BBC Complaints: The link you need!

Sunday, 28 February 2010

MISMANAGEMENT, WHAT MISMANAGEMENT?


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I've noted before occasional World Tonight presenter Felicity Evans's tendency to intervene whenever Labour comes under attack. Felicity (pictured left) now sits alongside Adrian Masters as co-presenter of Wales's politics show Dragon's Eye and in her interview with Welsh Lib Dem leader Kirsty Williams (pictured right) she made her first interruption as soon as Kirsty criticised Labour's mishandling of the economy, asking "Why do you say 'mismanagement of the economy' though? Would the Liberal Democrats not have stepped in to save the banking system from collapse?" Yes Felicity, Labour have been great for Britain, haven't they?

WELL NEARLY

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When the BBC bases a story on a report from a think tank it's (famously) usually the IPPR, and if it isn't the IPPR it's usually that other respected left-wing think tank Demos.
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The second story on the BBC News website at the moment is titled 'Call to scrap school exclusions', with the summary 'Excluding badly behaved pupils from school should be abolished because it punishes vulnerable children, a think tank says.'
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As soon as I saw that I thought 'IPPR?', but I was wrong: "Demos says current exclusion rules, which hand difficult pupils over to local authorities, affect children with special educational needs."
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/8541404.stm

A DOWN-ER FOR THE TORIES

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The Politics Show's review of Conservative education policy (featuring Ed Balls) was followed by a report from North Down by David Thompson. There he found big trouble for the Conservatives. What a surprise? Hardly, he wouldn't have gone there otherwise.
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THE EU'S TENTACLES SPREAD AGAIN

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Back very briefly to this week's The Record Europe. The EU's latest intrusion into national policy concerns maternity and paternity pay, legislation long warned of by UKIP (see Derek's blog http://derekbennetteu-sceptic.blogspot.com/). The issue was briefly reported on by the programme, with just one 'talking head', Edita Estrela. She's a Portuguese socialist and she approves of the new legislation. The issue was mentioned only a few weeks ago, and there the only 'talking head' was a another socialist who supports the new legislation, Mary Honeyball of our own dear Labour Party.
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BALLS!

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"He didn't want to debate with Labour", said Jon Sopel of Michael Gove at the beginning of the main section of today's Politics Show. Both Sopel and Ed Balls made much of this, to Mr Gove's disadvantage. So Michael Gove and Ed 'Bully' Balls were interviewed separately. I strongly suspect that Mr Gove meant that he didn't want to debate with Balls specifically, as Balls always interrupts him relentlessly during such double-interviews (often questioning him in tandem with the BBC interviewer) whereas, being another of those nice Tories, Mr Gove is far too polite to respond in kind. (It didn't stop Balls from heckling though.)
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As so often on the Politics Show Conservative policy came under close scrutiny whereas Labour policy was treated as secondary to personality issues. Also, as so often, the Labour attacks on the Tories were allowed to run on, but Tory attacks on Labour were stopped (here accompanied by a telling-off for Mr Gove). Balls for allowed to return after the close of the Gove interview for one last (uninterrupted) blast at the Conservatives.
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As there was a delay on the link between Mr Gove and the studio many attempted interruptions by Jon Sopel went for nothing. Even so, he was still successfully interrupted more often that Ed Balls, who had by far the easier time of it in the studio (despite a momentary display of bravado from Sopel).
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Although the polls suggest (and the popularity of Simon Cowell confirms) that lots of Brits clearly love a shit, I can't think that prolonged public exposure to Ed Balls could do Labour anything but harm, so Michael Gove really ought to be more masochistic and suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous behaviour by engaging with him whenever possible. Yes, he won't be allowed to make any positive case because of Balls's deliberate tactic of sustained disruption, but he might (if he remains good-humoured) make a more favourable impression on the public - if that's all politics amounts to these days!!

