Report details how the BBC buried negative news on the NHS Bill


10:58 am - September 29th 2012

by Shantel Burns    


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OpenDemocracy’s ourBeeb project have published a report which details how the BBC has failed in its responsibilities to inform the British public about the truth surrounding the highly controversial NHS Bill.

Titled: How the BBC betrayed the NHS: an exclusive report on two years of censorship and distortion, it gives a thorough account of a silence around the NHS bill within the BBC.

It details the apparent keenness of the BBC to follow the government’s positive privatised NHS spiel (The…Bill will allow GPs to get control … of the NHS budget) and ignore the many reports that tell a whole new, accurate story.

They say that on the day the Health and Social Care Act was approved and passed through the House of Lords (19th March 2012), not one article was published on the BBC’s online news page on the NHS.

Similarly, the BBC failed to report that former Health Secretary, Andrew Lansley, received £21,000 to his personal office from John Nash the then chairman of Care UK – a health firm with a substantial income from the NHS. Nash also founded Sovereign Capital which runs a number of private health firms.

The Daily Mail reported on the business activities of Andrew Lansley’s wife, Sally Low. ‘Low Associates’ which was found to be boasting of its ability to help ‘make the link between the public and private sectors’ – sounds familiar.

Labour MP Grahame Morris said it constituted a “clear conflict of interest” and suggested Lansley’s position was no longer tenable. This still failed to make a ripple of news within the BBC.

A number of unreported stories follow a similar tone including a story from Liberal Conspiracy which reported that the University Hospital of North Staffordshire (UNSH) had been charging A&E patients for any drugs they needed.

The report notes the BBC have refused an FOI request to find out how many complaints have been made about the lack of news surrounding the NHS bill.

The report also highlights a strange influx of reports from the BBC after the NHS bill had safely been passed through the House of Lords.

Besides the live streams on Democracy Live, the climax of one of the most controversial bills in recent history merited not a single article. With the bill safely passed, however, the next day saw a stream of seven articles.

The report focuses on mainly the output of BBC Online, in its news and analysis.

It concludes: “It is not in the government that the strength of the BBC lies – a parliamentary system captured by forces inherently opposed to its existence – but in the British public, the support of which it should rigorously protect.”

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About the author
Shantel Burns is a News Editor at Liberal Conspiracy, and a publishing and journalism student and current affairs nerd. Blogs at: ramblepolitics.blogspot.co.uk too.
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Reader comments


The thing is though, this is what I expect from the beeb. They slavishly toe the line of whoever happens to be in government at the time. When Labour are in, they support Labour. When this lot are in, they support them.

Conversely, when Labour are in, most of the left support the beeb, believing that they are being fair and impartial whilst the right wing tosser types are calling for them to to privatised. Sadly however the left don’t seem to get it. The beeb have only one interest at heart – protecting their privileged position and their licence fee. This is what they do.

Me, I don’t trust them – ever. I learned this lesson the hard way after watching a BBC interview with a close friend that had been edited so that he came out appearing to say the opposite of what he was saying. This was about 25 years ago. As it was a silhouette interview about a pirate radio station he was running there was no way he could complain to any standards board without revealing his identity.

Don’t get fooled by the beeb. They are not your friends. They would sell their mothers for a licence fee settlement that suits them. End their state (government) backed privileged licence fee and their duplicitious reporting NOW!

@iyugvlihsdfvo There is undoubtedly some self serving going on in the BBC here and there is absolutely no excuse for misreporting and deliberately skewing information to fit an agenda as we saw in the case of Shanene Thorpe.

However, it’s too simplistic to merely paint the BBC as the bad guy when they are usually constantly under attack from all sides with very little recourse for fighting back for fear of reprisal.

David Mitchell summed up the dilemma well here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZtqSmE7cAkY

They are trying to survive in “a hostile political environment” and the majority of their broadcasting is the only quality terrestrial television. I can’t see ITV keeping up any BBC 4 programming.

