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The BBC’s smearing of Shaun Bailey


This article originally appeared on Is the BBC Biased? and is republished by kind permission.

We have been noting the BBC’s treatment of Tory London Mayoral candidate Shaun Bailey since his selection.

Here, as an example of the BBC’s coverage, is a report on the BBC News website which is headlined in bold Tory London mayor candidate’s comments ‘Islamophobic’.

Although including a ‘defence’ of Bailey, it repeats the ‘grotesque’, ‘divisive’ and Islamophobia charges against him.

But as Pugnazious, a commenter on Biased BBC says, if you read the 2005 pamphlet to which the BBC report refers you find that Shaun Bailey wasn’t saying what either his critics are accusing him of saying or what the BBC have been reporting him as saying.

‘The comments in the pamphlet have been taken, twisted, misquoted and distorted in order to portray Bailey as some kind of racist and Islamophobe,’ Pugnazious wrote. ‘Needless to say his meaning and intent, obvious to any reader, is not to say any such things.’

Pugnazious is entirely correct about that. Bailey’s actual meaning and intent is very obvious.

This is what Shaun Bailey wrote:


Among the working class, unless you are one of those ‘Queen and

Country who support the football team’ sort of British people, you

are lost. You don’t know what to do. You bring your children to

school and they learn far more about Diwali than Christmas. I

speak to the people who are from Brent and they’ve been having

Muslim and Hindi days off. What it does is rob Britain of its

community. Without our community we slip into a crime riddled cess pool.

As Pugnazious continues:

‘As you can see he does not say Islam and Hinduism ‘robs Britain of its community’, what he is saying is not teaching those black youths their own Christian, western culture robs them of a sense of community, identity and unity which is needed for any successful society. He is not in any way blaming Muslims and Hindus for this, he is not criticising teaching ethnic cultures but criticising the lack of teaching of the British culture . . . as if we are ashamed of it . . . as the BBC is of course. Hence people don’t want to identify as ‘British’, or maybe cannot as they have no idea what being ‘British’ means . . . always told it is a bad thing to be British.’

So when the BBC captions its image of Shaun Bailey with the words In 2005, Shaun Bailey warned accommodating Muslim and Hindu cultures ‘robs Britain of its community’ and then repeats that claim in the report’s second paragraph, it is misreporting what he said.

It is also misreporting when it says that Bailey said that ‘accommodating Muslim and Hindu cultures . . . could lead the country into a “crime-riddled cesspool”‘ (literally joining the dots).

His opponents are trying to smear him and the BBC is simply parroting those smears as facts. That seems very clear to me.

Please read the BBC report for yourselves and then read the Multiculturalism section of the 2005 pamphlet and see if you agree that this is a particularly poor piece of BBC reporting.

It gets worse. As Pugnazious went on to write:

‘I first heard the story on WATO [BBC Radio 4’s World at One] and I was astonished at the sheer unpleasantness of a quite blatant attack on Bailey by the BBC which quoted a Labour MP calling Bailey the ‘token black ghetto boy’. Why would the BBC use that quote? It wasn’t needed, it’s irrelevant to the story . . . except for the BBC it isn’t because that is their whole narrative . . . Bailey is only a candidate because he is black, nothing to do with talent and ability. What an insult, a racist insult. This from the BBC that tell us how hideously white Britain is and how we must give preferential treatment to Bame people suddenly decides quotas are a bad thing . . . but of course Bailey isn’t there as part of a tick-box exercise . . . he’s there on merit and has been an assembly member since 2016.

The WATO presenter demanded, absolutely demanded, to know if Bailey ‘should be allowed to stay’ as candidate because of his ‘controversial’ comments which apparently ‘blamed Muslims and Hindus for creating crime’ . . . his words ‘will alienate people in the very diverse city of London’.

Bailey did not blame Muslims and Hindus and his words will not alienate the people of London because he didn’t say what the BBC says he said.’


If you listen to the programme, presenter Jonny Dymond does indeed say: ‘Mr Bailey, nicknamed “the Tories’ token ghetto boy” by a Labour MP back in 2010.’

Dymond also said that Bailey ‘waded into controversial waters . . . when he gets to multiculturalism’ before talking to a ‘disgusted’ ex-Tory female Muslim candidate, Shazia Awan-Scully, who left the party and has since accused it of ‘Islamophobia’. Jonny stirred the pot, and then talked to the Tories’ deputy party chairman, James Cleverly MP.

This was one of the worst interviews I’ve ever heard from a BBC presenter. Mr Cleverly patiently tried to set Dymond straight but, frankly, he’d have been far better off banging his head against the Great Wall of China. Jonny wasn’t for seeing it at all. It was stunningly blinkered interviewing. Look out in particular for Dymond apparently directly quoting Shaun Bailey but in fact grossly misquoting him:

Jonny Dymond: (interrupting) He said, ‘When community ended as a result of Hindu and Muslims being around . . .’

