Loach slams Panorama documentary as a ‘dishonest hatchet job’

JVL Introduction

Ken Loach has joined those condemning the Panorama programme which he calls a “dishonest hatchet job”.

Plus further examples of  complaints about the programme

This article was originally published by Morning Star on Fri 19 Jul 2019. Read the original here.

Loach slams Panorama documentary as a ‘dishonest hatchet job’

The legendary film director puts forward a motion to condemn the BBC for breaking its own codes at his constituency Labour Party

[Plus further complaints about the programme below.]

KEN LOACH has put a motion to his constituency Labour Party slamming a Panorama documentary on alleged institutional anti-semitism in the Labour Party as a “dishonest hatchet job” and condemned the BBC for breaking its own code.

The film director – known for classics such as Cathy Come Home and I, Daniel Blake – said that the Is the Labour Party Anti-semitic? documentary was fundamentally biased.

Backlash from the programme’s airing and accusations of “institutional racism” within Labour intensifies with Jewish Voice for Labour (JVL) and constituency Labour Parties (CLPs) having expressed concern over the legitimacy of the claims.

JVL said that the documentary heavily featured advocates for Israel, while a number of CLPs including Bath, Cambridge, Liverpool Riverside and Hornsey and Wood Green have backed the leadership over the party’s handling of anti-semitism claims.

Mr Loach accused the programme of failing to comply with BBC Editorial Guidelines 4.3.12 and 4.3.1.

The first guideline states that the BBC “should not automatically assume that contributors from other organisations (such as academics, journalists, researchers and representatives of charities and think tanks) are unbiased.

“Appropriate information about their affiliations, funding and particular viewpoints should be made available to the audience, when relevant to the context.”

The Panorama show has been slammed for failing to reveal the affiliations of interviewees attacking Labour — with one, Ella Rose, having previously worked at the Israeli embassy while another, Alan Johnson, being editor of the journal of pro-Israel lobby group Bicom.

The second guideline states that a “diversity of opinion” should be included.

In a motion to his Bath CLP earlier this week, he wrote: “There was no attempt to put accusations of anti-semitism in a statistical context. The authoritative figure for reported cases given by [general secretary] Jennie Formby in Feb 2019 was the equivalent of 0.1 per cent of the membership.

“With such a tiny fraction of members involved, how can the case for ‘institutional anti-semitism’ be substantiated?

“Allegations were made without evidence or corroboration and were unchallenged by the interviewer. None of the many Jewish members who hold opposing views were interviewed.

“Two academics expressed opinions that have been fiercely contested in public debate, but this was not acknowledged, nor alternative views allowed,” he added.

He also expressed concern over the “manipulative” use of visuals and “sinister music” to put Jeremy Corbyn in a bad light.

He added that the programme’s potentially undemocratic consequences are revealed in its closing line that “asks for an alternative leader to replace Jeremy Corbyn.”

“It pretended to ask a question but had a pre-determined answer. It disgraced the name of Panorama and exposed the bias endemic within the BBC.”

His motion, which was seconded by Bath CLP member Lesley Bees, demands that the BBC makes a comparable documentary on whether the Labour Party is anti-semitic based on evidence.


Letters: Corbyn is a committed anti-racist who has been targeted because he is a supporter of Palestinian rights

Source: Herald Scotland, 12 July

I HAVE never seen such a one-sided, biased documentary as the BBC Panorama programme on anti-Semitism in the Labour Party (“Two Labour chiefs accused of interfering in anti-Semite probes”, The Herald, July 11). This was backed up by biased coverage on news programmes on TV and radio. Those of us in Scotland have become used to BBC bias in the coverage of independence which is why the BBC in Scotland has the highest number on people refusing to pay the licence fee.

Now people in England are experiencing this level of bias I predict the number of non-payers will rise significantly too. Of course we can protest but the evidence from Scotland is that the BBC ignores the protests.

