Propaganda: It seems the BBC isn’t restricting its political lies solely to news programmes, but has expanded into comedy.
Has it become a contractual obligation that celebrities appearing on the BBC’s Have I Got News For You now have to reel out a duff comment connecting the Labour Party or Jeremy Corbyn and anti-Semitism, and pretend that it’s a funny joke?
It was sad enough when Victoria Coren Mitchell did it, linking Labour with the anti-Semitic trope about a Jewish bankers’ conspiracy. Because the Labour leadership has never suggested it believes anything of the sort, it was in fact she who committed the anti-Semitic slur.
Now Charlie Brooker has used his appearance to link Labour with Holocaust denial:
Did you hear that audience reaction? They didn’t like it at all. That was the sound of a career ending, as Simon Maginn implies here:
Imagine being Charlie Brooker. Successful, feted, admired as a fierce and uncompromising critic of lies and bullshit. Then he goes on some crappy BBC 'comedy' show and delivers a Labour Holocaust-denial 'gag' and BOOM! he's just another dumbo cog in the dumbo BBC smear machine.
As I say, though, it seems entirely possible that reading an anti-Labour jab from an autocue is now a contractual obligation. But Mr Brooker can’t be so hard-up for cash that he would abandon any principles and ruin his reputation for the sake of 30 pieces of silver from the BBC… can he? We note that he hasn’t exactly been running out to defend himself:
Just seen the clip from HIGNFY with your holocaust comment @charltonbrooker. Wow. You really need to say something about this, now
Sadly, Mr Brooker’s (probably-scripted) outburst seems to have achieved what these behaviours often do – and got someone else to join in. Isn’t this Phil Wang from the same programme?
I am Jewish There is NO proper evidence that Corbyn is an antisemite because he is not one The people who pushed the incessant, relentless propaganda that he is have Undermined democracy Done huge damage to relations between minorities Harmed Jewish community
It isn’t satire; it’s just a bad lie. What a way to commit career suicide.
And it seems Have I Got Lies For You may be on its way out now, as well.
There will be plenty of people who like the propaganda-pumping attitude the programme is currently showing – but if enough of us kick it into touch, then maybe the BBC will get the message.
We don’t like lies, and we don’t like people who lie to us.
HIGNFY is really unfunny now, and I think it might be because I always thought they were on my side, but it’s now clear they’re not. Charlie Brooker made a really pathetic joke about the Holocaust and the Labour Party. To think I used to like him.
Worst of all is the probability that Boris Johnson will use this as part of his excuse to axe the BBC’s status as the UK’s public service broadcaster and remove the requirement to pay the licence fee.
Still, the BBC did its best to ensure the Tories won the general election, knowing that this would be on the cards.
The Corporation’s bosses really are like turkeys voting for Christmas.
Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.
Thank goodness Beastrabban has been watching Have I Got News For You; it means I don’t have to.
He was the one who alerted me to Victoria Coren-Mitchell’s false claim that Jeremy Corbyn believes the anti-Semitic “Jewish bankers’ conspiracy” trope, broadcast on the show last month (October 2019).
Now he has written to say that the host of Friday’s (November 1) show, Jo Brand, made an announcement regarding complaints raised since that previous edition.
“The Beeb’s satirical panel game, Have I Got News For You, decided to reply to certain criticism regarding their treatment of the Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn. This week’s guest host, Jo Brand, stated that the programme had been widely attacked by supporters of the Labour leader because the programme continued referring to him by his surname, while the Prime Minister was more informally called by his first name, Boris. This, it was claimed, showed a bias towards the Tory leader, which the programme disputed.
“Ummm, no. This is not why many of us object to the programme’s bias against Labour. We object to it because it pushes, like the rest of the media, the flagrant lie that he and his supporters are anti-Semites.
“Last Friday I put up on this blog immediately after the programme an article expressing my dismay at seeing this pushed once against by Victoria Coren-Mitchell, a broadcaster for whom I have otherwise immense respect. She made a joke about Corbyn believing in the anti-Semitic Jewish bankers conspiracy. He doesn’t. Never has done, and never will.
“He has a proud record of supporting Jews and Jewish issues in the UK as part of a general commitment to combating racism.
“But he frightens the British, American and Israeli political establishments by supporting Palestinian rights. And more alarming, horror of horrors!, he has the support of self-respecting Torah-observant and secular Jews.
“It seems that the outrage on social media with the programme and its treatment of Corbyn has got to the point that its producers realise they have to do something to tackle it.
“But they can’t defend their linking of Corbyn with anti-Semitism and bogus, murderous conspiracy theories, it seems. Nor can they acknowledge, it appears, that there is a serious issue here.
