the preponderance of “Free Palestine” signs. (And the ones saying, “Victory to the Iraqi Resistance!”) However the BBC quotes an ex-soldier and a lady from CND.

(Via Rottweiler Puppy – read his comments – and House of Dumb)

UPDATE: Following Rottweiler Puppy’s links, I see that the BBC ran not one but two picture-series illustrating the demo. (I don’t remember them doing that for the ten times bigger Countryside Alliance march.) This series of ten pictures consists of: (1) Side view of the crowd, (2) Man with lots of badges, (3) Lady with sign saying “Make Tea not War”, (4) Crowd shot from front, centred on a Trade Union banner, (5) Two ex-soldiers carrying symbolic model coffin – note the caption states as bald fact that 100,000 people have been killed by the war, a highly controversial claim, (6) Peace choir, (7) Coffin guys again, (8) Hippy with quirky sign, (9) “Women say no to war” sign carried, not surprisingly, by women, and finally (10) a shot from the speech platform where Messrs Benn and Galloway graced the multitudes.

This series of eight pictures shows (1) Mum & kid, (2) guy with sign saying “End occupation now”, (3) old lady, (4) the “make tea, not war” lady again, (5) gay rights activist Peter Tatchell, (6) family with dog, (7) a young Asian girl in Western dress, bareheaded, (8) Andrew Murray of the Stop The War Coalition. (And of the British Communist Party; not that you’d get any hint of that from the BBC.)

A splendid collection of lovable British eccentrics, eh? The BBC quotes a mother of two daughters who says their father is out there and who thinks it is nice that her girls can be around “people who care.” The Guardian says that, ‘Protesters sang: “George Bush, Uncle Sam, Iraq will be your Vietnam.”‘ Caringly, no doubt, but it is odd what a different tone the Guardian takes talking to the faithful compared to the BBC talking to a general audience.

Notably absent are crowd shots taken from such a distance that you can read a wide selection of banners, though picture (4) does show one “Free Palestine”. Compare them again to the pictures linked to earlier. I am told, though I do not know this from my own knowledge, that the green flags with Arabic writing are Hamas flags.

The BBC, somewhat defensively, mentions that the placards carried by the protesters were pre-printed. I must say at once that I recall from my own days attending CND and Anti-Nazi League marches that the distribution of banners may not accurately represent the distribution of opinion. That said, the banners do represent the people that the marchers are willing to be seen with.

All but one of these eighteen pictures focused on white people. Other reports of the march suggested that among the crowd there was quite a high percentage of non-white people, overwhelmingly Muslims. Many have enthused about the way Muslims have been brought into politics by this very issue. The Muslim Association of Britain, along with CND and the Stop the War Coalition, was one of the three organisations that organised the march. I fully support the right of people of all races, all religions and all opinions to peacefully demonstrate. But it is striking that the BBC, an organisation that usually goes out of its way to illustrate racial and religious diversity, should under-represent minorities and Muslims in traditional dress in its pictoral record of the demonstration.

Still on the Ho Chi Minh trail.

A reader of Tim Blair’s pointed out a discontinuity between a BBC link and the story it linked to.

The BBC’s link to a John Simpson column:

Not quite Vietnam – the war in Iraq defies all predictions

And what Simpson actually wrote:

“The situation in Iraq is nothing like the Vietnam War, and it will not be.”

Simpson has other views besides, not all of them happy reading, but balanced and reasonable.

Tim Blair’s first link, the one that says “not quite Vietnam”, appears to have moved. It now appears, oddly, on the politics page rather than the main page. But the wording is the same.