A transcript is needed, though it won’t capture Jonny Dymond’s aggressive tone. Read it and weep:

Jonny Dymond: Hello. You’re a friend of Shaun Bailey’s, aren’t you? In light of these comments that have emerged, do you stand by him being the best person to be London mayor?

James Cleverly: When you say ‘emerged’, it’s as if there’s some kind of mystery around this. It was a policy paper that was published, that was put in the public domain. I remember it came out and I remember reading elements of it when it came out 12 years ago and I’ve reminded myself of the sections that we’re talking about just recently. So these were things that Shaun, who at the time was a youth worker dealing with young people who have been involved in criminal behaviour, often violent criminal behaviour, every single day of the week, and what he was expressing was the fact that a lot of people have found themselves in situations where they don’t have the community anchor, they don’t have a sense of community, they don’t feel they have a place where they belong, and that drives criminal behaviour. This is absolutely mainstream thinking now. What Shaun did wrong was he could and should have been better at explaining that he wasn’t blaming anyone. It was just an observation that when you have communities that are . . . when you have people that don’t feel a sense of community they are more likely to drift into crime.

Jonny Dymond: To end up as ‘a cesspit of crime’.

James Cleverly: Well, the point he said is that when people don’t have a sense of community . . .

Jonny Dymond: (interrupting) He said, ‘When community ended as a result of Hindu and Muslims being around . . .’

James Cleverly: No. No.

Jonny Dymond: (crosstalk) I mean, that, no, that is, that is . . . he said, he said . . .

James Cleverly: (crosstalk) No, that’s not, that’s not, sorry . . .

Jonny Dymond: (crosstalk) . . . he said, ‘People are going to school . . .’

James Cleverly: (crosstalk) That is not correct. Sorry.

Jonny Dymond: ‘. . . and learning more about Diwali than they are about Christmas’ and when . . . and then he followed on immediately and said ‘When communities disappear. Without community you end up with a cesspit of crime.’ He connected the two.

James Cleverly: No, you’re connecting the two . . .

Jonny Dymond: (interrupting) It’s in the same paragraph, sir.

James Cleverly: He made the point . . . He made the point that when you have young people – he was dealing predominantly with black boys of Christian heritage in West London – and when they weren’t themselves feeling part of a community, when they were learning about things that they personally had no ethnic or religious connection but not about their own ethnicity or their own religion or their own society, they were left without a community. And it was that lack of community that was a driver. He absolutely was not blaming other ethnicities or religions. In fact, quite the opposite . . .

Jonny Dymond: (interrupting) He did name them. He did name Hindus and Muslims under the title ‘Multiculturalism’. It looked pretty blunt when I read it. Of course it’s online and our audience are freely available to go and look at it online as well.

James Cleverly: I have to say I admire . . . Your interpretation it is the opposite of what he was saying. He was saying that what the boys he was working with were not learning about was their own tradition, their own community, their own society, and that vacuum was what was driving them to criminality. He was absolutely not linking the two. Now he would concede, I’m quite sure, that he should and could have been much clearer at separating the two elements but he was absolutely not suggesting the fault of any community. In fact it was a lack of community he was saying which was driving boys towards criminality. And that as I say is mainstream thinking . . .

Jonny Dymond: (interrupting) OK, he also said, he also said ‘We’ve now got a nation of people who wouldn’t do anything for the country. They wouldn’t fight for their country. Why would they? Their nation has done nothing for them, as far as they’re concerned. They are not aware that it has clothed, educated and housed them.’ No one doubts his vantage point and I think very few people would quibble with his astonishing story as well – a very tough life. He has succeeded where many others haven’t or couldn’t. But these words will alienate people rather than bring them onside in a very diverse city that he aims to lead for the Conservatives.

James Cleverly: No. But again you’re making an assumption that my reading of that, and in the context of what he wrote, was that if society doesn’t show young people that they are part of the team, that society is doing something for them, it shouldn’t be a surprise if they feel less affinity towards society as a whole, and that’s why they often feel more affinity with criminal gangs. And Shaun worked on making sure these boys in West London didn’t get involved in criminal gangs. And the point he was making is if the criminal gangs provide a sense of community, that sense of family, that sense of belonging and the country doesn’t, then it’s unsurprising that the cohort of young boys that he was dealing with on a day-to-day basis have more affinity to those criminal gangs than they have to the country that housed them, clothed them and protected them.

Jonny Dymond: Very, very briefly, Mr Cleverly. You stand by your candidate? He will lead the Conservatives into the mayoral election?

James Cleverly: Absolutely. You’ve gone through his history. I thought it was absolutely ridiculous to suggest that he was selected on anything other than quality. This guy is the living embodiment of the opportunities that London provides. He’s got a fantastic track record and he will be our candidate.

Jonny Dymond: James Cleverly, thank you very much for your time this afternoon.

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Craig Byers
Craig Byers
Craig Byers is a blogger about the BBC, focusing on the issue of BBC bias while living in Britain's finest traditional seaside resort: Morecambe (the one with the Eric Morecambe statue).

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