Gavin Esler's 'Dateline: London' was, even by its standards, heavilly lilted to the Left this week.
The panelists were:
*****Annalisa Piras, of the left-wing L'espresso magazine
*****Eunice Goes, a left-wing Portuguese writer
*****Johann Hari, a leading left-winger at The Independent****
*****Stryker McGuire, Newsweek
The first topic up for discussion was David Cameron and the Conservatives. The comments, not unsurprisingly, were overwhelming negative. Hari's attacks were sustained and expected, but he was far from alone. Eunice Goes attacked the Tories and accused them of (O sin of sins!) "going back to Thatcherite solutions". Annalisa Piras agreed, saying "That's Thatcherism. That's not new." She also called Cameron's speech "poor in substance" and his European policy "painfully superficial" and "weird". McGuire called the policy "very, very naive" and claimed (wrongly, because I saw the speech and heard Cameron talk about it, albeit briefly) that "climate change was not even mentioned" (a moment in the conference coverage when the cameras turned to someone I think was Zak Goldsmith). Such unanimity of disapproval should surely have been anticipated by the programme's producers & a balancing voice from the centre-right provided.
When the focus turned to the award of the Nobel Peace Prize to Barack Obama, Esler asked Annalisa "Do you think it's right?" She replied, "I actually do." (Well, there's a surprise!) Eunice agreed, adding "It's an extraordinary vision he's brought". Stryker McGuire expressed no personal opinion, but Johann Hari dared to disagree and described himself as "more sceptical". He expressed some surprise at having to disagree "for once" with the his fellow leftists. He wasn't the only one who was surprised! But he came back on board to re-launch an attack on Henry Kissinger (accusing him of "mass murder"). This had previously been launched by Eunice Goes.
Another target they could all agree to hate was saved to the end, as Annalisa Piras was invited to attack Silvio Berlusconi - and did. Esler had asked her, "Why is he still prime minister of your country?" It was, of course, a "big mistake" that he was still there. Esler had mocked Berlusconi earlier in the programme and promised her a chance to attack him later! Will we ever get a pro-Berlusconi guest on the programme? Don't be silly!