Ironically a Programme Devoted to ‘anti-Semitism’ is itself anti-Semitic as Neil talks of the ‘Jewish’ Vote

Andrew Neil – the BBC’s Conservative Interviewer who failed to critically question John Mann MP at any stage

It was a show which began with a question from its presenter Andrew Neil: 

John Mann – The non-Jewish MP who makes a good living out of ‘anti-Semitism’ – Mann believes he has the right to accuse Jewish opponents of Zionism and Israeli racism of ‘anti-Semitism’

‘Now does Labour have a problem dealing with allegations of anti-Semitism?’

Having asked the question, Neil immediately assumed that the question was ‘yes’
and he proceeded accordingly,

James Schneider of Momentum was allowed 25 seconds to oppose Neil’s argument – a mere 16 times less than his opponents

Andrew Neil is a devoted Tory.  He is a former editor of Murdoch’s Sunday Times for 11 years, the right-wing
Spectator as well as a former member of the Conservative club at Glasgow University
and a research assistant for the Conservative Party.  In other words he is a died in the wool Tory
and, as is natural these days, with Tories, a Zionist supporter to the tips of
his socks, as are the overwhelming majority of Tories.

Gerry Downing of the tiny ‘Trotskyist’ group Socialist Fight who has been played like a violin by the Right for indulging in anti-Semitic theories of Jewish capitalists controlling foreign policy

It was therefore a bit too much to expect neutrality from Neil on March 3rd
when the Sunday Politics show which he presents examined the question of ‘Anti-Semitism
in the Labour Party.’

John Mann MP the right-wing windbag and friend of racists 

What followed was a non-stop propaganda broadcast for the Zionist Federation
and the Board of Deputies of British Jews. 
The transcript for the programme can be found here.

I covered the episode shortly after it was broadcast.   The broadcast can be seen on i-player.

Under cross-examination in an Employment Tribunal Mann fell to pieces – he was unable to explain what the anti-semitism was that he complained of and characterised any boycott of Israel as ‘anti-Semitic’

The tone of the programme was set by the voice over which asked:
‘Does Jeremy Corbyn support 4 causes like the Palestinians or Stop the War
mean he’s not tough enough when there are allegations of anti-Semitism in

Jeremy Newmark – Chair of the ‘Jewish Labour Movement’ i.e. the overseas wing of the racist Israeli Labour Party was branded a liar by the employment tribunal in Fraser v UCU

There was no explanation why supporting the Palestinians should mean
hostility to Jews and even less reason to suppose that opposition to war means anti-Semitism,
unless it is being suggested that Jews are war-like.  Itself an anti-Semitic assumption.

The Tribunal brands Jeremy Newmark a liar and is extremely critical of Mann, who ‘enjoyed making speeches’ but ‘eschewed the opportunity to locate it (anti-Semitism) for us.’

We then had a reference to two alleged incidents of ‘anti-Semitism’ at
Oxford University Labour Club which had supported Israel Apartheid Week and
whose Zionist activist Chair Alex Chalmers had walked out and at the LSE where
a Labour club candidate for an election had talked about Zionists wanting to
take over the student union and make it right-wing again.  Neither of these seem to have anything to do
with hatred of Jews either.

Wes Streeting – the mediocre far-right Labour MP

There then followed an interview with the bonkers Gerry Downing of Socialist
Fight who believes that Zionist or Jewish capitalists, he doesn’t seem to
distinguish between them, are responsible for the West’s support for Israel.  An anti-Semitic theory without doubt but is
hardly proof that the Labour Party is anti-Semitic.

Wes Streeting, a particularly unpleasant right-wing Labour MP, who would
feel equally at home in the Conservative Party, was given 45 seconds for an
uninterrupted tirade which tied in Downing with the anti-war left which he said
was not ‘so much stop the war as stop the
West, people who seem to hate their country more than they hate the people who
attack us.’
 I must confess I wasn’t
aware Britain was under attack.  The ISIS
attacks in Paris and Brussels can be directly traced back to the American and British
invasion of Iraq.  ISIS was born out of
Al Qaeda in Iraq, a group that was unknown before the 2003 invasion. 

