The BBC celebrate

the humour of the late left-wing Labour MP Tony Banks, “known for acid tongue and sharp wit“, who “will be remembered for his hilarious insults

Tory MP, Terry Dicks, was dismissed as “living proof that a pig’s bladder on the end of a stick can be elected to Parliament”.

The former sports minister, who became Lord Stratford last year, showed reputations did not intimidate him when he accused Lady Thatcher of having “the sensitivity of a sex-starved boa-constrictor” during a Commons debate.

He added to that by calling the former Prime Minister a “half mad old bag lady” on another occasion.

Former Chancellor Kenneth Clarke was “a pot-bellied old soak” while another former Prime Minister John Major was “so unpopular, if he became a funeral director people would stop dying”.

During the 1997 Labour Party conference he sparked controversy by describing then-Tory leader William Hague as a “foetus”.

Meanwhile, the Liberal Democrats were “woolly-hatted, muesli-eating, Tory lick-spittles”.”

Just let me pick myself up off the floor – that is so funny. And so original.

Although the BBC don’t tell us his brilliant follow-up to the ‘foetus‘ jibe.

I bet a lot of Tory MPs wish they hadn’t voted against abortion

First Ronnie Barker. Then Richard Pryor.

Now, as the BBC remind us, another comic genius has left us.

Insidious PC from the BBC

(I’ve changed the date on this post to reflect the transition from first saving to final form)

I think I was a scout for two weeks, though I can’t remember exactly. I had been promised it would be way different from the hateful cubs pack I was a member of, but it was sufficiently like it to bring out a nervous reaction that saw me resolutely glued to the sofa and the tv as though to a floating fragment from a shipwreck, instead of venturing to a draughty village hall miles from my home (those horrible chairs you had to help shift; the miserable knots, the cooking classes- and they were some of the better things).

So I’m not a great fan really. The best part for me was the oath I took, and they’ve changed that since for some strange reason. Obviously oaths aint what they used to be. I think I kept mine by leaving after 2 weeks.

Anyhow, that’s not the point.

Anthony Browne recently published a forthright document concerning Political Correctness in Britain and abroad. It’s well worth reading, and during the course of his argument he has a go at the BBC.

However one non-BBC related quote (among the many) struck me for its relevance to the kind of thing the BBC is quite absurdly satisfied with

‘The New york Times’ culture correspondent, Richard Bernstein… was… concerned about how PC tried to overturn the dominant culture and power structures.’

because I had just been reading this BBC article supplied by Rob in the comments.

Thinking people ought to agree that this is fascinating. It is fascinating when an all but explicitly Christian and anglospherical youth movement, aimed at fostering the virtues to underpin the British dream, not only backs away from that project but does a volte face: expressly embracing and fostering what was (in Baden Powell’s day) seen as a regressive and primitive culture of idolatry. It’s fascinating and it’s news. There is of course an argument that it is still a regressive and primitive culture (of idolatry) (- this bracketted part is a little-sought specification for the argument in 06)

However the BBC doesn’t treat it like that- that is to say, doesn’t think anything remotely like those concerns, even watered down, need be addressed; doesn’t set the context in which the oath has been broken into a smorgasbord of options; doesn’t note the clear revolutionary angle. Only sees it as a positive news story about Islam and the West cohabiting. But it is revolutionary, however some well-meaning people might see it as a natural outflow of our generous cultural eclecticism and assimilation.

That’s PC for you.

(of course, whether or not Baden Powell’s creation was one of history’s really good thingsis open to question. The fact is that people relied on it to produce a certain calibre in young people.)

Active Israelis, Passive Palestinians.

I followed this link to an “On This Day” article about the 1985 airlift by Israel of Ethiopian Jews to Israel. I have no bias complaints about that article itself. It actually said that the Jews had suffered particular president under “Marxist President Colonel Mengistu Haile Mariam.” But I noticed several funny things about the “Timeline Israel/Palestinians” covering the 1950s to the present.

