The Liberal Democrats have made an official complaint over the content of UKIP’s party political broadcast for inciting racial and religious hatred.
The presentation and tone of the broadcast is focused on provoking negative and hostile reactions.
The broadcast clearly uses images, music and misleading information to inflame racial tension - a direct breach of BBC and Ofcom rules.
It has been deliberately constructed to be offensive while using an array of questionable and in some cases entirely misleading assertions, and is a misrepresentation of Turkey and the Turkish people.
The broadcast is offensive and set on pitching community against community.
Turkey has only met 13 of the 35 requirements known as negotiation chapters so it clearly has a long way to go before ascending to full European Union membership. The European Union is a crucial vehicle in improving civil liberties, human rights and the role of women in societies and countries that wish to apply to join have to uphold these values.
Leader of the Liberal Democrats Tim Farron said:
“This Donald Trump style scaremongering has no place in British politics.
“Wherever you stand on the European campaign, inciting hatred, by getting down in the gutter in a desperate grab for votes debases politics. The politics of division is something millions of liberally minded people despise and I will keep doing all I can to make a case for inclusion and tolerance.
“This broadcast was not just incredulous, it’s dangerous.”
Lib Dems Equalities Spokesperson Baroness Meral Hussein-Ece and the only British parliamentarian of Turkish descent said:
“This is stomach turning, dog-whistle politics demonising an entire country and all its people. The large Turkish community in the UK has made an enormous economic and social contribution over many decades. They play a vital and vibrant role in our society and shouldn’t be subject to Nigel Farage’s nasty politics.”
The full text of the complaint letter:
We are writing to make a formal complaint about the content of the Party Political Broadcast of the UK Independence Party broadcast on 3rd February 2016.
The presentation and tone of the piece is focused on provoking on negative, hostile reaction towards Turkey and the people living there, as well as Turkish people in the UK and elsewhere. It has been deliberately constructed to be offensive and breaches the code in that it “incites racial or religious hatred”, whilst using an array of questionable and in some cases entirely misleading assertions to advance this ‘case’.
The piece is offensive and set on pitching community against community.
Further to this, in relation to the guidelines for the production of party broadcasts the broadcast is not clearly labelled to avoid confusion between it and a documentary, or news piece.
The guidelines state:
“Broadcasts that closely mimic or parody the format of established programmes on any channel, particularly news programmes, should be clearly labelled to avoid any confusion or run the risk of misleading the audience.”
The broadcast adopts a documentary style from the outset, with the use of newspaper clippings, a presenter addressing the camera in a style closely associated with news reports, or documentary programmes and presentational deploys devices like graphs (albeit unsourced) which are in keeping with the format of many new programmes and documentary styles.
In one scene the presenter states:
“Last year 9 journalists were sent to prison in Turkey. On a list of press freedoms Turkey ranks 149th out of 180 countries, it might explain why I felt more comfortable filming this back here in the UK”
This is a clear attempt to portray the presenter as a journalist, who a viewer would reasonably believe to be impartial on a genuine news programme on the BBC or ITV.
The style adopted and lack of onscreen reference is in clear breach of this guideline.
This in itself is grounds for complaint, but we are especially concerned by the misleading claims made in the broadcast. This is in breach of section 2.2 of the Ofcom broadcasting code which states
2.2 Factual programmes or items or portrayals of factual matters must not materially mislead the audience.
In some instances it could be argued that a party political broadcast does not necessarily constitute a ‘factual programme’ however the nature of this broadcast, in its style and its presenting of claims as factually based constitutes a portrayal of a factual matter and misleads the audience in a number of places, specifically:
Turkey could have the maximum amount of seats – 96. UK only gets 73
Since 2014, in accordance with the Lisbon Treaty, there is a maximum of 750 seats in the European Parliament, so Turkey joining would not receive 96- it would be less than that (and others would lose some too). Turkey’s population share as it currently stands would represent 17% and the UK, France and German’s population share would still represent 42%. Our population is set to rise, and that would be reflected in our number of seats.
