Tag Archives: bbc

Ed Davey talks to Today about the Horizon scandal

Ed Davey was interviewed on the Today programme  this morning about his actions as postal affairs minister during the Horizon scandal.

The BBC had obtained a briefing from civil servants to Ed in which he was advised to meet Alan Bates “for presentational reasons” and not to make any commitments to him.

Ed made the point that he had wanted to meet Alan Bates anyway after Bates’ second letter to him and, after that meeting, he had questioned the Post Office, who had lied to him. He added that it wasn’t until the BBC interviewed a whistleblower from Fujitsu in August 2015, long after he had left his post, that there was any hard evidence to go on about the problems with Horizon.

He also talked about how he had been calling for an independent enquiry and speedy compensation since 2015.

From the BBC:

However, Sir Ed told the BBC’s Today programme it “wasn’t the case” that he had agreed to meet Mr Bates because of potential bad publicity.

“That’s what the officials put in the submission to me just before the meeting, but I wanted to meet him because after his second letter, I felt I should hear his concerns,” he said.

Sir Ed said he was the first minister to meet Mr Bates and added he took his concerns “very seriously”. “When I put those concerns to the Post Office, concerns about the Horizon IT system, I’m afraid I was lied to,” he said. With a general election coming up, Sir Ed said he had not considered stepping down as Liberal Democrat leader.

“When I go out there campaigning, we’re finding incredible results in seats that only we can beat the Conservatives in,” he said. “The party is very keen for us to fight this election really hard under my leadership.”

Those of you who haven’t read Ed’s Guardian article from last week in which he recognised and apologised for his failure to see through the lies he had been told can do so here.

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LISTEN: Christine Jardine on Any Questions

Christine Jardine was on Any Questions last night along with Ann Widdecombe (representing the Reform Party), Thangam Debonnaire and Sir Robert Buckland.

She travelled to Bridgwater in Somerset.

The first question was on whether we should have closer relations with the EU, following this week’s news from Northern Ireland and the fourth anniversary of Brexit.

Christine said that Northern Ireland is a very special case and we should welcome this week’s agreement as a starting point. She pointed out that the people of Northern Ireland had been denied democracy for years because of this. Too cheers from the audience, she took Rishi Sunak to task for his comment that Northern Ireland now has the best of both world. She simply said “Didn’t we all used to have that?” She pointed out that businesses in her constituency were concerned at the amount of red tape they now have to complete to export to the EU that they didn’t before. While she didn’t see a quick path back to the single market, she thinks that that is the direction we should go in but the EU and the British people have to want it. But let’s hope that someone at Lib Dem HQ was listening to the audience cheers which surely suggest that the door is open for stronger arguments on closer relationships with our closest neighbour.

Thangam Debonnaire continued with the fiction that Labour’s Brexit would be just lovely but she sounded much more enthusiastic for closer ties than that position implied.

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22 January 2024 – today’s press releases

  • Panorama Report: Crumbling schools left in the cold
  • Lucy Frazer: Attack on BBC a desperate distraction
  • New: Met Police Officer numbers fall again

Panorama Report: Crumbling schools left in the cold

Responding to the BBC Panorama report which revealed that crumbling schools are plagued by leaks and the cold, Liberal Democrat Education Spokesperson Munira Wilson MP said:

Thousands and thousands of school buildings across the country are in dire need of investment after years of neglect from this Conservative government.

The lack of Government action is shockingly leaving children in extremely cold classrooms having to wear gloves and hats while attempting to learn.

The Liberal Democrats know that investment in education boosts our children’s futures. The Treasury needs to urgently look at increasing the funding for clearing the backlog of school repairs.

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Layla Moran talks about her family who are trapped in Gaza Church

Layla Moran has been talking to the BBC about the plight of her family members, who remain trapped in a Catholic Church in Gaza. One family member died last month and her fear for the others is clear.

The Liberal Democrat says her family are “days away from dying” without access to water or food.

Her relatives and the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem say a mother and daughter were killed inside the Holy Family Church complex on Saturday by sniper fire.

