Saturday, 31 October 2009
So far, since beginning my survey in June this year, I've reviewed 1129 BBC interviews with UK politicians. This allows me to extend the super-average principle to all these interviews & get a single measure of bias for each political party for the last 5 months. (See my previous posts for all the thinking behind this!).
The results are revealing - and not a little damning. Remember that the more interviews I've surveyed for each political party the firmer the evidence (so the figures for Labour, the Tories and the Liberal Democrats are very firm, and those for UKIP, the Greens and, above all, the SNP pretty compelling!). I think Lord Pearson will be very interested in which party is the most-interrupted of all!!:
UKIP (12 interviews) - 0.90
Plaid Cymru (6 interviews) - 0.88
Conservatives (312 interviews) - 0.84
English Democrats (1 interview) - 0.8
SNP (39 interviews) - 0.76
Sinn Fein (2 interviews) - 0.75
BNP (4 interviews) - 0.65
Labour (557 interviews) - 0.57
Liberal Democrats (167 interviews) - 0.41
DUP (3 interviews) - 0.27
Greens (9 interviews) - 0.24
UUP (1 interview) - 0
Alliance (1 interview) - 0
SDLP (1 interview) - 0
I think I'm on pretty safe ground in suspecting that many right-of-centre readers (and not a few nationalists, of every stripe) will have known already in their guts that these might be the sort of results that a scientific study of BBC interviews would produce. This provides objective proof for such gut feelings. I intend to carry on doing just what I've been doing all the way up to the general election - and, maybe, beyond.
I will, as usual, be looking at each interviewer in turn over the coming days. Who will be a saint, and who a sinner? Who will be October's King (or Queen) of Bias?
My favourite measure of bias across the Beeb is the super-average interruption coefficient - which is calculated very simply by adding up all the individual I.C.s for each party & then dividing them by the number of interviewed granted to each party that month. As with all statistics, the larger the sample, the better the result (with the consequence that the Sinn Fein figure, based on 2 interviews, is probably not typical!) - and more significant any differences (hence the increase of the I.C. to 2 decimal places).
Here is how things worked out in October 09:
Conservatives (124 interviews) - 0.87
Sinn Fein (2 interviews) - 0.75
SNP (11 interviews) - 0.65
UKIP (4 interviews) - 0.60
Labour (134 interviews) - 0.54
BNP (2 interviews) - 0.50
Greens (2 interviews) - 0.45
Liberal Democrats (32 interviews) - 0.37
Plaid Cymru (2 interviews) - 0.35
DUP (2 interviews) - 0.15
Alliance (1 interview) - 0
Now here's some strong statistical evidence that the BBC, as a whole, is significantly more likely to interrupt a Conservative spokesman than a Labour spokesman, not to mention a Lib Dem.
With the BBC's coverage of the Conservative Party conference an unprecedented thing happened in October - the Conservatives got more air-time than Labour! Last month they came third behind the Liberal Democrats (whose party conference it was then). As I posted then, this distorts matters (http://beebbiascraig.blogspot.com/2009/10/septembers-ics-airtime-percentages.html) - distortion ironed out by combining October's figures with September's (the party conference season). This I shall do, as promised.
But first, here's this month's figures, complete with the actual amounts of interview time granted to each party:
Conservatives - 10 hours 51 minutes 29 seconds, 43.20%
Labour - 10 hours 42 minutes 41 seconds, 42.61%
Liberal Democrats - 1 hour 45 minutes 39 seconds, 6.99%
SNP - 1 hour 0 minutes 22 seconds, 3.99%
UKIP - 11 minutes 17 seconds, 0.74%
DUP - 9 minutes 2 seconds, 0.60%
BNP - 8 minutes 8 seconds, 0.54%
Sinn Fein - 6 minutes 16 seconds, 0.41%
Greens - 5 minutes 20 seconds, 0.34%
Alliance - 3 minutes 26 seconds, 0.22%
Plaid Cymru - 3 minutes 16 seconds, 0.21%
UUP - 2 minutes 27 seconds, 0.15%
Now for the combined figures for September/October:
Labour - 23 hours 7 minutes 58 seconds, 51.01%
Conservatives - 13 hours 43 minutes 30 seconds, 30.26%
Liberal Democrats - 5 hours 50 minutes 49 seconds, 12.88%
SNP - 1 hour 19 minutes 57 seconds, 2.92%
UKIP - 22 minutes 9 seconds, 0.81%
DUP - 11 minutes 17 seconds, 0.41%
Plaid Cymru - 10 minutes 50 seconds, 0.39%
Greens - 8 minutes 11 seconds, 0.30%
BNP - 8 minutes 6 seconds, 0.29%
Sinn Fein - 6 minutes 16 seconds, 0.23%
Independents - 5 minutes 16 seconds, 0.19%
UUP - 4 minutes 54 seconds, 0.17%
English Democrats - 2 minutes 27 seconds, 0.08%
SDLP - 1 minute 56 seconds, 0.06%
So, despite the Conservative Party conference, Labour continues the rule the BBC's airwaves, with a majority of the corporation's interview time.
Click on the label for 'Air Time' and you'll see that this is par for the course.
As this month contained the Conservative Party conference, the Tories got a lot more interviews than usual. This makes my usual totals for the month less valuable in their own right but, as promised last month (http://beebbiascraig.blogspot.com/2009/10/septembers-ics-number-of-interview-for.html) I shall then remedy that difficulty.
Here, for the record then, are the figures for October alone:
Labour - 134
Conservatives - 124
Liberal Democrats - 32
SNP - 11
UKIP - 4
DUP - 2
BNP - 2
Sinn Fein - 2
Green - 2
Plaid Cymru - 2
Alliance - 1
Even with all coverage of the Conservative Party conference Labour still got the most invites to the BBC's studios!!
Now, as promised, here comes the combined tally for September and October, covering the whole of the party conference season, which gives the truer picture:
Labour - 259
Conservatives - 169
Liberal Democrats - 87
SNP - 15
UKIP - 7
Plaid Cymru - 4
DUP - 3
Greens - 3
UUP - 3
Sinn Fein - 2
Independents - 2
Alliance - 1
English Democrats - 1
SDLP - 1
October has been a busy month for me with 318 interviews covered.
It began with the close of the Labour conference and continued with the Conservative conference. Just as September saw a far higher proportion of Lib Dem interviews than usual, due to their conference, so October has seen a leap in coverage of the Tories. With that increased coverage has come bags more bias.
As ever, I have covered every edition of:
The Daily Politics
The World At One
The World Tonight
The Andrew Marr Show
The Politics Show
The World This Weekend
The Politics Show: Scotland
The Record: Europe
Every edition - with one exception. The Newsnight of 22/10/09 was never made available on the BBC i-Player.
Just as a reminder - Interruption Coefficients (I.C.s) are calculated by dividing the number of interruptions by the length of the interview. The higher the I.C. the tougher the interview (as a rule). I.C.s of 0 have contained no interruptions! Interruptions are only classed as interruptions if they stop or significantly alter the speaker's flow. Muttered 'wells' and the like are classed as 'abortive interruption' and are not counted. Those that share an I.C., say of 0.8, are sub-ranked according to a hidden (inferior) measure called the Questions Coefficient, which is calculated by dividing thee number of questions by the length of the interview. The more questions there are, the likelier the interviewer is holding the reins in an interview. That means that everything is ranked where it should be!
