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On Britain and the EU

Adam Rope writes: Re. “Will David Cameron sever Britain’s ties to the EU?” (Friday).  The issue about the UK and the EU for me (as an Anglo-Celt from there myself) has always the sheer ignorance, arrogance, blatant racism and fear behind the blinkered “Little England” Conservative and conservative mindset. Which as Charles Richardson’s article rightly says: “British voters have a deep need to believe that their country is still great”. The English don’t see themselves, ideologically and geographically, as being “in” Europe. They talk of not being invaded since 1066, conveniently forgetting William of Orange, of standing up to, and defeating the Germans twice last century, three if you include 1966 — but don’t mention recent international football tournaments. They like to think they are different to Europeans, simply because of the geography of 20 miles of water at Dover, despite the obvious European source for the majority of the populations gene pool: Germanic (Angles, Saxons), Nordic (Viking), and French (Norman).  The prime example of this thinking is that the vast majority of Brits, when embarking on a holiday  to another European country, talk of going “to” Europe. Not “to” the continent, but “to” Europe, as if England was somehow separate from Europe, and not just some little island off the coast of the European continent. It’s a convenient, simple and effective tribal security blanket for those with other issues which can quickly be forgotten when their very Englishness is brought to the fore.

On the ABC and the NBN

Ben Marshall writes: Re. “Ex-ABC journo sticks by ‘gag’ claim, though illegal recording sheds little light on saga” (Friday).  You seem quite clear that nothing in the recording of former ABC tech writer Nick Ross and his boss Bruce Belsham amounts to “gagging”.

I re-read the piece in New Matilda and it confirmed quite clearly, at least to my satisfaction, that gagging is precisely what Belsham is doing, and in the context of ‘realpolitik’. Belsham isn’t banning Ross from further critical pieces on the Coalition’s NBN, true, but any further pieces are totally conditional on trumping up what amounts to false balance to placate the then minister, Turnbull, and senior ABC management.

I think what would most help in this “he said, she said” situation is an independent expert appraisal of Ross’s work.  Tech insiders could quickly determine if Ross was politically partisan in his critiques of the Coalition NBN plan.  If they find his work was sound, and non partisan, then, in the context of ongoing political pressure on and politicisation of the ABC, Ross’s argument that he was “gagged” would seem to stand.

Nick Xenophon Team Senate Candidate for NSW Glen Frost writes: It is very disturbing to read in Crikey that ABC Corporate Affairs (the PR people) are engaging with, or influencing, the journalists. This article reinforces the need for the ABC to separate the role of Managing Director into two separate roles. The ABC must appoint a Managing Director who will look after the commercial/contractual side of the ABC (HR, PR, Operations, Assets etc), and an independent Editor-in-Chief, who looks after all the editorial decisions. In addition, the rditor must have complete independence from the MD, so that the rditor and his/her staff do not have to deal with ABC PR people meddling in what journalists can or can’t write. The danger is that the ABC will be seen as a quasi government communications and propaganda unit, where internal ABC PR people manipulate the news agenda. The ABC is Australia’s most trusted news brand; this article in Crikey is very damaging to the ABC’s perceived ability to publish independent, quality, taxpayer funded journalism.

On Rosie Batty and Mark Latham

Nick Pavlovski writes: Re. “Thank you, Rosie” (Friday). I never understood why you gave so much airtime here to Mark Latham beforehand anyway. All he did was just drone on at us about how Hendo howled. It was like listening to two spoiled brats.

Virginia Gordon writes: Rosie deserves the thanks you gave her and more. From all of us. Quite beyond me – in the early stages of grief and ‘recovery’  – how she would have the strength and courage to stand up to make a huge difference to the lives of women, children and families across Australia. That is what she has done. More than the limelight deprived irrelevancy whose comments confirm the moral vacuum and intellectual confusion that exists, from a supposedly now controversial commentator.  May Rosie know the love, gratitude and respect we have for her.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-In-Chief of Crikey

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