Potentially 15m migrants could leave for the EU in the first 10 years of EU membership
This is presented as a projection and is not credible, a 2011 Home Affairs Select Committee reported that:
“The MPs' report says that the available forecasts for the likely flow of Turkish nationals to other European countries should it join the EU range from 500,000 to 4.4 million up until 2030. One estimate by Oxford University suggests that the figure could be as low as 60,000 to 70,000 a year to Europe as a whole.”
More than ¼ of Turkish women married before 18
This statement is unfounded. The Girls Not Brides organisation estimates that 14% of girls married before the age of 18 in Turkey, this percentage clearly does not represent one quarter.
The Girls Not Brides organisation does caveat this with the fact that “statistical data available may not be representative of the scale of the issue since most child marriages are unregistered and take place as unofficial religious marriages.”
Turkish women are ten times more likely to suffer physical abuse or violence than in Europe (UN Report 2011)
A UN Women report Progress of the World’s Women: In Pursuit of Justice published in 2011 said that 39% of women in Turkey have suffered from physical violence, at some time.
This report looked at violence against women, specifically into the prevalence of intimate partner violence. The report shows the prevalence of violence against women in the UK was 19%, 35% in the Czech Republic and an average across Europe as being between 5-35%. The suggestion therefore that Turkey’s prevalence of violence against women is 10 times that of the UK is therefore misleading and incorrect.
Turkey average salary £429 per month, UK is £2,200
Although this figure is accurate, it is misleading as there are 8 other EU member states which currently have lower average salaries than Turkey. Furthermore, Turkey has the 17th largest economy in the world, its GDP has grown year on year, and it is a member of the G20.
The risks of staying in the EU: No1 Turkey joins in 2020?
In order to become a full member of the European Union, all countries must meet a number conditions, known as negotiation chapters. To date Turkey has only passed 13 of the 35 negotiation chapters which include a wide range of areas including human rights and socio-economic data. The adoption of further chapters would have an impact on a number of areas referenced in the broadcast ahead of any possible future ascension, and it is not likely that Turkey is about to join the EU.
The European Union is a crucial vehicle in improving civil liberties, human rights and the role of women in societies and countries that wish to apply to join have to uphold these values.
Ahead of a European Referendum where passions on both sides of the debate will be intense, it is our hope that this offensive and negative broadcast is not a taste of things to come.
The campaign should be characterised by an exchange of ideas and cases that are grounded in fact, and stated clearly so the British people can make up their minds. It should not become an excuse for the introduction of US-Style ‘attack ads’ or seek to inflame divisions and hatred against communities.
The lack of sources referenced in the broadcast makes comprehensively fact checking the piece difficult, but there are clearly a number of areas in which it is misleading.
Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Energy and Climate Change Lynne Featherstone has tabled a fatal motion in the House of Lords against the Government cuts to Feed-in Tariffs.
The staggering 65 per cent cuts to Feed-in Tariffs will be debated today (2nd February). These plans will shrink the currently thriving solar industry by over half its size and put 19,000 jobs at risk, according to the Government’s own predictions.
It also throws into jeopardy the Government’s ability to meet climate change targets, despite coming so soon after the global agreement in Paris where Britain took a leading role.
Liberal Democrats have called on Labour to work together to defeat the Government on this issue.
Energy and Climate Change spokesperson Lynne Featherstone said:
“This is short sighted and flies in the face of the Paris Agreement, which the Government was so keen to claim credit for.
“Britain has the opportunity to be the world leader in green technology and become the workshop of the world for this growing market.
"But instead, the Conservatives are risking jobs as well as our planet in order to appease the prejudices held by some on their backbenches who simply have no interest in supporting renewable industry.
“This is a sector which is expected to attract trillions in global sales in the next two decades. Failing to invest at this critical time in its development is quite simply economic stupidity.”
Liberal Democrats are rallying to stop plans aimed at penalising up to one million single parents who move in with a new partner.
The party has said changes to Universal Credit - dubbed the ‘Love Tax’ - could affect up to a million low income working single parents.
It comes weeks after the Conservative government was dashed in its attempts to cut tax credits for families.
The IFS has said latest planned cuts would mean a single parent could be lose out by around £1,000 a year.
Liberal Democrats in the House of Lords have launched a bid, due be debated on Wednesday, to scrap the cuts to Universal Credit.