As usual I will begin with the full list (with apologies for the lack of punctuation!!):
Andrew Neil 28/10 Chris Grayling Conservative 3.3
Andrew Neil 06/10 Philip Hammond Conservative 3.1
Andrew Neil 06/10 Andrew Lansley Conservative 2.9
Anita Anand 08/10 Alun Cairns Conservative 2.9
Andrew Neil 27/10 Jeremy Hunt Conservative 2.8
Jo Coburn 09/10 Justine Greening Conservative 2.8
Kirsty Wark 09/10 Greg Clark Conservative 2.7
Jeremy Paxman 20/10 Denis MacShane Labour 2.7
Andrew Neil 13/10 Evan Harris Lib Dem 2.4
Gavin Esler 15/10 Emily Thornberry Labour 2.3
Andrew Neil 05/10 Boris Johnson Conservative 2.2
Andrew Neil 12/10 Stuart Bell Labour 2.2
Jon Sopel 18/10 Lord Adonis Labour 2.1
Kirsty Wark 08/10 Jeremy Hunt Conservative 2.1
Andrew Marr 04/10 David Cameron Conservative 2.1
Andrew Neil 19/10 Hilary Benn Labour 2.1
Andrew Neil 07/10 Philip Hammond Conservative 2
Jeremy Paxman 07/10 Phil Woolas Labour 2
Carolyn Quinn 04/10 Douglas Carswell Conservative 1.9
Andrew Marr 18/10 Liam Fox Conservative 1.8
Anita Anand 30/10 Mark Field Conservative 1.8
John Humphrys 03/10 Andrew Lansley Conservative 1.8
Glenn Campbell 11/10 Nicola Sturgeon SNP 1.8
Jeremy Paxman 19/10 Peter Hain Labour 1.7
Anita Anand 14/10 John Hutton Labour 1.7
John Humphrys 22/10 Ken Clarke Conservative 1.7
Andrew Neil 05/10 Dan Hannan Conservative 1.6
Andrew Neil 12/10 Lord Oakeshott Lib Dem 1.6
John Humphrys 09/10 Greg Clark Conservative 1.6
Jeremy Paxman 05/10 Boris Johnson Conservative 1.6
John Humphrys 13/10 Sir Patrick Cormack Conservative 1.6
Anita Anand 02/10 Greg Clark Conservative 1.5
Kirsty Wark 26/10 Mark Francois Conservative 1.5
Martha Kearney 05/10 Boris Johnson Conservative 1.5
Jeremy Paxman 05/10 Theresa May Conservative 1.5
Andrew Neil 15/10 Mark Simmonds Conservative 1.5
Carolyn Quinn 05/10 Eric Pickles Conservative 1.5
Shirin Wheeler 11/10 Timothy Kirkhope Conservative 1.5
Shaun Ley 23/10 Alistair Darling Labour 1.5
Andrew Neil 29/10 Nick Gibb Conservative 1.4
Jeremy Paxman 29/10 Jeremy Hunt Conservative 1.4
Glenn Campbell 11/10 Ruth Davidson Conservative 1.4
Jeremy Paxman 07/10 George Osborne Conservative 1.4
Andrew Neil 08/10 William Hague Conservative 1.4
Glenn Campbell 04/10 John Swinney SNP 1.4
Andrew Neil 21/10 Nick Herbert Conservative 1.4
Jim Naughtie 29/10 William Hague Conservative 1.4
Carolyn Quinn 17/10 Angus Robertson SNP 1.4
Andrew Neil 07/10 Michael Gove Conservative 1.3
Andrew Neil 08/10 Theresa May Conservative 1.3
Jeremy Paxman 06/10 Chris Grayling Conservative 1.3
Glenn Campbell 11/10 Willie Bain Labour 1.3
Emily Maitlis 14/10 Bill Rammell Labour 1.3
Glenn Campbell 04/10 David Mundell Conservative 1.3
John Humphrys 24/10 George Osborne Conservative 1.3
Jon Sopel 04/10 Nigel Farage UKIP 1.2
Ritula Shah 07/10 Phil Woolas Labour 1.2
Jim Naughtie 19/10 Barry Sheerman Labour 1.2
Jon Sopel 11/10 Chris Grayling Conservative 1.2
Shaun Ley 11/10 Gerry Kelly Sinn Fein 1.2
Anita Anand 28/10 Chris Grayling Conservative 1.2
Shaun Ley 08/10 Lord Young Labour 1.2
Eddie Mair 07/10 Lord George Foulkes Labour 1.1
Eddie Mair 12/10 Nick Clegg Lib Dem 1.1
Anita Anand 20/10 Alan Duncan Conservative 1.1
Martha Kearney 29/10 Tony McNulty Labour 1.1
Carolyn Quinn 06/10 Ken Clarke Conservative 1.1
Andrew Neil 12/10 Philip Hammond Conservative 1
Jeremy Paxman 12/10 Sir Stuart Bell Labour 1
Jeremy Paxman 12/10 Tony Wright Labour 1
Andrew Marr 18/10 Lord Myners Labour 1
Glenn Campbell 11/10 David Kerr SNP 1
Andrew Neil 01/10 Bill Rammell Labour 1
Carolyn Quinn 07/10 Chris Grayling Conservative 1
Eddie Mair 19/10 Ken Clarke Conservative 1
Andrew Neil 22/10 John Hutton Labour 1
Martha Kearney 13/10 Jack Straw Labour 1
Andrew Neil 15/10 Tony McNulty Labour 1
Ritula Shah 23/10 Philip Hammond Conservative 1
Ritula Shah 13/10 Sir George Young Conservative 1
Jim Naughtie 09/10 Harriet Harman Labour 1
Jeremy Paxman 21/10 Barbara Follett Labour 1
Kirsty Wark 09/10 Ed Miliband Labour 1
John Humphrys 28/10 Roger Gale Conservative 0.9
Glenn Campbell 18/10 David Mundell Conservative 0.9
Martha Kearney 28/10 Lord Adonis Labour 0.9
Jo Coburn 09/10 Geoffrey Robinson Labour 0.9
Martha Kearney 06/10 Philip Hammond Conservative 0.9
Shaun Ley 12/10 Liam Byrne Labour 0.9
Andrew Neil 28/10 Peter Hain Labour 0.9
Jon Sopel 18/10 Nick Clegg Lib Dem 0.9
Martha Kearney 21/10 Peter Hain Labour 0.9
Anita Anand 28/10 Peter Hain Labour 0.9
Shaun Ley 09/10 Ed Miliband Labour 0.9
John Humphrys 14/10 Harriet Harman Conservative 0.9
Robin Lustig 20/10 Michael Fallon Conservative 0.9
Emily Maitlis 14/10 Caroline Lucas Green 0.9
Jeremy Paxman 29/10 Gary Titley Labour 0.9
Shirin Wheeler 11/10 Nigel Farage UKIP 0.9
Anita Anand 12/10 Dan Hannan Conservative 0.9
Andrew Neil 01/10 Phil Woolas Labour 0.8
Anita Anand 08/10 Ruth Davidson Conservative 0.8
Martha Kearney 07/10 Michael Gove Conservative 0.8
Jo Coburn 23/10 James Gray Conservative 0.8
Jon Sopel 04/10 David Miliband Labour 0.8
Jo Coburn 23/10 Phil Woolas Labour 0.8
Martha Kearney 27/10 Bill Rammell Labour 0.8
Evan Davis 06/10 David Cameron Conservative 0.8
Adrian Masters 11/10 Alun Cairns Conservative 0.7
Adrian Masters 11/10 Bethan Jenkins Plaid Cymru 0.7
Robin Lustig 14/10 John Walker BNP 0.7
Eddie Mair 07/10 Eric Joyce Labour 0.7
Jon Sopel 11/10 Hilary Benn Labour 0.7
Andrew Neil 19/10 John Mann Labour 0.7
Sarah Montague 28/10 Liam Fox Conservative 0.7
Eddie Mair 21/10 George Osborne Conservative 0.7
John Humphrys 28/10 Stuart Bell Labour 0.7
Anita Anand 02/10 Margaret Beckett Labour 0.7
Andrew Neil 29/10 Chris Huhne Lib Dem 0.7
Andrew Neil 08/10 George Osborne Conservative 0.7
Emily Maitlis 14/10 Zak Goldsmith Conservative 0.7
Carolyn Quinn 11/10 Tom Harris Labour 0.7
John Humphrys 01/10 Norman Lamb Lib Dem 0.7
Jeremy Paxman 13/10 Sir George Young Conservative 0.6
Jeremy Paxman 07/10 Bob Stewart Conservative 0.6
Martha Kearney 21/10 David Gauke Conservative 0.6
Andrew Neil 13/10 Norman Baker Lib Dem 0.6
Glenn Campbell 11/10 Steven Purcell Labour 0.6
Martha Kearney 05/10 Theresa May Conservative 0.6
Jim Naughtie 17/10 Lord Goldsmith Labour 0.6
Anita Anand 16/10 Khalid Mahmood Labour 0.6
Jim Naughtie 19/10 Nick Herbert Conservative 0.6
Andrew Marr 11/10 Alan Johnson Labour 0.6
Glenn Campbell 11/10 Alistair Darling Labour 0.6
