Friday, April 02, 2010

The leader of UKIP, Nigel Farage, was amongst the guests on last night's Have I Got News For You. The "missing words" round included a headline: "Show support for UKIP by .........!"

Have I Got News For You - BBC OneNigel Farage suggested the blanked out words were " not taking illegal immigrants, because there's just too many of them in this country and ...." After a bit more ranting Paul Merton told Farage it was supposed to fit the blanked out space.

It turned out the correct answer was "Show support for UKIP by cosying up in your dressing gown!" Seems that UKIP are marketing "KEEP THE POUND" dressing gowns.

As part of the ensuing banter, host Lee Mack asked Farage: Do UKIP allow women to vote? Farage replied "We're terribly liberal and modern about that sort of thing, we really are."

This was an interesting response, because on 25 February 2010 there was a vote in the European Parliament calling for gender equality and the elimination of discrimination against women. Most of UKIP's MEPs voted against the motion, as did the two BNP MEPs and nearly all the Conservative MEPs. As result of the Conservative, UKIP and BNP votes, Britain had the unique and dubious distinction of being the only EU member state where more of our MEPs voted against full equality for women than voted in support of the resolution.

David Cameron was interviewed for Gay Times last month and at one point the interviewer, Martin Popplewell said to Mr Cameron, "You want us to vote for you. If we vote for you - we want you to vote for us." This interview was very widely reported in Britain, but not by the BBC. Nor was the detailed MEP voting after the European Parliament equality debate.

That is exactly the sort of information voters should know when they cast their votes at the next General Election. As a public service broadcaster encouraging community cohesion, the BBC should reflect all groups and report the news fairly and impartially.

Just as news manipulation on Newsround disempowers its young audience, so politician/journalist talking-point-driven news management is anathema to a more open, just and cohesive society.

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