Monday, 21 September 2009

An Inconvenient Truth. By Richard Madeley. As Ali G.

God Bless Cassandra, Biased BBC's in-house futurologist. Just in case the rest of us didn't hear today's big BBC interview on climate change, she produces her own transcript of the occasion.

What emerges is a monologue of crystalline beauty. Alan Bennett, eat your heart out.

But (dramatic pause) who could this famous public figure be?

Them poles is meltin innit?

Fo' Real! Ali G. Must be.

them wot sez it aint iz morons

Or possibly Richard Madeley's notorious impersonation of the Staines homeboy.

I seed it wiv me own eyes an everfink

Cripes! We're veering from Jethro of the Beverly Hillbillies to a Mockney Dick van Dyke.

an dem carbod dixides iz evil an is killin du peeps innit wiv all the smoke N stuff yeah

A trace of Stavros there.

yewz lot dunt knows wot it duz like me!

A touch of Scouse, too, though more Harry Enfield curly perm than Alan Bleasdale Blackstuff.

I dunt need no degrees in science to tell me fings rite?

Catherine Tate?

Ize bin lisnen to Al Grope an ee sez so rite or ill bash yer up.

Wossname from Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels? I'm getting desperate, Cassandra. Can you give us a clue?

The BBC so keen to peddle its prejudiced and flawed ideology that they are reduced to inviting a known cheating liar,ignoramus and adulterer to add his ignorant ramblings to the muddy waters.

Muddy Waters. Wouldn't he sound more…. bluesy?

(Answer to follow later. Unless you've read her post already. Though that would be cheating)


  1. Well, you can say this much for her: she does irony like a pro, regardless of whether she means to or not.

  2. It has to be Tim Westwood, surely. Now that he's embraced Green issues, presumably he'll be fronting Pimp My Prius from now on

  3. Fat Face Penguin Seal22 September 2009 at 12:04

    'Cassandra' cannot be a real person. Niether can 'sue', nor 'Martin'. We know Vance is real, so maybe he just posts under those names to vent his spleen on issues even he holds back on.

  4. I'm for Westwood. But if he's really serious about climate change, it'll have to be Pimp My Pushbike

  5. I think Martin is real. There really are messed up people like him out there. Intolerant, angry, little weirdos who actually delight in making themselves angry and miserable. People like him, many on B-BBC actually, would be far happier in life if they simply didn't watch or listen to the BBC anymore, and went on long country walks or took up a new hobby. You can always switch off your TV guys! No one forces them to watch the news and become stark raving madmen foaming at the mouth .

  6. I think the thing which annoys them, Douglas, is not the existence of the BBC, but having to pay for it.

    The BBC tends towards the left - pretty much everyone from Andrew Marr downwards has admitted it, and you don't have to be a raving conspuracy nut to see this bias in its reporting, and even some other programming (though sometimes that helps); Polly Toynbee would hardly have worked there for seven or eight years as social affairs editor otherwise, would she?

    You can predict the editorial line the BBC will take on any number of issues, and it will rarely coincide with a Conservative/conservative one.

    As I say, that doesn't matter if you don't have to pay for it; I think in the next five to ten years, the licence fee arrangement will probably change, which will remove the animus of all but the most rabid B-BBC conspirators.

  7. Oops - 'conspiracy'.
    'Conspuracy' sounds slightly and strangely Norn Iron, doesn't it? Vanceian, even.

  8. "I think the thing which annoys them, Douglas, is not the existence of the BBC, but having to pay for it."

    The last I checked, they don't pay for the Palestinians, non-whites, any human rights charity, the French, the Germans, anyone who votes left of John Redwood, etc etc etc.

    The whole "we pay for the BBC" is a fig leaf. It nominally gives them a reason to care. But in their own minds allows each red-faced one of them to jab furiously at the keyboard and demand that, among millions of licence payers, the BBC bend entirely to their will.

    And anyway, many of them boast they don't actually pay for it.

  9. @Dan: "Polly Toynbee would hardly have worked there for seven or eight years as social affairs editor otherwise, would she?" Well yes, although she was known as the eternal flame in the newsroom because she "never went out" (on a story).
    And what does it say about the BBC now that the chief political correspondent is a former leader of the Young Conservatives?

  10. I think the comment numbers are falling, they are having to work very hard at it to get anything near the numbers that there used to be.

  11. "I think the thing which annoys them, Douglas, is not the existence of the BBC, but having to pay for it."

    If it was only annoyance then it wouldn't be nearly as funny - its the foaming insanity of forcing themselves to endlessly watch and rant about something that they detest so irrationally which makes the BBBC site so entertaining.

