Sunday, March 27, 2011

BBC tries to play down violent aftermath of union-backed protests endorsed by Miliband

Peter Hitchens writes in The Mail on Sunday about the BBC's appallingly biased reporting in the build-up to yesterday's union-organised rally/family fun day/full-scale riot in London - you need to scroll a good way down the Mail's comprehensive report on yesterday's events to get to his contribution. Hitchens writes about how the BBC's Newsnight and Radio 4's Today programme gave predictably sympathetic coverage to the anti-cuts protestors.

This morning the Corporation (I used to use 'the Beeb' as an alternative reference for the BBC, but I've decided that's far too twee and cuddly-sounding – 'Corporation' better evokes the vast and sinister nature of the organisation) is in full damage-limitation mode, after the rally and march were followed by widespread violence.

The headline on the BBC's website (my bold) is 'TUC condemns post-rally violence', and the sub-heading is 'Union leaders who organised an anti-cuts protest condemn later violence in London's Trafalgar Square in which some 200 people were arrested'.

(The story itself is placed below a report on a murder which, horrific as it is, only affects and is of interest to a handful of people, in a further attempt to minimise its significance).

The second paragraph of the main report says: 'Hours after a peaceful march to Hyde Park, there were clashes between police and protesters in Trafalgar Square.

All of this is a lie.

 The violence began while the march was still in full swing, not after. And you don't have to take my word for it – just read further down the same BBC report:

The trouble began after demonstrators broke away from the main march and headed towards the shopping district in London's West End.

So the trouble clearly began while the march was still in progress. Unless, perhaps, the breakaway group headed towards the West End, then stood around doing nothing for a couple of hours, waiting for the march to end, and then started attacking police and smashing up shops.

It also proves that, far from having nothing to do with the rally and march, as the BBC would like us to believe, many of the troublemakers were fully involved in the official, union-backed and Labour party-endorsed events.

The BBC's website reports also play down the numbers involved in the violence, using phrases such as 'small groups' and 'splinter groups'. But it's clear from the footage that at least a couple of thousand people, and possible several thousand, were involved in the violence either directly or peripherally.

And when large-scale violence of this type breaks out, it's always the case that the police only arrest a tiny minority of those involved; so if they managed to arrest more than 200 yesterday (with lots more to come, hopefully, as the police study video footage), it's a safe bet that thousands, rather than hundreds, took part in the violence.

There's nothing wrong with pointing out that the majority of those at yesterday's rally and march were peaceful, but it's quite wrong to try and pass off the violence as the work of a handful of extremists who have nothing to do with the broad anti-cuts coalition.

This isn't the first time we've seen large-scale violence in response to the government's necessary austerity measures, and such clashes are going to get more frequent, and more serious, as the cuts continue to take effect.

But the BBC is desperate to minimise the scale of yesterday's rioting because it wants to protect the reputation of the anti-cuts movement, which it wholeheartedly supports (see separate post going up shortly), and in particular the reputation of Labour leader Ed Miliband, who addressed the rally.

It's too bad that the government apparently lacks the will to push back against the BBC's distorted reporting. As ministers continue to look for places to make cuts, they could start by removing taxpayer funding for the liberal propaganda machine that passes for the BBC's News and Current Affairs department.

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