Whose truth is it anyway?

This piece first appeared in Pete’s personal blog and is reproduced with permission.

A fascinating aspect of Western political discourse in recent months has been the contortions and mental gymnastics performed by our governments to explain why the public keep voting for the wrong people. Americans voted for Trump and Brits voted for Brexit? What on earth is wrong with them?

This week we’ve been treated to a full spread by The Guardian detailing how big data analytics were used to brainwash the masses. This though is a conceit. There is no genuine attempt to establish whether such techniques actually work, rather it is a concerted effort by corporate media to question the legitimacy of democratic outcomes – and overturn them if they can get away with it.

If it isn’t “sophisticated targeting techniques” then it’s Twitter bots financed by the Russian mob. The various theories now flowing from the legacy media now look as absurd as any conspiracy theory once found written in block capitals and green text in the early days of internet.

The one truly unapproachable concept for our ruling class is that they might not be the virtuous people they imagine themselves to be and that the public rejection of them is a consequences of their failures over decades. They see themselves as entitled to power and believe it is for the greater good if the choices of the public are moderated by their betters.

We are routinely told that the public did not understand what they were voting for, that they were brainwashed by computer algorithms and that somehow we are too deficient intellectually to be able to choose our own destiny. The rejection of a supreme government for Europe is supposedly more to do with ignorant and racist northers and their dislike of foreigners than the fact that the EU is a remote technocratic bureaucracy that doesn’t respond to democratic inputs.

For those who lost the vote, this narrative is powerful. It’s useful for three reasons. Firstly it absolves them of any obligation to examine their own failings and secondly it allows them to believe that they are the victims despite them being the incumbent establishment with a near total control over the institutions.

The third reason is the most useful of all. All over the word the legacy media and governments alike are finding they are losing their monopoly over political discourse. They are used to controlling the flow of information and being able to transmit their own narratives without any serious challenge.

The internet, however has upset the balance whereby people can organise, communicate and disseminate alternative ideas – ideas which have toppled the Western post-war political order.  It is, consequently, an existential threat to them, thus they need a pretext to regulate and censor it. What you and I would call “free speech” they call “fake news”. Fake news is just a euphemism for messages they do not control.

This is not to say that there are not malevolent forces out there producing fraudulent content and disinformation and it is worth the intellectual inquiry just to understand the nature of it, but when it comes to “fake news” the leading manufacturers of it are the legacy corporate media themselves. They are in the business of manufacturing controversy and have long dropped any pretence of impartiality.

What makes that a bigger threat to democracy is one element. Prestige. Our traditional media is comprise of trusted brands, some of which have existed for more than a hundred years. The BBC also enjoys the authority and gravitas of being an arm of the British state. Though its reputation is tarnished on the domestic front it still carries a great deal of inherited prestige abroad.

In the age of internet, reaching a mass audience is far easier than ever it was if you can afford it. But that does not necessarily mean your message will be believed. This is why I am not especially worried about big data analytics being used as the basis of targeted campaigning. There is scant proof that it works. What worried me is the traditional means of propaganda; the art of repeating and reinforcing that which your audience wants to hear under the banner of a trusted media brand.

This is especially prevalent in the UK where we have maybe half a dozen editors giving houseroom to a handful of select political wonks, MPs, and authorised opinion gatekeepers to push a number of bogus concepts into the debate where their institutional prestige gives them credibility they would otherwise not have. They engineer particular talking points leaden with plausible sounding jargon and consequently their notions spread through Twitter like a mutating virus.

The scary part about it is that is does not actually require a mass audience. It need only infect the Westminster groupthink and the consumers of its output. Since the Westminster bubble is its own sealed off ecosystem and its denizens selected because of their conformity, misapprehensions and lies take on a life of their own, accumulating their own power – and the more it is repeated the more prestige it acquires. That is a magnitude more powerful than any article of what is called “fake news” promoted through social media platforms to a mass audience.

In this the media has weaponised suspicion of big data campaigning and the internet, to promote the idea that the legacy media is more worthy of trust. Being that few understand how it works and who is behind it is easy to plant the idea that its intent is malevolent. What should concern us more is how corporate interests are effortlessly able to buy their way into traditional media and control the narrative in the halls of power.

