A former news editor for The Times has accused the paper of anti-UK Independence Party (UKIP) and pro-Cameron bias, in breach of promises made by Times owner Rupert Murdoch to keep the paper politically impartial. It follows recent allegations that Mr Murdoch is using Fox News, which he also owns, to push an open borders agenda in America.
Following an informal survey of The Times‘s output over the last two years, Peter Evans, a former journalist with 30 year’s experience on The Times has concluded that the paper shows a clear bias against Eurosceptic insurgent party UKIP, in favour of the Conservative Party and its current leader. Mr Evans says he has no political affiliation.
Writing in the Press Gazette he has offered a number of pieces in evidence, including:
- Hugo Rifkind, son of a former Conservative cabinet minister, and regular columnist who said of UKIP on 14 December, 2014: “I am starting to worry less about it being evil and more about it just being…..rubbish. Hapless.”
- Former Conservative Member of Parliament and Times columnist Matthew Parris, who said of UKIP on 4 October, 2014: “Their party and its pitch are mad, bad and dangerous”. He urged readers to “Say so.” A headline, not in quotes or attributed, stated: “Nigel’s [Farage, UKIP’s leader] fruit cakes are back in their tin”.
- Rachel Sylvester, who wrote on 21 May, 2014: “Nigel Farage….is rarely photographed without a pint in his hand and can hardly open his mouth without making a gaffe. This former public schoolboy, who rails against the Westminster elite, is guilty of extraordinary hypocrisy as he seeks to exploit the MPs’ expenses scandal while draining bottles of Château Margaux in Michelin starred restaurants at taxpayers’ expense. Yet this weekend UKIP swept to victory in the European poll.” According to Evans, “She gives no times and places where he drank as she alleges, and produces no evidence that it was at taxpayers’ expense.”
- Sathnam Sanghera, who interviewed UKIP MEP Amjad Bashir on 27 September, 2014. Mr Bashir, the son of a mill worker, moved to Yorkshire at the age of eight “unable to speak a word of English,” but went on the gain a place at a grammar school and then university. Sanghera says Bashir’s “telling mispronunciations”, “contorted Anglo-Asian syntax”, “and an inability to pronounce the letter ‘v’, feels, frankly, quite comical”.
Furthermore, following a Christmas party hosted by Mr Murdoch in December 2015 which both Mr Cameron and Chancellor George Osbourne attended, two pieces appeared in The Times bolstering Mr Cameron’s position as leader of the Conservatives.
At the time Mr Cameron was facing a revolt over the coming Brexit referendum, with cabinet ministers letting it be known that they could resign if ordered to not to campaign in favour of Britain leaving the European Union. As a result, there were suggestions that his position as leader was in some doubt.
Yet on December 31 2015, Anthony Seldon wrote in a column: “David Cameron heads into the new year with an optimism about his place in history he would never in his wildest dreams have imagined before the May general election.”
The following day, The Times ran a story saying that the majority of voters wanted to see Mr Cameron remain as Prime Minister until 2020. According to Evans, “The headline called the wish a ‘demand’.
“Later the story says: ‘A State of the Nation YouGov poll for The Times indicates today that 55 per cent of Tory voters want him to delay his departure until just before the 2020 election at the earliest.’
“It thus turned out to be the majority opinion of only Tory voters, not a demand by “voters” in general.”
Both the anti-UKIP and the pro-Tory pieces raise serious questions over whether Mr Murdoch has broken a promise made in 1981 to avoid referral to the Monopolies Commission. In a statement incorporated into the Articles of Association, lodged with the Trade Secretary, he undertook “to observe the following principles relating to editorial integrity:
““The Times and The Sunday Times are free from party political bias and from attachment to any sectional interest. They will be subject to no restraint or inhibition either in expressing opinion or in reporting news that might directly or indirectly conflict with the commercial interests or political concerns of the proprietor. The Times is reckoned to be a newspaper of record.””
The articles cited above are not the only items of evidence submitted by Mr Evans. He also points to the appointment of a number Tory insiders to the paper’s staff by Mr Murdoch. Those appointments include Tim Montgomerie, who made his name with the Conservative Home website and was in 2012 said to be “one of the most influential Tories outside the cabinet”; Tory peer and former director of the Conservative Research Department Daniel Finkelstein, who is also a close friend of both Mr Cameron and Mr Osborne; and Alice Thompson, friend of Mr Cameron and wife of Tory insider Edward Heathcoat-Amory; as well as the aforementioned Messrs Paris and Rifkind.
Mr Evans muses on the cause of Mr Murdoch’s Tory leanings, writing: “Post Leveson [an inquiry into the ethics of the British press], with forthcoming state inspired regulation of complaints against the press and a threat to Freedom of Information provisions, Murdoch needed Cameron as much as Cameron needed timely support.
“Murdoch saved The Times. But for what purpose and at what cost?”
An answer may lie across the Atlantic with Murdoch’s Fox News outlet. Last week Breitbart News detailed how Australian-born Mr Murdoch is pushing a globalist ‘open borders’ agenda by championing Republican candidate Marco Rubio while simultanously attacking the candidacy of Donald Trump.
UKIP swept the board at the 2014 European elections on a platform of controlled immigration and Euroscepticism. The party went on to gain 4 million votes in 2015’s general election, and looked during the race to the ballot box to be in a position to deny the Conservatives the overall majority which they so craved. Mr Cameron, on the other hand, has all but vowed to keep Britain within the European Union and has looked on as immigration figures reach record highs.
Similarly in America, Mr Trump has raced to the top of the polls with his rhetoric on tightened border controls – he famously wants to build a wall along the border with Mexico to deter illegal immigration from that country, and has called for a moratorium on Muslim migration until the threat to America posed by Islamic terrorism is better understood.
.@FoxNews is the only network that does not even mention my very successful event last night. $6,000,000 raised in one hour for our VETS.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 30, 2016
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 30, 2016
Mr Rubio, on the other hand, championed a comprehensive immigration bill in 2013 which, had it passed, would have constituted one of the biggest open border pushes in American history, granting amnesty and eventual citizenship to millions of illegal migrants. In addition, the bill sought to double the number of foreign workers entering the country, and to grant 33 million green cards in a decade despite record immigration levels.
Not one of Fox News’s anchors have quizzed Mr Rubio on the bill, despite two thirds of Americans (of all political stripes) wanting to see a reduction in the number of visa being handed out. Among Republican voters the sentiment is even stronger – 9 in 10 Republican voters oppose the immigration measures set out in Rubio’s bill.
When asked why Fox News was giving Rubio an easy ride on immigration, Senator Jeff Sessions said: “I think their owners, their corporate gurus that dominate the network and stations, are internationalists. They’re globalists and they’ve bought into this. They just have.”