BBC Complaints: The link you need!

Sunday, 15 March 2020

In Their Own Tweets


KATYA ADLER
20/10/2019 (tweet): Still can’t get my head around the whole “colluding with foreign powers” accusation from No10 at MPs accused of being anti-Brexit. When Boris Johnson asks EU leaders to hold back on granting/talking up idea of new extension, is that colluding with foreign powers too? 

MOBEEN AZHAR
8 May 2015 (blog): Great result unless you're poor / old / vulnerable / a single parent / not obsessed with money. Well done #selfishBritain #GE15. (Deleted)

PAUL DANAHAR
7 Apr 2017 (tweet): It should have been done by Obama. Those opposed to Trump should not oppose this just because he did it.

MARK EASTON
13 Dec 2019 (blog): Mark Easton retweets the Electoral Reform Society in the wake of the general election.


HUW EDWARDS
5 Dec 2019 (tweet/blog): Yeah I liked a tweet which seemed to be a celebration of our wonderful @nhs —apologies for not watching right to the end. But apologise for supporting the NHS? Never. EXCLUSIVE — my family owes it a huge debt.
https://www.thesun.co.uk/tvandshowbiz/10492437/bbc-huw-edwards-bias-labour-tories/ … 

IMOGEN FOULKES
2 Jul 2017 (tweet): Seriously? THIS is a president? (Donald Trump posts video clip of him 'beating' CNN in wrestling.)

LEWIS GOODALL
2 Feb 2020 (blog): Still, great to see Brexit means we've stopped blaming the EU for everything.  (Deleted)
23 Jan 2020 (tweet):It’s really fascinating how one 16 year old, powerless girl gets so many powerful people rattled.
20 Jan 2020 (tweets): £106bn is a lot of money. But it is worth saying that successful infrastructure lasts decades if not centuries and people in 2050 are unlikely to be using HS2 and saying “god, I wonder how much this cost? Might have been a waste of money.” For example, one of the most successful tube upgrades in recent years was on the Victoria Line. It cost a fortune- £900m. It now carries 36 trains an hour and is widely considered fantastic. I can’t imagine anyone who uses it or benefits from it gives the cost a second thought. Andrew Sentance who sat on the HS2 review panel tells Evan Davis that the govt is using their report selectively, implies they’re trying to prepare the way for cancellation, something and the panel doesn’t think is a good idea. Also makes the point (which is surely right) that the idea we often hear, that HS2 should be cancelled and the £80bn or so would spent on other infrastructure projects in the midlands in north, is very far fetched.
18 Jan 2020 (tweets/blog): -final acceptance that referendum promise that we’d have exactly the same benefits of the single market was false. -pledging to double economic growth at the same time as leaving world‘s biggest trade bloc seems, erm, ambitious. Alternative trade deals won’t come online for years (if earlier it’s probably a sign they’re v basic) and as studies show, benefits of FTAs are pretty modest. Civil service estimates suggest that the biggest one, a US deal, will boost UK GDP by only 0.2% *after 15 years*. Mr Javid was once rather more alive to these concerns: Sajid Javid: The only thing leaving the EU guarantees is a lost decade for British business. Mr Javid was right then. It is difficult to imagine how an economy can undertake runaway growth whilst erecting significant trade barriers with its closest and most significant trading partner. Unless of course, they have some drastic plans on labour laws, regulation...And even that prob wouldn’t be enough. After all, cuts to domestic regulation in some areas will be matched by increases in the regulatory burden on business that divergence will inevitably bring.

MISHAL HUSAIN
3 Jun 2018 (tweet): Here’s what the Muslim Council of Britain has asked the Conservatives to look into. Rather than engage, Sajid Javid says they don’t represent Muslims in this country (although they are an umbrella body for 500 orgs).

NOMIA IQBAL 

13 Jan 2019 (tweet): Stephen Lawrence was from a strong two parent family unit. Didn’t stop him getting stabbed. Rod Liddle’s weird obsession with Black people continues. 

JASMINE LAWRENCE/JASMINE WILLIAMS
21 May 2014 (blog): #WhyImVotingUkip – to stand up for white, middle class, middle aged men w sexist/racist views, totally under represented in politics today. (Deleted)


JOHN McMANUS
22 Jan 2019 (tweet, replying to Chloe Westley of the TPA): You know where poverty is lowest? Social democratic nations like Sweden, Norway and Finland - high taxes, greater sharing of national wealth. 

CLIVE MYRIE
16 Feb 2020 (tweet): It is painfully clear a very serious education drive needs to be made about WHAT the BBC does, WHY it’s important and HOW it’s paid for. That there’s a level of ignorance out there is probably our fault, with the service taken for granted for far too long.

ANDREW NEIL 
20 Feb 2020 (tweet): I do wish British journalists — esp Brussels-based — would stop repeating the false mantra that the EU holds all the cards in upcoming negotiations. It holds many, perhaps more than UK. But if UK left on WTO rules it would have total regulatory freedom. EU’s worst nightmare.

NICK ROBINSON
3 Nov 2020 (tweet): No-one in the UK will be able to vote for Nigel Farage & no-one voted for him to lead his party but he is, undoubtedly, one of the big players in this election. Funny old world.

DANIEL SANDFORD
13 Dec 2019 (tweet/blog): Two thoughts on Labour’s devastating defeat. 1) Labour voters need to join the party in large numbers in order to get the leader and policies they want, otherwise the party will keep on offering only what the current membership advocate. 2) It is not enough to tell voters what they want. You have to listen to them. If they don’t agree with you, you have to win the argument or possible alter your policy. Do not shout at them and call life-long Labour voters Tories.

DANNY SHAW
1 May 2019 (tweet): Whether you agreed with his policies or not Rory Stewart was the most engaged and engaging prisons minister for years.  Many people in the justice sector will I expect be very sad that he has moved on - though not surprised.