What we see before us is a battle for hearts and minds in which the establishment is seeking to fend off the disruptive influence of free speech and the free flow of ideas which challenge their monopoly. They’re afraid. If ideas can flow freely then there is a danger that they will keep voting for the wrong people. The success of their efforts hinge on convincing voters that votes the establishment disapproves of fall short of being legitimate.
In the end Donald Trump did not win the presidency because of Twitter bots or targeted advertising. He actually lost the popular vote and if the US presidential elections worked on the same lines as referendums then he would have lost. Trump is ultimately the inevitable consequence of a remote self-interested Washington establishment locked into its own consensus where elections don’t seem to change anything.
Brexit is exactly the same. We have seen prime ministers come and go but with policies locked in by EU directives there is no chance of meaningful reform or radicalism in government. The entire framework of European and global rules is designed to restrain democracy, to preserve a particular order – none of which is accountable to the people. We see politicians signing trade deals in the greater good with zero regard for the collateral damage. Jobs wiped out at the stroke of a pen in the name of “free trade”.
This is the dilemma of globalisation. All the studies show that free and fair trade increases overall wealth but at the same time increases inequality. It’s always the bottom two deciles who experience the pain – be they miners, steel workers or shipbuilders. The working classes always pay the price of economic revolutions. Now they are asserting themselves and the establishment is not at all happy about that.
This is what now bitterly divides the West. Our expert class tell us that their way is best because their spreadsheets say so. The public look around them at the street level and how atomised we have become, lacking any sense of control and increasingly discouraged from democratic participation. Borders become fluid, communities diluted and cohesion evaporates. The West has never been more culturally fragmented.
As to who is right, nobody can say for sure. In any political dilemma there are always winners and losers. It’s just that the losers from this iteration of history are nearly always the same. Since the economists have a habit of getting things badly wrong and failing to predict the fallout of their decisions, the expert class has no god given right to be taken seriously. There is really only one way to settle it. Democracy. This time around, those who are used to winning find themselves on the losing side – and they will use every dirty trick in the book to ensure it never happens again.

Has Ancestry.co.uk been nobbled?

In recent years, there has been a significant upsurge in genealogical research. Programmes like Who do you think you are? have inspired many people to find out who their ancestors were and the internet has greatly facilitated such a task.

One website which anyone can can use for research (on payment of a subscription) is ancestry.co.uk and, until recently, I personally had a very favourable impression of it after a very interesting time last year using its facilities to discover a great deal about my origins, going right back to the 17th Century. I’m sure that readers won’t be remotely interested in the history of the Petley family past and present, but what may well be of interest is the pro-EU bias which has crept into this website.

The website’s home page informs us that “the average British person’s DNA is only 36% British” but a little footnote adds “Based on AncestryDNA customers born in the UK to Nov 2017” – in other words, a limited sample size. Is this accurate? Ed West, in his superb book The Diversity Illusion, states that as far as DNA is concerned, the English of 1927 were more than 90% the descendants of the English of 927. Even allowing for the scale of immigration since the end of the Second World War, it is hard to believe that our DNA make-up has changed so drastically in less than 100 years.

Not content with using its website to make us feel less English or British,  Ancestry.co.uk has produced a series of videos and even TV adverts pumping out a pro-EU message.  A comment below the first video from “Ancestryuk” says “The average Briton’s DNA is 60% European.” No source is quoted for this statistic and no definition of “European” is offered either.

The adverts have produced both anger and derision among genealogists. Why should genealogy be politicised in such a blatant manner? Most other leisure interests are not. What is more, the pro-EU slant is very misleading and selective.

Firstly, having “European” DNA is no surprise. We know little about the origins of the ancient Britons who lived in these islands for centuries before Julius Caesar paid us a visit, but virtually everyone who followed in his footsteps in the next two thousand years, including those who decide to stay for somewhat longer and interbreed with the natives, came from the continent of Europe – Romans, Saxons, Vikings, Normans, Flemish weavers, French Huguenots and so on.

