So why does the BBC let producer, Alison Pedley, support the far right?

The BBC’s Question Time is a programme that helps shape public political opinion in the UK and has been running since 1979. In recent times the programme has frankly, turned into a freakshow where intelligent, or informed political discussion has vanished into the ether. Endless appearances of people like Nigel Farage ( as of the time of writing this, 37 appearances) and audience members seemingly culled mainly from the right of the political spectrum gives the impression that the UK, as a whole, is skewed to the right. Even so, Question Time retains a place in British political discourse, as well as society, few programmes have and any of the criticisms of right wing bias can feel a tad overwrought at times. After all, surely the BBC wouldn’t be as stupid to has a clear political bias on a programme like Question Time as that’d be a public scandal?

In the last week or so news has broke about a producer on the programme, Alison Pedley. Specifically she invites people into the audience after screening applications. This Bella Caledonia article covers the basics of what was discovered which is that Pedley wasn’t just supporting far right, anti-immigrant racist groups like UKIP and Britain First,

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Pedley’s been reprimanded by the BBC but the damage is done, and she’s still employed by the BBC on the programme, and til recently, her social media feed still displayed images like the one above. Her social media (her Linkedin still remains) has now been deleted but the damage is irreparable and very firmly done. The reaction to this from the left has been that of anger and wonderfully articulated by Jack Monroe.

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And in those Tweets there’s a point. Imagine if Pedley had say, booked figures from the left from say, the SNP, Greens, those leftish Labour people left or Plaid Cymru on a regular basis on the panel rather than a cursory one, maybe two per week? Imagine if she’d booked more left wingers, or even centrists rather than loons like this later revealed to be a member of the hard to far right Orange Order to the surprise of nobody. Imagine the horror and outrage from the Daily Mail had Pedley worked to skew Question Time with left wing, even liberal idea?

Yet the damage Pedley’s done to the national discourse in putting her own far right politics into her job could not just be far reaching, but a look at her IMDB shows the potential scale of her influence, as people may have missed that she’s also worked on other programmes as Alison Fuller. Seeing that she started the job on Question Time in 2007 and it was around then audiences seemed to swing mainly to the right, and it was around then Nigel Farage started what seems like a residency on the programme.

So I agree with the likes of Jack Monroe. A bollocking isn’t good enough. There’s been a conflict of interest, and Pedley’s used her position to corrupt British political debate to make it seem the far right are more numerous in the general population than they actually are. The BBC need to not just sack Pedley, but launch an inquiry as well as apologise for what they’ve done or whatever trust the BBC has left is going to go sinking down the drain.

A few words about the murder of Jo Cox

I’ve put off saying too much about this due to the frantic amount of rumour, but what is clear now is the killer (fuck saying his name, we know it so no point giving him even more publicity) was in some way politically motivated. Hilary Clinton described the murder as an ‘assassination’  and I fear once the dust has settled she may well be right. Whatever the cause, this changes everything, or at least, it should do because look at what happened on Thursday; we stared with Nigel Farage standing in front of a poster which was akin to Nazi propaganda, to the murder of a British MP on the street.

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Well today any doubt was blown away. The killer (and as said, I refuse to use his name but it’s in this report and this is the only time you’ll see it from me) said this when being charged today:

Asked at Westminster magistrates court on Saturday to confirm his name, Mair said: “My name is death to traitors, freedom for Britain.” The judge then asked the defendant’s lawyers to confirm that his name was Thomas Mair, which they did.

Yet scour the internet and you find people excusing the killer. He was ‘mentally ill’ as if all mental illness is the same or in fact it is incapable to be mentally ill and a terrorist. You know, like the killer of Lee Rigby is. We don’t see people making excuses for him based upon his mental illness yet, throw a stone in the fetid stinking pools of the internet and you’ll find people doing it. For example:

Cox’s killer has been found fit to stand trial by two doctors yet as Craig Murray argues here, people are falling over themselves to say he’s a poor soul who is just ill. Well, fuck you if you’re making that argument. It not only is offensive to people suffering from mental illness as it paints the picture that everyone with a condition could be easily turned, and secondly, you’re making excuses for a racist killer who murdered Jo Cox for political reasons to make a point and scare people. If you’re telling me that isn’t terrorism then you’re arguing the IRA were just lot of people who just needed a psychiatrist and a hug,

The killer of Jo Cox is a terrorist. Just like the killers of Lee Rigby are terrorists. Just like the 7/7 bombers are, and the 911 hijackers were, but we’re at the stage where people’s Islamophobia is so entrenched they can’t see what’s in front of them. We’ve had years of the media hammering home xenophobia, bigotry and racism as normal yet only 11 years ago the Tories with Michael Howard fought an openly racist, xenophobic campaign in the 2005 general election and were totally rejected.

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Two things have changed things in the time since. Firstly is the crash of 2008 and secondly is the rise of UKIP who have adopted the tactics of the BNP while making them palatable to the media. After all, Nigel Farage is a geezer ‘innee, ‘ees a laugh. You can have a drink and a smoke with him. He’s ‘good telly’. He’s ‘good copy’. He’s a ‘character’ in the same way the old boy down your local talking loudly about ‘Pakis’ is a character.