“And so they tried to head off criticism by rebutting a different issue entirely.
“This is not good enough, not by a long way. Some people might object to the programme for the above reason, but that’s not why an increasing number do.
“Perhaps if we continue to voice our real objections, the Beeb might just have to come clean on the real issue. I hope so, but I’m not holding my breath.“
Lost respect: She might have been smiling but not only did Victoria Coren Mitchell lose the respect of knowledgeable TV viewers, her actions were deeply upsetting to those who had previously thought better of her.
This Writer’s television had a lucky escape last night. I was out watching a gig in Shrewsbury and did not see Victoria Coren Mitchell making a fool of herself – and no doubt many millions of viewers – on Have I Got News For You.
I understand from reports following the travesty that she made a comment to camera after a segment suggesting that the Labour Party had gone from being several million pounds in profit to hundreds of thousands in debt.
Apparently addressing Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, the gist of the joke – if you can call it that – was that if he wanted someone good with money, he should try the Jewish bankers he believes are conspiring against him.
Firstly: Jeremy Corbyn has never – ever – given voice to the anti-Semitic trope about a conspiracy of Jewish bankers.
So Ms Coren Mitchell was broadcasting a lie. Claiming it was a joke doesn’t make it acceptable. Nor does claiming it was part of a script; she knows about the anti-Corbyn smears and the witch-hunt in general and could have refused.
Secondly: As she was the one who invoked the ‘Jewish banking conspiracy’ trope, it is Ms Coren Mitchell who committed an act of anti-Semitism.
Worse still, she doubled down on the transgression when she was challenged about it on Twitter, although she got what she deserved in response.
It’s not the show that’s changed, it’s the culture. In your heart, you don’t think a BBC comedy show could be 100% positive about the Opposition leader and sarky about everyone else. You wouldn’t want it to! JC was actually barely mentioned last night, it was the Boris show.
If I had seen it – well, as I stated at the top, my TV set had a lucky escape.
In the name of balance, we should mention – as Beastrabban has – that Mr Corbyn is on the record as having criticised the BBC for failing to broadcast enough programmes catering for the Jewish community in the UK. That should be indicative of his attitude to Jewish people.
The BBC, of course, has ‘form’ when it comes to anti-Corbyn smears. One has only to consider the outrage caused by its grotesquely biased Panorama documentary Is Labour Antisemitic? that was broadcast in July.
But I must echo Beastrabban’s disappointment in Ms Coren Mitchell – and that of the many others who voiced similar feelings. We all thought she was better than that. How shaming for her that we were mistaken.
Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.
Stranglehold: The signer was actually interpreting a comment in a previous Nigel Farage TV appearance, but it works equally well to describe feelings across the nation at this minority party representative’s residency on the BBC in the run-up to the EU elections. The BBC is meant to be impartial; where are the other minority party representatives?
Apparently the BBC thought it was all right for Nigel Farage to appear on Question Time because other politicians were there to balance out his views.
It is true that, besides Mr Farage, Amber Rudd appeared for the Conservatives, Jonathan Reynolds for Labour and, yes, Anna Soubry for Change UK.
So perhaps it is right for Ms Allen to have been denied the chance to appear on Have I Got News For You. That would have given her minority party two appearances on the major UK TV network in two days – an unfair advantage over Mr Farage’s minority party.
And in fairness, the BBC should now be giving airtime to the Green Party, Plaid Cymru, UKIP, the SNP, the DUP, Sinn Fein and – oh, yes – even the Liberal Democrats, before letting representatives of Labour, the Tories, Change UK or the Brexit Party have another crack of the whip.
Do you think that will happen?
No. Neither do I. So much for BBC impartiality.
And here’s a relevant point:
BBC cancel Have I got news for you because Heidi Allen who is not a candidate was due to be on but had Farage who is a candidate on Question Time. Can anyone stop this disgrace?
Mr Farage is set to appear on The Andrew Marr Show on Sunday – his second appearance in four days.
With the BBC under investigation for failing to uphold its commitment to impartiality, isn’t it surprising that nobody considered this to be a mistake?
The BBC has pulled an episode of Have I Got News For You because of impartiality fears ahead of the European elections – just 24 hours after it hosted an episode of Question Time featuring the Brexit Party’s leader.
It decided to cancel the airing of the show, presented by Jo Brand and recorded the day before, because it realised it could break impartiality rules because Heidi Allen from Change UK was on the panel.
The show’s production team took to social media to apologise, as viewers turned on BBC One to find a repeat of Would I Lie To You instead.
