The BBC’s official festive fifty bias techniques

This post first appeared on the Is the BBC Biased? website. The original can be viewed here.
Although written a few weeks ago as a Christmas piece, we think that Brexit campaigners will find it a useful tool at any time of the year. By keeping this list handy and familiarising yourself with the techniques enumerated, you can immediately spot this manipulation of any given item of news by the BBC.

Courtesy of Monkey Brains in the comments, here’s MB’s John Peel-style Festive Fifty which observers of BBC bias everywhere may enjoy this pre-Christmas weekend.

So raise your mulled wine glasses please, ladies and gentlemen, and let the countdown begin…

(Be warned though. The Undertones won’t be at Number One).

A seasonal message from Lord Hall, Director General of the BBC:

In this era of fake news, Russian subversion of referenda to produce incorrect results and the installation of a fascist dictatorship in the USA, I thought it apposite and timely, to publish a list of our 50 top Bias Techniques, lest anyone should think we were being complacent about the challenges facing us in the contemporary media world. This list will act as a helpful guide for our staff but I hope it will also reassure the public at large that we have their best interests at heart.

  1. Bias by News Agenda Choice. The biggie. If we don’t report it, it’s not news. And we don’t like to report things like the Synagogue attack in Stockholm, no go areas in the UK or the New Year’s Eve events in Cologne a while back.
  2. Bias by News Prioritising. OK, sometimes we can’t avoid reporting something but we can certainly give it very low priority. It only needs to appear for a nanosecond for us to be able to say that we have done our journalistic duty.
  3. Bias in Perpetuity. If we like a story…”Tories racist says report”…we might leave it up on our website for months to make sure just about everyone gets to see it, even though we are allegedly a news” organisation. Likewise we will return obsessively to stories we love like Grenfell Tower.
  4. Bias by Burying. If we don’t like a story we will bury it away somewhere like “News from Leicester” which you get to by navigating four or five pages on our website. In terms of broadcasting you will have to live in the East Midlands to be informed of what happened. I am not going to say what happened, because that would defeat the objective of this particular technique.
  5. Bias by Headline Creep. Sometimes we know a story hasn’t really got legs but by using the headline ruse we can make it sound a lot better. So “Boris “racism” claim” on the front page of the website becomes…”Boris claims government is acting on racism”….becomes “Boris has rejected a UN report claiming that racism in the UK is rising at an alarming rate”.
  6. Bias by Interruption. An old time favourite…if you don’t like what the interviewer is saying, interrupt them to hell and back, so that they can’t get their points across. Some right wing obsessives on the internet try to expose this bias by recording the number of such interruptions and comparing that number with interruptions of favoured guests, but such statistical exposure of this technique can be dismissed by a vague, airy “Notwithstanding this particular interview, we consider the programme, taken in the round, was balanced and impartial”.
  7. Bias by Misrepresentation. It’s important that we at the BBC control debate by ensuring we get to mispresent viewpoints. Under this approach, being worried about hardly ever hearing the English language spoken in your neighbourhood (a perfectly legitimate concern) obviously becomes “racist attitudes to migrants”. Of course we don’t simply assert that – to do so would be crass and far too obvious. Instead we imply it via other bias techniques e.g. “Bias by Question and Some Say”.
  8. Bias by Concept Merge. Sometimes it pays to be pedantically precise about definitions (a favourite of both Dimblebys on occasion). But with this technique, it is important to be vague and overlap differing concepts until the viewer or listener is taught, in Pavlovian fashion, to associate “Member of Conservative Party” with “Far Right Nut”. Thus we merge “Neo-Nazi” into “Far Right”, which in turn merges into “Right Wing” which then merges into “Nationalist” (as in “Bad Nationalist” – obviously does not apply to SNP, Sinn Féin and Plaid Cymru) and further blends with “Tory” and “Conservative”. By constant mixing and association Neo Nazis, Nationalists and Tories all become part of a dangerous amorphous group that like to persecute minorities. We find this approach very effective at the BBC.
  9. Bias by Mirroring. Under this ruse we call extreme radicals like Iranian Mullahs or Chinese Communists “Conservatives” so as to make toxic the whole “conservative” brand. You have to admire our cheek in doing so! But the useless Tories never make any effective protests about this.
  10. Bias by Intimidation. We tell our audience that we will report them to their employer or school if they voice opinions of which we disapprove. This can be more effective than you might think. Of course we have combined this with a sustained attack on the Have Your Say function on our website and also by turning the Feedback programme into a meaningless “complaints from both sides” exercise now stuffed full of disguised adverts for BBC programmes.
  11. Bias by Mockery. The mockery is not just something for “comedy” panel shows or the Now Show. News presenters can also join in the mockery of anything the BBC doesn’t like. Eddie Mair and Jonny Diamond have I think done some excellent work in this area. But woe betide anyone who mocked say Stella Creasy or Chukka Umuna!!! (not that that would ever happen under my watch!) – that would be sexist and racist and would lead to instant dismissal. We of course produce an in-house list of who to mock and who not. Currently Boris Johnson and Michael Gove are top of the list. But such lists can of course change and staff should keep up with developments.
  12. Bias by Complaint Dismissal. As long as we keep batting away complaints in the face of the truth and the facts, we can maintain our absurd formal claim of impartiality. It is therefore important that the programmes we claim allow the viewer or listener a voice should be tightly controlled. I have of course instructed all editors and producers to hold the line and deny bias by claiming complaints from both sides and if they cannot defend something, claim a broader overall balance across the piece.
  13. Bias by Propaganda Tentacle. The BBC has a long reach. Our correspondents can use Twitter to voice more extreme anti-democratic, pro-Antifa opinions through re-tweeting. We are now going into schools as well to brainwash children with our “Fake News” agenda. Our tentacles can basically reach anywhere.
  14. Bias by Question Selection. What questions get asked is vital. If you think we pull the QT questions out of a hat then you are very, very naïve.
  15. Bias by Simple Fact Denial or Avoidance. For instance we will not admit even the possibility that the housing crisis might have something to do with mass immigration. It’s rather like that loose thread in a pullover. If you start pulling on it before long the whole thing will unravel. So we have to maintain “Complete Fact Denial” in those very sensitive areas touching on the central tenets of our PC Multiculturalist doctrine.
