Brussels Broadcasting Corporation

The BBC probably thought they were doing their bit for balance by inviting Helen Szamuely of the Eurosceptical blog EU Referendum onto a discussion with Zainab Badawi.

On the other hand, they might have considered that UK feelings about the EU are not at all warm, and that two pro-EU bloggers out of three was a touch imbalanced. There was Nosemonkey, a “critically pro-EU and centrist” blogger, Shiraz Socialist, a “moderately angry nouveau-middle-class leftwinger” (I’ll refer to him as SS), and Szamuely, a lovable if crotchety Eurosceptic (I am sure she will love the description). Of the three, I am pretty certain Szamuely’s blog has much the largest readership (circa 3000 daily visits).

Then again, perhaps we should look at another metric- time alloted to speakers. In this regard, by my rough reckoning, Szamuely got 92 seconds, Nosemonkey 112, and Shiraz Socialist 134. Shiraz also got the last word, in which he claimed that EU institutions need to be strengthened. He had also been given the first word, fed to him by Badawi, that politicians in general were in the doghouse. Very conveniently, following that the whole discussion managed to omit mention of which party are firmly in the doghouse. People were angry with the recession, they said, but the “L” word went missing.

Now to the tone- it was clear that Badawi was “ready” for Ms Szamuely. She interrupted her several times and disputed with her the “usefulness” of the EU Parliament (Szamuely had a ready retort about Commission overrules of Parliamnetary objections, but that got lost in Badawi’s hectoring). Badawi interrupted her too when she mentioned UKIP, clarifying who they were while Szamuely was in full flow. Then, during the discussion wind up, she told Szamuely (who we have seen got less time) to say “briefly” how she saw the UK public mood, and repeated that “briefly” so that she could give time to… SS.

She did not once interrupt SS, nor dispute with him when he claimed that EU institutions need strengthening, nor when he stated that people were angry about the (his word) “laissez-faire” economics of recent times. She even murmurred, “mmm, yes” at one stage.

Nosemonkey was mainly there for posing value, but he managed to slip in a cheap jab about Tory MPs resigning over expenses which Badawi… let go, surprisingly.

All in all then, a startlingly biased presentation, once you look closely. But see for yourself and make up your own mind by watching the video on EU Referendum’s blog.

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8 Responses to Brussels Broadcasting Corporation

  1. hippiepooter says:

    Maybe I was just beguiled by Zainab Badawi’s exotic good looks and well spoken English, but I didn’t see overt bias. She did, to my mind, unneccesarily clarify who Robert Kilroy-Silk was, and did Thought-Policing over HS’ views on the usefulness of the EU Parliament, but I’ve seen worst, much worst from her, in her CH4 incarnation. I wouldn’t attach any importance to her using the word “briefly” twice to Helen Szmauley, as the guy that followed to conclude the slot only had 10 seconds left.


  2. ed thomas says:

    Fair enough HP- I was going to say something about how good she looked, but thought better of it:-). I think the point with the “briefly” thing was that SS had already had far more time than Szamuely- and you have to remember the 2-1 ratio against the Eurosceptic position. Plus I think it was a kind of hurrying tactic which she (Abadawi) had already used twice before on Szamuely. After 2 or 3 plays it really struck me.


  3. JohnA says:


    "Zainab Badawis's exotic good looks" ?

    She always strikes me as a bit of am overpaid harridan. Too full of herself, like most BBC presenters, and too shallow in terms of what she knows about the facts and the context.


  4. George R says:

    Ed Thomas:

    an excellent summary of that example of BBC political bias on the European Union.

    As a broad critique of the E.U., which the BBC is inclined to disdain, Christopher Booker has this:

    ‘Sunday Telegraph’-

    “European elections 2009: No wonder voters can’t be bothered”


    “As the creators of the ‘European project’ intended, this über-Parliament, with its vast, brave-new-world buildings in Brussels in Strasbourg, has steadily expanded its powers at the expense of national parliaments, and will do so even more if they get their ‘Not-the-Constitution’ Lisbon Treaty.

    “But virtually nothing we can do on Thursday will have any real influence in deciding how we are governed. With 78 of 785 MEPs, Britain has only a tenth of the influence on anything that goes on in the European Parliament. And the vast majority of MEPs, including our own, are only really concerned with promoting the interests of the new supra-national government of which they are part.” (Christopher Booker.)


  5. David Preiser (USA) says:

    Badawi was very clearly defending the EU. She went out of her way at least three times to be on side. “That’s not fair,” etc. She got Szamuely to agree that the European Parliament doesn’t make laws, but then went right on to talk about how the EU does legislate after all.

    The defense of the EU was shameless. Badawi’s interruptions of Szamuely were to state the case for the EU. The overall impression I got from this was that the three bloggers were on there to complain about the EU, or explain why British voters might vote a certain way (or not at all) on Thursday, and the BBC was defending the EU. This is a violation of the Charter and Agreement, as the BBC is supposed to stick up for the UK’s domestic interests first and foremost.


  6. George R says:

    A rather strange blog on BBC’s ‘Mark Mardell’s Euroblog’, about GEERT WILDERS (1 June):

    “A walk on the Wilders side”.

    Mardell inserts the anti-Wilders views of a theatre company in Rotterdam (but Mardell omits to mention what sort of a city ROTTERDAM has become); there’s none of the following in his blinkered view:

    “Eurabia has a Capital: Rotterdam”


    “Three months ago, ‘The Economist,’ a weekly publication far from Wilders’ anti-Islamic ideas, spoke of Rotterdam as a ‘Eurabian nightmare.’ For most of the Dutch who live there, Islamism is now a threat greater than the Delta Plan, the complicated system of dikes that prevents flooding from the sea, like the flood in 1953 that killed two thousand people. The picturesque town of Schiedam, part of the greater Rotterdam area, has always been a jewel in the Dutch imagination. Then the fairy tale glow faded, when in the newspapers three years ago it became the city of Farid A., the Islamist who made death threats against Wilders and Somali dissident Ayaan Hirsi Ali. For six years, Wilders has lived under 24-hour police protection.”

    For more on Wilders’ own views, there’s a new piece on ‘Brussels Journal’, referred to here by ‘Jihadwatch’:

    “Wilders: ‘Our elites…are so blinded by their own ideology that they turn a blind eye to the truth’.”


    “Geert Wilders causes outrage in the Dutch Parliament by telling the truth about Western elites.

    “‘Wilders Causes Another Row. Pre-Captivity Stockholm Syndrome,’ by Thomas Landen in the Brussels Journal, June 1.”


  7. Quinn says:

    I agree that Badawi is too full of herself. The Beeboids must have got to her. She was great on Channel 4.

    BTW, I made it Szamuely 91 seconds, Nosemonkey 113 seconds and Shiraz Socialist 135 seconds, but my stopwatch / index finger combination isn’t the most reliable!


  8. adam says:

    yep, biased