Daily Archives: July 6, 2015

Government forces BBC to fund political policies – then demands biased news reporting

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Former BBC chairman Sir Christopher Bland is right to warn that the corporation is fast becoming an arm of the Conservative Government.

He was referring to the Tories’ plan to make the BBC fund their policy of free TV licences, which follows the transfer of the cost of the BBC World Service and BBC Monitoring to the Corporation. According to The Independent, it amounts to shifting £650m from the Government’s Budget to the BBC.

Not only that, but the Conservative Government has asked the BBC to change the way it reports stories about the militant group Isis – introducing overt political bias into its newsgathering.

Chris Grayling, Leader of the Commons, said the BBC should take the side of the UK – meaning the Conservative Government – in international conflicts.

“During the Second World War, the BBC was a beacon of fact, it was not expected to be impartial between Britain and Germany,” he told parliament.

“Rather subtly and unattractively it draws the BBC closer to becoming an arm of government which is always something that the BBC and government have resisted,” Sir Christopher told BBC Radio 4’s The World This Weekend.

“It’s the worst form of dodgy Whitehall accounting. It’s transferring social policy onto the licence fees and it’s shifting from direct taxation where it properly belongs the cost of a Gordon Brown giveaway that was doubtful in the first place anyhow.” [In his opinion]

George Osborne, speaking to Andrew Marr, came up with a pitifully weak defence of this offloading of responsibility onto the BBC: That it is publicly-funded.

He said: “The BBC is also a publicly funded, public institution and so it does need to make savings and contribute to what we need to do as a country to get our house in order.”

It doesn’t work like that, George!

If you want the BBC to pay for your policies – in effect, charging our public service broadcaster a tax to provide government policies – you need to give the BBC a say in what those policies are.

The principle is simple: No taxation without representation.

Otherwise, you should leave it alone.

The principle of public funding is intended to ensure that the BBC remains impartial, but you are trying to undermine it. Why?

Would the real reason have anything to do with your friend, Mr Murdoch?

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Comedian v Conservative over child poverty

Jason-Manford

This writer is not a huge fan of Jason Manford’s comedy. However, The Blog wholeheartedly welcomes his criticism of the Conservative Government. Let’s see many more celebrities following suit.

Manford has followed up a series of tweets attacking David Cameron over the NHS with a Facebook post criticising the plan to scrap the target to eliminate child poverty by 2020, which involves re-defining poverty to suit the very rich Tories.

Manford told his page’s one million followers: “Can’t believe David Cameron has wiped out Child Poverty in the UK. What a legend. Simply by changing the meaning of what we understand to be ‘poverty’. Genius.

“So glad the country voted him in. Nice one. Chuffed to bits.”

He added: “Statistically living in a poor family can reduce children’s expectations of their own lives and lead to a cycle where poverty is repeated from generation to generation.

“As adults they are more likely to suffer ill-health, be unemployed or homeless, and become involved in offending, drug and alcohol abuse, and abusive relationships.”

Those things are not likely to change, just because the Conservative Government has removed lack of money from its definition of poverty.

Bravo, Mr Manford.

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Greece: Varoufakis quits to ease negotiations over debt

yanisvaroufakis

It’s amazing, isn’t it? Immediately after his government won an internationally-important vote against the foreign bankers and financiers who have been terrorising Greece with undemocratic austerity measures in return for loans, finance minister Yanis Varoufakis has resigned.

In his blog, he wrote that he had been “made aware of a certain preference by some Eurogroup participants, and assorted ‘partners’, for my… ‘absence’ from its meetings; an idea that the Prime Minister judged to be potentially helpful to him in reaching an agreement.

“For this reason I am leaving the Ministry of Finance today.”

He wrote: “Like all struggles for democratic rights, so too this historic rejection of the Eurogroup’s 25th June ultimatum comes with a large price tag attached. It is, therefore, essential that the great capital bestowed upon our government by the splendid NO vote be invested immediately into a YES to a proper resolution – to an agreement that involves debt restructuring, less austerity, redistribution in favour of the needy, and real reforms. [Bolding mine]

“We of the Left know how to act collectively with no care for the privileges of office. I shall support fully Prime Minister Tsipras, the new Minister of Finance, and our government.

“And I shall wear the creditors’ loathing with pride.”