  16. Bias by Expert. We choose the experts. Our experts are guaranteed to support our views. That’s how and why we select them!
  17. Bias by Org-Labelling. For instance, that think tank is “right wing”, this think tank (the one we like) is “respected”! It’s not so difficult once you get the hang of it.
  18. Bias by Person Labelling. That person (someone standing up for beliefs that were uncontroversial 50 years ago) is “far right”, this person (a Marxist totalitarian) is the “conscience of the left” or a “revered academic and commentator”.
  19. Bias by Tone of Voice. So important! When we are children we listen to our parents’ tone of voice before we understand the meaning of their words. Are our parents angry or pleased with us? We know this and so we play on these very human weaknesses. Our presenters sound surprised if a right wing person does a nice thing or somehow escapes justice when we have been looking forward to their downfall. Equally they make it sound like their mother has died if the PC Multicultarist liberal-left suffer a reversal, however minor.
  20. Bias by Atypical Person Choice. It may be true that most female followers of Islam in Bradford may wear a Hijab and rarely go outside the family home but we have the resources at our disposal to find one who doesn’t wear a head covering, uses make up, wears tight jeans and has set up her own business. Once we have found her we are going to give her the full PR treatment on your shows, eventually giving her her own series.
  21. Bias by Drama and Soap. I can’t overemphasise the importance of this bias technique. This is how we really buttress the news and indoctrination agenda. We use drama and soap to signal approval or disapproval and to identify what issues the public should think are important.
  22. Bias by Lifestyle Show. We can make frightening things appear comforting all by the magic of lifestyle TV. Of course this has to be managed. It can be an area requiring sensitive handling. We didn’t show a Hijab for years. Big beard presenters are still out and the Burka is I am afraid still a big no-no. But this is a Long March we are on. Eventually we will be able to de-sensitive the backward segment of the British public on such matters by associating such features with nice things like baking, cooking, shopping and home décor.
  23. Bias by Over-representation of Minorities. You see a lot of this on TV adverts of course and we have to take our hat off to our commercial colleagues in that regard. The message of course is “resistance is useless”. It is supposed to deliver a jolt and acclimatise people to further volcanic demographic change. We are of course doing everything we can at the BBC to ensure that minorities (officially only 13% of the population) are over-represented in a number of key areas like news presentation. When it comes to drama, we are quite happy to provide misleading representations of classics from the Victorian period now, sacrificing accuracy to our PC Multiculturalist principles. Of course when we talk about ethnic minority representation we mean generally African-Caribbean, African and South Asian. At the BBC we don’t much care about how many Poles, Arabs, Romanians, Chinese, French or Latin Americans are on our screens despite there being very large communities from those ethnic groups in our country. I hope at some point to explain why that is but sadly time is limited and I must press on. (Ahem).
  24. Bias by Slow Information Release. We wouldn’t want you to run away with the idea there’s just been a terrorist incident carried out by an IS operative migrant who shouted Allahu Akbar…so we will slowly drip feed the news and then disappear the story altogether. Often we will use the “mental ill health” ploy to justify this.
  25. Bias by Local News as National News. Local news is a good way of extending the bias especially in areas where there are lots of Labour MPs and we can call on them to provide a steady drumbeat of public expenditure propaganda . We always favour local news with a national flavour…so expect lots of NHS cuts and not much about the County Show.
  26. Bias by Survey. Our opinion polls are frequently wrong. But they always seem to favour the left for some reason. Sometimes our levels of bias are off the scale as was the case with the Newsnight panel of “ordinary voters” that voted 9-1 to remain. BBC Staff should not be embarrassed by this, rather they should see polls as weapons in our hand not instruments of science.
  27. Bias by Decree. Here, the likes of John Simpson or David Dimbleby – once respected as cutting edge journalists – trot out the BBC narrative without appearing to have thought about what they are saying first. In our BBC world of bias, if they say so, it must be true. You might call this the “Hillary Good, Trump Bad” approach.
  28. Bias by Obfuscation. David Dimbleby is of the view that if he poses a smugly sceptical or irrelevant question “But we don’t know that was an official Mosque letter, do we?” (irrelevant – it was clearly being handed out at the Mosque in full view) or “But do you have an example of the BBC saying “despite Brexit”? ” (Answer: Guido Fawkes website had plenty of examples the next day!), he has neutralised the critique. Obviously he hasn’t genuinely neutralised the critique, but at the BBC we feel it is “the moment” that counts. As long as he appears to have raised legitimate doubts that is enough. It is my view this is an effective Bias technique as Dimbleby is sly enough to time his semi-rhetorical questions at just the right point so they don’t get or can’t be answered. They therefore serve our purpose.
  29. Bias by Yawn. Sadly this is a rare example of a technique that has been tried but proved unsuccessful. It was attempted in the run up to and during the early part of the EU Referendum campaign as we got nearly all our TV and radio presenters to imply that everyone was bored with the Referendum debate even though we now all know the opposite was true: family and friends often ended up having passionate debates on the subject (some are still continuing to this date!). But we at the BBC were trying to reduce the interest in the campaign, as we knew that was important in ensuring the anti-EU vote did not get mobilised. Frankly, we failed. Though we cannot be blamed for the decision to have a Referendum (we strongly opposed that), we were wrong to pursue that ineffective technique. We should have been much more pro-Remain from the outset. Eventually we realised the yawn technique was proving ineffective: the pretend yawns stopped and it was then we desperately tried “educating” everyone to vote remain. But sadly, it was too late. Personally I feel the Government should have given us more leeway to support the Remain campaign, even though we did our best to back their arguments and rubbish the Leave campaign. Clearly it wasn’t enough.
  30. Bias by False Friend. This is one we have been using a lot recently in relation to events in the US: “So let’s go over to Washington to discuss Trump’s latest tweet. We have leader of the Democrats in the House of Representatives and the Republican Governor for Wyoming…” Our audience thinks this sounds balanced since it’s one Democrat and one Republican. But of course, we know something they don’t – this particular Republican Governor hates Trump as much as the Democrat. We see similar set ups with our domestic politics “Here to discuss the Government’s proposals are Chukka Umuna, Labour MP and Ken Clarke, Conservative…” only Clarke is going bash the proposals almost as much as Chukka.