JOHN SIMPSON
23 Jan 2020 (tweet): Advice to US treasury secretary Stephen Mnuchin: don’t patronise clever kids - you’ll come off worse.
3 Jan 2020 (tweet): Killing Soleimani isn’t like killing bin Laden, who had masterminded the worst terrorist attack against America. Soleimani was a competitor, who was highly effective in fighting ISIS as well as American interests. Assassinating him seems like a step back to a more savage past.
13 Dec 2019 (tweet): In 1979, as she entered No 10, Mrs Thatcher prayed that she would bring harmony. In 2019 Johnson says he wants to be PM of all the people. The difference between them? Mrs T had a burning ideology; BJ has a burning ambition.
6 Dec 2019 (tweet): Not surprised that Boris Johnson has ducked out of the Andrew Neil interview. It’d probably have done him a lot of damage, & he dared not risk it. But to suggest it’s in some way akin to facing Lord Buckethead is pretty insulting. Not just to Andrew, but also to our democracy.
21 Oct 2019 (tweet): Our problem with Brexit isn’t that a group of sullen Remainers are blocking the will of the people; it’s that we are divided almost exactly 50-50 over it. Organisations tend to require a 2/3rds majority to change their rules. Surely our nation should have done the same?
6 Oct 2019 (tweet): Britain is entering the most important and possibly dangerous period in its national life since 1940. Our constitution, our economic well-being, the entire future of our children, are all at stake. Our politicians need to think very carefully what they do and say.
27 July 2019 (tweet, omitting Iran): The US Justice Department says it will resume the execution of federal death row inmates and has already scheduled 5. Other countries which execute people include China, Saudi Arabia & Pakistan. No member of the European Union practices capital punishment.
3 June 2019 (blog): Donald Trump is an embarrassment who lacks any kind of dignity and has interfered outrageously in our national affairs. BUT he is the (temporary) leader of our close friend and ally, and we owe it to the US to put with him as best we can. (Deleted)
1 May 2019 (tweet): The new int. development secretary, Rory Stewart, is unusual among British politicians in that he understands the world outside the UK. He governed an entire Iraqi province with skill & compassion, ran an excellent charity in Afghanistan & writes annoyingly good travel books.
3 April 2019 (blog): How utterly depressing when a column by a not-very-impressive journalist on the dull, self-regarding New York Times in a country which elected Donald Trump is entitled The United Kingdom Has Gone Mad - and is entirely accurate. (Deleted)
31 Mar 2019 (tweet): Zuzana Čaputová has been elected President of Slovakia despite avoiding personal attacks on her opponents and supporting humanism, solidarity and truth. “Let's look for what connects us,' she said. 'Let's promote cooperation above personal interests.' Wouldn't that be nice here?
17 Feb 2019 (tweet): Presumably this was sparked off because you came across some criticism of yourself, Mr Trump.  I know you're not good at dealing with criticism, but this tweet is way below the moral level of any of your recent predecessors.
7 Feb 2019 (tweet): There's a lot to be upset about in Britain today, but for me the existence of laws forbidding people like Geoff Whaley, who has motor neurone disease, to end their lives decently and peacefully among their friends in their own surroundings is a particular cause for anger.
30 Jan 2019 (tweets): When I was the BBC political editor, in the early 1980s, I was shocked by the ignorance of most MPs about the way the outside world worked. Judging from today's proceedings in Parliament, things don't seem to have changed much. Some people replying to me think the problem lies with MPs having no experience outside politics. I disagree. I think it springs from a lack of knowledge and lack of interest in the way the countries close to us think and operate. The world has changed;  too many of us haven't. I think MPs can get too bound up with the business and pantomime of Parliament, and believe it's all that matters.  Far too many are depressingly ignorant of the world beyond Dover. That drove me crazy in the 80s. Today it's utterly unforgivable. 3 Feb 2019 (tweet, in reply to Daniel Kawczynski MP): This is a good example of what I mean about the utter ignorance of so many MPs about the outside world and our part in it.  And all the time the truth is as far away as a click or two on Wikipedia.
26 Dec 2018 (tweet): Depressing & deeply wrong that Japan is to start commercial hunting of whales again. But would it have left the International Whaling Commission if Pres Trump hadn’t withdrawn from various international orgs on nationalistic grounds?
21 Dec 2018 (tweet): I'm wary of direct action like Extinction Rebellion's lockdown of the BBC because I've so often seen such things turn nasty. But if ever there was a cause that matters to every single one of us, it's the horrifying threat to the life of our planet.

28 Nov 2018 (tweet): Donald Trump tells Washington Post about his high level of intelligence, then says 'if you go back and if you look at articles, they talked about global freezing, they talked about at some point the planets could freeze to death, then it’s going to die of heat exhaustion.' Hmm.
24 Oct 2017 (tweet): MP wants details of anti-Brexit univ teachers. Decent folk deported on technicalities. Daily hate in press. Doesn't feel like my country now. 25 Oct 2017 (tweet): Don't assume you know my views on Brexit or politics because you don't. What upsets me is the current viciousness in British public life.

29 Aug 2017 (tweet): So farewell Fox News, which famously told its viewers that non-Muslims in UK simply don't go to Birmingham. Sky is taking it down here. Can't happen soon enough - so much anger, ignorance & prejudice won't be missed here.
8 Jul 2017 (tweet): My answer to anti-BBC bores from http://newsthump.com: The BBC is accused of having a lefty, right-wing, pro-Remain Brexit agenda that brainwashes viewers into questioning opposing points of view.  I'm sending this to tedious anti-bbc tweeters from now on w/o comment.
24 Jun 2017 (tweet): Depressing to hear Andrea Leadsom echoing the Soviet view of broadcasting - that its duty is to be 'patriotic' - i.e. to back views of govt.
16 Jun 2017 (tweet): It's a year since Jo Cox was murdered: the worst year for Britain in my lifetime.  We badly need a return to Jo's concept of moderation now.

JOAN SOLEY
31 Jan 2019 (tweet): Has anyone invented a Trump translation app yet? Asking for THE ENTIRE WORLD.
15 Jun 2018: You know that kid who never read the book assigned in school? Would watch the movie, or borrow someone’s notes? This one’s for you, Trump administration officials; a quick watch, if you want to use the Bible to justify behaviour towards immigrants and refugees.
24 Jun 2016 (tweet): The pound is plummeting against the dollar; biggest losers of #Brexit I think? UK economy, David Cameron and George Osbourne, #mytwocents.
1 Mar 2012 (tweet, on Newt Gingrich): Perhaps I'm just surrounded by it and yet so underwhelmed by it...also, I despise Newt. Sound of his voice = red mist o rage.

QUENTIN SOMERVILLE
13 Oct 2019 (blog): Advocacy over UK government's treatment of children in Syrian camps. Leaving aside nationality for a moment -  this is a disgrace. There are kids in the camp who’ve been through the worst trauma imaginable and we aren’t giving them sanctuary?

JON SOPEL
24 Jul 2019 (tweet): A lot of Americans say to me ‘you must think our politics is so messed up.’ I say ‘not so much...’ #BorisJohnsonPM
18 Jul 2019 (tweet): Not only is tanker heading in wrong direction, but Iran policy generally - and just as Britain is about to change PM.
16 Jun 2019 (tweet): 2nd tweet today in which the American president attacks Sadiq Khan. There’s clearly something about London’s Muslim mayor that he really dislikes.
25 Nov 2018 (tweet): It seems that Donald Trump is even rewriting what thanksgiving is. Thanksgiving weekend is when you give thanks for yourself, to yourself, by yourself

HUGH SYKES
20 Jun 2019 (tweet): #CatholicChurch #childabuse @CardinalNichols. A 'cardinal' who accused BBC News journalists of anti-#Catholic bias for doing their job is now accused of bias in favour of the reputation of his grubby organisation at the expense of children abused by priests. "#Jesus Wept."
27 Mar 2019 (tweet): #Brexit. I'd vote for a national government with these MPs in charge: Nicky Morgan, Jess Phillips and Anna Soubry. I felt quite emotional when I saw Soubry touch Phillips admiringly on the shoulder. You may say that I'm a dreamer....
1 Mar 2019 (tweets & blog): Lest We Forget. A memorial in Calais to five young members of the Resistance, "shot here at dawn on September 3rd 1944." Now, Germany and France are at peace with prosperity - and the UK, which helped to achieve both, is in danger of forgetting....Enduring peace since 1945 between nations which fought each other with vicious destruction and startling loss of life in two wars in the last century has been an astonishing achievement which it is criminal to jeopardise....The UK is part of a union of mutual trust & cooperation that has helped to anchor priceless peace in Europe for 75 years. There is an ignorant & dangerous undercurrent to Brexit - of xenophobia stoked by people too young (or unimaginative) to know what they are putting at risk.
29 Oct 2016 (tweet): #Brexit. 52% majority votes to jump over a cliff. With the 48% strapped to them. Respect the vote? Or save them from drowning? #Regrexit
27 Nov 2014: I know, & enjoy the enrichment of, many migrants. I hope David Cameron highlights their contribution, not irrational 'concern' about them.
25 Jan 2013 (tweet): Yes, Big If. But I am scrupulously objective when reporting - unlike some of my Tweets! I obey: "Hang up your opinions with your coat".
24 Jan 2013: EU faulty but only rats leave ships, & interesting that Churchill had European vision. 'It's peace, stupid' as Clinton might have said.

