Suella Braverman and Rishi Sunak: they were all smiles in this shot but one wonders how they would look in a future meeting.
It seems the last straw for Suella Braverman may have been a ‘golliwog’ doll.
The Home Secretary has been reviled by people on all sides – including her own – after she criticised police for removing the racially-discriminatory dolls from an Essex pub after the landlord sent online messages, apparently joking about Mississippi lynchings alongside an image of them.
From her own party, several people have put their heads over the parapet to criticise, with a large proportion suggesting it was a deliberate attempt to appeal to Conservative party members in case the Tories lose the next election and hold another leadership contest.
Let’s count her Tory critics. Here’s one:
A former senior minister from Boris Johnson’s government told the Guardian they believed Braverman was a “real racist bigot”.
The person said “the country is not as grotesque as she makes it out to be”, warning that the “Conservative reputation on discrimination has dropped to a new low” under her watch – “which also gives the country a bad name”.
“Suella’s comments pander to the unpleasant base instinct of a small section of the British population,” the former minister said.
“She’s not stupid, she believes she has a licence to say these things because she’s not white. But all her language does is exacerbate hatred.”
Another senior Tory said: “The politics of this leadership plan stink.”
Here’s Tobias Ellwood, who actually had the guts to allow himself to be named:
“These comments – arguably designed to appeal to a specific political cohort – do not sit well with the new, pragmatic and cooperative approach which the prime minister is now injecting into Number 10 and is seeing us improve in the polls.”
And here’s Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, a former Tory chair, who has long campaigned against racism in her own party:
“Whether this consistent use of racist rhetoric is strategy or incompetence… doesn’t matter. Both show she is not fit to hold high office.”
Earlier this week, Warsi told LBC: “I think the prime minister has to get a really strong message that this kind of rhetoric, whether it’s on small boats, whether it’s the stuff she was saying on the weekend which is not based on evidence, not nuanced, not kind of explanatory in any way, it has got to stop.
“And you know, again today, we’ve woken up to a story where she’s having a go at the police for removing golliwog dolls from a pub.”
Will Rishi Sunak act to silence or remove this liability? Or is he “insecure in his own ability”, as one of the Tories above suggested?
All we know is that this situation can’t go on. Sunak has to do something. But what?
“Nazi Germany rhetoric demeaned, otherised and dehumanised people, made them the enemy and the scapegoat of all its woes, and attacked anybody who said differently as enemies of the people.”
That’s just what Suella Braverman has been doing, of course.
And neither she nor any other Tory is telling you that asylum applications – including those from the “small boat” Channel migrants – are about half what they were 20 years ago, yet the number of asylum applications processed within six months has fallen from around 90 per cent to just four per cent, under Tory administration.
It’s typical Tory cack-handedness; they created the problem and their answer to it is a three-word slogan. It’s Covid-19 all over again.
And Pie’s explosion at Braverman daring to lecture us about British values is well worth the four minutes of your time it takes to watch this, on its own.
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“Blatantly Backing Conservatives”: the malady seems to have spread from BBC news and is now affecting all its departments. But can the Corporation bow to public demand and restore its tattered claim to impartiality?
Who would have thought that one little tweet would rock the world’s biggest public service broadcaster to its foundations?
That’s what Gary Lineker seems to have done with this message:
He was referring, of course, to the language used by Suella Braverman when she introduced her silly Illegal Migration Bill to Parliament last week – and he was right.
Subsequently, we learned that the measures in the Bill, and the language around it, would be more appropriately compared to the UK’s own treatment of Jews fleeing Nazi Germany in the 1930s – politicians of that time sent more than half a million back to Europe where an unknown number ended up being killed in extermination camps as part of the Holocaust.
Everybody should think very hard about that – and about the way politicians in both the Conservative Party and Labour condemned Mr Lineker and denied that the current Bill, or the way it was described, bore any resemblance to what happened in the 1930s.
The BBC reacted to Tory pressure the way it usually does – it caved in.
Mr Lineker was removed from his position as host of Match of the Day – and the Corporation lied about the circumstances. First we were told he was “stepping back” voluntarily until he could reach an agreement with the BBC over how he conducts himself on a social media account that is nothing to do with his employment and over which his employers should have no influence at all. Then we found out that he had been forced out.
And then the effluent hit the air conditioner.
Mr Lineker’s co-presenters on MOTD walked out in solidarity with him and everyone asked to be a possible stand-in host refused on principle.
Now, we are learning that sports coverage at the Beeb is suffering even more:
Presenters, pundits, commentators, players and another BBC football shows pulled….am sure no-one at BBC had any idea the decision to take Lineker off air would escalate as quickly or dramatically like this. And when crises do blow up like this, climb-downs become even harder…. https://t.co/BfyD9wHkwG
And the backlash has spread into other parts of the BBC.
Question Time, which actually discussed both the Illegal Migration Bill and Mr Lineker’s tweet about it, has come under fire after host Fiona Bruce played down the significance of Stanley Johnson beating his wife, in a discussion of his son Boris’s nomination of that man for a knighthood.
Here’s what she said (with apologies for the strong language used by the person tweeting it):
“Domestic abuse is never a ‘one off’, it is a pattern of behaviour that can manifest in a number of ways, including physical abuse. Domestic abuse is never acceptable.”
In a parallel with the BBC’s treatment of Mr Lineker, the charity said it had also been in talks with Ms Bruce: “She is appalled that any of her words have been understood as her minimising domestic violence. We know she is deeply upset that this has been triggering for survivors.
“Like the host of any BBC programme, when serious on-air allegations are made about someone, Fiona is obliged to put forward a right of reply from that person or their representatives, and that was what happened last night. These are not in any way Fiona’s own views about the situation.
“Fiona is deeply sorry that last night’s programme has distressed survivors of domestic abuse. Refuge stands by her and all survivors today.”
Sadly, the BBC did not see fit to support the charity’s assertion that Ms Bruce was “appalled” and “deeply sorry” for “triggering” and having “distressed” survivors.
Instead, it merely defended what happened on the programme: “When serious allegations are made on air against people or organisations, it is the job of BBC presenters to ensure that the context of those allegations – and any right of reply from the person or organisation – is given to the audience, and this is what Fiona Bruce was doing last night. She was not expressing any personal opinion about the situation.”
Not good enough.
A BBC decision not to broadcast an episode of Sir David Attenborough’s new series Wild Isles for fear that its its themes of the destruction of nature would risk a backlash from Tory politicians and the right wing press has provoked a huge backlash – not just from environmental groups but, again, from within the Corporation itself.
The sixth episode will appear only on BBC iPlayer. All six episodes were narrated by Attenborough, and made by the production company Silverback Films, which was responsible for previous series including Our Planet.
Chris Packham, presenter of Springwatch, told The Guardian: “At this time, in our fight to save the world’s biodiversity, it is irresponsible not to put that at the forefront of wildlife broadcasting.”
Green Party MP Caroline Lucas said: “For the BBC to censor of one of the nation’s most informed and trusted voices on the nature and climate emergencies is nothing short of an unforgivable dereliction of its duty to public service broadcasting. This government has taken a wrecking ball to our environment – putting over 1,700 pieces of environmental legislation at risk, setting an air pollution target which is a decade too late, and neglecting the scandal of our sewage-filled waterways – which cannot go unexamined and unchallenged by the public.”
The Guardian added that “senior sources at the BBC [said] that the decision not to show the sixth episode was made to fend off potential critique from the political right.
Again, the BBC’s response was cowardly. The broadcaster claimed the six-part series was only ever intended to have five episodes: “Wild Isles is – and always was – a five part series and does not shy away from environmental content. We have acquired a separate film for iPlayer from the RSPB and WWF and Silverback Films about people working to preserve and restore the biodiversity of the British Isles.”
If this sixth film is part of a package of such films – a series, if you will – all made by the same organisations and narrated by the same person, and all to be available together on iPlayer, then it seems clear that it is an episode of that series and the BBC is again being economical with the truth.
This behaviour – and the decision over Mr Lineker – drew the following comment from economist Richard Murphy;
So, this afternoon the BBC gives in to fascists over Gary Lineker’s support for asylum seekers and on David Attenborough’s desire to highlight the impact of climate change. Fascism isn’t a threat. It is happening here and now, with the BBC enabling it.
Finally (for now), the BBC has faced a backlash against its continued employment of Lord Sugar on The Apprentice, whose own political tweets – particularly attacking former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn – have gone unquestioned by the Corporation.
Mr Corbyn found an unlikely defender – on a BBC news programme – in Alastair Campbell. And the former New Labour press secretary didn’t pull his punches when referring to any of the scandals mentioned above:
Finally some honesty about the disgusting treatment Jeremy Corbyn received from figures at the BBC. And it’s coming from…Alistair Campbell. pic.twitter.com/sBhNOMFrIL
Are you as utterly sick of televised ‘poverty porn’ as you should be?
Night after night, main offenders Channel 4, Channel 5 – and even the BBC – flood their schedules with nonsense films designed to misinform the public about the lives of the deprived and enlist your collusion in their demonization and destruction.
It’s time somebody put a stop to it, and the United Disability Resistance Movement (UDRM) wants your help to achieve this.
“Some of us have recently been looking at asking our members to write a … letter to the individual members of OFCOM about the media portrayal of benefits ‘scroungers’,” wrote a UDRM representative in a message to This Blog yesterday.
“We think all should unite, able and disabled against the media rhetoric and narrative.
“At UDRM we are convinced that, if all protest groups worked together, we would stand a much better chance of changing things because we all want the same thing in the end. We believe there’s strength in numbers and we are already working with some other groups under the banner of ‘Unite and Fight’.”
The group is asking for anyone who agrees that ‘poverty porn’ should be stopped to send a copy of the following letter to one, many or all of the Ofcom members listed below, indicating their support for the points it makes, in a short campaign over two days between Saturday and Sunday (August 8-9).
It’s up to you.
Here’s the letter. Please consider joining this campaign.
Dear [insert name],
I am writing to complain about the number of programmes on mainstream British television and radio and in British print media at the moment which vilify, target and demonise people who are claiming welfare benefits.
People are being mocked and their struggles are being seen as entertainment when, in fact, it is day-to-day existence for many and not a fictitious variation of shows such as ‘Big Brother’. Sanctions, starvation and evictions are not ‘amusing’ or a joke, they are a reality for many and are horrifying in their brutality. People have died.
Programmes such as ‘Benefits Street’ and ‘Benefits Britain, Life on the Dole’ perpetuate the myth that claiming welfare benefits is a lifestyle choice. Vitriolic articles by so-called commentators such as Katie Hopkins incite hatred. Benefit claimants, migrants and job seekers are being portrayed as scroungers who have chosen a lifestyle of inactivity and modern-day begging. This is not the case. People claim benefits because there is nothing else they can do. People claim benefits because they were born disabled or have become sick later in life. People claim benefits because they have lost their jobs and have been unable to secure a new role. People claim benefits because employers are paying minimum, starvation wages and they cannot afford to feed and clothe their families. People claim benefits because they need help. People claim benefits because they have no choice. This is not entertainment, this is disgusting, this is frightening; this is tragedy.
Further to this, ‘Poverty Porn’ has alarming knock-on effects on the way people who have no choice but to claim benefits to survive are viewed. The result of this misinformation is the alarming increase in hate crime against those who are claiming benefits. Spying on friends and neighbours is encouraged. covert filming and recording is rife. According to the Crown Prosecution Service in 2014 there was a 213 percent increase in the number of prosecutions for hate crime against disabled people. In 2011 the report, ‘Ready Willing and Able’ highlighted the fact that 38 percent of the general public perceived disabled people to be a burden on society. On 24 April 2015 the UN high commissioner for human rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein compared British print media’s attitude to migrants to propaganda in 1930s Nazi Germany.
The TUC has stated that “The government’s austerity programme is reshaping the welfare State through cuts in benefits and the privatisation of public services, including health, education and drastically reduced state support. The impact of benefits cuts and of the associated campaign of demonisation of disabled people, the unemployed, migrants, asylum seekers and other vulnerable groups has been catastrophic. Crimes motivated by hate have wider and deeper roots, but austerity has made the problems worse.” This is not healthy. This is frightening. This can only lead to the further disintegration of our society.
I am asking OFCOM to look into this trend in the British media to publicise non-stop ‘poverty porn’ in print, on the radio and on television. I am asking OFCOM to do the right thing. I am asking OFCOM to have the courage to say ‘No More’. The public should be shown the true stories of the struggling majority, not the glamorisation of the extreme minority. Over many years the British press has been lauded for its fairness and unbiased reporting. Please do not allow this to change.
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