  31. Bias by Herd Instinct. Human beings have a tendency to follow the herd or the “troop” (since we are primates!)…so we at the BBC do our best to create bandwagons for the campaigns we favour. Biased BBC Trending do a lot of good work in this area.
  32. Bias by Recruitment. This is what we at the BBC call the “Guardian readers only need apply” ploy. Don’t worry – I am a Guardian Reader!!! lol This is really a very important and self-fulfilling bias category.
  33. Bias by Vocabulary Choice. This is of course a huge area of bias. The “bread and butter” of bias you might call it. It covers many things but among my favourites are right wing think tanks “claim”, “assert”, things whereas left wing think tanks “point out”, “conclude”, “find evidence”…During the EU Referendum campaign pro-Remain agencies were always concluding, calculating, pointing our and finding…or projecting, predicting (never guessing!)…When Remain claims were criticised by the Leave side, we at the BBC always used the language of emotion and violence instead of cool consideration: the Leave side “angrily denied”, “lashed out”, “slammed” etc
  34. Bias by Paragraphing. We often leave the key information to the penultimate para of a long article (not the final paragraph because people sometimes skip to that). You can hope the punters have got bored by then and miss it…thinking the perpetrator was simply a “man” with known “mental health issues” not someone who visited Afghanistan last year and was carrying an IS flag.
  35. Bias by Mandy Rice Davies. The point of this technique is to make the denial sound as thin as possible. I think Norman Smith is quite good at this. Norman is adept at telling us the unfavoured have “denied” something…but does so in a “well wouldn’t you too if you’d been found out” sort of way…It’s normally the right who get this treatment of course but there was a phase when the BBC when we were gunning for Corbyn and we gave him the same treatment (this was when we at the BBC thought Corbyn was a vote-loser who would keep the Tories in power for the next 20 years – now of course it’s all Christmas jumpers with Jezza’s face on it! – he’s forgiven, for the time being).
  36. Bias by Uneven Standards. Of course at the BBC we believe in high standards, we just don’t believe in applying them consistently around the world. For instance we hold Israel to a much high standard than Saudi Arabia (which doesn’t even allow people to profess Christianity). We report obsessively about their “illegal occupation” of Arab land. But illegal occupation of land is a rather flexible concept. We never, or only very rarely, give Russia and China any grief about their huge empires and their occupation of territories against the people’s will. We don’t ask representatives of countries like Australia, Brazil, Canada and Argentina about eradication of indigenous peoples. Romania’s occupation of Magyar lands is of no interest to us at the BBC. Likewise, while we show an inordinate interest in civilian killings in the US by gunfire we have no interest in such killings in Mexico or Brazil, and absolutely no interest in the murder of thousands of white farmers in South Africa. While we at the BBC are willing to shed tears over a few thousand Palestinian Arabs losing their homes and being “forced” to flee some 70 years ago, we have no interest in the many millions of Europeans, Jews, Hindus and Christians forced to flee from the Middle East and South Asia and in reality not much interest in all the displaced persons in Sub-Saharan Africa.
  37. Bias by Photo Choice. A picture tells a thousand words and picture bias tells a million. We can choose a nice one of Jeremy looking either messianic or avuncular, surrounded by happy smiling people, or we can choose one of Theresa looking very anxious (as though she’s about to try swallowing something on I’m Celebrity) and isolated, with a dark sombre background. We had a nice example on the BBC News website recently: May looking worried and pensive, her frame apparently being squeezed between two EU flags that dominated the photo…and then there’s Nicola Sturgeon smiling, looking very businesslike with one of her ministers carrying lots of impressive looking files…Chance choice? Of course not. Nothing happens by chance at the BBC! Photo bias is one of the easiest techniques to spot if you look for it but because people tend to take images on trust they rarely identify or comment on the bias.
  38. Bias by Placard Placement. I rather like this one. I used to use it a lot myself back in the day. We at the BBC know we are not going to get away with a newsreader saying “The Tory fascists have decided to dismantle the NHS.” But there’s nothing to stop us showing a placard in a protest that says something like that: “Tory fascist scum will kill the NHS”. Nothing to stop the cameraman zooming in on that as a lingering image to underline a report. When, rarely, we cover right wing protests, the placards get far less prominence, unless of course we think we’ve found one that is an own goal. We are quite happy to feature old eccentric people covered in Union Jacks opposing the EU in robust terms. That’s an image we like to cultivate.
  39. Bias by Soft Interview. This is a technique I think is sometimes underestimate but all staff should appreciate its importance. We particularly make use of this technique when we want to put rocket boosters on a political position we approve of. So we saw recently Blair being given the softest (and longest) of rides by Mardell because Blair was proposing one of our favourites: a Brexit Reversal Policy. We can counter accusations of bias, by claiming these are serious, in-depth, “mission to explain” style interviews though we hardly ever accord such access to viewpoints we oppose.
  40. Bias by Celebrity Endorsement. No! This doesn’t refer to the celebrity endorsing a product but the BBC endorsing some celebrities over others. So Jim Davidson and Cliff Richard get the cold shoulder despite being very popular. People like Lily Allen know that BBC endorsement can be vital to prolonging their career lives way beyond their natural span and the we at the BBC know it is useful to have people like Lily Allen around to endorse otherwise somewhat difficult policies like “no borders”.
  41. Bias by Reality Checking. We brought in BBC Reality Check to create a kind of alternative universe where matters of policy can be judged objectively by reference to “facts”. Of course this universe does not exist in any shape or form but it is useful to our purposes to pretend it does and that we at the BBC (alone in the UK – butt out ITV and Sky!) can objectively arbitrate such matters. Anyone who looks at BBC Reality Check can see instantly it has nothing to do with “reality” and everything to do with our policy preferences. This can be seen by (a) its choice of subject matter (Reality Check never investigate the dodgy social studies from groups like the Joseph Rowntree Trust we are so fond of quoting) (b) its concentration on “future outcomes” which by definition have not happened yet and cannot therefore form part of our “reality” and (c) its disregard for the initial starting question (you will often find the conclusion has little to do with the question!) (4) its frequent recourse to “argument from authority” – quoting their favoured sources. So, please staff, don’t think that Reality Check is going undermine your reports – you can rely on it as a solid backer of everything we at the BBC are trying to achieve. We just need to give it a spurious veneer of independence and objectivity – nothing to be scared of!
