Friday, 21 May 2010

Historical Precedent for Lib-Cons Constitutional Change

After the 1933 German election, Hitler, the leader of the minority Nazi Party, ignored the sizable socialist opposition and formed a coalition with a minor party to achieve a 51.8% parliamentary majority.

Hitler immediately passed ‘The Enabling Act’, which effectively raised the bar so that his coalition could not be removed from power in Parliament without a two-thirds majority of the votes. This supposedly was for the stability of the Nazi coalition government. The ‘Enabling Act’ was originally brought in to provide stability in Germany for the following four years. We all know what happened thereafter.

Does this situation sound familiar today?

Whilst not in any way, shape or form, comparing the Lib-Cons to the Nazi Party, it proves how dangerous it is to mess with the constitution for party political purposes, especially without the approval of the electorate.

All supporters of democracy of whatever political opinion should combine to block this dangerous constitutional change.

Michael Baldry

Cycling shouldn't be this hard.

To BBC Look East (

Also at:

Dear Sir/Madam,

I'm writing to complain about your feature on 20th May about the cyclist knocked from his bicycle. After showing the footage, your reporter moved straight to verbal diarrhoea from viewers, rather than any analysis or meaningful review of the video you showed. Perhaps your reporter thinks that someone being knocked from his bicycle by a careless driver doesn't merit any analysis?

I have a number of questions and suggestions I'd like answering:

1. When you report traffic incidents on the show, how often is this 'vox pop' format used?
2. How often are traffic accidents reported on the show? How many of these involve cyclists?
3. Is there any requirement on journalists to verify / counter statements used by viewers in the quotes read out? (For example, "cyclists don't pay road tax", "cyclists being given rights to complain about cars".)
4. Do you think your journalists should undertake any factual research into the comments being read out? (Would you for example, read out or display a statement like "all the immigrants in our town are illegal, and avoiding taxes" or "white men are more intelligent than black men"?)
5. Does the BBC have any requirement to fairly reflect different points of view when using this format? (Your journalist seems largely to have used quotes from people who either don't cycle, or have a very negative view of cycling.)

And some suggestions:

- Why not use the video to look at general road safety? Driving like that endangers pedestrians as well as cyclists.
- Why not use it to look at the legal situation - should the police have been called? is what happened breaking the law?
- You could look at how other countries / boroughs approach traffic safety.
- You could ask why someone was parked straight across a cycle lane.

I look forward to hearing from you.


Tim Lennon.

Saravanakumar Sellappan Care Failure


Dear Sir/Madam,

Horrified to read this story today:

“'Nothing was done'

Mr Jafferjee also called into question the standard of care the dying man received at Mayday Hospital in Croydon, south London, where he was given a "plainly cursory" examination.

He said: "The sheer pain Mr Sellappan had been suffering when entering was the pain of a fractured skull and the underlying brain injury.

"He was given a leaflet about head injuries. Because the hospital had run out of leaflets for adults, he was given a child's leaflet."

He continued: "The doctor simply told him just to go home and look after himself. He started to cry because he was obviously in pain and nothing was being done."

He said the next morning a friend found him unconscious in bed and took him to another hospital, where he died despite an operation. “

I wonder if you would reassure me by detailing the various steps you have taken or will be taking to prevent such a catastrophic failure from happening again?

Yours sincerely,

Illinois Cook

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

BBC communication

Sent: 03 April 2010 21:02:30

Dear Mr Cook,

Thank you for your comments regarding this line that we regularly use in our reports: “The settlements are considered illegal under international law, though Israel disputes this.”

On the most basic level, we use the word “disputed” because it is a simple statement of fact – Israel does actually dispute the contention of illegality. The Israeli government’s argument is outlined here

While the international is clear on the issue, this opinion comes from an interpretation of treaties and conventions. No court has actually sat and ruled definitively that Israeli settlements are illegal. The International Court of Justice ruling on the West Bank barrier would certainly support the contention that settlements are illegal and that the West Bank is occupied territory as defined by the Geneva convention, but this was an advisory ruling and does not carry the force or weight of law.