    Surely keeping these loons in such a state of impotent fury is the best argument for keeping the licence fee - better for them to be obsessively watching the BBC than walking the streets.

    People who think that there is a reasonable argument for ditching the licence fee must despair of the BBBC site.

  12. Anon 18:57: Yes, badly phrased on my part. I don't really believe that anyone is particularly concerned about his or her own £130-odd, I meant the thing which annoys them is that it is publicly-funded (and yet biased).
    (I'm quite sure that if it were biased towards the right they would immediately lose sight of this bias, of course - though B-BBC would immediately rise from the grave stocked with 'left wing' malcontents. After all, it was impossible to attend a Comedy Store gig in the 1980s and not find each comic attacking the politics of the Murdoch and Associated Newspapers media in equally splenetic - if more amusing - terms.)

    Dave: Yes, I'm not saying that every single person who works at the BBC is 'left wing', or that all of those who are allow their own inherent bias to come through.
    I simply suggest that someone so wedded to the cause as Polly Toynbee is (and was) could not have remained for so many years at an organisation which didn't broadly, internally and externally, reflect her own views.
    I don't think Robinson - even if he remains a Tory - is quite as doctrinaire as Toynbee!

    Anon 23:40: You're absolutely right - they are amusing in their rage. However, it's a mistake to imagine that they are not the slightly wonky tip of a very large iceberg, towards which the BBC is steering.

    Anyway, keep up the fisking - it's a lot more entertaining than B-BBC, that's for sure.

  13. What will the crew of the good ship B-BBC biased do when a Tory govt. is elected nest year? Will they ramp up the criticism of the beeb even more - looking for any nasty coverage of the Tories? Or will they still focus on Labour whilst their in opposition?

  14. Rab,

    When a Tory government is elected, Beeb watchers will decry every criticism, every interruption on Today as inherent bias.

    They will then claim, as if aliens landed on earth and wiped our collective memory, that this never happened to Labour.

    Counterexamples such as the Hutton Enquiry or Cash for Honours will be met with the stony silence of B-BBC's elite group of unemployed rage mob ignoring inconvenient facts.

    Once a suitable time has passed - sometimes mere minutes - the process can begin again.

  15. I can tell you what B-BBC types will be like after the change of government.

    Yes, they will ignore the times the BBC argued with Labour ministers. They will see every Tory scandal (let's face it, all parties have scandals/cock ups) as being hyped up by the BBC in a way Labour scandals never were.

    They will argue that Labour get too much time as an opposition voice - ignoring the fact that that's the way it always is. And in terms of issues, if the Tory govt is slow to sort things out, it will all have been Labour's fault for fucking up the country - but the BBC hide it from the public.

  16. "You can predict the editorial line the BBC will take on any number of issues, and it will rarely coincide with a Conservative/conservative one."

    Given the virtually non-existant gap between Labour and the Tories on so many issues - then it must equally be true that the BBC "editorial line" will rarely coincide with a Labour one.

    So even if there is a broad "editorial line" - which you'd really struggle to prove - it is no more pro-Labour than pro-Tory.

    These people are loons who rage at the world, they don't represent any sort of iceberg other than the insane one who insists that it isn't melting because the equator isn't warmer than the pole - they may even do a hilarious Cassandra diatribe in protest at the very idea.

  17. I'm interested to see what they make of "Wounded" on BBC One tonight

  18. Anon 14:41: You may be right that there is no real gap between the (main two) parties on many issues; these days, in large part I suspect because of the 24 hour news media which appears to have destroyed peoples' concentration, the parties concentrate on sounding less threatening and more touchy-feely. Lying, you might say.

    However, as I've said - without, thus far, any contradiction - the BBC is pretty obviously biased towards the liberal left position on most issues (Israel, climate change, religion, race and immigration, the economy, the market, gender issues (5 Live today managed a classic conflation of the latter two: 'Should money from the Premiership be hived off to create a female Premier League?' Answer: No, for very obvious reasons.), crime, etc etc).
    This always coincides more with the Labour view than the Tory one, but it doesn't always coincide with either. Quite often, one hears voices - often from people on progs like the News Quiz or the Now Show - attacking the government... but it tends to be from the left. (Incidentally, the ever-presence of people like Jeremy Hardy, Marcus Brigstocke, David Mitchell, Kevin Day - all happy to admit to being of the left - on shows like these, of on 5 Live magazine shows, is ever so slightly revealing.)

    Re what will happen to B-BBC when the Tories get in, I think it will be interesting.

