What is it with the BBC and the far-right? The over-generous platforming of Nigel “Thirsty” Farage and his current political vehicle, awarding interviews to Stephen Yaxley Lennon, who styles himself Tommy Robinson, talking up Vox in Spain, inviting someone from neo-Nazi group Generation Identity on Newsnight in the wake of the Christchurch shooting, and now free publicity for someone from Turning Point UK.
That free publicity was a place at the top of the front page of the BBC website early this morning for a puff piece titled “Party girls can do politics”, which featured one Emily Hewertson. As the blurb told, “The young politicians of tomorrow are growing up with social media today - so should they be filtering what they post to suit their political futures?”
Is there more? Dare one look? Er, there is more. “Emily Hewertson doesn't think so. She's 19, and like many girls her age she likes clubbing and Instagram - but she's also an aspiring politician. She went viral after appearing in the audience of a BBC Question Time election special where many viewers were quick to point out that she doesn't look like your ‘typical politician’”. They missed that she was part of Turning Point UK.
Fortunately, Chloe Westley of the so-called Taxpayers’ Alliance, which like TPUK would rather not tell where the money is coming from, made the connection. And though Ms Hewertson’s puff piece won’t tell you this, TPUK is the British offshoot of a US original which has been linked to white supremacists, accused of racism, accused of McCarthyite behaviour in compiling its “Professor Watchlist”, and often denied campus recognition.
So when Peter Geoghegan of Open Democracy upbraided the Beeb, observing “So BBC has run a three minute puff video about ‘party girl does politics’. At no stage does mention that said party girl is in Turning Point, directly connected into dark money, and uses Sputnik clippings to illustrate. This is *so* poor”, he has good reason to be concerned.
That led Ms Hewertson to snap back “It’s just not that deep Peter … p.s it’s the most watched video on the BBC app today”, and Ms Westley to go straight for the smear by sneering “haha welcome to my world Emily! Lots of stalkers with conspiracy theories”. That’s the same Chloe Westley who accuses “the left” of playing dirty, suggesting someone who criticises the BBC is a “stalker”. No comment.
Remember folks, it's the Rotten Lefties™ who play dirty
The problem for the BBC, though, is that once more they have given free publicity to the far-right, and that TPUK is associated by name with a US parent which has a grim reputation for bigotry and intolerance. TPUK has itself been the subject of ridicule after it was revealed that its founder was, how shall I put this, a fruitcake. More worryingly, it has links to the now moribund Young Britons’ Foundation of Tory Bullying infamy.
Yet the Beeb passes off one of the group’s adherents as a mere “Conservative”. After all, she’s been in the audience on Question Time, you know. So that’s all right, then.
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