WHEN MARR MET PETER HAIN

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Before George Osborne's appearance Andrew Marr had interviewed Labour rogue Peter Hain. The tone of this interview could hardly have been more different.
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There were jokes between the two of them, and Marr didn't immediately rip into Hain the way he did with George Osborne; indeed, his first question, asking about the narrowing of the opinion polls to just 2%, would hardly have been an unwelcome one, and gave Hain the chance to bash the Tories at length. The next volley of questions asked about when the election would be (as if Brown would tell him), again hardly damaging questions - unlike all the questions put to Mr Osborne. Then Marr asked about Hain's reaching out to the Lib Dems. Ouch!, I don't think. During the long answer to this Marr began an interruption with an apology for being about to interrupt, then when Hain said he wanted to finish his point, Marr meekly fell back and allowed this vile man to go on spewing his anti-Tory venom.
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And that was it! No questions about the economy, none about a lack of clarity from Labour over spending cuts, nothing about questionable Labour donors, nothing about anything of substance whatsoever - just a load of easy, trivial questions and lots of space for the Labour minister to go on and on and on about the 'right-wing reactionary Tories'.

Earlier in the show Marr had said he'd be talking to Peter Hain about "unemployment, bankruptcies, huge debt levels, all of that." He talked to Peter Hain about none of that!

From all this you'd think Andrew Marr was a Labour supporter, wouldn't you!!

WHEN MARR MET GEORGE OSBORNE

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An opinion poll for The Daily Politics (Friday's election) showed that a certain proportion of the public remains confused about Conservative economic policy. The BBC has been absolutely relentless in telling us that the Conservatives have been confused - and confusing - and lacking in clarity (etc) on the matter in programme after programme. Andrew Marr has always been one of the keenest advocates of this line of attack on the Tories - outside the government. Keen watchers of his programme (for whatever reason) will have heard him tell Tory spokesmen of very stripe, on countless editions of his show, that their policies on this issue or that issue are confused and not clear. Nothing that happens in the course of the interview (however clear the Tory spokesman may be) will make Marr change tack.
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So it came as no surprise to me that this was the man's first question this morning to George Osborne: "One of your colleagues was quoted in 'The Times' yesterday as saying the problem is everyone knows there's going to have to be deep cuts but you can't scare the electorate and that's where the slight confusion in the Conservative message has come from." This line of questioning continued for many minutes (as it always does), with Marr at one stage telling Mr Osborne (using The Telegraph as cover), "you need to be crystal-clear and you're not being" and, shortly afterwards, "Just not sure exactly how big a choice it is, because you won't tell us."

When Mr Obsorne was very clear about cutting Corporation Tax, spelling out how it would be done, precisely where the savings would come from and exactly how much it would cost, Marr was not happy. His next question ploughed on, at a higher pitch, with the same old line about: "you won't tell us". I've seen all his interviews with Alistair Darling and he never gets anything like this sort of treatment. On and on it went, with Marr getting wilder and wilder in his body language, loudly interrupting and contradicting ("No we won't because you won't tell us!", "I'm not taking about the values, I'm talking about the numbers!). This whole line of attack took up nearly twelve minutes.
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If you could have predicted all that, there's something else that was even more predictable: Marr asking yet again about Lord Ashcroft (though he bungled his initial attack here by naming Stuart Wheeler, the wonderful UKIP donor, instead of Lord Ashcroft!!). Marr asked if there was "any chance at all of you coming clean on Lord Ashcroft?" At last George Osborne 'grew a small pair' and said what I would have said as a new wave of interruptions was beginning to break over him: "I notice you never ask Labour politicians sitting here about the tax status of some of their very big donors." How true! Marr got very excited in response, his arms flying about like Mr Tickle, and immediately interrupted loudly, "I'll do you a deal now. If you'll tell me in clear terms about Lord Ashcroft's tax status, I promise the next Labour politician sitting there I will go after them on that. It's a fair offer!" George's 'pair' shrank again, as he failed to say exactly what needed saying here: "What's fair about that?!?! You've been asking us about this for months, but you've never asked any Labour politicians about Lord Paul. You explain that Andrew! Is it because you're a Labour supporter? Will you come clean about that!!"
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Come on George Osborne, stop being so nice!!!
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The resultant interruption coefficient was a high 2.0.