If you go back 12 generations, in other words, to the beginning of the 18th century, every person will have a maximum of 8,190 ancestors in total, the precise number depending on whether or not any given ancestor is common to two or more branches of your family tree (e.g., cousins marrying cousins).  Even if, like my forebears, yours were rather stick-in-the-mud types that didn’t move very far, within such a large total, it is highly probable that you will find the odd foreign-born  ancestor in that total. If the Irish are included  in Ancestry.co.uk’s definition of “European”, that certainly skews the pitch, especially as they were in political union with us for many centuries before 1922 and migrated over here in great numbers in the 19th century.

Secondly, having ancestors from another European country does not necessarily create any sense of belonging, even partially, to that country. OK, I promised not to bore you with details of my ancestors but it may be appropriate to mention briefly that I have both Irish and French (Huguenot) blood. I’ve been to Ireland and France. I enjoyed visiting both countries and it was interesting to think that I have forebears who originated from them, but I can’t say I feel the slightest bit French or Irish – even though I would probably meet the eligibility criteria for a St Patrick’s Day parade if I lived in the USA!

Thirdly, Ancestry.co.uk is guilty – at least by implication – of the same mortal sin as the remain campaign two years ago – conflating “Europe” with the EU.  The You Tube clip mentioned above doesn’t mention the EU once, but  this one mentions us “leaving” while this one  takes a dig at Nigel Farage. It also features a person discovering they have Norwegian ancestry. Well, maybe the it has escaped the notice of Ancestry.co.uk, but Norway isn’t in the EU.

Finally, many people from mainland Europe who have arrived here since the Middle Ages chose this country either to escape from  tyranny at home or to make the most of the entrepreneurial culture which was a feature of the UK, particularly in the 19th Century. To be a descendant of such people is a testimony of the success of our own country over the years and does not in the slightest imply that we should therefore stay in the EU.

One question which inevitably springs to mind given the appearance of high profile people like Alastair Campbell in one of the videos is where has all the money to produce these videos come from?  Has ancestry.co.uk been nobbled? If so, judging from the reaction of genealogists, it has done this thoroughly fascinating subject no favours at all.

Photo by annapmagistra

Project Fear Mark 2??

The Buzz Feed website has obtained a leaked copy of the leaked Government analysis of different Brexit scenarios which claims that over the next 15 years, the UK would be poorer by 8% under “WTO rules”, 5% poorer under a Comprehensive trade deal with the EU and 2% poorer if we re-joined EFTA, which would allow us reasonably frictionless access to the EU’s single market.

However, this is hardly Project Fear Part 2.  Labour may be pushing for the Government to publish the findings, but they are wasting their time. The report matters not one iota.  Forecasting likely economic developments as far ahead as 2034 is an utter waste of taxpayers’ money.

I can say this with some confidence without having seen the report because government bodies and indeed many distinguished economists – especially if they carry the label “Keynesian” – have terrific form when it comes to making economic predictions which turn out to be utterly and completely wrong – even over a much shorter timescale than 15 years.

We recently pointed out that David Cameron had been caught on camera admitting that the first 18 months since the Brexit vote had not been anything like the disaster he had anticipated.  You don’t need long memories to recall Gordon Brown’s claim that there would be no more boom and bust – only a few years before the Great Recession erupted during his premiership. Going back to 1981, no fewer than 364 economists wrote a letter to the Times stating that Sir Geoffrey Howe, the then Chancellor of the Exchequer,  would cause mayhem if he raised taxes in the middle of a recession. It turned out that the controversial 1981 budget, far from exacerbating the recession, laid the foundation of the UK’s economic recovery under Margaret Thatcher.

What is more, it is asking the moon to expect civil servants to come up with a study showing Brexit to be beneficial. Steve Baker MP found himself in trouble for claiming that Treasury officials are conspiring against the government on Brexit, but like it or not, the Treasury has been reported on good authority as being keen to keep us in the Customs union, even though Civil servants are meant to implement, not decide policy.

John Mills is therefore correct in sharing our scepticism when commenting on the claim in the new report that “Officials believe the methodology for the new assessment is better than that used for similar analyses before the referendum.” He says  “The whole piece rests on the above assertion. There is no description of the previous methodology or of the changes that make this analysis better. Is the methodology different from the one used previously to “prove” that the UK economy would tank if it did not join the Euro?”

