Hello and welcome back! It’s fair to say that an awful lot has happened since I last wrote on these pages, providing thrills and spills in equal measure, along with an unfortunate amount of heartbreak.
Still, Euro 2020 did provide an incredible month of football – and one which far exceeded expectations for yours truly – and even though the final defeat was agonising, following England provided a real thrill to savour. Anyway, it’s time for some takes.
The horrendous abuse suffered by England trio Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka has rightly been condemned, with some arrests made.
It has also led to calls for social media platforms to require mandatory ID to open accounts. With so much abuse coming from anonymous accounts, that call – and the inevitable petition that is doing – is understandable.
However, that solution has the potential to create many problems whilst solving none. Firstly, abuse on social media isn’t just limited to anonymous accounts. A few minutes spent on Facebook will prove that, and there’s plenty of racist statements made under real names – including statements made after Sunday’s final.
Making ID mandatory for a social media account has its own issues. Data protection has been a huge issue over the last decade with social media giants – are we willing to hand over millions of extremely sensitive documents to them? What about the risks to people who need anonymity for many varied and extremely valid reasons?
Tackling racism in society is going to require a number of different approaches – starting with education first and foremost – and there are many things that social media companies can do before that stage, although none of the answers here are easy.
What’s Good To Eat?
Not that it’s of any interest to you, but I normally start my day by listening to Radio 4’s Today Programme. That was different today – one of the many great things about The Open Championship is being able to watch live sport from 6.30am – but I didn’t manage to escape today’s Main Discourse, which is about food.
Having decided that I could give the programme a miss, I probably shouldn’t have been surprised to see this tweet in my feed this morning:
People won’t put a spoon of sugar on their burger but they don’t realise it’s already in the ketchup, says chief executive of Behaviour Insights Team
— BBC Radio 4 Today (@BBCr4today) July 15, 2021
Predictably, there’s been a lot of talk about healthy eating and obesity today. Now whilst we should all strive to look after ourselves (which is absolutely not something I’ve been doing, just for full disclosure) it seems odd to me that there aren’t more calls to reduce the cost of healthy food so that those on low incomes can have more access to a more well-rounded diet, as the Dimbleby Report says below:
The section on food and poverty in the Dimbleby Report is pretty good: pic.twitter.com/XJt1HpQvwB
— Jonathan Portes (@jdportes) July 15, 2021
Now, time for a nice toastie….
In defence of Jess Brammar
This summer has been mercifully clear of debates about BBC balance (thanks Gareth!) but the issue reared its ugly head when Robbie Gibb, Theresa May’s former communications chief, ex BBC Westminster editor and BBC board member, tried to block the appointment former HuffPost UK editor Jess Brammar as the BBC’s executive news editor.
Sources told the FT that Gibb Gibb had tried to stop Brammar from being hired in the newly created role, apparently texting BBC director for news and current affairs Fran Unsworth that she “cannot make this appointment” as the government’s “fragile trust in the BBC will be shattered.”
Those revelations have caused an outcry and the inevitable arguments about supposed bias, with Jacob Rees-Mogg whining to Conservative Home about balance.
“When did the BBC last hire somebody from Conservative Home to come and be their senior figure or from The Daily Telegraph?” When it’s from the left it’s all right, but when it’s from the right that’s beyond the pale. I think the BBC does itself a lot of damage in this regard.”
Rees Mogg seems to have forgotten that there’s a long history of Conservative figures holding high rank at the BBC, with former Tory party candidate Tim Davie and Tory donor Richard Sharp currently the Director-General and general of the corporation.
Sarah Sands backed Conservative candidates Boris Johnson and Zac Goldsmith for London mayor and the Conservative party in the 2015 general election before being appointed as editor of the Today programme, whilst Gibb – himself a huge part of BBC political programming for the best part of a decade – had worked for the Conservative MP Francis Maude, and was a former advisor to Michael Portillo.
In any case, the hysteria over Brammar’s supposed political position – much of which is simply a backlash about the fact that she had the nerve to defend one of her journalists when she was editor in chief of HuffPost – ignores what impartiality should mean.
Anyone who has the passion and/or interest in politics to make it to the BBC is likely to have picked up some political views across the way. The political is personal after all, and everyone has a view of some kind on a political issue, even if they don’t necessarily support a political party.
What the BBC’s editorial guidelines ask is that those views don’t make your way into any work produced for the BBC, and that is the true test of any appointee.
In any case, it seems strange that these questions are being asked of a woman who was Newsnight’s deputy editor for two years. One would think that makes for an ideal candidate.
Freedom Of The Pass
The issue of vaccine passports has raised its head again following a new wave of cases thanks to the Delta variant.
With the lifting of all restrictions in England to come on Monday, it looks as if some businesses will require either proof of double vaccination or a negative test for entry (and others, including two of the biggest nightclub chains in England, Rekom UK and Tokyo Industries, may not).
With cases on the rise, it would seem wise for businesses to take such measures – and also for sports enjoyers and those looking to head to enter venues to get prepared. The NHS App will show your vaccine status: A link to download it (and to find your NHS number) is below.
Views of authors do not necessarily represent views of Star Sports Bookmakers.