Impeccable Sources

Lefty blogger (and New Zealander) Kate Belgrave :

At the start of last week, I was surprised by what I felt was a relatively quiet national political and press response to the battles that were raging at council meetings as people protested about council cuts.

The BBC spoke to me about using some of my stuff for segments on cuts last week, and there have been stories here and there on protests.

Any right-ish bloggers, even English ones, getting calls from the BBC ? Do let us know …

* tumbleweed blows across road *

* You wait. Time passes. Thorin sits down and starts singing about gold *

Unintentionally Ironic Statement Of The Year?

“Instead of balanced coverage you’ve got somebody, a commentator, finding a way to reaffirm the beliefs of their viewers.”

That’s Foster Kamer of the Village Voice in his dire paint-by-numbers attack on Fox News and the American Right for the BBC’s Culture Show (h/t Oliver via David Preiser).

Kamer’s item is so clichéd, so typical of lazy left-wing conventional wisdom that I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that the BBC College of Journalism is already using it as an example of best practice.

It wouldn’t have occurred to the editor of the Culture Show to commission a conservative commentator (Klavan, Breitbart, Gutfeld?) to give a different perspective on the US media for once. No, that would risk alienating the target audience – pretentious Guardian-reading dickwads. Far better to play it safe and get a reliably on-message left-wing hack to serve up the usual BBC smug prejudiced toss about the US.

How do you suppose Kamer responded to NPR’s sacking of Juan Williams? By championing open debate and free speech? No, like this:

A nasty little left-wing bigot. Not unlike the Culture Show supremo Janet Lee, in fact, as the editor of GQ Dylan Jones can testify:

Last summer, even I was subjected to a volley of abuse from a BBC executive. Janet Lee, the editor of the BBC’s flagship arts programme, The Culture Show (and who I have known for over 25 years), came up to me at a party on the Thames and, after calling me a ‘Tory ****’ proceeded to disparage the Tory leader, using ‘Etonian’ as though it were the very worst word in her lexicon of obscenities. You could tell she couldn’t work out what was worse: becoming a Tory, or admitting it.

Impartiality is in their genes.

Update Oct 25
. Janet Lee’s predecessor as Culture Show editor was Eddie Morgan:

After a spell working in strategy for Granada Media, Eddie joined the BBC to work as an output editor on Newsnight.

In 2002 he took time out from TV to work as Assistant General Secretary of the Labour Party and then went to the communications firm Brunswick before returning to the BBC to help set up The Culture Show in 2004.

Victim or Villain?

Did anyone hear Saturday Live R4 yesterday? The bit about Uday Hussein’s body-double, Latif Yahia. The poor fellow was forced, on pain of death to him and his family, to impersonate the evil Uday.

Fi “How did that make you feel” Glover was sympathetic, as you would be. But hang on. When Uday himself decided to take a potshot at poor Latif, all obstacles must have evaporated because he somehow managed to escape and get himself the hell outta there, and henceforth to Ireland where he married an Irish girl and lived happily ever after.

Near the end of the programme, someone emailed to ask why Fi had been so sympathetic and had treated him as a victim, when he had witnessed and possibly carried out some of the more unpleasant things in in the course of his impersonating duties. She wasn’t having any. She sternly reminded us that Latif was terrified and intimidated and had no choice but to comply (on pain of death to him and his family.) We were never told how , when push came to shove, he was able to get away, nor were we told what became of his family.

I wasn’t sure what to make of that yesterday. But just now I clicked on a link and it seems there’s more to Fi’s sob story than meets the eye.


I dare say that the day US Senator Ted Kennedy pops his clogs the BBC will go into full on mourning. They just love that aquatically challenged oaf. However it seems that there is one Kennedy that has invoked the ire of the BBC, and her name is Sarah.