IT'S ALL GREEK TO HER

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The main topic on this week's The Record Europe was the EU's response to the crisis in Greece. Presenter Shirin Wheeler's various biases were to the fore.
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Her introductory report (which, in passing, dismissed Nigel Farage's star turn as a mere "sideshow") talked of the wave of strikes hitting Greece, complete with the obligatory images of police beating demonstrators (anarchists actually), saying "Cutting pensions, raising taxes and the retirement age, the plans aren't going down at all". This ignores the fact that opinion polls in Greece show strong public support - a significant majority - for austerity measures. Shirin is not alone at the BBC in slanting the story in this way. Is it because the Left instinctively thinks all strikes just must be good? Or maybe because the BBC is 'institutionally biased' against public spending cuts and cannot but share the sentiments of the Greek protesters? Or is it because strong 'austerity' measures (as in their coverage of Ireland) are associated in their mind with the British Conservatives?
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She continued, "As well as this, Greece is being investigated over reports that at the time of the launch of the euro back in 1999 those in charge cooked the books to make the grade for membership. The Greek prime minister George Papandreou and his socialist ministers, who only won power in the autumn, are already feeling beleaguered and unsupported". Here's the second layer of bias. Shirin's sympathy for the new socialist government (and she stressed the word 'socialist') also showed up in her later questioning. The previous conservative government is getting all the blame at the BBC. But who exactly was "in charge" when Greece "cooked the books to make the grade for membership" in 1999? It was the Socialists (in power from 1993-2004)! Did she not know that (surely unthinkable in a 'widely respected' BBC reporter!)? Or does the careful phrasing of 'those in charge' reveal that she did know that but just wasn't letting her viewers in on the fact (in the interests of socialist solidarity maybe?)? This inconvenient detail is a truth few at the BBC seem interested in pointing out, so Shirin is not alone in this.

And, of course, it's now all the speculators' fault: "The real drama lies in how the EU might help to stop speculators gambling on the fortunes of Greece and the rest of the Eurozone. The jobs and livelihoods of millions could depend on this." That the EU, including the UK, should be helping Greece out in this regard was the motivating principle of all Shirin's questions throughout the following studio discussion.
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That studio discussion involved four guests:
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- Vicky Ford, British Conservative
- Peter Skinner, British Labour
- Stavros Lambrinidis, Greek Socialist
- Jorgo Chatzimarkakis, German Liberal
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Can you guess which one was interrupted the most? The answer to this fiendishly difficult question will follow this fine picture of Toledo by the Greek:
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Yes, it was Vicky Ford, the British Tory. She was interrupted four times, resulting in an I.C. of 1.6. The British Labour MP, Mr Skinner, was not interrupted once (I.C. of 0). Vicky's first answer was interrupted after 19 seconds, then again after 19 more seconds, then after 27 more seconds and finally after just 6 more seconds. Mr Skinner's first answer lasted 52 seconds, without interruption. As they say in Brussels, plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose.
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Shirin's final interruption of Vicky Ford was the most heartfelt: "But I mean you can't just stand...This is what the British politicians have been doing a little bit, which is sort-of standing on the sidelines saying 'it's nothing to do with me'". She also put that point about British politicians 'standing on the sidelines' to the Labour MEP and, for some reason, also to the German Liberal. Well Shirin, let the Greeks go to the IMF, was Vicky's answer (when she got a chance), which sounds like the right answer to me. Not to Shirin Wheeler though.

Now, in fairness to Shirin here was another discussion later in the show, out in the halls of the European parliament, with Timothy Kirkhope (Con) and Sarah Ludford (Lib Dem), where - in a turn up for the books - it was the Lib Dem who was interrupted rather than the Tory (I.C. of 0 for Mr Kirkhope, I.C. of 0.4 for Ms. Ludford).

Saturday, 27 February 2010

THE TEA-BAG WHO CONQUERED EUROPE

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In its deeply europhile desire to hear no evil and speak no evil of the European Commission the BBC is neglecting to report the never-ending 'mission creep' of that institution.
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The Daily Telegraph reports that Herman Van Rompuy is, exactly as Nigel Farage was saying, making serious moves to increase his powers at the expense of national sovereignty:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/eu/7326640/War-in-the-EU-as-Herman-Van-Rompuy-makes-power-grab.html
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The Telegraph report shows that this unelected man, who (in the spirit of Nigel!) has all the charisma of a used tea-bag, is (as the self-same Nigel says) a 'dangerous' man.
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The negative coverage that the BBC has been giving Nigel Farage over his non-wishy-washy remarks about President Van Rampuy is a reflex action. The man is right but they don't want to hear it.

You will hear nothing of this on the BBC News website (from which the BBC could prune a few hard-line Europhiles for starters).

THIS IS NOT GOING TO SURPRISE YOU...