Tim Farron said:
“The Conservatives claim they want to support two parent families, yet their pillaging of Universal Credit will mean that people single parents who find a new partner will actually be penalised.
“It is tantamount to a Love Tax. Imagine being a single parent, working on a low income, then finally finding happiness with someone and realising you’re going to lose over £1,000-a-year as a result.
“We stopped the original attack on tax credits and we will stop this. The Government should not use this as an excuse to cut their support.
“That is why they must rethink these brutal cuts to Universal Credit.”
There has been a dramatic rise in serious incidents in mental health trusts across England, including thousands of unexpected deaths and suicides, Liberal Democrats can reveal.
The Liberal Democrats have uncovered figures which show more than 8,000 incidents were reported last year.
The figures from NHS England were unearthed after an FOI request from the Liberal Democrat Health spokesperson Norman Lamb, and cover serious incidents reported between 2012-2013 and 2014-2015.
Health spokesperson Norman Lamb said:
"The Clinical Commissioning groups should be equally focussed on mental health as well as physical health.
“At the moment whenever they feel under pressure to cut budgets, it’s the unprotected mental health services that get sliced.
“Year after year the problem occurs, and year after year the problem gets worse.
“This cannot continue any longer. People are literally dying as a result of the horrific under funding. People are losing their lives as a consequence of the institutional discrimination of mental health.
“The way that funding gets allocated to mental health always means that it loses out.”
The Liberal Democrats have committed to holding the Government to account over the promises David Cameron made in the debate over airstrikes in Syria. The Liberal Democrats believe that the UK’s relationship with Saudi Arabia continues to be a key concern.
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is the antithesis of a liberal state. Despite nods to opening up the democratic process in the recent years, the reality is that this is still a country where nearly all freedoms are restricted.
The involvement of Saudi Arabia is critical to the success of the Syrian Peace Process. Saudi Arabia carries a huge amount of influence in the region. It is considered a spiritual leader by many Sunnis and has the resources and convening power to bring together disparate groups as well the means by which to help squeeze supply lines to ISIL and other militant groups.
Saudi Arabia also has its own agenda, and is committed to maintaining its own regional power while diminishing the power of the Iranian State and Shia Muslims. This is most visible in the Sunni/Shia cold war playing out in Yemen at severe humanitarian cost.
The UK government has a responsibility to engage with Saudi Arabia as a key regional state, but it is important that this engagement does not become complicit acceptance of all that Saudi Arabia does, either internally or externally.
We believe there are a number of areas where the UK government’s interaction with Saudi Arabia is hypocritical, illiberal and ultimately endangers any chance of long term stability in the Middle East. Liberal Democrat Parliamentarians will be putting pressure on the UK government in the following areas:
- Arms Trade. There is considerable evidence that British-supplied weapons are being used in Yemen to specifically target civilians and to destroy Yemeni cities. This is a breach international humanitarian law, and we are calling for the suspension of new arms contracts with Saudi Arabia pending independent verification of this evidence.
- ISIL Supply Lines. Not enough has been done to establish how ISIL is receiving weapons, finding buyers for oil or being funded. Saudi Arabia and other Gulf States need to commit to stamping out any funding of ISIL from within their borders, and the UK government should be explicit about this demand.
- Human Rights, Internal Executions and Medieval Punishment. We cannot hold countries across the world to account for oppression, executions and torture if we do not condemn it universally. Following the execution of 47 people in early January, Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond mitigated his criticism by saying “these were convicted terrorists” and FCO minister Tobias Ellwood said he was “disappointed”. That is a pathetic response, and we will not allow the UK government to cower away from criticising what is an inexcusable and disgusting practice. Similarly, the treatment of women and minority groups in Saudi Arabia is some of the worst in the world, and it is inexcusable that the UK supported their application to the Human Rights Council. We believe the government should reverse this decision and publically call for Saudi Arabia to step down. Finally, the UK is involved in a number of bilateral programmes with Saudi Arabia, including through our Department of Justice and through the Home Office. Complete details of this involvement should be made public, including the “memorandum of understanding” between each department and the Saudi government, which the UK government is currently refusing to publish.
