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

Now available: Brave new Europe by Mick Greenhough

Mick Greenhough, a Committee member of the Campaign for an Independent Britain, has recently published a book called Brave new Europe.  Mick writes:-

I was a committee member on Leave.eu in the run up to the referendum having studied the history of the EU for many years and wrote this book when it became very clear to me that either Remainers were deliberately lying to us or they did not have much idea what the EU is about. The few MPs I spoke to either had a very sketchy understanding of the EU with many blank areas of knowledge or were in a state of complete denial.

The voting public simply did not believe the BBC and the mainstream media who all appeared so biased against Brexit that it caused many to ask; why they are so pro EU?

Much of the information within this book will come as a surprise, even shock to new readers. When you have read it then form your own conclusion as to the nature of the EU and whether the British public were right to reject it.”

The book normally retains at £10. 25, but is currently available at a special discounted price of £6.95 For more information, please see here.

BBC muddying the waters

Anyone listening to the BBC news last week would have heard a misleading headline that Germany’s  finance minister Wolfgang Schäuble said that we would not be allowed to stay in the Single market

However, if you listened to the article in full, what he actually said was that if we were to stay in the Single Market, we would have to abide by the rules, including accepting the “four freedoms”. In other words, a bespoke deal isn’t on offer.

This is no great shakes. Whatever the wishes of many “leave” supporters, it will be the government which negotiates our exit strategy and we know that senior civil servants have been downloading Flexcit, an exit strategy document co-authored by, among others, Dr Richard North and CIB Committee member Robert Oulds of the Bruges Group. This advocates remaining in the Single Market by re-joinng EFTA and ths accessing it via the EEA agreement.

Herr  Schäuble’s words on which the BBC based their headline were given in response to the assertion that “Britain could continue to enjoy the benefits of the single market without being an EU member, in the same way that Switzerland and Norway do.” He replied, “That won’t work. It would require the country to abide by the rules of a club from which it currently wants to withdraw. If the majority in Britain opts for Brexit, that would be a decision against the single market. In is in. Out is out. One has to respect the sovereignty of the British people.”

As Dr North pointed out,  “The man thinks the EFTA/EEA (interim) option wouldn’t work. And that is on the basis of his interpretation that a vote for Brexit by the British people necessarily means a rejection of participation in the Single Market….What we have therefore, is an opinion based on an assumption, and nothing more than that – from a politician who is not a head of government, and who may not even be in office by the time Article 50 negotiations start in earnest……The finance minister is just another noisemaker in a debate polluted by noise.

While it is true that the degree of extra control over immigration which the EEA/EFTA route will allow us is not the same as that which may Brexit supporters desire, a recent poll conducted by Opinium, for the Bruges Group,  yielded the following results:

33% = Remain EU and Remain in the Single Market
13% =  Leave EU, join  EFTA, Remain in Single Market
39% = Leave EU, and have a Free Trade Agreement
16% = Don’t Know
Taking out the Don’t Knows, gives:
61% =Options to Leave EU (FTA + EFTA)
39% = Options to remain in the EU

(See here for a more detailed analysis of the result)
The poll shows that so strong is the desire of many to leave the EU that they are not taking much notice of the economic arguments. The “leave” side, however, needs to clean up its act. Recent polls are encouraging, but it would be a shame to lose a winnable referendum when the finishing post is in sight  because we are unable to reassure floating voters concerned about their economic wellbeing that the sky won’t fall in on  June 24th.  EEA/EFTA provides precisely such reassurance.

Media Bias – a letter from our Chairman

We cannot expect a fair debate in the run-up to the referendum as far as the media is concerned  – especially from the BBC. Our Chairman’s comments on the reporting of last Friday’s Grassroots Out meeting in London, sent to a number of newspapers,  illustrate all too well what we will be up against.

Sir,

On Friday 19 February I attended a very successful, enthusiastic rally, organised by the Grassroots Out campaign in the Queen Elizabeth Conference Centre London. It was standing room only. The platform included speakers from across the political spectrum – Conservatives, Labour and UKIP, all committed to returning our country to democratic government. That, of course, means leaving the EU.

Yet all that people had heard from the media by Saturday morning was that some people had walked out when George Galloway addressed the meeting. The meeting was running well past its scheduled time and I was one of those who left – not because of Mr. Galloway but because I had a train to catch. Others did the same just before he spoke

I was able to hear his speech on the internet today and it was as rousing and inspiring as the rest. He paid tribute to Nigel Farage of UKIP and said that we would not have had the referendum without UKIP’s campaigning. Much as he disagreed with UKIP politically, they had a common interest in ending the bureaucratic tyranny of the rich man’s club of big company corporates, which is the EU. The platform also included the Rt. Hon. David Davis MP (Conservative), Kate Hoey MP (Labour), Peter Bone MP (Conservative), Tom Pursglove MP (Conservative), David Campbell Bannerman MEP (Conservative), John Boyd of CAEF – of the Labour and Trade Union Movement and others – all united in the cause of our country’s freedom.

