Thursday, 29 November 2018

The Short Tale Of Brexit Britain's First Unicorn!

While UK Prime Minister, Theresa May, the White Queen tours the nation selling jam tomorrow and jam yesterday – but never jam today, the Brexidiot European Research Group Tweedle brothers added to the general confusion by proudly revealing the first of many often-promised unicorns. 

Tweedlesmug and Tweedlejohnson announced the eagerly awaited development in a hastily convened joint press conference in Looking-Glass World before a crowd of 700,000 people shouting "No Brexit":
"With careful in-bweeding," the brothers read in unison from a prepared script, "an old bwidle and a thingy we found in mater's drawer, we have finally managed it. Behold, Bwitain's fiwst unicawn!!"
With that, the brothers tugged aside a curtain to reveal the product of their efforts.

The End.

Wednesday, 14 November 2018

Easy As 123: Politicising The BBC

The BBC's Brexit logo speaks volumes

The reason that the BBC finds itself 'politicised' in this way is not because the BBC is 'biased' - at least not in the sense of simply taking one side in any given debate.  It's down to how the BBC frames its coverage of major events in the first place.

The BBC seems to take its editorial course from what the UK government (in this case) has decided to do. It then seeks to maintain 'balance' by covering all sides in the debate about how the UK should do what the government has decided, leaving behind the question whether the UK should be doing the thing at all

Viewing the whole Brexit scenario through the BBC's lens, therefore, means that the numerous investigations into collusion between Leave campaigns, where their funding came from and how they abused people's personal data become irrelevant to the BBC's Brexit coverage. So, too, are marches to secure a 'People's Vote'. Because those things relate to whether the UK should leave the EU, not how the UK should go about leaving - even when stopping the process remains an option.

This is not to say the BBC completely ignores the Electoral Commission fines, Information Commissioner fines and the launch of investigations by the National Crime Agency, the Metropolitan Police and the Financial Conduct Authority into the affairs of Mr Banks and various other members of the Leave Campaign and Brexit community - not to mention all the lies, distortion and gaslighting that was involved. But the BBC treats these as historic issues related to the EU referendum, electoral reform, how personal data might be abused in elections more generally and, perhaps, the role of truth in politics. From the BBC's standpoint, they shouldn't form part of its Brexit coverage because they don't relate to how the UK leaves the EU. 

This is appalling for at least four reasons. 

Primarily, it becomes really easy for the UK government to "get the BBC on side" and use its vast resources as the government's own public address system when attempting something that is likely to prove hugely complex and controversial. The government simply has to decide to do it: invade Iraq, trigger Article 50 without a plan for how to leave the EU, ignore the Good Friday Agreement... 

Secondly, the BBC's editorial choice minimises dissent by removing the oxygen of publicity from those who are sceptical or critical of the government's decision; and diverting it to those who are broadly supportive of the outcome, even if they wish to quibble over how the government achieves that goal. This allows the likes of Andrew Neil to treat the diligent efforts of Carole Cadwalladr and other investigative journalists as irrelevant, at best.

Thirdly, by moving the focus away from how the government made its decision in the first place, the BBC's emphasis risks burying evidence of corruption and so on. The end has justified the means. This encourages the likes of Andrew Neil to declare that continuing to investigate evidence of corruption and other criminality in relation to those means is somehow 'mad'.

Finally, the BBC's approach means that its reputation (and licence-fee payers' investment in that reputation) is horribly exposed to the downside of major events - or the reversal of the government's decision. The bigger the downside, or the more significant the reversal, the greater the damage to the BBC's reputation. 

What should the BBC do?

Avoid setting its editorial policy to simply accord with what the UK government (in this example) wants to do - even if that is, or is presented as, "the will of the people". 

The BBC's role should simply be to educate "the people" about the options, their implications and consequences of decisions taken. This is not about being able to say "I told you so" - it's about the BBC re-establishing and maintaining its role as an apolitical, trusted source of news and information, so that the people aren't so easily hoodwinked.

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