Last month I came across an article on the BBC News website, published on the 20th February 2016, following a visit earlier in the week by the UK Defence Secretary.
“UK Defence Secretary Michael Fallon visited the Falkland Islands last week, the first holder of his office to do so in 14 years. Relations with Argentina over the sovereignty of the British colony remain potentially fraught. With the fiery Cristina Kirchner having been replaced by the more moderate President Mauricio Macri, there are hopes for a warmer future. Defence correspondent Jonathan Beale reports on locals’ hopes for the future, 34 years on from the Falklands War.”
There is also a 3 minute video which sets out Argentina’s false claims and Beale speaks disparagingly about the islands – opening comments about there being more sheep and penguins than people for instance. The BBC does not make these snide comments about Western Australia or New Zealand where the same is true in terms of sheep to people ratios.
Here was my response to the BBC complaints office:
Complaint Summary: not a colony = racist statement
Full Complaint: I am accusing the author of racism. The Falkland Islands is not a colony of Britain. It is an Overseas Territory; Colony is not a word used in any arrangements about the Falkland Islands. It is an old fashioned term and is written OUT of constitutions of all UK Overseas Territories. This article panders therefore to Argentina. It is racist as it misrepresents the UK presence in the islands in favour of a would-be colonial power i.e. Argentina (20/2/2016).
Today (1/3/2016) I received this reply:
“Thanks for contacting us regarding the BBC News website. We note your comments unhappy (sic) with a reference to the Falkland Islands as a “British colony” in the following article: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-35616454. We’ve reviewed the article and note that the text on the page now refers to “the British territory”. We hope this allays your concerns and thank you for your feedback about BBC News. Complaints are sent to senior management and news teams every morning and we’ve included your points in our overnight reports. These reports are among the most widely read sources of feedback in the BBC and ensure that complaints are seen quickly by the right people.”
I do not know if anyone has been disciplined or retrained for making anti-British racist statements. However the lesson is clear, the BBC will maintain its anti-British racist stance until challenged. We must never drop our guard and must challenge them wherever institutionalised anti-British racism rears its ugly head.
My thoughts go back to a letter of complaint I wrote to the Daily Telegraph in the 1970s. The newspaper had included an advertisement for the Argentine Wine Corporation which had an outline map of Argentina including the Falkland Islands.