ANTHONY ZURCHER
11 Aug 2019 (tweet): Roughly half of Trump’s tweets these days fall in the category of “grumpy man yells at TV”.

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

CLOSURE NOTICE

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Sorry my friends, this blog is now officially closed.
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When I started it, I intended to stop after the election. Though that intention faded as time went on, I will stick with it now. I need to write about something else, something I broke off writing about a year ago. I am itching to get back to doing that - a long-term project of mine. That's one part of it (the main part of it).
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This is the other. You may still see me from time to time over at Biased BBC - which I will keep on reading - but I intend to avoid BBC News like a plague for a few months! You really can hear too much of James Naughtie and Carolyn Quinn, and see too much of Andrew Marr and Kirsty Wark. I am sick of the sound and sight of them.
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Biased BBC will, of course, go on doing its magnificent, many-eyed work and the tireless eyes of Not a sheep (more an eagle than a goat) will not let the biased BBC rest either.
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I want to thank you all for your support - and, at times of need, help. Thank you to all my followers. You have all been wonderful.
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I must thank Not a sheep for all his encouragement, and his example, and Ctesibius, kindly Ptolemaic inventor of that killer tool, the interruption coefficient - available for all to keep using!


Thanks to Hippiepooter for his support and help and for honouring me by including me in his invaluable Biased BBC digests.
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Also, thanks to my most long-term commenter, known only as Anonymous (there have been the occasional impostors adopting your name but you have always been the Anonymous!), who has shared so many of my grim experiences of listening to the Toady programme and the odious Carolyn Quinn. I have very much appreciated your comments.
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Grant, you really must add Morecambe to your list of regular haunts (far fewer midges than Scotland, much sunnier than the Gambia). Your comments have made my day many a time, and I hope to keep seeing lots of them over at B-BBC. I almost always resisted the temptation to respond with a photo of John Prescott. Thank you Grant.
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And thanks also to Andy C, whose support has been no less appreciated - and whose views towards the Rockies even I, with my superb views across Morecambe Bay to the Lakeland Hills, envy just a little bit. The idea of you reading my blog each day after looking out towards the Rockies helped inspire me to keep at it this year and to try to start again after the election. Thank you sir. Sorry for not being able to keep at it.
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Thanks again to all and, lest this be turning into the longest Oscar speech in history, let you just say

Best wishes
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Craig

Saturday, 22 May 2010

EUROPIA THE BEAUTIFUL

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Arch-Europhile James Naughtie discussed "what lies ahead for the EU" this morning with arch-Europhile and former VP of the European Commission Lord Brittan and arch-Europhile historian (and consequent Lib Dem supporter) Timothy Garton-Ash. The discussion was thoughtful, not without interest and, inevitably, given the current 'existential threats' to the Euro, not entirely free from angst either, but nonetheless it was a meeting of Europhile minds of the kind an unbiased broadcaster might not have considered entirely acceptable.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/today/hi/today/newsid_8698000/8698581.stm
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Incidentally, our old friend James Naughtie gave us a fine Freudian slip this morning (highlighted, aptly, in red), asking Leon Brittan: "Sort of intrigued about the arrival of Nick Clegg as deputy prime minister. Not as intrigued as you will be since he used to work in your office in Brussels. (Why doesn't that surprise me?) Were you surprised when you saw the deal unravel and have you offered him any advice?" You can hope, Labour Jim, you can hope!
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Lord Brittan, no less incidentally, was delighted, clearly preferring the ConLib coalition to a Conservatives-only government (Why doesn't that surprise me either?)
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Coda: The Today website's headline for this piece is classic BBC:
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********Eurozone 'must keep the show on the road'
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As a summary of the BBC narrative, this can hardly be bettered!!
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ANY QUESTIONS?

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This week's Any Questions featured a revealing encounter between Jonathan Dimbleby and a member of the audience (a typically left-wing audience, but then it was from just outside Swansea.)
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The questioner, a Mr Greg Wilkinson, offered the panel a choice of questions (war and peace or equality and inequality) - much to JD's surprise. Dimbleby wanted to be able to ask Labour leadership no-hoper John McDonnell about the Labour leadership and prompted Mr Wilkinson to use what was clearly the agreed question about the Labour leadership. The bolshie Mr Wilkinson was not playing ball: "I was given a question to ask, but that's my question. She said 'Any question', this is my question." He asked an anti-American, pro-European, anti-war question instead. (For more on Mr Wilkinson:
http://www.thisissouthwales.co.uk/news/Pensioner-picks-date-protest/article-594221-detail/article.html)
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Jonathan Dimbleby, clearly embarrassed, returned to the subject shortly afterwards, as he thought that the listening public might be "puzzled" about this exchange. He thought, naturally, that the listening public might leap to the conclusion that Mr Wilkinson's "I was given a question to ask" meant that the show's producers sometimes give their own pre-prepared questions to the audience for them to ask on their behalf - which, if true, would completely undermine the show's credibility. (Haven't we all suspected that from time to time though? And even more so about its sister show - or should that be 'brother show'? - Question Time?)
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JD explained that what Mr Wilkinson meant was that because the show gets large numbers of questions from the audience each week the producers must pick a handful to be read out. This is sort-of obvious, but it puts on record the fact that what gets asked and who is chosen to ask the questions is entirely at the discretion of the programme's producers. If a question attacking the coalition comes up first, or a question calling for the scrapping of Trident comes up third, that happens because the shows producers have chosen it to happen. If a left-wing, anti-Israeli protester (like Mr Wilkinson) gets called on to ask a question, that's because he has been picked by the show's producers. Everything is filtered through their lenses. There's nothing random about the show. All very obvious really, but sometimes the obvious goes unnoticed.
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As further evidence for all this, and in blatant disregard for the very idea behind the show, Jonathan Dimbleby then - after the four panelists had finished holding forth on Mr Wilkinson's question - simply went ahead and put the question Mr Wilkinson was supposed to have asked to John McDonnell, regardless. The programme's agenda was not going to be derailed that easily!
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THE BRANDENBURG BAIT