Members of Ms Moran’s extended family – a grandmother, her son, his wife and their 11-year-old twins – are Christian Palestinians who sought refuge inside the church after their home was bombed in the first week of the war.

They have been staying on mattresses along with dozens of others in rooms in the Holy Family Church for more than 60 days.

“I’m now no longer sure they are going to survive until Christmas,” Ms Moran told the BBC.

The conditions sound horrific and terrifying:

The five remaining members say they now no longer have access to food or water, and the last remaining generator – which was pumping water from wherever they could get it – has stopped working in the church.

They say soldiers entered the church compound in the last 24 hours and took over a room in a building.

Earlier in the week, the family heard shots being fired and saw bullet casings in the church compound. They say two men were killed on Tuesday while they were coming and going from the building – a bin collector and a janitor.

Layla said there was no indication why the church had been targeted:

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Listen: Christine Jardine on Any Questions

Given that half the panel had been up all night doing by-election media, it was pretty incredible that they were still going strong into the evening to do Any Questions.

At around midnight, Christine Jardine was the first to say publicly that Labour had won Mid Beds even if she did get John Curtice and John Spencer (Leo McGarry from The West Wing) mixed up i her comments.

At 8 pm, she, Tory Minister Andrew Bowie, Dame Jackie Baillie from Labour, Pete Wishart from the SNP and Blair Jenkins, former Chief Executive of Yes Scotland, the campaign for Scottish independence, took audience questions in Glasgow.

Christine was last to answer the question on Israel and Gaza and it can be quite difficult when you are the last of five people, four of whom were saying broadly similar things. She still managed to find something new, if depressing to say.

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Why we should defend the BBC

The ‘Huw Edwards affair’ has been another round in the long-running Murdoch press campaign against the BBC.  The exact details behind the charges against him as published in the Sun remain unclear; the Sun has now retreated from its initial story, and the police have said that there is nothing to justify pressing charges.  The Times fired off shots in support, listing the highest salaries of BBC presenters with a disapproving commentary – not noting the remarkably high fees that Talk News, owned by the Murdoch press and promoted ad nausea in the pages of the Times, pays to right-wing MPs and chat-show hosts for doing a few hours’ work a week.  Other papers have hinted at the not so defensible private behaviour of Dan Wootton, a former Sun journalist now with GB News and Mail Online, on which the Murdoch press has remained silent.

 The BBC attempts to hold together debates within the British national community.  The Murdoch press, from its first incursion into British media nearly 50 years ago, ha been a disrupter and divider.  Rupert Murdoch has also seen himself as a political player, expecting political leaders in Australia, Britain and the USA to court him for his support – or, at least, to moderate his opposition.  Tony Blair travelled to Australia to meet him; Keir Starmer has reportedly met him twice this year.  The aggressive style of the Murdoch media has made British politics more raucous.  But it’s in the USA, without a well-funded public broadcasting network, that it has had the deepest impact.  Fox News has given voice and encouragement to the populist right, to climate change deniers, conspiracy theorists and closet racists, preparing the ground for Donald Trump to make a successful run for the Presidency while dismissing as ‘fake news’ the evidence-based policies he was rubbishing.

While all active and fit Liberal Democrats were out delivering leaflets or knocking on doors in Somerton and Frome the BBC showed its quality in the underlying message of the opening concert of the summer Proms.  Dalia Stasevska, Finnish but born in Kyiv, conducted a concert of mainly Nordic patriotic music, Sibelius and Grieg, as well as a new commission from a Ukrainian composer.  It carried a strong implicit message of British solidarity with Ukraine and of the links we have with countries on Russia’s western border.

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The changing media for public debate

How do Liberal Democrats get our message across to the wider public?  When I was briefly the party’s assistant press officer, over half a century ago, the answer was fairly straightforward.  There were mass-circulation newspapers, with a range of political perspectives, which welcomed stories and Op-Eds; there was also a thriving regional and local press.  And there was the BBC, stolid and serious, to hold the national debate together.  I pride myself that the largest audience I have ever reached was when I wrote an Op-Ed for the News of the World for Jo Grimond: its circulation then was over 4 million.