- Shia/Sunni Sectarian Incitement. The decision by the Saudi regime to execute Shia cleric Nimr al Nimr along with 46 others was not an act of national security- it was religiously motivated and a clear message to Shia Muslims throughout the region. Religion is a defining feature of countries throughout the world, but when championing the supremacy of your own religion leads you to deliberate provocation and persecution of another and risks further destabilising an already fragile region, it is right for the UK government to condemn those actions fully and without caveat.
On 5th January, Tim Farron raised a number of these points in Parliament:
“The executions over the weekend, including that of Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, must surely raise fundamental questions about the United Kingdom’s relationship with Saudi Arabia. People in the UK have every right to want to know what arrangements we are entering into as a country with another country that has acted with such brutality and with such disregard to the impact of its actions on co-operation across the middle east, especially in the light of the Vienna process and the ongoing conflict involving Daesh. Will the Government now commit to publishing both the memorandum of understanding on security, which was signed by the Home Secretary on behalf of the United Kingdom, and the memorandum of understanding on judicial co-operation, both of which have been withheld in full despite Freedom of Information Act requests? Bearing in mind the Saudi Government’s appalling record on human rights, especially the rights of women, will the Government call on Saudi Arabia to step down from chairing the UN Human Rights Council? The Minister carefully avoided condemning the actions of Saudi Arabia over the weekend, so will he do so now? Clearly, Saudi Arabia has a great influence over this Government. Will this Government now prove that they have some influence over Saudi Arabia?”
Tim Farron wrote to the Prime Minister, together with Nick Clegg, Paddy Ashdown, Ming Campbell, Kirsty Williams and Willie Rennie setting out five principles against which the Liberal Democrats would judge the case for extension of military action against ISIL in Syria.
This is an update on the action taken since the Liberal Democrats supported extending military action against ISIL in Syria, and how it relates to these five principles.
Military intervention must follow an international legal framework. We believe this has been provided by UN Resolution 2249 which urges members to take “all necessary measures” to defeat ISIL.
This is the instrument with which all those opposed to ISIL have the means to coordinate military action to defeat them, including regional actors on the ground.
UN resolution 2249 calls for all necessary measures to be taken to defeat ISIL. This is not a passive statement of approval, it is a clear call for all those who can act to do so. The core legal base cited by the Prime Minister in his response to the Foreign Affairs Committee (FAC) for UK military action in Syria is collective self-defence of Iraq, with the individual self-defence of the UK and collective self-defence of other states as additional legal bases.
We welcome the continued engagement of the UN in the Syrian peace process. On 18 December 2015 the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 2254. It does not change the legal framework of the intervention, but reconfirms commitment to the peace process and gives Security Council endorsement of the Vienna talks. It also confirms there will be an update to the Security Council on progress 2254 every 60 days (so the next report is expected 16 February 2016).
2. Wider diplomatic framework including efforts towards a no-bomb zone to protect civilians
Any military action by the UK must be part of a wider international effort involving all who have an interest in defeating ISIL, as a prelude to ending the conflict in Syria, including Russia, Iran and Turkey.
The UK Government should use all efforts to ensure that the Vienna talks succeed in bringing together the broadest possible support for action to end the war in Syria and effect political transition.
In addition, we call on the government to explicitly work towards ending the Syrian regime’s bombing of civilians with a no-bomb zone to maximise civilian protection and allow for an upscaling of humanitarian access.
The Government motion clearly places this military action within the broader strategy of bringing peace to Syria. And in his comments the Prime Minister has made a strong effort to stress that his plans are part of a wide diplomatic framework which seeks to ultimately destroy ISIL and ensure political transition and an end to the war in Syria.
The key countries that are needed for this to happen are involved- either in the Vienna talks, in the fight against ISIL, or in both.
Civilian protection is the ultimate aim of a ceasefire, which is clearly stated as an aim in the motion. We call for a stronger commitment to this as part of the Vienna talks, but we believe that the plan outlined in the talks is currently the best platform on which civilian protection can be delivered.
