Friday, 28 October 2011

Case #3: The British Bullshitting Corporation

Depending on the response to a significant number of complaints that are being made to the BBC, they may have to be included along with the Labour party in the case files investigating the motives, intentions and methods of the government and wider establishment in their actions towards social security. I have attempted to submit a complaint to the BBC but the webpage gave me no confirmation that it had worked and ended on step 4 of the form when it jumped back to step 1. On the third attempt it finally did confirm. The complaint I attempted to submit is as follows.
I am hoping that the BBC will make a transcript available for this programme as from start to finish it appears to deliberately mislead the audience. Few claims are directly asserted by the presenter, most are made by third-parties but which are not corrected and would leave most of the audience believing that such statements were in the programme because they were true. Of those claims that are made by John Humphrys, the majority are also untrue. I can not go into specifics because there are more omissions, half-truths and blatant untruths in the programme than there are minutes in it: more than one falsehood is promoted to the audience per minute. Clarifying the context missing from the programme would require a line-by-line rebuttal.

Every inaccuracy in the programme is serious. The sheer number of them demonstrate that there was no intention to be balanced or rigorous with this investigation of social security. Talking points which are common among government ministers and newspapers hostile to benefit claimants were presented as concrete facts and clearly were intended to advance the shared agenda of all of them towards Britain's existing welfare system.

Please provide a transcript so that all of the inaccuracies can be documented in full as soon as possible, with the hope that the BBC will look at them and consider whether an apology and retraction of significant portions or the entire programme itself are necessary.
The BBC may also be broadcasting the Panorama special 'Britain On The Fiddle' next Thursday, or the complaints may cause them to cancel it. It's a repeat and the episode doesn't seem to be available anywhere nor is there much information on it, but I expect I'll also be making a complaint about that.


  1. Hi Arec

    The BBC is now just a Government propaganda site, as we all know. It has been joined by several broadsheets - especially the Guardian, again, as we know.

    However, I do still skim over the Guardian sometimes. There was an interesting quote yesterday, which I'm afraid I have been unable to resurrect, but it was by a bigwig from China - who was generally saying that the Chinese thought that Britain and the rest of Europe should rapidly dismantle their welfare systems - if they did, there would be plenty of money around for repairing all the financial damage that has been done.

    Is this one of the sources of our problem?


  2. The same thing happened to me when I attempted to complain.Interesting to follow any replies you and others get.

  3. They have to looked on why social security was implemented in the first place. Did things get better or worse for people every year that it didn't exist during the Industrial Revolution, when we were last in the grip of capitalist dominance not just of economics but politics and society? As far as I can tell, it was worse, always worse. The deciding factor though was that of young men and war.

    During both of the Boer Wars it was noted that the fitness and health of conscripts was awful. Those that had jobs worked in appalling conditions and were malnourished. Those that didn't have jobs were just merely underfed and I wouldn't be surprised if they were actually in a better fighting state than their working counterparts. The strongest and best fed conscripts would have been hardened criminals, so no wonder crime was rife in the 18th and 19th centuries. Being an asshole was the only half-decent living even if it was illegal, but being rich and an asshole had the full support of the Law.

    The problem was noted but not widely accepted until the First World War, the one that actually meant Britain saw on the horizon that as weapons had become powerful enough now to kill thousands, they would only get worse and in time there would be a war that presented the first existential threat in nearly a thousand years. Over a quarter of those called up to serve were found to be too unfit to do so. This shocked the establishment into action and the conditions of the working-class finally got taken seriously. They needed strong young men to fight and this probably made the difference between holding off invasion long enough for allies to be found and turn the tide, and total loss and surrender to the Axis. A significant number of men were still unfit however, but it was the working-class that had yet again saved Britain.

