Saturday, 24 January 2009

The "feeble" BBC

Yesterday the rumblings started regarding the BBC's refusal to air the Disaster Emergency Committee's appeal for the humanitarian relief effort in Gaza, which meant the other broadcasters followed suit. Douglas wrote to the BBC yesterday, and also started lobbying through DCMS too.

The BBC gave two excuses - sorry, 'reasons' - firstly that they weren't convinced the aid would get through (and obviously they are in a far, far better position to judge this than the likes of Oxfam, Save the Children, and the Red Cross, who are just some of the UK aid agencies involved in the DEC appeal). Second, was that it might 'compromise the BBC's impartiality'. As Douglas said on the Today programme this morning 'though, people are perfectly capable of distinguishing between a humanitarian relief effort and taking sides in a conflict. (And doesn't the BBC's refusal to air the appeal indicate a certain partiality in the opposite direction?) And Ben Bradshaw said on Any Questions that it was an 'inexplicable decision' and the BBC was 'feeble'.

Definitely worth listening to the Today programme clip by the way, if only to hear quite how shockingly bad the BBC spokesperson was.

As Tony Benn said on BBC radio earlier, the decision not to air the appeal means, in brutal terms, that - because less money will be raised - people will die. Thankfully C4 and ITV have now decided to air the ads, after DFID and DCMS got involved. They'd originally been happy to do so, but the convention is that they only do it if all broadcasters agree. Now they've broken ranks.

If anyone out there really does take the view that the Palestinians brought this on themselves, 'were asking for it' (as seems to be the line taken by the BBC spokesperson in drawing a distinction between natural disasters and this conflict), or if they really think that giving aid to the people of Gaza means giving money to Hamas, then it's simple - don't donate. But I will be. In case the picture link doesn't work here's the DEC website.


Guthrum said...

With you on this one the BBC are pathetic, crawling to the pro Israel lobby- Can you ask your boss not to send warships to blockade Gaza, but to run the blockade to get supplies through. With the natural Gas field there that the Israelis are after, Gaza will be a self sufficient city State.

Chris Gale said...

"As Tony Benn said on BBC radio earlier, the decision not to air the appeal means, in brutal terms, that - because less money will be raised - people will die."

Complete nonsense Kerry and why are you politicians lining up to try and influence BBC editorial policy?The job of the BBC is to report the news. It would not have broadcast an an appeal for the Israeli side (I dont hear you or your Muslim friends saying much about 8 years of rocket attacks, resulting in emotional, psychological and physical suffering of the Israeli people in southern Israel) so it should not do so in a such conflict situation in Gaza.

As usual some people on the left jump on the bandwagon to appear trendy and in with the in crowd,no matter how stupid.
I just saw someone from the BBC doing some excellent push back on this.
Now we have Muslim Council of Britain, George Galloway and other assorted idiots lining up to condemn the BBC for simply doing its job and not compromising itself in what is a conflict zone.

The idea that anyone who wants to donate to this will not because of the BBC is complete hooey.

Kerry said...

To respond to your points in turn...

If fewer people see the appeal, fewer people will donate and therefore those delivering humanitarian aid won't be able to do as much - although perversely the BBC's refusal to air the ad may well now result in more publicity and more people wanting to donate.

It's not editorial policy, we're not trying to influence news bulletins. DEC appeals have previously been aired for humanitarian efforts in DRC Congo, Bangladesh, Burma, Sudan - some of which are conflict zones too - it's usual practice for them to do so, which is what makes their decision in this case so shocking.

There is no need for a humanitarian relief effort in Israel, so your reference to rocket attacks is irrelevant.

I think it's pretty insulting of you to talk about people supporting this because 'it's trendy' - have a look at the middle pages of the Guardian today. Or the news bulletins showing a bombed and bulldozed Gaza. That's why people want to support it.

Some might well think the BBC is compromising its impartiality by refusing to air the appeal.

Kerry said...

PS Chris - why not come straight out and say you think the people of Gaza - including the children - have no-one but themselves to blame and are totally undeserving of any assistance or sympathy? That's obviously what you think.

Chris Gale said...

I try not to look at any pages of the appalling Guardian rag when I can help it.I certainly would not give it money to promote David Cameron as it spends most of its time doing.

How about asking why Hamas puts missile launchers in civilian areas?
The BBC is going by its policy, no matter what you or Galloway think.

I am amazed at the garbage being spouted by hysterical socialist worker types and now your boss and you.

Chris Gale said...

Thats rubbish too. Why not come out with some more unthinking garbage whilst you are at it?
I care about any innocent loss of life and suffering. The blame lies with the thugs of Hamas but of course we are not allowed to say that in case we upset the Muslims...

Friend of Carlotta said...

If I was to mention that rioting outside Parliament by a usually peaceful people had forced the resignation of the Prime Minister AND the head of the country's bank, you'd think that would be news, wouldn't you?

Not to the BBC it isn't.

It happened in Iceland over the last two days. Pravda have not mentioned it. Riots are taking place all over Europe and Pravda simply refuses to report them.
I wonder why?