Yet Farage is homophobic, and as we’ve seen, racist. He’s been normalised into mainstream debate so that people disenfranchised by the political system who see Cameron’s Tories as the ones keeping them down, and Corbyn’s Labour as too distant see Farage pop up and think ‘here’s a chance to give them a bloody nose”. In effect, a far right party (and lets stop mucking around and start calling UKIP a far right party) has been allowed to shape debate in the way the BNP never did. As Alan Moore put it in V For Vendetta

He also wanted to portray the Fascists in the novel as ordinary people, some of whom may even have been likable. The Nazis, he points out, were not monsters from space and did not suddenly arrive from the pit of hell.’

People like Farage were the vanguard. He was the frontman. Look at the people behind him and his words and actions. They’re not of a reasonable, inclusive human being but someone that wants to demonise immigrants and refugees. Do we seriously think the way UKIP and the right wing press have acted especially in the run-up to the EU referendum is encouraging sensible debate?

Of course not but if you tell people scared of what’s happening and whether they’ll have a home or money to live on that ‘immigrants are taking your job’ rather than explain about the political system and offer an alternative, then you want an instant solution because the kids can’t clothe or feed themselves. Ask yourself as well why Farage isn’t offering a genuine solution to the democratic deficit the UK imposes upon people marginalised at the edges? After all, if there’s actual democratic reform of the UK people like Farage (who is as much a part of the establishment as those he decries) lose out. It is a situation as Marina Hyde argues, that the UK faces up to a choice on Thursday to become a country where the values and ethics of UKIP will dominate. After this week if you’re even remotely of the left and voting to leave, I urge you to think again because if you think progressive politics will return after a Brexit then look at the last week and think whether you’re going to get what you want after a Brexit?

Yet there’s still hope in all this. Brendan Cox, the husband of Jo, released an astonishingly human, and decent, statement after his wife’s murder. As he says:

She would have wanted two things above all else to happen now, one that our precious children are bathed in love and two, that we all unite to fight against the hatred that killed her. Hate doesn’t have a creed, race or religion, it is poisonous.

Again, dive into the cesspool of the internet and you’ll find people that didn’t listen. They’re too far gone by this point.

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An MP has been murdered in the street. Her husband is grieving while trying not to pander to the hate that killed her, and here’s people desperate to get back to calling people all the cunts in the world because they need someone to react to their hate to give them validation.

We’re at a crossroads here now. This isn’t like the Scottish Independence Referendum (regardless what Shelagh Fogarty thinks)  where the worst violence from those trying to break the status quo was Jim Murphy being hit by an egg, but is instead the worst of the right wing Unionism multiplied to the nTh degree which is what we’re seeing here as English/British exceptionalism takes root and feeds prejudice and hate.

A look at any debate online especially shows horrendous polarisation. ”Lefties”, Tory scum’, ‘Yoons”, ‘Cybernats’, ‘Kippers’, and on and on yet it doesn’t increase the level of debate but drives people to become even more entrenched, and yes, I’ve thrown around the odd ‘Tory scum’ in my time, but you know what, I’m going to make the effort because if we don’t we’re going to end up with a level of debate like we’ve had over the last month becomes normal and I’m not having that. It’s repellent and it’s ended up in the murder of the sort of MP Parliament needs. Cox wasn’t from the right family. She didn’t get gifted a place at the right university because of her parents wealth and connections. She didn’t leave where she came from behind. God knows, Labour needed her type but her voice has been silenced by a terrorist killing.

Yet it need not be. If we learn anything from this it’s the fact we can withdraw and pull back. Seeing Cameron and Corbyn (as someone who isn’t a supporter of either I have to say they did a good job) together in her constituency sends a message out. The pair clearly hate each other, but they can put that aside to make a point this sort of shite stops now if we make an effort to transform the debate and I ask everyone to come together, even UKIP supporters, to try to make things better. If anything good is to come out of this awful EU Referendum, then its at least from now on we return to a level of civilisation we used to have.

There is however one exception. Britain First. In the last month they’ve said they’ll ”target” the new Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan. The killer of Jo Cox is reported to have shouted ”Britain First” as he ended her life. He was also involved in their rallies and seems to have had serious far right beliefs from what has been confirmed so far. As of now, it should be time to turn the tables on Britain First. Sure, as a democracy they can spill their sewage as much as they want but we turn on them. We call them terrorists. We hold them to account, peacefully and democratically. We make it clear to them that they are not tolerated and we don’t want them harassing our Muslim friends, while making it clear we’re better than them.

One last thing. The 77 year old who tried to stop Jo Cox from being killed was called Bernard Kenny, a former miner who was stabbed in the process of trying to save Cox. He’s the name we should remember today above the killer’s, because it is people like Kenny that show a better side to us than the person that murdered Jo Cox and those that influenced him.