Radio 2 presenter Sarah Kennedy has been chastised by the BBC for praising
right-wing politician Enoch Powell during her show. During her early-morning
show on Wednesday, Kennedy, 59, described Powell as ‘the best prime minister
this country never had’. Enoch Powell was famously sacked from the shadow
cabinet by Ted Heath in 1968 ‘Rivers of Blood’ speech about the dangers of
mass immigration. A spokesman for the BBC said that the corporation had received
25 complaints by Friday and that the presenter had been ‘spoken to’ about the

I actually do listen to “Bunty” each morning and find her a harmless and good natured person. But god forbid that a BBC presenter should say something positive about a demonised figure such as the late great Enoch Powell. I suppose if she had praised Aneurin Bevan she would have been given a salary increase…

"typical urban dwellers"

From the Socialist Unity blog yesterday :

Can anyone explain why Jeremy Vine’s show on Radio 2 this afternoon ended up interviewing John Rees, former SWP big cheese, as a studio guest representing typical urban dwellers, in a debate contrasting city life with rural living ?

Among the comments :

As National Secretary of Respect, John Rees appeared on the show many times, presumably the producers & Vine liked his style and so when they needed someone to speak on this subject called a few names on their list and JR came through. There’s no mystery.

The SWP have these weird connections in the BBC. A few years back, Paul Thatcher from Portsmouth SWP appeared on R4 as a “man in the street” disgruntled ex-Labour voter, neglecting to mention that he had actually stood against Labour in the previous general election as a Socialist Alliance candidate.

How strange that the SWP should have connections at the BBC when many of its ex and current members have presented or been involved in producing programs for it.

Timewarped BBC

The BBC online Have Your Say tonight is a classic. A 1950’s classic. The BBC evidently consider it a relevant 21st century question to ask: “Have 20 years of capitalism been good for E Europe?”

The most recommended comment thankfully sets things a bit straight:

“What a typical topic here on HYS. Only the crypto commies and sofa socialists on this site (and apparently the HYS staff who pose these questions) would even come up with such an absurdity as this. Communism appeals only those who have never lived under it. And they cannot get their head around the fact that it’s not economics but human liberty and personal freedom that it cannot ever enable or tolerate. It’s as simple as that. Unless you live in Islington or Berkeley.”

Difficult to put it better than that.

Moral Panic

(started this morning – I see David has put in a post, but as this story was still the main lead on Five Live news this evening …)

Of all the lobbyists, “campaigners” and special interest groups in the UK, two get a particularly ready and uncritical hearing from the BBC.

One is the anti-prison lobby – the Howard League and NACRO can always get a Today interview and news coverage – the other the “children’s charities”, today mostly run by unreconstructed 60s and 70s liberals (and also the recipients of massive taxpayer funding – £119 million last year for Barnardo’s – more than half their income. Tax-funded Barnardo campaigns are amplified by the tax-funded BBC. Do we see a pattern here ?).

Barnardo’s, an organisation that in today’s incarnation would make the good doctor turn in his grave, have a new political campaign about to kick off. Hey, man – the kids are cool. Stop dissing them !

And it’s been all over the BBC all day, alomg with no less than four news online items, at least one of which is a work of fiction straight from Barnardo’s campaign. But it’s this one, by social affairs editor Kim Catcheside (following in the footsteps of her predecessors Polly Toynbee and Rita Chakrabarti) which strikes me :


“The manners of children are deteriorating… the child of today is coarser more vulgar… than his parents were.”

A leader from the Daily Mail in 2008?

No, that was CG Heathcote, the stipendiary magistrate for Brighton in 1898, giving evidence to an inquiry on juvenile delinquency.

CG Heathcote is quoted by the criminologist Geoffrey Pearson, the author of the influential book, Hooligan.

Hmm. Daily Mail, eh ? No “twitching net curtains“, Kim ?

By an unbelieveable coincidence, that same quote is used in today’s Guardian by … the criminologist Geoffrey Pearson.

