Friday, 27 March 2009

BBC cries wolf

This morning (Friday 27 Mar) at about 7.40 AM I was appalled at a one sided report by the BBC of the perceived threat to bankers during the G20 summit on the Today programme.

The report by Jack Izzard reporting that bankers have been told by their security advisers there is a threat of violence is akin to hearing secondhand that ripples have been seen on the shore of a pond and then telling all the ducks a fox is waiting for them on the other bank.

In an interview a banker passed on secondhand information about the measures that businesses have been taking after advice from the police and the London Chamber of Commerce without questioning the validity of that advice. The BBC fell for a classic propaganda trick. Their reporting that "people are scared" is being used to validate and inflate a threat that probably doesn't exist.

Where was their examination of the evidence of the threat by their security correspondent? I have been hearing from my City friends for several weeks that their firms are being told by the police that the climate protesters intend to "hang a banker" during G20. Something I think even they take with a grain of salt.

Much reporting has been done of the police and self interested groups like the London Chamber of Commerce warning City businesses to take security precautions and some of those firms in turn have advised pregnant staff to stay at home but reporting of this has been without analysis of the actual threats made.
The LCC says "it is believed that the majority of the protesters intend to conduct a peaceful demonstration..." so why the scaremongering?

Tiny anti-capitalist groups and even smaller anarchist groups are being linked by the police and media to tar the peaceful climate activists with the same brush although it is very difficult to pin this smear campaign on the state. The official communications won't say this, these warnings come from confidential briefings from which a process of 'Chinese Whispers' amplifies and distorts the message, creating misinformation while absolving the originator from culpability.

On any given day there are thousands of people on websites promising harm to the United Kingdom but the BBC don't give them any credence or spread panic because of them.

I've looked at the Climate Camp website and I don't see any incitements to violence or damage property there. Participation in a protest march is no more dangerous than a pop festival or football match, until the police start hemming people in and prevent them from dispersing or confiscating children's crayons and pensioners' walking sticks as articles useful to terrorism.

The Washington Times says "authorities cite intelligence information that an alliance of anarchists, anti-globalization groups and environmentalists intend to bring London to a standstill through stunts ranging from building giant sand pits in the streets to scaling skyscrapers in the city's financial district." Not exactly life-threatening or property destroying actions are they?

One university lecturer
has been accused (accused but not convicted mind) of threatening violence to bankers and this is being used by the 'water cooler' effect enabled by uncritical reporting from our media to spread concern and demonise the vast majority of people who feel lawful protest to save our planet is the only option.

Thankfully some reporting on other channels has been more considered about what the aims and motives of the protests are:

Five minutes later on the Today programme today a presenter stated the Internet is "awash with invitations to demonstrations". This paired a totally neutral fact with the spurious threat of violence and linked climate change to terrorism.

The BBC might be able defend their coverage saying it is balanced by reports elsewhere but people brushing their teeth at 7.40 AM to the Today programme don't get to hear the other side of the story when it is broadcast at 11 PM or a few days later. The Today programme to its credit did question a few days ago how police tactics
inflame violence and intimidate people not to exercise their right in a democracy.

I wouldn't go as far as say there's a conspiracy between the Govt. and BBC, in fact my Meeja friends tell me those in charge of the BBC are very unhappy with our present administration but we know the BBC can only go so far before the boot of the state comes down on them too. We now know Andrew Gilligan was right but the times have moved on to much more pressing matters, as 'they' well knew they would.

According to the Guardian War on Want spokesman Dave Tucker believes the police are behind "systematic misinformation" about the demonstrators. "They're trying to put people off a peaceful demonstration by saying we're going to be hijacked by anarchists and there will be molotov cocktails in the air. We're the voice of normal people in this country demanding more fundamental change than is being offered by politicians."

The police and LCC warnings to the City are patently basic psyops to discourage the vast number of reasonable people who believe in peaceful protest from taking part. Those people, as I would, if present, could deter and turn in those who perpetrate violence. There is ironically safety in numbers.

I have no doubt this deterrent measure will enable elements who like a good ruck to take part, or give free reign for agent provocateurs, so becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy. This will justify everything done to harass and intimidate the protesters as well as the electronic eavesdropping on ordinary people who have no agenda other than saving our planet for our children.

Once upon a time bishops and bankers and bright young things could protest peacefully against the atomic bomb and the Vietnam war without feeling this could adversely affect their futures but Grosvenor Square changed all that.

Maybe the climate change groups should mobilise 'respectable' people to act as peace monitors, to ensure the planned "theatrical protests" don't shatter the banker's plate glass windows. I would suspect though, given
the way the police treat the media today, that the state would then claim activists posing as peace monitors intend to upset the show.

Today, with tactics such as ‘kettling’ used by the police, the photography by Forward Intelligence Teams and DNA swabbing of anyone detained and other erosion of civil liberties under so called terror laws, peaceable protest now carries considerable personal risks which leaves only the most committed and most desperate and dangerous elements of society prepared to do it.

I leave it to you to consider what effect that will have on our democracy.


On 'Broadcasting House' the BBC's weekly review of the news today (Sun, 29 Mar at about 9.50 AM) journalist Anne Diamond questioned the police information and wondered if it would not be better to encourage MORE middle class people to attend the demonstrations than discourage them.

Veteran journalist Duncan Campbell wrote in the Guardian on April 2nd after the police once again kettled the G20 demonstrators; "the police's application of their "kettle" formula is that people thinking about embarking on demonstrations in the future may have to decide whether they want to be effectively locked up for eight hours without food or water and, when leaving, to be photographed and identified."

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