So we believe that is fair and reasonable to characterise the issue in the way we have.

The arguments around this issue are considered in detail in this report, commissioned by the BBC Governors:

Thanks and best regards,

Middle East desk
BBC News website

Thanks for your reply.

You first offer that you are simply stating a fact which prevails. In other stories, however, the BBC does not state that a different view is held.

Eg. in this story:

You do not state that armed reprisals are illegal under international law yet they are, or that Israel disputes it. Similarly the munitions used by the Israeli armed forces, torture in Israeli jails etc. You do not use that phrase or similar at the end of those stories, only in the settlement stories.

Using the phrase as you do seems to give the state of Israel an undue level of credibility for it's claim that that the settlements are legal. The international community is clear that they are not, and that the other policies / tactics mentioned above are not. The Israeli state website you offered me is mere propaganda by the guilty party, and in no way stands up to scrutiny. Of course it cannot stand up since it declares the illegal to be legal. Such theory is not therefore enough to justify including the statement "though Israel disputes this" at the end of your settlement stories.

'Revisionist historians' and fascist/Nazi sympathisers dispute that the Holocaust took place, and yet you would not feel it justifiable to indicate their views at the end of Holocaust-related materials, I'm sure.

You then contradict yourself by outlining the case that there is no such thing as international law.

You state that the relevant rulings are advisory and do not carry the force of law. If this is the case, why do you state that the settlements are "illegal under international law" in the first part of the phrase that I am objecting to? Clearly the international community is clear, the UN which has supreme responsibility is clear, and the BBC have quoted it after every settlement story I can remember, so the BBC is obviously also clear that international law exists and the settlements are illegal under it.

Finally the report commissioned by BBC governors which you imply is your guidance on the matter has been discussed by Arab Media Watch I note:

They are happy with Lubell's advice that the settlements be described as " illegal settlements ", and recommend that their illegal nature be stressed. The report is also very clear, in that it's last word on the settlements is:


The vast majority of opinion holds that the establishment of the settlements is indeed a

violation of the 4th Geneva Convention. This is the view expressed not only by leading

commentators (including Israelis), but also by other states (including allies of Israel), the UN

Security Council, and the International Court of Justice. The Security Council has clearly


“[…]that Israel's policy and practices of settling parts of its population and new

immigrants in those territories constitute a flagrant violation of the Fourth Geneva

Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War and also

constitute a serious obstruction to achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in

the Middle East”

There is no mention of any need to describe the way the state of Israel reacts to the claim that the settlements are illegal. Why then does the BBC insist on using this phrase / summing up technique in this circumstance? This one alone? When something is illegal it is criminal, and there is no reason to oppose the opinion of a tiny criminal minority against the judgement not merely of the injured party but of the vast majority of the rest of the world and the relevant bodies, ie the only bodies whose job it is to judge the matter.

I repeat my demand that the BBC stops saying: "though Israel disputes this" at the end of stories relating to the settlements. I would be very happy if the sentence merely read " The settlements are illegal under international law."

Yours sincerely,

Illinois Cook


No reply to my email below so far.

The BBC is still using the phrase:

"Jewish settlements in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, are illegal under international law, though Israel disputes this. "

eg. here:

I take it that since you are unable or unwilling to further defend its use, you are putting measures in place to ensure it will not be used from now on?

Yours sincerely,

Illinois Cook

Sent: 11 May 2010 10:16:00

Dear Mr Cook,

Thank you for your further email on the issue of the illegality of the settlements.

The reason we feel it is correct to say the “settlements are illegal” is, to quote Lubell’s advice, “the vast majority of opinion holds that the establishment of the settlements is indeed a violation of the 4th Geneva Convention”.

We are not judging the credibility of Israel’s argument, but recognising that there is an argument.

Clearly, you remain unsatisfied with our response, it is open to you to address your complaint to the BBC Editorial Complaints Unit: or Room 5170, White City, 201 Wood Lane, London W12 7TS.

Best regards,

Middle East Desk
BBC News website