There then followed a 25 second response from James Schneider, a Momentum
supporter defending Jeremy Corbyn but not saying very much else. 

It was then the turn of John Mann, the Zionist MP and Chair of the so-called
Parliamentary Anti-Semitism Committee, who is of the opinion that those who
support a boycott of Israel are inherently and automatically anti-Semitic.  He was given 6 minutes and 4 seconds.  In other words those arguing that the LP was
saturated with anti-Semitism had a mere 16 times as much time as the person who
defended Corbyn.  Schneider didn’t even
tackle the question of anti-Semitism in the Labour Party, because he didn’t
have any time.  The idea of having
someone directly confront John Mann is obviously an alien concept to the BBC
and Andrew Neil.

In my previous post I described Neil’s questions as ‘softball questions’.  In fact even that underplays the fact that
they were really an attempt to encourage Mann to even greater heights of
vacuous rhetoric.  Mann’s message, which
he was allowed to repeat ad nauseum is that anti-Semitism is a big problem in
the Labour Party and Corbyn is doing nothing about it.  What he wasn’t asked, at any stage, was the
slightest bit of evidence to support his arguments. 

Neil asked 6 questions:

The first question was to ask is there a problem with anti-Semitism in the
Labour Party.  An interviewer with any
scruples or sense of balance of fairness would have asked ‘Why do you say there
is an anti-Semitism problem… ‘ or ‘what is the evidence for your assertion that…’

Unsurprisingly Mann waffled and engaged in empty  rhetoric but provided not a scrap of evidence
for his assertion.  But Neil was anxious to
help Mann develop his argument.

The second question was no better.  It
assumed there was a problem of anti-Semitism. Why has it come back and his
third question simply focussed the question, why in the Labour Party.  Again no challenge to the central

Neil’s next question shows exactly
where this Murdoch hack is coming from. 
He refers to Corbyn’s ‘friends in Hamas and Hezbollah’ which is a
repetition of the lies that were told in the summer.  Corbyn chaired a meeting at which he
referred to the speakers as ‘friends’ in a general and polite sense.  That was all. 
They weren’t his personal friends.

Neil then suggests that Corbyn shares platforms with people hostile to Israel
and whether that is anti-Semitic.  Notice
the sleight of hand.  Hostility to the Zionist
state is therefore anti-Semitic.

fifth question was no different.  Are you
doing enough about this – there’s no pretence as to whether or not ‘this’ is
actually happening.

But it was Neil’s 6th
question which is the beauty.  Irony of
irony – having paid homage to the idea that there is a problem of anti-Semitism
in the Labour Party, Andrew Neil demonstrates that the only problem with anti-Semitism
lies with people like himself. 
He asks
about that old canard, the ‘Jewish vote’ as if there is a block Jewish vote to
begin with.

If Neil had bothered to get the programme assistants to do a bit of
background research they could have done worse than read Geoffrey Alderman’s
book of 35 years ago ‘The Jewish Community
in British Politics’
which showed conclusively that, even then, the Jewish community
predominantly voted Conservative because Jews had risen socio-economically up
the ladder.  There is no reason to believe
that Jewish people vote Tory because of anti-Zionism.  His statements that ‘Historically JM the
Labour Party has done well from the Jewish vote,  The Jewish vote over time has tended to vote
is simply untrue.

Alderman showed that even in the 1970’s there was a significant number of Jews voting for the racist and fascist National Front, even though they were anti-Semitic and denied the holocaust, because their racism was directed at Black people.  Since the
1950’s as Jews have become progressively better off, having moved from the East
End to the suburbs, their voting patterns have switched from Labour to Tory.

We have a non-Jew John Mann MP, who travels the world and makes a good
living out of ‘anti-Semitism’ telling Jewish opponents of Israel, people who
follow the prophetic tradition of opposing injustice whoever commits it, that
they are anti-Semitic!  The word ‘chutzpah’
comes to mind.  But that is
understandable because the most enthusiastic Zionists have always been non-Jewish reactionaries and imperialists.

