Veteran reporter shows exactly why the BBC is so close to imploding

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Ed Sykes

John Simpson has been with the BBC for around 53 years. And one comment from him helps us to see why the BBC is facing potential destruction.

People now see through the BBC‘s subtle bias

The BBC‘s anti-left bias has gone into overdrive in recent years. Sometimes it’s right in your face. Sometimes it’s more subtle. But it’s there. And now, there may be an even greater shift to the right at the public broadcaster with the replacement of its director-general. This potential right-wing coup would come at a time of intensifying criticism and action from the left, and after analysis has shown only 44% of Britons now trust BBC News reporters to tell the truth.

Simpson’s comment helped to sum up the ‘pro-establishment’ mindset at the organisation that has brought the BBC to this point.

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Speaking about the impressive breakthrough of the left in Ireland’s recent election, Simpson seemed to lament the downfall of the right-wing establishment:

Apart from positively calling the previous situation in the country “politically stable” (despite a number of significant, ongoing crises), he suggested the left was ‘populist’ and Ireland had “succumbed” to it. Both of these words have negative connotations. The BBC itself pointed out previously that the word ‘populism’ is usually a “shorthand political insult”.

The reality was that Irish voters simply saw housing and healthcare crises and wanted sufficient funding to deal with them.

BBC vs moderate progressive change?

The BBC may think that sitting on the fence is an impartial approach. But it’s not. Because being consistently in favour of the status quo is also a form of bias. And it has a dangerous, limiting impact on British democracy.

Britain has suffered from decades of right-wing ideological dominance, which has created extreme inequality. The share of national income that the UK’s ultra-rich receive, for example, has increased significantly since the 1980s. And today, people in the top 1% are “disproportionately male, middle-aged and London-based”. Such extreme inequality is disastrous for numerous reasons. But sadly, it’s become the norm.

Under Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour Party promoted moderate centre-left policies. One expert called them “common-sense economics”. 163 economists, meanwhile, proudly signed an open letter in 2019 saying the “UK economy needs reform” and that Labour “deserves to form the next government” because it has “serious proposals for dealing with” Britain’s “deep problems”.

The BBC, however, played a prominent role in 2019’s brutal propaganda offensive from the establishment media which helped to sink Corbyn’s party and propel the most hard-right government in decades into power.

Britain’s age gap

The 2019 general election yet again highlighted the generational divide in Britain. Voters over the age of 39 were more likely to vote Tory, and a massive 67% of over-70s opted for Boris Johnson’s Conservatives.

Britain has now lived through four decades of Thatcherism and Thatcherism-lite. And while younger people feel the worst effects of this, older generations benefited from free higher education and greater economic equality.

Older generations also had a much better chance of owning their own homes. They didn’t feel the brunt of the collapse of social housing and the worsening housing crisis. In 2016, for example, home ownership in England was at its lowest level in 30 years – as house prices soared while wage growth was weak and new housing was scarce. As the Bank of England has revealed:

Real house prices in the UK have almost quadrupled over the past 40 years, substantially outpacing real income growth.

Today, people over 65 own around half of the UK’s housing wealth.

It’s hard to believe the BBC represents all Britons when it implicitly favours this status quo.

GE2019: the liberal establishment sank Labour just as much as the Tory Brexit message

Britain’s electoral system is terrible and undemocratic. And Labour has for too long failed to forge an alliance of non-Tories in favour of electoral reform – which could see a ‘progressive majority’ in Britain. Only now do Labour members seem to be waking up to this.

Parties entered the 2019 election under the current electoral system, however. And this favoured the Tories, leaving their opponents on the back foot. As University of East London professor Jeremy Gilbert has written, many centrists preferred not to back Corbyn’s Labour – allowing the united right a landslide victory. Centrist politicians lost in 2019. But many centrist voters “could not be persuaded to accept a compromise on Brexit in order to prevent a Johnson landslide”. The constant media propaganda against Corbyn and his party didn’t help, either. In the end, opposing the hard-right Tory agenda simply wasn’t important enough to the extreme centre.

Labour’s economic policies were very popular across Britain. But in an election where Brexit dominated, Labour’s compromise policy was a mistake. And a mixture of our putrid electoral system and elitist media establishment sealed the deal.

The BBC cannot escape responsibility for the 2019 result. Impartiality is a noble goal; but the BBC failed miserably on that measure. An objective, public-owned media, where the facts do all the talking, is massively important for a democracy to succeed. That’s not the BBC today, though. And John Simpson’s latest comment is a perfect example of how the broadcaster is currently stuck in a destructive, pro-establishment quagmire. Without urgent change, the BBC won’t survive much longer.

Featured image via Flickr – Miss Rogue

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    1. Let’s not forget that bias happens by omission as well as by commission. So, imagine if leading Jewish activists were condemning the Labour party for antisemitism – it would be in the media like a rash. Strangely, however, this initiative by Jewish activists to shame LP governance is ignored. One wonders why – but for not too long, we know.

      https://www.jewishvoiceforlabour.org.uk/article/nat-sims-refers-herself-to-jenny-formby-for-antisemitism/
      Natalie Strecker, Haim Beersheeth are amongst others who have done the same. Powerful stuff.
      ”11/2/2020

      Nat’s initiative has been emulated by David Cannon of JNP – excerpts of his public letter here. At least two other members have done the same and more will follow:

      Dear Ms Formby
      Submission to Compliance Unit

      I am inspired by the initiative of fellow Labour Party member Natalie Strecker. Like her, I understand that, by adopting the IHRA definition, the Labour Party may consider me an antisemite. I should therefore like to refer myself to your Compliance Unit, for the specific reasons I detail below. Firstly, however, I should like to share with you a little bit of background about myself.