Carolyn Quinn 18/10 Pete Wishart SNP 0.6
Andrew Neil 21/10 Caroline Flint Labour 0.6
Anita Anand 21/10 Caroline Flint Labour 0.6
Evan Davis 12/10 Peter Mandelson Labour 0.6
Jon Sopel 25/10 Ken Clarke Conservative 0.6
Jon Sopel 04/10 Eric Pickles Conservative 0.6
John Humphrys 10/10 Bob Stewart Conservative 0.6
Kirsty Wark 26/10 Chris Bryant Labour 0.6
Andrew Neil 05/10 David Cameron Conservative 0.5
Jo Coburn 15/10 Gerry Keating Lib Dem 0.5
Martha Kearney 15/10 Cathy Ashton Labour 0.5
Adrian Masters 25/10 Jeff Cuthbert Labour 0.5
Evan Davis 20/10 John McFall Labour 0.5
Jeremy Paxman 28/10 Shaun Woodward Labour 0.5
Emily Maitlis 16/10 David Miliband Labour 0.5
Anita Anand 21/10 Nick Herbert Conservative 0.5
Evan Davis 27/10 Bridget Prentice Labour 0.5
Sarah Montague 01/10 Bob Ainsworth Labour 0.5
Eddie Mair 15/10 Lord Drayton Labour 0.5
Martha Kearney 26/10 George Osborne Conservative 0.5
Eddie Mair 22/10 Margaret Hodge Labour 0.5
Eddie Mair 13/10 Richard Caborn Labour 0.5
Shaun Ley 12/10 Albert Wharrad Labour 0.4
Anita Anand 30/10 Lord Desai Labour 0.4
Martha Kearney 19/10 Peter Kilfoyle Labour 0.4
Shaun Ley 11/10 Stuart Bell Labour 0.4
Shaun Ley 02/10 Mark Francois Conservative 0.4
Evan Davis 06/10 Lord Falconer Labour 0.4
Martha Kearney 27/10 Lindsay Hoyle Labour 0.4
Robin Lustig 28/10 Mike Hancock Lib Dem 0.4
Evan Davis 07/10 David Mundell Conservative 0.4
Sarah Montague 15/10 David Willetts Conservative 0.4
Glenn Campbell 18/10 John McFall Labour 0.4
Anita Anand 07/10 David Davis Conservative 0.4
Andrew Neil 14/10 John Hutton Labour 0.4
Martha Kearney 01/10 David Miliband Labour 0.4
Shaun Ley 08/10 Liam Fox Conservative 0.4
Carolyn Quinn 25/10 Paul Holmes Lib Dem 0.4
Evan Davis 07/10 George Osborne Conservative 0.4
John Humphrys 10/10 Peter Kilfoyle Labour 0.4
Carolyn Quinn 11/10 Ed Vazey Conservative 0.4
Evan Davis 12/10 Sir George Young Conservative 0.4
John Humphrys 13/10 David Blunkett Labour 0.4
Carolyn Quinn 18/10 John Mann Labour 0.4
Eddie Mair 20/10 Hilary Benn Labour 0.4
Andrew Neil 26/10 Austin Mitchell Labour 0.4
Ritula Shah 02/10 Sir Malcolm Rifkind Conservative 0.4
Martha Kearney 30/10 Dan Hannan Conservative 0.4
Carolyn Quinn 16/10 Baroness Uddin Labour 0.4
Shaun Ley 11/10 Baroness Ludford Lib Dem 0.4
Martha Kearney 14/10 David Laws Lib Dem 0.4
Anita Anand 16/10 Alex Salmond SNP 0.4
Carolyn Quinn 04/10 Evan Harris Lib Dem 0.4
Martha Kearney 20/10 Nick Griffin BNP 0.3
Kirsty Wark 27/10 Tony Wright Labour 0.3
Adrian Masters 25/10 Jonathan Morgan Conservative 0.3
John Humphrys 02/10 Rhodri Morgan Labour 0.3
Ritula Shah 06/10 Eric Pickles Conservative 0.3
Jim Naughtie 19/10 Derek Clarke UKIP 0.3
Carolyn Quinn 17/10 Nick Harvey Lib Dem 0.3
Adrian Masters 11/10 Peter Hain Labour 0.3
Jim Naughtie 31/10 Adam Holloway Conservative 0.3
Anita Anand 13/10 Richard Kemp Lib Dem 0.3
Ritula Shah 19/10 Ed Miliband Labour 0.3
Shaun Ley 11/10 Jeffrey Donaldson DUP 0.3
Carolyn Quinn 18/10 Mark Field Conservative 0.3
Sarah Montague 22/10 Ken Livingstone Labour 0.3
Jeremy Paxman 28/10 Gerry Kelly Sinn Fein 0.3
Martha Kearney 29/10 Jeremy Hunt Conservative 0.3
Robin Lustig 14/10 Sir Menzies Campbell Lib Dem 0.3
Jo Coburn 29/10 Chris Huhne Lib Dem 0.3
Shirin Wheeler 04/10 Syed Kamall Conservative 0.3
Carolyn Quinn 16/10 Vernon Coaker Labour 0.3
Eddie Mair 22/10 Dominic Grieve Conservative 0.3
Andrew Marr 25/10 David Miliband Labour 0.3
Evan Davis 05/10 Michael Gove Conservative 0.3
Jane Hill 27/10 John Reid Labour 0.3
Evan Davis 07/10 Stuart Hosie SNP 0.3
Jim Naughtie 15/10 Jim Fitzpatrick Labour 0.3
Carolyn Quinn 25/10 Denis MacShane Labour 0.3
Evan Davis 29/10 Kit Malthouse Conservative 0.3
Carolyn Quinn 04/10 Emily Thornberry Labour 0.3
Jon Sopel 18/10 Mark Hoban Conservative 0.2
Paddy O'Connell 04/10 Glenys Kinnock Labour 0.2
Andrew Neil 14/10 Theresa May Conservative 0.2
Eddie Mair 13/10 Harriet Harman Labour 0.2
Carolyn Quinn 16/10 David Miliband Labour 0.2
Jeremy Paxman 19/10 Ed Miliband Labour 0.2
Carolyn Quinn 25/10 Roger Helmer Conservative 0.2
Shaun Ley 04/10 William Hague Conservative 0.2
Ritula Shah 07/10 William Hague Conservative 0.2
Carolyn Quinn 09/10 John Hutton Labour 0.2
Anita Anand 19/10 Lord Myners Labour 0.2
Shirin Wheeler 25/10 Timothy Kirkhope Conservative 0.2
Anita Anand 06/10 Michael Portillo Conservative 0.2
Adrian Masters 11/10 Cheryl Gillan Conservative 0.2
Andrew Marr 18/10 Alex Salmond SNP 0.2
Glenn Campbell 18/10 Alex Salmond SNP 0.1
Jim Naughtie 29/10 David Miliband Labour 0.1
Martha Kearney 05/10 Andrew Rosindell Conservative 0
Jo Coburn 15/10 Katy Clark Labour 0
Martha Kearney 27/10 Mark Lancaster Conservative 0
Andrew Neil 05/10 Ian Taylor Conservative 0
Becky Milligan 15/10 Claire Curtis-Thomas Labour 0
Adrian Masters 18/10 Dai Lloyd Plaid Cymru 0
Ritula Shah 31/10 Afzal Akram Labour 0
Eddie Mair 07/10 Ed Miliband Labour 0
Carolyn Quinn 28/10 Diana Wallis Lib Dem 0
Adrian Masters 18/10 Nia Griffith Labour 0
Martha Kearney 05/10 Sir Malcolm Rifkind Conservative 0
Adrian Masters 25/10 Ann Jones Labour 0
Carolyn Quinn 04/10 Chris Grayling Conservative 0
Carolyn Quinn 05/10 Roger Helmer Conservative 0
Martha Kearney 06/10 Andrew Lansley Conservative 0
Robin Lustig 22/10 Sayeeda Warsi Conservative 0
Ritula Shah 23/10 Vince Cable Lib Dem 0
Jeremy Paxman 29/10 Malcolm Rifkind Conservative 0
Glenn Campbell 11/10 Eileen Baxendale Lib Dem 0
Martha Kearney 13/10 Ann Widdecombe Conservative 0
Robin Lustig 14/10 John Cruddas Labour 0
Andrew Neil 01/10 Tony McNulty Labour 0
Martha Kearney 21/10 John McFall Labour 0
Martha Kearney 26/10 David Miliband Labour 0
Sarah Montague 28/10 Vince Cable Lib Dem 0
Andrew Neil 05/10 Nigel Farage UKIP 0
Ritula Shah 08/10 Michael Gove Conservative 0
Ritula Shah 12/10 Geraldine Smith Labour 0
Paddy O'Connell 18/10 Jack Straw Labour 0
Jeremy Paxman 28/10 Bob Ainsworth Labour 0
Martha Kearney 28/10 Eric Pickles Conservative 0
Shaun Ley 30/10 Ed Miliband Labour 0
Justin Webb 02/10 Douglas Alexander Labour 0
Shirin Wheeler 04/10 Graham Watson Lib Dem 0
John Humphrys 13/10 Sir Stuart Bell Labour 0
Jeremy Paxman 13/10 Anne Begg Labour 0
Martha Kearney 14/10 Jim Knight Labour 0
Eddie Mair 21/10 John Robertson Labour 0
Shaun Ley 02/10 Mark Todd Labour 0