Kerry said...

Doesn't really matter whether you aportion blame to Israel or Hamas or think it's six of one and half a dozen of the other - there's still an urgent need for humanitarian assistance. The only way you can justify not supporting that effort is if you think the recipients of that assistance are in some way culpable, or undeserving. So are Muslim children who happen to have been born in Gaza deserving of assistance or not?

Friend of Carlotta said...

Chris Gale

"How about asking why Hamas puts missile launchers in civilian areas?"

What other areas are there in Gaza? The whole place is a prison camp with 1.5 million inhabitants.

Where SHOULD they launch them from? They don't have Apache helicopters

Chris Gale said...

How is a child a 'muslim'? They are children who have been told they must believe certain things and act in certain ways.
The argument is not about people being deserving or not, its about the BBC trust not being beaten about to bend its rules by politicians. You seem to think you know better than the chair of the BBC trust because you are a PPS in Parliament.

Northern Lights said...

So ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5 are Socialist Workers then Chris?

Even the BBC's own coverage admits that:

'previous DEC appeals shown on multiple TV and radio channels have raised millions of pounds for victims of wars and natural disasters'

Were none of these in conflict zones?

While we're at it, isn't the whole point of Comic Relief to send donations to war torn countries and places of violent conflict?

I've never heard the BBC refuse to broadcast that in case it is impartial.

Anonymous said...

Loathe as I am to agree with Tony Benn, I can't see how this can compromise the BBC's impartiality.

If DEC say it's an impartial humanitarian effort, then doesn't the buck stop with them if this were to turn out not to be the case for some reason?

The BBC need only say they're acting in good faith don't they?

Kerry said...

To respond to the last few points - the BBC aired the DEC appeal for Lebanon - so what's the difference here?

Chris - you're dissembling. I think the point about whether being Muslim is a matter of fact or a matter of choice is totally spurious - I know non-practising Muslims who still describe themselves as Muslim because it's more than their religion, it's their cultural inheritance...but anyway, that's irrelevant to this argument. Do you think there should be humanitarian aid to Gaza? Do you think the life of a child in Gaza is worth saving? Easy answers - yes or no?

And BB: shouldn't that be "loathe as I am to agree with anyone"?

Anonymous said...

friend of carlotta"where should they have fired them from"

They shouldn't have fired the rockets full stop then they wouldn't have been in this mess,and Kerry accused ME of being confused on a previous post.

Anonymous said...

The only way i would support donations is if an independant organisation took control.Keep hamas well away from it or they will use it to buy arms .

Anonymous said...

"Muslim children who happen to have been born in Gaza"

As Chris says, this is a very strange expression, which betrays the clear implication that although many on the Left say they support freedom of choice for young people, that only applies so long as those young people haven't had the misfortune to be born to parents whose religion proscribes apostasy as a crime.

Whatever happened to Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights?

Furthermore, not everybody who lives in Palestinian Territories is Muslim. Some are still Christian ... but Hamas and other Islamic fundamentalists are seeing to that ...

Kerry said...

Come off it, it's common parlance to refer to Jewish children, Catholic children, Muslim children, whatever.

The underlying point still hasn't been answered - regardless of what some adults in Gaza have done, i.e. supporting Hamas and its rocket attacks to a greater or lesser degree, the children can no more be held responsible for that than they can - to use your argument - be seen to have chosen their religion. So if it's not their fault that they're living in bombed-out ruins, with no access to water, limited food supplies, unable to access medical treatment, then why is it wrong to support the humanitarian effort?

Anonymous said...

"it's common parlance" - Is it? If it is, it shouldn't be. Especially in such a case as this. It should be completely irrelevant what these children's parents religion is.

This issue of coercion and brainwashing is very serious and should not be swept under the carpet. Being a recovering Catholic is bad enough, but a recovering Muslim? Hard to recover when you're dead, isn't it?

Chris Gale said...

"cultural inheritance"

Oh yes wonderful to be proud of that. Have you asked them to comment on how their 'cultural inheritance' parades a camel in the street in even 'moderate' Muslim countries and slashes its main neck artery with a sword as people shout and laugh as it bleeds to death?

On the question of the BBC, nobody is suggesting that children or other innocents should be denied relief or that their suffering is any different morally. The BBC is not and nor are its senior editors who you seem to think are less qualified to make this decision than you, for some reason. Is that why nobody wants to leaflet for you because you are so well looked up to?

All the hyperbole is coming from people who are coming out with the most amazing stuff about the BBC being the voice of the Israeli embassy, a a zionist plot blh blah blah etc etc. Your attitude which is increasingly shown to be based on your hatred of Israel shows why the BBC decision is the right one.

Of course 'we are all Hamas now' .....

Kerry said...

I don't get it - it's alright to send aid to Gaza, but not right for the BBC to encourage people to do so by airing DEC's ad, even though they've done it in numerous previous humanitarian crises and even though the other broadcasters are following suit, and even though the BBC itself is publicising DEC on its website?

I don't hate Israel, I don't have any sympathies with Hamas, and as for leaflets, try telling that to the good folks of St George who have been getting my parliamentary report over the past few weeks.

