The problem with talking about the general tone of media and the people you interact with is it’s very hard to provide references and evidence and all that sort of thing I generally like to do. However I shall for go such matters on this occasion so that I have a hope of remaining topical, and because I’m hugely amused about the sudden desire from the like of “hope not hate” and many people on social media to have a “serious conversation about migrants”. I’m amused by this because in the past that’s been the very last thing they’ve wanted, any attempt to discuss how we might want to control immigration, put any sort of restrictions on it or even just discuss if all migration is an unequivocal good have been shut down with cries of “racist”, “bigot”, “xenophone”, “islamaphobe” and so forth. I suspect the conversation they want to have now isn’t a serious one, nor even an honest one so much as a declaration that all immigration is good. However what prompted this was people sharing this video from those defenders of free speech and tolerance “Hope not Hate”
There’s an awful lot of appeals to emotion and generalizations which dimply don’t wrong true but it does open with “Everyone knows we need a proper conversation about immigration”, which is odd given the efforts “Hope not Hate” and their supporters have gone to to shut down such debates in the past. In shutting down attempts to have a proper conversation in the past they’ve killed the chance for such a thing and for moderate views, after all if you get called “racist” for asking for such a conversation just as much as for suggesting all foreigners should be shot it doesn’t leave much room for debate. Anyway lets look at some of the claims made in this jolly little video and see how they stack up for a proper conversation.
The initial lot of claims are quite uncontentious until the claim that EU migrants support our universities with massive tuition fees which are exactly the same as UK residents as the EU doesn’t allow you to charge EU members differently. I think the claim that we’re be dead without them is a tad hyperbolic, and the claim that they keep our laws and speak our language really does need to be qualified somewhat. In the main undoubtedly true, but there is enough of an appearance that at least some groups of migrants aren’t quite so good on these points that it should really form part of a proper conversation. A bit further on he says “migrants actually want to embrace being British”, well again mainly they probably do but lets talk about the ones that don’t as well so that we can have a proper conversation. There’s then a lot of quite reasonable stuff before suggesting that the alternative position to welcoming migrants is to sling them all out, a proper conversation you’d have thought would allow for options between these extremes.
Now of course that video was all about Eu migrants, which are I suspect a far simpler case than the question of migrants as a whole. I’m quite in favour of migration it’s generally a good thing when done correctly, and that of course is the issue. For most people the conversation to be had is about migrants generally not just EU migrants and that is for years where the problem has been, a continual bait and switch when it comes to talking about migration. If you try to discuss the issues that some migrants cause you get accused of being against all migrants, any suggestion that migration might want to be controlled differently is rapidly accused of being an attack on hard working doctors and nurses and so forth. If we want to have a proper conversation about migrants then we need to talk about the bad as well as the good, and to follow Presidents trump advice let’s consider what’s going on in Sweden. Here’s another video, this time from Sweden to do just that:
A little while back the HMRC introduced the Raw Tobacco Scheme, and I as a keen gardener and law abiding citizen duly applied to register with them. Today a charming lady from HMRC gave me a call to discuss my application , despite my saying all communication in writing please but I forgive them.
The call mainly went over my application, why was I registering and such. Having established that I was registering purely as a gardener they wanted to know how many plants I have growing and how many of the annual variety I was planning to plant. When I mentioned growing several non-decorative varieties she was interested as to what size they grew to and what varieties though she’d never heard of Burley. She did then get further perplexed when I informed them that I mainly used the flowers for making wine ( recipe here ) and pesticide. The lady I was speaking to apparently had a small Nicotiana plant of some sort in her kitchen and was interested to know when it was fragrant as I’d mentioned my decorative varieties were also for fragrance, I suspect she obviously has a less fragrant variety.
Moving on from the pleasantries there were the normal verification of the details I’d provided. she also checked the following:
My ID requesting passport or driving license number
If it would be ok for someone from the HMRC to inspect my garden
If I was giving any of the leaves to anyone else
That it was just prunings and dead plants I was dealing with
What I’d be putting in the compost and what would be going in the council green bin
So really nothing to out of the ordinary, though as I’d mentioned I make wine from the flowers she did check if that was for personal consumption only. Which I assured her it was though probably just as well I didn’t mention that I bottled 145 gallons of homebrew last year. Really the only surprising thing was that they followed up my application at all and seem to be taking it if not seriously at least with a straight face. I of course immediately popped over to UK Tobacco Plants to make sure that the HMRC will have something to look at if they come round.
So long and short of it if you’ve applied to register the HMRC will be in touch, they will want to verify your ID against an official document, they may ask if it’ll be ok to visit and are going to double check that you’re actually going to do what you said you will in your application. So all in all just tediously bureaucratic. Further updates as and when things happen.
In this time of fake news and alternative facts you’d think the BBC ( especially given previous historic scandals ) might be careful about what those they give a platform to say in public. So as I have a slight interest in hunting and shooting I was interested as to how the BBC responded when challenged about false claims made by one of their presenters. In this case it was that darling of Birtish Wildlife programs Mr Christopher Packham. Mr Packham has been promoting his anti-shooting campaign claiming that Lapwings are being shot resulting in their numbers declining. He got called on this and a mere five hours later retrated the claim. The apology didn’t of course involve removing the tweets which were still being shared and used to drive people towards his government petition. His campaign to remove waders from the list of allowed game has included several foreign species, species that are already illegal to shoot and ignores the work done by the shooting campaign in conservation work for waders.
As Mr Packham has a bit of a track record for playing fast and lose with facts regarding British wildlife and various countryside interest groups some people thought that maybe it was time to contact the BBC and ask if this was appropriate behaviour for one of the presenters of a popular wildlife show. After all his appearance as an “expert” on the BBC does lend him a certain amount of gravitas and he’d not have the size of public platform he does with out it. The whole debacle garnered quite a bit of coverage, though not on the BBC whose news articles mainly talk about lapwings recovery. It will possibly come as little surprise to you that the BBC’s standard response was basically:
“Nothing to do with us guv, we only hire him and he can say what he likes elsewhere”
Or to be more precise:
Thank you for contacting us with your concerns regarding Chris Packham’s recent tweet about lapwings.
Chris’s association with the BBC is primarily for the Watches’ programmes, where he helps to explain the science of nature. This is separate from his work outside of and independent to the BBC.
Outside of his BBC commitments he is an independent broadcaster and a respected naturalist in his own right.
His personal Twitter account has no connection to the BBC or any of the Watches’ social media accounts and we remain confident that our audience is able to distinguish between Chris as a presenter on a BBC series and his personally expressed views as a naturalist.
We hope this explains our position and thank you for taking the time to contact us.
BBC Complaints Team
NB This is sent from an outgoing account only which is not monitored. You cannot reply to this email address but if necessary please contact us via our webform quoting any case number we provided.
One can’t help but wonder that the BBC is so unconcerned about their “experts” spreading alternative facts and fake news, and how their “experts” make use of the platform the BBC give them to promote their other interests. As Mr Packham was using his alternative facts to drive people towards signing a parliamentary petition – it’s hard to escape the niggling feeling that the BBC are knowingly being party to the dissemination of fake news with the intent to influence democratic processes. Which I thought we were all against – you would have thought by now the BBC would have learnt it’s lesson and if not publicly admonishing Mr Packham at least be questioning their continued involvement with him. After all they’re not shy of taking action or at least making their position clear when some celebrity or other makes some off hand out of hours comment that someone takes offence to. It could make one suspect that the BBC was happy to support the use of alternative facts when it supports agendas they agree with.