BBC Complaints: The link you need!

Tuesday, 3 November 2009


Last night's Newsnight discussed immigration in the wake of Alan Johnson's speech on the subject. Michael Crick's report featured 3 talking heads. Among them were the Conservative Chris Grayling (not praising Mr Johnson) and Labour's Frank Field (praising Mr Johnson). The other head was someone Crick introduced as an "immigration analyst". This made him sound like an independent expert - another classic example of bias by labelling (see label for types of bias). It was actually Tim Finch of the left-of-centre, Labour-aligned think-tank, the Institute for Public Policy Research, who did criticise Alan Johnson, but did so from a stance of sympathetic understanding and, of course, from a left-wing, pro-immigration perspective. Why not some-one from, say, Migration Watch? Because this is a Michael Crick report, that's why. Of course he'd rather go to the IPPR.
Where was the pro-Labour bias in a report that might, at first glance, seem more balanced than usual?
It came when he mentioned the controversy caused by comments by a former Blair advisor, Andrew Neather:
See also
This was the story, as told by the Telegraph:

"The huge increases in migrants over the last decade were partly due to a
politically motivated attempt by ministers to radically change the country
and "rub the Right's nose in diversity", according to Andrew Neather, a former
adviser to Tony Blair, Jack Straw and David Blunkett.

He said Labour's relaxation of controls was a deliberate plan to "open up the UK to mass migration" but that ministers were nervous and reluctant to discuss such a move publicly for fear it would alienate its "core working class vote".

As a result, the public argument for immigration concentrated instead on the economic benefits and need for more migrants.

Critics said the revelations showed a "conspiracy" within Government to impose mass immigration for "cynical" political reasons.

Mr Neather was a speech writer who worked in Downing Street for Tony Blair and in the Home Office for Jack Straw and David Blunkett, in the early 2000s."

How did the Labour-loving Crick report this? "Last month Andrew Neather, a former aide to Tony Blair, caused a fuss by saying that in its early years Labour had eased immigration controls to help business but also encourage multiculturalism."
And that was it!
No mention, you will have noticed, of the "politically motivated attempt by "rub the Right's nose in diversity"". Crick here is positively Alistair Campbell/Malcolm Tucker-like in his spinning of a story harmful to the Labour government. (And from the same stable, note also the use of the word 'fuss' to downplay the story even more.)

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