I’m afraid this is going to take some space to demonstrate. Below I have posted the entire timeline. I couldn’t cut and paste for some reason so I typed it out myself. The only thing I have edited out because they were too tedious to type is the exact dates; other than that these are the BBC’s own words in full. I have, however, changed the original font or added reference symbols in the following four cases:

1) Headlines where Israel or Israelis (category includes “Jewish” as no non-Israeli Jews are mentioned) are identified as doing violent acts have been put in italics. I counted 17.

2) Headlines where Arabs (category covers any Arab nationality or political group) are identified as doing violent acts are marked with an asterisk (*). I counted 5.

It would be absurd to expect exactly equal numbers. However the discrepancy between the category above and this one is surprising: no Arab is mentioned as carrying out any violent act until 1973 (“Arab states launch war on Israeli forces.) The second explicit mention of Arab violence, and the first explicit mention of Palestinians as the authors of violence, does not come until 1996 (“Palestinian suicide bombing in Tel Aviv kills 12”). Then there are three more, all in 2001 for some reason.

3) Headlines where no race or nationality is attributed to the authors of a violent act but it was actually carried out by Arabs have been put in bold. I counted 18.

The most striking of these was one from 1974, “Teenagers die in Israeli school attack.” Anyone would think the proto-Beslan at Ma’alot was carried out by the Israelis.

The BBC’s reluctance to ascribe violent acts to Palestinian authors has had a paradoxically un-PC effect. In this so-called “Israel/Palestinians” timeline the word Palestinian is not mentioned until 1987.

4) Headlines where no race or nationality is attributed to the authors of a violent act but it was actually carried out by Israelis are marked with a hash (#) sign. I counted 3. Again, it would be absurd to expect exact equality between the previous category and this one, but 18:3 is a startling ratio. I think I see a pattern here.

Headlines mentioning violence by both sides and violence within either side have been left unclassified. Warlike but non-lethal acts have been left unclassified. Headlines mentioning violent acts where who carried them out is controversial have been left unclassified.

This timeline is also unfair to the Palestinians in that the large number of Palestinians killed in the Intifada are not mentioned. I do not refer to actual terrorists but to stone-throwers and civilians who were not carrying out violence at all. Even those sypmathetic to Israel must concede that this is a large category. Possibly the fact that they tended to die by ones and twos means that there were few headline stories.

The BBC timeline follows:

Timeline Israel/Palestinians


1953 Israeli raids on Jordan.

1955 Egyptian and Israeli fighters clash over Gaza.

1956 Egypt siezes Suez Canal.

1956 Israeli troops move into Sinai.

1956 Anglo-French forces bomb Suez.

1956 UN forces British to agree withdrawal from Suez.

1957 Israel to pull out of Gaza under UN pressure.


1965 West Germany and Israel establish relations.

1967 UN to withdraw peace force from Sinai.

1967 Nasser bans Israeli ships from Gulf of Aqaba.

1967 Egypt and Jordan unite against Israel.

1967 Jordan moves tanks towards Israel.

1967 Moshe Dayan appointed defence minister

1967 Israel launches attack on Egypt.

1967 Israel ends Six Day War.

1967 Moscow calls for UN action against Israel.


1970 New peace plan for Middle East.

1970 Hundreds held in series of hijacks.

1970 Hijacked jets destroyed by guerillas.

1972 Israel commandos storm hijacked jet.

1972 Japanese kill 26 at Tel Aviv airport.

1973 Parcel bomb attack on Israeli embassy.

1973 Arab states launch war on Israeli forces.*

1973 Egypt and Israel sign historic ceasefire.

1973 Israel’s founding father died.

1974 Violent border clashes at Golan Heights.

1974 Teenagers die in Israeli school attack.

1974 Dozens die as Israel retaliates for Ma’alot.

1976 Israelis rescue Entebbe hostages.

1977 Egyptian leader’s Israel trip makes history.

1978 Sadat in US for Mid-East talks.

1978 Israel invades Southern Lebanon.

1978 Israel troops leave Southern Lebanon.

1978 Two dead after El Al crew ambushed.

1978 Arab-Israeli breakthrough in US.

1979 Israel and Egypt shake hands on peace deal.


1981 Israel bombs Baghdad nuclear reactor.

1981 Egypt’s President Sadat assassinated.

1982 Israeli ambassador shot in London.

1982 Israel invades Lebanon.

1982 PLO leader forced from Beirut.

1982 Refugees massacred in Beirut camps.

1983 Sharon quits after massacre enquiry.

1983 39 troops killed in Lebanon car bomb.