  42. Bias by Absent or Abbreviated Nomenclature. At the BBC we pride ourselves that Trump is more often Trump than President Trump whereas President Obama was nearly always President Obama, certainly for his first term – just as Thatcher was more often Thatcher than Lady Thatcher. Use of the “criminal” surname is often reserved for those perceived as “right wing” Tories. Jeremy Corbyn is much more likely to have the cosy “Jeremy” attached. Also by a kind of reverse law, titles are much inflated when the BBC wants to make use of them: so you get stuff like “Lord Shyster of Plain-Wrong, the ex Lord Chamberlain of High Office and current Chairman of the Lords Select Committee on Matters of Great Import has denounced the treatment of Calais migrants as “callous”…” Don’t worry, while we are ideological egalitarians, when it comes to pushing the agenda, a bit of peasant-like deference is on offer if it means we can push our ideas more effectively.
  43. Bias by Emotional Response. This is where we ensure the BBC acts as emotional gatekeeper to the nation. You can cry about your factory closing down but not about your neighbourhood being changed out of all recognition by mass immigration. If you are the victim of Islamic terrorism we prefer smiling defiance to tears. But other forms of terrorism may be treated differently depending on context.
  44. Bias by Views as News. This is something we have always practised but these days we have expanded it into all areas. A classic recent example was James Cook’s take on Trump (he doesn’t like him – what a surprise!) – a virtually 100% opinion piece appearing under the BBC News banner. Of course a lot of our BBC bias involves smuggling views into news but this refers to those blatant examples where a piece should be labelled “A Personal View” if appropriate at all (doubtful).
  45. Bias by Vox Pop. Never underestimate the Vox Pop. They are a really important bias tool which you will find used in nearly every national and local news programme. They can really put a nice spin on a story. And then there are the visuals which can add yet another layer of bias: we at the BBC are always very happy to have a pro-Brexit vox pop on our screen if it is delivered by an old pot-bellied bloke on a mobility scooter with a fag hanging out of his mouth, with the betting shop visible in the background. If we can encourage him to have a go at “migrants” all the better!
  46. Bias by Newspaper Review. This is a specific technique we use to build a kind of Potemkin village of opinion out of MSM news. By using left-liberal reviewers, a left-liberal presenter and a selection of stories biased to the left-liberal view of the world, we are able create the erroneous impression that the BBC’s agenda is very much in line with that of the rest of the MSM. Where necessary the Review can be used to chastise heretical opinions deemed as offensive to PC Multiculturalist beliefs.
  47. Bias by Some-say. Let’s be honest, it is rare for an hour to go by without a BBC presenter or reporter having recourse to that well known family “The Somes”. “But some say this belief in fundamental biologically-based differences between men and women is just petty-minded fascistic prejudice which will soon be consigned to the dustbin of history.” The Somes come in very useful to us at the BBC when we want to advance the “progressive agenda” but realise we are on tricky ground. A non-specific “some” is a nice way of suggesting support is building for a “progressive” idea. It sounds a lot better than “that mad columnist from the Guardian”. Given we live in a nation of nearly 70 million people, if you say “some” then most fair-minded people will think you mean a few hundred thousand or a few million at least, if not yet a majority, whereas it might only be that mad columnist from the Guardian, 12 people in Hampstead and five in Islington.
  48. Bias by History. The past is not such a foreign country to us at the BBC. In order for the PC Multiculturalist Fantasy to be realised in the modern world the past needs to be tweaked or, worse, given the full Harvey Weinstein treatment. So, looking back at the past through our BBC-PC Telescope we see that slavery was something that was visited on Africans only by Europeans. Arabs did not enslave Africans in their millions and if they did, it wasn’t really slavery. Likewise only West Europeans have engaged in imperialism. Chinese imperialism is really of no note at all. Russian imperialism likewise of virtually no importance since the end of the Cold War. Through the PC lens of history we see that Islam is a universally benign and progressive force that invented the scientific method and brought the benefits of progress to Europe, India, Africa and elsewhere. The BBC History guide can’t help but be a little obsessive. So the history of the Levant 1917-1967 (no other time) is of great and enduring interest to all of us at the BBC. It is of course the time of the unjust creation and expansion of Israel as far as we are concerned. The history of Asia Minor during that same period is however of virtually no interest whatsoever to us! We have also to accept that the BBC’s history can be very sentimental when we want it to be. As far as the BBC are concerned Native Americans always lived on the Plains hunting buffalo on their horses. Likewise, the Zulus of South Africa never exterminated and drove out the San people of the area in the 1600s. Weirdly although we at the BBC have this highly “romantic” approach to history elsewhere, when it comes to the UK have absolutely no time for any romanticised version of “our island story”. No, then we cast a cold, callous, indifferent eye over the history of our forebears. Actually, I don’t think I should say “forebears” but you know what I mean.
  49. Bias by Counterintuitive Injury Reporting. At the BBC we use this mostly in the context of domestic or American demonstrations. So “An EDL march took place in Rotherham today [Note – don’t mention about what!]. The march was condemned by the local Mayor who said “This Far Right rally has nothing to with our community which is peaceful and harmonious.” There were 7 injuries and 5 arrests.” The set up makes the audience think the EDL caused the injuries and that EDL supporters were arrested, when the truth is the counter-demo mob caused the injuries and were the source of the arrests. Classic result! Just what we want!! This technique can also be used with terrorism in faraway places. “Terror attack – two Palestinians dead.” No – not an attack on Palestinians by Far Right Israelis…two Palestinian terrorists shot dead while trying to carry out a terror attack. “ Likewise “70 Muslim worshippers killed in Mosque attack” might make you think the religion of Islam was yet again being persecuted by Christians or Hindus. The fact’s it’s a Sunni-Shia thing is nicely obscured.
  50. Bias by Absorption. There are many cultural events or phenomena which we seek to make our own. Glastonbury, Turner Prize, MOBOs, Chelsea Flower Show, Women’s Football…we are like some giant amoeba, absorbing chunks of other DNA safe in the knowledge that it can replicate inside us and produce a yet more bloated version of the BBC itself. I think it’s what I would call cultural synergy. By absorbing these other cultural phenomena we make ourselves stronger and better project our cultural aims.

