BBC Complaints: The link you need!

Thursday, 31 December 2009

HAPPY NEW YEAR? YES, HAPPY NEW YEAR!!

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My favourite blogger Not a Sheep has published a list of predictions for 2010 & it makes for gloomy reading:
http://notasheepmaybeagoat.blogspot.com/2009/12/heres-to-2010.html
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His whole list is essential reading, but here are his five festive predictions for the BBC:
1. The BBC will become ever more blatantly biased in favour of the Labour party, the Conservatives won't realise how serious this is.
2. The tone of the BBC's leader's debate will be clearly pro-Labour, the Conservatives won't realise how serious this is.
3. The BBC will minimise their coverage of the postal voting scandal (see above), the Conservatives will finally realise how serious BBC bias is but it is too late.
4. The BBC will continue to push for the withdrawal of armed forces from Afghanistan.
5. The BBC will continue to vilify Israel at every opportunity and revel in the coming war against Israel.
My main New Year's resolution is to use every scrap of what I've gathered here to try and help avert the horrors Not a Sheep predicts (those in his whole list of predictions, not just the BBC-related ones). I will e-mail anyone and everyone I think might be willing and able to do something to prevent the BBC from swinging the election towards Gordon Brown and his Labour government (politicians, journalists etc. Any further ideas will be gratefully received!). The general election is surely five months away. The time has come for further and much stronger action.
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My I.C. list for December will follow tomorrow (as PM and The World Tonight are still to come) - hangover permitting!!
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Happy New Year to you all, & let's hope everything works out better than we can hope!!

SHAUN LEYBOUR

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The whole of the second half of today's The World at One (14 minutes-worth of airtime) was devoted to a politicians' panel discussion on public spending cuts, presented by Shaun Ley. The three politicians interviewed were Eric Joyce, Patricia Hewitt and Charles Clarke. Yes, three Labour MPs!! Their interruption coefficients were 0.2, 0.2 and 0 respectively.
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Shaun's on-air justification was that as Labour have been in power for the last 12 years, it would be good to hear from three politicians with recent experience of cutting public spending. Yes, that really was his justification for excluding all opposition politicians!!
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As I've recorded every interview Shaun Ley has conducted on Radio 4 since June of this year I can now reveal that he has conducted the following number of interviews with politicians of each UK political party:

Labour - 49
Conservatives - 18
Lib Dems - 10
DUP - 1
Sinn Fein - 1
UUP - 1
UKIP - 1
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In other words, he's interviewed more Labour MPs than all the politicians from all the other political parties put together (and by some margin, 49-32). Of course, because Labour is in power it is right that it in particular is held to account by journalists. (Tell that to Michael Crick!)So, if that's the reason why Labour dominates The World at One, you might expect to find that Shaun Ley interrupts Labour MPs more than those from the opposition parties. Not so, his average interruption coefficient against Labour is 0.37, whereas his average interruption coefficient against the Conservatives is higher at 0.45 - though for the Lib Dems it is a mere 0.14. (His figure against UKIP is higher still, at 0.5).
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Shaun Ley is by no means the worst offender at the BBC - or anywhere near it -, but he is an offender nonetheless.

A SUITABLE JOB FOR A BARONESS

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This morning's Today programme was guest-edited by Conservative-supporting crime writer P.D. James. Several of these guest-editors have shown the programme's usual editorial team how to do it, as concerns lack of bias in choice of contributors. Baroness James may have requested a right-wing guest, the ever-entertaining David Starkey, but she also asked for Sunder Katwala, General Secretary of the Fabian Society, Jack Straw and biased policeman Sir Ian Blair. (She also invited on Lynda La Plante, who is best known for playing the hay-fever suffering ghost Tamara Novek in 'Rentaghost' - for those of a certain age!).
http://news.bbc.co.uk/today/hi/today/newsid_8435000/8435723.stm
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Especially thought-provoking, like, was the segment on exams then and now (at 7.41), which is, like, well worth a listen.
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Also, Phyllis's interview with BBC director general Mark Thompson was enjoyable, asking him several questions that bog-standard BBC interviewers would never have asked him - though, sadly, she didn't question him on the BBC left-wing political bias. The interview has already made The Daily Telegraph's website: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/tvandradio/6915329/PD-James-accuses-unwieldy-bureaucratic-and-wasteful-BBC-of-losing-its-way.html
And Philip Johnson is making some telling comments on what happened during the interview and how the BBC News website is spinning it:
http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/philipjohnston/100021010/bbc-pay-bureaucracy-and-ageism-p-d-james-speaks-for-the-nation/
The BBC article, Director General Thompson defends BBC top salaries, is here:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/8435633.stm

A TALE OF THREE ARTICLES

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This comment from Llew needs bumping up to post status, as it's an excellent piece of research:
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All 3 main parties have a page each reporting their New Year's message.

Labour's, as you say, is quite long. The Tories do get 3 little
paragraphs at the end for a little dig at Labour. There's no dig from the Lib
Dems. The side bar from correspondent Ross Hawkins gets another dig in against
the Tories even though they weren't mentioned by name by Gordon.

The Tories page is a bit shorter, naturally. Unlike Labour, there's no side bar
section where a correspondent highlights a bit of David Cameron's message or
knocks Labour's message, naturally. There are 7 paragraphs at the end knocking
the Tories from both Labour and the Lib Dems, naturally.

The Lib Dems page is of course even shorter. There's no knocking from either Labour or the Tories but of course there is a bit of knocking of the Tories. They do get a side bar, unlike the Tories, but theirs is of course a tiny snippet when
compared with the larger sidebar on Labour's page.


3 main parties. 3 completely different levels of coverage. Balanced? I think not.


Here are the links to each article on the BBC News website:
For Cameron: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/8431899.stm
For Clegg: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/8433904.stm
For Brown: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/8434137.stm
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I note since yesterday (http://beebbiascraig.blogspot.com/2009/12/bbc-fairly-reports-browns-great-new.html) that the 'Throw of Dice' subheading on the Brown article (relating to a comment by Conservative Chris Grayling) has now been cut, replaced instead by more words from Brown: 'Go for growth'. (At least, unlike Fairly Shared - which has survived the re-write - the webpage editor has put this in inverted commas!).
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************************CODA
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On a related matter, take a look at this BBC News website article, Scotland's politicians outline aims for 2010, and look at the order in which Scotland's leaders are placed:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/8433859.stm
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So that's:
1. Alex Salmond (SNP)
2. Iain Gray (Labour)
3. Tavish Scott (Liberal Democrat)
4. Annabel Goldie (Conservative)
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This, however, is how Scottish voters (at the last Holyrood election in 2007) have ranked the parties:
1. SNP
2. Labour
3. Conservative
4. Liberal Democrat
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Have the Conservatives been dumped below the Lib Dems because of their share of the vote/number of seats won at the 2005 general election? Is this why the article ranked the parties as it did? Possibly - or possibly not, as this was the result in 2005:
1. Labour
2. Liberal Democrat
3. SNP
4. Conservative
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So why place the Scottish Tories fourth in the pecking order, rather than the Lib Dems? Not a major point of course, but revealing nonetheless.

Wednesday, 30 December 2009

SHAUN LEY RE-WRITES THE McBRIDE AFFAIR

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Shaun Ley was reviewing Gordon Brown's year on today's World at One, ignoring the prime minister's disgusting, disingenuous New Year message, which promises of a decade of prosperity if the voters don't ruin it all by voting for the wicked Conservatives. (If that man ever had a moral compass - and I really doubt it now - he lost it years ago).
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Shaun recalled the McBride affair in the most bizarre terms imaginably, talking of "the fallout from the resignation of Damien McBride, an advisor accused of smearing Labour politicians on the prime minister's behalf." This is a complete re-write of history. Yes, McBride - and lots of other allies in the Brown bunker - did attack other Labour politicians but they also smeared Conservative politicians, and the wives of Conservative politicians, in the most disgusting way. It's that which hit the headlines. Why did Shaun Ley forget to mention that?

BBC 'FAIRLY' REPORTS BROWN'S 'GREAT' NEW YEAR MESSAGE

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The BBC News website's strange use of inverted commas in its sub-headings (for seemingly biased purposes) has long been a running theme on the Biased BBC website. Here's an example.
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Gordon Brown's New Year Message is reported on (at length) here:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/8434137.stm
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The first subheading reads
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******Fairly shared
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and relates to Brown's promises of a golden decade to come. Note no inverted commas here, despite it being a quotation from the prime minister himself. Why?
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The second subheading refers to the Conservatives' response to this pile of Brownite drivel:
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******'Throw of dice'

Here there are indeed inverted commas. Why? (Because it's a quotation, like the above one from Brown?)
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Odd, isn't it?
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THINKING. ONLY LEFT-WING THOUGHTS ALLOWED

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If some of my posts can feel like nothing more than a long list of lefties, here's another - but this time I'll let the Radio Times do the listing for me. This is for Radio 4 this afternoon:
4.00 Thinking Aloud
Laurie Taylor discusses whether education is the key to
social mobility with Lynsey Hanley of The Guardian, Richard Reeves of Demos, Danny Dorling, professor of geography, and sociologist Dick
Hobbs.


So if Lynsey Hanley of The Guardian (and The Observer and The New Statesman of course) and Richard Reeves of the centre-left, Labour-leaning think-tank Demos aren't left-wing enough for you, there's always Danny Dorling, far-left professor of 'human' geography and Today programme regular (and occasional contributor, naturally, to The Guardian and New Statesman). As for Dick Hobbs, the sociologist/criminologist at (guess where?) the L.S.E., who has advised the Labour government on a number of issues, I reserve judgement until I hear what he has to say. As though for presenter Laurie Taylor, he's so enmeshed, personally and professionally, with the Left that he probably thinks this selection of guests covers the broadest possible range of opinion!!!
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In what way isn't this programme's choice of guests an affront to politically-balanced broadcasting?

JUSTIN TIME TO DEFEND OBAMA

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It's intriguing how certain commentators keep cropping up on the BBC.
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Last night's The World Tonight featured Michael Scheuer, the former CIA officer who launched the Extraordinary Rendition programme back in 1995 under the Clinton administration, discussing Barack Obama and the Nigerian plane bomber. This was not Mr Scheuer's first appearance on the programme. (His last appearance was on 1oth December, discussing Osama Bin Laden).
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Then, tuning in to the Today programme this morning, he was there again (introduced by Justin Webb as "one of the architects of America's rendition programme"). This is not necessarily a bad thing of course. Mr Scheuer is an interesting if controversial guy, and author of the influential Imperial Hubris. He was a strong critic of American foreign policy under the Bush Administration, but is far from uncritical of President Obama.
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Voicing criticism of Barack Obama was virtually guaranteed to bring Obama-worshipper Justin Webb crashing in, not just to put the president's point of view, but to defend it too: "Yeah but...on that point, that it should have been passed on, what President Obama (..all praise President Obama!..) says is that this information was passed to a component of our intelligence community. In other words, having received the information from the father in Nigeria it appears to have gone further but then says it was not effectively distributed so as to get the suspect's name onto a no-fly list. Now, that does actually fit the president's description, doesn't it, of a systemic failure?"*

CRAIG IS 'HARSH' ABOUT YOUNG ROSS HAWKINS

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Last night's The World Tonight featured a sympathetic take on Gordon Brown's year from young Ross Hawkins, spotlighting praise for him from Barack Obama and emphasizing that the expenses scandal hit all parties - though adding that all the best stories were about Labour's political opponents! (What about the bell-tower? Balls's Remembrance Day wreath? Brown's downstairs toilet?).
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There were three journalists as 'talking heads', and two of them were pro-Brown - George Parker of The Financial Times and Steve Richards of The Independent. The other was Iain Martin of The Wall Street Journal (Europe). He was not pro-Brown, and young Ross said (after the short clip of him speaking) that Mr Martin's words might sound "harsh". He didn't say later that Mr Richards's words might sound "generous" or "soft" of course!! To my centre-right ears (hope that doesn't conjure up an image of me as a figure in a Picasso painting!), Iain's words didn't sound harsh at all. They sounded spot on! Why did Ross Hawkins cast a critical judgement on the contribution made by a right-of-centre journalist, critical of the Great Leader? Anything to do with BBC bias?

Tuesday, 29 December 2009

SPECIFICALLY ABOUT CAROLYN

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Tonight's PM, again hosted by Carolyn Quinn (pictured right), followed the lead set by every other BBC Radio 4 current affairs programme so far & discussed the Chinese execution of 'bipolar Brit' Akmal Shaikh with a Left-Liberal type - in this case the foggy-minded Nick Clegg of the Left-Liberal Democrats (I.C. of 0.3).
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Afghanistan was discussed with two military men - Col. Wayne Shanks, the public affairs officer with US and NATO forces (a short interview, during which all Carolyn's questions could be summed up with the words 'Woe,woe and thrice woe!') and Alasdair Ross of 2 Rifles (a very sympathetic 7-minute interview). The interview with Col. Shanks was brisk and business-like, whereas the interview with Mr Ross (who's also a Labour councillor in Ipswich) was leisurely and involving.
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A remarkable report from Terry Stiasny followed. Terry returned to a school in Islington to see what echoes lingered of the Countenance Divine whose sainted feet trod on England's mountains green last April - i.e. Michelle Obama. She recalled "the first lady's hugs and spontaneity", and pressed a student to "go back, if you're in need of a bit of inspiration" to recall that great day when She walked among us. The pupils may have needed a little prodding to wax lyrical. Not so Terry Stiasny.
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Much of the final part of PM today was devoted to an end-of-year round-up of the political scene, compered by Carolyn herself, between Labour's John Cruddas (I.C. of 0.2), Lib Dem Ed Davey (I.C. of 0.3) and Conservative Andrew Pirie (I.C. of 0.3). The interruption coefficients here are much of a muchness. Considering my (inferior) side measure, the questions coefficient, though and you will get a sense that things weren't quite as balanced as those figures suggest - 0.9 for Mr Davey, 1.2 for Mr Cruddas but 2.4 for Mr Pirie.
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And so clearly was Carolyn Quinn aiming most of her specific questions at Mr Pirie that I can introduce a fresh measure here - the specific/general questions ratio. Under specific questions come ones that ask about the interviewee's party in particular - or his own personal responsibilities. These are, naturally, tougher questions. Under general questions, however, come questions unrelated to the interviewee's own political party, or his personal responsibilities (eg. questions about the BNP, or how all the political parties have been hit by the expenses scandal, or about Lords reform, etc). Looked at in this way, here's how things pan out:
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Interviewee****General questions*** Specific questions
John Cruddas*********** 3***********************1
Andrew Pirie************3***********************5
Ed Davey*************** 3********************** 1
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The single specific question aimed at Mr Cruddas concerned his earlier comments about Gordon Brown's prospects, whereas the single specific question aimed at Mr Davey was a typical Carolyn Quinn-style question: "And of course your party's got a problem because it...(sic)...not that many women, no ethnic minorities in the Commons at the moment." There were, as you can see, five specific questions aimed at Mr Pirie, including the interruption "David Cameron's got a presidential style has he?", as well as "What is the Conservative view of that?", " So you didn't go far enough?", "You've got David Cameron trying to force through all-women shortlists & coming up against quite a lot of opposition from the party", & "Where do you think the Conservatives are left then because sealing the deal is something David Cameron recognises hasn't been done yet?" All Carolyn Quinn's recent politics panels on 'Westminster Hour' have followed a similar pattern, boxing the Conservative guest in with specific questions but allowing the left-of-centre politicians much more open questions and, therefore, a freer scope and an easier time.
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THE TARDIS FLIES BACK TO MAY - AND MARDELL ON UKIP

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I'm digging back gradually through the Today programme archive to see how they handled the run-up to the June elections. In a recent post I showed how James Naughtie tried hard to undermine David Cameron, whereas that nice Evan Davis was all sweetness and light (as, in fairness, he tends to be in general) with Gordon Brown. Going back to May 30th, and we find Today doing its bit to damage UKIP. Here's the link, so you too can re-live a classic instance of BBC bias. http://news.bbc.co.uk/today/hi/today/newsid_8074000/8074968.stm
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The interview between John Humphrys and Nigel Farage (I.C. of 0.9) is not really the problem. The problem was Mark Mardell, then the BBC's Europe editor, and his dreadful report. Nigel Farage called it 'grossly unfair' - and he was dead right. UKIP can bless their lucky stars that Mardell has moved his large frame over to the USA & won't be smearing them come the 2010 general election.
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Here are some of Mardell's classic lines from the piece:
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"Most members of the European parliament regard UKIP as profoundly unserious pranksters with a weird obsession."
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"Mr Farage admits that he's spent a lot of time fighting off a takeover by the far-right. That must say something about the sympathies of some members."
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"UKIP condemns the EU gravy train but a good proportion seem to have prominent gravy stains all down their blazers."
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"The European Parliament, for all its bad reputation, is a place where the politicians have a serious job, modifying, tweaking, even kicking out proposed new laws. UKIP don't boast of any achievements on this front and their opponents say they've voted against Britain's interests in a host of areas from fishing to trade talks."
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"If not the BNP in blazers then there is something of the golf-club militant
about UKIP."
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"In a parliament that's about quiet conciliation not gestures they make a lot of noise."

ALALECTS OF WILL HUTTON

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Shaun Ley's World at One began by discussing the Chinese execution of Mr Shaikh. The BBC's eternal bias towards the Liberal-Left was much in evidence here, as Shaun turned for 'expert advice' to two Liberal-Lefties. First there was Jonathan Fenby, former editor of The Observer, and previously an editor at both The Guardian and The Independent. (He only needs The New Statesman & he'll have a full house!). Joining him was the omnipresent (though not omniscient) Will Hutton, another former editor of The Observer. Both doubtless know a lot about China but surely lots of right-of-centre (or just 'centre') people also know a thing or two about that vast empire and might be consulted on the subject by the BBC. (Ask Amir Taheri though whether a deep knowledge of a country/region helps you get a regular invite to appear on the BBC if you're not a Liberal-Leftie!!)

PROFESSOR PRESCOTT!!!!

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Away from the subject of BBC bias (so far) but I can't help spreading the remarkable news that John Prescott has been made a Professor of Climate Change by Xiamen University (or, in other words, by the Chinese government)!
http://order-order.com/2009/12/29/prezza-becomes-china-apologist/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+guidofawkes+%28Guy+Fawkes%27+blog+of+parliamentary+plots%2C+rumours+and+conspiracy%29
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Professor Prescott!!!!!
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Is this a draft of his first lecture to those poor Chinese students?
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This 'ere theory by that Man..Milosevic...Milankovitch...theorised that, as
Gordon Brown also said in that excellent speech he made when he spoke the other
year at Copencabana, so far as I can tell, that the Earth's axle completes one
full cycle every 26 years...and 26 years ago Mrs Thatcher was in power and them
Tories, what do they know about climate change?, they caused it, I'm the EU reportage on climate change by the way, I know what I'm talking about, but them Tories, what do they know?...anyway back to that Melonkobits guy, he showed that the earth moves (Pauline says I make the earth move for her)...and so does the climate, every 26 years, and he was a maths guy so he should know what he's talking about too.

A MORE BALANCED SPLASH

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Today this morning was guest-edited by the wonderful David Hockney, That's why we got to hear from the (very French) conservative philosopher Alain Finkielkraut on jogging (like Mr Hockney, he's not a fan!). We also got to hear from a left-wing historian David Kynaston on smoking (of which Mr Hockney is very much a fan!) That's how Today should be edited every day - with the guiding principle of political balance to the fore.
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Away from David Hockney and smoking, the programme featured futile condemnation of the Chinese government's execution of the drug-trafficking Brit, Akmal Shaikh, from Labour minister Ivan Lewis (I.C. of 0 for Evan Davis). It also featured an interview with another anti-death-penalty campaigner, the UN's Philip Alston. (You might be suspected of thinking that the BBC is not in favour of capital punishment!)
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Talking of cruel, authoritarian regimes, our own beloved Labour government's record on the issue of personal freedom is hardly a glowing one & (following a report from Nick Robinson that gave one bite of the cherry each to Bob Marshall-Andrews (Labour) and David Willetts (Conservative) and, naturally, two bites of the cherry to Lib Dem Chris Huhne) ol' Justin Webb challenged David Blunkett about the issue, albeit with good humour (he's not a Tory after all) (I.C. of 0.4). *
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AM I (ROGER) HEARING THAT RIGHT?

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'Climategate' has been buried alive at the BBC & it's certainly back to business as usual at The World Tonight - though with an odd twist. Last night's edition featured a long closing section on the subject of global warming, beginning with a lengthy chat between BBC economics correspondent Jonty 'Tax and Spend' Bloom and Jonathan Porritt (no one at the Beeb asks him about his education at Eton and Oxford). Bloom sucked up to Porritt ("You came at this remarkably early"), invited him to join him in castigating the 'short-termism' of UK politicians, and wondered why, when the Thames is at such risk of severe flooding due to global warming, Westminster (which is on the river) is so inactive on the issue?
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On the Left-Right front, the following discussion (hosted by Roger Hearing) was unusual for the programme in featuring two right-of-centre panelists - historian Andrew Roberts and Europhile environmentalist Conservative MP John Gummer - as well as, much more typically, George Monbiot. (You wait days for a single right-of-centre guest to appear on The World Tonight, then two appear at once!). All, however, advocate action 'to tackle climate change', which (I presume) is why they were acceptable to the programme's left-liberal producers -and Mr Gummer wanted, not surprisingly for him, action at the EU level - which would make him doubly acceptable to them!
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Elsewhere, though, The World Tonight trod very familiar left-liberal pathways. On the execution of Mr Shaikh by the Communist Chinese, Roger Hearing talked first to a lady from the anti-death penalty organisation Reprieve Sally Rowan (director of their Death Penalty team), and then to the very-left-wing commentator/former World Tonight presenter Isabel Hilton of China dialogue (and the Guardian and Independent).
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The latest protests in Iran were then discussed with the man the BBC regularly chooses to discuss Iran with, Professor Ali Ansari of St Andrews University (and the Guardian, Independent, and New Statesman). Why not Amir Taheri? Why is he so rarely on the BBC? Is it 'cos he's a conservative?
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Next up for discussion was President Obama's reaction to the attempted Christmas mass-murder-on-board-a-plane by a Londonistan-educated Nigerian Muslim extremist. A bizarre BBC correspondent called Imtiaz Tyab called it a "Christmas Day scare", and contrasted the 'cool', 'calm' and 'very reassuring' way Mr Obama had handled it with the way the previous Bush administration might of handled it. (Ah, the BBC in America! You can always rely on them for biased reporting!)
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Finally, there was an interview with a lady from the Isle of Barra (Karen MacLean), who wants the government to step in and subsidize the air-link to the island, currently at risk.

Monday, 28 December 2009

THE CRUEL BARBARITY OF CAROLYN QUINN

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Tonight's PM with Carolyn Quinn began by exploring the story of Akmal Shaikh, the British drug smuggler facing execution in Communist China. The issue was discussed with someone who's "an expert in human rights", Saul Lehrfreund of The Death Penalty Project. This is not an organisation that campaigns for the death penalty, you won't be surprised to hear. Mr Lehrfreund and Carolyn got on like a house on fire.
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If you'd expect Carolyn to share Mr Lehhfreund's opposition to the death penalty, you'd also surely expect her not to be in favour of further 'profiling' of terrorist suspects - after all that might risk offending the Muslims (who, for some unfathomable reason, people suspect of being ever so slightly more likely to want to blow up aeroplanes, with people on them). Her line of questioning to Philip Baum, an airline security expert with Green Light Ltd showed that to be a very reasonable expectation.
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The ever-entertaining Eric Pickles was up next, love-bombing an unwooable Danny Alexander of the Liberal Democrats. Carolyn interrupted Eric to ask about...guess what?....inheritance tax, then, when the interview ended read out one e-mail from 'a listener' who said he'd never vote Tory because of the "the cruel barbarity of fox, deer and hare hunting".
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We then had yet another report about Gaza. Gaza, Gaza, Gaza, day in day out on the BBC. I couldn't care less about Gaza. I'd like to hear about Japan, or Mongolia, or New Zealand, or Tunisia, or Congo, or Canada, or Mexico...anywhere except Gaza. The BBC are obsessed about Israel and the Palestinians.
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Eddie Mair (my favourite BBC interviewer, unlike Carolyn Quinn) then continued his series of full-length interviews with retiring MPs. These have all been interesting, with Eddie extracting a fine confession from John Hutton last Tuesday. (Good man John Hutton. He characterised Gordon Brown's prospects as prime minister perfectly, and in the circumstances his swearing was understandable!!). So far though, he's talked to Labour's John Hutton (last Tuesday), Labour's Bob Marshall-Andrews (last Thursday) and Independent Labour MP Clare Short (today). Hopefully, PM's producers will set Eddie up with a few retiring Conservative MPs later. (If not, why not?)

LICENCE TO BE BIASED

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STOP THE PRESSES!
SHOCK NEWS!
LABOUR PLACEMAN STARMER
ATTACKS TORIES - AGAIN!
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The World at One today featured a fifteen-minute interview by Martha Kearney of Labour's Director of Public Prosecutions Keir Starmer. Shaun Ley's introductory words - both at the start of the programme and before the interview - spotlighted Starmer's rejection of Conservative proposals to tighten the law to protect homeowners from prosecution when defending themselves against burglars, as did the news bulletin. The interview itself was a pretty soft one, with most time going to Starmer's thinking on assisted suicide and, to finish with, a few soft questions about how he's enjoying the job and how he's coping with a new child (giving him the chance to creep to the ladies that his DPP job is much easier than looking after children. Typical New Labour guff.) Martha did ask him a few pertinent questions about his left-wing past but they were hardly asked in a spirit of hostility. Indeed, warmth was the overall tone of the interview.
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The interview gets a write-up on the BBC News website. Here's where my real beef lies. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/8432678.stm (I note in passing that the report uses the word 'Tories' three times (and one 'Tory' for good measure) but the correct term 'Conservatives' only once.) Despite the fact that the website report says 'In the wake of the Hussain case, Mr Grayling had insisted that the Tories were not promising a "licence to kill a burglar"' the BBC's sub-headline reads (without any obvious justification) 'Licence to kill'!
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The BBC website is a sick joke, to which I should (and will) pay more attention.

WHO WILL INTERVIEW CAMERON DURING THE GENERAL ELECTION? EVAN OR JIM?

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I began my survey following the June 2009 elections, provoked by the bias I heard in many BBC interviews leading up to election day. Browsing the Today programme's archive for the first days of June reminds me why I started doing it - and provides a warning for the general election to come.
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On June 1st Evan Davis conducted a long (18 minute plus) interview with Gordon Brown - a very gentle affair (that did not even mention Brown's own expenses claims) which yielded a paltry interruption coefficient of 0.4. On the following day came David Cameron. Unfortunately for him he was up against James Naughtie. This was a hostile (11 minute) interview, full of personal attacks (on Cameron's expenses) and lots and lots of sighs, abortive interruptions and miscellaneous weird noises from Naughtie. The I.C. here was 1.2. If that suggests that the Cameron-Naughtie interview was three times tougher than the Brown-Davis interview, well that's about right!That's Beeb bias for you!
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Take a festive trip down memory lane, & have a listen to both interviews & you'll see why I'm worried about fairness at the Today programme & also why I'm interested to know who will be interviewing who come the general election. Brown was given an easy ride by Evan, whereas Cameron was picked at with a vengeance by Naughtie (who gave Labour's Keith Vaz a free-ride on the same edition of the programme).
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Here are the links:
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For Gord & Ev:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/today/hi/today/newsid_8076000/8076456.stm
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For Dave & Jim:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/today/hi/today/newsid_8078000/8078343.stm

A CHRISTMAS ROBIN

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The week before Christmas saw The World Tonight maintaining its usual left-liberal bias, with Wednesday's programme being particularly noteworthy.

It discussed university funding with Professor Les Ebdon of the University of Bedfordshire - the man who, earlier this year, caused controversy by calling for potential students from poorer backgrounds to be allowed into university with lower grades than their 'less disadvantaged' peers (i.e. a social engineer). The disruption caused by snow in Britain was compared with Germany, and for a point of view on this Robin Lustig turned naturally to a 'progressive' journalist, Jurgen Kronig of the left-leaning broadsheet Die Zeit. We then had a report from Kevin Connolly on homelessness in Obama's Washington, whose academic 'talking head' was Isabel V. Sawhill of the Brookings Institute, a liberal-minded former official in the Clinton Administration.
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Tuesday's programme ended with a report from Emma Jane Kirby on President Sarkozy's calls for a debate on French indentity, following the booing of the French national anthem by immigrants at a football match. There was a spokesman from what Emma Jane called "his right-wing party" (shouldn't that be 'centre-right'?) but he was sandwiched between two critics of the president's strategy - both keen multiculturalists, one a leftie professor, the other (given the last word) from a racial equality group, who stressed that 'equality' was the most important thing (and that's the thought with which the report ended). The whole piece was completely skewed against Sarkozy, who was accused of pandering to the far-right - directly by the leftie academic, and almost as directly by Emma Jane herself. Zut alor!
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Christmas Eve saw a special on international drugs policy. Beginning with the former Social Democrat Brazilian president Fernando Henrique Cardoso, who thinks the war on drugs has failed, Robin went on to hold a discussion between Jorge Castaneda, introduced as a "former Mexican foreign minister" (for the PRI, under the last of the left-wing nationalists to lead that now-long-out-of-power party, Jose Lopez Portillo - the president who nationalised the banking system); Keith Humphreys, senior advisor on drugs control to President Obama (who had a few nibbles at the Bush administration); and Professor Neil McKeganey of Glasgow University, who formerly advised the Home Office.

Sunday, 27 December 2009

WARNING: THIS POST MAY INSULT LORD KINNOCK

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Today's The World This Weekend featured a post-Christmas blow-out with three old blowhards - Michael Howard, Ming Campbell and Lord Neil Kinnock. Shaun Ley scored interruption coefficients of 0.7, 0.8 and 0.2 respectively against these three ex party-leaders (and weren't they all great successes?!).
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There's not much concerning BBC bias here, but Kinnock's pomposity and clapped-out rhetoric certainly needs a fresh knocking, with its cliches, its repetitions, its bizarrely-placed stresses. Also, being an ex-Eurolord, he shamelessly bracketed UKIP with the BNP. Saying that "the only real gainers from that election (ie. June 2009) were the far right", he complained about the democratic legitimacy given to "prejudice and racism...by the BNP and to a degree by UKIP." Shouldn't Shaun Ley have challenged that smear against UKIP?
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Kinnock, following Sir Ming's lead, also attacked blogs, saying "Really all of the blogs should carry health warnings." I agree. What about "This blog risks seriously criticising failed Labour leader, worse-than-useless Eurorogue, & all-round pompous goon Lord Neil Kinnock whenever it gets the chance"?
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Incidentally, why was Kinnock's turkey anything but dry this Christmas? Because he still had so much gravy left over from the time he was a EU commissioner. Boom, boom!
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OH MY GOD, I'VE HAD ENOUGH-Y,/THEY'VE GIVEN A PRIZE TO CAROL DUFFY.

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This morning's Broadcasting House has given it's annual Cultural Figure of the Year award to our nation's poetess laureate, Ms Carol Ann Duffy (pictured below). Here's a sample of the great lady's work (all drawn from her third offering as Britain's Bard(ess), The Twelve Days of Christmas 2009):
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Two turtle doves
that Shakespeare loved -
turr turr, turr turr -
endangered now
by herbicide
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(That would have made a spotty teenager proud!)
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The first gold ring was gold indeed -
banker's profits fired in greed.
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And there's more...
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I bought a magic goose from a jolly farmer,
This goose laid Barack Obama.
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I bought a poisoned goose from a crook (sick, whiffing).
This foul goose laid Nick Griffin.
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She's a satirist to put Dryden or Pope to shame, isn't she? And, like them, she has the gift of the killer rhyming couplet, as in this coruscating attack on the corrupt, crony-packed, gerrymandered modern House of Lords:
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Lords don't leap.
They sleep.
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(That'll give Lords Snape and Taylor, & the noble Baroness Uddin a few sleepless nights!)
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There's plenty more where this came from, but finally here's Carol Ann on Copenhagen:
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On the twelfth day in Copenhagen
was global warming stopped in its tracks
by Brown and Barack and Hu Jintao?
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(Ted Hughes is surely looking down in awe! What profundity!)
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Ms Duffy's work in popular in schools and with this government and the BBC - and you can understand why. It's crap. And it's left-wing.
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Thursday, 24 December 2009

A CHRISTMAS QUIZ

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As it's Christmas, and in the spirit of Michael Crick, here's a very short quiz to keep you away from your presents on Christmas Day.
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1. One BBC interviewer scored the following contrasting interruption coefficients in a couple of choice double-interviews over the last few months:
29/10 1.4 against William Hague compared to 0.1 against David Miliband
14/12 3.5 against Phillip Hammond compared to 0.4 against Chris Huhne
Was it:
(a) John Humphrys?
(b) Justin Webb?
(c) James Naughtie?
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2. A Today presenter went to Denmark in July and lauded its all-encompassing welfare state, saying (among other things) "social provision from cradle to grave - and it works!"
Was it:
(a) John Humphrys?
(b) Justin Webb?
(c) James Naughtie?
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3. A BBC reporter complained in May about the media ignoring a court-case concerning Conservative electoral fraud in Slough, adding "In part, I think, it's the mood of the times, where the media dwells upon every misdemeanour by Gordon Brown and his Labour colleagues." This reporter could not be accused of dwelling of any misdemeanours by Gordon Brown and his Labour colleagues, only those of the 'Tories'. Who could this Labour-supporting reporter possibly be?
(a) Ben 'Sony of Tony' Wright?
(b) Michael Crick?
(c) James Naughtie?
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4. Michael Crick said that he'd written a letter as a teenager to a newspaper advocating the use of US-style primaries here. To which newspaper did he write?
(a) The Guardian?
(b) The Daily Mail?
(c) The Times?
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5. Which BBC presenter, faced with the following poll results,



On which party people trust more to be fair about taxes, it was:
Conservatives 36%
Labour 30%

On which party people trust more to
protect jobs, it was:
Labour 36%
Conservatives 31%



described the first result's 6-point Conservative lead as being "only by a very small margin" but then went on to say that the second result's 5-point Labour lead showed that "people trust Labour much much more when it comes to protecting jobs"!! Was it:
(a) Carolyn Quinn?
(b) Anita Anand?
(c) Jo Coburn?
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6. Which party did Michael Crick wrongly discount in the Norwich North by-election?
(a) UKIP?
(b) The Greens?
(c) The Tories (aka Conservatives)?

7. Who did Michael Crick say "has the appearance of the salesman ready to offer you a couple of cut-price bargains from inside his cashmere overcoat"? Was it
(a) Sadiq Khan MP?
(b) Sion Simon MP?
(c) Nigel Farage MEP?
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8. Which BBC economics reporter (a regular on The World Tonight) talked up the government and the recovery, worried repeatedly for the public sector, argued that taxation in general is a good thing, argued strongly against easing Inheritance Tax but strongly for further large-scale infrastructure spending, hymned President Lula of Brazil and mistakenly thought that Gladstone was a Tory prime minister? Was it:
(a) Paul Mason?
(b) Jonty Bloom?
(c) Nils Blythe?

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The answers lie below this seasonally-apt masterpiece by Brueghel:





1. c
2. c
3. b
4. a
5. c
6. a
7. c
8. b

ARIANNA'S IN A LEFT-WING HUFF

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Barack Obama's recent poll ratings have been going the way of the temperature in the North Eastern United States in Washington - sharply downwards. Yesterday's Today programme set out to find out why with an interview between James Naughtie and BBC favourite Arianna Huffington. (The Biased BBC website covers this in some detail, with a fine comment from the fabulous David Preiser, so I won't dwell on it http://biased-bbc.blogspot.com/2009/12/so-how-is-obama-doing.html#comments) except to note that the Today website describes this leftie lady as "Arianna Huffington, co-founder and editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post". Had the Huff Post not been a left-liberal affair it would surely have been described as 'conservative' or 'right-wing', or some such label. There was no mention of 'liberal' or 'left-wing' here. Naughtie's introductory words, however, did add an adjective to this description - "influential"!
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Unsuspecting listeners might assume that Arianna is a moderate, non-partisan, influential-with-a-whole-range-of-people type of commentator. She's none of the above. This was a perspective on President Obama from the American far-Left - and that's the only place where Today's attempts to find out why the polls are worsening for the One took them.
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This is a small example of bias by labeling.

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

JIM'S BEEN NAUGHTIE AGAIN - SANTA WON'T BE PLEASED

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This morning's Today programme contained a classic case of interviewer bias, as James Naughtie clearly sided with one of his guests (the one who shares his views) against another guest (whose views he definitely doesn't share).
http://news.bbc.co.uk/today/hi/today/newsid_8427000/8427644.stm
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The issue was cuts to higher education funding. In the red corner with Naughtie was Sally Hunt, general secretary of the University College Union, and set against them in the blue corner was Andrew Haldenby, director of the think-tank Reform.
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Here's how the interview went, with (as ever) the interviewer's words transcribed in blue:
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0.49 Q1 (to Sally Hunt): "Sally Hunt, I imagine, clearly you'll not like this, you can't be wholly surprised given how things are?"
0.57 A1 (SH)
1.41 Q2 (to SH): "Which means not just that the university experience will be diminished for a lot of these students but that standards are bound to fall. If there's less contact time, people are in sausage-machine teaching, then the truth is that some degrees are going to be devalued?" (This sort of question is not really a question at all. It's a statement, or an invitation to agree. Sally Hunt did agree and expanded on Naughtie's points. This was because their views closely coincide. Surely an interviewer for whom the concept of impartiality is important should never betray his own opinions (they should be a complete mystery to the listener) and should adopt a devil's advocate stance wherever possible, asking questions from contrasting standpoints to each of his guests. James Naughtie failed on both counts here.)
1.57 A2 (SH)
(2.07 a quiet "yes" of agreement from Naughtie.)
Note that there have so far been no interruptions!
2.38 Q3 (to Andrew Haldenby): "Andrew Haldenby from Reform, what do you make of it?"
2.40 A3 (AH)
3.21 Abortive interruption: "But if, crerrrrrr (a long, throaty sound!)..."
3.25 Abortive interruption: Gurgling sound, "Well.."
3.33 Interruption 1/Q4 (to AH): "Yes absolutely but...everybody understands the financial pressures but...what the government says, and many other people say too of course, is that the way to come out of the recession and the downturn more strongly as an economy and a society is to improve our knowledge base, to have better trained people, more skill. Now if you produce a higher education system which does the job less well then you're not going to do that." (Another statement disguised as a question, asked from the same position as the earlier statement).
4.01 A4 (AH)
4.27 Interruption 2/Q5 (to AH): "Yeah, but you can't compare a one-year course with a three-year intensive degree." (Criticism of AH).
4.31 A5 (AH)
4.58 Interruption 3/Q6 (to AH): "No, no, but, sorry, no, no, the point about some courses being possible in that time, that's one point (yes, and you'd interrupted to query it Jim, so if Mr Haldenby answers you on that very point you should'nt be surprised!), people can argue about that (i.e. I, James Naughtie, don't agree with you!), but there is another point. At the same time the government is saying that its target is still for £50% of people to go to university. If you're going to have fewer staff, if there's going to be less contact time, doesn't it make sense to come clean and say, look, we can't do that because frankly if there are a lot of people who are going to go to university who at the moment don't, then if they're going to get the most out of a university education they're actually going to need more attention, more contact, which will be less available because of the number of people who are going and the number of staff who are there to teach them?" (This 40-second long 'question' is from the same standpoint as the previous questions, and its end-point was crashingly obvious from about half-way! It's the sort of point you'd expect a left-liberal like Naughtie to make.)
5.38 A6 (AH)
6.02 Interruption 4: "Well this is another point...this is a long argument." (Firstly, no it wasn't another point at all. It was the answer to your point Jim & cutting Andrew Haldenby off after 20 seconds worth of an answer to a question that took you 40 painfully long seconds to ask and then accusing Mr Haldenby of being long-winded because he wants to defend himself isn't just a bit rich - it's filthy rich!) "No, I want to bring Sally Hunt back".
6.06 AH tries to struggle on
6.08 Interruption 5: "Yes, so people who can afford it can get a better education." (This stops AH in his tracks - as well it might, as it was a complete non-sequitur. Where the hell did that leftie gibe come from???! It certainly didn't come from anything Andrew Haldenby had actually said! Gibe made, Naughtie moved straight on, without giving AH the chance to respond to it. Disgraceful.
6.11 Q7 (to SH): "Sally Hunt?"
6.12 A7 (SH)
7.07 The interview ends
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Viewed from the perspective of interruption coefficients, Naughtie here scored 0 against Sally Hunt and 1.5 against Mr Haldenby.
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How many more rules of impartiality can James Naughtie break? *
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David, commenting on the Biased BBC website, reminds us that Jim Naughtie is not a neutral on this particular issue, as he is Chancellor of Stirling University http://biased-bbc.blogspot.com/2009/12/higher-level-of-bias.html

A CHRISTMAS CRICK

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Go to the front page of the Newsnight website & you'll find Crick's Christmas Quiz. This being a Michael Crick production, of the twelve festive questions five are wholly and specifically about the Conservatives (Crick's 'Tories') - inevitably including "Which member of the shadow cabinet said Richard Dannatt was joining the Labour government as a "gimmick"?" and, just as inevitably, 'Liz Truss and the Turnip Taleban' -, one is about the Speakership (with another Tory as the embarrassing answer), one inevitably about Eton where all Tories are educated (sorry to give the answer away if you're doing the quiz!), two about the Liberals (yes, the Liberals - not the Liberal Democrats) - though one of these was prefaced by this bit of praise for a Labour big beast ("Labour's former director of communications Peter Mandelson has been a big help to Gordon Brown."), one embarrassing to the DUP (on expenses), and one (one!) about Labour (who are the government!), though this was a characteristic bit of Crickian fluff ("David Miliband's special adviser Sarah Schaefer announced she was leaving his office. Where is she going?"). Crick doesn't embarrass Labour if he can ever help it. Lastly came a Newsnight-related question: "In November, which former Newsnight political reporter became "Europe's Bill Clinton"? The answer (sorry again!) is Peter Kellner. "He is married to Baroness Ashton who is the new EU foreign affairs chief, while Bill Clinton is of course married to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton." (I hope Crick isn't implying anything else about Mr Kellner marriage with this comparison!!) The quiz reflects the extraordinary biases of this reporter.
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If you score betwee 10-12, a caption comes up saying "Well done. Perhaps it is time Crick was replaced." I couldn't agree more!

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

A CONSENSUS ON GREATER EU POWERS

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A short catch-up with this week's 'The Record Europe'.
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The main feature this week was the forthcoming EU legislation on financial regulation. The European Commission is proposing new EU-wide powers to interfere in the affairs of London - legislation which no individual EU country (i.e. the UK) will be allowed to veto. Discussing the issue with Shirin Wheeler were 5 MEPs - all of whom (including the British Conservative) supported these moves. There were no opposing voices - e.g. no member of UKIP or their parliamentary grouping. Why?
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The guests were a French socialist, a British Labour MEP, a German Liberal, a British Lib Dem and that British Conservative. Hardly a balanced panel.
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That the British Conservative was broadly supportive of the legislation, though having some reservations - unlike any of the other guests -, might have secured her a lower I.C. than a centre-right panelist usually gets from Shirin. Not a bit of it. Here are the eerily typical I.C.s for the UK politicians on the panel:
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Vicky Ford (Conservative) - 1.5 (5 interruptions)
Arlene McCarthy (Labour) - 0.3 (1 interruption)
Sharon Bowles (Lib Dem) - 0 (0 interruptions)
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Shirin Wheeler just can't stop interrupting guests from the British centre-right (or, given the treatment Elmar Brok of the German CDU got later (0.9) as against Chris Davies of the Lib Dems (0), any country's centre-right!)
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Monday, 21 December 2009

APOLOGY

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My blog is operating a service not unlike Eurostar's at the moment -though due to a high temperature rather than 'unusually low temperatures'. Normal business will resume as soon as possible.

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Saturday, 19 December 2009

CRICK STICKS IT TO UKIP - AND THE TORIES

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Here's another gem from Michael Crick's left-wing Newsnight blog:
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'A change of leadership, and image, for UKIP'

http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/newsnight/michaelcrick/2009/11/a_change_of_leadership_and_ima.html *
If you want superficial, chippy, class-war-based political comment you needn't bother asking John Prescott or Damian McBride. Just get Crick:

"The election of Lord Pearson of Rannoch as the new leader of UKIP may radically change public perceptions of the party. Lord Pearson's predecessor Nigel Farage has the appearance of the salesman ready to offer you a couple of cut-price bargains from inside his cashmere overcoat (i.e. a spiv?) , the cheeky chappie who relished getting up the noses of the political establishment. Lord Pearson, in contrast, must be the most upper crust figure elected to the leadership of a political party since Lord Home in 1963, much more upper class in appearance and style than David Cameron. (Who cares?) Lord Pearson, like Mr Cameron, went to Eton. (Boo!) And just like Mr Cameron at the time of his election to his party's leadership, Lord Pearson is a member of the White's, the old-fashioned gentlemen's club which still excludes women from its premises (Mr Cameron has since resigned from White's, no doubt because its stuffy image badly conflicted with his efforts to modernise the Conservative Party). (Crick's on form here, attacking both UKIP and the Tories. That's what's called a 'double whammy'). In voice and appearance Lord Pearson takes us back to a Britain of the mid-20th Century when politicians were expected to be articulate performers on TV. (Doesn't he mean 'weren't'?) And remarkably Lord Pearson is 22 years older than Mr Farage. When was the last time a party elected a leader who was that much older than his predecessor? (Has Newsnight's useless political editor forgotten Sir Ming Campbell, who replaced the much younger Charles Kennedy? He certainly has.) It will be interesting to see how Lord Pearson goes down with existing UKIP voters, and whether he encourages more defections from more traditional Conservatives of the older generation."
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Inverted snobbery, anti-UKIP and anti-Tory reporting, and on top of all that an inept grasp of recent political history - that's Michael Crick all over. Why is this idiot still in place?
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LORD ASHCRICK

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Early in the days of this blog I pledged to watch the Labour-supporting political editor of Newsnight Michael Crick. I've slipped a little recently. My prediction (last Monday) that Crick would beg and be granted a spot on last week's Newsnight to bash the Tories over Lord Ashcroft failed to come true but, looking at his blog, he has not been silent on the subject.
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On 16th December, Labour's most reliable Beeboid (James Naughtie notwithstanding) posted this:
"What dodging Ashcroft questions does to the Tories" http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/newsnight/michaelcrick/2009/12/dodging_ashcroft_questions_hur.html
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I just knew he'd couldn't resist doing Labour's work for them on this issue - and he certainly did that here:
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"David Cameron's need to sort out the Lord Ashcroft problem is even more urgent than I suggested last week. (You don't say!) Labour taunted the Conservatives with the issue once again at Prime Minister's Questions on Wednesday, and it threatens to dog the Conservatives through an election campaign. (You and your friends at The Guardian and in the Labour government will see to that Michael, won't you!) The Tories' proposed new law, disqualifying from the Commons or Lords people who are non-domiciled for tax purposes, will not tackle the issue. (Spoken like a Labour minister Michael! Is that for you, a supposedly neutral political editor to say?) And it is not just a question of Lord Ashcroft's tax status making the Conservatives look like the party of the rich and privileged, or of toffs (though Lord Ashcroft isn't really a toff in the traditional sense anyway). (Well done Michael! Imply that the Tories are "the party of the rich and privileged, or of toffs", then sneak away your admission that "Lord Ashcroft isn't really a toff" in brackets and then further dilute it with the phrase "in the traditional sense anyway". What other sense is there?) Or that it undermines George Osborne's statement that "we're all in this together. It's more a question of leadership and strength. By constantly dodging ('dodging'? a loaded word that!) questions as to whether Lord Ashcroft pays UK income tax, Mr Cameron and his colleagues are in danger of looking weak and scared of Lord Ashcroft. By saying it's a "private matter" they look like they don't know, and people (especially Labour and Lib Dem-supporting ones) start to think they daren't ask him the obvious question. What I can't really understand is why Mr Cameron won't act. And several Tory front-benchers are just as baffled as me. (Really? Pardon me if I don't take your word for that Michael). The Conservatives no longer depend on Lord Ashcroft financially.
Under William Hague it was Lord Ashcroft's money - donations and loans - which kept the party from bankruptcy. But that's no longer the case. Nowadays Lord Ashcroft gives and lends the party a lot less cash, and the Conservatives are flush with funds from other sources.
Lord Ashcroft's other big contribution has been as a party strategist. His work in identifying target seats, and pumping the party's cash into seats where it's likely to produce results, is hugely important. (Scares you does he, Crick? Good!) But he's now taught the party how to run his strategy, and anyway, on a day-to-day basis it's organised by full-time officials such as Stephen Gilbert. The party's got to the stage where they can do it without him. So if I were Mr Cameron (dream on Crick!) I'd invite Lord Ashcroft for a talk, thank him generously for all his help, but then insist that he issue an immediate statement setting out in full his tax position year-by-year since he got his peerage in 2000 (though that need not include specific sums). If he won't do that, then Mr Cameron should sack Lord Ashcroft as deputy chairman. (If I were David Cameron, I'd insist that Michael Crick display a modicum of impartiality in his reporting, and if he won't do that I'd insist that the BBC should sack him as political editor of Newsnight - or at least suspend him during the general election.) I can't be sure, of course, but I reckon that Lord Ashcroft probably does pay UK tax on all, or most, of his worldwide earnings these days, but that the real problem may arise from earlier. (Insinuate away Michael!) Having promised back in 2000 to pay UK tax in order to get his peerage, was there a delay of some years before Lord Ashcroft started doing so? That of course would be very embarrassing to Mr Hague, the leader to whom Lord Ashcroft made his pledge. (You'd like to embarrass William Hague, one of the hated Tories' biggest hitters, wouldn't you Michael?) But not half as embarrassing as the issue will continue to be if the issue is not clarified before the election really gets under way. (You'll chase enough Tories with your enormous microphone, and even more enormous ego, to make sure of that, I don't doubt Michael!). And one can easily see now how the line of questioning will go when Mr Cameron does his many one-on-one in-depth interviews during the campaign. (True, especially when he meets Michael Crick's fellow travellers, Naughtie, Marr, Humphrys, Sopel, Quinn,....etc, etc,)

THE GHOST OF CHRISTMAS STRIKES PAST

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Unite, the union at my own workplace (of which I am not a member), are continuing their campaign to return Britain to the 1970s. Following on from their set-back over B.A., this morning's Today highlighted that they are also leading a strike of electronics workers at Fujitsu. Correspondent Judy Hobson spoke first to two of the workers, then John Humphrys spoke to "Roger Seifert, professor of Industrial Relations at Wolverhampton Business School", asking him, "Is there anything in what that lady said there that they're just using the recession, companies like that, to push down wages and conditions?" Prof Seifert replied, "Oh absolutely true" and went on to attack business ("big multi nationals"). He sounded like a true old-style leftie and, checking him out, it turns out that he's just that - an academic 'socialist' (see
http://solidaritymagazine.wordpress.com/2008/08/25/hazards-conference-2008/ and http://www.sochealth.co.uk/confs/labreform.htm). He was so far-left even John Humphrys baulked at some of the simplistic things he was saying! (A professor! God help his students!)
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*****
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Evan Davis discussed serial killers with another leftie academic, introduced as "Professor David Wilson, a criminologist at Birmingham City University and author of A History of British Serial Killing". He often pops up on the BBC whenever a serial killer is in the news, discussing the subject from a left-liberal perspective - just how regularly can be guaged by his reaction to Evan's salutation, "Good morning": "Good morning Evan, nice to talk to you again." Not mentioned, though, is the fact that he's also 'Vice-Chair of the Howard League for Penal Reform'. (The BBC are always talking to them again!). Today though he pretty much struck to telling stories about serial killers past.
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Friday, 18 December 2009

TACKLING CHOCOLATE BARS

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A couple of vignettes from this week's largely enjoyable editions of The Daily Politics, where it's usually the reports you've got to be vigilant about.
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On Wednesday Adam Fleming was out and about discussing a potential American takeover of Cadburys. Besides the vox-pops, the only talking heads were Len McClusky, the Unite union hardliner, and the ubiquitous Will Hutton of The Work Foundation. Now there's a broad spectrum of left-wing opinion for you!
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Then on Tuesday we had Giles Dilnot talking about 'tackling extremism' and whether the Muslim community was feeling upset. He talked to Khayyam Ghafoor of the Waltham Forest Young Leaders Programme (as he was billed by the BBC, though the organisation is actually called the Waltham Forest Young Muslim Leaders Programme), who was both a Muslim and upset, and to a Labour minister David Hansen (never heard of him before) and a Labour councillor Marie Pye.
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HANGING ON THEIR EVERY WORD

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Any debate on capital punishment hosted by Justin Webb is likely to be biased against the death penalty, so it's really no surprise that this morning's double-interview on Today between Labour's Charles Clarke (anti) and Conservative Philip Davies (pro) saw an interruption coefficient of 0.9 against Mr Davies (3 interruptions within a short space of time) and an I.C. of 0 against Mr Clarke (no interruptions whatsoever).
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FINGERS IN THE PIE

*
More MPs not 'getting it'. The BBC News website runs the story about the 80 numpties refusing to repay money demanded by Sir Thomas Legg. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/8417114.stm
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As of 6.45am today, this article is covering MPs from all parties, but - for what reason? - leading off its detailed look at certain of the MPs with "Tory MP for Thanet North, Roger Gale" and following him with "Tory Bernard Jenkin" (and at no stage in the whole article does the word 'Conservative' appear, only 'Tory' - which gives another hint at the biased mindset of the article's unnamed author). Why?
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There's another article on the 'Politics Page', not so obviously placed: "Minister repays expenses on flat". http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/8419572.stm. This is about Labour minister Sion Simon. As it typical with expenses story harmful to Labour, this one stresses Simon's repayment and 'good faith', & gives the majority of the article to Sion's side of the story. Nowhere in the article is there any appearance of the word 'Labour'. (For comparison, here's the Telegraph article that broke the story: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/mps-expenses/6835502/Government-minister-paid-more-than-40000-in-expenses-to-sister.html)
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Will this change as the day goes on?

