Norway holds its general election today.
The Financial Times covers the contest admirably:
The Beeb's take is not a patch on the F.T.s:
In the BBC's world Labour prime minister Jens Stoltenberg has been a successful steward of the nation's economy during the current crisis:
"Jens Stoltenberg, in power since 2005, has emphasised his success in guiding Norway through the economic crisis."
Note how the word 'success' is not in quotation marks.
This may very well be true, as Norway is clearly in far ruder economic health than its Nordic neighbours and Mr. Stoltenberg's actions can only have helped that happen. What the Beeb fails to make clear, however, is that Mr. Stoltenberg had an ace up his sleeve - an ace anyone else could have played. For the context we need to return to the Financial Times:
****"Mr Stoltenberg is hoping his government's response to the global downturn will help him become the first Norwegian prime minister to be re-elected in 16 years, as the country's oil wealth helps insulate the country from the sharp recessions suffered by its Nordic neighbours.
****"Rules limiting how much of the country's $400bn oil fund can be spent each year were temporarily cast aside to stimulate the economy, keeping unemployment at about 3 per cent, compared with nearly 8 per cent in Sweden and Finland.
****"Gross domestic product, excluding oil, returned to growth in the second quarter after a mild recession - the country's first in two decades."
The BBC mentions the oil but makes no connections between it and the Labour government's 'success'. Success? Or the good fortune of having a massive cushion of oil to rip open if needs be?
As for the main opposition Progress Party of Siv Jensen, a woman who (in the F.T.'s words) "casts herself as the Margaret Thatcher of Norwegian politics", this campaigns for lower taxes and more free enterprise and has (also in the F.T.'s words) "a tough stance on immigration" in "a traditionally homogeneous country where immigrants now make up more than 10 per cent of the population." Many details are given of her - and Mr Stoltenberg's - policies on a range of issues.
As you would perhaps expect, Siv Jensen and her party are not given so rounded a portrait by the BBC:
****"His main challenger is Siv Jensen, who leads the right-wing Progress Party.
****"She has campaigned on a platform of lower taxes and tightening immigration. She has stoked controversy by claiming Norway is being "Islamified".
****"Currently, more than 10% of Norway's population is of foreign origin with the largest groups of asylum seekers coming from Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia and Eritrea".
Note the bogey-phrase 'right-wing' for starters but, above and well beyond that, you ought not to be surprised by now that the Beeb's focuses above all on Progress's views on immigration nor that its report uses a highly pejorative phrase when it asserts that "she has stoked controversy". ***
In other words, Siv Jensen is bad whereas Jens Stoltenberg is good. How easy it is to see everything through the BBC's Manichaean eyes!
Update 1: Mr Stoltenberg has it seems, with most votes counted, won a narrow victory in the Norwegian elections.
Update 2: The story on the BBC website has been amended, but not just to reflect the changing news. Bizarrely, now the election is over, the former emphasis on the immigration policies of Siv Jensen's Progress has been diluted by a picture of the lady and a new caption beneath it, reading "Siv Jensen's party wants to broaden privatisation in health and education". At the risk of sounding either paranoid or foolishly big-headed, has someone at the BBC been reading this site and taken on-board its criticism?! (Or, at the risk of sounding overly cynical, do the BBC want us to associate 'broadening privatisation in health and education' with losing elections?!!)
As the link provided above takes you to the latest version on the BBC website, here's a new link to the ever-helpful Revisionista site, which tracks how articles change over the days.
This shows the addition of the words (but cannot show pictures).