In the statement it said: “Sorry everyone. The BBC have pulled tonight’s edition of #HIGNFY – no, we didn’t book Danny Baker. We booked Heidi Allen, a member of a party no-one knows the name of (not even the people in it), because the Euro elections, which nobody wants, may or may not be happening. Sorry.”
He implied that the figures are doubtful because there is no “check” on them.
Well, as Bono sang in the U2 song quoted above, it is very easy for a liar to doubt what other people say – or, as Ian Hislop stated in a different context in the video clip from Have I Got News For You (about Jeffrey Archer), “Takes one to know one.”
So, in the spirit of the video clip, that covers the life and lies of Lord Archer (up to 1995, when it was recorded), let’s have a look at some of the lies we can attribute to Mr … Smith. There have been so many that this article only covers a few well-known cases, and historical incidents covered by Vox Political up to around March 2013. More will be added in later, and the subject seems worthy of its own separate page on the site. For now, have a look at these facts about the man we call RTU (Returned To Unit) in recognition of his disastrous career in the Army as a bag carrier:
He also claimed he trained at Dunchurch College of Management, the former staff college for GEC Marconi, for whom he worked (briefly) in the 1980s. He completed six separate courses lasting a few days each, adding up to about a month in total. He never earned a recognised qualification there.
He employed a policy special adviser, Philippa Stroud, who was also being paid by the right-wing thinktank he set up – the Centre for Social Justice – that lobbies the DWP, knowing that the special advisers’ code of conduct stipulates that they “should not receive benefits of any kind which others might reasonably see as compromising their personal judgment or integrity”. He seemed to think it was okay for her to take public money on top of her own salary; he seemed to think it was all right for her to have a job as a senior member of a pressure group that tries to influence his department, when her role within that department was to give him advice on what to do; and he seemed to think it was permissible to allow all that and still lecture the nation about what is morally acceptable.
His DWP claimed welfare-to-work companies – firms hired by the Department to get people into jobs – weren’t paid until they had found work for a client. In fact, “The WTW [Welfare-to-Work] provider gets a £600 attachment fee. They also get paid fees for ‘providing support’ i.e. bullying her into doing what they want. Later they get an ‘outcome fee’ for making her stay in the minimum wage job of their choice. If she finds something with no help from them, they still pocket the dosh. If she finds training other than their useless ‘courses’ she gets rewarded with a sanction (benefits withheld indefinitely) to ensure compliance.” Iain Duncan Smith was adamant that no payment was made other than by results. He said: “Unlike previous work programmes that the last government did where they paid up to half the money just for taking the person on, we don’t do any of that. what we say is, the company concerned has to get them into work but just not into work; also into a job that is eventually, say, six months – that’s when we pay them.”
He is on record as saying the benefit system is “too generous” but was quick enough to take advantage of it himself: His first job was taxpayer-funded military service, carrying bags for a Major-General. After six years of this, he left the Army and spent six months on the dole. You can guarantee he was getting housing benefit for it. Current plans would give a man that age only as much as if he was renting a single room in a shared house, and one must wonder how well this gentleman would have coped in that situation. He then started a job, using the skills he had gained while being paid by the taxpayer in the Army – as a salesman for arms dealer GEC-Marconi. He moved on to a property firm, but after six months found himself back on the dole (and housing benefit, one presumes). Then he sold gun-related magazines for Jane’s Information Group. Then he got elected to Parliament, in 1992. Every year since then, he has been paid more than most taxpayers earn, and currently receives £134,565 per year. He has had four children and received child benefit for all of them. He currently plans to restrict child benefit, making it payable for only two children per household. He put all of his children through private school – with the help of his MP’s salary which is paid by, you guessed it, the taxpayer. His wife’s record of work, since they married, totals 15 months as his diary secretary – for which the taxpayer gave her £15,000. It has been suggested that she did not, in fact, do any work at all while drawing this paycheck.
At the end of December 2012 he spoke in support of the Universal Jobmatch computer system. Jobseekers were coerced into signing up (they didn’t have to) and into ticking a box which allowed Job Centre staff to view their activities and pass their personal details on to possible employers (again, not a legal requirement. If the adviser did not believe the claimant was looking for work, their benefits would be withdrawn, Iain Duncan Smith said. He said: “I’m a job adviser and I’ve got someone who doesn’t want to do this. I will haul them in a lot. Instead of them going in every two weeks, these job advisers can bring them in every day if they want, if they think they are not getting out of bed in the morning.” Universal Jobmatch very quickly became a second home for pimps, who lured users into the sex industry, and identity thieves, who used complicated ‘application forms’ to steal users’ personal details.
