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Wednesday, 9 December 2009


Martha Kearney weekly 'politics panel' (The World at One), which always follows Prime Minister's Questions, today featured Sally Keeble for Labour, Michael Fallon for the Conservatives and Lord Thurso for the Lib Dems. Though not a stand-out example of biased interviewing, it's an example nonetheless in that the only significant interruption was made against the Conservative and the Conservative received 4 questions (if you also count the interruption, which also functioned as a further question), as against 2 each for the Lib Dem and the Labourette, despite Mr Fallon receiving half a minute less interview time than Mrs Keeble. Moreover, all his questions were specifically about Conservative policy (and a couple contained a component of criticism), whereas neither of Lord Thurso's questions were about Lib Dem policy (indeed one question was an open invitation to back Labour's spend-your-way-out-of-recession policy - which he, in part, did) - and one of Sally's was as much about Conservative policy (Inheritance Tax) as it was about Labour strategy.
Here are all Martha's contributions. See what you think.
Part 1
11.46 Q1 (to MF): "First of all, Michael Fallon, the measure on bankers' bonuses, there's obviously a clear political point to that, what will the Conservative response be do you think?" 11.56 A1 (MF)
12.11 (Interruption, against MF): "So you're going to join in the banker-bashing are you?"
12.30 Q2 (to SK): "Because it is a huge amount of borrowing, isn't it, the budget deficit, the biggest since the Second World War Sally Keeble?"
12.36 A2 (SK)
13.13 Q3 (to JT): "John Thurso, this was the message the chancellor was attempting to drive home again and again, wasn't it, is that the government has intervened, it's increased spending this year, the fiscal stimulus and so on, in order to promote recovery? What do you think about that?"
13.25 A3 (JT)
14.15 Martha: "Sally?"
14.16 A4 (SK)
14.50 MF takes over (with plenty of chuntering from SK)
15.10 Martha leaps in, and moves on
Part 2
25.28 Q 4 (to SK): "Let's have a look, Sally Keeble, at some of the politics of this. This is billed as 'the class-war PBR' and I think it's perhaps in some ways lived up to it, hasn't it? The attack on bankers' bonuses, that freezing of Inheritance Tax, presumably to draw a line between your policy and the Conservatives's , who were offering a very different policy on Inheritance Tax. Is this likely to work do you think?"
25.47 A5 (SK, who attacks the Tories)
26.29 Q5 (to MF): "Michael Fallon, is there a risk that if you begin public spending cuts too soon you jeopardise what most people, including some people in the Bank of England, think is a fragile recovery?"
26.40 A6 (MF)
27.16 Q6 (to JT): "John Thurso, the chancellor has spelled out departments which he is going to protect, so the Health Service, he said our police force and schools - crucial he says for our future - but that means the other departments are really going to take a hammering, doesn't it?"
27.30 A7 (JT)
28.17 SK takes over
28.48 Q7 (to MF): "Is there Michael Fallon a risk for your party in the so-called austerity strategy that if you bang on too much about...Sally Keeble's calling them 'savage cuts'... that people won't want to vote for change, which was what David Cameron's original U.S.P.,wasn't it, he was talking about, you know, sunlit uplands?"
29.05 A8 (MF)
29.22 Martha: "We'll have to leave it there, I'm afraid."

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