1985 Israel ends major Ethiopian rescue mission.

1985 Gunmen hijack Italian cruise liner.

1985 Gunmen kill 16 at two European airports.

1986 Nuclear technician missing after secrets leak.

1987 Palestinian intifada begins.

1988 Dead heat in Israel elections.

1988 Arafat recognises State of Israel.

1989 Six killed in West Bank village raid. #


1991 Bush opens historic Mid-East peace conference.

1993 Israel launches major attack on Southern Lebanon.

1993 Israeli Court sets Demjanjuk free.

1993 Rabin and Arafat shake on peace deal.

1993 Israel and the PLO agree to recognise each other.

1994 Jewish settler kills 30 at holy site.

1994 Yasser Arafat ends 27 year exile.

1994 Israel’s London embassy bombed.

1994 Israelis and Arafat share peace prize.

1994 Israel and Jordan make peace.

1995 Palestinian self rule in West Bank agreed.

1995 Israeli PM shot dead.

1995 Shimon Peres appointed Prime Minister.

1995 Nablus handed to Palestinian Authority.

1995 Israeli troops withdraw from Bethlehem.

1996 Suicide bomber kills 19 on a Jerusalem bus.

1996 Palestinian suicide bombing in Tel Aviv kills 12.*

1996 Israel bombs Hezbollah bases in Lebanon.

1996 Clashes at Al-Aqsa shrine in Jerusalem.

1997 Israel gives Hebron to Palestinian Authority.

1997 Suicide bomb kills four in Tel Aviv café.

1997 Suicide bombings put peace visit in doubt.

1998 Further self-rule promised in Wye Memorandum.

1999 Revised Wye Accord aims to revive peace process.


2000 Deadlock in Israeli-Palestinian talks.

2000 Israeli cabinet votes to leave Lebanon.

2000 Hezbollah makes gains in Lebanon.

2000 Hezbollah celebrates Israeli retreat.

2000 “Provocative” mosque visit sparks riots.

2000 Shocking images of boy shot in Gaza.

2000 Sharm El-Sheikh peace talks collapse.

2000 Ceasefire in Israel collapses as fighting erupts.

2001 Ariel Sharon elected Israeli prime minister.

2001 Israel sends F-16 fighter planes to Gaza.

2001 Islamic Jihad bombs Tel Aviv disco.*

2001 Hamas bomb kills 15 in Jerusalem.*

2001 Israel kills PFLP leader Abu Ali Mustafa.

2001 PFLP assassinates Israeli tourism minister.*

2002 30 Palestinians killed in major offensive. #

2002 Suicide bomber kills 19 in Netanya hotel.

2002 Fifth suicide bomb in one month kills 14.

2002 Israeli troops besiege Arafat HQ.

2002 Israeli seige of Bethlehem begins.

2002 US calls on Israel to leave West Bank.

2002 Israeli soldiers die in Jenin ambush.

2002 Fierce fighting in Jenin and Nablus.

2002 Horror at pictures of Jenin in ruins.

2002 Powel peace mission ends in failure.

2002 Israel loosens grip on Jenin.

2002 Bethlehem siege ends – militants deported.

2002 Israelis begin building security wall.

2002 Suicide bomber kills 19 on Jerusalem bus.

2002 Israel kills Hamas leader Salah Shehada.

2003 Suicide bombers kill scores in Tel Aviv.

2003 Mahmoud Abbas to become first Palestinian PM.

2003 EU, UN, Russia and US launch Peace Roadmap.

2003 Israel tries to kill Hamas lead al-Rantissi.

2003 16 dead in Jerusalem suicide bus bomb.

