Monday, 5 June 2017

BBC Political Bias Is Appalling

We all know that the media is biased against Labour, and even more biased against Jeremy Corbyn, but the bias of the BBC is appalling.  Even David Dimbleby came out to admit that there has been significant media bias against Corbyn.  That the Tory press is biased against Labour is taken for granted; that the middle class, Liberal press is biased against Corbyn, is also taken for granted; that Murdoch's media is biased against Labour is also taken for granted, but the BBC is supposed to be unbiased.  Of course, it never has been, because its Board of Governors are always drawn from the upper echelons of the elite; they are people who hob nob on a casual basis with Tories, and the other sections of the establishment; and the top executives of the BBC also come from that same elite; its top TV presenters are paid huge salaries, and some of them as they become celebrities in their own right, are paid even larger fees.  All these people know which side their bread is buttered, and are not going to upset the source of their livelihood.

The way BBC bias operates is not a straightforward matter.  In part its not even conscious.  If you are drawn from a simple milieu, you will think that all of the ideas you take for granted, and which are shared by all those around you, are necessarily correct, and the only way things can be.  If repeating and not critically challenging those and related ideas is also the way of staying in your well-paying job, you are even less likely to want to rock the boat or think outside the box.  In an age where news is now simply another form of TV entertainment, dependent upon ratings, and, therefore, on sensationalism, you are likely to focus on what is sensational rather than on what is true.  So, for example, over the last decade, barely a week went by when Nigel Farage was not invited several times on to TV news and current affairs programmes, way in excess of the actual electoral support he and UKIP had within the population.

Yet, Farage, did not conform with that elite consensus view.  That consensus view was firmly fixed on the idea that elections were won in the political centre ground, a closely defined Overton window.  Farage, whilst he did not actually challenge the establishment, and was a part of it, certainly did not conform to that political centre ground archetype.  The media elite were conflicted wanting on the one hand to not miss out on the ratings potential that he represented, and yet his very presence in their midst challenged the central world view they believe in.  They no doubt believed that, in the end, the political centre ground would undoubtedly win out, that the EU referendum would inevitably go to Remain.  Now, Brexit provides the media with new opportunities, because it represents a whole set of new stories every day, in which to build ratings.  And, now that the Tories have swallowed UKIP whole, the media's view of where that political centre ground resides has shifted sharply rightwards.

And, because the BBC and other representatives of the media live in this elite bubble, the idea that a large number of people could actually support the ideas that Jeremy Corbyn represents was even more unthinkable, just indeed as it was unthinkable to their elite equivalents within the Tory Party, the Liberals, and the Labour Right.  They take their own views as being the views of the rest or at least the vast bulk of society, because they can conceive of the world being no other way than the vision they have of it in their heads.

Had the Labour Right known what was to happen in 2015, when Corbyn got elected, they would never have allowed his name on to the ballot.  But they didn't do that, because they could have no conception that the idea they believed were the natural order of things were nothing more than their own prejudices, which were not necessarily shared by the rest of society.  When Corbyn was elected leader, this divergence of the actual reality with their personal reality simply did not compute for them.  They could only explain it with weird and fantastic conspiracy theories such as that half a million Trotskyists had appeared from nowhere and taken over the Labour Party!  They simply moved the ground of their delusion from being Corbyn couldn't represent a majority of opinion within the Party, to Corbyn couldn't represent a majority of opinion within society.

And, of course, the Labour Right, the Tories and the Tory media did everything they could to turn that delusion into actuality.  The Labour Right continually tried to undermine Corbyn, they walked out of his Shadow Cabinet, they carped and sniped from the sidelines, they gave daily briefings to the Tory media, and they tried again to launch a coup against his leadership.  And, despite all of that, Corbyn's leadership was strengthened within the Party, and increasingly, the Party won more and more support amongst the electorate.  Now, what we were told was an inevitable and insurmountable Tory lead over Labour has shrunk to nearly nothing, and the momentum is clearly with Corbyn and the LP.

Now, as that actual reality bites, in direct contradiction of the reality the media, stuck in its establishment bubble, has constructed for itself, they are doing the same thing.  They cannot reconcile the true competing realities, and so he more Corbyn gains in popularity whilst May's popularity crumbles before their eyes, the more thousands flock across the country to hear Corbyn, whilst May hides away from the public gaze and any contact with real people, the more Labour surges in the polls whilst the Tories slip further and further, the more the media has to deny reality, and attack Corbyn and the Labour Party in ever more hostile, ever more biased tones.

Watching the Daily Politics today was a good example.  Time after time, as Paul Mason has pointed out, BBC journalists and presenters allow the Tories to get away with spouting outright lies, without challenging them.  Yet, when it comes to presenting the views of Corbyn and the Labour Party fairly, the BBC itself directly distorts what has been said.  So, today, Jo Coburn accused Corbyn of contradicting himself in relation to the policy of shoot to kill.  Jonathan Ashworth correctly pointed out that Corbyn has said over the weekend that the police were quite right to shoot the three terrorists who attempted murder innocent civilians on the streets of London, and of course, he is right.  But Coburn played a clip from an interview with Corbyn in which its claimed he argued against support for such a shoot to kill policy.  But, listen to the interview and its clear there is no contradiction in what Corbyn said then and now.

