Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/801/18252
Letter of protest to the BBC
On 25 February the BBC's 6pm news bulletin referred to Militant, the Socialist's predecessor, in its item on PIE. Peter Taaffe, Socialist Party general secretary and former editor of Militant, sent the following letter:
"In an item on the Paedophile Information Exchange's links with the National Council for Civil Liberties, you quoted Christian Wolmar, who said: 'PIE very deliberately targeted libertarian left groups who might be fighting for anything from abortion rights to Northern Ireland in order to give themselves legitimacy.
"This was the same tactic indeed as Militant or some other political groups like that, trying to get inside and presenting themselves as respectable.'
We object strongly to the inference in this quote; that supporting the ideas of the Militant newspaper are as repugnant as paedophilia.
Further, Christian argues that Militant supporters needed to 'get inside' other political campaigns in order 'to present themselves as respectable'.
We completely refute the suggestion that Militant supporters ever hid their ideas to gain 'respectability' - the fact that the newspaper was able to gain such prominence is a testament to that.
Militant supporting MPs and councillors very clearly set out their ideas in numerous speeches, as well as the leading role Militant supporters played in the Liverpool council of 1983-87, and in the battle against the poll tax to give just a few examples.
The ideas and actions of Militant supporters, of fighting against austerity, supporting strike action and protest movements, and offering a socialist alternative, are perfectly 'respectable' to millions of people today.
It is outrageous to compare Militant to the activities of paedophiles, towards whom the vast majority justifiably feel revulsion.
The inclusion of a reference to Militant is spurious and completely unnecessary to the story.
We were pleased to note that the second sentence of the above quote was edited out in the 10 o'clock bulletin, after complaints from Socialist Party members and others. This is a partial admission of error in airing the quote in the first instance.
However, this comparison was put forward unchallenged on the 6 o'clock bulletin, watched by several million people, and is also at the time of writing available on BBC iPlayer.
We request that you issue an apology and correction on a subsequent edition of the 6 o'clock News or another suitable platform. Should you refuse, we will take legal advice to see what further steps can be taken."
In The Socialist 5 March 2014:
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