Let us apply a bit of common sense to the UK’s economic prospects instead of listening to the so-called “experts”. In the shorter term, a slight dip in economic growth is likely in the post-Brexit period as things settle down, even if a satisfactory exit solution is agreed with the EU. Fisheries and agricultural  products are not covered by Single Market legislation and trade with the EU may be reduced here (although the fishing industry can begin its revival as soon as we leave, assuming Fishing for Leave’s proposals are eventually accepted by the government.) The delay in providing any guidelines about what deal the Government is expecting is causing firms to hold back on investment decisions and some firms in the City are already contemplating relocating staff to other locations. The City of London may see a slowdown in growth given the EU is none too keen to strike a trade deal involving financial services.

There is also the question of trade with those countries with whom the EU has negotiated trade deals. The EU is most reluctant to let the UK continue to participate in these deals post-Brexit and if new deals are not negotiated in time (or the countries in question do not agree to continuing to trade with the UK on the same basis), the economy may suffer here. As it happens, most of the UK’s most important trade partners outside the EU, including the USA, China and Japan have not negotiated a full-blown trade deal with the EU, although the EU has made more limited mutual recognition agreements with these countries, which we may need to replicate quickly.

All these factors do suggest that even the smoothest of Brexits could well see a slowdown in growth in early 2019, although this is a long way from saying a recession will occur. The UK economy has proved far more resilient than the promoters of “Project Fear” expected. Of course, if we crashed out of the EU, the consequences could be far more serious.

In the longer term, however, there is every reason to expect the UK to perform at least as well outside the EU as if we had remained a member state – if not better.  It will be far easier to reorientate our trade away from the sclerotic EU to the up-and-coming economies of Asia from outside the EU.  The massive deregulation advocated by some Brexiteers in the run-up to the referendum vote is not realistic, given how many  regulations originate from global bodies such as the WTO or the ILO, of which we will still be members. Some regulations could be scrapped or re-written if they originate from Brussels and are not in our national interest. We would also have the option to cut taxes to boost the economy in a way which would not be possible as an EU member state. VAT could be scrapped, for example.

Then thee is the issue of freedom. A strong correlation exists between freedom and prosperity. Freedom is a relative term, but being able to make our own laws, being able to remove those people holding real power via the ballot box if we don’t like them and our common law legal system will put us higher up the freedom index once we leave the EU. How tyrannical the EU is likely to become remains to be seen. Vladimir Bukovsky, the former Soviet dissident, said of the European Union, “I have lived in your future and it didn’t work.”  We are, of course, a long way from the gulags, the persecution of Christians and the extreme censorship of the former USSR, but a number of EU officials have made clear their disdain for real democracy. To quote one example, when the European Constitution was rejected in two referendums in France and the Netherlands,  Valéry Giscard d’Estaing, the former French Prime Minister, said “Let’s be clear about this. The rejection of the constitution was a mistake that will have to be corrected.”

Given that we will be free from all this, it is inevitable that Brexit will have a positive effect our prosperity. It is ironic that the young people, who were the strongest supporters of remaining in the EU, are likely to be the biggest beneficiaries of our leaving it. Mrs May has insisted that, in spite of these government studies, we will indeed leave the EU.  Mind you,  it would be a serious cause for concern if she had been influenced by it for, as one government minister said “It also contains a significant number of caveats and is hugely dependent on a wide range of assumptions which demonstrate that significantly more work needs to be carried out to make use of this analysis and draw out conclusions.”

In other words, it isn’t worth the paper it was printed on.

 

Taking on the remoaners

By Leo McKinstry

The anti-Brexit campaigners are the sorest losers in modern British history.   Instead of accepting the verdict of the EU referendum, they do all they can to thwart it. In their contempt for democracy, they mirror the arrogant spirit of the unelected, unaccountable Brussels oligarchy, which has always despised the notion of the popular will.

There are two central strands to the Remoaners’ cynical effort.   One is to fight against Brexit through the courts and Parliament, putting every possible legalistic obstruction in the way of the drive for British independence.  So they mounted a judicial review against Article 50, put down a deluge of amendments against the EU Withdrawal Bill and now try to galvanise the House of Lords into wrecking the Brexit legislation.  The other, perhaps more dangerous, strategy is to wage a ruthless propaganda war on behalf of the EU. Effectively, this is a reprise of the infamous Project Fear deployed by the Government in advance of the vote. Once again, we hear the same old scare stories:  that Brexit will be a disaster for the economy, trade and employment; that the process is so complicated that it cannot even be achieved in a decade; and that Britain will be left hopelessly isolated on the global stage.