The situation now is far more confused and difficult.  Newspaper circulation is in steep decline.  No national paper sells more than a million copies, and the ‘quality press’ sell a few hundred thousand each.  Few people under 40 bother with printed newspapers; they go straight to websites, to newspapers on-line or alternative sources.  The BBC website is reportedly the most trusted for news, but most heavily accessed by people over 40.  Younger generations choose between a very wide range of channels, on-line, audio-visual and printed.  Political campaigners struggle to keep up with changing tastes and fashions in following news and public debates.

Our written media have become absurdly biased.  I’ve almost given up on The Times, after 50 years reading it over breakfast while my wife reads the Guardian.  Over the past week it has carried articles downplaying the threat of climate change, supporting Netanyahu in his attack on Israeli judges, and a two-page spread on the pernicious ‘liberal elite’ that allegedly runs Britain – as well as the usual undercurrent of anti-BBC stories and culture-war scares.  The Telegraph appears to live in another world, in which Daniel Hannan, David Frost, Julia Hartley Brewer and others rage against political correctness, modernity and evidence-based arguments.  The Mail is even more hysterical in its headlines than it used to be.  Their influence lingers on in the way the BBC still follows the cues of their news stories, and covers ‘the papers’ in its reporting; but the evidence from surveys is that the majority of the public trust the BBC for news far more than any newspaper.

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11-12 March 2023 – the weekend’s press releases

  • Davey: Richard Sharp must resign
  • Hunt’s budget set to be “more hot air and no real or urgent help”

Davey: Richard Sharp must resign

The Leader of the Liberal Democrats Ed Davey has called on Richard Sharp to resign.

Davey has said that Richard Sharp’s position is “untenable” and blamed the Conservative Government for “systematically attacking the independence of the BBC”.

Richard Sharp has spent recent months wrapped in controversy around his role in an £800,000 loan for Boris Johnson. The Chairman of the BBC is head of the BBC Board and responsible for maintaining the independence of the BBC.

Commenting, Liberal Democrat Leader …

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Standing up to government is the only way the BBC will get out of the corner it’s backed itself into

It would be easy to conclude that if you want to have an influence on British political life you have to be a name in top-level football.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, the Manchester United striker Marcus Rashford succeeded where many politicians had failed in getting free school meals to disadvantaged children. In the past fortnight, the England women’s football team, the ‘Lionesses’, have used the leverage from their 2022 Euros title-winning run to secure over £600 million in government funding to give girls the same opportunities in sport that boys currently enjoy. And over the past few days, the former England striker Gary Lineker has been the focus of opposition to the controversial proposals by Rishi Sunak’s government to severely curtail the right of asylum in the UK (although the story of Lineker’s future as presenter of the BBC’s football highlights programme Match of the Day is threatening to overshadow his opposition to the asylum policy).

If suggesting that footballers are more influential than politicians seems a flippant remark, it’s not. We may well have reached the point where ‘celebrities’ (however you define them) have more clout than politicians, in which case their comments have to be taken more seriously than just to dismiss them as celebrity fluff – they become part of the checks and balances of a democratic society. And when Lineker talks about something of which he has direct experience – he has taken refugees into his own home – his comments come with added gravitas.

It’s important to note what he’s actually said, as some of the more hysterical reporting of it might lead you to think he’s accused the British government of sending people to gas chambers. Having described the policy as “beyond awful” in an initial reaction on his personal Twitter feed, he said in a second tweet that the proposed new UK asylum policy was “an immeasurably cruel policy directed at the most vulnerable people in language that is not dissimilar to that used by Germany in the 30s.” Note the important nuance that the reference to Germany in the 1930s was about the language, not the policy.

I must declare an interest here. My father’s side of my family came from Germany and were thrown out for being Jewish. My father came to Britain as a Kindertransport refugee, my grandfather spent 12 days in Sachsenhausen concentration camp, and great aunts and great uncles perished in other camps.