2003 Abbas resigns after clash with Arafat.

2003 Geneva accords rejected.

2004 Sharon plans removal of settlements in Gaza.

2004 Israel kills Sheikh Ahmed Yassin.

2004 New Hamas leader al-Rantissi killed. #

2004 Tourists killed in Egyptian resort bombings.

2004 Veteran leader Yasser Arafat is dead.

2005 Abbas triumphs in Palestinian elections.

2005 Israel completes Gaza settler evictions.

ADDED LATER: Here are some more. In the comments, Lee Moore writes: “I noticed this same headline tendency before, and this is a good example – a BBC page summarising Israel v Palestinians headlines in 2002.

Link to BBC story

There are twelve stories about Israelis committing violent acts and they are named eight times in the headlines for those stories. There are fourteen stories about Palestinians committing violent acts and they are named in the headlines for those stories….not once.”

Justin Webb Reports

Justin Webb reports the White House reaction to Pat Robertson’s latest foot-in-mouth episode and promply manages to fall into the common Beebish tendency to see any nutty statement by a Falwell or Robertsonas a fair representation of Bush’s “right-wing religious base.”

Well, I have it on good authority that Mr Robertson has already experienced a taste of said “wrath” just lately. Mysterious as the Beebocracy may find this, Pat Robertson is not the man of influence they seem to think he is, nor are evangelicals the lock-step coneheads seen at every turn in the land of Beeb.

“When is media going to learn that just because somebody calls himself religious, or even a religious leader, that doesn’t mean he speaks for or leads all the other people who call themselves religious?” —Jeff Jarvis

Thanks to RealClearPolitics and Instapundit.

Loyal opposition.

BBC Eye is a Beebwatching blog by “Cerdic”, who started the Beebwatch blog before blogs existed. His post for today says:

Five Live Drivel continues to not surprise. In awaiting Charles Kennedy’s statement (no, not ‘mine’s a pint), they said that the Shadow Cabinet was split over his possible departure. Since the Shadow Cabinet is currently Conservative (I know the BBC hopes the LibDums will become the official opposition, but really), I suspect they’re fervently hoping Good Time Charlie stays put. The LibDem Frontbench are another matter entirely. But then, facts and the BBC…..

A nice cup of tea.

Andrew Zalotocky writes:

What did you think of “The Christmas Invasion”? It didn’t seem overtly political, which makes me wonder why the BBC web site had that story promoting it as such beforehand. I can think of three plausible explanations:

1) The “peace message” story was a heavy-handed attempt to ensure that the audience got the right message

2) It was the loose cannons at BBC Online giving it their own special spin

3) It was a deliberate attempt to generate publicity through controversy

If it was option 3, we have to ask:

a) Does that mean that critics of the BBC were taken in by a PR scam?

b) If so, was it specifically targeted at them?

c) If so, was it also an attempt to undermine their credibility by getting them fulminating at a programme that would turn out to be innocuous?

I’d be interested to hear your take on this.

So far I have only seen twenty minutes of it. A younger member of the household who had not enjoyed “The Empty Child” expressed a definite desire not to see it and not to be alone while not seeing it. Never let it be said that only having seen a third of an episode of Dr Who is enough to stop me talking about it, though. Based on my knowledge of the individuals and organisations concerned my provisional answers to your questions are (1) yes, (2) yes, (3) yes, (a) yes, (b) no, (c) no.

I’d guess that Andrew Rilestone would not usually be politically sympathetic to this blog, but given that I agree with nearly everything he writes about Narnia, I’m willing to trust him when he writes about Dr Who.

Many of the 45 minute episodes have felt rushed: at 60 minutes, “The Christmas Invasion” felt developed and well-balanced. The story made a great deal of sense, although it suffered from a few examples of R.T.Ds trademarked lazy plotting — there seemed to be no story-internal reason for the killer Santa’s or killer Christmas tree — they were in the story simply because they seemed like a good idea at the time. (The idea that the Doctor is literally revived by a cup of tea was amusing, but had no rational justification.) The papers, bless them, fixated on the idea that the story had a strong anti-war message, but compared with the in-your-face satire of “World War III” last year, it was almost imperceptible.

The papers had some reason for their fixation: Russell Davies’s own words. (And I was told that an issue of Radio Times a month or so back had David Tennant saying something about how he was a socialist because of King Lear, possibly quoting Shaw. Anyone got a copy?) So media folk are pinkoes. Important bulletin about sylvanian ursine habits follows. It doesn’t stop (although it may distract) them from producing good TV. The actors and scriptwriters, I mean; let’s leave the poor bears some privacy.

