Saturday, 31 October 2020

BBC "No Bias" rule seems to be just that.

Many  people think that the BBC is politically biased and that  the political editor of BBC News Laura Kongsberg is biased towards and that was also the position of her predecessor Nick Robinson and this was partiicualarly  evident on her treatment of former Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn.

In January 2017 the BBC Trust ruled that a report in November 2015 by Kuenssberg broke the broadcaster's impartiality and accuracy guidelines. A viewer had complained about her item, which featured an interview with Jeremy Corbyn on the BBC News at Six which gave the incorrect impression that Corbyn disagreed with the use of firearms by police in incidents such as that month's terrorist attacks in Paris. His purported answer to a question as broadcast in the report was in fact his reply to a more general (unbroadcast) question, not specifically about that terrorist attack.] The BBC Trust said that the inaccuracy was "compounded" when Kuenssberg went on to state that Corbyn's message "couldn't be more different" from that of the prime minister Theresa May, who was about to publish anti-terrorism proposals. The trust said that accuracy was particularly important when dealing "with a critical question at a time of extreme national concern."[27] Nevertheless, the BBC Trust found no evidence that there had been any intention to mislead, and their ruling was that the footage "had been compiled in good faith."[28] The Telegraph published a front page story about Kunnensburg in 2017 with the headline “the most divisive woman on TV today?”]

In September 2019 Kuenssberg received criticism for her portrayal of Omar Salem, a father who confronted prime minister Boris Johnson about the government's treatment of the NHS, as "a Labour activist."[30] Salem defended Kuenssberg, saying that she was doing her job "without fear or favour which is a vital part of democracy. I don't think 'Labour activist cares about NHS' is a huge scoop though...".[31]

In the 2019 United Kingdom general election, Kuenssberg was accused of bias, in various campaign incidents, alongside criticism of the BBC's election coverage. On 11 December, one day before the 2019 general election, she drew controversy by claiming on air that submitted postal votes, apparently viewed by both the Labour Party and the Conservative Party, were "looking pretty grim for Labour in a lot of parts of the country."[32][33] Viewing postal votes prior to polling day is in breach of guidelines set by the Electoral Commission[34] and predicting electoral outcomes based on votes cast prior to polls closing may be a criminal offence.] The footage was subsequently withdrawn from BBC iPlayer, while the episode of Politics Live in which the incident happened was withdrawn and removed from the BBC Parliament schedule.[37] The BBC News press office tweeted: "Regarding today's Politics Live programme, the BBC does not believe it, or its political editor, has breached electoral law."] The Metropolitan Police Service later confirmed that there was "no 

Kuenssberg was criticised, alongside other major journalists, for incorrectly tweeting that a Labour activist had punched a Conservative Party advisor, without verification; footage was released showing this was untrue and she later apologised and retracted her tweet.[40] On 3 March 2020, however, the BBC's Executive Complaints Unit stated that "It found no evidence of political bias nor that Laura Kuenssberg had failed to check the story before publication." When apologising Kuenssberg noted that two sources had told her the story was true, hence why she decided to publish it.

of course there are many on the right who believe that the BBC is a hot bed of "cultural Marxism" 

With much of the other News Media unashamingly on th right however it is imperative that the BBC re-establish trust , with its viewers , however it seem that the likelihood is that under the guise of "impartially" it will be progressive voices that will be muted.

The Guardian report that 

BBC journalists have been told that new rules on impartiality mean they may no longer be able to go on LGBT pride marches, even in a personal capacity, in case their presence is taken as a sign of political bias.

The BBC’s director general, Tim Davie, introduced the rules on Thursday. They are designed to shore up the public perception of BBC impartiality, following long-running criticism pushed by rightwing media outlets about alleged biases of corporation staff.

In addition to strict new social media guidelines, Davie introduced a ban on the broadcaster’s news reporters taking part in “public demonstrations or gatherings about controversial issues” even when not marching under an identifiable BBC banner.

