Monday, December 08, 2014
Tories at war with 'biased BBC'
David Cameron and George Osborne furious over Autumn Statement coverage which they claim contained 'systematic exaggeration'
The Conservatives have accused the BBC of “bias” and “systematic exaggeration” after David Cameron and George Osborne launched an unprecedented attack on the corporation’s coverage of the Autumn Statement.
The row threatens to cause tensions between the Tories and the BBC five months from what is shaping up to be one of the most unpredictable general elections in decades.
One senior Tory MP suggested there was a risk that unless the BBC was scrupulously fair in its reporting it could drive voters “into the arms of Labour”, and even find its future funding arrangements affected.
The news came as it emerged that:
* Britain faces public spending cuts on a “colossal scale” after the election, which will lead to a “fundamental reimagining” of the role of the state, according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies, with an estimated £55 billion worth of cuts still to come by 2020;
* Green levies on household energy bills are to triple over the next five years to nearly £10 billion, due to an increase in wind farms, said the Government’s independent Office for Budgetary Responsibility;
* The state pension will rise by 2.5 per cent to £115.95 a week, up from £113.10 next year. Experts said it would have risen by more if the Coalition had not changed the way the rise is calculated.
Mr Cameron, Mr Osborne and other senior Conservative figures criticised two separate television and radio reports broadcast by the BBC within hours of the Autumn Statement on Wednesday.
BBC Radio 4’s Today programme compared forecasts from the Office for Budget Responsibility to “a book of doom” and said that Britain was heading back to the time of George Orwell’s The Road to Wigan Pier.
That came hours after BBC Two’s Newsnight broadcast black and white footage of rioting workers over a commentary by its presenter, Evan Davis, comparing the UK’s prospects to the depression of the 1930s. Mr Davis told viewers: “You have to go back to the depression of the 1930s to find a crisis comparable to the one we are in — it is one of those once-in-a-lifetime experiences.”
The Prime Minister and the Chancellor both said that the coverage on the Today programme was “hyperbolic” because it exaggerated the economic threat to the UK.
Mr Osborne said the comparison with Orwell’s Britain was “nonsense”, adding: “I would have thought the BBC would have learnt from the last four years that its totally hyperbolic coverage of spending cuts has not been matched by what has actually happened.”
Mr Cameron’s spokesman said that the reporting impeded a “clear and sensible and measured debate about the decisions that are being taken and that need to be taken in the future”.
A senior government source added: “There have been examples in the past of bias from the BBC. But it’s when it slips into references to George Orwell and the idea of people living in penury that it becomes a real issue.
“The BBC needs to address subjects like this in a serious way. Their approach was so wildly inaccurate that we had to challenge it.”
Grant Shapps, the Conservative Party chairman, added: “With an election approaching, it is vitally important that the BBC adheres to the highest standard of editorial impartiality.” Conor Burns, a Tory member of the culture, media and sport committee which scrutinises the BBC’s work, said it was “patently absurd” for Newsnight to suggest “either political party will be intent on taking Britain back to a pre-welfare state, pre-health service Britain”.
Being overly critical of the Coalition’s attempts to find efficiency savings could swing votes to Labour, he said.
He added: “Any ideas that a future Conservative government would undo the National Health Service or undo the welfare state could have consequences of sending voters into the arms of Labour and that would be more than unfortunate, it would be deeply unprofessional for our national broadcaster.”
The row could have a bearing on the corporation’s attempts to renegotiate its Royal Charter which set its budget for the next 10 years.
Mr Burns added: “Our national broadcaster that wanted its charter renewed in 2016 will be under even more scrutiny than normal.”
Andrew Bridgen, the Conservative MP, on Thursday wrote to Rona Fairhead, the BBC Trust’s chairman, to complain “about a pattern of systematic exaggeration in the BBC’s reporting of the Autumn Statement”.
Mr Bridgen said he wanted “to seek assurances that in the remaining six months until the general election your coverage will demonstrate the impartiality and balance that the public, and indeed the BBC charter, demand”.
He went on: “Over the last four years the entire nation has pulled together to achieve something many said could not be done: we are now the fastest growing advanced economy in the developed world. The sacrifices and hard work of the British people are ill-served by pessimistic reporting which obscures our economic success with the language of fear and doom.”
A BBC spokesman said that it was satisfied that the Today programme’s coverage had been “fair and balanced and we gave the Chancellor plenty of opportunity to respond on the programme”.
The comments on Newsnight were justified because the Office for Budget Responsibility had itself said that nominal government consumption will fall to its lowest level since 1938, the BBC said.
The spokesman added: “The BBC takes its responsibility for impartial coverage very seriously. It is the duty of all journalists to ask politicians difficult questions. We will keep asking them.
“We’ll undoubtedly get more criticism from across the political spectrum as the election gets closer, but we’ll keep doing our job.”
UK's view of migrants is bull****, says UN official: Fury after French Canadian claims British see immigrants as 'barbarians' who threaten culture
A United Nations official has sparked fury after claiming the public see immigrants as ‘barbarians’ who threaten British culture.
Francois Crepeau, the UN Special Rapporteur for Migrants Rights, said hostile attitudes towards migrants in Britain were ‘utter bull****’ - and based on ‘fantasy’ of preserving a 2,000 year-old culture.
The Canadian was accused of ‘offensive bigotry’ and political bias over his remarks comments, which also included an attack on Ukip and an apparent endorsement of New Labour’s mass migration policies.
And he even appeared to accuse ministers of letting migrants die by not supporting search and rescue operations in the Mediterranean.
His comments are only the latest in a string of attacks on the government from United Nations officials on Government policy over welfare reform, human rights and policy towards women in recent years.