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Has the BBC been impartial over Lineker?

There was a moment last night when I wondered if we were going to see tonight’s Match of the Day presented by Jacob Rees-Mogg and Nadine Dorries after pundits and commenters alike responded to Gary Lineker’s suspension with solidarity.

Gary Lineker is a national treasure and sports presenter. While he is on telly, he talks about football. If he talked about politics, I doubt he’d have the following among football fans that he has. I never watch him because I am not a football fan. However, I have a very positive opinion of him from Twitter, where he has, for years, been chatting away about all sorts of stuff. He wasn’t a fan of Brexit, you know.

Lineker is far from the first BBC star to have political views. One of the first I remember was Kenny Everett, with his Let’s Bomb Russia comments and cruel jibes about Michael Foot back in 1983 at a Conservative Party election event.

And what about Ian Hislop and Paul Merton? They have rarely been complimentary about any Governemnt? Are they next in line for the chop?

When Rishi Sunak tweeted on Tuesday with some pride that he was removing modern slavery protections from people who arrive in this country illegally,  anyone with a commitment to human rights was rightly concerned:

Here was our Prime Minister basically giving a free pass to slavers who could then tell their victims, correctly, that there was no recourse to help. It’s hardly surprising people were angry.

Lineker’s response was strong but justifiably so. He called the Bill:

An immeasurably cruel policy directed at the most vulnerable people in language that is not dissimilar to that used by Germany in the 30s

The way in which the Tories have been othering vulnerable members of society, from immigrants to people who need social security to survive to trans people to fat people to those suffering from addictions, disabilities and mental ill health has been of concern for some years. Remember when David Cameron described migrants crossing the Channel as a “swarm?” It’s dehumanising and creates a culture where vulnerable people are seen as a threat and not as fellow human beings just like us. It’s done to set people against each other to distract from a failing government.

Our Tim Farron is both a mad football fan and passionately pro supporting refugees. He tweeted:

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BBC Radio is 100 – but what is the future of world and local radio?

One hundred years ago today, the now British Broadcasting Company started broadcasting radio.

But what is the future of public service radio in and from the UK? The world is going digital but at a very unequal pace. Not everywhere can access digital services at an affordable price, if at all.

The BBC has announced major changes to its local radio service. Local broadcasting will be restricted to eight hours during weekdays – 6am to 2pm. After that, stations will switch to sharing programmes across a wider area. News will be gathered over larger areas. Along with the loss of local voices, there is likely to be a reduced focus on the very local news that BBC local radio excels in.

The World Service is reducing its commissioned and syndicated programming content in favour of more news, which is already becoming like a tape on an endless loop. I fear that, driven by budget cuts, we will become a less effective nation in communicating with the world, reducing our influence and our status as a mature democracy and a world leader.

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Happy 100th Birthday to the BBC

The BBC turns 100 today. We’ll all have our special memories of it. For me, my first ever favourite tv programme was Play School which I wanted to watch every single day. One of my favourite presenters was Floella Benjamin, now of course a Lib Dem peer. The BBC shared a video of her singing Happy Birthday with Hamble, my favourite of the toys

Blue Peter was such a big part of my life as a child, and particularly the annual appeals which gave everyone a chance to help others.

It was watching Roots in 1976 and seeing the appalling depiction of slavery that started me off on the journey to being a Liberal. The Doctor encouraged me along that road with his curiosity, respect for others and eccentricity.

The BBC World Service has kept people informed in good times and bad.

It is revered across the world, for the quality and range of its programmes. We need to protect its funding model and status as a unique public service broadcaster.

Senior Lib Dems have marked the centenary.

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Cole-Hamilton praises public service broadcasters’ role in telling truth about Ukraine war

Scottish Lib Dem Leader Alex Cole-Hamilton this week praised our public service broadcasters for their reporting of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. He described how the BBC was keeping Ukrainian people informed through short wave broadcasts while Russian forces attacked other methods of communications. He pointed out that we don’t get that level of service from Netflix subscription.