For the record as a former Labour Party member for many years and a councillor and an MEP I never encountered anti-Semitism in the Labour Party; indeed Jewish members were active in every section of the party without encountering any prejudice. The so-called problem has only begun when Jeremy Corbyn became Labour leader; not because he is anti-Semitic, I’ve known him for more than 40 years and he is a committed anti-racist. He has been targeted because he is a supporter of Palestinian rights and the people attacking him inside and outside the Labour Party have close connections to the Israeli government. Indeed Al-Jeezara had a very good documentary of people from the Israeli embassy boasting they have a fund of a million pounds a year to bring down their enemies.

Of course, if I was a member of the Labour Party I could be expelled for stating the above but fortunately in Scotland our First Minister is on record as supporting Palestinian rights. No doubt we can expect accusations of anti-Semitism soon. It is not anti-Semitic to criticise the State of Israel for its dreadful treatment of Palestinians and I hope we in Scotland can continue to uphold that right despite the BBC’s dreadful bias!

Hugh Kerr, Edinburgh EH3.

Complaints to the Panorama programme

Prof Roger Seifert

Complaint Summary: No understanding of disciplinary procedures

Full Complaint:

1. I have extensive knowledge of the use of disciplinary procedures inside companies (public and private), trade unions, and political parties. It was clear that the programme makers had no idea about the principles involved and the common practices of such rules.Disciplinary procedures in all organisations (including the BBC) tend to be subject to delay (usually incompetence or under staffing), to interference by senior members of the organisation (see recent cases of Warwick Uni, Church of England, the BBC, numerous law firms,and Oxfam), and can be tricky in terms of implementation. The general rule is that all complaints are investigated but that most fail to meet basic (prima facie) standards required to reach a full hearing. This is usually due to lack of evidence, lack of clarity, and lack of knowledge of the relevant rules.

2. As a Jew (not in the Labour Party) I know many Jewish members who are happy with Corbyn and none were interviewed.

3. Your two experts appear to be anti-Corbyn and their published works are not research-based pieces in the area of internal rules and their enforcement — they are not experts in this field and others who are were not interviewed

4. Your cut & paste presentation of Corbyn’s own words did not meet your usual high standards — guilt by association is poor journalism and would mean Mrs Thacther was a fascist and Boris Johnson is a terrorist!

5. There was no analysis or explanation for why anti-semitic sentiments have increased since 2016 and no reason given for the alleged ‘feet dragging’ — the closest we came was some kind of half-presented view that the hard left (aka Marxists, the far left, communists) are anti-semitic as a matter of course. This is totally unsubstantiated as you know — many leading Marxists are Jewish, Marx was Jewish, and there is nothing in the ideology/philosophy that could lend itself to that conclusion. This was the worst kind of smear — not fully stated, but lingering over the entire programme was the notion that Corbyn is anti-semitic.

Prof John Chalcraft

I watched this Panorama programme with a growing sense of disbelief. It felt more like a smear campaign than a documentary. The sinister music that seemed to surround Corbyn’s every move; the strange and unsettling grey-scale filter that coloured the pictures of Corbyn to make him look like a villain; the sinister pictures of Seamus Milne in dark glasses that made him look like the mafia; the evident attempts to humanise and sympathise with the members of the Labour Party Disputes Team, as compared with the robot-like, disembodied voice that read out the Labour Party’s official responses; the failure to treat the members of the Disputes Team as anything other than innocent victims, terribly wronged, and the evisceration of the political content and political battles in which they were likely involved; the failure to take seriously the vital distinction between criticism of Israel as a state, and the question of anti-Semitism; the singling out of the one or two occasions when Corbyn has shared platforms with ‘dodgy characters’, without any attempt at context; the failure to supply information about Corbyn’s track record in anti-racism, the lack of content and detail on anti-Semitism itself – which seemed to be reduced to the issue of a tiny handful of anti-Semitic photos, remarks or insults; a grotesque attempt to conflate anti-Semitic conspiracy theories with Corbyn’s speculation that Israel might have killed some Egyptians; the failure to distinguish between the objectionable views of certain Party members, and the views of the Party as a whole; the failure to provide more context about racism in British politics; the tremendous over-egging of inferences about Corbyn’s alleged interference with the Disputes Team; the lack of exploration of explanations for why the Disputes Team is answerable to the Party as a whole; the failure to appreciate the emotional stress that so many have been brought under regarding accusations and allegations of anti-Semitism.