    The Welfare State was to be a 'thank you' but since the early 20th century there was an issue with making young men thrive well enough to fight; they were strong enough to fight *anyone* including their cruel bosses. The Welfare State now had to protect modern robber barons from the consequences of their actions. Where as they had previously beaten workers with the support of the Law (it's not Battery if they were provoked, say by workers slacking and costing them money), Assault was introduced as a modern protection from violence now that those workers were capable of hitting the boss back. Assault legislation protected almost no one else effectively except police officers. The Welfare State was also there so that there wouldn't be riots because bosses fired too many people who went hungry.

    Always asked what someone intends to replace the Welfare State with. With China it's ironic but their alternative to social security is to spend the money instead on a vast security apparatus that provides jobs and keeps the population in line. I've not seen any western anti-Welfare crusader call for that, so what are their alternatives?

  4. Adrian, it worked on the third time but I had to fill in every field, not just the ones that the asterisk marked as necessary. All of them I think must be filled on step 4 or else it just bugs.

  5. MD,A -finally managed to get through by sacrificing a reply.

    Meanwhile,as the populace is encouraged to rage against"scrounging" benefit recipients by propaganda dressed as journalism-

  6. @Mason Dixon, Autistic (28 October 2011):

    Two points - one trivial, the other more substantive.

    Trivia first. Where you say "conscripts" in the Boer Wars, do you mean "recruits"? As far as I'm aware, there wasn't conscription in Great Britain (Ireland was left out) until halfway through the First World War, in 1916.

    More substantive: Your picture of the Welfare State and of social conditions in the UK generally is a rather partial one, in both senses - it leaves gaps, and it's biased.

    Sure, there were plenty of robber baron bosses. But there were social reformers around too - people like Titus Salt (Saltaire), the Levers (Port Sunlight), the Cadburys (Bournville) and the Rowntrees.

    And the first major legislation to set up the Welfare State was the "People's" Budget drawn up by Lloyd George as Chancellor in 1909. It's true that the government had to get the Parliament Act of 1911 passed first to curb the power of the House of Lords (which had voted down the budget). But Asquith and his Cabinet were hardly working-class themselves.

    As for assault, that's a common law offence and thus goes back to time immemorial. It's subsequently been expanded upon by legislation, but the original offence is anything but modern.

    I sympathise with the overall thrust of your comment, but the factual basis you provide doesn't hold up to scrutiny.

  7. I too found the programme offensive. I thought that the survey questions were leading questions, and illicited the response that was given. The results would have looked a lot different, if people had been asked:

    If you were to be made unemployed would you expect the financial support of the Welfare State in return for the National Insurance contributions that you have made?

    If you were to suffer a long term sickness or incapacitating disablity would you expect your National Insurance contributions to cover you for the term of the illness?

    If you were incapacitated, who would you expect to make the decision on your incapacity? Qualified consultants and doctors who treat you, or private firms with targets to meet?

    I rather think that the conclusions would have been very different, as human nature is such that we as individuals, tend to think of ourselves as deserving, and strangers not deserving, or even scroungers.

  8. David McMahon, I acknowledge and agree with most of your points, though I wasn't aware that there was a period prior to World War One where there was no longer conscription. It has a long history in Britain and I wouldn't have considered it not happening at the height of the Empire.

    My post was already long and I don't see how I could have 'left out' what doesn't affect my point anyway. Social reformers worked against the grain of society, not with it. There was and always has been an element that makes up at least half of British society who are absolutely opposed to progressive social security in every sense except their superficial support for some vague concept of a safety net.

    Battery is a common law offence and it may have had the name 'assault' at some points but it is quite different from modern Assault, which only recently started getting unforced for victims of domestic violence. It didn't protect residents of asylums or care units. It's only recently started paying attention to children beaten by parents or guardians and the reformers in this case are up against an impenetrable barrier- the idea that children should be protected by law against Assault is for some reason controversial. Instead they are protected by a definition more in line with Battery, where 'reasonable cause or provocation' makes it lawful.

    These are my views. If you wish to assert that they are factual claims and they are in error, some citations would be nice. You can't say they don't hold up to scrutiny when you haven't actually scrutinised them, just disagreed.

  9. fascinating, a whole hour on fradulent claims based on disabilities that reciev NO AIRTIME !