    I suspect the line will change to the attitude BBC presenters take when interviewing government ministers, and I may have some sympathy with that line. Presently, they tend often towards the chummy in tone; few interruptions, lots of sounds of agreement, not too much scepticism (all this varies, of course, and there are plenty of exceptions).
    Likewise, they tend to be are more hostile towards Tory backbenchers - often treating them as though they were the government, with the power, rather than the opposition, without it.
    As a recent for instance: Mandelson and Hammond both interviewed re cuts on 5 Live Breakfast. The presenter asked Hammond several times exactly what the Tories would cut - 'you won't say, Mr Hammond, and people will wonder why' etc etc.
    Hammond eventually protested that this question didn't seem to be put to the government with quite so much vigour.
    Presenter: 'Mr Mandelson is on later, and we'll ask him.'
    Hammond: 'I hope you will.'
    Presenter: 'We will.'
    I listened. They didn't.

    None of this matters, except that it does. Intelligent people - and the people producing and reading this blog, and some - some - of those following B-BBC are intelligent; more than anything, I resent the insult to my intelligence that the BBC presents (on occasion); I also fear that in an age of declining media too much power in the hands and microphones of one broadcaster would be a bad thing - any thinking person, of any political strip, with any understading of history, must fear this. Not that different an argument from the old anti-Murdoch one, though from the other side, but then at least Murdoch had the BBC as balance.

  19. er, intelligent people should finish their sentences. Sorry. Should have read: Intelligent people should want a genuinely neutral BBC.

  20. "(Israel, climate change, religion, race and immigration, the economy, the market, gender issues This always coincides more with the Labour view than the Tory one,"

    What is the "liberal left" position on climate change? What should the BBC do - ignore the overwhelming view of scientists on a scientific matter? In what way is denying climate change more a Tory view than a Labour one?

    Supporting the "liberal left" view of the market? Really difficult to see that there was much anti-market opinion in the BBCs pre-credit crunch economic programming. Yes, now the rampant market is being questioned - but by everyone, including Cameron and Osborne.

    Religion? Hardly a left/right issue, but its really, really hard to justify any claim that the BBC is more anti traditional anglicanism than any other media outlet.

    On any issue, it is entirely debateable that there is a liberal/left bias at the BBC.

    For example, I'm not that keen on the monarchy and I find much of the BBC coverage a bit nauseating. Thats OK, doesn't want to make me protest rabidly about the licence fee. Indeed it can be argued that the BBC is pro-establishment and is very much part of the establishment, so is generally conservative at heart rather than radical.

    On the royalty issue, the equivalent of a BBBC style website would be a site spouting ridiculous nonsense about the evil nature of individual royals using the most stupid and aggressive language. I really wouldn't want to think that any such site was "fighting my corner" on the issue, and I wouldn't follow such a site - I would just laugh at the idiots.

  21. Fair points anon, to a point.

    On climate change, I'd say liberal left people tend to believe in AGW and conservative/right people tend to be more sceptical. There are degrees in this, of course: although I lean towards conservatism, I tend to agree that man is affecting the planet and its climate.

    However, it is not the case that the science is settled; the weight of the evidence, certainly the argument, is on the side of AGW/climate change, but many eminent scientists believe the evidence is inconclusive, poorly collected and badly collated.
    You very rarely hear such voices on the BBC. All I'm saying is that counter arguments should be heard.

    More importantly, there is very good evidence that many of the measures being suggested by all politicians will be disastrous.

    We cannot (to use an example) wind farm our way out of this problem: it is too expensive, will take too long, will be irrelevant and will not provide electricity when we need it. Again, the BBC tends to push the idea that wind farms are a sensible solution; we heard lots and lots of pro-consensus voices on the airwaves, but the leading ‘anti’, Christopher Booker, (of the Sunday Telegraph and Private Eye), has hardly ever – if, indeed, ever, been invited on.
    You may think he’s mad, and so may I, but that’s beside the point; people who support views I consider mad are heard daily.

    On the market, I can't point to specific pre-crash examples, and you're probably right that the coverage was less incisive than it ought to have been.

    Perhaps this was because the City was funding the extravagant spending of Labour - something, again, the the BBC producers and managers I know are certainly firmly in favour of?

    Without the City cash, we certainly could not, and cannot, afford the public sector we currently have. Again, a point rarely made on the BBC – and never made, I think, before the crash.

    However, it's the post-crash coverage I'm interested in: the BBC, via the people it selects for interview, in weighted terms (there are occasional other voices), consistently follows the line that the crash was caused by the unregulated market and greedy bankers. Up to a point it was.

    But there are respectable arguments that the market was in some senses too regulated, which are rarely aired. The US CRA is one small part of this; another is the UK government's promise (effectively) to underwrite mortgages and prevent repossession. While this may preclude, for a short and politically convenient time, the tragedy of repossession, it's not hard to spot the moral and financial hazard. Yet it's hardly even discussed on the BBC.

