Are The Times A’Changing At The BBC ?

Today we heard from Kofi Annan’s Chief of Staff (RealAudio) discussing the ‘search for a UN definition of terrorism’.

March 17th, 2004.

BBC Today programme, 8.35. “In the aftermath of the Madrid bombings, we discuss the difference between a freedom fighter and a terrorist.””We” being Leila Khaled, Palestinian hijacker and hostage-taker, and Danny Morrison, Sinn Fein/IRA publicity head (and the man who has the last word on what happens to republican ‘informers’).RealAudio link here.

Via Norman Geras, news that we’re not the only ones

Via Norman Geras, news that we’re not the only ones.

The trust that MPs had in the BBC has collapsed, with a majority of Conservatives and a large proportion of Labour members now believing that the corporation’s news coverage is biased.

Four out of ten Labour MPs and two thirds of Tories told MORI, in research conducted for the BBC, they did not believe that it was “free from influence and bias”.


The finding has unsettled BBC governors, who revealed the existence of the research in the corporation’s annual report. But it has not surprised MPs, who believe that the BBC is losing its reputation for objectivity.

The BBC website gave full coverage to a vigil for the victims of the London bombs

The BBC website gave full coverage to a vigil for the victims of the London bombs, organised by the Stop the War Coalition, the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and the Muslim Association of Britain.

According to the BBC, “it was Dr Assami Tamimi, of the Muslim Association of Britain, who drew the biggest response from the crowd.”

The piece quotes Dr Tamimi as saying “Muslims also need to kill the ideology behind this, that justifies the killing of innocents – this is Machiavellian and is anti-Islamic”

Fine words with which we can all agree. Just one teensy quiblette.

The Rottweiler Puppy has been doing some digging, and reports that the BBC appear to have made a mistake with the speaker’s name, which is shown on the MAB website as Azzam Tamimi.

Anyone can make a mistake.

Unfortunately, as the Puppy points out, Azzam Tamimi turns out to have said – on the BBC – a few other things about the killing of innocents.

Not a single person of those who bomb themselves, bomb themselves because they are desperate or poor. It doesn’t happen because of this. They do it because they want to sacrifice themselves for a cause after all avenues have been closed before them. If the Palestinians today are given F16s and Apache helicopters …

No – please come back to my question. Please come back to my question. Why if it is so glorious and honourable to do this, why don’t you do it?

I would do it …


If I have the opportunity I would do it …

When are you going to do it?

When? If I can go to Palestine and sacrifice myself I would do it. Why not?

And there’s more – from 9/11 to wifebeating.

In an interview with the Spanish daily La Vanguardia titled ‘I Admire the Taliban, They Are Courageous’ in late 2001, Al-Tamimi claimed that the September 11 attacks brought joy to the Arab world. He begins by assuring the interviewer that “everyone” in the Arab world cheered upon seeing the Twin Towers fall. “Excuse me,” says the interviewer, “did you understand my question?” Al-Tamimi: “In the Arab and Muslim countries, everyone jumped for joy. That’s what you asked me, isn’t it?”

Normal Coverage Resumes At BBC

For a few short hours, as Harry’s Place reports, the BBC were prepared to call those who attacked civilians in London on Thursday ‘terrorists’. A day later they had become ‘bombers’.

Stephen Pollard points out that Newsnight seem to have been convinced by George Galloway.

“We urge the government to remove people in this country from harms way, as the Spanish government acted to remove its people from harm, by ending the occupation of Iraq …”

Newsnight’s Peter Marshall –
“What the war [on terror] was supposed to prevent, it has brought about.”

“Eco-village” which is a “model for us all”

Scott at the Ablution notes Lisa Mitchell’s glowing assessment on the BBC website of the “Eco-village” which is a “model for us all”.

Er … would that by any chance be this eco-village ?

The protesters appeared to come from a temporary “eco-camp”, set up on the outskirts of the city, before dashing into Stirling.
Around 200 hooligans dressed in hooded tops with scarves obscuring their faces hurled missiles at police.
The hooligans moved from Stirling’s high street to residential areas, smashing windows and wrenching satellite dishes from walls.
TV pictures showed the rioters running amok through streets wielding weapons at police vans.