In the interview Corbyn said, quite rightly, that he was opposed to giving support to a blanket shoot to kill policy.  Quite right, because no politician should give a blanket right for police to shoot to kill in every situation.  Such a policy leads to incidents where completely innocent civilians such as Jean Charles De Menezes get shot!  A blanket sanctioning of shoot to kill by police or other security forces leads to incidents such as the murder of innocent civilians as happened with Bloody Sunday, and it leads to targeted assassinations without due legal process as happened with SAS assassinations of Republicans in Gibraltar, as described in the documentary Death On the Rock.  Moreover, Britain like all civilised countries, has abolished the death penalty.  That is a death penalty even after people have been tried in a court of law and found guilty.  A blanket shoot to kill policy turns the police into judge, jury and executioner!  The same applies to the murder by drone of individuals in Syria and other countries, without them being subject to due legal process.

But, Corbyn also states in that interview that when it comes to a policy of shoot to kill there is a question of degrees, and again that is quite clearly correct.  Sending out police or troops to assassinate someone, is one end of such a scale of degree.  Sending out police to respond to a potential situation where others lives may be threatened, but then acting preemptively to shoot the potential attackers, is another point on that spectrum.  It is what police did in shooting Jean Charles De Menezes.   Again Corbyn is quite right to insist that we should be in favour of far greater control and caution in such situations, so that innocent civilians are not shot by the police.  And then there is the situation as at the weekend where a terrorist or some mad person is actually in the process of or about to kill or serious injure other people.  No one would suggest that in this latter case, the police should not respond with lethal force, and that is what Corbyn said at the weekend, and it is what he has said previously when what it is claimed he said in the previous interview has been raised.

And, in fact, Corbyn has himself clarified that earlier statement, several times, along the lines of what I have said above.  It is only the Tories that have continually repeated the lie that Corbyn was opposed to police shooting to kill in such circumstances.  That Coburn and the BBC failed to reflect Corbyn's previous clarification of his statement, and simply repeated the Tory lie, insisting throughout the programme that the two positions were contradictory, shows that not only are they biased against Corbyn, but that they are positively biased in favour of the Tories, acting as little more than a mouthpiece for Theresa May.

And, the fact is that it is the Tories who have been in government for the last seven years, it is Theresa May who has been Home Secretary for most of that time, and who bears direct responsibility for the situation that exists today, and that has allowed these attacks to happen.  It is the Tories who have cut 20,000 police, not Labour.  Again May, and her spokesman Rabb on the Daily Politics repeated the lie that Labour in 2015 wanted a further 10% cuts on the police, over and above the loss of the 20,000 police.  Again the BBC did not challenge this lie.  What Labour pointed out in 2015, was that cuts in police spending, of between 5-10% could possibly be effected without necessarily resulting in additional cuts to police numbers, but that the cuts that the Tories had and were implementing in police budgets had been greater than that, and would inevitably result in a reduction in the number of police on the streets.  It was not a call for more cuts, it was an indication that the Tory cuts would inevitably result in a fall in bobbies on the beat.

And Rabb, and Alex Carlisle, who also appeared on the programme, are completely missing the point when they say that these additional unarmed police would make no difference in opposing armed attackers on the street.  Its quite right that if an attack is already underway, what you probably need are armed police.  But, the point is not to simply respond violently to violent attacks when they take place, but to be able to stop the violent attacks taking place in the first place!  Its once again an indication that the Tories and their apologists can only think in terms of expensive responses to events rather than more effective measures that operate to prevent a problem.  Its like the way they are happy to spend billions on expensive treatments of ill-health, but do nothing to deal with the problems of Health and Safety at Work, of inadequate housing, and poor environments that lead to ill-health in the first place.  Its like their only answer to international conflicts is expensive military hardware, bombing and nuclear weapons, rather than dealing with the conditions that lead to international conflicts to begin with.

Of course, having unarmed officers is not an adequate response to a violent situation underway, but having more police on the streets within communities is a means of identifying potential jihadists and other criminals, and building the kind of community organisation required to prevent the jihadists being able to exist.  It is a necessary element of draining the swamp in which such forces breed.  Better still would be to do what I have suggested, which is to make community policing a civic duty like Jury Service, so that we have actively organised communities policing themselves, under democratic control, identifying any threats before they can become actualised.

But, here as with the question of BBC and other media bias, the answer is on our own hands.  Not only should we build our own community organisations capable of taking on these roles of community policing etc., but we also need to create our own mass labour movement media, our own Satellite/Cable TV station, our own Internet TV and so on.  If we simply just keep complaining about media bias, that bias will continue.  Its time to act, and develop our own alternative.

No comments: