Friday, April 29, 2005

The BBC Applies Sanctions

US/Private business investigating Chinese textile imports = ridiculous and self-interested.

EU/God knows who pulls the strings = serious and conciliatory ('the EU's trade commissioner on Friday made a plea for Westerners to avoid protectionist thinking.'-see second link above).

Funny how the Beeb don't mention that in fact, while the US government is under pressure from business affected by imports, EU textile manufacturers are also pressing the EU for limits to Chinese imports (not that we in Britain have any textile manufacture to get angry about protecting).

Bearing this kind of one-sidedness in mind, is it coincidental that America always has to bear the brunt of the anti-glob mob's ire?

Meanwhile, on the subject of China, Mark Steyn continues his thoughts on matters oriental in the Spectator Magazine.

The art of Steyn is quite a philosophical one. He builds on core themes, is unafraid to repeat points of view and even the means of their expression. I don't think this is really repetitious, any more than a philosopher who builds his theories from certain arguments which require reiteration is being repetitious.

One of the central ideas in the article about the 'sovereign individual' (the second Steyn link above) was that migrant workers in the West would return to their homelands (eg. China, India) as these opened up to trade and development, offering the chance for clever committed migrants to prosper by returning home.

Steyn had a bit of grief from some blowhards who thought he meant that China was a beacon of human rights- an issue he addresses in the second piece.

The main reason he concentrates on the EU and Canada as the likely fall guys in this projected trend, meanwhile, is what he fairly calls the 'death bed demographics' of their huge territories.

Block by block he builds what seems a likely framework for the future.

I suppose it's not surprising then, given this degree of insight on the part of one writer working with materials gleaned from many sources, that the BBC have pricked up their ears at the notion of immigrant re-migration- but their take is rather different. They focus solely on human interest stories and guess who the fall guys for this process are? Yep, the US- with it's relatively prosperous economy and naturally growing population about as conspicuous to the Beeb as the horizon is to an ostrich with its head in the sand.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Election Selection

In the BBC's coverage of the British election, they take care to include a page about Iraq's WMD's and the partys' stands on them. This is surprising, in a way, because I don't think Howard ever accuses the Prime Minister of fabricating the reality of Saddam's WMD threat- what he deplores is Blair's casual use of the broad brush WMD argument, and in a deceptively direct way he calls this lying. Strictly speaking I think Howard is right, and Kennedy is wrong in saying that Blair misled us. Kennedy sounds like a good guy as usual, but in fact is calling Blair a fool as well as a knave. Howard is in fact the moderate because he accuses Blair of playing fast and loose with facts, which is a safe bet with Mr Blurr. There is no doubt he and the Sun did that.

Meanwhile, the Beeb were only too pleased to state its own definition of Charles Duelfer's conclusions to add a spin to a band wagon which doesn't represent the views of the main political opponents to Blair. Howard of course should make this clear, but he doesn't seem to see the need, relishing any criticism of Blair rather than the right criticism.

However, Captain's Quarters in a well argued post says that the MSM, with of course the BBC at the fore, have jumped far too soon and far too clumsily onto Duelfer's WMD negatives. The story's an old one, but it's important not to lose sight of it.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Good times roll for the Beeb.

Just over a year ago the BBC were in crisis as Lord Hutton's report caused the departure of three key BBC men: Gilligan, Dyke and Dayvies (ok, Gilligan wasn't too key, but his symbolism was.)

As a long-term BBC critic I can say those were heady days, yet I didn't feel too optimistic because our success came down to the good fortune (thank Tone) of having an old-fashioned, undiplomatic judge, and a BBC which decided (wisely, in one sense) that drastic action was required.

That drastic action, which gave people like me so much entertainment, saved the BBC for another day. They won their battle to have their charter and license fee renewed.

I knew, at the time, it would have been better for us had Dyke and co. hung tough, played down the Hutton findings after having briefed their journalist friends to expect the worst, and been the target of the New Labour machine thereafter.

That having been avoided, the BBC needed only to wait for events. Apart from the re-election of George W. Bush, which was an event not really on the BBC's beat anyway (though they love to dabble), these have favoured the Beeb.

First and foremost of course was the charter renewal I've already mentioned. That gives the BBC the breathing space which none of their commercial competitors enjoy. I've no doubt they're taking pleasure in it.

Second is the fact that their general scepticism about WMD, always a political football, has been given cover by both the trend towards questioning the war from all points of the political spectrum, and the findings of the likes of Duelfer which give no concrete support to those who proposed a WMD inclusive argument. Other related 'good news' for the BBC, given their pitch pre-war, might be the failure of the Volker report to eviscerate the UNscam, and the success of Gorgeous George in using a libel case to sweeten the stench given off by the anti-war mob, while punishing some of the BBC's detractors.

Third is that, after sacrificing to appease New Labour, the Beeb have been rewarded not only by their charter renewal, but by the cover that comes from having reconciled themselves with the party that is likely to be in charge of the political situation in the 'base country' for the foreseeable future.

That's why the Beeb now seem far surer-footed, despite lapses which demonstrate their innate tendencies. Some examples of surefootedness here and here that I would call good journalism were it not for the fact that the only good journalism that comes from the Beeb comes when their ideological budget affords it. In other words, when it doesn't damage their ideological agenda. It's so much easier to control those tendencies though when they have a defensible position in the scheme of things, and an assured future. When the Augean stables looks set to remain a major employer, it isn't hard to get the stable-boys to keep trying to freshen the top layer.

So, am I downhearted? No, is the answer to that- because the whole exercise is about recognising the BBC's institutional nature, and feeling the weight of its velocity, so as ultimately to destroy it if it will not be radically altered. The Gilligan-Dyke-Dayvies phenomenon showed how deep the BBC's culture runs, and how important it is to the socialist project as it has been conceived in Britain. Two deep-dyed socialists (Dayvies and Dyke, especially Dyke) fell on their swords to save the BBC and deliver it into today's calmer waters. Only by understanding that can I hope, in a small way, to facilitate the perfect storm which will end the BBC and all it stands for.

Monday, April 25, 2005

A clear view of what makes Tony Blair an overwhelming favourite for the election emerges from this article by Micklethwaite and Wooldridge in the LA Times.

There's a pathetic predictability in the way they describe Howard's success in appealing to Conservative support:

'the Conservatives have run their best campaign in a decade, talking tough on "dog-whistle" issues such as crime and immigration (in which their core supporters respond instinctively, even if you cannot hear the whistle).'

Whether they realise it or not, they have encapsulated the very quality in the British public's mentality at present which makes Howard's pitch unfeasible. The view of dog-and-whistle Conservatives is very far from the reality, since today's Conservatives have to grasp hold of things that matter through a fog of opposition. The British people are currently blind to Blair's simplism, locked into a false consciousness of celeb laden Britpop-inspired anti-Thatcher soft-focus love-see-no-colour complacency. All Tony Blair has to do is pose with a few celebs and babble on about how he and Gordon have mastered the economy and he's, as Campbell is said to have said, home and dry.

What's tragic is that history's real opportunities are passing us largely by as Blair poses for the cameras. The economy is only successful because of previous decades' reforms and the dividends of globalisation. Blair and Brown are simply setting us up for a fall by signing a contract with bureaucratic dead-ends, with the longer term vista of Europe their only get out clause. All the time they are setting up new shibboleths, such as the new vows they are making to the NHS, which cannot be sustained in the new world order that is coming.

Oh well.

To get a flavour of the greek tragedy that is the modern Britain's mindset, this Melanie Phillips post is a good place to start.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Outrage! There ought to be some, though the fact that I have only heard about the BBC's rent-a-heckler scheme to barrack Howard, as far as the MSM is concerned, from the Telegraph and a little snippet on Sky suggests that it will slip smoothly down the well-worn memory sinkholes out there. (This first link is to BiasedBBC's snippet-summary.)

However, I have to say that I agree with David Vance that 'The BBC is a menace to democracy in this country and that is one more reason why it should be privatised.'

This follows from my agreement with the Rottweiller Puppy that 'The fact of it is that when you're actually bringing in demonstrators and filming them while they disrupt a political rally, you've stepped across the wire, so to speak, between filming the news and actually manufacturing it. This isn't documentary-making, it's political activism.'

One could add to that nascent chorus USSNeverdock's conclusion: 'What a pathetic, biased and bumbling organization the BBC has become.'

My own view (to add that) is that this incident is not surprising. Observing the Beeb's tendancy to highlight every utterance of Howard on the subject of immigration it's clear they feel he is one step away from warranting 'Griffining'. They've been itching to have a go at Howard for weeks, and in the spirit of over-zealous theologians if there isn't a heckler for Howard then it's time to go and invent some.

An interesting insight into the media world we live in is available if we contrast the BBC's unheralded manufacturing of stories (which, as we know from Gilligan and other incidents is something of a Jayson Blair-like habit on a grand institutionalised scale) with the reaction to a very simple Channel Five documentary gleaned merely from dropping in on life in average British Comprehensive schools. Laban Tall has that story.

A couple of things are confirmed a little for me by this story. One is that British schools are about as bad as your worst intuition might have told you. Another is that Channel Five is a place where interesting outcast programme-makers can find some of the interest they deserve.

Lifting my gaze for a moment from the squalidness of what can be called the detritus
of cool Britannia, I note that some big events are taking place around the world. This post from the diplomats at the New Sisyphus blog, and this from Mark Steyn, are sufficiently sobering to make me see that Howard's seriousness in taking on Blair, and the disservice that even the most moderate or supportive media are doing him, are really quite serious matters indeed. We need a serious leader for the coming years, and we can't afford a lame-duck Blair or a scheming Brown, but the MSM in Britain is likely to deliver us to them.

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