I hope you have enjoyed our Festive Fifty and that you now understand better how we operate. The BBC believes in transparency and connecting with its staff and the public at large. Besides we think that you are so brainwashed by now you are probably quite happy that we are so biased.

Seasonal greetings and a Happy New Year whatever calendar you choose,

Yours ever,

Tony

Photo by LoopZilla

The remoaners aren’t giving up – yet

Life in the remoaner bubble remains as surreal as ever.  The Guardian newspaper has publiushed an article by David Cameron’s former tutor Vernon Bogdanor, claiming that “A second Brexit referendum is looking more likely by the day.”  Wishful thinking perhaps? As we have pointed out on numerous occasions, Mrs May and the Tory Party dare not row back on their commitment to deliver Brexit. Not only would it be as good as handing the keys of No. 10 to Mr Corbyn, but it would precipitate the worst crisis the party has faced since the split that followed the repeal of the Corn laws in 1846. What Bogdanor fails to take into account is that now Article 50 has been triggered, we are on the way out. Even EU sources  have suggested that it may not be reversible. Furthermore, Mrs May shows no sign of conceding a second referendum, not to mention the fact that no one in their right minds would want to go through that gruelling campaign again, especially given the lack of interest among the general public

Still, it’s the silly season aka the Parliamentary summer recess, so editors have to be a bit more creative in trying to fill the columns. The Financial Times, another bastion of remainiacs, is no better than the Guardian. In a piece entitled Brexit reveals Britain’s enduring flaws, Simon Kuper claims that the idea of leaving the EU was hatched in the Oxford Union in the 1980s by the likes of Michael Gove and Boris Johnson, because “This generation of mostly former public schoolboys didn’t want Brussels running Britain. That was their caste’s prerogative.” No better proof of the decline in the standards of journalism can be found than this once respected newspaper  giving space for such utter tosh. Is Mr Kuper completely unaware of the long-standing opposition to EU membership within the Labour Party? Or of the Campaign for an Independent Britain, which was set up in 1969 to oppose our accession – before Boris Johnson or Michael Gove were old enough to go to school?