Evan Davis 05/10 Dominic Grieve Conservative 0
Ritula Shah 10/10 Desmond Swayne Conservative 0
Shirin Wheeler 11/10 Fiona Hall Lib Dem 0
Martha Kearney 19/10 Ed Balls Labour 0
Jim Naughtie 21/10 Baroness Miller Lib Dem 0
Robin Lustig 22/10 Chris Huhne Lib Dem 0
Carolyn Quinn 02/10 Ken Livingstone Labour 0
Eddie Mair 05/10 David Ford Alliance 0
Martha Kearney 07/10 Doug Henderson Labour 0
Carolyn Quinn 08/10 George Osborne Conservative 0
Ritula Shah 13/10 Barry Sheerman Labour 0
Anita Anand 20/10 John McFall Labour 0
Sarah Montague 21/10 David Kidney Labour 0
Martha Kearney 21/10 Norman Baker Lib Dem 0
Adrian Masters 25/10 Jane Davidson Labour 0
Felicity Evans 26/10 Mark Field Conservative 0
Martha Kearney 27/10 Andrew Mitchell Conservative 0
Sarah Montague 28/10 John McFall Labour 0
Jim Naughtie 31/10 Jeffrey Donaldson DUP 0
Shaun Ley 04/10 Leon Brittan Conservative 0
Justin Webb 07/10 Mike Foster Labour 0
Carolyn Quinn 11/10 Norman Baker Lib Dem 0
Martha Kearney 13/10 Martin Salter Labour 0
Justin Webb 16/10 Nicola Sturgeon SNP 0
Felicity Evans 16/10 Lord Carlisle Lib Dem 0
Shaun Ley 18/10 David Curry Conservative 0
Sarah Montague 28/10 David Heathcoat-Amory Conservative 0
Shirin Wheeler 18/10 Caroline Lucas Green 0
Martha Kearney 01/10 Ben Wallace Conservative 0
Shirin Wheeler 11/10 Richard Howitt Labour 0
Martha Kearney 19/10 John Prescott Labour 0
Shirin Wheeler 25/10 Stephen Hughes Labour 0
Carolyn Quinn 28/10 Angus Robertson SNP 0
Martha Kearney 14/10 Theresa May Conservative 0
Anita Anand 14/10 Theresa May Conservative 0
Glenn Campbell 18/10 Michael Moore Lib Dem 0
Martha Kearney 20/10 Paddy Ashdown Lib Dem 0
Martha Kearney 22/10 Austin Mitchell Labour 0
Glenn Campbell 25/10 Brian Wilson Labour 0
Shirin Wheeler 04/10 Arlene McCarthy Labour 0
John Humphrys 14/10 Stephen Pound Labour 0
Jim Naughtie 21/10 David Miliband Labour 0
Martha Kearney 28/10 Simon Hughes Lib Dem 0
Shirin Wheeler 25/10 Chris Davies Lib Dem 0
Shaun Ley 11/10 Charles Tannock Conservative 0
Andrew Marr 18/10 Helena Kennedy Labour 0
I've had a long-standing allergy to watching the BBC's Question Time. The audiences always used to seem so patently stacked against anyone from the centre-right that I would find myself getting too annoyed. So I gave up watching. Over the last year or so I've watched it at one remove through reading the hilarious commentaries on it on the Biased BBC website, with only a couple of forays into watching the programme itself. (Can you guess which ones?) I've now given it a proper try, and it's no so gruesome after all - if you're watching out for bias. The bias of David Dimbleby is a thing to behold.
Now, it's true that he gave Labour's Jacqui Smith a hard time on expenses (though when an audience member asked about the claim for pornographic films he tried to move on, saying "No, I think we've been around this"), and got in a sarcastic comment about Gordon Brown and the recovery-that-isn't ("You're saying Gordon Brown got the Americans out of the recession but can't get us out of recession"), but it was his treatment of the Conservative member of the panel - and the only one who wasn't from the political left-of-centre - that really got my goat. For most of the time he did not mock Jacqui Smith, but he certainly mocked Cheryl Gillan on several occasions.
Watch the programme and see Dimbleby pull a face (at 6.38) - a mock double-take - at Cheryl Gillan's answer to his first interruption. The topic here was Blair and the EU presidency. He went on to interrupt her 3 more times on this single question, contradicting her ("He did say that!"), then, when she talked of an inaccurate quotation, saying "Back to last week!" - 'humorously' drawing a comparison between what she had just said and what Nick Griffin had said! He got a handful of sniggers from the audience and the camera showed him with a very smug expression, laughing at his own quip.
Note that Lib Dem Lembit Opik was never interrupted, but Dimbleby twice quoted something he'd said - once at Jacqui Smith and once at Cheryl Gillan. To Ms Smith, he said "Lembit said this was Mrs Thatcher's idea to pay people and you didn't actually have to pay the money solely for your expenses. Was that why you named the wrong house as your home...?" . Then, later, to Cheryl came "what Lembit said was this was designed by a Tory government because they didn't dare put up MPs salaries...Is that true?" As has been widely reported, it was in the early 2000's that further changes to expenses opened a new sluice - and Mrs Thatcher wasn't in power then! Why only ask about what Mrs Thatcher did?
Dimbleby had prefaced this bit of Thatch-bashing with another leering dig at Cheryl Gillan: "Let's bring Cheryl Gillan in and let's not forget £4.47 tins for dog food, charged to all of us "(with a hand gesture to the audience). Did he mention any of Lembit Opik's dodgy claims? Or Elfyn Llwyd's? No, of course he didn't. No, it was 'let's embarrass the Tory' (as it wouldn't do to let all the disfavour fall on poor Jacqui Smith, and let's not embarrass the Lib Dems).
A final point. When John Sargeant launched another of his anti-Conservative attacks, and when this was followed by a sustained attack on Cheryl Gillan by Lembit Opik, you would have thought that common decency would have prevailed and that Dimbleby would have given her a right to reply. Not a bit of it. He went straight to the audience, then allowed Elfyn Llwyd to speak. Only when she insisted on having a say did he allow her to do so, though not before saying "Very briefly..."
Question Time is not for the faint-hearted right-of-centre viewer. A stiff drink may be needed.
I had to smile at the start of last night's Newsnight, as Michael Crick said "I'm here with eight people who've just resigned from Somerton Town Council because they're angry about the persistent criticism of one local blogger". Michael Crick himself has been the target of persistent criticism from one particular blogger:
Is it too much to hope he'll be resigning too?
Friday, 30 October 2009
Wednesday night's The World Tonight featured another report from Jonty Bloom that crossed the line between simple reporting and outright advocacy. The issue was a highly political one - inheritance tax.
