The EDL – "Ultra-Nationalists"

I don’t understand. If the English Defence League are, as described on BBC news, an “ultra-nationalist” group, what does that make Sinn Fein/IRA, who killed more than two thousand people over 25 years for such crimes as holding a dying soldier or shopping in Warrington ? I don’t think I ever heard the BBC talk about anything but ‘Irish nationalists’.

I’m not an EDL expert, but I understand they were founded as a protest against radical Islamism – the sort of activity that manifests itself in insulting soldiers in Luton or beating up veterans in Manchester (a story you’re unlikely to hear on Today). In other words, they were ‘anti-extremist’, albeit a very narrowly-focused anti-extremism. Whether that declared aim is in practice maintained, or whether on the street it merges into a more general anti-Islam sentiment, is certainly a topic for debate. But at the same time as the EDL are described as “ultras”, the organisation Hope Not Hate is described on Today as ‘anti-extremist’, when in practice their ‘anti-extremism’ is very narrowly focused on one political party. You won’t find HnH protesting against ‘preachers of hate’ in mosques.

One other stick used to beat the EDL is that, in the presenter’s words “the English Defence League is associated in people’s minds with demonstrations that turn violent“. So is the National Union of Students, but the BBC haven’t exactly gone out of their way to investigate the many left extremist groups associated with the protests – perhaps because so many of their staff were members of those groups in their student days. In BBC-speak “activist” = “left-wing activist”, “extremist” = “right-wing activist”. And to be fair, much of the trouble at EDL demonstrations is caused by counter-protesters – whereas the violence and vandalism at student protests is all self-generated.

And while we’re on “activists”, I didn’t realise the rehabilitation of the Sydney Street killers was under way. BBC correspondent Sanchia Berg tells us how “after the failed Russian Revolution in 1905, many activists came to Britain“. “Activist” seems a mild word to describe revolutionary killers like Jacob Peters, controversially acquitted of the Sydney Street killings, who went on to increase his body-count exponentially as a senior member of the Cheka, the Soviet secret police who “policed labor camps, ran the Gulag system, conducted requisitions of food, subjected political opponents (on both the right and the left) to torture and summary execution, put down (peasant) rebellions, riots by workers, and mutinies in the Red Army“.

The hypocrisy of the BBC is in the language used to describe those they disagree with as against those they agree with. Anyone expecting balance from the BBC in their coverage of the political left and the political right would be sadly disappointed. But should it be really too much to expect?

Have you suffered from disability discrimination?

If you have, then the BBC wants to know. We all know the sort of things that happen and how upsetting they can be – when the lack of a wheelchair ramp means you cannot get to an art gallery, when the selection committee looks askance at your application because of your health problems, when persecution by feral youths drives you to burn yourself and your daughter to death…

North-Northwester of They’re Joking. Aren’t They? writes:

…it does lead us quite nicely to the BBC’s political class mantra. They’re actually going to allow comments on this story and so must think that they’re onto a winner.

Have you suffered from disability discrimination? Do you live in Barwell? Have you been affected by the issues raised in this story? Tell us your experiences using the form below.

A selection of your comments may be published, displaying your name and location unless you state otherwise in the box below.

They can only think – if that’s not too strong an expression – and confront this problem (which certainly is too strong an expression) in terms of a clash of competing victimhoods.

You see, Francecca Hardwick wasn’t burned by her distraught and desperate mother as the result of 10 years of barbarians persecuting them in their home and the utter abdication of the authorities from their paid and, in the police’s case, sworn duties – far from it.

She died because some individuals still don’t understand people with ‘learning difficulties.’

Framing the debate

In the great BBC interview bias debate, we’ve already identified one factor, what has been called the “interruption coefficient” (by commenter Ctesibus). There are other factors though of course; one that usually strikes me is what I could term “framing”. The opening 1 minute and 30 seconds of this interview with Conservative Caroline Spelman were conducted by John Humphrys analysing the local elections results WITHOUT mentioning the expenses scandal, while claiming that the Conservatives had failed to meet expectations at a time when Labour were at a low ebb. Actually, before the election I can recall the BBC intoning hypnotically that all politicians were in the doghouse together. Now that the Conservatives pass an electoral test, suddenly the expenses scandal disappears from their thinking and the Conservatives have allegedly disappointed.

The rest of Humphrys’ interview too was dripping with oleaginous cynicism directed against Conservatives- insinuating that the Conservatives would be punished at the General election, that Spelman was dishonest (“come on, you’re a politician”), that Brown had the new Cabinet behind him (Humphrys fluffs this hilariously as he realises he’s spouting more than his usual nonsense quotient) and that David Cameron would get his comeuppance soon over expenses.

All of this Spelman sailed through with the fair wind of success behind her, but Humphrys’ framing of the discussion was a persistent effort to mitigate bad news for Labour. For now, it has failed, but to the truly ideological every little counts.