True, both articles acknowledge that the Brexit talks are not going as well as David Davis and his team had hoped, but widely-reported differences of opinion within the Cabinet over the “hardness” of Brexit does not mean that Brexit isn’t going to happen. Whether it is seamless is another matter, of course, but happen it will. I wouldn’t normally quote Jean-Claude Juncker approvingly, but he does seem to have the measure of the mood in the UK (including the government) and has distanced himself from those Brexit sceptics who are expecting  a big back-pedalling “My working hypothesis is that it will come to Brexit”, he said.

Meanwhile, our attention has been drawn to a piece by Jonn Ellidge in the New Statesman, which claims that a recent YouGov survey proves that Brexit voters hate their own children.  The reason for this astonishing statement  is  because:-

A healthy majority of Leave voters, it found, claimed that ‘significant damage to the British economy’ would be a price worth paying for Brexit: 61 per cent, compared to just 20 per cent who disagreed. More bizarrely, when the question was made more personal, and respondents were asked would it be worth “you or members of your family” losing their jobs, 39 per cent still thought Brexit was totes worth it – slightly more than the 38 per cent who, like normal, sane people, replied ‘obviously not’”.

So QED, Brexit voters, which the author equates to retired baby boomers “who are prepared to crash the economy because they don’t like Belgians” are a selfish generation who must hate their offspring because “when asked directly whether they’d swap the wealth and security of their own children for a blue passport and the ability to deport Polish plumbers, they said yes in huge numbers.

As blogger Samuel Hooper says, Ellidge’s claims are “vile” and totally ignores the real reason why a significant majority of older voters supported Brexit. “Does he not realise that the counterfactual, unrecorded by YouGov (who did not bother to probe more deeply) is that perhaps these older people – rightly or wrongly – thought that by voting for Brexit they were preserving some other vital social good for their descendants, something potentially even more valuable than a couple of points of GDP growth? I would posit that the supposedly hateful Daily Mail-reading generation of grey haired fascists scorned by Jonn Elledge actually do not have any particular desire to inflict economic harm on their children and grandchildren, but simply realise – through having lived full lives through periods of considerably less material abundance than those of us born since the 1980s – that other things matter too. Things like freedom and self-determination, precious gifts which were under threat during the Second World War and the Cold War, and which the older generations who remember these difficult times therefore do not casually take for granted.”

Absolutely, but no amount of debunking is going to stop the blinkered fanaticism of the remainiacs. Among the chief of these is the European Movement, which is ramping up its campaign to stop Brexit altogether, linking up with other  like-minded groups including Scientists for EU, Healthier IN the EU and Britain for Europe to try to stop Brexit. I debated with a few members of the European Movement and although I didn’t always win, it was fun to embarrass them by mentioning the funding they received from the American CIA during the 1970s. A recent e-mail has encouraged recipients to join this iniquitous organisation which sees itself as able to “represent the groundswell of opinion against departure from the EU.”

Sorry, European Movement, but the ground isn’t swelling round here. If even I, as a political “anorak” and long-standing opponent of our EU membership, am getting fed up with all the debating about how badly the cabinet is divided, how much we will have to pay to leave, trading arrangements and so on, Joe Public is even less interested. He cast his vote a year ago and whichever way he actually voted, he was never really very excited by the EU, never really understood what we had joined and just wants the country to move on. Hopefully on March 29th, when we finally leave, the European Movement and its fellow-traveller remainiacs will move on – preferably to well-deserved oblivion – but I’m not holding my breath.

 

So we’re all stupid racists?

It’s over a year since the referendum but some remoaners just will not give up their belief that a group of ignorant racists bear the prime responsibilty for our leaving the EU. As stubborn as the most ardent flat earthers, no amount of evidence to the contrary will shake their convictions.

Last August, our Chairman debunked the claims of an alleged increase in racist hate crime, showing how easily the statistics can be manipulated.  Undeterred, Channel 4 thought they had struck gold when featuring Sivalingam Rajan, a Sri Lankan-born shopkeeper from Swindon, who suffered a racist attack after telling a customer that she didn’t have enough money to pay for her purchase. The offending girl was interviewed by the programme and asked about Brexit, no doubt in anticipation that she had voted to leave the EU.  Instead, she replied, “I didn’t watch it, things like that I don’t get involved with – nothing to do with me.”

You would expect better things from the respected Nature journal but sadly not. Last January, we highlighted an article by Colin MacIlwain of Edinburgh who called Leave voters “a loose coalition of dissenters, doubters and right-wing jackals.”  Undeterred by its descent into the levels of the gutter press, Nature subsequently published a piece by a certain Jane Green who claimed that “voters with less education cast ballots consistent with populist waves.” So there you have it. We’re all thickos. Richard North, with a PhD to his name, the trilingual Daniel Hannan MEP with his history degree from Oxford, the multi-millionaire inventor and businessman Sir James Dyson and Cambridge-educated Dame Helena Morrisey, one of the most influential women in the City of London are all complete numbskulls because they supported Brexit.