His whole speech is below:

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16 January 2022 – yesterday’s press releases

  • Dowden defence of No10 parties ‘pathetic’ say Lib Dems
  • ‘Back off our BBC!’ say Lib Dems

Dowden defence of No10 parties ‘pathetic’ say Lib Dems

Responding to Oliver Dowden’s appearance on BBC Sunday Morning, where he defended the Prime Minister and blamed an ‘underlying culture’ for the Downing Street parties, Liberal Democrat Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Layla Moran MP said:

This pathetic attempt to defend Boris Johnson will just fan the flames of public anger against this rotten Conservative government.

Boris Johnson is once again blaming those around him instead of taking responsibility.

If he really is angry about these parties, he must be furious with

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Hell has no fury like an editor scorned

Paul Dacre, a doyen of the right and former long term editor of the Daily Mail, is raging. In a letter published in The Times this morning, he tells the world that he wants to set the record straight following “increasingly hysterical speculation from the left-wing media” on whether he would be applying again to be chair of Ofcom. He tells us he will not be submitting a new application while lambasting civil servants for working from home and “exercising on their Peloton bikes and polishing their political correctness”.

This episode arises from an attempt by Boris Johnson to stich up the Ofcom appointment. When the original selection panel did not appoint Dacre, Boris Johnson called for the selection panel and criteria to be changed, echoes of how he later tried to change the rules over the suspension of Owen Paterson. This debacle has only pumped more oxygen on the flames of sleaze that are engulfing Boris Johnson’s government.

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How sound is our democracy?

The ongoing Paterson affair offers us the opportunity and motivation to analyse our fragile and imperfect version of democracy.

That MPs can, and sometimes do, receive large sums of money to represent the interests of organisations and individuals shows that, if unchecked and effectively unregulated, we are in, or on the way to being, a plutocracy and not a robust, deep democracy.

It would be more efficient to double the pay of MPs and ensure that they did not take monies from the fat wallets, individual or corporate.

The decreasing popular support of political parties makes them ever more likely to be taken over by the fat wallets, which also takes us along the path to plutocracy.

Limiting contributions to a ratio based on the minimum wage would limit this trend. Similarly, paying MPs on a ratio fixed to the minimum wage would bring a democratic facet to the relationship between the rulers and the ruled.

This might help mitigate the continuing inter-generational unfairness of recent decades. The “Deficit Myth” has been used to make tertiary education a commodity instead of an inter-generational gift. This has harmed tertiary education, of which there is not enough range, and impoverished recent generations who have been further harmed by rising housing costs, encouraged by HMG.

Democracy is more than an electoral system which returns a government for which the majority have not voted. One of the two parliamentary houses is not voted for.

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Towards a one-party culture in the media

We should all be concerned that not only is this a populist government, but they are using Boris to ensure that the media sees every event from their point of view, thus brainwashing people into thinking that any criticism is not to be taken seriously. We have long complained about lack of attention to the Lib-Dem leader, but we should be concerned about the lack of attention to the Labour leader too. Conservatives are intent on squeezing any challenge to the margins, including a diminishing of the independence of the BBC and the case of Martin Bashir and Lord Hall gives them the ammunition they need.

We must learn from what happened over Brexit when, for over a decade, the Brexiteers worked hard at getting more of the public on their side. We assumed that they so distorted the truth that people would see through them, but they did not, mainly because they spoke to people’s basic emotions.

We have seen the bias in comments about Dominic Cummings’ appearance before the select committee on 27th May, slanting it to the first Covid wave and Dominic’s own lack of credibility, rather than focussing properly on what actually happened, especially in subsequent events.  Before that ‘interview’ I wrote a letter to my local paper and it was published on 26th May:

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The new BBC guidelines are a threat to a healthy democracy

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The BBC faces criticism from people across the political spectrum for perceived bias. The left accuse it of being full of Conservative Oxbridge graduates; the right accuse it of being stuffed with do-gooding lefties. Remain voters shame it for giving Nigel Farage and Boris Johnson a disproportionate voice; Leave voters are convinced that its coverage verged on making it a campaigning tool for Remain. On the whole, this suggests that the BBC gets it broadly correct. I myself feel it leans too much towards a sort of moderate conservatism, but then as a proud liberal leftie myself, I suppose that’s only natural.