In the first few seconds of his reincarnation at the end of last season I was embarrassed by Tennant’s goofiness. Him working his jaw and mumbling about his teeth looked less like a Time Lord than like an old geezer unhappy with his dentures. Rilestone argues that Tennant’s childish moments are of a piece with the jelly babies, a foil to his moments of omnicompetent world saving skill, and represent a return to the True Path of Who, cleverly placed after Ecclestone’s “off-the-wall re-invention” had blown away the cobwebs.

My two longest previous Who screeds are here, and here. Click the (0)’s to read the comments. Yes, I know. Complain to Haloscan, not me.

Happy New Year.

Not many posts while I was away, I see. I suspect that, with the honourable exception of Laban, the Biased BBC shock-jocks were unable to post due to a prior commitment to getting some serious hung-over layabouting done. Never mind, other bloggers took up the slack:

  • Read Adloyada on one award the BBC won’t be boasting about – namely an ironic award from Honest

    Readers provided a full laundry list of complaints and we found the most effective way to condense the biggest offenses was in a simple list form. The examples of bias from the year past indicates a pattern of naiveté, dishonesty, forcing facts conform to a narrow worldview and, arguably, a desire to inappropriately influence events-all paid for by British television viewers through the TV License Fee, which costs the typical household £126.50 per year.

    But don’t take my word for it, or Adloyada’s. Rather, follow the numerous links provided.

  • The American Expatriate posts about BBC coverage of the NSA monitoring issue:

    From TAE’s count, the NSA wiretap issue has been addressed or mentioned in nine different BBC online articles since the story broke on December 16. In seven of those nine articles, the BBC gives voice, often extensively, to the view that Bush’s authorization of the NSA monitoring program is at least questionable, if not plainly illegal. However, in only one article is anyone besides Bush himself or someone from his administration presented as defending the authorization as legal and within his constitutional powers. And that mention, frankly, was a tepid, passing reference.

    This was it:

    To balance this off, Reynolds mentions that “Acting House Republican Majority leader Roy Blunt said he was “personally comfortable” with what he knew of the programme.” This single sentence represents the entirety of the BBC’s coverage of any non-administration official defense of the president’s actions. Even this rather miniscule mention sets Reynolds apart from his BBC colleagues.

    Plenty of people are indeed concerned – but to report this story without mentioning President Clinton’s very similar use of his powers and without mentioning that a large body of opinion outside the administration, not to mention a large chunk of the US public, has expressed support of the present President’s policy is to tell only half the story. No surprise which half the BBC chooses to tell.

    Again, copious links are provided.

  • Jim Miller (inspired, he says, by a comment here) asks why Bill Thompson, writing for the BBC, thinks it’s a “shame” that significant “second-generation internet plays” (this appears to mean innovations) come from the US. I suppose Thompson could be thinking it’s a shame that they come from one place rather than all over the world. The next sentence supports that idea. But that’s not what he said, and when we are obliged by law to pay people to write for us it is not unreasonable to ask that they be capable of expressing themselves without appearing to take gratuitous swipes at foreigners.

John Simpson

reports on the trial of Saddam Hussein, declaring ‘Saddams’s trial is not a farce’.

Pootergeek is concerned for him.

I think I have just read John Simpson’s final serious news report. It is in many ways a frightening document; I am afraid on his behalf. Apart from the factual content that we have come to expect from the BBC even at its most feeble, it breaks metropolitan media convention in so many ways that I wonder if he composed it for a bet whilst under the influence of alcohol. Note the last-Friday-before-Christmas timestamp and wonder what kind of post-partying regrets will flicker across his face when Matthew Parris turns up on his doorstep wearing an ankle-length leather raincoat and bitchslaps Simpson with the matching gloves before agents of the W1 Stasi take him away to an “asylum” somewhere in darkest Peckham.

Read the whole thing. How long before Simpson is sacked and replaced by Justin Webb or Matt Frei ?

UPDATE – more remarkably balanced reporting on Africa.