OK, perhaps on average, a higher percentage of remain voters may have had degrees, but there is a world of difference between having a good brain and actually using it!

 

 

Photo by LauraLewis23

Danger – Handle with care

When the current Parliamentary session ends on July 20th, we will enter what has long been  called “the Silly Season” when newspapers dredge up all sorts of far-fetched stories to try to keep readers’ interest.

It seems that some are already getting into practise, particularly those who specialise in “biff-bam” Brexit stories,  many of which have a only very tenuous relationship with fact. Among the e-mails greeting me this morning were several communications from concerned leave supporters who had spotted seemingly worrying articles in the press over the weekend.

Two articles in particular were the focus of concern. The first concerns an ancient charter granted by Charles II in 1666 allowing 50 fishermen from Bruges “eternal rights” to fish in English waters as an act of gratitude for the hospitality given him by the city during the 1650s when he lived in exile.  The headline is much more lurid, however:- “Belgium says 1666 royal charter grants its fishermen “eternal rights” to English waters.” Not quite the same as 50 fishing boats from one Belgian city! Let’s unpack things a little more.

Firstly, a discussion my colleague John Ashworth of Fishing for Leave revealed that we technically have similar fishing rights off the Newfoundland Coast going back even further – to the period shortly after its discovery by John Cabot in 1497. Have we sought to upset the Canadians by exercising them at any time in the last hundred years? Almost certainly not. Furthermore, in 1666, Belgium did not exist as a country, being part of the Spanish Netherlands. Then, what is meant by “English Waters”? In the 17th Century, by convention, this meant only the sea within three nautical miles of the shoreline. Things have changed significantly since then, with territorial waters being expanded during the 20th century. Any attempts therefore by fishermen from Bruges to fish within three miles of the English coast after Brexit on the basis of this charter would open a legal Pandora’s box.

But are there actually any vessels that would be entitled to do so? The charter mentions “Fifty herring boats.” The historic town of Bruges, which in its heyday saw considerable maritime traffic along the  canals linking it to the North Sea, is no longer a major port. The fishing industry in that part of Belgium is centred on nearby Zeebrugge (literally “Bruges-on-Sea”) which is, in fact, the largest fishing port in the country, with a substantial fish market in the town. Yet in 2013, it only boasted 43 fishing boats in total. Given that Bruges lies on a canal 8 miles (or 12,87 kilometres) inland from Zeebrugge and its fish market, the likelihood of there being any fishing boats (let alone specialist herring boats) based in the part of the city which existed in 1666 is almost certainly zero.

In other words, when the Flemish prime minister Geert Bourgeois unrolled a copy of the charter on a Belgian television news show, it was a piece of grandstanding and nothing more.  It does, however, indicate just how much grandstanding we are likely to face as the Brexit negotiations get under way. Belgium, along with other EU member states who fish in the North Sea, has been upset by the decision by Michael Gove to denounce the 1964 London Fisheries Convention. Even this, however, is a considerable over-reaction. The wording of this agreement is vessel-specific and therefore was unlikely ever to have been put to the test as none of the boats specified are likely to be in commercial use 53 years later. In other words, Mr Gove’s action was merely a precautionary measure to avoid possible complications.

It’s not only politicians on the other side of the channel who are grandstanding.  I also received a couple of e-mails about an article claiming that Vince Cable reckons that Brexit will never happen. Once again, let us examine the facts. The Lib Dems campaigned in the recent General Election to be the so-called “party of the 48%”. They went up from 9 MPs to 12 only courtesy of the SNP slump in Scotland, so it can hardly be said that their campaign was a success, but hope springs eternal!

Cable is wrong because of the dynamics of the two main parties. The Tories did unexpectedly badly and are licking their wounds. The majority of Tory MPs campaigned for Remain but most Tory activists and a significant minority of MPs are solidly pro-Brexit, so to backpedal would be suicide, provoking the worst crisis in the Conservative Party since 1846. (See more on this here – principally the last three paragraphs.)

But Corbyn has been strengthened by the election result, even though he didn’t win. As a consequence, he is revealing his true Brexiteer colours. He and his right hand man John McDonnell have never been keen on the EU but when he won the Labour leadership campaign, he initially faced immense opposition from the majority of Labour MPs, who didn’t want him as their leader. He was thus unable to take an anti-EU stance publicly. This has now changed as Corbyn was quite smart in the election campaign, pitching to floating Brexit supporters who were either moving on from UKIP or who didn’t like the Tories. Now his own position is strengthened, he is coming out increasingly strongly for Brexit. This in turn adds further pressure on the Tories not to backpedal.

None of this is to ignore the complexities of Brexit but the Lib Dems are now no more than little pygmies shouting from the sidelines. The media may feel obliged to report the words of the man likely to be the next leader of the UK’s third party, but no one need take much notice of his wishful thinking. We are basically into a period of two-party politics. It may not last for long, but at the moment, neither Mrs May nor Jeremy Corbyn show any signs of trying to stop Brexit and no other party leader’s opinions matter very much.