George Galloway’s speech received a standing ovation – yet all my neighbour knew about the meeting on the following morning was that people had walked out!

The BBC is up to its tricks again. In the Seventies , they were under daily instruction from a high Foreign Office official, Sir Norman Reddaway, as to how the news concerning the “Common Market” should be presented. This was admitted in a BBC programme twenty five years later. One news presenter, Jack de Manio, did not toe the line. He was sacked and BBC programmes have been overwhelmingly Europhile ever since.

It was a strange inversion of function. The Foreign Office supposedly exists to represent our country abroad but, when it came to the EU, it represented that foreign power to us!

The BBC is probably so well-trained by now, like Pavlov’s dogs, as not to need a minder. But, as Lord Tebbit famously put it, “It’s called the Foreign Office because it works for foreigners”.

Yours faithfully

Edward Spalton.

The millions in EU funding the BBC tried to hide

Following on from our article about the “nobbling” of the BBC in he 1970s, our attention has been drawn to this article in the Spectator, which appeared last year. Although now firmly in the pro-EU camp, the BBC is not keen to let us know just how much money it receives from Brussels.

Miles Goslett writes:-

Over the last three years the BBC has secretly obtained millions of pounds in grants from the European Union. Licence fee payers might assume that the Corporation would have been compelled to disclose the source of this money in its annual reports, but they bear no trace of it specifically. In the latest set of accounts, for example, these funds are simply referred to as ‘other grant income’.

Instead of making an open declaration, the BBC’s successful lobbying for this money had to be prised out of it using a Freedom of Information (FoI) request lodged for The Spectator, proving that there was never any danger of the state broadcaster’s bosses volunteering it willingly.

The FoI response confirms that BBC staff applied for, and accepted, about £3 million of EU funds between April 2011 and November 2013, most of which has been spent on unspecified ‘research and development’ projects, with the remaining £1 million spent on programming.

Next to the £3.65 billion tax-free income that the BBC receives each year via the licence fee, £3 million is, admittedly, a mere speck of dust – just 0.8 per cent of its annual guaranteed revenue and, obviously, even less than that when spread over 36 months.

However, the size of these EU gifts is arguably irrelevant, even though they are indicative of the BBC’s seemingly unquenchable thirst for public money. What is undeniably true is that the BBC has acted with characteristic slyness by concealing that it ever requested, let alone received, this European cash, suggesting that it is uneasy about the public being aware of its financial arrangements.

With the European elections only three months away, {this article was written in February 2014} the timing of this disclosure is certainly unhelpful to the BBC, fuelling longstanding pro-EU bias concerns.

Rob Wilson MP, an aide to the Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne, says that he believes evidence of the BBC receiving any EU money leaves it open to attack because being on its payroll risks feeding the perception that is incapable of reporting objectively on European affairs. Mr Wilson also questions why the BBC needed to go ‘cap in hand’ to the EU for funds in the first place when its enviably secure financial position allows it to outgun commercial rivals in so many spheres.

He says: ‘The whole point of the licence fee is to protect the BBC’s political independence and impartiality by providing it with a source of funding that is outside the hands of governments and politicians. Thanks to this FoI response, we now learn that it has been going cap in hand to the EU for millions of pounds on the quiet over the last few years. Such outrageous flouting of the principles on which the BBC is based and funded will only promote cynicism about its political impartiality and lead to a loss of trust in the BBC’s independence.’

In the FoI response, the BBC refuses to name any of the ‘research and development’ projects or television programmes on which it spent the EU grant money.  This, apparently, is information that’s far too sensitive for mere licence payers to be told about.

All it says by way of explanation is that the funds come from two separate sources – the EU Framework Programme for Research and Development; and the European Regional Development Fund. It admits that during the financial year 2010/11 it accepted £956,000 from the first of these funds and that during the following financial year it was given a further £435,000 for the same purpose.

During the first half of the current financial year, between April and November 2013, it was awarded a third EU research and development grant worth £812,000.

More money – none of which is given without a formal application – is expected before April 2014 but the running total for these three tranches stands at £2.2 million.

A BBC spokesman says the money was used for ‘technology-based projects based on existing BBC R&D priorities and business needs’ but would elaborate no further.  The BBC’s response then reveals that it has also received EU grants for programme-making from the European Regional Development Fund.

