BBC Complaints: The link you need!

Saturday, 2 January 2010


Today's Dateline: London with Gavin Esler was looking ahead to 2010. The cast list today, however, was - with one exception - very much the same as 2009: the extremist Abdel Barri Atwan (who seems to support our Lib Dems!); Anglo-Saxon-baiting Marc Roche of Le Monde, Gavin's American chum Stryker Maguire of Newsweek; &, for a small fig-leaf of political balance, Peter Oborne of The Daily Mail.
Before I started this blog I used to sent texts to the BBC News channel week in week out moaning about the fact that there were 4 lefties on the panel (as there quite often were). In the second half of 2009, there was a marked improvement on this score, though the tilt to the Left most weeks (as this week) remains.
I have kept a note of all the guests featured on the programme since early June (I like keeping lists, as you will have noticed!) and it will not surprise any of you who also watch Dateline regularly that Atwan (the spelling of whose name changes every so often!) is the most frequently invited guest, appearing 9 times since early June. For those who don't know him well, here are some of his best-known pronouncements:
"If the Iranian missiles strike Israel – by Allah, I will go to Trafalgar
Square, and dance with delight if the Iranian missiles strike Israel."
events of 11 September will be remembered as the end of the US empire. This is
because all empires collapse when they pursue the arrogance of power."
Saddam Hussein "will go to the gallows with his head held high,
because he built a strong united Iraq without sectarianism."
As ever, Gavin Esler treated him with friendly respect, frequently agreeing with him ("Yes, that's true", and that sort of thing).
Maguire has been on 6 times and Roche 4 times. This was Peter Oborne's first appearance; indeed, so unusual was it that Esler stumbled over his name during his introduction! Moreover Gavin Esler and Stryker Maguire were at it again, completing each others' sentences. (I have noted this before.) They should get a room.
As you would expect with such a line-up the debate on the coming British general election was not a balanced one. In fairness Stryker Maguire was (as ever on this subject) non-committal. Not so Atwan and Roche, who strongly assaulted the Conservatives and strongly praised Gordon Brown. Peter Oborne was on hand though to do battle with them. I'll give you a flavour of some of this:
Roche: "The Conservatives are not see from a European point of view as acceptable, because they side in the European parliament with negationists, with racists, they are against Europe, there is also this feeling of the nasty party coming back (the nasty party is already here, it's in power, and it's called Labour), the background of their leader, this upper class thing, it's back to the ancien regime."
When Peter Oborne picked Roche up on his facts, & starting pointing out that Alistair Darling also went to private school, Gavin Esler stepped in to change the subject: "Let's move on a little bit...". He didn't move things on during Roche's attacks on George Osborne though.
Atwan: "I don't want them to have an open mandate, like the previous Thatcher government for example, or even John Major's government."
Here's a further revealing exchange. Having heard Roche hint at this Esler (doubtless with his fingers crossed) fished for an echo of his own pro-Labour question - and got what he wanted. Interesting.
Esler: "Do you think if there's not a double dip, if Gordon Brown can go to the country saying, 'Look, the banks are starting to pay us back, unemployment is going down' - and there are actually some reasonable figures from his perspective -, do you think he's in with a chance of..."
Roche: "Yes, because the economy is what makes elections."
Esler: "Interesting."
Atwan: "I think he has a chance. I think he's managed the financial crisis pretty well and this is to his asset. The man actually conducted the whole business in a brilliant way." (Earth to Atwan, Earth to Atwan!)
Peter Oborne finally restored some sanity to this mad-house: "The factual analysis there is simply wrong!" That's par for the course Peter for the usual suspects on Dateline: London!
This is a programme that is broadcast on BBC World as well as News 24. So the whole world can watch its weekly wallow in left-liberal opinion. That's a thought, isn't it?

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