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Alas for the hard-working taxpayers of Germany, their parliament (with understandable reluctance) has now voted to hand over huge amounts of their money to bail out the profligate Greeks.
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Last night's Newnight led on the story. Well I say 'led on' it, but Peter Marshall's latest report started from a somewhat different angle, an angle familiar from so much of the BBC's coverage of this story, an anti-Cameron angle: "Well in two days the Eurosceptical new British leader has 'done Europe' - the power centres of Paris and Berlin. And the Europeans, struggling with their financial crisis, may well feel he's given them little more than small change. Everyone speaks of 'solidarity' but David Cameron was never going to divvy up funding, still less to surrender what he sees as British sovereignty".
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Everyone from Shirin Wheeler to Kirsty Wark has been pushing this line: Europe (especially Germany) should be showing solidarity with the poor Greeks by bailing them out. This will save the Euro. Britain should not be standing on the sidelines but should be showing solidarity too and handing over more money. The British taxpayer would doubtless be as reluctant as the German taxpayer but, then again, when have the interests of the British taxpayer ever been at the forefront of the BBC's mind? Nor do Peter Marshall's comments take into account the fact that we Brits are at least as up to our eyes in debt as the Greeks - and, if rumour is to be believed again, very possibly even more so - so we will need all the money we already have to rescue ourselves, never mind rescue the Eurozone.
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No, he was much more concerned to stoke up conflict between the new prime minister and the chancellors and presidents of Europe (just as he was doing on Thursday in Paris).
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He kept plugging away at it: "Now struggling with the Euro crisis, Angela Merkel was wishfully thinking that Britain might lend a hand." David Cameron "disabused" her.
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He still kept plugging away at it: "Even among critics of Angela Merkel here - and there are many - there's some resentment at Britain's refusal to to pay any part of the Great Euro Bailout", he said, before turning to one such critic, who sourly warned (to the accompaniment of Mr Marshall's nodding head) that, should we in the UK face collapse, our standing-aside now could seriously backfire on us. Who was this man? Remarkably, there was no caption to tell us and Peter Marshall forgot to tell us. (I bet he was a left-winger, probably from the SPD).
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There was no stopping Peter Marshall. After giving us a pair of contrasting German vox-pops, the second of whom said that 'we're all in it together', he returned to his attack: "Not 'in this together', certainly not in the financial sense, is the UK and its new premier."
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A new angle of attack followed. We saw Peter Marshall at the Cameron-Merkel joint press conference asking the new premier a question. We're so used to probing, mischief-making British journalists asking deeply embarrassing questions to our leaders that it's rarely shocking to hear them asking any question, even when putting it at a sensitive press conference between heads of government. This one was pure mischief-making: "One of the British diplomats is quoted this morning as saying it was 'crackers' for Mrs Merkel's government to act unilaterally against naked short-selling. Did you think it was 'crackers'? Did you tell Chancellor Merkel it was 'crackers'?"
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David Cameron's diplomatic answer was then spun by Mr Marshall, in a classic instance of BBC editorialising, into something worse: "That was both a pointed rebuke for Germany's measures earlier this week that set the world's markets tumbling and it was yet another reiteration (sigh) of Britain's independence."
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The spinning continued right to the bitter end: "The leader of Germany and the new leader of the UK say they get on harmoniously but on the key issue of the Euro there's discord and you can't help but hear that." Especially, if you're looking for it Peter!
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Friday, 21 May 2010

SPECULATION

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Too much to catch up on, so I won't even try! So just a vignette.
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Many of us suspected that the rumours (circulating for some time now) - that the last government acted a bit like previous Greek governments and deliberately hid the true scale of our national debt - were true. What is already a national scandal - the present level of our national indebtedness - (though it is not being treated as such by the political class or the BBC) may well be far worse than we feared. There have been statements from senior figures in the new coalition this week that suggest that they're finding lots of evidence for this. Sadly, they aren't producing it for us. If there is proof of systematic fiddling of our national accounts by Labour, our new government shouldn't act like members of a clubby, opportunistic political elite and merely suggest as much but then move on without seeking to punish the guilty parties (or party!). They should lay all the evidence before us and then call in the fraud squad. If Labour has been fiddling the books then calling in the fraud squad is hardly an unreasonable or an extreme response!!
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Imagine for a moment that the rumours are true. Wouldn't you expect the BBC, regardless of who was in power then or now, to flood our airwaves with Panorama or Analysis specials investigating the scandal? Wouldn't you expect Today to pry and probe day in and day out to get at the truth? If the rumours are true and the coalition government produces the evidence in great detail and with complete candour, how could even the generally pro-Labour BBC fail not to investigate further?
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These speculations arise as a result of the following depressing exchanges between John Humphrys and Norman Smith at 6.32am last Monday.
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Discussing George Osborne's remarks about already having found skeletons in the cupboard, John and Norm immediately ditched this discussion and concentrated instead on the cuts the coalition would soon be enforcing - their scope and their immediacy, and their falling on "Mr and Mrs Average" - as well as the setting up of an Office of Budget Responsibility. Here Norm did at least mention, in passing, that economic experts thought that Alistair Darling's growth predictions were "bluntly bordering on the heroic". (It would have been far blunter though to say they were absolute rubbish, of course. And blunter still to say (with a hat-tip to Tarzan) they were complete Ed Balls. And, being even more blunt, to say that, far from being 'heroic', they were much more likely to have been extremely 'cowardly' in their reluctance to admit reality to the voting public prior to a general election.)
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The really depressing bit follows, and it begins with a question from John Humprhys:
"And I suppose if one were being desperately cynical one might suggest that they've discovered all these skeletons in the closet at a convenient time because it enables them to say 'Look, we don't have any choice. Don't blame us for all these cuts and tax increases and all the rest of it. It's the other lot's fault. It's what they left us with."
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It's odd, isn't it, that John Humphrys's 'desperate cyninism' anticipates, to an eerie degree, Alistair Darling's "It's the oldest trick in the book, blaming the last government" defence put forward on The World At One on the same day?
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Is this going to be how the BBC reacts should evidence emerge that Labour has been systematically fiddling the books? To say that the Tories are just playing the oldest trick in the book, trying to deflect the blame for all these cuts and tax increases away from themselves and onto the last Labour government?
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This is, very obviously, to ignore the fact that the present government isn't responsible for our national debt and isn't responsible for the cuts and tax increases that are going to happen. It is Labour, Labour, Labour that is responsible. Obviously and undeniably Gordon Brown's responsibility.
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Well, not obviously and undeniably for the BBC, if Humph's question is anything to go by.
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And how did Norman Smith respond to Humph's question? By countering it, or qualifying it, or softening it? No, by agreeing with it: "I mean, of course there is an element of politicking here and of course the new coalition administration will want to apportion as much blame as possible onto Gordon Brown's administration..." Well, to quote Not a sheep again 'No shit Sherlock'. But also to quote myself, 'Norman Smith is a Labour apologist.' To concede that there is an 'element of politicking' here is to state an opinion - an opinion harmful to the coalition. There may well be an 'element of politicking' here (or there may not be), but that doesn't mean that the coalition aren't correct in their charge against Labour. And more importantly, why should we have to pay to hear Norman Smith give us his opinion that there is an 'element of politicking' here? He should, like John Humphrys, keep his opinions to himself.
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Moreover, if Gordon Brown's administration is to blame for the JAW-DROPPING level of national debt that our country and its taxpayers are liable for, and for the sheer scale of "the pain ahead" (as Norm put it) - and if it isn't no other party in the UK is! - why is it wrong to say so?
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No, if Labour are proven to have fiddled the nation's books to a scandalous degree I suspect that there won't be many Panorama or Analysis specials, nor much probing by Today.