The question of what exactly can be considered political is an interesting one. On the face of it, introducing new rules to ensure political impartiality in an era when it has never been easier to inform the world of your views makes perfect sense. But the reality of this, and the extent of Tim Davies’ new rules, are nothing short of a chilling attempt to placate a government that wants to be set free from the constraints of scrutiny and criticism.

Perhaps most headline-grabbing of these guidelines is the ban on BBC journalists attending LGBTQ+ marches, on the grounds that it is a ‘controversial’ issue. It is shocking that in 2020, supporting equal rights for LGBTQ+ people is considered controversial. That in itself is a political statement, and a phenomenally illiberal one.

Then consider how inappropriate it is that a white, Cambridge-educated male who has previously stood as a Conservative councillor is telling his staff that they can’t attend Black Lives Matter demonstrations or express their support for the movement. That is arguably more of a political statement than allowing staff the freedom to express their opinions in a personal capacity. I’m sure that sixty years ago, expressing support for the civil rights movement in America would have been considered controversial. Two hundred years ago, opposing the slave trade might have been seen as overly woke, hand-wringing liberal nonsense.

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Watch Ed Davey on Question Time tonight!

Ed Davey makes his first appearance as leader on BBC Question Time tonight. The virtual audience comes from Chingford, which is one of the places where co-operation between us and Labour could get rid of a notorious Tory. In December, Iain Duncan-Smith scraped home ahead of Labour by 1200 votes. We polled 2700 in third.

Here’s the full panel:

Peter Borg Neal is the CEO of Oakman Inns so will no doubt have strong views on both being told to shut at 10pm and the economic announcements today. Devi Sridhar has become a very familiar face during the pandemic with her analysis of what is needed.

We have already called out the inadequacy of the Chancellor’s measures today. Christine Jardine slammed the lack of a proper plan for economic recovery and the lack of respect for the budget setting process in the devolved parliaments:

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15 July 2020 – today’s press releases

  • Liberal Democrats secure PM commitment to independent inquiry
  • Consequences of Government cuts for BBC is now clear as day
  • Failing Graying has undone PM, now ISC must publish Russia report
  • PM running scared of real scrutiny from Intelligence Committee

Liberal Democrats secure PM commitment to independent inquiry

Acting Liberal Democrat Leader Ed Davey has today secured a commitment from the Prime Minister to an independent inquiry into the Government’s handling of the Covid-19 crisis and called for the timetable to be set out immediately.

Speaking during Prime Minister’s Questions today, Ed Davey warned that under Boris Johnson’s leadership the country has suffered “one of the worst death rates in the world and Europe’s worst death rate of health and care workers.”

Making reference to Boris Johnson’s support for an independent inquiry into the Iraq War, the Liberal Democrat Acting Leader again urged the Prime Minister to “commit in principle to a future independent inquiry”.

In response, the Prime Minister accepted his Government will “learn the lessons of this pandemic” and confirmed there will be in independent inquiry.

Ed Davey was the first party leader to call for an independent inquiry, back on the 21st of April, and the Liberal Democrats have consistently made the case since.

Speaking after the exchange, Acting Leader of the Liberal Democrats Ed Davey said:

The Coronavirus crisis is taking an enormous toll on people and our country.

It is clear the Government has failed on so many fronts – failing to prepare properly for a pandemic, failing to protect care home residents and social care workers, and failing to properly communicate their plans and so much more.

With so many loved ones lost, people deserve to know what happened. After months of refusing the public that opportunity, I am pleased the Prime Minister has finally accepted Liberal Democrat demands for an independent inquiry.

The Prime Minister must now set out the timetable of this inquiry, and it must begin as soon as possible. The Government must be held to account to ensure that the same mistakes are never repeated.