A witness, Mark Wallace, said: “It seems to have been a major battle.
“It was co-ordinated. The protesters moved people to certain areas and they all decided to fight at once to try and stretch the police resources.”
At one point Stirling train station was closed but it is was back to normal after about 90 minutes.


UPDATE – Ms Mitchell now has a second article, on how the locals feel about what the first article called the “practical implications for the rest of us”.

She explained: “My six-year-old son is scared that when I get to work I will be attacked.

“People are staying away from the shop. There’s a lot of police here now but they weren’t here yesterday.”

The supermarket is used by the campers and she said “some are nice enough”.

“But you can’t tell which are the peaceful ones and which are violent,” she added.


Slugger O’Toole notes that the BBC World Service describe the Ulster Unionists as ‘loyalist’ and the Democratic Unionists as ‘hardline loyalist’.

The SDLP are ‘moderate nationalist’.

Then there’s ‘republican Sinn Fein’.

Good to see that the BBC know who the real hardliners are. A year ago the Today programme was describing the ‘gulf between republicans and unionist hard-liners’. By republicans they meant, of course, Sinn Fein/IRA.

St. George And The BBC.

BBC Online has some regional coverage of St George (patron saint of England, feast-day today) this year, including this BBC London item, which garnered a huge and overwhelmingly positive response to the question “should London have a major St. George’s Day celebration ?”. We seem to be getting less coverage these days which suggests that celebrating Englishness is reserved for knuckle-dragging Neanderthals.

Not so only a few years back. Here’s a piece I wrote in 2002.

‘Twas the feast of St George, 2001, 10.30 at night, and in my country hovel life was good. Some red wine and garlic bread (traditional English fayre), a good book, Radio 4 murmuring gently.

“And for St George’s Day, a special guest talks about England and what it means to be English”.

Who could it be, I wondered – Peter Hitchens perhaps, or Simon Heffer of the Daily Mail who has advocated English self-rule – maybe Sir Patrick Moore, whose knighthood was long delayed because of his English nationalism (he was I believe a member of the English National Party during the 1970s/80s).

“And here in the studio we have Billy Bragg !”

I almost fell off my chair (may have been the wine) as the Bard of Barking held forth, turning out to be so proud of his Englishness that he felt English about once every three days, otherwise feeling European or a citizen of the world.

(For foreign surfers, Billy Bragg is a singer and poet of far-left views – not perhaps the first name that would spring to mind when the words ‘English patriot’ are pronounced. Some of his songs are quite memorable but George Brassens or Jacques Brel he ain’t – nor Tom Waits or Randy Newman neither. He is a strong anti-racist who has left the multicultural city and chosen to live in a leafy, white and conservative area – Dorset).

I did wonder as this year’s St George’s approached how the BBC could top that this year. Tariq Ali perhaps, or Peter Tatchell ? And as the day approaches, a sighting shot on St George – the BBC News site announces “St George comes under fire”. A Simon Pipe recorded that ‘some critics say St George’s Day is best ignored.’ Well, one critic to be precise – the historian Professor Ronald Hutton, who believes that “It would be a sure sign of a loss of nerve” if we celebrated St George’s day.

An alternative voice (you know how keen the BBC are on diversity) comes from Chris Doyle, of the Council for the Advancement of Arab-British Understanding, who says toasting St George is “deeply insensitive” – after all, the Crusades were only seven hundred years ago. (note : why is it that ‘harking back to the past’ is obnoxious when we praise the glories and great deeds of the English, but such a good thing when we berate ourselves for (perceived) past sins ?)

And this year ? He’s back ! The voice of England has an essay on the BBC website, looking to a future ‘where anyone, of any race, will be happy to call themselves English’. What, even passing tourists ? Even the French ? The Scots ? Martin McGuinness ? If everyone can be English, then why should anyone wish to be ?

The site says “Billy Bragg is proud to be English, but not everyone who lives in England feels the same way. For millions of his fellow countrymen and women, English patriotism reeks of racism.”

That’s bad news – the BBCs chief political correspondent Andrew Marr helped draw up the notorious “British=racist” Runnymede Trust report a couple of years ago, now English=racist as well !