A WARK DOWN (BAD) MEMORY LANE

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Last night's Newsnight contained a few echoes of one of the programme's most biased pre-election editions, chronicled here:
http://beebbiascraig.blogspot.com/2010/03/liz-mckeans-very-biased-report-gavin.html
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To mark David Cameron's first foreign trip as prime minister, meeting President Sarkozy at the Elysee Palace, Peter Marshall followed him to Paris. As soon as I heard Mr Marshall talk about "a history of upsets and insults", I thought 'They're bound to bring up George Osborne's joke about Sarko's height' ("the Sarkozy box" remark), from which particular molehill the programme had made almost as much of a mountain as the French. It wasn't too long in coming: "If British Euroscepticism has deep roots, there's a current bete noire here in Paris and he's the new British chancellor. It was the moment last August when Mr Osborne, at a business conference, poked fun at President Sarkozy's stature. That very personal insult appalled the French, whatever their political stripe. They felt it unforgivably rude" (Molehill, mountain). Cue a French leftist (not introduced as such of course), former Europe minister Noelle Lenoir, who called Mr Osborne "immature". Oh well, I suppose they had to bring it up, didn't they? And seek out someone from the Left to comment on it as well? As well at Mme Lenoir, Peter Marshall also sought out Cameron's "old sparring partner" Jean-Francois Cope of the Europhile UMP.
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Who did Kirsty Wark talk to in the wake of this Tory-free report? The German ambassador , the French ambassador and...Chris Bryant, shadow minister for Europe. (Why Chris Bryant?)
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And what was Kirsty's first question to the French ambassador "Ambassador, before we go on and talk about the future, let's talk about the state of the relationship before David Cameron came to power yesterday (sic), the unfortunate comments by George Osborne about President Sarkozy's stature, and on the other side what Sarkozy said about the fact that the Tories left the EPP, said that was "autistic and sad". The relationship has not been of the best up till now, has it?" M Gourdault-Montagne, being an ambassador (a role the presenter clearly doesn't understand), refused to play along and make the second part of his surname out of any more molehills but Kirsty Wark, never the diplomat, soon crashed into his answer and tried again: "And yet, and yet just months ago, sorry to interrupt you (yeah, sure you are!) and yet..are you telling me now that when President Sarkozy said it was "sad and autistic" of the Tories to leave the EPP, he was telling fibs?" When he replied diplomatically, she laughed at him derisively.
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And on she went, turning next to the German ambassador and saying "And by the same token Angela Merkel was clearly very angry as well when the Conservatives left the EPP. She was supposedly furious about it. How do you create a relationship where you're saying that you actually want Britain to be part of the European discussions about what happens to the Eurozone but you don't believe, as it were, that they're in the right position?" Herr Boomgaarden gave the answer Mr Gourdault-Montagne should have given when Kirsty laughed at his answer: "I'm an ambassador of a country not of a party. That means I don't comment on party-party relations." Exactly.
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I like Ambassador Boomgaarden. I've talked before about the BBC's keenness to get British taxpayers to fork out lots of money to save (a) the Greeks and (b) the Euro. When Kirsty shot off down this increasingly familiar line of BBC questioning, like a ferret down a spacious pair of trousers, he responded in a way that (however convincing you find it) made my wallet feel a lot happier:
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Kirsty (interrupting): "And how do you exactly see evidence of that 'constructive new relationship'? Could it be down to how much Britain is prepared to put in to help the Eurozone's financial problems?"
Ambassador: "This sounds as if we need help for the Euro..."
Kirsty: "Do you not?"
Ambassador: "No we do not. The Euro is a firm, stable and wonderful monetary unit. It works. It went up today."
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Again, like a determined ferret in the late, great Cyril Smith's trousers, Kirsty wasn't going to be deflected. My wallet looked worried again as she turned to the French ambassador and asked: "How do you want Britain to proceed? You already have this promise from Alistair Darling of the 8 billion euros (my wallet had forgotten about that!). Do you think there should be a further financial contribution from the British?" M Gourdault-Montagne said, sensibly enough, that the important thing was for Britain, and all other EU countries, to tackle its deficit - as that is the root of the problem. (Yes, cheers Gordon for making ours among the worst of all!!)
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At least putting a question for once from a devil's advocate position, Kirsty's next question (another interruption) to the French ambassador again showed her complete inability to grasp the concept of ambassadorship and ask questions appropriate to a diplomatic role: "But ambassador, do you think Britain actually in the end...Britain was right to stay outside the Eurozone, wasn't she?" That's a question you should ask a politician, not an ambassador. "It's not up to us to say", he replied, speaking for the French nation but perhaps also speaking for ambassadors as a breed!
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That she was playing devil's advocate (as all BBC interviewers should be doing at all appropriate times) was suggested by the way she put her next question: "Just finally Chris Bryant. You absolutely sure that Britain was right to stay outside the Eurozone for now and all time?" (Mr Bryant attacked the Conservatives and the coalition in both his answers, as if the election were still going on. Now how's that for "mature" politics? What would Mme Lenoir make of that? Thank goodness he's now a shadow of his former self!)

P.S. Why do BBC journalists think it's the done thing to remind foreign ambassadors about reasons to be angry with the British Conservatives? Who does that help? The French and Germans? No. The British? No. The British opposition? Perhaps. It's a strange practice, isn't it?

JIMS OF THE WORLD UNITE!

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Labour MP, and joint chair (hopefully not bought from John Lewis at our expense) of the Unite parliamentary group, Jim Sheridan was on Today this morning bellyaching about Ipsa (the "vindictive" Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority). James Naughtie was quick to "make it clear that this (the complaint against Ipsa) comes from all parties". Mr Sheridan got a sympathetic hearing. And more than that, he was extended a courtesy which I suspect might not have been extended to a Conservative MP with a comparable expenses record - Naughtie chose not to bring up any of his controversial expense claims - the plasma TV, the coffee table, the ivory leather bed, the Memory foam mattress, the new shower (etc), not to mention his enthusiastic use of the second home's allowance. He was also a very strong supporter of Speaker Martin, the Chief Trougher who famously fought tooth and nail against Freedom Of Information campaigners.
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/mps-expenses/5354087/Jim-Sheridan-claimed-for-plasma-TV-and-leather-bed.html
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A new parliament, but not a new MP and not a new story.

ON YOUR MARKS

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After attacking the 'Tory Right' for disapproving of "those pesky foreign laws" contained in the Human Rights Act (in his second post from under the gloomy ConLib ash cloud), Mark Easton has now moved on to the new immigration cap proposed by the coalition. His latest post attempts to undermine it:

Thinking cap
Mark Easton 14:06 UK time, Thursday, 20 May 2010

'It is the "mechanism" (to calculate the annual limit) that is going to be the really tricky bit', he says.

There isn't really a problem anyhow (thanks to Labour), or a least not a problem about too much non-EU economic migration: 'At the moment, the only non-EU economic migrants admitted into the UK are those with enormous wealth, enormous brains or with specific skills in areas where Britain has an identified shortage.' So stop worrying that there's too much non-EU immigration and start worrying instead about the idea of a cap and too little non-EU immigration!