Have a look at Tom Harris' site for an example of someone who was quite a defender of Israel during the conflict, but still thinks the BBC have got it wrong.

Old Holborn said...

BBC Scotland has been stormed by Gaza supporters

Sky News

it's either banned or compulsory said...

So who are the Disaster Emergency Committee ?
Just a front for a bunch of state funded fake charities
British Red Cross
Care International
Christian Aid
Help the Aged
Islamic Relief
Save the Children
World Vision

The whole so called argument between the BBC and the righteous is just a publicity stunt resulting in front page news and prime time TV for the appeal itself. Nicely done.

Northern Lights said...

Chris - to follow this rather infantile line of argument:

1. MP disagrees with the BBC

2. MP therefore believes herself 'more qualified' than the BBC to take this particular decision

On that basis, Chris assumes himself 'more qualified' than:

Channel 4
Channel 5
The Archbishop of York
The Government
57 MP's signing an EDM
Opposition politicians
Stop the War Coalition
11,000 BBC viewers
Journalists Unions NUJ and BECTU
Action Aid
British Red Cross
Care International
Christian Aid
Concern Worldwide
Help the Aged
Islamic Relief
Save the Children
World Vision

I don't think there's much chance of that, is there.

Kerry said...

Make that 112 MPs signing an EDM.

And Bill Bailey.

Chris Gale said...

The question here is not about relief for people. I am not pretending to be an expert on aid issues and nor is the BBC. It is about the BBC and its editorial independence.
It is troubling when politicians attempt to harass the BBC on issues like this. And yes Kerry it is about editorial independence.
Andy Burnham (unlike your boss who got slated a bit in the press today) at least kept a semblance of common sense and made the point that politicians should stay out of the editorial decisions of broadcasters.
As for 'infantile',thats the dept of the George Galloway fan club..

Chris Gale said...

The MP who tabled the EDM to interfere in the BBCs editorial independence can hardly be considered an independent minded voice either...
Richard Burden, Chair of the 'Britain-Palestine All Party Parliamentary Group'.

Yep not a hint of being on one side or the other as he suggested he was on the news.......

Chris Gale said...

"Stop the War Coalition" is made up of apologists for terrorist groups including Hamas. I would not put them in a group qualified for anything.

Kerry said...

And it's been signed by Andrew Gwynne. Who is Andrew Gwynne you might ask? Chair of Labour Friends of Israel, that's who.

Northern Lights said...

And the Archbishop of York, Chris?

Is he some kind of secret Israel hating terrorist? An apologist for Hamas, perhaps?

Your argument is becoming less and less credible (but at the same time more and more amusing)

Old Holborn said...

Chris, how may Jews are in the cabinet?

Anonymous said...

He might be qualified in something, but John Sentamu, the Archbishop of York, is a typical bloody vicar and all over the place.

Today he's accusing the BBC of "taking sides" with Israel. Is this the same John Sentamu who in 2006 said the BBC was frightened of criticising Islam?

He actually makes the BBC look rather balanced doesn't he? (And its critics like inconsistent idiots). Perhaps he should stick to prayers and coffee mornings?

Chris Gale said...

'Northern Lights' (whoever you may be), the Archbishop of York is of course welcome to his views. However, I hope you would agree that the editorial decisions of the BBC are a matter for the BBC and not for MPs, Ministers, or Stop the War coalition.
The Culture Secretary agrees that should be the case and I agree with him on that.
It is dangerous when MPs start trying to demand changes to the editorial stance of a national broadcaster. Its a matter for the BBC.
Move on.

Kerry said...

BB - I don't think the two are mutually exclusive are they? i.e. on Israel's side and scared of criticising Islam?

Chris - convince me that your stance on this is wholly motivated by your support for the editorial independence of the BBC and nothing to do with your support for Israel's actions in Gaza?

For the record, Douglas has made it clear that it's a matter for the BBC - but he's allowed an opinion, and his opinion is that the BBC is wrong. I agree, and so do many, many others.

Chris Gale said...

Kerry said...

"PS Chris - why not come straight out and say you think the people of Gaza - including the children - have no-one but themselves to blame and are totally undeserving of any assistance or sympathy? That's obviously what you think"

Kerry, would you kindly withdraw that set of remarks?
I may disagree with you over lots of things, including the right of Israel to defend itself, but I am a member of the Labour Party (and an active one also) and whatever else I may think what you have said there is completely without foundation and is a slur.
I am not in the business of being uncaring about people no matter where they are, in a war zone or whatever.
I would appreciate it if you would withdraw those remarks.
To suggest I dont care about children etc is beyond words and a defamation.
Thank you.

Kerry said...

In that case the logic of your position escapes me. Do you, or don't you think the children of Gaza deserve aid?

Chris Gale said...

I asked you to withdraw the remarks as they are a slur and are libel.
Will you do so please.

Kerry said...

I could give you a few pointers on libel law, but I've got work to do.

Happy to give you as much space as you want on here to answer my questions and defend your corner.