Robin Lustig introduced the report thus: "Unpopular the tax may be, but as our economics correspondent Jonty Bloom reports, there are economists who argue it's actually rather a good thing." If that had been how Bloom's report functioned, all would have been well. The problem of bias arises because Bloom himself used the views of those economists to himself argue that inheritance tax is "actually rather a good thing".
The first of Bloom's talking heads was "Eamonn Butler, director of the Adam Smith Institute, which has been at the forefront of such free-market thinking and is named after the father of laissez-faire economics, Adam Smith."
Dr Butler made the case for scrapping inheritance tax for just 9 seconds before Bloom sprang his trap, asking him: "That's not what Adam Smith actually thought is it?" Dr Butler's answer lasted a further 13 seconds - and that was it. We never heard from him again. Having contradicted Dr Butler during the brief interview clip, Bloom then contradicted him again after the clip had ended!: "Adam Smith might have thought that, but what he said about inheritance tax is that it's the most absurd of all suppositions that every successive generation of men have not an equal right to the earth".
By giving the opposite point of view from that of which he approves so short a shrift, and simultaneously undermining its advocate - twice! -, Bloom shows the true propagandist's knack for manipulating a story to his own ends.
He went on from that last quotation to make the point he wanted to make: "i.e. that passing on wealth to your children creates an increasingly unfair society and destroys the idea of a level playing field with equal opportunity for all". How can the poor ever catch up if the rich leave ever larger amounts of money to their children?"
As connoisseurs of bias will know, biased reporters have a habit of 'bigging up' the expertise of those whose views tally with theirs - and Bloom gave a plum instance of this before introducing his next talking head:
"That's one reason Irwin Steltzer believes in inheritance tax. And that matters, because he's listened to by governments on both sides of the Atlantic, including Gordon Brown's, and is sometimes known as Rupert Murdoch's representative on earth. Dr Steltzer believes that inheritance tax is fair - especially if these days it hits people whose wealth has been built up not by hard work and industry but just because they own the family home."
(Note, incidentally, that Bloom gives Steltzer his title 'Dr', which he did not apply to Dr Butler. I gave him his proper title!)
The third talking head also supported Bloom's argument: "And that isn't the only economic argument in favour of inheritance tax. In America the tax is supported by some of the richest in society, including Bill Gates Snr, the founder of the father of Microsoft. His argument is that self-made billionaires, like his son, owe a debt to society because they couldn't have made all that money in the first place without its help."
Note that, unlike in the case of Dr Butler, neither Dr Steltzer not Mr Gates Snr were (a) questioned or (b) contradicted.
And unlike Dr Butler, Dr Steltzer got a second bite of the cherry: "Making a lot of money then giving most of it away has long been a tradition of American billionaires and, although as Irwin Steltzer points out, not many of their children end up living in poverty, there is a wider social and economic good to be gained from taxing inheritance."
Bloom then proceeds to his conclusions, and here his advocacy for inheritance tax is full-on:
"Leaving millions of pounds to your own children, tax-free, always sounds like a brilliant idea, but if virtually no-one - no matter how rich - has to pay inheritance tax then we all have a problem. And that's increasingly what is happening. Inheritance is a tax that the very rich can afford to avoid, which doesn't effect the vast majority of us at all. In fact, fewer and fewer of us are paying it every year. And that is not necessarily a good thing because inheriting wealth destroys the incentive for future generations to study hard, make new discoveries, improve themselves, invest in new businesses and take entrepreneurial risks. As a society and an economy we should worry if increasingly large numbers of people don't have to work at all because the living is easy."
The political implications of all this were not neglected - for who, besides the 'free-market' Dr Butler, were against inheritance tax?
"At this year's Conservative Party conference it was hard to find anyone to say a good word about inheritance tax."
Ah, yes, it's the Tories who are wrong too.
This is not the only side-taking report from Jonty Bloom - as you'll click if you click on the label 'Jonty Bloom' below. The obvious and natural desire of parents to leave their children a good future was not considered, but, as an instinct, I'd guess it's nearly universal - except among the very rich, and left-wing BBC reporters.
Thursday, 29 October 2009
This morning's double-interview between David Miliband and William Hague on the Today programme was not a pleasant thing to hear. Regardless of the content of the interview and the distasteful smear tactics employed by our foreign secretary (which cannot but do harm to our country's reputation in Eastern Europe), what concerns me is the pro-Labour bias again demonstrated by Jim Naughtie.
The interruption coefficients tell a part of the story, with that for Mr Miliband being a puny 0.1, while that for Mr Hague was a beefy 1.4.
William Hague was interrupted 9 times more often than David Miliband!
Miliband also got the lion's share of the interview (over 10 1/2 minutes compared to under 7 minutes f0r Mr Hague) and was asked fewer questions too.
Here is an outline of the interview (the colour-coordination marks the point at which the guests begin speaking):
1.03 Question 1 (to Hague)
1.29 Answer 1 (Hague)
1.45 Abortive interruption
2.00 Question 2 (to Hague)
2.19 Answer 2 (Hague)
2.35 Naughtie heckles "Oh, come on!"
2.45 Answer 3 (to Hague)
2.57 Interruption (of Hague) 1/Question 3 (to Hague)
3.25 Abortive interruption
3.32 Interruption (of Hague) 2/Question 4 (to Miliband)
4.11 Answer 4 (Miliband) (which went on, without a murmur, for 1 min 23 secs before a faint abortive interruption!)
5.34 (faint) Abortive interruption
5.40 Question 5 (to Hague)
5.45 Answer 5 (Hague)
6.33 Abortive interruption
6.37 Non-question "Foreign secretary?" (to Miliband)
6.38 'Answer' (Miliband)
7.25 Interruption (of Milaband) 3/Question 6 (to Miliband)
7.51 Answer 6 (Miliband)
8.02 Abortive interruption
8.15 Abortive interruption
8.19 Hague takes over
8.45 'Clarifying' interruption
8.51 Abortive interruption
8.54 Interruption (of Hague) 4/Question 7 (to Miliband)
9.28 Answer 7 (Miliband)
10.00 Abortive interruption
10.36 Question 8 (to Miliband)
11.39 Answer 8 (Miliband)
12.50 Abortive interruption
12.57 Abortive interruption
13.01 Abortive interruption
13.19 Abortive interruption
All 4 of these half-hearted attempts to interrupt did not in anyway impede Miliband's flow, which continued for 1 min 40 seconds right through to its natural end!!
13.22 Question 9 (to Miliband)
13.46 Answer 9 (Miliband)
14.07 Abortive interruption
14.14 Comment, then non-Question (to Hague) "Mr Hague?"
14.17 'Answer' (Hague)
14.36 Abortive interruption
14.38 Abortive interruption
14.39 Interruption (of Hague) 5/Question 10 (to Hague)
14.43 Answer 10
14.45 Interruption (of Hague) 6/Question 11 (to Hague)
14.46 Answer 11
15.00 'Latvia, yes'
15.08 Abortive interruption
15.13 Question 12 (to Hague)
15.27 Answer 12 (Hague)
15.30 Interruption (of Hague) 7"Mainstream?"
15.48 Interruption (of Hague) 8/Non-question (to Miliband) "Mr Miliband?"
(Naughtie intervenes to let Miliband crash into Hague's answer)
15.52 'Answer' (Miliband)
16.10 Non-question (to Hague) "Mr Hague?" (Naughtie thought Miliband had finished - though he had another point to make).
16.12 re-puts non question "Mr Hague?"
16.13 'Answer' (Hague)
16.18 Miliband interrupts and takes over
16.26 Hague interrupts and takes over
16.31 Miliband interrupts again and takes over again
16.39 Hague interrupts and takes over
16.46 Interruption (of Hague) 9 to allow Miliband to make the point he hadn't got to make earlier!: "You had a second point Mr Miliband?".
16.48 Miliband continues the attack
17.04 Non-question (to Hague) "Mr Hague?"
17.06 'Answer' (Hague)
17.42 Interruption 10 (to allow Miliband to speak again - and get the last word!): "Last word, foreign secretary?"
17.44 'Answer' (Miliband)
18.22 Question 12 (to Hague)
18.26 Answer 12 (Hague)
18.29 Interview ends.
A disgraceful display by both David Miliband and Jim Naughtie.