I hope that this debunking of two articles will help reassure concerned readers. Politicians remain the least trusted profession in the UK, but journalists run them pretty close, being even less trusted than bankers, estate agents and trade union officials. There are some exceptions and we are thankful to those members of the media who do seek to maintain high standards and report facts accurately, especially when it comes to Brexit. Based on what I found in my e-mail in tray this morning, however, all too many journalists are guilty of sloppy reporting, poor research and sensationalism. Their offerings, especially lurid headlines in the forthcoming “Silly Season”, need to be handled with extreme care.

 

The biggest losers

Following Mrs May’s response to the London Bridge terrorist attack, Alastair Campbell, Tony Blair’s former spin doctor, posted a tweet saying that “Mrs May is happy enough to tolerate the extremism of the Brextremist Lie Machine newspapers spewing hate day after day.”

Several newspapers picked this up, expressing horror that Islamic State-supporting terrorists should be equated to sections of our national press. Indeed, such was the storm of protest that Mr Campbell subsequently deleted the tweet, saying . “Previous tweet deleted. Agreed it was over the top”

But over the top or not, the damage has been done. We now know the truth. Such is the vitriolic loathing felt by remoaners like Campbell towards Brexit supporters that in his eyes, some of us are almost as awful as the men who committed the terrible atrocities in Manchester and London recently.

Mind you, there is perhaps good reason from Blairite remoaners to be feeling a bit miffed at the moment. Although unreported by the Press, one of the interesting asides of this general election campaign is that, whatever the result, the last few weeks have significantly damaged their chances of a comeback.

The Campaign for an Independent Britain, being a cross-party organisation, does not fly the flag for any one political party and has encouraged people to vote for fully-fledged Brexit candidates whatever their allegiance, but we can be quite unequivocal in our opposition to the Blairite faction within the Labour Party, which remains one of the biggest strongholds of irreconcilable remainiacs.

When Mrs May called a General Election in April, received opinion expected Labour to suffer its worst defeat since 1983, if not longer. The uncompromising Socialist agenda would deter most voters, Jeremy Corbyn would be forced to resign and Labour would tack back towards the so-called centre ground.

Things have not gone according to plan, however. Three days before polling day, a raft of opinion polls put the Tory lead between 12% and a mere 1%  – nowhere near the 20% differential at the start of the campaign. Averaging these out, Mr Corbyn looks highly unlikely to be marching into 10 Downing Street on Friday, but he could end up with a higher percentage of the vote than Ed Miliband in 2015 – certainly high enough to justify remaining in office and his party thus avoiding a third leadership contest in less than two years.

From the point of view of withdrawing from the EU, it is significant  – and welcome – that Corbyn has never made any statement during the campaign indicating that he will seek to challenge or reverse the Brexit vote.  Before becoming Labour’s leader, his anti-EU credentials were actually quite impressive and his pro-EU speech during last year’s referendum campaign was distinctly lukewarm and lacking in conviction.

Whatever one’s views of his position on other policy issues, we must therefore be thankful that his better-than-expected performance looks likely to leave the Blairites sidelined for a while – hopefully long enough to see us out of the EU. If these people equate a perfectly reasonable desire to join some 180 or so nations in being a sovereign nation once again with the murderous ideology of Islamic State, the sidelines – or worse –  is the best place for them.

Photo by University of Salford

Rise up? Throw up more likely!

Politicians rely on people’s short memories and none more so than Tony Blair, who must rate as one of the most deceitful, despised characters ever to have been Prime Minister. So his recruitment to the Europhile cause, trying to get people to “rise up” and overturn the democratic decision to leave the EU, is most welcome to independence campaigners.

Even Simon Jenkins in the Guardian has said Blair should “butt out”, adding that “former Prime Ministers do not campaign against the people”  Our President, my colleague George West, agrees. “It is time for the people of Britain to rise up against Tony Blair, a man who promised to take the UK out of the EEC if elected to Parliament.He should remember his promise  and stop blethering on about trying to keep us inside the European Union.”

Let us remember, he is the man who sent our troops into Iraq, ill-equipped on the strength of a dodgy dossier which was later found to have been plagiarised from a student’s thesis on the internet. The Weapons of Mass Destruction did not exist. Many better men than he were sent to their deaths or disablement on the strength of his deceit.

He now pretends concern that the controversy over Brexit could lead to the break-up of the United Kingdom, yet he and his government bear the greatest responsibility for this. Devolution in Scotland and Wales was quite deliberately “asymmetric” – that is unbalanced and unfair, creating bad feeling between people in different parts of the kingdom.

Blair’s deputy, John Prescott, set about completing the process of dividing Britain by trying to create elected regional assemblies in England. The people of the North East rejected that soundly. Had the programme succeeded, the whole country would have been balkanised into regions of around 5 million people with their own representation in Brussels – bite-sized chunks for easier digestion by the EU. Scotland and Wales are, of course, EU regions.

The ideology for this was set out in a report on British identity by the Runnymede Trust which Blair commissioned. It was chaired by Lord Parekh and came to the conclusion that we now were “a nation of communities” and that the very terms British and Britain were so laden with racism that their use should be discouraged and, if possible, discontinued. On that account, the report considered a completely new name for our country but, in the end, made no recommendation.

These are the sort of people who will be backing Blair and who have made the very name “Blairite” one of the most deadly insults possible within the Labour party and its former supporters. David Cameron, of course, aspired to be “the heir to Blair” and the country gave him his marching orders with the referendum. Their day is done. With challenges as well as opportunities, we are on our way to being a free country now.