@ 2 Will Prior

They are trying to survive in “a hostile political environment” and the majority of their broadcasting is the only quality terrestrial television.

Ahh, that’s alright then.

…they are usually constantly under attack from all sides with very little recourse for fighting back for fear of reprisal.

What this really means is that they do what the government of the day tells them to or else lose their fat licence fee – which is what I said.

This is no surprise.
Anybody with personal experience of the miner’s strike will tell you of the BBC’s distorted and one sided coverage.
They told lies and edited film to support their lies.
The ordinary people of this country are engaged in a war with the forces of greedy and selfish capitalism.
A conflict that is being directed by the government and utilising it’s propaganda arm the press and the BBC.
We are losing – badly.

6. Pandering To Crims

Frontline services are always desecrated when boards and authorities are composed of criminal types whose strategy these days seem to be aligned to profiteering rackets and private accumulation of wealth.

Maybe RSF should be contacted…zombie journalism has arisen.

7. So Much For Subtlety

Government-run media company reports news the way the government likes? Sounds like another day toil down the that is the liberal media.

All that is missing is a demand for more government-run media.

5: “Anybody with personal experience of the miner’s strike will tell you of the BBC’s distorted and one sided coverage.”

The BBC didn’t lie about the 1984/85 miners’ strike.

The truth is that the strike was about the NUM demanding even larger subsidies from taxpayers for the Coal Board regardless of who else had to suffer. The Thatcher and Major governments poured billions of taxpayers’ money into the state-owned coal industry.

In Yorkshire, members of the NUM weren’t even permitted a strike ballot and the public gossip there at the time was that the intention of the strike was to bring down the elected government. Neither the TUC nor the Labour Party endorsed the strike and the support of other unions dwindled to nothing by the autumn of 1984.

For the truth, thy this report in the Guardian on 20 September 1999 about Prof Vic Allen, who was uncovered as a Stasi spy in that BBC2 series on: The Spying Game:

Prof Allen was an ally of Arthur Scargill during the 1984-85 miners’ strike. In 1987 he published a book, The Russians Are Coming. His pro-Soviet views were well known.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/1999/sep/20/1

In Jauary 1985, Vladimir Putin was appointed the KGB’s liaison agrent to the Stasi, a post he served in through to 1990 so he would have likely seen the reports posted back by Vic Allen to the Stasi.

9. Man on Clapham Omnibus

@8 so the BBC covered the Police breaking the Law by stopping people travelling up the motorway then? Cant remember that bit on the BBC. Maybe you can!

9: “so the BBC covered the Police breaking the Law by stopping people travelling up the motorway then? Cant remember that bit on the BBC. Maybe you can!”

The BBC reported cars being stopped and I saw it happening in Yorkshire. There was nothing secret about it. It’s arguable whether the Police were acting unlawfully, especially so in the absence of a strike ballot by the Yorkshite NUM and the violence used by pickets there even against clerical staff employed by the Coal Board, who weren’t on strike.

Try this Guardian report from June 2002:

Last week in Media Guardian, Roy Greenslade apologised for a story he ran while editor of the Daily Mirror accusing Arthur Scargill of pocketing union funds. Here the reporters who wrote the story reply
http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2002/jun/03/mondaymediasection.mirror

But all this about the 1984/85 mining strike has absolutely nothing to do with BBC reports on the changes underway in the NHS imposed by the government.

I learned from BBC reports about the critical editorials in the British Medical Journal on 21 January 2011:

“What do you call a government that embarks on the biggest upheaval of the NHS in its 63 year history, at breakneck speed, while simultaneously trying to make unprecedented financial savings? The politically correct answer has got to be: mad. . . ”

These accusations against the BBC are the most serious accusations that could possibly be made against it; that it deliberately censored news, that it was highly partial and biased in its coverage of an issue that required a balanced approach. This was not a minor issue and it was one which represented a major split between the two largest political parties in parliament.