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10 July 2020 – today’s press releases

  • Cross-party group urge BBC to save Politics Live
  • Homeless covid deaths should act as a wake up call
  • Government unwillingness to work with EU is unforgivable

Cross-party group urge BBC to save Politics Live

A cross-party group of MP​s have called on the BBC to adhere to its obligations as a public service broadcaster and make a “firm commitment” to the future of Politics Live amidst reports the show could be axed.

Liberal Democrat MP Daisy Cooper, who coordinated the cross-party group, warned the BBC that dropping the show would “seriously harm the ability of the BBC to scrutinise and explain the consequences of …

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LibLink: Christine Jardine MP: Coronavirus crisis shows why the BBC is so special

Our public service broadcaster is the focus of Christine Jardine MP’s Scotsman column this week. She highlights the corporation’s role in keeping the nation informed in a way that other broadcasters simply can’t:

In this crisis more than ever in my lifetime I am aware of those two words which set the BBC and to a less extent Channel 4, apart from the purely money-making platforms of the technological explosion: public service.
How many over 75s, or low-income households would have been able to afford pay per view services to keep up to date with health advice or social services?

Would those independent

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BBC witch hunt

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I am not keen to join in the witch trial of the BBC, which is more about giving Conservative politicians less scrutiny and destroying competition for organisations that only want to get rid of the BBC, so they can rake in more money for their shareholders.

It isn’t possible to go to jail for paying the licence fee; that is a myth, you get a fine only. However if Council Tax, which is actually quite a similar charge, is a civil offence then the licence fee should follow, but that would also result in a fine. The only difference is the lack of a criminal record.

The licence fee rate was set by the Conservative Government when it wrote the BBC’s Charter in 2016, so the BBC can’t charge what it likes. Unfortunately there is no provision to vary the charge for ability to pay or a person’s wealth. Next opportunity to amend this is the charter renewal in 2027.

Most countries have a state broadcaster. Do we want to go down the road of Russia and have it state funded via taxation but controlled by the Government?

Do we want it to be an independent commercial company left at the mercy of market forces and see it ditch its unprofitable parts to avoid going bust?

Do we wanted it to be funded by its users and therefore free of Government but answerable to the audience? I prefer this but with more freedom to raise money from other sources (currently something like 25% commercial/other income and 75% licence fee), so the licence fee rate falls instead of rises.

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Don’t carelessly jettison the European inheritance of the BBC in trying to modernise it (Part 2)

Part 1 can be read here.

The clinching factor for all continental Europeans from 1939 was the role of the BBC World Service during the Second World War; and the fact that the BBC World Service on medium wave could be received on car radios, and on transistors on European beaches and gardens in many of the present EU member states. The stupidest budget cut of the Coalition Government in 2011 was, in my eyes, cutting this medium wave availability, restricting the BBC World Service to local DAB+ stations, and to BBC4 at 4.00 o’clock in the morning.

Don’t underestimate the prestige and love that the impartial, objective reporting of news by the BBC (from disasters like Dunkirk to victories like El Alamein) acquired in occupied Europe, where all peoples suddenly lost freedom of speech and got 1984-like manipulated news. The BBC in 1939-’45 also hosted national exiled broadcasters in their own time slots, like Radio Orange for the Dutch. In so doing the BBC even helped establish an obstreperous French officer (marginalised in his army top brass; a political nobody) with a battlefield commission as a lowest tier general, as a pivotal figure in all French politics from 1944 until his death in 1969. The BBC thus helped form EU postwar history; ITV or Sky can’t possibly claim that.

The BBC programming and drama meantime had a huge influence on the continent; smaller national broadcasters such as those in the Benelux countries readily bought BBC programs and directly rebroadcast them or reworked them. I learned my first English from the BBC “Walter and Conny” language course around 1967. The socialist broadcaster VARA put out the Onedin Line; and the daily NTS/NOS radio and TV news readily quoted and quotes the BBC on British and international events.