We should not forget however that even by normal political standards, John
Mann is a particularly dishonest and disingenuous politician who wouldn’t know
what the truth is if it bit him in his thinking parts.  The employment tribunal in Fraser v University College Union got
the measure of this windbag who likes the sound of his own voice.

John Mann MP was a good friend of the former Labour Minister Phil Woollas, a
racist MP who was disqualified by an electoral court  because of the lies he told about his Lib-Dem
political opponent.  He deliberately
tried to stir up what his associates called the ‘white vote’ portraying
caricatures of Muslims on his leaflets as jihadists and himself as the dam
holding back the barbarian tide.  By
their friends shall he know them.

This is one more example of BBC Bias at its Best. 

Below is the Appeal I sent to the BBC on April 8th.

Reference CAS-3747932-2H1W9P

In your response to my
complaint you said you hoped that your reply would go some
way to allaying my concerns.  Rest
assured that it did not.
The BBC’s complaint system has a reputation
for a knee jerk defence of its presenters. 
In this case you have exceeded even your own abysmal standards.
complained that although the subject of the programme was whether Jeremy Corbyn
and the Labour Party had a problem with anti-Semitism, not once did you probe
or question whether this was true.  The
interviewers & Andrew Neil, assumed the very question that was the subject
of the programme, i.e. whether there was anti-Semitism in the Labour Party and
on the left. 
You state
that the programme was an ‘analysis of whether or not
the Labour Party has problems with anti-Semitism… (and) if there were problems
of anti-Semitism in the Left.’ 
Unfortunately it wasn’t an analysis. 
No evidence was presented at any stage of the programme.
The vast majority of the
programme consisted of a monologue by MPs John Mann and Wes Streeting, both of
whom were convinced of the prevalence of anti-Semitism in the Labour Party,
backed up by the interviewer Andrew Neil. 
Yet there was no evidence produced whatsoever.  All we had was assertion and in Mann’s case a
generalised anecdote. 
One indication of bias was that
there was a fleeting appearance by James Schneider, a supporter of Jeremy
Corbyn for 25 seconds.  Contrast this
with the 45 seconds for Streeting and the 6 minutes and 4 seconds devoted to Mann.
At no
point did Neil challenge what Mann said, he merely asked him to clarify and
expand on his points.  John Mann should
have been treated vigorously and subject to cross-examination, instead Neil’s
questioning took his statements for granted and developed them.
John Mann
is a discredited witness.  When he gave
evidence as a witness at the Fraser v University College Union employment
tribunal in 2012 [Case No:  2203290/2011].  The
Tribunal  found that
‘The parliamentarians did not provide any detail and did not
genuinely respond to that inquiry [by the UCU] at all. Mr Mann led for them and
the more conciliatory tone of Dr MacShane gave way to a somewhat hostile
display in which Mr Mann made no bones about his view that the union was
operating in an anti-Semitic way…. He did not explain what the anti-Semitic
behaviour was supposed to have consisted of besides referring to the boycott
debate and characterising any boycott of Israel or Israeli institutions as
itself anti-Semitic.’ [para. 84]
‘He [John Mann] told us that the leaders
of the Respondents were at fault for the way in which they conducted debates
but did not enlighten us as to what they were doing wrong or what they should
be doing differently…. And when it came to anti-Semitism in the context of
debate about the Middle East, he announced, “It’s clear to me where the line is
…” but unfortunately eschewed the opportunity to locate it for us. Both
parliamentarians clearly enjoyed making speeches. Neither seemed at ease with
the idea of being required to answer a question not to his liking. [Para. 148]
John Mann
was tested under cross-examination in the Employment Tribunal.  He was not tested at all by Andrew Neil
because Neil shared Mann’s prejudices. 
At no stage were there any probative questioning which would have tested
Mann’s arguments.  I shall explain. 
first question was ‘Why has it [anti-Semitism] come back?  The obvious question to have asked would have
been to challenge if anti-Semitism had come back, where’s the evidence etc.
second question was ‘But why in the LP has it come back?’  This question too did not question the
underlying assumption.
The third
question showed where the prejudices of Neil lay.  He asked: ‘Well is the Labour leader doing
enough?  The fact that he’s talked about
his friends in Hamas and Hezbollah and shared platforms with people who are
very hostile to Israel and so on.  Is that
a disadvantage.  Is that encouraging
anti-Semitism or is it not relevant.’ 
Note how Neil refers to Hamas and
Hezbollah, who have after all been elected by their respective constituencies,
as ‘his friends’ thus completely distorting Corbyn’s use of the term ‘friends’
which was a general reference in the context of a public meeting he was
chairing with Hamas and Hezbollah speakers. 
In other words a complete distortion.
Note also how Neil links people who
are hostile to Israel (whatever that means) to ‘encouraging anti-Semitism’ thus
your point about ‘It wasn’t a look at the Israel/Palestine
situation’ is invalid because the comparison was made by Neil as interviewer.
Neil’s 4th
question asks, in the context of the inquiry into Oxford university Labour Club
‘But is your party doing enough about this? 
Because I understand that these inquiries may be subsumed into a much
bigger enquiry bullying and so on.’  What
Neil never does is to query the ‘this’ – all Neil’s questions assume that the
allegations of anti-Semitism are correct. 
Not once does Neil question the basic premise.
next question was a gem.  He asks ‘Historically
the Labour Party has done well from the Jewish vote,  The Jewish vote ov’er time has tended to vote
Labour.  If this anti-Semitism continues
in your party are you in danger of losing the Jewish vote.’  It is priceless because in the course of
asking a question about ‘anti-Semitism’ in the Labour Party, Neil indulges in
one of the worst anti-Semitic tropes himself! 
Priceless.  The suggestion of a
Jewish vote is on a par with the suggestion of ‘Jewish money’ and the hidden
hand of Judah.  The idea that Jews vote
according to Jewish interests.   Even
John Mann ignores Neil’s idiocy.
Even by
the biased and bigoted standards of the BBC this interview has set  new standards.  At no time did Andrew Neil even once
challenge the basic assumptions of John Mann. 
Instead the advocates of the idea that anti-Semitism is a major problem
in the Labour Party had approximately 16 times more time than the spokesman for
Momentum.  I ignore the idiocy of Gerry
By way of
distraction your response to my complaint said that ‘The
item did not suggest that Jeremy Corbyn was “racist”.  Neither did my complaint suggest this.  However by your presenter suggesting that
Jeremy Corbyn tolerates anti-Semitism within the Labour Party, he went a long
way to suggesting exactly this.
Unsurprisingly I therefore want to appeal.

