BBC Complaints: The link you need!

Sunday, 27 September 2009


Today's Politics Show began by tackling the topic of the Himalayan amounts of money being wasted in education spending, as highlighted by a government-backed report from the aptly-named Richard Handover.

The report by Gillian Hargreaves discussed several of the criticisms contained in the study, some of which are aimed at the government itself, and even Ed Balls (with his many initiatives). So a balanced report, not betraying any pro-Left sympathies? Well, we can perhaps forgive Gillian for beginning the piece with a paean to Labour's 'largesse' and the 'good times', with spending having 'almost doubled under this government' and her saying that schools had 'never had it so good'. And for presenting a school and a headteacher who were grateful for this 'generosity'. Less easy to condone is the use of a single 'talking head' - and that talking head being Christine Blower of the N.U.T. (She had several bites of the cherry). Why, when the BBC presents these sort of education reports, are comments largely directed from the Left?

Jon Sopel then interviewed the Labour education minister Vernon Coaker for over 8 minutes (I.C. of 2) and the Conservative treasury spokesman Philip Hammond for 4 minutes (I.C. of 1.5) - both on this subject. Both were tough interviews, the one with Coaker being slightly tougher - though he did get more than twice as long to speak than Mr Hammond, which shifted the balance back towards him.

The next segment discussed the Conservatives and the Lisbon Treaty, in light of next week's second Irish referendum. It took the form of a short debate between my favourite Conservative MEP, Dan Hannan, and the BBC's favourite ex-Conservative MEP, Edward McMillan Scott. E.M.S. is becoming a bit of a regular on the Beeb at the moment - leading up to and following his expulsion from the Conservative Party after his slurs against Michel Kaminski and other European allies of the party (see throughout this blog!). The BBC remains over-keen on this story, and has done plenty of slurring itself. It also loves to paint the Tories as split on Europe. So the ensuing ding-dong gave them just what they wanted, in spades. Note though how Dan Hannan was interrupted four times by Jon Sopel, but E.M.S. only once. The BBC's agenda was plain for all to see, and confirmed by Sopel's question: "Just how damaging is it for the Conservative Party to have this rearing its head just as you go to your party conference a few months ahead of a general election?"

David Thompson's latest piece from the Stourbridge constituency featured the incumbent Labour MP, the very unimpressive-seeming Lynda Waltho, talking mostly to former Labour supporters in a men's barber's shop. It ended on a positive note for her, with one such voter saying if she held more such meetings, he'd vote for her again. An easily pleased man, that one! We'll see if next week, when it should be the Tory candidate's turn, he gets to talk to former Tory voters.

Max Cotton's closing piece featured John Prescott, special representative for the Council of Europe on Climate Change (what!!??!!). This showed Two Jags propagandising for his views on the subject (and showing Franny Armstrong's The Age of Stupid) in schools and enjoying himself on this 'genuine crusade' of his (as Cotton put it. Is the word 'crusade' allowed at the BBC?). All Cotton's questions to the man he calls 'John' came from an environmentalist's stance. "Are you fighting the good fight? Does that feel good?" was his first question, before Cotton questioned Heathrow expansion, and then asked three questions calling for the 'stick' of further legislation. It was a good-natured, friendly piece, featuring no other voices than his and Prescott's.

All in another Sunday's biased work at the Politics Show.

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