      I joined the Labour Party over 40 years ago. I was elated when Blair became Prime Minister but, despite significant achievements, as inequality increased at home and war-mongering was executed abroad, I felt that New Labour had abandoned the values for which I had joined.

      Then Jeremy Corbyn, a man with a 40 year record of standing up for the most vulnerable in our society (both nationally and internationally) came along. When he was elected as leader, this gave me a reason to hope that perhaps the movement that was being built could start paving the road to a fairer and kinder society. This hope led me to rejoin Labour feeling that for the first time in our generation we had the chance to vote for real change, a real alternative to neoliberalism that is decimating our communities and our planet.

      Then the antisemitism accusations started. I have Jewish heritage and was brought up with a strong sense that the founding of Israel was an important achievement. I am deeply conscious that Jewish people have suffered centuries of racism culminating in the horrific Holocaust. I am also aware that antisemitism still exists and must always be opposed. I believe Jewish people should feel safe, indeed celebrated, wherever they choose to live.

      At first, I was relieved to hear that, when the Labour Party undertook an investigation, the numbers considered to be antisemitic were less than 1% of the membership. I agreed that this minority (although smaller percentage than antisemitism in the population as a whole and even smaller than the antisemitism in the Tory Party) needed to be dealt with.

      I do understand that Zionism was conceived as the only way some Jewish people could feel safe. However, from its beginning, there has been and continues to be passionate resistance from many shades of Jewish people to Zionism. In any case, it was never appropriate for Palestinian rights to be violated because of European racism. Whatever its original aims, in Israel it means continual dispossession, ethnic cleansing and the attempted erasure of the culture, history and identity of the Palestinian people; incremental genocide. I now realise that Israel was founded on vicious theft and is sustained by vicious apartheid. Zionism is an ideology adopted by the far-right, Trump supporting, Christian Evangelical movement, by individuals such as Richard Spencer, Tommy Robinson and Katie Hopkins. Zionism is a political ideology rooted in ethnic supremacy, despite what groups have tried to state, it is not inherent to Jewish identity and you would know that if you were actually listening and interested in keeping Jewish people safe and making them feel welcome. A significant number of Jewish individuals, communities and organisations have categorically stated that it is not a necessary part of their identity. More than that, some have explicitly declared that it is an affront to Judaism and yet you ignore them, worse still, you enable the smears that silence their resistance.

      So let me state this, unequivocally, so that you are not confused about the viewpoint I hold: Israel is a racist, apartheid endeavour and was from its very inception, we know this because it was built on the destroyed villages and broken bodies of Palestinians. International law is on my side and so I do not fear, nor quake as I write these words.

      I will continue to support and would share platforms, if ever I have the privilege to do so, with Jackie Walker (a black Jewish woman) with Chris Williamson (who answered a question put to him by an audience in which he had many Jewish supporters), with Marc Wadsworth, with any and every Jewish person in Jewish Voice for Labour (of which I am a member) and with Asa Winstanley. I am and would be proud to do so!

      These are my final thoughts:
      When you allow left-wing, non-Zionist or anti-Zionist Jewish people to be targeted, threatened and smeared and then suspended and expelled for stating proven truths, then it is YOU that is antisemitic.

      When you expel veteran antiracists of colour for exposing racism and capitulate to far-right supporting, apologists for racist settler colonialism, then it is YOU that is racist. When you allow the disgraceful undermining of our party, its members and its hope of winning an election, by neoliberals and/or apartheid apologists who say they would stab our leader in the front, who call our leader a “f*cking anti-Semite” and target our BAME representatives, it is YOU who bring our party into disrepute.
      So by all means label me, label us, just as other shameful instigators and enablers of other historical purges have done similar before you. Your labels have no meaning because they do not come from a place of honour, nor truth. Our stances are rooted in international humanitarian law and if we, as the human race get through this dark period and the commencing catastrophe of climate destruction, then it will be US that is vindicated and history will record YOUR shame, each and every one of you that sold not just the Palestinians out, but left-wing Jewish people, antiracists, true socialists and people of conscience.

      I will continue to stand proud as I call out racist Israeli apartheid and Zionism (the political ideology that enables it) and assert that I chose to keep my integrity; the question is will you?

      I will conclude my letter to be submitted as evidence of my ‘antisemitism’ to the Labour Party Compliance Unit with the words of Martin Luther King Junior:
      ‘In the end we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends’.
      Most sincerely, David Cannon, chairman Jewish Network for Palestine”

      1. I celebrate people like you who write out in detail how you think about the issue.
        You make one feel there is a world afterall one belongs in.
        At least your publishing your news, and that is what counts.

    2. Whilst for us on the left there must be a shed full of schadenfreude for the BBC now they are this years odds on favourites for the Darwin Award
      On a serious note we need BBC and Channel 4 to survive and thrive
      How we do this is way above my pay grade,
      Are there any journalists worth their salt, who will stand up and call it out,
      Methinks not

    3. John Simpson is simply copying the New York papers in declaring socialism is populism and betrays a weakness in the body politic. He uses exactly the same phrases and argument. American Democrats are obviously worried that the Irish vote will be influenced by the result and assist Sanders.

    4. It is interesting to note that in Ireland there is a similar perception of a quasi partnership between the national broadcaster, and other national media outlets, and the conservative government parties of Fine Gael and Fianna Fail.
      This partnership was kept fairly well under wraps for much of the last administration but emerged with force in the final week of the election when it emerged that Sinn Fein were becoming a serious contender.
      It had a significant impact on the voters in the course of the election, and it will be difficult for both the media outlets and the parties to shake off the perceptions now entrenched in the minds of the electorate.

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