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New petition calls for a full independent inquiry into the BBC’s coverage of the 2019 General Election

There has been longstanding official and unofficial censure of BBC bias

The BBC is seen by many as failing to fulfil its Charter’s first declared ‘public purpose’, ‘to provide impartial news and information to help people understand and engage with the world around them’.

For some years frustrated correspondents have sent the writer copies of their letters criticising the BBC for its biased reporting, adding the unsatisfactory standardised replies they receive. In similar vein is one by Gary Barker, headed by the following cartoon:

Readers are also encouraged to read Steve Beauchampé’s eloquent article in the Birmingham Press which opened:

“Five friends have told me recently that they have either stopped – or severely curtailed – how much BBC news and current affairs output they digest. All were once avid consumers of such content, none could be described as being on the extremes of political thinking, none would claim that the Corporation is guilty of ‘fake’ news, and none have turned instead to social media or become keyboard warriors or internet trolls to get their views across.

“They are, in their different ways, frustrated at the BBC’s failure to adequately reflect their own political beliefs and the lack of balanced debate on issues that matter to them. And they are irritated at some of the Corporation’s presentational tropes and the cheapening of the discourse that often accompanies it”.

“I never felt this way about our national broadcaster. They have always been my ‘Go To’ media outlet for gaining an understanding and appreciation of world affairs . . .

“But things have changed, and one issue above all has led me to question my primary allegiance to the BBC’s news and current affairs output. It is the coverage of the Labour Party and anti-semitism.

“I have never been a Labour Party member and have no intention of becoming one. But I voted Labour for the first time in thirty years at the 2017 General Election because the social democratic policies they offered resonated with me in a way that the centrist stance of New Labour never did”.

One example of the transformation of many BBC reporters into aggressive points-scoring inquisitors, is Laura Kuenssberg’s 2015 interview with Jeremy Corbyn

The BBC was later officially censured for breach of accuracy and impartiality in Laura’s News At Six report.

Several petitions and a host of readers’ letters have challenged the BBC’s failure to respect its mission “to act in the public interest, serving all audiences through the provision of impartial, high-quality and distinctive output and services which inform, educate and entertain”.

Following the July petition addressed to parliament, a call for a Public inquiry into bias in the BBC, the latest petition for a full independent inquiry into the BBC’s coverage of the 2019 General Election may be read here.

 

 

 

 

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Labour guarantee: a guard on every train will attend to passengers and help the frail or disabled to board safely

If a Labour government is elected, years of struggle against the privatised railways’ attempts to remove guards and have driver only operated (DOO) trains will come to an end.

It is alleged that government has made the removal of guards a condition of private operators’ franchises and has also included a clause in them stating that taxpayers will underwrite any losses the operators incur by provoking strike action.

In 2016, the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg derided this cause as making a ‘fuss’ and described the protesting unions as indulging in a power play; She explained the motivation for removing the guards: “One former senior minister tells me that “successive secretaries of state” in charge at Transport have wanted to “get rid of guards on trains”. The ambition is to bring down the cost of rail travel for the tax payer and the train passenger”. She forgot to mention

  • the companies’ desire to avoid paying for these guards, swelling profits and payments to shareholders,
  • incidents where guards have been needed to cope with disruptive passengers; as an RMT report said: “Only a fool would suggest that drivers can drive a train while sorting out drunken and/or antisocial behaviour in the carriages behind them”
  • or ‘lifechanging’ incidents such as this: ITV reported that at West Wickham station south London, in April 2015, a passenger was dragged along the platform at West Wickham station, south London, when the 11am Southeastern service from London Cannon Street to Hayes (Kent) – driver-only operated – while her backpack strap was trapped in the doors of the train. As the train moved off, she fell onto the platform and then through the gap between the platform and train, suffering life-changing injuries.

As RAIL concludes: there remain (even in the eyes of the most ardent DOO supporters) security risks for the train’s passengers without another member of staff present, be they called guards, conductors or train managers.

A list of incidents given in a 2016 government dossier ended: When there is an emergency the guard can take charge especially if the train driver is incapacitated”. But this link, cited in 2017, no longer leads to the dossier.

Racheal Maskell, Labour’s Shadow Rail Minister, said:

“The railway should liberate people and enable everyone to play their full role in our society and economy, but the Conservative Party’s expansion of DOO has knowingly degraded the rights of older and disabled passengers in the face of protests from passenger and disabled people’s groups. It is remarkable that the Government and private train companies have pursued this discriminatory policy even when it provoked fierce industrial disputes resulting in significant strike action.

“Labour’s publicly owned railway will be for everyone, not just the able-bodied, which is why we will enable staff to deliver a safe and accessible railway for all.”