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No, no, no, Nicola Sturgeon. Memogate ruling does NOT mean the story was ‘untrue’

10-Cameron-Sturgeon-Getty

Nicola Sturgeon has been crowing after the Independent Press Standards Organisation upheld her complaint about the ‘Memogate’ story that caused such a stir for the Daily Telegraph in April.

Ipso has ruled that the story – based on a memo that was leaked, we later learned, on the orders of the Coalition’s then-Scottish Secretary Alistair Carmichael – was “significantly misleading” because “the newspaper had failed to make clear that it did not know whether the account the memorandum presented was true”. It stops short of any suggestion that the story was false.

This means we still do not know whether the account in the memo was true.

A Cabinet Office investigation revealed that the civil servant who wrote the memo had a spotless record of accuracy and believed that it was accurate because it set down what he was told, faithfully.

But the SNP distortion machine has rolled into action to claim that Ipso’s ruling supports Nicola Sturgeon’s claim that the memo – and the story – were not true. This is a claim that we cannot accept on trust because, as one of the people involved, she has something to gain by making it.

In fact, none of the statements made by people who took part in the conversations mentioned in the memo may be taken at face value. The only person whose account may be considered impartial is the civil servant who wrote the memo – but everyone seems very keen to dismiss what he said.

According to The Guardian, Sturgeon said: “Subsequent events have proven conclusively that the story was entirely untrue, and today’s ruling simply underlines that.” This is a lie. They did not; it does not.

“They [the press] have a duty to ensure, as far as possible, that the stories they present to readers are fair, balanced and – above all – accurate. The Daily Telegraph, in failing to carry out the most elementary of journalistic checks and balances, failed in this case to meet that duty.”

Which checks and balances would these be, Nicola? Do you mean the Telegraph reporters didn’t ask you if the memo was accurate? Now, why do you think that would be? Could it be because the memo said you secretly wanted David Cameron to be the next Prime Minister, while open claiming you wanted Miliband – suggesting you were lying to the public? You’re too intelligent not to understand that this means anything you said about it would be suspicious.

Why are you insulting the public’s intelligence by claiming otherwise?

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Britain’s biggest trade union supports Corbyn’s bid for Labour leadership

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Unite, the UK’s largest trade union and the Labour Party’s biggest donor, has urged its members to support Jeremy Corbyn in the Labour leadership campaign.

The union’s decision is believed to be a reaction against the other leadership candidates’ support for policies of fiscal austerity.

Corbyn wants the party to reject austerity. Britain’s largest transport union, the RMT; the train drivers’ union, Aslef; the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) and the Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union (BFAWU) have also backed him.

Unions are expected to have less influence on this year’s contest, because the party has moved to a one member, one vote system for choosing its leader. This may be a reaction against criticisms that Labour’s last leader, Ed Miliband, only won his place with union backing.

Corbyn only made it onto the ballot paper at the last minute, with support from fellow MPs who thought – correctly – that his presence would widen the debate.

With the left-winger now winning support from the unions and the wider Labour-supporting public, could Labour end up with a leader the public supports, but his own MPs don’t?

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‘I said this, but I meant that’ – Osborne admits lying to electorate in TV interview

 

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George Osborne has admitted that the Conservatives lied to the electorate in their pre-election manifesto, claiming that they would reduce the Benefit Cap to £23,000 per year, when in fact this only applies in Greater London.

The rest of the UK will lose £6,000 from the current cap limit, meaning their income will be capped at £20,000 per year.

Of course, Osborne didn’t actually say he had been lying, when he spelt out his latest piece of oppression to Andrew Marr on television yesterday (Sunday). Politicians never admit lies, even when they’re blatant. Instead, they’re happy to present themselves as fools.

If the government had any imagination, it would eliminate the deficit by stimulating the economy, but economic output has dropped by something like eight per cent since Conservatives took office in 2010 – because austerity has choked off the money supply to businesses.

George Osborne will be quite happy with that. He doesn’t think anybody deserves to have money – other than the Conservative Party’s big business friends and donors.

Benefit payments to families living outside Greater London are to be capped at £20,000 a year.

In the first Conservative budget for 19 years, George Osborne will say that the previously announced figure of £23,000 will only apply to families living in the capital in a further cut to the welfare budget.

Disclosure of the additional cut came during the chancellor’s appearance on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show, in which he claimed to have found the £12bn of welfare savings promised by the Conservatives as part of their plan to eliminate the deficit in the public finances.

Source: Osborne announces cut in benefits cap to £20,000 a year outside London | Politics | The Guardian

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