Although it claims such funding is commonplace among Europe’s public service broadcasters, it has declined to provide a breakdown of the grants beyond insisting that none of the money was spent on news programmes. A helpful BBC insider has worked out that the total amount of EU money spent on programmes over the last three years is likely to have been £1 million.

However, with a straight face, the BBC does explain in its response that Channel 4 has in the past received funding from the same source, and that it used its EU prize money to make the 2008 film Slumdog Millionaire.

When the BBC is prepared to use an FoI response to state how a rival organisation spent its EU booty, but refuses to explain how it spent its own, its standards of transparency are surely broken.

Eurosceptic Labour MP Kate Hoey, now part of an unofficial coalition of politicians overseeing the privately-funded organisation Newswatch, which monitors the BBC for EU bias at a cost of £60,000 per year, says the FoI disclosure is ‘shocking’. She says:

‘I have grave concerns about the bias of the BBC when it comes to EU matters. I find the whole thing shocking. The lack of transparency is unjustified. Why does it seem so worried about people knowing where it gets its money? What has the BBC got to hide other than knowing that many of us don’t trust them on EU matters and the need for a referendum on Britain’s EU membership?’

Ms Hoey adds that she has concerns that the BBC ‘very rarely’ reports Labour MPs’ views on Europe. She says:

‘Even Today in Parliament [on Radio 4] always tries to convey Tory splits on Europe, and this doesn’t help the perception of an EU bias. There are Labour MPs with strong views on Europe as well. It doesn’t help that the BBC very rarely reports these views.’

The evidence contained in this FoI response is the latest in a series of examples shining some light on the BBC’s relationship with the EU.

Déja Vu

Peter Farrell, one of our supporters has kindly passed on a transcript of a programme broadcast on Radio 4 on Thursday 3rd February 2000, entitled “A Letter to the Times”. It is a shocking exposé of the underhand tactics used by a number of leading Europhiles in the run-up to our joining the EEC in 1973.

In December 1970, six months after Edward Heath’s unexpected election victory, an opinion poll showed that only 18% of the UK electorate supported him in his long-term dream of taking our country into the EEC. A massive 70% were opposed. While the decision on accession was to be taken by Parliament, it was apparent to Heath that he would never gain a parliamentary majority in the face of overwhelming public opposition. While some of the tactics he used are well-known, notably disguising the political project as an economic project and not mentioning loss of sovereignty, other underhand tricks employed at this time have only come out into the open more recently.

The programme revealed one particularly successful tactic: a barrage of letters to the Times during the Autumn of 1970 all apparently written by MPs who supported accession. In reality, these MPs only signed them; they were all produced by an ardently pro-European PA to the MP Sir Tufton Beamish.

But how were the rest of the population, who didn’t read the Times, to be converted? Equally clandestine methods were used. Those of us of a certain age will remember the name Jack de Manio, who presented the Today programme from 1958 until 1971 and who was twice voted British Radio Personality of the Year. He was also strongly Eurosceptic. Geoffrey Tucker, who was closely linked to Heath and who organised breakfasts for supporters of accession, lobbied for his removal. The following year, the programme was reorganised to feature two presenters. De Manio was not happy with the new arrangement and resigned. A coincidence? Whatever, by 1971, the BBC had been effectively “nobbled.” The managing director of BBC Radio, Ian Trethowan, was another friend of Edward Heath and was very willing to accede to the wishes of Geoffrey Tucker’s breakfast group to deal with any broadcasters perceived to be opposed to accession. Far from being an organ of impartiality, the BBC became the main propaganda vehicle used to shift public opinion in these crucial years.

However, the most disturbing revelation in this programme was the funding of the European Movement by the American CIA. Dr Richard Aldrich, a political historian, came across the archived documents of a CIA front organisation which poured millions of dollars into the UK. In typical CIA style, the audit trail had made it difficult to trace the source of the European Movement’s funding, but it seems that even the office cleaners ultimately were being paid by US intelligence!

Heath himself was interviewed in the documentary and he is heard expressing his regret that the job was never fully done. He described the subsequent rise of euroscepticism within the Conservative Party as “the most devastating blow of all.” However, in view of the deceit he encouraged, such a man deserves no sympathy whatsoever. The only person to come out at all well from the programme is Roy Hattersley. Although a pro-European, he was horrified by the tactics being used during this period. He attended one of Tucker’s breakfasts and was so appalled by what he heard that he never went again. In his opinion, the use of spin all those years ago, has prejudiced the argument ever since.

Telling words indeed and vital lessons for supporters of withdrawal as the referendum looms. Already, one has a sense of déja vu as one businessman after another is given air time on the BBC saying how disastrous it would be to leave the EU. Our opponents are not going to play fair, but we cannot allow them to get away with it this time. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.

Photo by TechnicalFault (formerly Coffee Lover)