The guidelines state that “judgment is required as to what issues are ‘controversial’ with regard to marches or demonstrations, though it should be assumed that most marches are contentious to some degree or other”.

 Journalists in BBC newsrooms across the UK told the Guardian that managers had informed them that while pride marches were not specifically mentioned by the guidelines, journalists would be stopped from attending due to the new rules.

BBC sources did not dispute this, but said interpretation of the rules would at the discretion of local managers. They emphasised that there was no explicit ban on pride marches in the rules. BBC employees not working in the news or current affairs divisions would still be able to take part in public marches and protests.

One BBC journalist said their manager had been told that growing media and political opposition to trans rights in the UK meant public LGBT pride events were now more likely to count as controversial events, meaning they would not be able to attend even in a personal capacity.

Managers also held up Black Lives Matter marches as an example of protests that would be banned for news staff, even in their spare time.

BBC Northern Ireland pulled its employees from taking part in Belfast Pride last year, after politicians raised concerns that it breached impartiality rules by implicitly endorsing same-sex marriage. The same year, however, the BBC’s entertainment arm spent a substantial sum to launch RuPaul’s Drag Race UK with a float at Manchester Pride.

The introduction of the impartiality guidelines has also caught out Fran Unsworth, the BBC’s director of news. She contacted staff on Thursday to introduce the strict social media rules, which explicitly warn reporters that liking posts on Twitter and other social media platforms could be seen as a sign of “revealed bias”.

Unfortunately, staff quickly noticed that Unsworth’s own rarely used personal Twitter account had most recently liked a 2019 tweet by a Liberal Democrat activist criticising the prime minister’s performance in a Question Time debate. The tweet said: “Boris has just offended everyone, male or female, in this room. I’ve never seen a more appalling performance by a UK prime minister. Absolutely dreadful.”

A BBC spokesperson said Unsworth had now deleted all of her “likes”. They said it highlighted the issues that the new impartiality guidelines were intended to address. “This just shows how vigilant we all need to be. This was a classic case of fat finger syndrome. She didn’t even realise she’d ‘liked’ it.”

The whole point of Pride and its marches that it is platform to show that LGBT issues transcends a "Niche" platform and includes people from alll backgrounds including the Military and Police.

I may be heterosexual but I see nothing in the Pride ( the name itself is a clue) that would find objectionable

However LGBT need to know that they are not discriminate against by outlets like the BBC and banning staff from taking part in Pride marches does not seem to elevate their concerns and once again calls into question what the BBC seem view where the line on impartiality should be drawnto

Friday, 30 October 2020

Antsemitism is a disease, but was Corbyn a carrier of it?

 It would be a case pf political cowardice for me not to comment on the news that former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has been suspended from the party following a damning report into antisemitism.

Wales Online report that 

"A spokesperson for the Labour Party said: "In light of his comments made today and his failure to retract them subsequently, the Labour Party has suspended Jeremy Corbyn pending investigation. He has also had the whip removed from the Parliamentary Labour Party."

Sir Keir Starmer faced pressure to take action against Corbyn after the former Labour leader refused to fully accept the conclusions of a damning report on anti-Semitism within the party.

Mr Corbyn said he did "not accept all" of the findings of the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), which found the party broke the law on harassment and discrimination under his watch.

And he maintained on Thursday that the extent of the problem had been "dramatically overstated for political reasons" by opponents and the media.

In a statement released on Thursday morning, Mr Corbyn said: “Anyone claiming there is no antisemitism in the Labour Party is wrong. Of course there is, as there is throughout society, and sometimes it is voiced by people who think of themselves as on the left.

“Jewish members of our party and the wider community were right to expect us to deal with it, and I regret that it took longer to deliver that change than it should.

“One antisemite is one too many, but the scale of the problem was also dramatically overstated for political reasons by our opponents inside and outside the party, as well as by much of the media. That combination hurt Jewish people and must never be repeated.

“My sincere hope is that relations with Jewish communities can be rebuilt and those fears overcome. While I do not accept all of its findings, I trust its recommendations will be swiftly implemented to help move on from this period.”

Shortly after Mr Corbyn's statement, Sir Keir told a press conference the findings of the equality watchdog marked a "day of shame" and said he was "truly sorry for all the pain and grief that has been caused".

"If - after all the pain, all the grief, and all the evidence in this report - there are still those who think there's no problem with anti-Semitism in the Labour Party, that it's all exaggerated, or a factional attack, then, frankly, you are part of the problem too," Sir Keir said.

In response to his suspension, Mr Corbyn said he will "strongly contest the political intervention to suspend me."

Adding: "I’ve made absolutely clear those who deny there has been an antisemitism problem in the Labour Party are wrong.

"I will continue to support a zero tolerance policy towards all forms of racism."

The report found that the Labour Party breached equality law in its "inadequate" handling of anti-Semitism case, TheMirror reports.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), responsible for the report, found that Jeremy Corbyn's office unlawfully "politically interfered" with almost two dozen alleged cases of anti-Semitism, including of Ken Livingstone and the leader himself.

The 130-page report did not find personal anti-Semitism on the part of Mr Corbyn and no criminal law was broken by Labour.

But it found Labour was responsible for three civil law breaches of the Equality Act:

  • Political interference in anti-Semitism complaints, including by the leader’s office;
  • Failure to provide adequate training to those handling complaints;
  • Harassment through two high-profile members who made anti-Semitic statements, including Mr Livingstone

Sir Keir today praised the "comprehensive, rigorous and professional" report for uncovering unlawful acts, declaring: "The report’s conclusions are clear and stark. They leave no room for equivocation."

Vowing to implement all its recommendations in full, including an independent complaints process, Sir Keir added: "I found this report hard to read and it is a day of shame for the Labour Party."

 What  I find unacceptable is that there appears to be no attempt to distinguish between antisemitism  and criticism of the State of Israel and and its treatment of Palestinians/.

They can obviously linked but many of Israel critics are the sought who criticise all regimes who oppress either their own or other people and I see no reason why Israel should be included as such.

But what of actual antisemitism? I find it hard to believe that it doesn't exist in the Labour Party .

However it seems unlikely it is new phenomena and that it existed under ed Miliband, Gordon Brown, Tony Blair and more importantly  beyond or that it  exists in other parties in the UK .

The current accusations  whether legitimate or , seem to have emerged as a bat to hit Corbyn and the left within the Labour party and the failure to investigate how other parties deal with similar accusation seems to me that there was a deliberate decision by some elements of the media to use accusations of antisemitism to attack the first real socialist leader of the Labour Party in living memory.

Over at Nation Cymru Ifan Morgan Jones writes

"For those who haven’t read his response, Corbyn claimed that “anyone claiming there is no antisemitism in the Labour party is wrong” and “one antisemite is too many”. But he also added that the problem had been “dramatically overstated for political purposes by our opponents inside and outside the party”. It’s this final part which seems to have led to the removal of the whip.

The message Starmer wants to send however is clear – there is no place for those who in any way seek to play down the problem of antisemitism, in any way, within the party.

By doing this he is forcing those within the Labour party to pick sides – stick with the new leadership or stick with Jeremy Corbyn’s view.

And he is calculating that the benefit of doing so – by losing what he sees as a problematic element within the party and signalling to the public that Labour is under new management – will outweigh the cost to the party’s popularity of what could be a lengthy civil war which he is not guaranteed to win".

I can't help but agree but the  winners are likely to be a corrupt and inept right wing Tory Party and you  don't have to be a conspiracy theorist to see that some of Corbyn accusers did so for this reason and not concern over antisematism 


Thursday, 29 October 2020

We are going to have to prepare to extend the Firebreak.

 As we enter the second week of the "Firebreak" Lockdown for some parts of Wales, it seems likely that they will have to endure heavy restrictions after November 9th.

