The Royal Family are Exempt From Freedom of Information Requests and Can Veto BBC Programmes. Why Do We Put Up With This?

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Courtesy of Yasmin Alibhai Brown @ The Independent:

As you know by now, Prince Andrew has been accused by a woman known as Jane Doe 3 of being “forced” by Jeremy Epstein to have sex with him when she was a teenager.
He was named in court documents in the US, although not as a party, and the tabloids have been full of further salacious claims. Buckingham Palace forcefully denies these allegations.

The story will not end there, but for now that is all we can say on this particular scandal. It should, however, raise questions about our monarchy, its role and position, the devious, secret way it operates.

The Magna Carta is now 800 years old. In June 1215, rebellious Barons got King John of England to sign a charter that guaranteed them status and entitlements and protected the Church from royal interference. The document did not give every subject fundamental equality and rights. It was a charter by and for the upper classes. Still, there will be events marking this much mythologised moment throughout 2015.

OK, so let join in with this latest national commemoration, part truth, part fantasy. It may encourage us all to contemplate and renew our faith in liberty, freedoms, fundamental human rights and democracy, which came much later.

But how is that possible when the family at the top of the social structure undermines every one of the ideals and principles that our nation proclaims at home and abroad? The incantations sound hollow and meaningless. Continue reading

BBC World Service Fears Losing Information War as Russia Today Ramps Up Pressure

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It’s simply propaganda in 2014, not news. Courtesy of Josh Halliday @ The Guardian:

The BBC World Service is being financially outgunned by Russian and Chinese state-owned news channels, its former director Peter Horrocks has warned, amid high-level concerns that Britain and the US are losing a global “information war” with the Kremlin.

Horrocks said ministers should review Britain’s spending overseas and consider freeing up extra World Service funding to combat the wave of Moscow-backed propaganda sweeping Europe.

“Medium to long term there has to be an anxiety about the spending of others compared to what the BBC are putting into it,” Horrocks said. “You can take a view of the overall national interest and things we spend on international influence, like military spending. When you look at that it would take it in a certain direction.”

International alarm over the rise of Kremlin-funded news, led by 24-hour news channel Russia Today, has intensified following Vladimir Putin’s military intervention in Ukraine and his feud with the west.

David Cameron told MPs he had raised with President Obama his concern about Russian news channels “pumping out a distorted picture” of events in Ukraine after the issue was raised by leaders in the Baltic states at the G20 summit in Australia.

Horrocks, who stepped down earlier this month as the executive in charge of the BBC’s global news operations, said the corporation had asked the Foreign Office (FCO) “whether there’s anything they want to do with development funding for extra programming for Ukraine” but he had not yet had a reply.

FCO funding for the World Service stopped in April, with the £245m annual budget now coming out of the licence fee. Despite this shift, Horrocks said “considering supplementary funding [from the FCO] is something that could be on the policy agenda and could be part of the discussion about the BBC’s future”.

He added: “We are being financially outgunned by Russia and the Chinese but there’s no way we’re being outgunned on the results [global audience]. The role we need to play is an even handed one. We shouldn’t be pro-one side or the other, we need to provide something people can trust.”

Demand for BBC World Service output has soared since the Ukraine-Russia crisis began. The corporation’s Russian-language service has more than doubled to 6.9 million listeners, while in Ukraine its audience has trebled to more than 600,000 since last year. Continue reading

George Osborne’s Deficit Reduction Plan Requires Unprecedented Binge in Personal Borrowing

Courtesy of Andy Grice @ The Independent:

The public will have to go on a £360bn borrowing binge to make George Osborne’s deficit reduction plans add up, an analysis by The Independent has found.

According to the small print in the latest report from the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR), the public is forecast to add to its pile of unsecured lending, which includes credit card debt and bank overdrafts, by £360bn over the next five years.

If the public fails to spend, then growth would collapse and the Government’s deficit would be likely to start increasing again.

The £360bn figure represents a £41bn increase on the OBR’s forecasts just nine months ago and would take households’ unsecured lending, as a share of total household incomes, to a record 55 per cent by 2020. That would be well above even the pre-financial crisis unsecured debt ratio of 44 per cent.

The revelation came as the head of the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) think-tank branded the spending cuts that Mr Osborne has pencilled in to take place in the 2015-20 parliament as “colossal” and suggested they could involve “a fundamental reimagining of the role of the state”.

However, the Chancellor defended his economic plans in a round of media interviews, attacking the BBC for what he called its “totally hyperbolic” coverage.

The household debt projections unearthed by The Independent reveal just how reliant the Chancellor’s economic plan is on households increasing their borrowing over the coming years.

The projections are likely to prove embarrassing for the Government given the emphasis ministers have repeatedly placed on debt reduction.

In 2011, David Cameron was forced to rewrite his speech to the Tory party conference after an early draft showed the Prime Minister was about to urge households to pay off their credit card and store card bills. Today, economists warned of the implications of the OBR’s household borrowing projections.

“The idea that households are either willing or able to take on so much new debt at such a rapid pace is questionable at best and highlights significant imbalances in the shape of the economic recovery” said Matthew Whittaker, of the Resolution Foundation think-tank. “The apparent reliance of economic growth in the coming years on another surge in private debt should worry economists and politicians alike.”

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The Chancellor defended his economic plans (PA) Continue reading

2015 General Election: Green Party will Not Appear in TV Debate alongside UKIP – says BBC

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Courtesy of Kashmira Gander @ The Independent:

The BBC had said it will not include the Green party in next year’s proposed 2015 General Election TV leader debates, rejecting demands that the party should receive the same coverage as Ukip.

The broadcaster argued that Ukip has seen a substantial increase in support unlike the Greens.

But the Green party responded by accusing the BBC of concentrating too much on its past performance.

Earlier this month, the BBC, ITV, Sky and Channel 4 announced joint plans to hold three debates in the six weeks before polling day. One would be a head-to-head between Mr Cameron and Mr Miliband. The second would involve these two leaders and Nick Clegg, while the third would also include Mr Farage.

As it emerged that the Green party faced exclusion, almost 200,000 people signed an online petition calling for the party to received equal coverage to Ukip as both have an MP.

In a letter to the Green party’s director of communications seen by the Guardian, the BBC said: “Ukip has demonstrated a substantial increase in electoral support since 2014 across a range of elections” supported by a robust trend across a range of opinion polls.

“The Green party has not demonstrated any comparable increase in support in either elections or opinion polls,” the letter went on. Addressing successful Green performances in elections at the expense of the Liberal Democrats, the BBC argued the shift “has been mainly the result of the decrease in support for the latter as opposed to a significant increase in support for the Green party”.

It added that opinion polls do not yet show that the Greens are currently at a level pegging with Nick Clegg’s party.

“Even if they did, we would still, of course, be taking as our starting point the result of the 2010 general election, where the Lib Dems took more than 50 seats and 23% share of the vote, demonstrating a level of electoral support overall substantially ahead of the Green party,” the letter continued.

Continue reading

Frankie Boyle letter about BBC in full

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Courtesy of The Telegraph:

Obviously, it feels strange to be on the moral high ground but I feel a response is required to the BBC Trust’s cowardly rebuke of my jokes about Palestine.

As always, I heard nothing from the BBC but read in a newspaper that editorial procedures would be tightened further to stop jokes with anything at all to say getting past the censors.

In case you missed it, the jokes in question are:

“I’ve been studying Israeli Army Martial Arts. I now know 16 ways to kick a Palestinian woman in the back.

“People think that the Middle East is very complex but I have an analogy that sums it up quite well. If you imagine that Palestine is a big cake, well… that cake is being punched to pieces by a very angry Jew.”

I think the problem here is that the show’s producers will have thought that Israel, an aggressive, terrorist state with a nuclear arsenal was an appropriate target for satire.

The Trust’s ruling is essentially a note from their line managers.

It says that if you imagine that a state busily going about the destruction of an entire people is fair game, you are mistaken. Israel is out of bounds.

The BBC refused to broadcast a humanitarian appeal in 2009 to help residents of Gaza rebuild their homes.

It’s tragic for such a great institution but it is now cravenly afraid of giving offence and vulnerable to any kind of well drilled lobbying.

I told the jokes on a Radio 4 show called “Political Animal”. That title seems to promise provocative comedy with a point of view.

In practice the BBC wish to deliver the flavour of political comedy with none of the content.

The most recent offering I saw was BBC2’s “The Bubble”.

It looked exactly like a show where funny people sat around and did jokes about the news.

Except the thrust of the format was that nobody had read the papers. Continue reading

Syria crisis: MPs ‘right to reject military action’ – BBC poll

I’ve written and posted quite a lot in regard to Syria, I believe this conflict is a line in the sand that can’t be crossed! The evidence is sloppy, the reasons are geo-political and due to a certain pipeline, the country is secular and one of the oldest in the world. I cannot detract on why the revolution started but the war between Sunni and Wahabbi AlQaeda insurgents and the Shia and Alawite is unnecessary. The media has spun a story which is untrue and suspect on every turn, we’re all being played. Our support should be going to the refugees of the conflict and not Al Qaeda.

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Courtesy of The Beeb:

Almost three-quarters of people believe MPs were right to reject UK military action in Syria, a poll commissioned by the BBC has suggested.

The poll also suggested 72% did not think the move would damage the UK-US relationship – and two-thirds said they would not care if it did.

ICM Research spoke to 1,000 adults in England, Scotland and Wales by telephone between Friday and Monday.

Downing Street has said there will be no second Parliamentary vote on Syria.

The government lost last week’s Commons vote on supporting, in principle, military action against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s in response to a suspected chemical weapons attack.

‘Firmed’ opinion

The BBC poll suggested 71% of people thought Parliament made the right decision.

By a small margin, a greater proportion of men – 72% – thought MPs made the right decision than women, where 70% agreed.

The BBC News Channel’s chief political correspondent Norman Smith said the BBC poll appeared to suggest that public opinion had “firmed up” against any military action in Syria.

He said that underlined the difficulty Prime Minister David Cameron had in trying to bring any debate back to Parliament.

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Almost half of people questioned – 49% – thought the vote would hurt Britain’s international reputation, with 16% believing it would hurt the country’s reputation a lot.

But 44% thought it would not make any difference.

More than two thirds – 67% – thought the so-called “special relationship” between the UK and the US was not relevant in the modern age.

Those aged under 35 appeared a bit more concerned than most about the UK’s standing, with 57% agreeing the country’s reputation would be damaged.

Voters appeared split on their opinion of the way the prime minister was handling the situation, with 42% disapproving and 40% approving it, giving him a net approval rating of -2.

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Labour leader Ed Miliband had what was known as a “net approval rating” of -6 for his handling of the issue, with 33% of people approving of how he conducted himself and 39% having the opposite view.

However, the figures were significantly better than their wider recent approval ratings.

A poll for ICM in May of this year gave David Cameron an approval rating of -15 and Ed Miliband an approval rating of -22.

During the period in which the poll was carried out, President Barack Obama said he would consult Congress about military action, and the US Secretary of State John Kerry said Washington had evidence that the nerve agent sarin had been used by the Syrian government during the deadly attack in Damascus.

But it appears that the British public have little appetite to participate in any joint military response, said BBC political research editor David Cowling.

“[There is] emphatic support for what the parliamentary parties have done, [and] emphatic views that this is not really damaging the special relationship, which I know is a matter of concern for many politicians,” he said.

He went on: “What strikes me from this poll and other polls that we have seen is that the British public certainly don’t have an appetite for our [military] engagement but also don’t see any link between us and what is going on in Syria.

“Nobody underestimates or understates the appalling damage that has been done over the last two years in Syria but there seems to be no will at all for the British people to be engaged in any military activity.”

The poll’s findings are broadly in line with other opinion polls asking similar questions, which have also concluded that a substantive majority of people are against UK military involvement in Syria.

A YouGov poll of nearly 2,000 people on Wednesday suggested 50% were against a missile strike, while 25% were in favour.

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Meanwhile, a poll of nearly 2,000 people carried out by Opinium Research for the Observer newspaper on Saturday found 60% were opposed to British military action.

The interviews carried out for the poll were then weighted to the demographic profile of all adults across Britain.

BBC spent £28m of licence-fee payers’ money gagging 500 staff

Quality use of the licence payers fee, hush money for whistleblowers, wonder what they knew? I’m thinking of not paying the fee. You can write to the BBC and tell them you dont watch “live” broadcasts, revoke their right of implied access and never have to pay again!

how to deal with the tvl or bailiff in three easy steps here

They have no authority and cannot use force in a civil matter. They are trespassing and committing a criminal act if they come on your property after being told they no longer have the right.

This is Lawful Rebellion and the full article from the Telegraph:

According to figures released under Freedom of Information, in the past eight years 539 staff have signed gagging orders at a total cost of £28million.
The scale of the pay-outs led to accusations that the BBC was using the agreements to silence potential whistle blowers and victims of bullying or sexual harassment.

They were disclosed to The Daily Telegraph ahead of the publication of what is expected to be a highly critical report by the National Audit Office next month. Lord Patten, the chairman of the BBC Trust, has already admitted that the findings will prove “difficult” for the corporation. Stephen Barclay, a Conservative member of the Public Accounts Committee, said: “These payments are at odds with the fundamental values of the BBC and a betrayal of the licence fee payer.

“They expect their hard-earned money to be spent on supporting creative talent and world class programmes, not on payments to silence people.”
The BBC confirmed that almost all of the settlements, known as compromise agreements, contained confidentiality clauses.

Tony Hall, the new director-general of the BBC, was so concerned by the scale of the payments that he introduced a £150,000 cap on severance payments in one of his first moves in his new role. The biggest pay-offs were made to BBC managers, with 77 executives receiving more than £100,000 and 14 over £300,000.They include George Entwistle, the former director-general who received a £450,000 pay-off, double the amount he was contractually entitled to.He resigned last year in the wake of the Jimmy Savile and Lord McAlpine scandals after spending just 54 days in the job.

Two unnamed individuals were given pay-offs worth £500,100 and £524,681, while Sharon Baylay, the former director of marketing, received £392,000.
The pay-offs were also BBC staff who signed the orders after claiming they were victims of bullying or sexual harassment. Miriam O’Reilly, the former Countryfile presenter who won a landmark case against the BBC for age discrimination, was offered a five figure settlement by the corporation in exchange for her silence.

She rejected the offer. “These gags are so legally binding that people cannot even speak to their spouse about them,” she said. “They are wrong. The BBC as a public service broadcaster is renowned for honesty, truth, and freedom of speech. They should not be stopping people from telling the truth.”

The true cost of the agreements is likely to be significantly higher, as the figures do not include the costs of legal advice for the BBC and employees or other benefits such as health cover, counselling and training.
A BBC spokesman defended the use of compromise agreements as “standard practice”. He said: “The BBC always insists that individuals take independent legal advice before entering into them. “In light of BBC Director General Tony Hall’s commitment to cap severance payments to £150,000 in all circumstances from September there will be no further severance payments above this level in future.”

The corporation said the rights of whistle-blowers were protected by law.
The biggest number of payments was made in 2009, when 95 individuals signed compromise agreements at a cost of £5.4million.