The BBC has been quick to publish a favourable write-up of a recent think tank report from the Progressive Economy Forum. The report was presented as a neutral analysis, with the authors presented simply as a “group of economists”. A little digging shows they are not simply economists, they’re also ardent lefties…
Their observations, quoted by the BBC without challenge, include “a consensus among economists” that austerity is damaging, “as the experience of the last decade in Britain has shown” – and that government policy is based on “very shaky foundations”. It doesn’t take a genius to work out which side of the tax-spend debate they sit on…
The Progressive Economy Forum website shows their council members, including the likes of Faiza Shaheen, James Meadway and Danny Dorling, who wouldn’t be out of place at a Momentum rally. As for the authors quoted directly in the article, Rob Calvert Jump publicly endorsed Corbyn’s 2017 election manifesto, whilst Jo Churchill has a history of pro-Corbyn tweets.
As co-conspirators know, Guido welcomes the BBC providing a platform for all viewpoints. However, presenting activists as objective, impartial authorities is hardly in keeping with the BBC charter. The Corporation would never treat the IEA like that.
UPDATE: The BBC has updated the article to reflect the political persuasions of the report and has also included a right-of-centre perspective. The new version also has the welcome addition of the phrase “experts disputed the findings”. For posterity, co-conspirators can view the old version here. That wasn’t so hard, was it?
Grace Blakeley and Faiza Shaheen waged an ideological class war last night on Twitter, after Blakeley declared that class has nothing to do with your family, education, or background and is instead ‘a social relationship rooted in production‘. A bold take from the privately-educated, ex-management consultant turned Marxist influencer…
Things escalated pretty quickly once Shaheen caught wind of Blakeley’s take.
What does one even say? Thank her for ignoring all the lived experience of working class people?! 😡 https://t.co/crkwvXTXYa— Faiza Shaheen (@faizashaheen) May 11, 2021
Women’s Hour’s Emma Barnett is being hounded by an “Inequality Lead” for asking the first woman to be elected Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain about the prospects for female imams. The other Abrahamic faiths have women spiritual leaders, there are female Christian priests and female Jewish rabbis, Women’s Hour legitimately asked how many female imams there are in Britain? Attacks fell on the questioner, rather than the interviewee who dodged the question…
Formerly of the CLASS think tank, unsuccessful Parliamentary candidate Faiza Shaheen is now the “Inequality Lead” at New York University’s Center on International Cooperation. She spent yesterday afternoon hounding Barnett for asking a question about gender equality, declaring:
“I’m so angry this. Pure ignorance from the presenter. And why have you clipped it? Trying to cater for the Islamophobic Twitter crowd?! Click bait for a culture war you support? You should be ashamed.”
Shaheen went on to add:
“Please, can everyone write a complaint? I just did it, super quick.”
Apparently “inequality lead” means ‘leading defences of inequality’…
Faiza Shaheen, the think tank director, TV pundit, and perpetual Labour Party candidate is still busy campaigning in Chingford and Woodford Green, despite failing to take the seat from Iain Duncan Smith in last year’s election. Has no one told her the election ended five months ago? Her website makes it clear that she is still determined to “Win Chingford & Woodford Green for Labour.”
On her social media last week, Shaheen claimed that Whipps Cross hospital near the Chingford constituency has had to “close wards and divert ambulances because so many nurses and doctors off sick”. She pivoted from her claim to an attack on Matt Hancock over PPE. Sounds worrying…
The reality, however, doesn’t match her campaign hype – Whipps Cross hospital felt the need to release a statement clarifying the misleading claims.
“We can confirm that part of our strategy for managing the pandemic peak is to concentrate more acutely unwell patients at the Royal London and St Bartholomew’s hospitals where we have the greatest critical care capacity. London Ambulance Service has also temporarily agreed to take patients from some parts of our catchment directly to The Royal London, rather than Newham or Whipps Cross, ensuring all parts of our system can cope. We are reviewing this model regularly.
After its official opening, our new hospital, NHS Nightingale Hospital London is continuing to increase capacity, and patients will be admitted as appropriate to receive further intensive care treatment for COVID-19. Whipps Cross hospital has closed a number of wards and redeployed staff to areas of greatest need. This has been possible due to there being a reduction in demand across our services, as mirrored nationally. We have had an increased number of staff absences as a result of COVID-19 but because of the measures we have taken we are managing well and in fact are now seeing our staff absences improve each day.”
