So, it goes on.
Last night’s post on Virgin Trains’ claims about Jeremy Corbyn’s supposedly-staged ‘ram-packed’ video has already been the most-read ever published on this blog, the previous daily visit record being broken within the first few daylight hours of today.
Clearly there is a huge amount of interest among the British public as to the rights and wrongs of this issue and it’s great that word is getting out there to counter the corporate and media propaganda.
However, the BBC and many media outlets continue to run hourly coverage of the ‘dispute’ while omitting the abundant evidence from eye-witnesses (and this blog among others), creating – without question intentionally – the impression that Corbyn has misbehaved in some way. Grainy stills and short clips of CCTV footage are being run again and again, without any analysis, to accompany voice-overs that talk as if the claims he walked past empty seats is fact rather than claim or conjecture.
So, let’s do some analysis.
Video of Corbyn walking past unreserved seats appears to have been released to the media but not yet to be online (or at least I haven’t found it yet). Video from the carriage with reserved seats is more readily available but irrelevant even if some of them were empty – the seats were reserved and it doesn’t take much imagination to predict the furore and headlines if he had sat in a reserved seat whose occupant then turned up: “RED JED STOLE MY SEAT!!!!”
So we’ll concentrate on the supposedly damning few seconds of footage BBC News is running, as well as a still from the same sequence that is being used (as one insistent numpty on Twitter kept tweeting to me as if it was proof final and positive) by the TV, online and print media to ‘show’ that Corbyn walked past empty, unreserved seats.
Here is that image:
Looks damning, right? But does it stand up? Video can be fleeting and hard to catch, while the still that is doing the rounds is just one image and could, by design or chance, give a misleading impression.
So the next few images show ’empty’ seats juxtaposed with stills from the short video BBC News showed this evening. The first shows an apparently empty seat just inside the carriage on the left side from the CCTV viewpoint. Click the image for a larger view:
So, at least one seat appears empty on the media’s preferred CCTV still, but on the video footage its occupant moves into view – but so briefly that it would easily be missed when watched at normal speed. Are there others? Let’s see.
The seat behind the gentleman in a light shirt looks empty in Virgin’s preferred still, but as the video progresses, what looks like a child moves into view as the man in the backpack passes.
In the area of Virgin’s CCTV capture highlighted above, 3 seats look empty. As the lady with the black curly hair passes, you can clearly see that all 3 are occupied.
The image below is trickier to see as a static image, but the highlighted area definitely increases in size as the BBC video progresses, compared to Virgin’s still:
So someone is in the seat, moving around – probably a child or a short person, but still there.
So, in a 4 or 5-second video clip, no fewer than six ’empty’ seats are shown beyond question not to be empty.
Remember, this is footage shown by the BBC – from the same CCTV camera that was the source of Virgin’s now-infamous still. I have no special equipment beyond a smartphone and a laptop – yet I could identify these discrepancies easily.
Without question, it is not beyond the ability of BBC News – or of any of the other media using the ’empty seat still’ as proof, or of Virgin for that matter – to examine the footage closely and draw proper conclusions.
But then, I could be bothered to do it because I’m interested in the truth of the matter and not in creating a ‘row’ out of nothing to suit my own commercial or political agenda.
So I looked at the footage properly to see whether the evidence stands up. It doesn’t.
If 6 ’empty’ seats can turn out to be occupied that quickly, then Mr Corbyn is entitled to be believed that none of them were empty – and there is absolutely no evidence to the contrary.
Now, I can already hear those with a vested interest in bashing Corbyn (like the woeful Owen Smith, who’s destroyed what shreds of credibility he had left by revelling today in ‘Clearly Jeremy just sat on the floor when he didn’t need to’ interviews) saying, “Ah yes, but he’s already admitted there was an empty seat, because he said today he was looking for two so he could sit with his wife!”
To which the answer is simple. His wife was not on the floor with him.
So he found a single seat and, like any decent, able-bodied husband would, he made his wife sit in it while he went and sat on the floor.
Among other passengers doing the same, as we’ve already seen in my article last night.
On a train that was “ram-full”.