Tuesday, 27 October 2009
A couple of recent blogs from Michael Crick show him up to his old tricks.
In 'Personally, I blame the kids' he seems to me to be trying to solicit our sympathy for a particular social group - Labour ministers:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/newsnight/michaelcrick/2009/10/personally_i_blame_the_kids.html * *
Why do many leading Labour figures seem to be "exhausted full stop"?
"Personally I blame the kids. No seriously. An interesting feature of the Blair and Brown governments is just how many leading ministers have young children (by which I mean children under 10).
"Both Tony Blair and Gordon Brown have been in this category, of course, and among Mr Brown's senior colleagues, both of the Milibands, Ed Balls, Yvette Cooper and Douglas Alexander all have young children, and those are just the ministers I can think of off the top of my head."
"In the past the children of leading politicians tended to be either teenagers or grown up. And there is another obvious factor, too. These days fathers are expected to play a much bigger role in childcare. Children cannot just be left with the wife or nanny all day, and every day.
"I know, as the father of a three-year old, just how difficult it is to get any time to do serious reading at home, let alone have a quiet think and plan ahead. Weekends are fully occupied, and the only spare time is the late evenings when one is already pretty tired. It must be a lot worse for busy ministers with full diaries, constant public pressure, media attention and constituency duties.
"Young children are no great respecters of parental sleep. You have to wake up when they wake up. Worse still are those occasions in the middle of the night when they insist on clambering into bed with you, as happens, I'm told, with one senior minister."
Three days later he follows up the theme of this tender-hearted post with a piece entitled 'Sympathy for the modern political parent':
This is a typical Crick anecdote:
"I bumped into one of John Major's old Cabinet colleagues this afternoon and ran past him my theory that this government may partly be exhausted because so many of them have young children.
"Oh yes," he said. "In my day you could simply farm all that out to your wife."'
Not a particularly funny story it has to be said, but at least it casts the Conservative Party in a bad, 'unreconstructed' light - so job done.
For all I've written about Michael Crick, it never dawned on me to look him up on Wikipedia. Having now remedied that omission, I read the following:
"Crick, a known Labour supporter, is known for his investigations of Conservative politicians and followed then Tory leader, Michael Howard around during the 2005 election campaign as part of his research for his biography of Howard, published the same year. Since then, Crick has investigated Conservative Party Chairman, Caroline Spelman for abuse of expenses."
They know him so well!!!!
Robin Horbury on the Biased BBC website pointed out that David Miliband got a very easy ride on yesterday's The World at One (http://biased-bbc.blogspot.com/2009/10/pushover-for-miliband.html). He certainly did. The interview lasted just under 6 minutes and Martha Kearney did not interrupt him once, nor were the questions especially tough (I.C. of 0). When Martha interviewed George Osborne later, in a 4 1/2 minute interview, she interrupted him twice (I.C. of 0.5), and told him off for repeating himself!
This contrast in treatment was as nothing compared to the Newsnight discussion between Labour's Chris Bryant and the Conservatives' Mark Francois, as conducted by Kirsty Wark. The issue was 'Blair 4 EU president' and the interview was nakedly one-sided, with Kirsteen attacking Mr Francois - who opposes Blair's presidency -, asking him 10 questions, while letting Mr Bryant almost completely off the hook, asking him a mere 2 questions - despite both guests getting similar amounts of time to speak!
As for interruptions, Bryant was interrupted twice (though the second of these was so that Kirsty could have another go at Mark Francois), scoring her an I.C. of 0.6 for him, whereas Francois was interrupted 5 times, scoring her an I.C. for him of 1.5 (all to ask him more questions).
She also took up Mr Bryant's accusations against Mr Francois, and put them to him as a question, but she did not take up any of Mr Francois's counter-accusations and put them back to Mr Bryant - such as the point that Tony Blair has hardly been a great success in his job as Middle East envoy (which surely she ought to have put to him).
All in all, a pair of clearly biased interviews from the clearly biased Beeb.
Sunday, 25 October 2009
On the subject of the BNP and Question Time, I think this is all that really needs saying:
Today's The Politics Show was back on the Conservatives' case again, sending cocky Max Cotton out to Prague to show off in front of the cameras and show up David Cameron. His immediate target was the excellent Czech president Vaclav Klaus, who holds what Max called "unorthodox" views on man-made global warming and European integration. "I've been racking my brains trying to think who he's like", he continued. His answer? "A sort of cross between Thatcher and Berlusconi, with a dash of Jack Nicholson" (before doing a cringe-making impersonation of the latter in 'The Shining').
This is all well and good, but nothing much to do with bias. That begins to emerge when Max informs us that "I'm told that the BBC have requested ten separate interviews with Mr Klaus in the last few days". I wonder why they're so keen. Is it just because of Mr Klaus's delaying tactics over the Lisbon treaty, and the need to find an answer to the burning question of if or when he will ratify it? I suspect not - if Max's report is typical.
Here was the point: "What has shocked pundits in the Czech Republic is David Cameron's intervention in what they see as their affairs." (What, all of them?!) He gathered a couple of people in a cafe to support his contention. One was the sociologist Jiri Pehe, advisor to former president Vaclav Havel (who had a very tense relationship with Mr Klaus), who focused his criticism of the letter sent by Mr Cameron to President Klaus on President Klaus. The other, Tom Clifford of The Prague Post, turned his fire on Mr Cameron - encouraged by Max Cotton:
Max C: "And Tom, you think Cameron is making a mistake here?"
Max C: "He doesn't understand the Czech Republic?"
Tom Clifford criticized away before moving the story on to where the BBC is happiest: "Cameron and the Tories are allying themselves with far-right parties in Central and Middle Europe."
Ah yes, we're back to those European allies again.
After interviewing two critics of Klaus and Cameron, Cotton went on to interview a third - Dr Lubomir Zaoralek, labelled as the 'Shadow Foreign Minister'. He, looking him up on the internet, is a member of the Labour-aligned Czech Social Democrat Party.
The simple question here is this: Why did Max Cotton interview 3 critics of President Klaus (and David Cameron), but no supporters? Is this balanced?
It's Sunday morning, so it must be the ever-biased Andrew Marr...
Compare and contrast this week with last week.
Last week's big political interview with the Conservative's Liam Fox saw Andrew Marr score a high Interruption Coefficient of 1.8, with 17 interruptions in an interview that lasted under 10 minutes. The equivalent interview this week with Labour toff David Miliband also lasted around 9 1/2 minutes but this time contained only 3 interruptions, scoring Marr a very low I.C. of 0.3. So, a very tough interview with a Tory spokesman one week and a very soft interview with a Labour spokesman the following week. That's Andrew Marr for you!
Last week Marr interviewed Billy Hayes, leader of the Communication Workers' Union, about the postal strike. This week he interviewed the boss of Royal Mail, Adam Crozier. How do these interviews compare? Well, Marr only interrupted the far-left union leader once but he interrupted the big-businessman 19 times!!!! Again, that's Andrew Marr for you!
Finally, when Clive James (on the paper review) brought up a story in The Sunday Times about Boris's 'plans' for a post-Olympic Games tower ('Look out Paris, Boris plans a 'Piffle Tower''), Marr yet again expressed a partisan personal opinion: "Yeah, yeah, yeah, I mean, it is - if true - an astonishing and worrying story, I would have thought." To which the only response should be, "Keep your opinions to yourself Andrew!" Why is he not censured for this sort of thing? He was clearly excited about the story, telling Clive "Hold it so they can see the picture!" At the end of the programme, we were told that Ken Livingstone's favourite policeman Sir Ian Blair is going to be on next week's show, so expect even more Boris-bashing then!!
Another dreadful edition of The Andrew Marr Show.
Saturday, 24 October 2009
Last night's Newsnight was a special from New York on the Great Depression and its lessons for today. If ever a programme demonstrated the BBC's left-wing cultural and political bias this was it.
The opening report from Paul Mason on the economic lessons of the Great Depression featured as its main expert Max Fraad-Wolff, a left-liberal economist from the 'progressive university' The New School and a regular blogger on the ultra-liberal Huffington Post website. The other two 'talking heads' were Professor Mark Gertler of New York University, a 'New Keynesian' economist, and Professor Alan Brinkley, 'progressive historian' of the New Deal at Columbia University.