Merthyr Tydful , Caerphilly, Swansea  Cardiff and Rhondda Cynon Taf , are all experiencing  a large  ammount of cases , but clearly the whole of Wales is facing a major crisis

There has been a dramatic rise in Covid-19 case rates in Rhondda Cynon Taf, in the latest figures published by Public Health Wales.

The BBC report that 

Nearly 800 people were tested in a single day - and a third of those tested positive.

Parts of the Cynon Valley over the past week have shown up as hotspots, with Penrhiwceiber eclipsing student areas of Cardiff for its case rate.

Council leaders have called the weekly rise a "great concern".

They do not expect to see improvements until the weeks after Wales comes out of the firebreak lockdown on 9 November.

There were a further 276 positive cases reported in RCT on Wednesday, with the case rate in the county having risen by 458.9 cases per 100,000 people over the past week.

RCT council leader Andrew Morgan said the cases announced on Wednesday were "exceptional" and were from people who picked up the virus over a week ago and had only just tested positive.

But he tweeted that the rise in the past week or so had been a "great concern".

Covid-19 case rates in south Wales. Rolling seven-day cases per 100,000 people.  Up to 25 October.

Merthyr Tydfil is even higher on more than 487 cases per 100,000, with a particular hotspot on the Gurnos estate.

 It came as PHW also reported 24 deaths across the Cwm Taf Morgannwg health board area - which includes Merthyr and RCT. - most occurred over the past seven days.

Dr Chris Williams, PHW incident director, said: "Rising case numbers are likely to result in rising hospitalisations and, sadly, to an increase in reported Covid-19 deaths."

RCT local case rates

Highest rates in the Cynon Valley

There have been 92 cases in the past week in Penrhiwceiber in the Cynon Valley.

Its case rate of 1,546 per 100,000 is even higher than the student areas of Cardiff.

Abercynon, Mountain Ash and the northern part of Aberdare are also high. Tonypandy East (655 cases per 100,000) is also in the worst 10 local areas of Wales outside student areas.

Health officials in Wales have also been closely looking at positivity rates as one of the indicators of how infection is progressing.

In May, the World Health Organization (WHO) advised governments that, before easing lockdowns, the proportion of test results which come back should remain at 5% or lower for at least two weeks.

In Wales, that proportion of positive tests has increased sharply since August - in three of the areas with the highest positivity rates, they have reached 20% or more.

The Wales average for the most recent seven days is nearly 16%.

RCT, Merthyr Tydfil and Cardiff have been particularly high, at 20% or more.

Only Pembrokeshire has been below the WHO threshold.

With numbers as they are , it is  imperative thet the FIrst Minister holds his nerve and if he seems it necessary  , carry out a seconf "Firebreak" though maybe in a reformed way.

What will be important is that we get behind it and the "Welsh " Tories in particular  we shoulf have no more of this .

Quote Tweet
Andrew RT Davies
Dictating whether you can buy a hairdryer might be a socialist’s wet dream, but for many people in Wales it’s turning into a living nightmare. My article in today’s @timesredbox.
Right pointing backhand index

Mr Davies should perhaps be informed that a misuse of hairdryers can lead to damage and hair loss. Oh!

The aim of all Welsh politicians should be slow Covid 19 until we get a workable vaccine , which is far off.

If it means that we are under some form of Lockdown over Christmas  so beit.

Certainly the leader of the Liberal Democrats Sir Ed Davey MP saying on BBC Breakfast that the Government needs to come up with a coronavirus Christmas strategy across all four UK nations is not helpful .

Hang on maybe if Nicola Sturgeon was in charge of the strategy it might just work , but the thought of Boris Johnson , relaxing the rules so his fellow Tory MPs can have a "Good" Christmas leaves me cold.

It is going to be hard, though I reckon this Tweet is not far off the mark

I reckon it's not too far wide of the mark to say that the Venn diagram of 'people who invoke the stoicism of the supposed Dunkirk / Blitz spirit of WWII' & 'people who are complaining about measures intended to keep the population safe during a pandemic' is pretty much a circle.