Tony Greenstein

The reply below which I received to the above complaint  naturally did not deal with my complaint  – it ludicrously says that it ‘wasn’t a look at the Israel/Palestine situation’ despite the question from Neil which covered just that

Dear Mr Greenstein

Reference CAS-3747932-2H1W9P

Thanks for getting in touch and please accept our apologies for the delay in
The 13 March edition of ‘Sunday Politics’ specifically looked at allegations
of anti-Semitism amongst some Labour student members at specific universities.
This was an analysis of whether or not the Labour Party has problems with
anti-Semitism, and looking at if there were problems of anti-Semitism in the
Left. It wasn’t a look at the Israel/Palestine situation, and we did not
conflate the actions of Israel with all Jewish people.

The item did not suggest that Jeremy Corbyn was “racist”. A representative
from Momentum, James Schneider, was included in the item. We hear him say that
Corbyn is attacked for his long-standing commitment to anti-war,
anti-imperialism, peace in the Middle East, before adding that “he does
absolutely condemn anti-Semitism…there is not a shred of anti-Semitism in his
personal make-up”. He robustly said that Mr Corbyn condemns anti-Semitism, and
is not at all anti-Semitic.

While we hope this goes some way to allaying your concerns, we’d thank you
for going to the trouble to let us know your thoughts on this. Your feedback is
valued. Your comments have been sent to the right people.

Kind regards

Stuart Webb
BBC Complaints