UNSC Resolution 2254 further embedded the Vienna process in the international arena, and reaffirmed the steps for peace in Syria laid out by Vienna, including:
4. (UNSC) Expresses its support, in this regard, for a Syrian-led political process that is facilitated by the United Nations and, within a target of six months, establishes credible, inclusive and non-sectarian governance and sets a schedule and process for drafting a new constitution, and further expresses its support for free and fair elections, pursuant to the new constitution, to be held within 18 months and administered under supervision of the United Nations, to the satisfaction of the governance and to the highest international standards of transparency and accountability, with all Syrians, including members of the diaspora, eligible to participate, as set forth in the 14 November 2015 ISSG Statement;
There are criticisms of this as at no point does it reference the removal of Assad.
UNSCR 2254 included explicit reference to involving women in the peace process. No women were involved in the previous Geneva talks.
More recently, there has been an escalation of tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran following the execution of Shia Cleric Nimr al-Nimr by the Saudi government in early January, though at the moment the Vienna talks are still scheduled to continue. Saudi Arabia’s action call into question their commitment to long term peace in Syria and the wider Middle East. The Peace Process was expected to resume in January 2016, but a date has not yet been confirmed for the next meeting.
It is critical that the UK works with the EU to secure lasting peace in Syria, as proven by the success of the EU negotiated process with Iran.
There are serious concerns about the government’s priorities as relatively little has been said on this compared to all the energy Cameron is putting into the EU renegotiation. Given as many as 3 million refugees are expected to travel to Europe in 2016, it is critical that the government focus their diplomatic energy on solving the Syria crisis, not distracting the EU with the referendum.
No Bomb Zone
Expert advice maintains that it would not be possible UNDER PRESENT CONDITIONS to establish a no-fly zone, without acceptance by the Russians, due to the involvement of too many actors and states, and the lack of a clear area over which to establish the zone.
Attention has been drawn recently to the Assad regime’s “siege” tactics, in which they are restricting the access of food and goods to towns, effectively starving out the population. These starvation tactics are in contravention of humanitarian law. The UN reached an agreement with the Assad Regime on letting humanitarian access into the besieged town of Madaya, and access to other towns is in negotiation. Lib Dems have called for RAF planes to be used to assist the delivery of humanitarian aid as long as it does not put our pilots in danger.
3. UK led pressure on Gulf States for increased support in the region
The UK should lead a concerted international effort to put pressure on the Gulf States, specifically Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, to stop the funding of jihadi groups within the region and worldwide and do much more to assist in the effort to defeat ISIL, establish peace in Syria and help with the refugee situation. They are currently doing very little, despite claiming to be part of the anti-ISIL coalition.
ISIL is not just a Western problem, and this is one way of preventing them from framing the situation in that way.
The UK government has confirmed the support of the key regional states
We call on the government to pressure all regional states to be more vocal in their support of the aims of the coalition and in their condemnation of ISIL.
The Government’s motion commits to cutting “ISIL’s sources of finance, fighters and weapons” but we believe more needs to be said about the role of specific states on this, including Saudi Arabia and Turkey, and will be pressing for further action from the Government on this.
We continue to be critical of the government’s approach to Saudi Arabia and the Gulf State, especially given Saudi Arabia’s recent actions. The government’s response to the Saudi execution of 47 people, including Shia Cleric Nimr al Nimr was that it was “disappointing”. Beyond this, the government continues to defend the Saudi-UK relationship very strongly.
Saudi Arabia held a meeting of Syrian coalition forces in December, which was welcomed by the UK government. However, the breakdown in already fragile relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran means that the Sunni-only membership of this collection of opposition groups further solidifies the sectarian nature of the Syrian conflict and the Saudi/Iran cold war playing out there.
Qatar is one of the hosts of the post ISIL conflict funding conference mentioned below.
4. Post-ISIL plan
The government must be absolutely clear on what Syria and Iraq will look like post-ISIL, and what post-conflict strategy (including an exit strategy) they propose to give the best chance of avoiding a power vacuum. This must be linked to the above diplomatic framework which will outline steps for ending the wider conflict in Syria.
There is significant detail in the statement and the response on how the UK is part of various initiatives to ensure a comprehensive reconstruction in post-war Syria.
The Government has pledged at least £1 billion to go towards reconstruction and we welcome the planned conference for the discussion on this in London in February
Critically, the Prime Minister has stressed that they will not repeat the mistakes of Iraq and will not attempt any dismantling of the Syrian state, nor will they use foreign funding to support international corporations to replace any state institutions
The Vienna talks are currently proposing a transitional government without Assad to be established in the first six months of 2016, following by elections within the next 18 months.
We are pushing for much more active and open planning for post-conflict Syria.
Significant advances have been made against ISIL in Iraq, with most of the coalition airstrikes aimed at targets there. US Department of Defence data says there have been 29 coalition airstrikes in Syria and 155 in Iraq in 2016 so far (up to 6 Jan). According to a report based on the data, overall ISIL lost 25% of its territory in 2015.
The post-conflict Syria funding conference is scheduled to be held in February in London.
We acknowledge that the fight against ISIL is not just in the Middle East: it is within Europe and it is here in the UK. We call on the government to immediately publish its 2014 investigation into the Muslim Brotherhood and also call on them to conduct an investigation into foreign funding and support of extremist and terrorist groups in the UK
We call on the government to step up its acceptance of Syrian refugees, and opt in to Save the Children’s proposal to rehome 3000 unaccompanied refugee children from with Europe.
The Prime Minister has confirmed that the Muslim Brotherhood report will be published in the next two weeks, and has agreed to commission a wider report into the funding of jihadi groups in the UK.
The government has also agreed to look carefully at the proposals to take 3000 unaccompanied children from within Europe, which is a big step given they previously wouldn’t even accept that there were unaccompanied children.
The Muslim Brotherhood report was published in December 2015.
The report into the funding of jihadi groups in the UK has been announced and is expected to report back in this parliamentary session. We are continuing to ensure this timetable is maintained, and Lord Wallace has a parliamentary question on it in early February.
There is increasing pressure on the UK government to accept 3000 unaccompanied children, with the International Development Committee supporting the proposal in January 2015. Labour, the SNP and other opposition parties now support the call. The Prime Minister has confirmed that he is “looking into it”. Tom Brake has gained support from a cross-party group of MPs calling for the Prime Minister to act quickly, given the immediate risk faced by so many of these children.
We will continue to push for this proposal, including by looking into what support and resources Local Authorities will need to implement it.
Andrew Wiseman, Chair of the Federal Conference Committee
FCC is very mindful of the cost of attending conference. The cost of coming to conference as well as the overall length is often raised in feedback from members. As well as keeping registrations rates as low as possible to members, launching the conference access fund and negotiating discounts on travel costs we have been looking at the length of the autumn conference. The main costs of attending conference, for most people, is having to take time off work and the cost of accommodation. Many members are not able to take the time off work. There is also increasing pressure on all political parties to reduce the length of all political conferences to minimise the impact on parliamentary time.
Last night Tim Farron gave a passionate attack against the Government’s housing reforms, saying:
“If we believe that aspiration is right and that the right to own one’s home is good and something to work towards, we should be allowing a like-for-like replacement of homes sold off in advance. If we want to destroy social housing, we should do what the Government are doing.”
Sign our petition against the sell-off of affordable homes: http://change.libdems.org.uk/housing
You can read Tim's full speech is here – http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201516/cmhansrd/cm160112/debtext/160112-0004.htm
Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron MP today accused the Government of using the Paris terror attacks to ‘sex up’ a letter about the junior doctors strike from the independent Medical Director of NHS England. Tim Farron is also calling for Bruce Keogh and Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt to both appear before the Health Select Committee.
Tim’s call comes after the Liberal Democrat Health Spokesman Norman Lamb called for a Cabinet Office Inquiry into the matter.
The letter was sent, and made public, in the week after the Paris terror attacks after the Department for Health toughened up the language.
Tim Farron MP said:
“Senior advisors and ministers have questions to answer about what has happened over this letter.
“The Government have poisoned the well of relations between Junior Doctors and NHS bosses. As well as a full inquiry to establish the facts, Jeremy Hunt and Sir Bruce Keogh should also be called to appear before the Health Select Committee to answer questions about what has gone on here.
“Tory ministers said when they set up NHS England it would be free of interference. These words have been shown to be meaningless.
“The Tories are guilty of blatant and utter hypocrisy over this sorry saga.”