Some patients are heading to other hospitals, not for PPE-induced staffing reasons but to match with critical care capacity. Why does Faiza think NHS Nightingale was constructed?
How could Dr Shaheen have been so misinformed about how her local hospital is running? Could it be something to do with the reality that she is not, as TV viewers may be mislead into thinking, a medical doctor? Dr Shaheen has a PhD in ‘the Geography of Poverty between 1971 and 2001’.
After a week of the media continually failing to highlight guest experts’ party affiliations, this morning started off the same, with Sky News failing to inform viewers that Faiza Shaheen was the Labour Party’s Chingford candidate a few months ago. For the first time during the outbreak, an exasperated CCHQ vented their frustration on Twitter, asking Sky why there was no mention of her political CV.
Adam Boulton waded in with his usual tweeted rebuttal, shortly before Sky News ‘corrected‘ their editorial decision
She was on with Iain Dale previously a Conservative Candidate and Tory staffer. We didn't make a point of that either. We are talking about Now. https://t.co/e54CBtomiR— Adam Boulton (@adamboultonSKY) April 20, 2020
It wasn’t long before the two guests themselves waded in, with Faiza arguing Iain Dale’s previous Tory-affiliations weren’t mentioned, and Dale parrying with the fact he stepped away from political activism 10 years ago and has voted for other parties since.
As ever, we’ll leave it up to Guido readers to decide who won this one…
The BBC took film crews into the Taxpayers’ Alliance and Institute of Economic Affairs for a Politics Live feature today, ostensibly to help viewers “make their own judgements” about whether them making their donors public is “relevant” to their ability to take part in public debate. It quickly became clear that the BBC was more interested in portraying them as pantomime villains than letting viewers “make their own minds up”…
As the IEA’s Mark Littlewood pointed out, think tanks are far from the only organisations and institutions which frequently intervene in public debate yet do not publicly divulge their donors. Most of them in fact do so with far more clout – from Oxfam and Greenpeace to the CBI and the Corbynite Archbishop of Canterbury…
Greenpeace UK operates on a vast £21 million annual budget, the CBI on £24.5 million and Oxfam UK on a truly gargantuan £427 million, yet none of them provide fully detailed information about where their funding comes from, despite all of them having a huge influence on public debate. The IEA operates on a budget of just over £2 million and provides a clear breakdown of its income sources, even though it does not publish individual donors’ names.
This is not a case of “whataboutery”, it is a fundamental point about free speech and a balanced public debate in civil society. Attacking someone on the basis of who funds them rather than on the strength of their arguments is one of the most basic forms of ad hominem attack. Tellingly, these attacks are almost entirely one-way politically. They are almost exclusively led by the assorted cranks of the authoritarian left who are targeting those on the right as part of their broader war of attrition to purge public debate of dissenting views.
These attacks will not stop if think tanks reveal their funding. Their donors will hounded and subjected to the same sort of rabid abuse that think tanks’ staff members, particularly female ones like Chloe Westley and Kate Andrews, receive on a daily basis online, until they cave into the intimidation and withdraw their support. And Jo Coburn and other presenters will keep asking them questions on an ad hominem basis rather than engaging with the substance of their research. If a think tank has genuinely distorted their research due to outside influences, that will be evident from the flaws in the substance of the work they publish.
Faiza Shaheen, alongside Littlewood, claimed that her think tank, CLASS, was entirely transparent about its own funding arrangements. It is not. It lists its total income, as the IEA does, but it only names donors who have given over £1000, and even then it does not divulge how much each has donated. Every single named donor except one is a Trade Union.
When was the last time a single presenter challenged the integrity of Shaheen’s arguments on the basis that she is almost entirely funded by Trades Unions? When was the last time Jo Coburn herself was challenged over the fact that her career is dependent on the specific Government policy of extorting money out of taxpayers to pay her salary? They haven’t, as always it’s one rule for the right and another rule for everyone else…
UPDATE: James O’Brien has gone even further, openly admitting his entirely partisan motives in a recent interview.