    Equally, the government's role in overseeing the regulation - Gordon Brown's famous light touch - is glossed over in comparison.

    And it takes two to become indebted; while bankers pushed money at people, they couldn’t force them to take it, could they? We rarely hear much about the hundreds of thousands of consumers who took out mortgages and loans they couldn't afford; R4's money programme endlessly covers the plight of the indebted, but rarely makes the point that some of them are stupid, greedy and lazy (which some undoubtedly are). Everyone received the same crazy unrequested loan and credit card offers; some binned them.
    The bankers are greedy swine, I agree, and something ought to be done about them. (I insert the obvious caveat about them decamping to the Bourse, or Frankfurt, or the Nikkei, or elsewhere). It's just not all down to them.

    Again, I stress, I don't believe either side is right or wrong; there is truth in all of this. But of the triumvirate - bankers, regulators/government and consumers, only the bankers get fingered (fnaar fnaar) and I'd rather have a more detailed, adult exploration of these things than the constant soundbites that even R4 has descended to. (This is not a right/left issue - the Tories will love a 30 min Panorama and airwaves full of talent shows when they're next in power.)

    As for religion… well, never discuss religion or politics, and we’ve done one so I’ll forget the other!

  22. "On climate change, I'd say liberal left people tend to believe in AGW and conservative/right people tend to be more sceptical"

    I disagree. A lot of it is post facto positioning, and much of the "opposition" you see is just taking a well-worked template from the US right and applying it here.

    Hence David Vance and other's slavish devotion not only to the policy positions of the US right, but their talking points.

    On climate change itself, only a fringe few in this country are debating whether it exists. Where the division, such as it is, exists is one what to do, state intervention and so forth. There are, of course, differences between the more interventionist and urban left wing and the more market oriented and rural right wing, but crux of the gripe of deniers isn't largely about bias on what happens next but that climate change is occurring at all.

    Similarly, the pro-Israel stance that seems to be a "right wing" thing here is a modern invention. Previously, the old right wing had a long established reputation for being rather arabist and not overly fond of Israel. Again, you need to look back in recent history both to things going on in the US and Conrad Black's - also ex-owner of the Jerusalem Post - lengthy crusade to change public opinion through his then ownership of the Daily Telegraph.

  23. '(M)uch of the "opposition" you see is just taking a well-worked template from the US right and applying it here.'

    But it is right-wing opposition, right? If we take (imperfectly, I know) The Guardian and The Mail as ciphers for left and right, and we looked through their back issues from the last five years, I would predict that we'd find the former had carried almost no reports of the 'anti-AGW' case and the latter very little from the 'pro-AGW' side (I'm talking columns and op-ed pieces, not news reports).

    The BBC broadly follows the Guardian's approach.

    While I happen to believe AGW is probably happening, it isn't the case that those who doubt it are automatically to be equated with flat earthers (though some undoubtedly are); there are plenty of professors with lots of letters after their names who question elements of the consensus. (I can find you some if you like, but they're easily found at uni websites.)

    That is the crux of the whole debate for me (ie the BBC one); the Mail and the Guardian can carry what they like, because people make an individual decision to buy or not buy, and their survival is not state-guaranteed.

    Because of its unique funding system, the BBC is different. Instead of acting as some sort of opinion gatekeeper, it should, within reason*, allow lots of opinions to be aired.

    This is healthy for us - at least, the sentient among us - and for the BBC itself.

    Analagous to this is the great BNP/Question Time debate. It's mad, really, that a 'democratic' party which gets a fairly substantial vote hasn't yet been allowed on to the programme - whereas, for instance, the entirely unelected Shami Chakrabati is a regular guest.

    I don't object to Shami appearing - save us from professional politicians, after all, and
    I happen to agree more with her than with the BNP, with whom I disagree on everything from repatriation to their economic policy - but I do object to the BNP not appearing.

    It's just not the BBC's job to act as a gatekeeper (again) to elected politicians, irrespective of their views. Let them spout their rubbish and intelligent people will see through it. Censor them, as has effectively happened, and it gives them a grievance to air (and, I am quite sure, acts as a magnet to whackos all over the UK).

    The Israel stance, also, is not a right wing 'invention'; just talk to your friends, ask who supports Israel and you'll find that the right wingers generally do and the left wingers generally support the Palestinians. The history of Arabism in the US Senate is not very long; insofar as there is one, it has tended towards an affection for the region's natural resources (and now a distaste for its religious fundamentalists).

    * I appreciate that 'within reason' is hard to define, but a given professor or Christopher Booker arguing the case against would fall within the definition, I would say. So why no show?