Comments (9)

  • Sheena says:

    Thank you to the great Ken Loach for his invaluable support and to all those amazing friends who are standing by our side fighting back against the expensively funded propaganda churned out by the enemies of truth freedom and justice.. Eventually these Disgusting methods will backfire in their odious faces and we will all be stronger than ever.

  • TP says:

    I remember Jim Carrey accepting an award last year and then addressing in his hilarious speech the aggressive bullying by the opposition against progressive Democrats. He said ‘what do they think we will do to them give them Free Healthcare?’.

  • Sara says:

    After reading all the magnificent support Jeremy Corbyn, our socialist peace trade union movement and JVL are receiving I want to hug everyone 😉

  • Jenny Kassman says:

    Does anyone know whether the Labour Party will be taking legal action against the BBC about this appalling piece of propaganda which was purported to be a Panorama documentary?

  • Lily says:

    “The historical record of Israel’s brutal, racist origins is being systematically destroyed, reveals the Israeli newspaper Haaretz. This helps us understand the nature of the dishonest Zionist campaign to destroy Jeremy Corbyn”

  • Stephen pyle says:

    Why is anybody surprised, since Jeremy Corbyn,s democratic election to the leadership of the Labour Party most of the media especially the BBC and the Guardian have carried out a continuous campaign to discredit him.
    The closer he gets to becoming PM the worse and more dangerous it will be for him as Israel and the British Establishment could not tolerate a Socialist Government.
    Please watch your back Jeremy.

  • Mary Davies says:

    These are excellent letters supporting Jeremy Corbyn, a man of integrity. I really feel for him with this persistent and unjustified propaganda campaign against him.

  • Dr Brian Robinson says:

    Always great to hear from Ken Loach. For some reason when reading the piece from the Morning Star I was reminded of Bertrand Russell’s “Ten Commandments”. Bertie was far from perfect and for a logician occasionally astonishingly inconsistent (eg the time he advocated bombing the USSR before the Soviets got the Bomb, oh dear), but his popular works were always great fun and usually enlightening and inspiring. As, I think, the “Commandments”, which I so dearly wish those now falsely condemning Corbyn and the Labour Party would read, take to heart and print out in gold letters and hang over their beds with copies for their breakfast tables. And I’ve just recalled another story about Russell: When he was a child, he told us, his grandmother gave him a Bible inscribed with her favorite verses, including Exodus 23:2: “Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil.”

    1. Do not feel absolutely certain of anything.
    2. Do not think it worthwhile to produce belief by concealing evidence, for the evidence is sure to come to light.
    3. Never try to discourage thinking, for you are sure to succeed.
    4. When you meet with opposition, even if it is from your family, endeavour to overcome it with argument and not by authority, for a victory dependent upon authority is unreal and illusory.
    5. Have no respect for the authority of others, for there are always contrary authorities to be found.
    6. Do not use power to suppress opinions you think pernicious, for if you do, the opinions will suppress you.
    7. Do not fear to be eccentric in opinion, for every opinion now accepted was once eccentric.
    8. Find more pleasure in intelligent dissent than in passive agreement, for if you value intelligence as you should, the former implies a deeper agreement than the latter.
    9. Be scrupulously truthful even if the truth is inconvenient, for it is more inconvenient when you try to conceal it.
    10. Do not feel envious of the happiness of those who live in a fool’s paradise, for only a fool will think that is happiness.

  • Richard Kuper says:

    Test comment

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