The following roundtable discussion, hosted by Kirsty Wark, featured one of America's leading left-liberal voices, Arianna Huffington herself (of Huffington Post fame). Alongside her was our own Simon Schama, who left-wing views are well known. With these voices of the Left were Liaquat Ahamed, author of 'Lords of Finance', and Andrew Ross Sirkin, author of 'Too Big to Fail'. Mr Ahamed made plenty of left-wing noises, but the oft-interrupted Mr Sirkin sounded less shrill.
Next came another report from Paul Mason, this time looking at the cultural lessons of the Great Depression. Its main talking heads were cultural historian Morris Dickstein, author of 'Dancing in the Dark' and a proud, self-professed liberal, and one of Newsnight Review's regular gaggle of yakking lefties, the literature lecturer and frequent contributor to The Guardian and The Independent Sarah Churchwell. The third voice was the Obama-supporting head of the America's National Endowment for the Arts, Rocco Landesman.
For Kirsty's other roundtable discussion, guess who remained? Arianna Huffington and Simon Schama, of course. They were joined by another occasional Guardianista and Newsnight Review leftie, Hari Hunzru.and a cultural critic called David D'Arcy. What a left-wing love-in followed!
Even by the standards of Newsnight, this was a tour-de-force of bias.
Ritula Shah (of Radio 4's The World Tonight) conducted a double interview last night with Philip Hammond of the Conservatives and Vince Cable of the Liberal Democrats. The topic was the economic recovery, or lack of it. Ritula was not even-handed in her interviewing (to put it mildly), both in the contrasting treatment of her guests and in the pro-government-intervention stance that all her questions came from (to both interviewees, even the pro-government-intervention Dr Cable). http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b006qtl3
Here is an outline of how it went:
14.25 Question 1 (to PH): "Philip Hammond, now is not the time to put the brake on government spending. That's what Danny Blanchflower seems to be saying there. Isn't that borne out by today's GDP figures?"
14.57 (abortive interruption) "But they're already 0 point.."
15.06 Question 2 (to PH): "But they're already at 0.5% and there isn't any growth as yet".
15.50 Question 3 (to VC): "Vince Cable, is fiscal deficit the priority or should we be looking at more quantatative easing?"
16.16 Question 4 (to VC): "But that's overall government intervention though?"
16.30 Question 5 (to VC): "Where do we go from here?"
17.08 Question 6 (to PH): "Would you support that point of view?"
17.32 (abortive interruption) "But..."
17.46 (interruption/Question 7 (to PH)): "But what concrete steps would you take if you held the reins? For instance would you put VAT back up in January?"
18.13 (abortive interruption) "But what..."
18.20 (interruption/Question 8 (to PH)): "But what would you say to somebody like Danny Blanchflower who says that steps like that could tip us into depression?"
18.47 (abortive interruption) "Vi..."
18.53 (interruption/'Question' 9 (to VC): "Vince Cable?"
As you can see, Ritula Shah interrupted Philip Hammond three times (scoring her an I.C. of 1.0), whereas she did not interrupt Vince Cable even once (I.C. of 0). She also tried to interrupt Mr Hammond on four more occasions, which she never once did to Dr Cable!
Moreover, note that most of Ritula's questions to Philip Hammond asked about matters specific to Conservative Party policy (including criticisms from Danny Blanchflower), unlike the very general questions asked to Vince Cable (who was, as so often, treated more like an independent economist than a party politician).
All in all, a clear-cut case of Beeb bias.
Wednesday, 21 October 2009
Yes, you read that right. Michael Crick has published a post on his blog worthy of a political editor, and has hit the nail on the head about an obvious injustice towards UKIP:
Alan Bown and Michael Brown - spot the difference(s)
Spot the difference(s)
Case A: Alan Bown gave a political party
1) It was his money
2) He had a business trading in this
country, making him eligible to donate money
3) He was not on the electoral
register when he donated although he was the year before, and also the year
Case B: Michael Brown gave a political party £2.4m
was not his money, he had defrauded it
2) His business was not trading in
the UK, so therefore he was ineligible to donate money
3) He was not on the
electoral register; neither was he the year afterwards, nor the year before.
Do you see the difference(s)?
Well the main difference is that the
Electoral Commission has doggedly pursued the Alan Bown donation, and today won
an appeal forcing the party to give up the money, despite a judge previously
ruling that the political party that received it had acted in good faith.
In the Michael Brown case the Electoral Commission has always maintained
the political party acted in good faith and need not repay money. Although
following the criminal proceedings against Mr Brown they have re-opened an
investigation, it has not had yet had any result and they have not managed to
say when, if ever, it will.
Oh yes there is one other difference:
This year the Political Parties and Elections Act went through
Parliament, and among other things it restructured the Electoral Commission and
gave it new funding and powers.
The political party in Case A, UKIP, has
no MPs and only three representatives in the House of Lords (where the
government has no majority and is particularly vulnerable to amendments).
The political party in Case B, the Liberal Democrats, has 63 MPs and 71
members of the House of Lords (where the Government has no majority and is
particularly vulnerable to amendments).
At least those are the
difference that I can see. Perhaps you can you suggest others?"
Sunday, 18 October 2009
If the UK-wide Politics Show was on less biased form that usual, the same may not be said of The Politics Show: Scotland. A three-way discussion on the future of Scotland's banks between Michael Moore for the Liberal Democrats, John McFall for Labour and David Mundell for the Conservatives resulted in the following interruption coefficients for presenter Glenn Campbell:
David Mundell - 0.9
John McFall - 0.4
Michael Moore - 0
One of the Mr Mundell's interruptions was a classic Politics Show ambush, quoting some mischief-making about his position from the centre-left The Sunday Herald.
Worse was to come.
Here's how Glenn began the next segment: "Now, MPs expenses are back in the news with Gordon Brown, David Cameron and others being ordered to pay back money they'd claimed."
This is simply untrue. Sir Thomas Legg did indeed suggest that Gordon Brown should pay back more than £12,000, but he did not suggest David Cameron should pay back a single penny, only asking for more information about a £200 payment.
My suspicions that Glenn Campbell dislikes the Conservatives and is not too keen on the SNP either, but has quite a soft spot for Labour and the Lib Dems grows stronger by the week.
How did they fare at the fair Shirin's lovely hands?
Time to speak:
Caroline Lucas - 4 minutes 10 seconds
Jo Leinen - 3 minutes 49 seconds
Mark Littlewood - 3 minutes 25 seconds
Number of interruptions:
Caroline Lucas - 0
Jo Leinen - 0
Mark Littlewood - 3
Caroline Lucas - 0
Jo Leinen - 0
Mark Littlewood - 0.9
One of Shirin Wheeler's interruptions was simply a cut-off to pass the conversation on to another speaker, but the other two were much more telling of bias.
When Mark said "I'm not as persuaded by all the science surrounding this...", Shirin interrupted him, saying "What, what do you mean you're not persuaded by all the science?"
Even more typical of a true believer, she later went on to stop him in mid-flow when he began saying something she really didn't want to hear. He was saying "Caroline talks about the science as if it's so black and white. Climatology is still in its infancy. I'm not trying to dismiss those that..." when Shirin butted in with "Well, let's not go back to the science argument" and then said "Jo", passing the baton back to the pro-Green socialist.
Still, at least a mild AGW sceptic got a look in here. Later in the programme the focus turned to those wicked multi-national oil companies and their wicked doings in the developing world. Who did Shirin Wheeler discuss this topic with? Nnimmo Bassey of Friends of the Earth International and Claude Turmes, a Luxembourgeois Green MEP. Why interview one Green when you can interview two!!
Two of Radio 4's Sunday presenters have been out and about this week -with very different results.
The World This Weekend's main story came from Macklesfield (which, for any Southern readers, is in Cheshire). Shaun Ley went there in hot pursuit of an embarrassing story for the Labour Party...no, sorry, I got that wrong...for the Conservative Party. The Conservatives have been experimenting with 'open primaries', but the rush to replace Sir Nicholas Winterton in a particularly safe seat has generated anger and Tory splits. Cue Shaun Ley: "What happens when the constituency association and the national party don't agree over who should be on the shortlist?", he asked. "Bad feelings and accusations of interference from London linger, leaving some with the sense this process may have been less than democratic". How embarrassing for the Conservative Party! Job done Shaun.