As such the responses of the BBC to these accusations will be crucial; the most important of these is that details of all the BBC’s output in this area should be made available for analysis. Anything less than this should be regarded effectively as a sign that the BBC has much to hide and is going to devote considerable effort to covering-up its actions.

This issue is however, one of the utmost importance, since the role of the BBC will be crucial in the run-up to the next general election. One can forsee that the Tpries will exert heavy pressure on the BBC to report the election in a way which biases their case, since it would appear that they are unlikely to win by any other means.

I’m only aware of the Liberal Conspiracy story mentioned in the OP.
The article was pretty bizarre and not terribly honest, to put it mildly, which puts a question mark on the rest of the OP. Actually, the article was pretty much ignored on LC so no reason why the BBC should have mentioned it.

This is really interesting, given that around the time of the Bill passing, I remember a Newsnight that seemed to me very one-sided. Lansley was interviewed but given a very easy time by Paxman, and the discussion panel that followed included probably the only two GPs in the country that thought the Bill was a good idea, plus a chief exec from Circle. A lot of the important questions didn’t even seem to get asked. I remember feeling very frustrated with it at the time.

*sigh* Or perhaps those Guardian-reading Beebers tried (as they do, bless ’em) to be objective and impartial and they finally decided that the NHS ‘reforms’ are not some massive privatisation but a rather trivial tinkering that might – just might – move us slightly closer to the French model (which is the best health service in the world!).

@ Bob reply 8. The Beeb didn’t report the full picture of the miners strike because it didn’t mention the agents provocateurs in the form of troops in civvies mingling with the miners and stirring things up.

15

The Beeb also didn’t report the alliance between Arthur Scargill and Prof Vic Allen as cited @8 and the Beeb didn’t refer to Prof Allen’s work for the Stasi until those BBC2 programmes on The Spying Game in 1999 when it quoted Prof Allen as saying he had no regrets:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/special_report/1999/09/99/britain_betrayed/451366.stm

If only we had known about those connections at the time of the miners’ strike in 1984/85. But then not all miners went on strike, did they? The miners in Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire and Warwickshire went on working. Perhaps they realised a thing or two that the rest of us didn’t at the time. For sure in Yorkshire, the public talk was about whether the strike would bring down the government that had been elected in September 1983.

16
Arthur Scargill was a self-proclaimed marxist and his father was a member of the Communist Party, none of this was ever hidden and Scargills’ politics did not have to be inferred from his association with a third party.
It isn’t unreasonable that one marxist would support another’s views, and nobody would be surprised that bringing down a capitalist govenment was a goal for a marxist.

17

“It isn’t unreasonable that one marxist would support another’s views, and nobody would be surprised that bringing down a capitalist govenment was a goal for a marxist.”

Attempting to bring down a recently elected government through the industrial action of one trade union is regarded as undemocratic by most of us as well as being unlawful, which rather accounts for the extensive operations of MI5 and the police during the 1984/85 miners’ strike.

Let’s recap, the strike wasn’t endorsed by either the TUC or the Labour Party. By the autumn of 1984, industrial action by other unions in support of the strike had dwindled to nothing. NACODS, the overman’s union didn’t support the miners’ strike.

Besides all that, the timing of the strike was patently daft: it started in the spring when coal stocks at power stations were at record levels. In fact, there was so much coal piling up at power stations that there were problems knowing where to keep putting it. Miners in Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire and Warwickshire kept working.

Nicholas Ridley had set out a strategy for dealing with nationalised industries, including the coal industry, as reported in The Economist back in May 1978:
http://www.co-opnet.coop/viewtopic.php?t=367&highlight=ridley+report

The Yorkshire NUM didn’t so much fall into an elephant trap as jump in one with all flags flying.

Scargill would have been better employed looking after the interests of his members.

His first major error was not holding a ballot as required … the strike was holed below the waterline from the start.

A contempt for democracy is always a bad sign.

There was a time (i.e. last century) when the BBC used to do quality political and investigative journalism. Now they seem to have become a televised version of the Sun!