Opposition is growing, apparently, to...the new proposal: 'How will the mechanism prevent the cap damaging the national interest? There are already warnings that stopping people coming to the UK who have skills or investment we need would undermine another of the coalition's stated aims - to "support sustainable growth and enterprise".' (Funny, how some 'warnings' are considered worth mentioning, but others not).

Mark Easton has been caught out over his (mis)use of statistics before, most notoriously over knife crime. Migration Watch (who he doesn't quote) record an instance of this from during the election campaign which is well worth a read:
http://www.migrationwatchuk.com/briefingPaper/document/191.
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So, it's with a strong dose of wariness that we read: 'As revealed on this blog, official data show that the number of non-EU economic migrants employed in the UK is falling - down 76,000 last year compared with the year before.'
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Am I missing something here (and I very well could be!) but surely this figure - even if taken at face value -, which is being used by Mark to suggest a long-term trend for falling non-EU economic migration - is very possibly nothing more than a short-term consequence of the fact that we were in a very deep recession last year? This figure could be nothing more, therefore, than a blip (a spike) caused by people choosing, for the time being, not to come to a country that in 2009 was deep in recession - a blip that might run counter to the overall trend. Merely quoting a large-looking number which suggests a very significant drop without putting it in the context of that deep UK recession, or even fitting it into the context of several years figures (for example, had the year before last year seen a rise of, say, 96,000, then combined with 2009's drop of 76,000 this would have resulted in a two-year rise of 20,000. Context is crucial with statistics) looks suspicious. Mark Easton's quoting of a one-off figure seems far too convenient. Or, as I say, am I missing something?

This is followed by a repeat of an earlier point: "Some sectors of the economy are already complaining that they cannot fill key vacancies." (With some eight million Brits 'economically inactive', isn't that truly extraordinary? A point Easton doesn't choose to make.)

He goes on: 'The cap could only apply to Tier 1 and Tier 2 of the existing points-based system, since those are the only two categories under which migrant workers from outside the EU can come to the UK.

Tier 1 is for "Highly skilled workers, investors and entrepreneurs". It is hard to imagine that these are the kind of immigrants the UK would want to ban.

Tier 2 covers "Sponsored skilled workers", mostly defined as "people coming to the UK with a skilled job offer to fill a gap in the workforce that cannot be filled by a settled worker". Again, it is difficult to conceive how, in the short-term, stopping these individuals would be good for Britain.'

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This last point is the third appearance of the point made earlier.

Then it was back to a Labour 'achievement', which (if Mark is to be believed) has struck a balance which 'business' thinks is too restrictive but the new government thinks isn't restrictive enough: 'The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) was set up to offer "independent, transparent and evidence-based advice to government on labour market shortages that can sensibly be filled by migration". Only non-EU workers with a job and the right skills in a sector identified by the committee are allowed in.

Some British business leaders are already fuming that the MAC has not agreed to put their sectors on the list of skill shortages which would allow them to bring talent in from overseas.'
(The fourth appearance of the point made earlier). 'The suggestion that we need a cap seems to imply that the government believes the committee has not been tough enough.'

It's woe, woe and thrice woe for the coalition then: 'So it is going to be interesting to see how the cap "mechanism" might work: set the limit high and there's no point in having it; set it low and Britain deprives itself of workers which benefit the UK ' (fifth appearance). 'The thinking cap will be worn.'
http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2010/05/thinking_cap.html
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Mark Easton's thinking cap will be worn too, trying to find ways to undermine this government.

Thursday, 20 May 2010

WOE, WOE AND THRICE WOE!

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BBC home affairs editor Mark Easton earned a reputation for himself as someone deeply reluctant to criticize the former Labour government. He was, however, occasionally critical of the Lib Dems (usually when they diverged from the Labour line) but regularly critical of the Conservatives.
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His blog presented a broadly sunlit view of Britain - a Britain far from 'broken', indeed largely healing nicely over the last, shall we say, fifteen years. Some might have applied the word 'Panglossian' to Easton's blog.
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Suddenly though Dr Pangloss ("All is for the best in this best of all possible worlds") has vanished, and his creator Voltaire - satirical, critical, pessimistic - has taken his place.
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The age of Labour sunlight, about which we all so ungratefully 'moaned', has passed. Bad times are coming (which have absolutely nothing to do with the previous pilot and crew of course!) and Easton is already impatient for this shilly-shallying new government (which has been keeping him, businesses, public services and charities waiting for years, no months, no weeks, no actually just a few days) to outline their terrifying plans - presumably so that he can get down to the business of criticizing them.
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Britain under the ConLibs is going to be painted in very different, far darker colours, I suspect, by Mark Easton. The 'unjustified' fears we held under Labour will be replaced by 'justified' fears. The 'simple-minded', who never believed him when he said that things were 'all a bit more complicated than (we) had thought' (ie safer, better than before), will now doubtless find that things are 'a bit less complicated than Mark Easton had previously thought' (ie less safe, worse).

This was his very first post from the era of the new ConLib government. It's not a very warm welcome, is it? (Nor a particularly neutral one either):
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*
Britain in the departure lounge
Mark Easton 11:44 UK time, Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Britain fidgets nervously in a deserted airport terminal. A black cloud of volcanic ash has forced all the engines to be turned off. We are hanging around waiting for the departures board to ripple back into life.

And we fear what it will tell us when it does.

The machinery of government has been put on auto-pilot, a silent glide until new ministers have been told what really happens if they press any of the cockpit buttons.

After years moaning at the crew, now they are in charge, but before they take over the controls they must listen to a pre-flight briefing explaining how it is all a bit more complicated than they thought.

I rang a departmental press office this week and asked if I could interview a minister about one of the new government's flagship policies. No-one was available. Why? Because they are still learning how they might keep the promises they made to the electorate.

So we sit and we wait.

Businesses, public services, charities: all must sit on their hands until the government flight plan has been published. It will be a few more days yet before the details of the route captain Cameron and co-pilot Clegg are planning for Britain.

The forecast is grim. Dangerous volcanic clouds drift overhead. Storms are on their way. Lightning strikes look certain.

Ashen-faced and white-knuckled, some of the passengers in the departure hall suffer a profound fear of flying.

Buckle up Britain. It is going to be a bumpy ride.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2010/05/britain_in_the_departure_loung.html

Sunday, 16 May 2010

RIPPING UP HER REALITY CARD

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Following Jon Sopel's discussion with the delicious Miranda Green and Sarah Sands, The Politics Show went rift-hunting in Birmingham, sniffing out a disgruntled Lib Dem. This particular Lib Dem, interviewed by beebette Susana Mendonca, was so disgruntled he had just resigned from his party and joined the ultra-left Greens - which kind-of (as they say in Beebland) suggests where he's coming from (as did all of his subsequent remarks).
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Susana didn't neglect to mention Charles Kennedy's disquiet and added that "we know that around a hundred Lib Dem supporters have actually left the party since that deal was made last week. I'm joined by one of those people..." Wow, a whole one hundred people!!!!
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The beebette then asked the disgruntled Lib Dem, Eddie Hartley "You must be furious to take that course of action?" The jackass (a Labour chief whip Nick Brown lookalike) was.
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Susana was wholly on his side, echoing and pre-echoing his words over PR and Trident. She went on to ask him "Now you're not the only one who's..er..basically left the party (no, there are around a surprisingly insignificant number of others, or so you keep telling us!). Do you think this will be a sign of things to come? What do you think's going to happen to the party?"
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The jackass, prompted by the beebette (and I really do mean 'prompted'), then ripped up his Lib Dem membership card on camera. The beebette then, shamelessly, stood in front of the camera and said "And there we have it. One Liberal Democrat member there ripping up his card live on air. I suppose the message to the Liberal Democrat leadership couldn't be any clearer here." Nor could the message from the BBC be any clearer.
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I hope the Liberal Democrat leadership is taking notes.
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The utter stupidity and sheer brazenness of this report were made clear by Susana's final comments, which have to be transcribed in full to be believed: "I spoke to the party about how many people have actually left. They told me that a hundred or so have actually left the party." How many times does that need repeating? Well, maybe plenty of times because this, astonishingly, is what she had to say next: "But around 400 people have actually joined the party since that coalition was formed last week." Get that: 100 people have left the party, providing the BBC with its story, but 400 people have joined the party since the coalition was formed - a fact to be mentioned, just in passing, at the very end of a very biased report!
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So, surely then the story isn't that Lib Dems are leaving the party because of the leadership's decision to team up with the wicked Tories but that the Lib Dems have had a net gain of 300 members as a result of that decision!!! That extremely fleeting concession to honest reporting having been given, what did biased Susana say next? Steel yourselves for some real BBC gall here: "So clearly keeping a positive gloss on it Jon." As opposed to the BBC, which was glossing it as negatively as it could, burying the facts in the process.
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The BBC are beyond incorrigible and this report was beyond a joke.
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CODA: Sopel called this travesty of a report "very interesting" and started his interview with Danny Alexander with the question "Well, we've just seen another membership card ripped up. What have you got to say to disaffected members?"
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Incorrigible.
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Sopel's interview with Mr Alexander was an absolute disgrace, which pursued all the angles the BBC have been pursuing in recent days with little subtlely and a little dishonesty. Sopel is not happy about this new government. For example, when Mr Alexander tried to state why the alternative options were not feasible Sopel stopped him dead and then overplayed his hand when he said that "all your former leaders seem to be holding their noses over the agreement". At one stage Mr Alexander accused him of "playing games". Sopel denied it of course, but it was the truth nonetheless.

MORE PRO-LABOUR SPIN FROM THE BBC

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The BBC are incorrigible....
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(My uninventive title might earn me a 'No Shit Sherlock' award from Not a sheep!)
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Going back to my final post from yesterday, I haven't been watching the BBC much this week but, despite that, I've already heard several disapproving/sarcastic mentions of the new coalition cabinet's lack of women, so I suspect there have been many more and that you will have heard some of them too.
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This lunchtime's Politics Show provided only the latest example, as Jon Sopel said sarcastically, "Compensating for the lack of women in the cabinet, we're joined now by Sarah Sands and Miranda Green".
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So we have a big problem, according to the BBC. The BBC likes to quote the killer figure - a cabinet of 23, featuring just 4 women.
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Here's what they mean, with helpful colour-coordination (colours chosen at random!)

Prime Minister The Rt Hon David Cameron MP
Deputy Prime Minister The Rt Hon Nick Clegg MP
Foreign Secretary The Rt Hon William Hague MP
Chancellor of the Exchequer The Rt Hon George Osborne MP
Secretary of State for Justice The Rt Hon Kenneth Clarke QC MP
Home Secretary The Rt Hon Theresa May MP
Secretary of State for Defence The Rt Hon Dr Liam Fox MP
Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills The Rt Hon Dr Vince Cable MP
Secretary of State for Work and Pensions The Rt Hon Iain Duncan Smith MP
Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change The Rt Hon Chris Huhne MP
Secretary of State for Health The Rt Hon Andrew Lansley CBE MP
Secretary of State for Education The Rt Hon Michael Gove MP
Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government The Rt Hon Eric Pickles MP
Secretary of State for Transport The Rt Hon Philip Hammond MP
Secretary of State for Environment The Rt Hon Caroline Spelman MP
Secretary of State for International Development The Rt Hon Andrew Mitchell MP
Secretary of State for Northern Ireland The Rt Hon Owen Paterson MP
Secretary of State for Scotland The Rt Hon Danny Alexander MP
Secretary of State for Wales The Rt Hon Cheryl Gillan MP
Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport The Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt MP
Chief Secretary to the Treasury The Rt Hon David Laws MP
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster The Rt Hon The Lord Strathclyde PC
Minister without Portfolio (Minister of State) The Rt Hon The Baroness Warsi PC
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The BBC, however, must take us for complete idiots - and, given that no-one seems to be pointing this out to them whenever they complain about the 'gender balance' of the new cabinet, perhaps with some justification - but this alleged 'terrible step backwards for women', about which they are getting so worked up, neglects one killer fact: The last Labour cabinet also contained just 4 women out of a cabinet of 23!!

Prime Minister The Rt Hon Gordon Brown MP
Leader of the House of Commons The Rt Hon Harriet Harman QC MP
First Secretary of State The Rt Hon The Lord Mandelson PC
Chancellor of the Exchequer The Rt Hon Alistair Darling MP
Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs The Rt Hon David Miliband MP
Secretary of State for Justice The Rt Hon Jack Straw MP
Secretary of State for the Home Department The Rt Hon Alan Johnson MP
Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs The Rt Hon Hilary Benn MP
Secretary of State for International Development The Rt Hon Douglas Alexander MP
Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government The Rt Hon John Denham MP
Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families The Rt Hon Ed Balls MP
Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change The Rt Hon Ed Miliband MP
Secretary of State for Health The Rt Hon Andrew Burnham MP
Secretary of State for Northern Ireland The Rt Hon Shaun Woodward MP
Leader of the House of Lords The Rt Hon The Baroness Royall of Blaisdon PC
Minister for the Cabinet Office The Rt Hon Tessa Jowell MP
Secretary of State for Scotland The Rt Hon Jim Murphy MP
Secretary of State for Work and Pensions The Rt Hon Yvette Cooper MP
Chief Secretary to the Treasury The Rt Hon Liam Byrne MP
Secretary of State for Wales The Rt Hon Peter Hain MP
Secretary of State for Defence The Rt Hon Bob Ainsworth MP
Secretary of State for Transport The Rt Hon The Lord Adonis MP
Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport The Rt Hon Ben Bradshaw MP
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The BBC are trying to pull the wool over our eyes on this issue. They are condemning and mocking our new government for something Brown's last cabinet was no less guilty of. They didn't scream blue murder then, so why are they doing it now? And how dare they think we wouldn't notice?

