Cataloguing inaccurate, lazy and biased reporting on devolution…
Hardly a day goes by without someone, somewhere in the media inaccurately reporting on devolution. Often this is presenting England only issues as affecting “this country”, “Britain” or the “UK”. We think it’s about time the media woke up to the harsh realities of devolution and started telling us the truth.
Please send us your sightings of inaccurate, lazy or biased news reports or articles. Email us direct on info(at)thecep.org.uk or twitter your sightings on @thecep
Watch this space…
Polly Toynbee has written a lengthy peice in the Guardian’s Comment is Free entitled: Even the pro-market Blairites know the NHS faces chaos.
Of course these reforms affect England only – but no-where in the article is there any mention of England or even the “regions” so beloved of Guardianistas. In her summary she says of the reforms “I cannot think of any policy so dishonestly sold” well Ms Toynbee rarely has a story been so dishonestly told.
Worth a listen is this weeks Any Questions from Wrexham . Peter Hain Shadow Secretary for Wales repeatedly crows about the protection given to Welsh services and assets by the Welsh Assembly. And he’s right – but what a shame Mr Hain doesn’t come out in favour of a parliament for England.
Another one from the BBC. You would hope that the BBC’s political editor would understand how devolution works and which areas of legislation are devolved by now. But sadly it appears not. This recent post about NHS reforms was entirely about the UK government’s “reforms” of the English NHS but yet again England was not mentioned. Anyone not already in the know, would assume from this report that the reforms applied to the whole of the UK and not just England.
Come on Nick. You know the British government can only directly reform the English health service. Don’t leave it to the audience to correct you.
Toque draws our attention to an article published on the Welsh politics page of the BBC News website:
“So an English MP breaks the conspiracy of silence and complains that the Barnett Formula and West Lothian Question are unfair to England.
And how does the BBC report this? Well it’s obvious, innit? The BBC puts the story on the front page of the BBC Wales website but makes absolutely no mention of it on its England page.”
It’s clearly in the public interest for the people of England to know what their MPs are saying, especially on something as important as the Barnett Formula. Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales all have their own politics pages on the BBC News website but there no such page for England – despite the fact that most Westminster business affects only England.
Most England only politics stories end up bundled with the “UK” politics items on the main politics page www.bbc.co.uk/news/politics/ but strangely not this one.
Please take a moment to complain to the BBC about the disgraceful way they’ve hidden this article from the people most affected. Perhaps more importantly please send a complaint to the BBC Trust it’s time the BBC stopped failing the people of England.
BBC Trust Unit
180 Great Portland Street
There’s lots of talk about the coalition’s “NHS” reforms this morning. As health is a devolved issue these reforms of course apply to England – not that you’d know that from some of the reporting.
Take this Daily Telegraph report for example. Cameron doesn’t mention England and the Telegraph doesn’t bother using the E word either.
The BBC who do seem to be improving in some ways make the territorial extent obvious but in an interview with David Cameron on the Today programme this morning England was mentioned once at the beginning of the interview and afterwards “this country” was used instead.
Surely the territorial extent of the UK governments reforms is key to holding them to account? And how about some comparison of services between “UK” home nations?
Question Time BBC1
After the English tuition fees vote in the UK parliament there was plenty of coverage and discussion of the issue on the BBC.
Half of Question Time the BBC’s flagship politics show was dedicated to the English tuition fee rise. No-one on the panel mentioned England by name preferring the ubiquitous and highly misleading “our country”.
After thirty minutes of discussion about the tuition fees issue David Dimbleby sheepishly mentioned England once (29 mins in on BBC Iplayer). Mr Dimbleby failed to set the context of the fees a the beginning of the programme. He repeatedly failed to correct the panel who were all more than happy to have the fees discussed in a UK wide context, and he completely failed to accurately inform the public viewer and license fee payer.
Radio 4 Any Questions
More of the same from Any Questions, last Friday night. Not one “England” despite again the tuition fees issue dominating the show. This time it was Jonathan Dimbleby that failed the listener. The difference with Any Questions is that there’s an Any Answers live the following day where several callers set the record straight.
According to reports even Newsnight failed to point out that the vote at Westminster only applied to English students.
It all adds up to a fundamental failure by the BBC to accurately broadcast to the people of this country – that’s this country England, and this country the “UK”. Everyone in the UK deserves fair, impartial and accurate reporting from the BBC we all pay for.
It seems the BBC has decided to completely ignore the research, conclusions and recommendations of the King Report.
So much of the news since last Thursday has been about tuition fees that I can only conclude that it is deliberate BBC policy to avoid saying “England”.
Daily Mail. Barriers go up around Parliament as 1,000 police officers get ready to face 20,000-strong demonstration in London ahead of tuition fees vote. Daily Mail forgets why there’s a massive protest and whose affected.
Telegraph. Tuition fees rise is ‘sustainable and fair’, says David Cameron. No mention of territorial extent in report or video presentation.