Although an article from on the BBC website tells us that Jo Phillips was “once head of media in former Liberal Democrat leader Paddy Ashdown's office” and although elsewhere on the web she's described as a former parliamentary candidate, Ms Phillips's partisan background was not revealed by Willcox. That omission is despite the fact that in November last year the BBC’s Editorial Complaints Unit (ECU) reiterated the necessity of upholding BBC editorial guidelines on impartiality:
“We should not automatically assume that contributors from other organisations (such as academics, journalists, researchers and representatives of charities) are unbiased and we may need to make it clear to the audience when contributors are associated with a particular viewpoint, if it is not apparent from their contribution or from the context in which their contribution is made.”With specific regard to BBC News, the ECU stated:
“The production team have been reminded of the importance of clearly summarising the standpoint of any interviewee where it is relevant and not immediately clear from their position or the title of their organisation.”Willcox ignored this guideline.
.During the broadcast on Sunday, much attention was given to The Independent's front-page report headlined "Labour funding crisis: Jewish donors drop 'toxic' Ed Miliband". That report asserts, inter alia:
'The Labour party is facing desertion by Jewish donors and supporters because of Ed Mili-band's "toxic" anti-Israeli stance over Gaza and Palestine. In a fresh headache for the Labour leader, it is understood that Mr Miliband has been warned that Jewish backers are deserting the party in droves over what community leaders perceive to be a new, aggressive pro-Palestine policy at the expense of Israeli interests....
A senior Labour MP warned that Mr Miliband now had a "huge if not insurmountable challenge" to maintain support from parts of the Jewish community that had both backed and helped fund Tony Blair and Gordon Brown's election campaigns.'At the same time, a former cabinet minister privately admitted that Labour's fundraising efforts were in disarray. The former minister said the party would struggle to raise anywhere near the £19m a party is entitled to spend under electoral law in the run-up to next May's poll. "We will have to pass the begging bowl round to the unions," they said. "That would send a bad signal. In return, they [the unions] would demand to call the shots on policy."
Donations from the Jewish community have been worth hundreds of thousands of pounds a year to the Labour Party. Several previous donors told The Independent on Sunday that they and others are now very unlikely to support the party. They spoke on condition of anonymity."There aren't that many donors to the Labour Party these days, and certainly not the same number of Jewish donors. There is a lot of worry," said one. "I have been a Labour supporter all my life and I would like to see a Labour government, but, on the other hand, I'm not entirely sure I want to see Ed Miliband in Downing Street or Douglas Alexander in the Foreign Office." .... Another previous donor said they had been asked by the party to arrange a fundraising dinner for Jewish Labour supporters but had found no takers....
Prominent Jewish supporters say problems started in the summer with Mr Miliband's aggressive condemnation of Israel's ground incursion into Gaza last August, which he described as "wrong and unjustifiable".... This was followed by a decision to whip a vote calling on the Government to unilaterally recognise Palestine – against long-standing British and Labour policy that recognition should only be part of a negotiated two-state settlement. That decision was opposed by a number of senior Labour MPs – including at least two shadow cabinet ministers – who warned it would haemorrhage Jewish support...'As we saw here, and as mentioned in passing by the newspaper, one previous Labor supporter who has been incensed by Miliband's stance over Gaza is the actress Maureen Lipman.
In reviewing this report, Jo Phillips, and newsreader Willcox, used the phrase "the Jewish lobby" (which was nowhere used in the report).
Averred Jo Phillips:
“You’re not supposed, apparently, to say anything anti-Israeli, um, and if you attack Israeli political, um, policies or the government policies, then you know, this is what you get. Um, you know it seems to me that it is totally hypocritical that on the one hand they are now going to have to look perhaps to the unions to get some funding, but will be accused of being in the unions’ pockets, and when he’s being brave and principled and standing up and saying, you know, ‘this time Israel has gone too far’ um, people take their money away, so he can’t win, can he?”And to make matters worse Willcox, citing Maureen Lipman as an example, gratuitously suggested that “a lot of these prominent Jewish faces will be very much against the Mansion Tax” (which is a proposal raised by Labour and the Liberal Democrats to impose an annual tax on houses with a high market value).
As one shocked viewer has observed:
• The idea that a wealthy Jewish lobby seeks to use money to manipulate political policy is a centuries-old antisemitic trope. The BBC’s unchallenged promotion of this slur is shocking and causes many Jews to feel threatened and persecuted by the broadcaster.
• The BBC claimed that the “Jewish lobby” is thwarting a "principled" foreign policy position. There is no factual basis for this accusation.
• With no evidence at all the BBC claimed that wealthy Jews are challenging taxation proposals to hang onto their “mansions”.Want to protest to Al Beeb?
Complain here at http://www.bbc.co.uk/complaints/complain-online/
You can also contact (enquiriesATcultureDOTgsiDOTgovDOTuk)the Culture Secretary, Sajid Javid, requesting him to denounce thesegment.