BBC Complaints: The link you need!

Saturday, 24 October 2009


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).
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.

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