BBC Complaints: The link you need!

Saturday, 10 October 2009


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!


  1. Frankly, I am very interested to know: I am not proud to be defined "biased", but if you can help me find reasons to be proud of Mister Berlusconi, I would be most grateful.
    possibly gratefully

  2. Annalisa,

    Please be as biased as you like about anything you like, especially Silvio Berlusconi.

    The accusation of bias was not made about any of the programme's guests (why would it be?), it was made against the BBC - here principally the producers of 'Dateline' for not providing its viewers with a sufficiently broad spectrum of opinion.

    They choose who to invite on, and if they chose to invite no-one from the centre-right onto the programme then a left-of-centre consensus will almost inevitably emerge. This short-changes the BBC's viewers, and is unfair.

    That's not an unfair charge against them, is it?

    Wouldn't you have enjoyed debating David Cameron's policies with some-one who broadly supports them? Wouldn't you have liked to debate the Afghan War with some-one who doesn't want us to withdraw our troops in the very near future? Or with some-one who takes a dim view of President Obama? Or even with some-one who (unlike me) can find reasons to be proud of Mr Berlusconi?

    That was all I was saying.

    Best wishes,


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