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Don’t carelessly jettison the European inheritance of the BBC in trying to modernise it (Part 1)

I’ve just been watching the BBC Newsnight broadcast of Monday 20 January 2020, which was mainly filled with debate about what the future of the BBC could or should be in this Netflix, social media platform world we live and work in today.

I’m deeply concerned that Britain, while thinking of how to adjust to the 21st century mass- and social media landscape (and post-Brexit geopolitics), risks ignoring the inheritance of prestige, respect and exemplary performance the BBC has grown to acquire with all inhabitants of the EU.

Now that Brexit is upon us, Britain risks losing the mobilising force in the EU of its BBC broadcasts and programmes. This is just at a time that the whole gamut of its institutional ties in the EU framework (with Euratom, Erasmus, Eurojust, EMA, EU Social Fund, etc, plus the Brussels diplomatic channels and Comitology) have been cut in one great, very foolhardy swoop, only partially and years later to be replaced with special bilateral arrangements between EU and UK.

These EU branches never were important issues in the Brexit debate in 2015-’19; the only time Downing Street discussed Euratom was around the moment of triggering Article 50, when they suddenly realised that mechanism would be jettisoned too. Erasmus and EMA are mentioned in passing.  See Tim Shipman, “Fall out: A Year of Political Mayhem”, Harper Collins, London, 2018, p24, 39, 116-7; look for the other terms in the indexes of this book and his “All Out War” on the Referendum: none!

Let me fill in some personal and Dutch facts so you can see where I am coming from in this debate.

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17 November 2019 – the overnight press release

Lib Dems begin legal challenge against BBC for Swinson exclusion

The Liberal Democrats have instructed a legal team to write to the BBC in response to the public service broadcaster excluding Jo Swinson from their election ‘leaders’ debate’.

In the letter, the party’s lawyers warn that the exclusion of one of the leaders of the three main UK-wide national parties is “clearly unlawful”.

President of the Liberal Democrats, Sal Brinton, has said “voters of this country deserve to hear from a Remainer on the debate stage, not just from the two men who want to deliver Brexit.”

The Liberal Democrats have …

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8 November 2019 – today’s press releases

  • Lib Dems: If the PM thinks NI deal is so good – why doesn’t the rest of the UK have it?
  • Lib Dems: BBC now complicit in establishment stitch-up to exclude Remain voice

Lib Dems: If the PM thinks NI deal is so good – why doesn’t the rest of the UK have it?

Responding to comments made by Boris Johnson that Northern Ireland has got a great deal by keeping access to the Single Market and free movement, Liberal Democrat Shadow Brexit Secretary Tom Brake said:

The Single Market and freedom of movement are a great deal – even Boris Johnson

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Layla about to be on Have I got News for You

And it looks like it’s going to be a treat.

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ICYMI: Complain to BBC about coverage of Lib Dem local election win

There are two elements of the BBC’s coverage of the local elections that are simply ridiculous and need to be complained about.

The first is their oft expressed line that the message the voters were giving to the Conservative and Labour parties is that they wanted them to get on with Brexit.

So that would be why they voted in huge numbers for the party whose aim is to stop Brexit, then, is it?

The Liberal Democrats gained over 700 seats, a spectacular feat by any standards. We put in our best ever performance in terms of seat gain in a local election. The message is clear – a significant proportion of the electorate want this Brexit nonsense to be stopped.

The second

Seriously. The BBC’s flagship political programme has no guest from the Liberal Democrats on the weekend after we won a national election.

That has to be disgraceful by any standards.

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Jo Swinson on Question Time: Brexit is a national embarrassment and we can stop it

It’s Jo Swinson’s first week back from parental leave and already she’s done more than most of us letter mortals do in a month.

We’ll have more of that first week over the weekend but for now I want to concentrate on her appearance on Question Time last night.

She was brilliant – clear and passionate, describing Brexit as a national embarrassment and showing how a People’s Vote could get us out of the mess we’re in. The programme came from Islington, her fellow panellist Emily Thornberry’s patch but Jo got way more applause than the Labour shadow foreign secretary did.

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