BBC Complaints: The link you need!

Saturday, 22 August 2009


The BBC can be very shoddy when it comes to reporting matters European. I've blogged here before about the unsavoury government of Slovakia, which is led by the Robert Fico's left-wing SMER (Social Democrat) party but which also includes the unpleasant HZDS of Vladimir Meciar and the far-right Slovak National Party of Jan Slota. In recent days Fico banned the Hungarian president Laszlo Solyom from visiting Slovakia to unveil a statue of Hungary's first king (picture above, in a stunning bronze by Bernini). This obscene pandering to anti-Hungarian feeling is only the latest disgusting act by this unholy alliance. It has also banned the use of minority languages in the public services - a law which comes into effect on 1 September). Wikipedia is very revealing about Messers Slota, Meciar and Fico - and Slota especially is a real piece of work. (He makes Nick Griffin look like Sir Ming Campbell.) Please look them up.

Last night's 'The World Tonight' covered the story by interviewing the Slovak foreign minister, and the BBC website (briefly) reviews it here:

If you have clicked on the link provided I think you'll agree that it is a bit short on detail - to put it mildly. I'd have expected more, wouldn't you?

Similarly Robin Lustig's interview with Miroslav Lajcak missed a lot of tricks.

I have several beefs with all this.

Firstly, the BBC has failed to set this in context. You have to go beyond the BBC to find out what is going on in Slovakia and why this row is as toxic as it is.

Secondly, the BBC is playing games with labels again. Bias by labelling is much in evidence. You would not know that the xenophobic Slovak government is led by a leftist government from either of these takes on the story. You certainly wouldn't know that it's a member of the European Socialist group & that it sits with Labour in the European parliament. If it had been a centre-right party in coalition with neo-fascists you can bet every pound in your pocket that this would have been mentioned! Moreover, their 'country profile' (linked to in the above story) is all over the place:
Just read the political labels in this article and spot the crazy internal contradictions, as well as the omissions. Remarkable, aren't they? It's a very shoddy article.

Thirdly, and related to this last point, Mr Lustig did not ask Lajcak (a SMER man, according to the Internet. I certainly wouldn't have known from the BBC!) about his coalition partner's (Slota's) anti-Hungarian, anti-Roma, anti-gay, anti-everything-the-BBC-stands-for policies, which the SMER-led government seems to be being driven by at the moment. Surely this can't be because SMER is a social democratic party? A centre-left party? Surely not. A biased BBC presenter? Perish the thought!

Finally, given the flak directed by the BBC at the European allies of the Conservative Party (and to a lesser extent - if only because the Beeb chooses to ignore them as much as possible - UKIP), as chronicled throughout this blog, wouldn't you have thought that some Labour politician (say Denis MacShane) might have been invited on to discuss the matter? Might then the BBC interviewer not have asked him, "Why don't you press for SMER to be suspended (or expelled) from the Socialist group in the European parliament? How can you sit alongside a party that is happy to be in coalition with neo-fascists? How can you be friends with the party that heads a government that behaves so outrageously towards an EU neighbour? Why is the Labour Party not threatening to withdraw from the Socialist group if SMER is not suspended (or expelled)?" I'm not holding my breath in anticipation of such an interview (or, even more, such interviews). There certainly should be one though - if the BBC is being fair.
I've e-mailed Timothy Kirkhope, leader of the Conservative MEPs, with these concerns. Hopefully, he will raise the matter in all the right places.

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