Wednesday, 28 March 2012

The Truth Before The Star Chamber

Tomorrow the BBC Trust will meet to discuss my appeal against a decision made by the Complaints Director Andrew Bell to only consider 11 examples of problems with the BBC programme The Future State Of Welfare With John Humphrys as specific points of complaint, rather than my complaint as a whole. My complaint as a whole was that the programme lacked factual rigour and the standards of research and fact-checking fall way short of what the public should expect from a public service broadcaster. This programme did not serve the public; it served a singular political viewpoint which was obvious to many who watched it, many who were well-informed of the issues surrounding welfare and led them to complain about bias in the programme.

Whilst I too witnessed both overt and more slippery bias, my complaint was specifically in regards to the attitude the programme makers showed towards the Truth. Rather than shine a light, the programme consistently misled the audience. Anyone not already informed of the issues it covered would believe much of the programme's suggestive content and aspersions, as well as the outright falsehoods.

I have been shown a copy of what the trustees will see tomorrow and been permitted to comment on it to correct any inaccuracy and I most certainly did so. Had I left my response any later than I did(in between double-checking my correspondence with the BBC and struggling to manage at being alive), then the Trust would have read immediately at the top of the page a complete misrepresentation of my position, without context or qualifiers. I feel I have been as reasonable as I can be and yet had nothing but polite bad faith in return. No matter how well-mannered, it's still wrong and even at this level, it has not stopped. Tomorrow they will read my reasons and an accurate descriptive history of my correspondence with the BBC, then they will discuss it and make a decision. That decision will be ratified more than a month later on May 3rd 2012.

If this decision finds in my favour, Andrew Bell must either investigate within the parameters of my original complaint or come up with a different reason for why he should not. If it finds against my appeal, I expect to be given clear and sensible reasons why not and if that is the case then this case will have just one more piece left: my long and tedious work on a scene-by-scene rebuttal of The Future State Of Welfare With John Humphrys, pointing out factual errors, misrepresentations and misleading sign-posting. I will ask everyone who has campaigned on disability and welfare issues in the last two years to make sure that rebuttal is disseminated as widely as possible, so that the BBC or the programme makers are forced to answer for it.

If they find in my favour and Andrew Bell conducts a proper and thorough investigation that concludes the programme should not have been broadcast as it was and a full retraction is given; the rebuttal will be a formality which will signal an end to this matter and an end to what has now become case file #3. The implications however, will live on and will be doggedly pursued to the ends of the Earth by an Autistic Sauron death-glare. The investigation is always ongoing.

Monday, 26 March 2012

A New Case And Year In Review

It's been over a year since I opened The Files and it's probably time to do some spring cleaning. First of all, I'm planning on merging most existing case files into Case #1 because I've started even confusing myself. Everything I have pretty much covered in them is in regards to public policy on welfare in Britain; the stakeholders, the decision-makers and debate facilitators and participants. I had considered that stuff relating to the welfare to work industry should have it's own case file, however- the companies involved have on repeated occasions shown themselves to be VERY litigious.

I do not have the resources or connections to protect myself from this, as such anything I can really say about them would be things already in public circulation elsewhere.They will be included in Case #1 rather than be placed in Case #6 which is being deleted.

Other issues will be moved round. My complaint to the BBC regarding The Future State Of Welfare With John Humphrys and soul-crushing rebuttal of the programme will be the new Case #3, so I might actually be able to finally close a case. In all I will now have three clearly defined case files now until more stuff comes along, I just need to actually go through all my posts re-tagging and re-naming them into case files #1 and #3.

Which brings us to Case #2, a case I've had open personally but not written anything. Case file #2 is in regard to Autism. Where Case #1 is about public policy on welfare and Case #3 is BBC policy on factual rigour- #2 is public policy on the place of Autistics in Britain. I've had a lot to grumble about since the Autism Act was passed in 2009. It puts an obligation on all local authorities in England to count how many Autistics use their services, to have an Autism policy and to advertise services that will specially benefit Autistics. My problem is that local and national government have avoided responsibility by lumping Autism in with generalist disability provision. Before the Autism Act, the problem was buck-passing between mental health services and learning disability services. Autism is neither of these, so it's always been unclear who is responsible for Autistics. The solution many agencies have come up with is utterly inadequate; they have to work together but just treat Autistic service users as mentally ill or learning disabled depending on the situation, in order to secure some service. This is a stop-gap at best.

But what's kicked me out of my aimless torpor on this issue was an infuriating piece of news I received a week ago: of all the local authorities and agencies in England- North Yorkshire is the only place where absolutely none of them have done what the law now requires them to. I'd like to say that as bad as local authorities around the country have been, at least what they have done is better than nothing. I can't go that far. But what I see here is that the indifference of North Yorkshire County Council, borough councils and parishes(but mainly NYCC themselves, who are in charge of the largest authority in England outside London) means that they have a chance to get it right because they haven't already set themselves down the same path as everyone else.

So, rather than just moaning about how crap local governments in England have responded- I have a goal I can actively pursue with my own local authority. It might even get me out the house.

Case File #2 is now open.