In contrast Paddy O'Connell on Broadcasting House presented what virtually amounted to an audio election-leaflet for Jack Straw. His report from Blackburn (in the fine county of Lancashire) featured lengthy excerpts from one of Jack's public meetings, where he mounts a soapbox and answers questions from all comers. This is admirable, and Paddy wasn't above saying so to Jack's face. 3 out of 4 of the chosen vox-pops agreed, describing Mr Straw's meetings as 'brilliant' and 'fantastic', and saying that it was 'splendid that he comes' and that he's 'a different brand to other politicians'. I have to say the answers I heard didn't sound very different from the usual answers politicians tend to give, but at least he stood there ready to take the flak. (You see, I'm falling for it too!!) There was also a gentle interview (I.C. of 0) with Jack Straw.
Paddy ended by giving a promise: "We'll follow other parties in the coming months". As Paddy is probably vain enough to google up this blog, let me say that I'll be listening to see that you live up to that pledge - and that you are just as kind to your other chosen politicians.
As I always do a review of The Politics Show on Sunday afternoons, I can't really miss out on it this week, even when I've found only minor evidence of bias in it. That would be unfair of me.
Today's The Politics Show was much better behaved. Indeed the Conservative interviewee, Mark Hoban (one of the party's least able TV performers), was only interrupted once (I.C. of 0.2) - though he was ambushed (like other recent Tory guests) with something personally embarrassing, which Jon Sopel admitted his team had dug around for (a quote over demutualisation, in this case). In contrast Labour's Lord Adonis was interrupted 13 times (I.C. of 2.1). The big interview though was with Nick Clegg. This was not especially tough, especially when the questions moved onto bankers' bonuses and the postal strike, and contained 8 interruptions (I.C. of 0.9).*
Both the programme's reports were about the Conservatives. I've seen much worse (many, many times) on the BBC.
The first was about Boris's plans for an airport in the Thames Estuary, and the pros and cons were well discussed by David Thompson (and his various Conservative talking heads) - once we got beyond all the 'Fantasy Island' nonsense. Of course, the issue of Tory splits was doubtless in the minds of the programme's makers - and Lord Adonis praised the report for clearly showing just that! - and the 'Boris-is-an-idiot' element was probably also in their minds - and Lord Adonis also praised the report for clearing showing just what a daft idea it was! - but, contrary to the appreciative Lord Adonis, I didn't find it especially biased against the Conservatives, nor particularly unfair to Boris's big idea. Fair dues.
The second report was decent enough too. It looked at Conservative-run Essex County Council's intriguing plans to share many of its key responsibilities with private companies. Now yes, Jon Sopel's introduction was a little loaded in its language ("Essex Council calls it 'transformation', others see it as the effective privatisation of the council itself") and reporter Gillian Hargreaves's questions to the council leader Lord Hanningfield did seem to have the agenda of highlighting resultant job losses ("And how many will be working directly for you?", "So it would go from 7000 workers down to about 3500 directly employed by the council?"), but each side of the argument was heard. Saying that though, to each of Lord Hanningfield's two bites of the 'talking head' cherry, there were also two bites from a skeptical Tony Travers of the LSE, as well as a hostile bite from Heather Wakefield of the Silurian-era union UNISON. Still, as I say, I've seen much worse, many, many times, on the BBC.
The spread of guests on this morning's Andrew Marr Show was pretty broad, with two Labour politicians (Baroness Helena Kennedy and Lord Myners) and a Labour-affliliated union leader (Billy Hayes of the CWU), a Conservative politician (Liam Fox) and a Conservative-supporting actor (Julian Fellowes), as well as the leader on the SNP (Alex Salmond) and the historian/BBC presenter Dan Snow. Why then was the usual bit at the end on the sofa a gathering of all the Labour guests only. Couldn't (Shouldn't?) Liam Fox have replaced Helena Kennedy on the couch? It would have been interesting to hear what he had to say to Billy Hayes.
I will let the Interruption Coefficients do the talking now:
Liam Fox (Conservative) - 1.8 (with 17 interruptions)
Lord Myners (Labour) - 1.0 (with 6 interruptions)
Alex Salmond (SNP) - 0.2 (with 1 interruption)
Baroness Kennedy (Labour) - 0
Again, the Conservative gets the roughest ride.
On the paper review, Andrew Marr was openly agreeing again with left-wing sentiments. When the Baroness said "The focus goes off. Here we are. We're blaming post office workers, we're blaming public service workers, and we've lost our focus on the fact that it was the bankers who led us in the crisis that we're currently in, and that focus should not be lost", Marr added "Yeah, absolutely." When she criticized Afghanistan's President Karzai, he 'mmm'-ed supportively twice before adding another "Absolutely."
Saturday, 17 October 2009
Was today's panel on 'Dateline: London' any more balanced than last week's?
Well, in place of Johann Hari of 'The Independent' we had the ubiquitous Steve Richards of 'The Independent'. (Have the programme's producers never heard of 'The Times'?). Mark that up as one for the Left.
Then there was this week's Eurobabe, Agnes Poirier of La vie, who also writes regularly for 'The Guardian'. Mark that up as two for the Left.
Then there was one of the programme's most regular of regulars, Abdul Bari Atwan of al Quds, a left-wing Palestinian known for his shocking anti-Israeli comments. (He was treated with the utmost respect, as usual, by Gavin Esler - despite, as the fourth guest showed, talking utter nonsense about Pakistan's Taleban). Mark that up as three for the Left.
Finally, that fourth guest, was Shahed Sadullah of Pakistan's The Daily Jang. I have always assumed (from all his other appearances) that he too was a man of the liberal Left, but he talked such good sense throughout the whole programme that he surely can't be!! So mark that up as three and a half for the Left!!
Finally, throw in Gavin Esler - and that's four and a half for the Left!!!
As for the show's discussion of MPs and their expenses, it was typical of what I've seen and heard in recent days. Poor bloody MPs! "They are really angry", said Gavin to Steve Richards, the Political Class's apologist-in-chief. "They have good cause to be angry", opined Steve, who (as he always does) stuck up for MPs with a vengeance, damning our 'hysteria' over the issue and sharply criticising Sir Thomas Legg (or as Richards sniffily - and unpleasantly - called him "someone called Sir Thomas Legg", and later "this figure".) When he mentioned how MPs outside London might not even get second home allowance, Gavin Esler joined him in commiserating with them: "And that is a financial burden. There's no question that's a financial pain." When Richards derisively brought up the popular idea that MPs should be housed in a "dormitory" or "youth hostel", Esler laughed and joined him in the derision: "..which some people would like, wearing hair-shirts and a prison uniform." Delightfully, Mr Sadullah said that Pakistan's MPs are housed in a hostel - and that it's a good idea! That put a cat among the pigeons! It is a good idea. Gavin Esler should keep his opinions to himself.
Incidentally, the lovely Agnes was in full agreement with Steve and Gavin: "It's gone too far now", she said, talking of "the tyranny of transparency" and going on to drivel "It's very dangerous for democracy. There is something slightly fascistic to go after them again." She also asked a rhetorical question, "Why should you not get a kit-kat on the taxpayers?". The answer, Agnes, is that you should pay for it out of your already more than adequate wages, that's why. Journalists, like politicians, seem to have a much more 'flexible' attitude to the morality of claiming expenses than most people who work in the private sector.
Returning to the theme of this morning's post, 'Dateline' also touched on the report from the Cambridge Primary Review, with Steve Richards describing it as "good" and Gavin Esler trotting out the case against early testing again, asserting: "Steve, I mean, some surveys have said that, of the developed countries, British children are among the unhappiest, or the unhappiest, and there is a problem." (He's certainly putting those surveys to some use!). Esler ended by saying, "We'll leave it there. I'm glad I don't have to do any more exams." As I've said before, if he wants to give his opinions, let him resign and go onto the programme as a guest. Given the sort of guests the producers usually invite onto it, I don't doubt he'd be a regular!