The clear aim of the Remoaners is to create a climate of such anxiety, frustration and gloom over Brexit that the British people will turn against independence, either by demanding a second referendum or by pressurizing the Government into the abandonment of the entire process.  But this ruthless campaign cannot be allowed to succeed.    A surrender to the Remoaners would completely shatter faith in democratic politics in Britain.  It would show that even the majority cannot prevail against the establishment.   Amid profound public disillusion, the EU and the Europhiles would be triumphant.  Once again, Britain would be locked into the federal project, with all dreams of nationhood and a return to self-governance broken.    Such an outcome would be perhaps the greatest humiliation in our island story.

The best way to defeat the Remoaners is to demolish their arguments.    Already, the predictions of post-referendum meltdown could hardly look hollow.  George Osborne claimed that a vote for Brexit would lead to “an immediate economic shock” and a “DIY recession.”   Yet, almost two years after the referendum, economic growth is steady, the City of London is expanding, unemployment is at its lowest level since the 1970s and manufacturing order books are at their fullest since 1988.   Similarly, the Remoaners’ synthetic alarmism about the alleged negative impact of border controls – such as skill shortages – needs to be ruthlessly exposed. Far from damaging Britain, tougher immigration will raise living standards, promote social cohesion, lower social security bills and reduce.   After, as David Cameron once pointed out, no less than 40 per cent of EU migrants are actually dependent on welfare.

The British people need to be reminded that a return to the status quo in our relationship with the EU is not an option, for Brussels is bent on the creation of a federal superstate, where every vestige of national sovereignty has disappeared.  If Britain stays in the EU, we will become nothing more than a regional province of a bureaucratic empire. Indeed, the entire Remoaner message is one of defeatism, betraying a profound lack of confidence in our country. For centuries, Britain has been a great nation, the victor in two world wars, the creator of Parliamentary democracy and the pioneer of the Industrial Revolution, yet the pro-EU brigade that we are too enfeebled to survive on our own.   This unpatriotic, sneering disdain for Britain and its people shone through a recent outburst from the former diplomat Lord Kerr, author of Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, who declared that “immigration is the thing that keeps the country going.   We native British are so bloody stupid that we need injections of intelligent people from outside.”   Such self-loathing attitude infuses the Remoaners’ movement.  That is why it is so laughable when they talk about the national interest.   There will be no nation at all if they have their way.

Still eating his words in 14 months’ time? Let’s hope so

The consequence of the Brexit vote  “wasn’t as bad as we thought.” David Cameron’s off-the-cuff comment to steel tycoon Lakshmi Mittal was caught on video, as you can see here. However, he did actually say, “it’s a mistake not a disaster. It’s turned out less badly than we had thought but it’s still going to be difficult”.

Over 18 months since the Referendum the UK economy has performed well. The  official guidance to voters, in a letter sent by HM Treasury to each and every household, said that on a Leave vote, “Britain’s economy could be tipped into a year-long recession. Further, at least 500,000 jobs could be lost and GDP could be around 3.6% lower following a vote to leave the EU than it would be if we remained in the EU.”

The reality is that unemployment has fallen to a 43-year low of 4.3%, GDP has continued to grow and exporters are doing well, with September 2017 being the best month ever  Project Fear has looked very discredited and even one of the two men driving it has finally admitted the truth.

The last part of Cameron’s statement is also true as well, unfortunately. The next 14 months are going to be difficult and the difficulties for the government are already mounting as opposition from Tory MPs in particular to the proposed “transitional deal” is beginning to grow.  We have outlined many of its unsatisfactory features on this website and are pleased that our concerns are now being voiced within the corridors of Westminster.  Readers may enjoy this exchange between Jacob Rees-Mogg MP and Brexit secretary David Davis, whose jocular manner cannot disguise the discomfort he clearly felt as Mr Rees-Mogg put him on the spot.

We yet remain hopeful, even if the conflict over this issue is likely in the short-term, that David Cameron will still be eating his words in 14 months’ time.

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