In January 2013, he said the previous Labour government’s tax credit system had been wide open to abuse, with fraud and error costing £10 billion. “Tax credit payments rose by some 58 per cent ahead of the 2005 general election, and in the two years prior to the 2010 election, spending increased by about 20 per cent,” he said in a Telegraph article. Between 2003 and 2010, Labour spent a staggering £171 billion on tax credits, contributing to a 60 per cent rise in the welfare bill. Far too much of that money was wasted, with fraud and error under Labour costing over £10 billion. It will come as no surprise therefore that fraudsters from around the world targeted this benefit for personal gain.” In fact, in 2003-4, £16.4bn was paid, and the following year – the one including the general election to which Mr Duncan Smith referred – £17.7bn. That’s an increase of eight per cent, not 58. The total spent on tax credits between 2003 and 2010 – under Labour – was £147 billion, not £171 billion. During that period, £11.16bn was lost through fraud and error, with only £1.27bn of that due to fraud – 0.7 per cent of the total. The claim that fraudsters around the world targeted tax credits was completely unsubstantiated as the system does not record the nationalities of claimants. However: Everyone claiming Working Tax Credits must have a UK National Insurance number. Everyone claiming Child Tax Credits must be able to show they are on Child Benefit, for which they must produce a birth certificate for each child, thereby proving they were born in the UK – otherwise, they get nothing.
A week later, the BBC quoted him as saying the Benefit Uprating Cap was necessary because inaction would leave the UK “bankrupt”, with “huge borrowing costs”. It is impossible for the UK to become bankrupt – as a sovereign nation with its own currency, it can always print enough money to get out from under debt – and in fact this has happened during the course of the current Parliament. It’s called quantitative easing. Also, UK government debt is embodied in bonds which are sold to organisations including foreign governments and pension fund operators, who snap them up as extremely reliable investments. Therefore the level of government debt is in fact an indicator of the balance between public sector and private sector involvement in government spending.
Also in January 2013, he told the House of Commons that “we have better employment figures — there are one million new private sector jobs, which outweighs the public sector jobs we have had to get rid of” – only to have this debunked by Clive Efford, who pointed out: “The argument coming from the Government benches is wholly founded on misinformation, particularly in respect of the claim that the Government have created one million jobs in the private sector… According to the Office for National Statistics, 196,000 of those jobs are due solely to the reclassification of sixth-form colleges and further education colleges.”
In the same debate, discussing Employment and Support Allowance, he said: “By and large, the benefits for those who are disabled and qualified as disabled, and for those in receipt either of support payments in ESA, disability living allowance or the premiums in many other benefits, are being uprated in line with inflation… The only benefit that is not being uprated in line with inflation is ESA for those in the work-related activity group. Some of those with disability will be affected because many in their households will be on other benefits.” This was rebuffed by Fiona O’Donnell, who said: “Disability Rights UK… has said that 1 million disabled people will be affected by the one per cent uprating, and that more disabled people will be living in poverty.”
He said: “Under Labour, public spending spiralled out of control… Labour spent taxpayers’ money like drunks on a Friday night, with no care or concern for how effective it was. Our record on getting people into jobs is better than theirs.” But Liam Byrne responded: “No doubt he, like me, will have looked at the DWP benefit expenditure tables, which show that spending on out-of-work benefits between 1996-97 and 2009-10 did not rise, but fell by £7.5 billion. That is why Lord Freud said that Labour’s record in getting people back to work was ‘remarkable’ and noted that Labour had tackled the long-term dependency on unemployment benefits that it had inherited from the Tories in 1997.” Lisa Nandy added: “Research carried out recently by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation found that no … culture of worklessness existed, and that in fact there was a strong commitment to work among people throughout the country.”
Told that the Benefit Uprating Cap would push an estimated 200,000 children into poverty, according to figures from The Children’s Society, he said: “I don’t agree that the way to get children out of poverty is to simply keep transferring more and more money to keep them out of work,” revealing a belief that, rather than receiving benefits to support them, poor children should be sent out to work.
That last comment suggests a resemblance to Tories of the Victorian era, who saw working class people of any age as a commodity to be used up as required.
In fact, Iain Duncan Smith is more similar to Mussolini – especially around the eyes. Musso was famously said to have made the trains run on time, but RTU isn’t like that.
Judging by his DWP record, if he was in charge, they’d all be empty.
Don’t expect Conservative ministers to do the honourable thing when they are found to have misled Parliament – it turns out they have ‘previous’ (or is it ‘form’?) in this regard.
Take a look at the YouTube clip above. It is from an April, 1994 episode of Have I Got News For You and refers to Nicholas Scott, then a minister of state for social security, who ‘talked out’ a private members’ bill aiming to outlaw discrimination on grounds of disability.
On behalf of the Conservative government of the day, he made it his business to ensure that it would remain possible to discriminate against disabled people.
Asked if this was true, he denied it and – as the very young-looking Ian Hislop states in the clip – “he was lying, of course.”
Angus Deayton (remember him?) fleshes out the story: “John Major previously gave his word that any minister who knowingly misled his fellow MPs should be sacked… It sounds like John Major has knowingly misled his fellow MPs as well. Perhaps he should go sack himself.”
Of course Major stood by his minister – Scott was only doing what Major had told him!
In fact, Parliamentary convention has long held that anybody committing ‘contempt of Parliament’ by deliberately misleading fellow MPs may be suspended or expelled, as highlighted previously by this blog.
The clip makes it clear that Conservatives have been ignoring such rules for decades – and that the person to blame is usually the one at the top – John Major, back in the 1990s.
David Cameron, now.
This makes sense. Look at Iain Duncan Smith, who has loudly and continually fibbed his face off about his so-called “welfare reforms”, in spite of the mountain of evidence showing that tens of thousands of people have died because of them.
That is as discriminatory as a law can be.
Commenters on this blog, in their multitudes, have asked why Iain Duncan Smith has remained in his post after setting in motion the sequence of disasters that have hit the Department for Work and Pensions on his watch. Looking at the Scott/Major affair, we can deduce that the man we call RTU has not been ‘Returned To Unit’ (in this case, the backbenches) because he has been doing exactly what David Cameron wanted – victimising the disabled in the worst possible way.
What does this say about Cameron, whose own late son was disabled? Cameron claimed all the disability benefits he possibly could, before he became Prime Minister and ordered RTU to cancel them or change their eligibility criteria so that almost nobody could legitimately claim them.
Meanwhile, Cameron has to answer for multiple offences of his own. Most recently he lied about waiting times in the English part of the National Health Service, but this article also highlights his false claim – in a party political broadcast – that the Coalition was “paying down Britain’s debts”, and the false claim that spending on the NHS had risen in real terms since the Coalition took office.
What conclusion can we draw from this? It’s obvious, really.
Your Conservative-led Coalition government has been lying to you. It is lying to you now. It will lie to you in the future.
This is not in the national interest. How can it be in the national interest for the government to pass laws that harm the disabled – and to pass laws that could harm the sick by delaying medical aid – and then lie to you to keep you quiet?
It is ideologically-motivated cruelty. Nothing more.
It will continue as long as your vote supports it.
Dangerously right-wing policies wrapped in a fuzzy exterior – but can Boris Johnson pull the wool over our eyes?
After David Cameron’s calamitously poor speech at the Conservative Party Conference, everyone seems to be touting Boris Johnson as the new Great Blue Hope for the Nasty Party.
He seems plausible, after all – a bear-like, genial-looking, slightly buffoonish, overgrown child who seems to fumble his way through his commitments, presumably on his way to a social get-together or a recording of Have I Got News For You. A friendly figure who should be taken to the public heart.
In fact, he’s nothing of the sort. His policies are more right-wing and dangerous to the poor than Cameron’s.
Let’s take law and order as an example. As London’s mayor, Boris has relieved more than 1,700 police officers of their duties, along with 1,800 community support officers. He then claimed that crime had dropped by 12 per cent. Recorded crime has indeed dropped, but only by 5.6 per cent. So he’s a liar.
Last year, he spent £50 million making Metropolitan Police civilian staff redundant.
Under Boris, social housing starts in London have fallen to their lowest level for a decade, with only 25 affordable properties being started in each of London’s 32 boroughs in the three months from April to June. That’s half the number for the same period last year. Local authority waiting lists show 366,613 households waiting for homes.
For those on middle-to-higher incomes, home ownership is an increasingly distant dream, with Shelter estimating that the average first-time buyer must now rent for 31 years before they can buy their own home – at a cost of £300,000 in private sector rent.
In this sector, rents soared by 12 per cent last year, but more than 33 per cent of homes do not meet Decent Homes standards, and tenants are often exposed to a lack of stability caused by rogue landlords and short-term tenancies.
In his conference speech, Boris announced a new “Housing Covenant”, with £100 million to help 10,000 “modest income” households become home owners – but this doesn’t event claw back the amount the Coalition government cut from London’s affordable house building budget in 2010. In 2009-10, £310 million was spent on housing for first-time buyers.
He has cut the London police force and reduced housing, despite rapidly rising demand.
What do you think he would do if he was allowed to play with the whole of the UK?
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