Catcheside’s piece is a textbook example of what I call the liberal “Myth of the Myth of the Golden Age“. But she’s right that the Pearson book is influential, although it was restating the themes of an earlier and equally influental work, Stanley Cohen’s 1973 “Folk Devils and Moral Panics”.

There’s a wonderful and inadvertant parallel with Pearson’s book in Catcheside’s piece.

Campaigners for the rights of children blame the media for whipping up hostility to children. According to the chief executive of Barnardo’s, Martin Narey, the British public overestimates the amount of crime committed by young people. “The real crime is that this sort of talk and attitude does nothing to help those young people who are difficult, unruly or badly behaved,” he says.

But the statistics show that while negative attitudes to children may be exaggerated, they are based on fact. In England and Wales, children aged 10 to 17 are far more likely to be arrested than adults. The most recent figures show that they account for a quarter of all arrests. Children and young people under 21 account for two thirds of arrests.


So the message is that “the British public overestimates the amount of crime committed by young people“. And the actuality is that two-thirds of arrests are of people under 21 ! While there might not be a 1-1 correlation between being arrested and being a criminal, this isn’t good supporting evidence for Mr Narey’s claims.

Just so with the Pearson book, which has been pretty comprehensively demolished by the sociologist Norman Dennis in his book “Cultures and Crimes” (Chapter 4, pdf)

Pearson argues in his 1983 book that the Edwardian and interwar periods were as violent as or more violent than the late twentieth century. Yet the statistics show that there were only 122 felonious woundings and other acts endangering life in 1927. (Between 1900 and 1927 the national figure for felonious woundings and other acts endangering life had more than halved.) Between 1969 and 1978, the period immediately preceding Pearson’s research for his book, the figure rose by 1,800, i.e. by seven times the total for 1900, and by 15 times the total for 1927.

Or (there’s lots more) :

The case of street robbery is particularly important for his thesis, he says, ‘because this is commonly the most sensitive area for registering public concern about crime and violence’. There is ‘ample evidence’, he writes, of ‘sharp increases in crimes of this nature’ in the interwar period. The ‘ample evidence’ he adduces is an increase of 90 per cent in the number of ‘bag snatches’ in London between 1925 and 1929. The fact that there was ‘an insubstantial public reaction’ to these figures at the time shows that substantial public reactions at the end of the twentieth century to much the same thing reflected merely a higher propensity in the later period for respectable people to panic about their personal safety and the security of their property.The rise was 90 per cent. Pearson does not say what the actual numbers were in the source to which he explicitly refers. The numbers were an increase from 66 bag snatches in the whole of London in 1925 to 127 in 1929. No numbers could show more decisively that London in the 1920s was a low-crime city compared with London today. In the whole of the ‘high’ year of 1929 there were 127 snatches. In the first half of 2003 the average number of snatches each month was 1,678.

Pearson’s most famous work is a mixure of omission, anecdote, selection and exaggeration hung on one observable fact – that throughout history people have tended to idealise the past. Yet it was, and is, influential – because people wanted to believe it. Kim Catcheside’s one of them. And by the way, Kim, if Barnardo’s are “campaigners for the rights of children“, whose rights are NACRO and the Howard League campaigning for ? It would be nice to hear you say it straight out.


. Hi folks! Just back from a long weekend in Rome. Over there the good news is that I couldn’t pick up the BBC, the bad news is that I could pick up CNN. Whilst CNN is outrageously biased (“Cult of Obama” at its’ worst) I reckon it is perhaps somewhat less anti-British than the BBC, so small mercies and all that! Plus, of course, I do not have to fund such left-wing drivel.

Anyway, I tuned into the BBC this morning and see they have been pushing the “murder isn’t murder when an angry woman does it” line. This latest instance of Harman-esque man-hating proposes that when a “partner” (read woman) kills her other half, this should be not be seen as murder but rather manslaughter. The BBC shows its balance by giving another view. QC Geoffrey Robinson, that awfully nice chap, thinks that these plans to turn murder into manslaughter do NOT go far enough! It’s nice to be home…!!