Panorama, for example used to be a quality current affairs programme. Now it just mirrors the tabloids, with sensationalist stories and tabloid journalism.

Another once great national institution going down the plughole. Following the Royal Mail and NHS to name just a few!

18

No need to recap, but you really need to be aware that an association between a known marxist and Arthur Scargill was no big deal.

Unlike most union leaders who attempted only to squeeze more out of capitalism, Scargill (also a believer in syndicalism) saw it as his role to take the means of production into the ownership of the working-class.

Whether or not you think it is undemocratic or it isn’t your particular political leaning, Scargill was true to his beliefs and his beliefs were well known. It isn’t surprising that he became a target of the Thatcher government and other right-wing institutions.

21

“No need to recap, but you really need to be aware that an association between a known marxist and Arthur Scargill was no big deal. ”

On this particular case, the known “marxist” was not just a marxist but an agent of the Stasi, the East German intelligence service, and at a time when Vladimir Putin was a KGB liaison officer with the Stasi based in Germany – which is how Russian President Putin comes to be so fluent in German.

As the Stasi agent, Prof Allen, subsequently said for the record in the BBC2 programme of 1999: The Spying Game: “I regret nothing”
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/special_report/1999/09/99/britain_betrayed/451366.stm

The miners’ strike was at a time when the Soviet/NATO arms race was at a peak with US cruise missiles based at Greenham Common and South Yorkshire had been declared A Nuclear Free Zone – as had the GLC area under the guidance of its then leader: Ken Livingstone. Btw Gorbachev was elected General Secretary of the Soviet Communist Party by the Politburo on 11 March 1985, at the virtual end of the miners’ strike.

23. Hugh Jarse

one of the 1st things we got taught in media studies at college is media is a format not a truth,

books dvds radio newspapers tv etc are all just
a media format

the information provided
to the public does not have to be true.

TV radio an newspapers are often
outputting fiction an battering the public’s minds with trivia an mind spam

they give you the stuff to get angry about
so you don’t focus on whats shafting you at the other end

the BRITISH BASTARD CORPORATION rams story’s
of bad guy joe public in our faces ,

they make out the family that over fills there wheelie bin is satan,

but they don’t even mention
some of the worlds most powerful people paying for sex with children an calling for a eugenics cull

i turned off my tv about ten years ago id rather get my information from credible sources
which is harder after the cons got in as they
turned on the china filters on the internet.

, non of the mainstream news outlets stray from the Reuters agenda the routers of the news have put there custom firmware on it an your paying for it.

don’t listen to a word any of them say its a fix its a stitch its a scam its a sham .

bbc sky itv fox news all in bed with the same
socks on,

if your happy with those sick twisted perverts to do your thinking for you,

then your meat on the table for the slaughter an you deserve all the shafting you get

. turn it off , think for your self .

television the drug of a nation breading ignorance an feeding radiation

In other words, always stand by the party’s slogan in Oceania: Ignorance is strength

What we need to do is to burn all those books on history and current affairs.

dont you just get sick to death of politics, they all lie, they all cheat and steal, history has proven it, yet we put up with it. WHY? I read an article on the BBC saying power will be cut off in places in the UK by 2015 due to lack of fuel, so only the Rich will be able to afford electricity. so the poor end up starving and freezing to death. Welcome to the New World Order. Its not to late but our last chance is aproaching to do something

26. Jen Williams

I have put an epetition on the govt website to have an enquiry into government ministers connections with private healthcare companies.
The link is http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/40126
It would be good to get more signatures than Branson’s epetition for keeping the Westcoast Mainline.

@ Barrie J “Anybody with personal experience of the miner’s strike will tell you of the BBC’s distorted and one sided coverage” i second that too.


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
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  48. Is the BBC helping Osborne make £10bn in welfare cuts | Liberal Conspiracy

    […] The BBC more broadly has also been criticised for sparse coverage of the government’s NHS bill. […]

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