One Whitehall source said: ‘The UN stands for unelected, unrepresentative and unrealistic when it comes to immigration. 'The government will do what the public expects which is control immigration, not what some unelected bureaucrat says.’
Tory MP Dominic Raab said: ‘To claim the British public sees immigrants as ‘barbarians’ because it is gripped by a 2,000 year old cultural ‘fantasy’ is offensive bigotry.
'Monsieur Crepeau is aping the very prejudice he is supposed to be fighting.’
Mr Crepeau made the comments in an interview with the i newspaper, in which he was quoted as criticising the attitudes towards immigration in the UK.
‘The fantasy is that there is a core British culture that was created probably 2,000 years ago and carried on,’ he said.
‘And now it’s being threatened by all those barbarians that are coming to our gate. This is utter bull****, but who is going to say this?’
He also criticised the Government’s decision not to join in further search and rescue operations.
Ministers withdrew support in late October amid reports people traffickers were using it as a ‘taxi service’ and encouraging more migrants to attempt the hazardous crossing from North Africa in ramshackle boats.
Traffickers were said to be setting off with satellite phones and then calling the Italian coastguard to come and pick them up, it emerged.
‘When politicians are saying, “We should not do search and rescue because it encourages other people to come’, to me this is an extremely cynical way of putting it,” said Mr Crépeau.
He added: ‘Not supporting search and rescue operations means letting them die. This is what happens, if you don’t search and rescue them; they die. ‘If we accept that, I think we go well beyond the moral boundaries of our political system.’
He was speaking ahead of a ‘fact-finding’ mission to Italy, where 150,000 migrants were picked up from the sea in the past year
In apparent praise for Tony Blair’s government, he said it was a ‘multicultural, diverse, open society’ which created Cool Britannia in the 1990s. On Ukip he added: ‘If Britannia is ruled by the Ukip, or with Ukip-type policies, it is not going to be cool.’
Ukip leader Nigel Farage told the Telegraph: ‘More people came to Britain in 2013 than came between 1066 and 1950. 'That gives you a sense of perspective of where we are with this, so he is talking utter baloney.
‘He is just not living in the real world. Britain is one of the most relaxed countries in the whole of Europe on immigration, but not with numbers like this.’
In 2012, Britain faced a review of its human rights record by countries including Iran, Russia and Cuba.
British human rights protection was criticised in the report by countries notorious for their wholesale denial of human rights - among them Pakistan, Belarus and the Sudan.
Polish toy manufacturer refuses to pull Nazi-themed toys from shelves... claiming they educate children on history
A Polish toy manufacturer has declared that it will continue to sell its line of Nazi-themed toys despite public backlash. Speaking from Warsaw, Cobi Toys CEO Robert Podles insisted that keeping such dolls and games on shelves offered a 'fun' way for children to be taught history.
'We believe that through good fun we can teach history and we will continue this line in the future, Podles says in the video. 'We cannot separate this from history,' he continued.
'Our history, our whole European history, unfortunately has imbibed this Nazism from the Second World War and we cannot escape from that.’
The toys sold by the company involved Nazi tanks, soldiers and other military items, as well as Soviet, American and British toys.
The statement from Cobi comes on the heels of a recent decision from Swedish department store, Gekås in Ullared, to cease stocking the Nazi-inspired toys. Gekås CEO Boris Lennerhov explained: 'This is not something we want to promote as form of ideal.'
Lord Mayor walks out of Islamic charity lunch after his lady consort was told she had to sit downstairs at the event
A Lord Mayor walked out of an Islamic charity lunch after discovering that he would have to be segregated from his female consort. Labour councillor John Thomas, 70, arrived at the function last Sunday with consort Margaret Corley, 72.
But Councillor Thomas, the Lord Mayor of Leicester, was said to be upset at being told he would have to dine in an upstairs function room with male guests, while his consort would be seated downstairs with the other women.
The lunch was held to mark the end of Charity Week – an annual fundraising event supported by around 20 university Islamic societies in the UK, and others in Canada and Qatar. It took place at a wedding and conference venue near Leicester railway station.
Guests at the event, who paid £6 a ticket, were told that the week of fundraising to help orphaned and disadvantaged children raised £730,000. But Councillor Thomas seemed to be in no mood for celebrating and left early. It is understood Mrs Corley left with him.
A source at the event said the Mayor had ‘insulted’ other guests by walking out, adding: ‘Students from universities, colleges and schools raised over £732,000 in just one week.
‘They contributed their time and efforts to raise money. The Lord Mayor should have respected this work.’
Councillor Thomas, who lives with his disabled wife Irene, 59, in Hamilton, Leicester, declined to comment on the matter.
But another source with knowledge of the incident said the Mayor’s office had previously been sent some information outlining what he could expect at the function. ‘The Mayor says no such information [about sitting separately] was passed to him, so the arrangement seems to have taken him by surprise’, they said.
Mrs Corley, who lives in a bungalow in the nearby village of Scraptoft, also declined to comment. She is understood to be a widow, and it is not known how she came to be selected as the Lord Mayor’s consort.
Councillor Thomas was elected to Leicester City Council in 1995 and currently represents Belgrave ward, a largely ethnic Indian district in a city where more than half of the population is non-white.
A spokesman for Islamic Relief, Charity Week’s partner organisation, said Councillor Thomas ‘arrived at the venue but left before the event started’. He added: ‘What happened was an unfortunate misunderstanding for which I want to apologise to the Lord Mayor on behalf of Islamic Relief and Charity Week.
‘None of the Charity Week organisers told the Lord Mayor he could not sit with his partner, and if anyone else at the event did then they were mistaken. The Lord Mayor and his partner would have been more than welcome to enjoy this event together.’
Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and DISSECTING LEFTISM. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here.