BIAS AND THE BBC
The BBC should be an important voice, not least because we, the people own it- and its users, ( so that’s us again) – fund it. We would hope to be able to trust it to provide quality educational material and to keep us informed about what is happening in the world, and honest and accurate reporting.
So what is happening at the BBC? We are kept well informed about the goings-on in the Falkland Islands. Is that a co-incidence in that as I remember it was the flag-waving and cheering of the departing ships, which led to a recovery for Margaret Thatcher in 1982 when the public-service cuts were hitting hard?
The BBC inform us of the coming-and-goings of managers of football clubs, and then about complaints from Christians about being marginalised. I am unsure as to why the BBC should be a voice for religious groups – isn’t that what churches are for?
While all this is going on, the most unpopular policies in recent years go unreported by the BBC, and by much of the Press.
HEALTH AND WELFARE
The Health Service Reform Bill amounts to privatisation of the National Health Service as the most unpopular policy in sixty years. It is the duty of the BBC to keep us informed, and News is being stifled. Why are the BBC failing to do so?
Neither of the Coalition parties have an overall majority, and, despite campaigning to protect the NHS, the Tory-led Coalition are railroading through privatisation of the health service at great cost to the British people, in terms of health, loss of assets and skills. Both Coalition parties must be held responsible for the destruction of the NHS.
While the Independent reports the cost of 600 million pounds, as a result of the redundancies from NHS cuts, the BBC do not. While the Guardian and the Scottish Herald briefly reported of The Spartacus Report and Disability Living Allowance and Welfare “Reform”, the BBC did not. While Sky News reports that Ed Miliband, Leader of the Labour Party, has written to the House of Lords asking it to drop the Health Bill, the BBC do not. It is the responsibility of the BBC to report and represent the Leader of the Opposition, the Government ensures its activities are reported as they wish them to be.
THE GLOBAL ISSUE
We are kept informed by the BBC of developments in Libya, in Iran and now in Syria, with the purpose of preparation for war. On Think Left CJ Stone writes of Manufacturing Consent for the Invasion of Iran. The media consensus is to ensure that the US and its allies can depend of governments of the world to open up markets to foreign investment – in other words to multinationals and through the global market ensure that the very rich remain rich and powerful, no matter how much poverty and starvation there is, or no matter what permanent damage to the planet results. Dr Tristan Learoyd’s (Think Left) article on the aftermath of the war in Libya questions whether the Libyan people face really freedoms or that of another tyrant, global unbridled capitalism.
The BBC are consistently failing to report accurately, if at all. They are failing to inform and to educate. Lies and propaganda cloak the facts.
The lack of BBC’s challenging reporting questioning the government’s viewpoint can be shown in their reporting of George Osborne’s agreement with the Swiss banks. The type of language used and the tone of delivery invited certainty in the desirability of this decision. The only caveat referred to was that because the agreement did not come into force until 2013, there was still plenty of time for the secret bank holdings to be moved to somewhere where no tax would be liable!
There was absolutely no recognition, acknowledgement or questioning of the Coalition government’s thinking or motivation in making this settlement. Richard Murphy of Tax Research UK makes clear why the ramifications of this deal should have been discussed:
To say that this is a quite extraordinary act by the UK government massively understates the irresponsibility of what they have agreed.
The UK is apparently going to accept settlement for past tax at around 30% of the assets held in a Swiss account. That might be reasonable if the funds placed in Switzerland had been taxed in the UK before being deposited in Switzerland and it was only the income on those funds that had been evaded since then. But what we know for sure is that most money held in Switzerland got their illicitly – it was not taxed before its arrival in the Alps. It’s tax evaded money.
As a result we would now expect 40% tax (at least) on the capital in all these accounts in Switzerland as a matter of course plus a 100% penalty that might reasonably be charged in a case of deliberate tax evasion (meaning in total 80% of the capital balance should be paid to settle the tax originally evaded) and then there is of course interest due on the late payment plus tax due on the income earned since. Nothing less than 100% is due on these balances – wiping them out of course – and anything else is a scandalous underpayment.
In spite of these charges, there was no counterbalance on the BBC, to George Osborne’s extraordinary claim to be ‘cracking down on tax cheats’. But then again there all too rarely seems to be any serious attempt to question government explanation.
The importance of the Swiss settlement is that it is a significant part of a larger process, the ‘shadow economy’ of tax havens which has been so meticulously exposed by Nick Shaxton in his book “Treasure islands: Tax havens and the men who stole the world.’ However, as Nick Shaxton himself described with surprise, in May 2011, ‘the BBC, the heart of British media, doesn’t seem interested.’
‘The argument at the heart of Treasure Islands is about as big as it gets. This really is the hitherto untold story of globalisation. This really is the dark heart of the global economy.’
‘With trillions of dollars – literally trillions – being cycled through this libertarian, anti-democratic system, stripping away taxation, financial regulation, criminal laws, and so on, bending and distorting markets and global capital flows in powerful ways that no economist could ever explain using current models. With Britain, as I mentioned, slap bang in the middle of it all.’
‘Nobody has said, … that there isn’t a gigantic global network of British tax havens quietly hoovering up trillions and funnelling them to the City of London. Nobody has said the City Corporation isn’t this utterly bizarre, ancient and massively powerful organisation at the heart of Britain and the British establishment. Nobody has accused me of making gross factual mistakes, distorting the historical or statistical record, or anything like that. The FT, for instance calls it “meticulously researched.’
‘…. the BBC is shirking on its responsibility to inform and to educate.’
THE DANGER IS LOSS OF FREEDOM
John Christensen was so disturbed by his interview with Evan Davis on the Today program that he wrote an open letter asking why
The frustration of Shaxton and Christensen with the BBC is increasingly being voiced on comment threads. For example:
“Richard, might I ask an unrelated question?
What do you think of the BBC’s current financial coverage? Do you think it is extensive, honesty, penetrating? Is it reflective of the real turmoil and double-dealing taking place in the City of London, or is it supine and obfuscatory? I was stunned to find that the BBC had dedicated part of its website to asking which ‘cuts’ people felt the government should make; and this in spite of the fact that the banks had been handed trillions of pounds of taxpayers money? No mention was made of the fact that the private debt of the the banking sector was transferred to the public’s balance sheet – nor was there any mention that this private debt crisis, because it was shirted onto the public balance sheet, helped to trigger a fiscal and thence sovereign debt crisis! Do you think we are seeing honest reporting of events? If not, how do you think we can go about solving this problem?
‘The price of freedom is eternal vigilance’ which means democracy requires us having access to information which we’re not getting from the BBC.
“Even if the [media] does not mold our every opinion, it does mold our opinion visibility; it can frame the perceptual limits around which our opinions take shape. Here may lie the most important effect of the news media: they set the agenda for the rest of us, choosing what to emphasize and what to ignore or suppress, in effect, organizing much of our political world for us. The media may not always be able to tell us what to think, but they are strikingly successful in telling us what to think about … the media teach us tunnel vision conditioning us to perceive the problems of society as isolated particulars, thereby stunting our critical vision. Larger casualties are reduced to immediately distinct events, while the linkages of wealth, power and policy go unreported or are buried under a congestion of surface impressions and personalities.
In sum, the media set the limits on public discourse.
They may not always mold opinion, but they do not always have to. It is enough that they create opinion visibility, giving legitimacy to certain views and illegitimacy to others … This power to determine the issue agenda, the information flow, and the parameters of political debate so that it extends from ultra-right to no further than moderate center is, if not total, still totally awesome.”
And so, eventually we know and believe only that which we are permitted to, because that is what suits the powers that be. In generations to come, history can be rewritten if it is allowed to be. Eventually we become nothing but zombies walking around with a false reality.
REFERENCES AND FURTHER READING
- Tax Research UK : The BBC’s Economic Commentary
- Tax Research UK: George Osborne Agreement with Swiss Banks
- Is the BBC Scared of Tax Havens? Treasure Islands: Tax Havens and the Men who stole the world. From a Book by Nicholas Shaxton
- Tax Justice Network :John Christensen Are journalists doing enough to warn people of impending problems?
- Tax research UK: Cameron and Osborne let thousands of proven criminals off all charges- anonymously
- Scottish Herald Report on Spartacus Report
- Sky News: Ed’s Miliband’s Letter to the House-of Lords – “Drop the Bill”
- New Statesman :BBC defends defends its decision to censor the word “Palestine”
- The Morning Star :“Our” BBC is little more than right-wing propaganda.
- Inventing Reality : Michael Parenti
- Sky News: Ed Miliband’s letter to the House of Lords
- The Independent : 600 million pounds, as a result of the redundancies from NHS cuts
- The Guardian: Spartacus Report
- The Scottish Herald: The Spartacus report
FROM THINK LEFT: