BBC Complaints: The link you need!

Sunday, 23 August 2009


Crick in June was busier with his blogging - 33 posts - and cover the widest range yet. Some of the entries here were mere twitters. Few touched any depths. There's a fair amount of bias to be found along the way though - and a few more duff predictions. But Crick's Conservative obsession is not much in evidence here.

Working backwards (chronologically-speaking), we first meet one such twitter, 'A new baby of the house?' (30 June).

Next comes 'No independent day for Norwich MP' (29th June), in which Crick admits he called it wrong again: "Further to my story on Friday that the former MP for Norwich North Ian Gibson might stand as in Independent in the forthcoming by-election, he has now come out and endorsed the new Labour candidate Chris Ostrowski, and says he WON'T stand as an indpendent." Ah shucks Michael!!

This followed on from 'Gibson may stand as independent in Norwich by-election'!! (26th June). Here, Crick went on the "Gibson is a popular figure in Norwich" angle, that he kept up throughout his Newsnight appearances. He quotes an ICM poll that "gives the Tories a four per cent lead over Labour - 34 per cent to 30 per cent. The poll suggests the Lib Dems will simply be fighting Greens to avoid coming fourth, with the Lib Dems on 15 per cent and the Greens on 14 per cent." The actual result was rather different!! The Conservatives won 40 per cent, a 22 per cent lead over Labour, who got 18 per cent. And, notoriously, the Lib Dems and the Greens most definitely were NOT fighting it out for fourth place, as fourth place was won by UKIP!! (who Crick, typically, forgot to mention).

Next comes a footnote (or 'footnight', as Crick puts it! Yes, we can all pick up on spelling errors, when it suits us), 'Treasury 'plans for Conservative cuts' (25 June): "A footnight to my report last night on spending cuts: I understand that senior Treasury officials are already trying to work out which items of expenditure they can delay and stall over the next few months, so that if the Conservatives come to power next spring the Treasury will already have a list of possible items which the new Chancellor George Osborne can then announce he will cancel altogether." Oooh, Tory spending cuts. Vote Labour!

A lot of twitters followed about the race for the Speaker (on the day of the election, 22 June).

Gossip about the campaign to replace John Hutton in Barrow (over the sea from Morecambe) and a posting about the leak that gave the 'Telegraph' its expenses scoop follow, then some historical stuff about the Speaker (and talk of Margaret Beckett and Sir George Young, though not John Bercow).

Interestingly, Crick then turns his fire on the Liberal Democrats (22 June). For the first time a party other than the Conservative Party is targeted by Crick. The topic was US donor Michael Brown. "Fourth, questions about Brown's donation will dog Nick Clegg until at least the general election. He needs to find a much more convincing answer to the "moral" question of why he doesn't give the money back. Otherwise it will be hard for him and his party to claim any superiority over the other parties on the various sleaze issues."

We then get more useless 'insights' ("I get the impression from talking to MPs on Thursday that the Speakership may be slipping away from the maverick Conservative MP John Bercow." 18th June), before Crick's most intriguing post so far - and the first that could be considered damaging to the Labour Party (and insightful), 'Don't ask, don't tell over defence secretary thinking?' (18th June): "Perhaps the biggest curiosity of Prime Minister Gordon Brown's reshuffle is how Bob Ainsworth became defence secretary, when he was hardly the most talented minister in the lower ranks of the government. Last night I heard the most plausible explanation so far. It is widely thought that the job had originally been earmarked for Shaun Woodward, but at the last moment defence chiefs objected - something to do with Mr Woodward's very vocal support in the past for gay rights not going down very well in the ranks." Well, that's a decision by Brown that's worked out just great, hasn't it?

After a post on the Lord Chancellor having a book stolen (which contains a rare joke at Labour's expense: "So much for crime falling under New Labour.") and more politically-neutral gossip about the candidates to replace John Hutton in Barrow, we get to 'Kitty's curious resignation' (18th June). This casts shadows over her decision to resign, but is harmful only to her - not to the Brownite Labour Party, who come out OK from Crick's report. Some drivel about ministers' drivers, and a brief, baffling twitter about nothing, brings us to 'Dilemma as MPs expenses are officially published' (17th June) - a preview of one of the scandals of this parliament - the famously 'redacted' publication of MPs expenses (a joke, in very bad taste.) This short, unsatisfactory post is not followed by a post on the publication itself, nor on the reaction to it. Why? Why? Why? How bizarre of Crick not to have posted on the aftermath of this travesty of open government!! Wouldn't do to upset the Labour government, would it Michael? What sort of reporter is he? A poodle?

Another take on the same 'twitter about nothing' takes us to a longer post (with video) on...the Conservatives, 'Bill could flush out tax exile party donors' (16 June). Crick is critical of Labour here. Why? Because they are protecting (indirectly, and for their own interests) one of his main Tory targets, Lord Ashcroft: "If the amendment remains part of the legislation it might finally flush out whether the Conservative Deputy Chairman Lord Ashcroft pays British tax these days, a question which both he and his colleagues steadfastly refuse to answer. What I don't fully understand is why the government won't accept the amendment. I can only assume Labour also hopes for some big contributions from tax exiles." Anti-Labour? Not really. Anti-Tory? Hell yeah!

Another post on the 'twitter about nothing' is followed by a Blair-related dig at Gordon Brown (and his attitude to lawyers) - essentially a joky post - and this, in turn, is followed by 'The prophetic powers of George Osborne' (15th June), a gossipy piece that claims Osborne "does have a very close friend in the editorial high command of The Times." Who? And, your point Michael?

More meat (though of the least flavoursome kind) is found in 'Is historian the best judge of Iraq war history?' (15th June), in which Crick jokes about the appointment of 'the distinguished war historian Sir Lawrence Freedman' to Brown's Iraq inquiry (a good story I've heard much better told elsewhere) before emphatically not joking about the appointment of the conservative Sir Martin Gilbert: "Nor will critics of the war be very happy about the appointment of the other historian Sir Martin Gilbert, the official biographer of Winston Churchill. In 2004, he went so far as to compare US President George W Bush and Mr Blair to Roosevelt and Churchill." No Beeboid could tolerate that!!

A frothy post about Hazel Blear's childhood acting (unrelated to anything political) and a no-less-frothy post about John Denham, the Queen and the seals of office, led to 'Clinging on to Gloucester?' (10th June), which was about the Conservative candidate's predicament were Labour's Panjit Dhanda to have become Speaker (which he didn't!). "And Mr Dhanda must have some chance of winning, since he seems to be one of only two Labour MPs officially in the running so far - Margaret Beckett declared this afternoon - and, in case you have forgotten, Labour still has a good Commons majority." Well Michael, wrong again! No wonder your Newsnight's political editor. You're spot on nevery time!!

Another souffle-style piece on Lord Mandelson's 34-letter title (of equivalent length, vacuousness and self-importance), was followed (on my 40th birthday) by 'Norwich North: an easy gain for the Conservatives?' (5th June). Crick correctly predicts (from simple premises), "Labour's majority in Norwich North is 5,459, or 11.6%, which in the current climate should be a pretty easy gain for the Conservatives." Shame he went wrong later on!!

Finally (or firstly, if you put time the right way round again), on 1st June Crick blogs 'Behind closed doors the Johnson team prepares'. This is political tittle-tattle.

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