Earlier this month, West Midlands Trains workers staged a weekend stoppage in their continuing campaign against the removal of safety critical guards from trains. An RMT spokesman said:

“The safety and accessibility of the travelling public is this trade union’s priority and should take priority over the profits of the train operator and we believe that this is an important election issue for the people of the West Midlands. “We will not allow the drive for profit to override the core issue of safe and accessible services for all on West Midlands Trains and we stand fi rm on that very basic principle. We will never compromise on the issues of passenger safety and accessibility.”

The union remains available for talks with West Midlands Trains, which is a subsidiary of Dutch state-owned rail operator Abellio.

Will common humanity prevail: the record indicated that it will not unless a Labour government is elected.

Further reading:

2015: The appalling risks which can arise on a DOO train were outlined convincingly here: http://www.railmagazine.com/trains/current-trains/the-pros-and-cons-of-driver-only-operation/page/2

2017: https://www.railway-technology.com/features/featuredriver-only-trains-and-safety-whats-the-big-issue-5769231/

2018: https://www.rmt.org.uk/news/govt-advisors-warned-doo-trains-are-toxic-for-disabled/

And many issues of Private Eye over the last four years have covered the issue and several DOO related accidents in detail .

 

 

 

 

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Media Lens uncovers truths obscured by the BBC – & the role of two PR companies

Reading ML’s (Killing Corbyn) dissection of the role played by BBC News – in particular, its political editor Laura Kuenssberg – recalls the classic display given as she attempted to ‘down’ Jeremy Corbyn last December.

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Note the expression of gleeful anticipation

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Her second attempt: countered, but still hopeful

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But faced with composed good humour and competent answers

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The confident façade crumbles and she retires defeated

If you follow this link you will find many revelations, including these:

  • The BBC cited leaked emails received by them, which suggested that Jeremy Corbyn’s office sought to delay and water down the Labour Remain campaign. But, as Carlyn Harvey wrote on The Canary website in detail, the ‘evidence’ was bogus:
  • Anonymous ‘MPs’ were quoted as saying some of their members are contacting them to say they’ve changed their minds about Mr Corbyn – the fervent hope of Blairites.
  • The BBC News told the public that Tom Watson, deputy leader of the Labour Party, had told Corbyn that he must resign. This was false. BBC News quietly retracted the claim without admitting their error. Indeed, BBC News had three significantly different headlines in just twenty:

‘Labour’s Watson tells Corbyn to quit’

‘Tom Watson tells Jeremy Corbyn to consider his position’

‘Tom Watson tells Jeremy Corbyn he faces leadership challenge’

The BBC – and other media – highlighted a staged story about Corbyn being heckled at Gay Pride. In fact, as Craig Murray observed, the ‘heckler’ turned out to be Tom Mauchline who worked on the Liz Kendall campaign for the Labour leadership.

Public relations at its worst?

Tom Mauchline works for the public relations firm Portland Communications whose ‘strategic counsel’ is Alastair Campbell, Blair’s former media chief who helped to sell the illegal invasion-occupation of Iraq. None of this was spelled out in the Guardian report by Heather Stewart, the paper’s political editor. PC was set up in 2001 by a former adviser to Blair. Its clients include the World Economic Forum, the EU, the UK government, Barclays Bank and large companies, including Morrisons and Nestle.

Attempts to unseat Corbyn have been supported by Left Foot Forward Ltd, a company set up by Will Straw, which runs the country’s ‘No. 1 left-wing blog’ of the same name, has attempted to unseat Corbyn. Straw is the son of Jack Straw, a minister in the Blair government.

Being very economical with the truth

Corporate media refrain from mentioning that Corbyn won last year’s leadership election by a ‘landslide’, winning 60% of the vote, more than all the rest of the candidates combined.

Noting that Angela Eagle as a likely leadership contender, they also fail to report that a February YouGov poll found 60% of Labour members would vote for Corbyn in a new leadership race, with 15% supporting Hilary Benn and just 6% supporting Angela Eagle.

Public contempt for the public

As Craig Murray has noted: “The demonstrable public contempt of the public for the political class has been mirrored these last few days by the demonstrable contempt of the political class for the public. This has been obvious in the response to the Brexit vote, and in the Labour parliamentary party’s move against Corbyn. Both are evidence that the political class feel that they should not be directed by a wider public”.

Media Lens’ final comment on the performance of the corporate media

“Any threat to the ‘natural order’ of power brings the schism between private interests and public interests into sharp focus. The heightened, almost farcical, attacks on Corbyn are thus entirely predictable.

“Rather than feeling anguished at this state of affairs, we can regard it is a sign of how nervous and vulnerable the establishment is when an awakened public challenges elite power”.