And what does Billy Bragg think are the defining characteristics of Englishness ? He thinks we need a debate, and only then can we see “the common elements that give us, the English, a sense of belonging“. This contradicts his earlier assertion that “everyone has their own, personal definition“. His definition includes the writing of William Blake and George Orwell.

In 1941, when my parents generation – the last heroic generation of Britons, the generation described by Peter Mandelson and Clive Soley in a Labour Party document as ‘racist and xenophobic‘ – while this generation was fighting Hitler prior to electing Labour in the 1945 landslide, George Orwell wrote his essay “The Lion and the Unicorn”.

In it he wrote of the English left-wing intelligentsia as follows : “In the general patriotism of the country they form a sort of island of dissident thought. England is perhaps the only great country whose intellectuals are ashamed of their own nationality. In left-wing circles it is always felt that there is something slightly disgraceful in being an Englishman, and that it is a duty to sneer at every English institution ….It is a strange fact, but it is unquestionably true that almost any English intellectual would feel more ashamed of standing to attention during ‘God Save The King’ than of stealing from a poor-box.”

Times have moved on, and the ideas of this ‘island of dissident thought’ are now those of our ruling elite. And the BBCs negative, carping coverage of the feast of St George, patron Saint of England, shows only too well that Orwell spoke truth.

(For a full fisking of Mr Bragg’s essay go here.)

Straight from the horse’s mouth

. BBC political editor Andrew Marr (RealAudio, 3 minutes in) on the Today programme’s legendary neutrality.

“… I was talking to an eminent American pollster who’s been observing it closely – and he says that on immigration, Michael Howard has a breakthrough issue – if he’s prepared to use it – but he’s too nervous of the liberal media – you know, er, (laughs) the Today programme, the newspapers and so on – jumping on him if he really goes for immigration … “

Oh dear

James Naughtie of Radio Four’s Today programme, interviewing Labour Chancellor Gordon Brown’s special adviser Ed Balls yesterday.

James Naughtie –

“If we win the election, does Gordon Brown want to remain Chancellor ?”

Ed Balls –

“Erm … I …”

James Naughtie –

You win the election”

Spotted by the Observer blog, who also have an mp3 clip of the quote. Full interview here (RealAudio).

Not his first ‘slip of the tongue’. Immediately after the US Presidential elections, in an interview with former Foreign Secretary Robin Cook and ex-Tory leader Ian Duncan Smith, the following transcript :

And, Robin Cook, what about those who say – President Bush now, he’s got four years, doesn’t have to worry about opinion in the United States, he’s there, presidents do some – er – can do things in the final four years – without what – having to worry about the next election – is he going to do things that will truly scare us, like maybe – scare some people – like maybe taking on Iran directly ?

RealAudio link here. Full report here.

The BBC have made a remarkable scientific breakthrough

The BBC have made a remarkable scientific breakthrough which has eluded the world’s medical researchers.

They have discovered that unborn infants fall into two distinct classes.

If the mother wishes not to bring the the unborn infant to term, it becomes, by a process not yet fully understood, a ‘foetus‘.

“The procedure involves the extraction of the body of the foetus into the vagina before the contents of the skull are sucked out, killing the unborn, after which the intact foetus is removed from the woman’s body.”

If the mother does not wish to kill the unborn infant, but threatens its life with, for example, cigarette smoke, the unborn infant becomes a ‘baby‘. Again, more research is needed to establish the exact mechanism by which this change occurs, but the infant can become a ‘baby’ within six weeks of conception.

“A study found that nearly a third of women whose partners smoked more than 20 cigarettes a day lost their babies within six weeks of conceiving.”

Whereas an unborn infant whose mother does not wish to give birth remains a ‘foetus’ up to the ninth month of pregnancy.

“Partial-birth abortion is one in which the foetus is partially delivered before the pregnancy is terminated.

The procedure would not normally be used until 20 weeks into a pregnancy. Most are performed late in the second trimester, which ends at 27 weeks into pregnancy. However, “partial-birth” abortions can be carried out right through to the ninth month of pregnancy.”

UPDATE – tidied up (with a hint of stealth edit) 9.06 am 03/03/2005