It look as if they are going to chuck anything they can at this new government (especially one part of it) and will clearly not let any ideas of fairness or honesty get in their way. (Why change the habit of a lifetime?)
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Labour got a honeymoon from the BBC in 1997 that just went on and on and on (arguably for 13 years, with a brief blip during the Iraq War). The ConLibs haven't even had a day's grace from the biased BBC.
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UPDATE: After the Susana report (reviewed above), Sopel returned to his earlier point, in his sarcastic introduction to Lib Dem Scottish Secretary Danny (as opposed to Dougie) Alexander: "Well, in this new era of new politics we have something entirely new - Lib Dem cabinet ministers. Five of them. All men. "Male and pale" to use the phrase." A phrase, as I say, not used by Sopel and his kind about the no less 'male' or 'pale' final Labour cabinet. The BBC are truly, truly shameless. (And on the 'pale' front, I'll match lonely Baroness Scotland (1) with Baroness Warsi (1) No, the new government is no less 'hideously white' than its predecessor, despite what the BBC is trying to insinuate here).
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PS Just a thought. Given that, as in this case, the Lib Dems (previously much favoured by the BBC) are now witnessing some collateral damage resulting from fire aimed at their coalition partners, the Conservatives, in the new spirit of the times, even they might begin to see the BBC in a new and less favourable light. I think a few e-mails to them are in order too.

RIFTS IN THE CON-LIB CONTINUUM

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The BBC's intention to focus relentlessly on potential rifts within the new coalition has already become bleedingly obvious.
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Not a sheep has tweeted that the Politics Show has been rift-hunting today on the issue of Europe. Here's a further example on exactly the same subject from Shirin Wheeler on this week's The Record Europe, where she explored the question posed in her introduction: "But will the differences in their policies over Europe prove to be the fatal faultline in the alliance?"

DID YOU FEEL SLIGHTLY DIRTY?

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How has Gordcasting House been coping with the bad news (for it) following the election, when its man went down to just 29% and was subsequently prized out of Downing Street? Not that well by the sounds of it.
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The programme obsessed about the Lib Dems &, as I would expect from BH, ignored the Tories - in much the same way that Today has been ignoring the feelings of Tories. Paddy O'Connell right away emphasized the importance of Charles Kennedy's having "sounded alarm at the new coalition" and went on to recall Roy Jenkins: "He left the Labour Party to co-found the SDP and for some that was an act of betrayal, for others a sign of one of the sharpest minds of the political landscape." (I strongly suspect that Paddy thinks that Nick Clegg has committed an act of betrayal too).
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Paddy talked to Jenkin's biographer John Campbell, who thought that though, were he still alive, Jenkins would have been pleased at the "crack in the ice" of "sterile" left-right politics, he would have preferred it if there had been a "progressive" re-alignment of the Left beginning with a Lib-Lab coalition.
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Next, it was off to Birmingham to talk to the Lib Dem deputy leader of the Con-Lib council there, Paul Tilsley. Paddy asked him: "And would you kindly be blunt? In your heart, when you shook hands with the Conservatives, were you scared and did you feel slightly dirty?" What a question! Can you imagine him asking that question (with appropriate amendments) to the Conservative leader of Birmingham City Council - in the unlikely situation of Paddy O'Connell ever talking to such a person? Mr Tilsley was "blunt", bluntly saying "No" to both questions. Sorry Paddy, it wasn't to be.
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His next question began "And you're making cuts." He didn't follow this up, just made it as a statement (just as if he were a Labour Party politician, reminding the voters of something they ought to know) and then moved straight on, without giving Mr Tilsley the right to reply, saying "So let's get to the heart of this matter again. There's a tug between the head and the heart of your party and Charles Kennedy, the popular (word emphasized by Paddy) former leader, has implied that he can't see it working." That was the question. Having broadened the question beyond Brum, Paddy found that Mr Tilsley gave an answer he didn't want. The Lib Dem sighed and brilliantly called the alternative (i.e. the 'rainbow coalition') "the Dagenham solution - it's two stops from Barking." Paddy intervened to say "OK, let me just...forgive me...we would just like on another day your analysis of the national picture, but please stay in Brum because what I want to say is...". At which Mr Tilsley interrupted him and protested (good-naturedly) "But you were trying to get me out of Brum!" "Fair enough", said Paddy, and moved on.
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From the Lib Dems, the programme moved on to Labour and the Miliband Brothers. (It was time for Paddy to look on the bright side, cross his fingers and wish upon a lucky star. ) We heard from "two friends and colleagues of their late father, the Marxist intellectual and international socialist Ralph Miliband, and also from one of his sons." Ah, it wouldn't be BH, would it, without either a Labour politician or a far-Leftist (or two)?! The friends of the old commie were "the activist co-editor of of Red Pepper magazine" Hilary Wainwright and "the historian and writer" Tariq Ali.
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Paddy also went along to that 'Ed Miliband for leader' meeting we saw on the BBC a couple of days ago, making sure we heard the cheers and someone shouting out loudly "We love you Ed". (I don't think it was Paddy O'Connell himself.) He asked Ed a few questions, and here they are in all their challenging glory:
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- "How's it going?"
- "It's early days?"
- "Did you know there's an event here, 'My Dear Brother'?"
- "How will you stand out from the rest of the candidates?"
- "What would Ralph Miliband have made of the candidate?"
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Both Hilary Wainright and Tariq Ali - and the Milibands' mum by the sounds of it - want Labour to stop being Thatcherite opportunists and become a true socialist party again (and we all know what they mean by 'socialist' in this context). The intelligence of the Brothers was praised however.
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Paddy O'Connell sounded happy with these people.

Saturday, 15 May 2010

THE XX FACTOR

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I am wholly supportive of getting many more women into parliament and government (especially good-looking ones). However, despite such feminist ardour on my part, I found Nicola Standbridge's report on this morning's Today to be a deeply dissatisfying one.
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Prompted by Lynne Featherstone (the fetching new Equalities minister) and her comments calling for more female representation in the top echelons of government, Nicola went to meet the Fawcett Society, an old feminist organisation that features quite regularly on Today. She called it "an antidote to Cameron and Clegg's cabinet of 19 men and 4 women." The Fawcetts have 7 women and 1 man in its daily meeting - which is, of course, much fairer!
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We listened in to the discussion as the Fawcetts discussed the new Con-Lib coalition's attitude to women's equality and caringly-sharingly-positively agreed (unanimously) that it would "put the brakes on if not move it backwards". (I distinctly remember a leading Fawcett coming out for Labour during the election, so this is, perhaps, unsurprising.) Nic interviewed the chief of the Fawcetts, Labour-supporting Ceri Goddard (pictured). Nic treated her as the fount of all wisdom.
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Where did Nicola look for foreign inspiration? To Bolivia and its communist president Evo Morales. (Ah, the BBC and its love of communists!) Evo has granted women "gender parity" - something the Fawcetts, of course, are extremely keen on. Nic talked to Ana Maria Romero, communist President of the Bolivian Senate. She "encouraged us to follow their lead". Nic asked her, "So would you say Cameron and Clegg are missing out with just 4 out of 23 cabinet members?" Red Ana said "yes" and, "though I don't like her", cited Margaret Thatcher as a sign that women can participate in British politics. Thanks for that insight Ana. Thanks for that insight Nicola.
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At least Nicola did talk to someone who, despite being a feminist, doesn't believe in lists and quotas - the classicist Prof Mary Beard (who I always think of as the professor who said that the US "had it coming" when thousands of people were horrifically murdered on 11 September 2001). She, light-heartedly, cited a well-known example from Ancient Greece of a way for women to get what they want (here more political representation) - by refusing their menfolk sex. (That made Sarah Montague snicker!)

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A campaigning piece, of course, rather than a piece of reportage. Should the supposedly impartial BBC be conducting such pieces?