Thursday, 17 December 2009

THE ICE SPREADS AGAIN

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Radio 4's coverage of the Copenhagen conference this week has frozen out the global warming sceptics again. The slight thaw felt before the conference has vanished, and ice again covers all dissent.
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On Monday's The World At One Martha Kearney talked to Lumumba Stanislaus Di-Aping, Sudanese chief negotiator for the G77 countries. He's been quite a presence across the BBC in recent days. Has anybody heard anyone at the Beeb ask why the representative of an indicted war criminal, President al-Bashir of Sudan, should be allowed to assume the moral highground on anything? Martha certainly didn't. ("Thank you very much for explaining that to us", she said to him at the end of the interview - and she wasn't talking about genocide).
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Mr Di-Aping was back on The World Tonight last night, talking to Felicity Evans. She let the matter pass too. Also featured was Jeremy Leggett, a Greenpeace campaigner turned solar panel producer (though his Greenpeace connections were not mentioned). Others to appear on the programme so far this week have been Yvo de Boer, head of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (14/12) and Bill Hare, who's "at Copenhagen to negotiate on behalf of the Alliance of Small Island States", or so the programme told us (neglecting to mention that he's also a Greenpeace campaigner) (15/12).
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PM has wheeled on Newsnight's Susan Watts, & she's talked to Mithika Mwenda, a sloganising activist for the Pan-African Climate Justice Alliance (16/12); Changhua Wu, of China's Climate Group; and Ed Markey, a liberal Democrat congressman (17/12).
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Back though to The World at One, & as well as the disturbing Mr Di-Aping we've heard from that gaggle of greenies and lefties I outlined yesterday (Sergio Serra, Ed Miliband and Bianca Jagger ) and today from the King of Climate Change himself Dr. Rajendra Pachauri, chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) - more about whom can be found via here: http://biased-bbc.blogspot.com/2009/12/cru-falsified-russia-records.html#comments
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Protestors from the left/green side of the argument have also been heard from in droves.
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HOW TO BURY BAD NEWS FOR LABOUR

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Newsnight spent lots of time last night on Copenhagen, featuring its 'Self-Regarding Man' and Ed Miliband too (I.C. of 0 for Gavin Esler) -what a treat!
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The economic basket-case that is Greece was also discussed, with Gavin agreeing with Greece's socialist finance minister George Papaconstantinou that being in the Eurozone is no bad thing for a country.
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Then at 37.22 came the news of the latest rise in unemployment - up by 21,000 between August and October. This important news was imparted in just 10 seconds then the programme moved on to the question of 'What is a Jew?' In the days of Conservative government, all rises in unemployment were the focus of frenzied reporting at the BBC. Not so in these days of Labour government. Bad news for Labour is buried.

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

THE WORLD ALMOST OF ONE MIND

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Today's edition of The World at One was heavy with lefties. The resignation of somebody at the Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen prompted interviews with Sergio Serra, Brazil's chief negotiator, left-wing loudmouth Bianca Jagger (getting her dates all mixed up, unnoticed by Martha Kearney) and Ed Miliband. The issue of an early general election was discussed with a Labour MP Gordon Banks and the Labour-supporting pollster Peter Kellner. The politics panel today consisted of Labour's Jim Knight, Lord Chris Rennard of the Liberal Democrats and the programme's only guest from the centre-right Theresa May.
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The questions asked of Martha's guests on the politics panel show a certain degree of bias too, in that both of the left-of-centre panellists go four goes, whereas Mrs May only got three such opportunities.
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Lord Rennard, the Lib Dem, was asked to comment on the Lord Ashcroft story (giving him a clear run at goal), on unemployment being a lagging indicator, on whether an early election would be good from Labour's perspective (!) and whether general elections are different these days - i.e. nothing specific to the Lib Dems. He had no defending to do and could attack at will.
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Jim Knight was asked about Lord Paul (Labour's own dodgy donor) and about the date of the election, but Martha Kearney also asked him about unemployment in a way that positively invited him to attack the Conservatives - which he duly did - by citing the words of Labour and the Beeb's favourite economist, Danny Blanchflower, who has recently been sharply attacking the Tories (of unemployment as a lagging indicator, Martha asked "This is something that has happened, hasn't it, in previous recessions, the economist Danny Blanchflower has been warning about?") and later invited him to have another go at them (which he duly did, attacking Lord Ashcroft again): "One of the arguments (in favour of an early election) is that the Conservatives would have less money to spend if you went for a shorter election campaign."
He got a bit of defending to do, but not much and had plenty of open goals provided by his interviewer. (He didn't bother defending however. He just ignored the point about Lord Paul & went on the attack against Zak Goldsmith instead!).
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Theresa May, on the other hand, was asked questions either about specific Conservative issues ("Doesn't Lord Ashcroft, Theresa May, have to now clarify his position? It's becoming a political embarrassment to you." "Do you think there is a certain amount of tactics here. I mean I know a lot of Conservatives are talking about the idea of an early election because I guess then it reaches the stage if he, Gordon Brown, doesn't call one you can say he's frightened of going to the country?") or about Labour's glorious 'achievements' ("Just to put Harriet Harman's point to you. She's saying that there's beginning to see a slowing down of the rate of increase in unemployment. Doesn't that show that government figures, that the government measures have got it right when it comes to tackling unemployment?"). Theresa May had to be a defender throughout.
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START THE DAY WITH A YAWN!

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This morning deadly dull edition of the Today programme featured another double-debate, this time between Polly Toynbee of The Guardian an ex-head of the Centre for Policy Studies Ruth Lea. The latter was on the end of a bad telephone line and kept apologising for not being able to hear - so all Sarah Montague 's interruptions went for nothing, as Ruth couldn't hear them! Polly got the first and the last word.
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Sarah Montague's interview with Labour's Douglas Alexander contained no interruptions.
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That's about as interesting as the programme got.
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'Anti-capitalist'/Green protesters in Copenhagen were heard from in a report from Tom Fielden. They were not challenged (except by the Danish police!!). John Humphrys later interviewed the Bolivian 'climate change' negotiator Angelica Navarro, without challenging her either.

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

THE ILL LUCK OF THE IRISH

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The decisive public spending cuts made by the Irish government (in contrast to our own Labour government) came under the critical eye of this morning's Today programme:



The Irish economy - once the Celtic Tiger - is one of the worst-hit by the
worldwide recession. Unemployment currently stands at 12% and the country is
12bn Euros in debt. Last week the Irish government brought in what many are
calling the severest budget in the nation's history. Wages for public sector
workers were cut, and welfare spending was reduced, and anger is growing that
the country's poor seem to be paying for the mistakes of the rich. Correspondent
Mike Thomson reports from Dublin.

You might have expected that a balanced report would have followed this introduction (though that would suggest that you don't know the biased Beeb very well!). Mike Thompson's report, in fact, turned out to be woefully biased against the Irish government and its actions - and by extension the actions of any party (the Conservatives? UKIP?) that might consider following their example here in the U.K. It was pure left-wing propaganda.
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Adopting a concerned tone of voice throughout, Thompson roamed around Dublin. He talked first to "Fintan O'Toole, veteran columnist of the Irish Times". The Irish Times is Ireland's equivalent of The Guardian, and Wikipedia notes that Mr O'Toole holds "generally left-wing views." He attacked the Irish government for deflecting blame away from itself and onto "an allegedly underperforming and overpaid public sector" (in Thompson's words). A teacher, Ann English, followed. "She too believes that...public sector workers here have been unfairly blamed for all the country's ills". Father Peter McVerry followed and denounced "cuts in dole money, child benefits and a host of other social services. This he insists is both wrong and unjust." (He also attacked the rich. Checking him out he's "a socialist, activist, author and Jesuit".) Many of the red priest's 'troubled youths' added further criticisms. Then, to bolster his contention that "trouble could be on the way" - Thompson talked to Jack O'Connor, president of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions. To the sound of a merry-go-round, Thompson then reached his point: "And what goes round might also come around for the people of Britain. Fintan O'Toole." O'Toole backed his point.
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Not a Sheep points out a few lessons from this:
http://notasheepmaybeagoat.blogspot.com/2009/12/bbc-today-programme-always-something.html
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To give some redress, later in the programme Sarah Montague interviewed Ireland's Europe minister Dick Roche. The interview lasted just less than half the time that Thompson's totally oppositional report took to make its case. Is that fair?
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This is not the first instance of this. Please see here http://beebbiascraig.blogspot.com/2009/12/robin-leftig.html
and you'll see what I mean. I suspect it won't be the last either.
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