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Here come a third week's worth of listings for the closing newspaper front pages section of Newsnight, again given in order of mention:
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Mon 22/2 Jeremy Paxman
1. The Guardian
2. The Independent
3. Daily Telegraph
4. Financial Times
5. Daily Mail
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Tue 23/2 No front pages
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Wed 24/2 Kirsty Wark
1. The Independent
2. Daily Telegraph
3. Daily Mail
4. The Guardian
5. Financial Times
6. Daily Express
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Thu 25/2 Emily Maitlis
1. The Times
2. The Guardian
3. Financial Times
4. The Independent
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Fri 26/2 Gavin Esler
1. Daily Telegraph
2. The Guardian
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So, after three weeks, how are things standing? Which is the most mentioned newspaper? (I'm sure you guessed this anyhow!!):
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1. The Guardian - 13 mentions
2. The Independent - 11 mentions
3. Financial Times - 9 mentions
4. Daily Telegraph - 9 mentions
5. Daily Mail - 6 mentions
6. The Times - 2 mentions
7. Daily Express - 1 mention
8. The Sun - 1 mention
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Indeed, alone among the British newspapers The Guardian is the only rag to be mentioned in all the Newsnight front page reviews of the last three weeks.

CHANCER NOT CHANCELLOR

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The Conservatives' 'Death Tax' poster earned them a lot of criticism from the BBC (several examples of which are mentioned on this blog). The charge was of 'negative campaigning'. Conservatives were asked about it, again and again - and their opponents were invited to 'tut tut' over it. The question here is whether the BBC will question Labour Party people - and give their opponents a clear run at goal - whenever they bring out a 'negative' poster? We'll soon find out because Labour is just about to do so!

This weekend, the party is releasing more pre-election campaign material. An image of shadow chancellor George Osborne is accompanied by the slogan 'Chancer not Chancellor'". http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/8539619.stm


That's about as 'negative' as campaigning can get, isn't it?
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The article quoted from contains no editorial asides suggesting that this new Labour poster might be considered 'negative'. Is this a sign that there's not going to be any such BBC brouhaha over this poster?

Friday, 26 February 2010

WHICH PARTY DID YOU SAY?

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The BBC News website is so predictable (for us bias-watchers). Take U.S. politics. If there's a scandal that hits the Republican Party the article will 'remember' to mention the Republican Party. If there's a scandal that hits the Democratic Party, the article will 'forget' to mention the Democratic Party. Today features a classic case of the latter:
NY governor withdraws from race

New York Governor David Paterson has withdrawn from the race for state governor amid a scandal involving one of his aides.

He had announced his campaign formally only last weekend but had faced pressure to quit.

He said he had never abused his office, but was "being realistic about politics".

There had been criticism over how he handled allegations about an aide and domestic abuse.

Explaining his decision, Mr Paterson said: "It hasn't been the latest distraction.... It's been an accumulation of obstacles that have obfuscated me from bringing my message to the public."

Mr Paterson was seeking a full four-year term, having become governor in 2008 when former Gov Eliot Spitzer quit amid a prostitution scandal.

He was sworn in to serve the remainder of Mr Spitzer's term.

He said on Friday he would not quit his post, but continue "fighting for the state of New York".

When he was sworn in in March 2008, Mr Paterson made history as New York's first African-American governor and as the first legally blind person to hold such a post permanently.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/8540049.stm

What the article 'forgot' to mention is that both Mr Paterson and Mr Spitzer are Democrats. 'Democrat' is not a long word. I'm sure there was space for it.

DIMBLEDATA: THE 'GET NIGEL!!' EDITION

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Here is this week's Dimbledata for Thursday's shockingly bad Question Time:

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25th February 2010
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Who got most time to speak?
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1. Peter Hain (Lab) - 8 minutes 38 seconds
2. Liam Fox (Con) - 8 minutes 27 seconds
3. Janet Street Porter - 8 minutes 25 seconds
4. Nigel Farage (UKIP) - 7 minutes 1 second
5. Elfyn Llwyd (PC) - 6 minutes 19 seconds
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Who received the most interruptions from David Dimbleby?
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1. Nigel Farage (UKIP) - 6
2. Liam Fox (Con) - 5
3. Peter Hain (Lab) - 3
4. Janet Street Porter - 2
5. Elfyn Llwyd (PC) - 0
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Who scored the highest interruption coefficient?
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1. Nigel Farage (UKIP) - 0.9
2. Liam Fox (Con) - 0.6
3. Peter Hain (Lab) - 0.4
4. Janet Street Porter - 0.2
5. Elfyn Llwyd (PC) - 0
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Who was asked the most supplementary questions by David Dimbleby?
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1. Peter Hain (Lab) - 7
2. Nigel Farage (Con) - 6
3. Liam Fox (Con) - 6
4. Janet Street Porter - 3
5. Elfyn Llwyd (PC) - 1
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The audience - and I think I'm being very fair here - were nothing more than a braying mob of imbeciles and/or Labour supporters. I'd love to know just who was in this audience. How many were Labour Party activists? (It really sounded like most of them!! And given the show's past record that's not completely beyond the realms of possibity!)
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Mr Fox went unclapped until the final question. Tumbleweed blew around almost all his contributions, except for that moment when some madman in the audience screamed at him. That one decent clap (over some stupid question about John Terry and Wayne Bridge) was clearly not something Dimblebias was going to allow him to enjoy - even at this very late stage in the show -, as he asked him a supplementary question designed to prick his bubble.
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Liam Fox, however, faced nothing like what faced Nigel Farage.
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The mob were after his blood. They booed and jeered and shouted and groaned, and there were HUGE cheers for all his critics (except Liam Fox). Dimblebias allowed audience member after audience member to slag the man off, often abusively, repeatedly stopping him from responding and telling him to "take it on the chin". He did the same on several occasions when Mr Farage tried to respond to attacks from the panel.There were plenty of hostile questions from Dimblebias too, delivered with all his usual self-satisfied malice. The third question from the audience itself was "Are Nigel Farage's rude and attention-seeking remarks about the president of the European council not conclusive proof that UKIP and he have become nothing more than a boorish national embarrassment?" Nigel stood unshaken and unbowed throughout. What a man!
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I couldn't bear to watch this programme live. I need a pause button and the Biased BBC blog commentary in the bottom right hand corner of my screen to make it even half bearable!
http://biased-bbc.blogspot.com/2010/02/thrown-to-lions.html

Thursday, 25 February 2010

DID YOU FORGET SOMETHING BEN?

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On tonight's PM Ben Wright reported on immigration and the coming election. His piece on the BBC News website shadows it closely, but not exactly. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/8537786.stm
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There has been much criticism on the Biased BBC website of Evan Davis's BBC1 programme on immigration, with comments saying that it concentrated almost exclusively on Eastern European migration rather than the far trickier topic of non-EU immigration. Is this indeed the BBC's general strategy?
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Well, here's an extract from the BBC website version of Ben's report:


Jo Twyman, from the polling organisation YouGov, said: "There are opportunities for minor parties such as the BNP and UKIP.

"It could be important in a marginal seat but it depends on the very specific make-up of that seat.

"If it's a seat that has suffered badly in the credit crunch then again that's something - that if it's linked in with immigration - that could be important."

Compare that to what Mr Twyman actually said on PM:


"There are opportunities for minor parties such as the BNP and UKIP.

"It could be important in a marginal seat but it depends on the very specific make-up of that seat.

"If there's a high ethnic minority population then that may be something to play on. Alternatively, if it's a seat that has suffered badly in the credit crunch then again that's something - that if it's linked in with immigration - that could be important."

Spot the difference!!

NAUGHTIE LANDS A CHEAP SHOT...AND GETS AWAY WITH IT

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More outrageous cheek from James Naughtie on this morning's Today programme.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/today/hi/today/newsid_8536000/8536028.stm

Interviewing George Osborne again, Naughtie recalled their last encounter (where he was caught out by Mr Osborne and tried to bluster and lie his way out of trouble in response) but instead of apologising to Mr Osborne for this The-Beeb's-Most-Biased said: "Well let me ask you for a straight answer to this question. I put it to you the other day and, with all respect to you (yeah, right!!), you didn't give a terribly straight answer because you went wandering off, as people sometimes do."

"Because you went wandering off"!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

For what really happened, please click here: http://beebbiascraig.blogspot.com/2010/02/george-stands-up-to-bully.html.

Last week, Mr Osborne busted Naughtie. Today, sadly, he reverted to type and took this gratuitous and dishonest insult on the chin without a murmur. He should not have done so. I can't begin to think why he did do so. I'm getting sick of complaining about this to the BBC and Mr Osborne's office. Come on George, please do something about it!!

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

CUBA NOT LIBRE

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The ever-excellent DB on the Biased BBC website reports on a remarkable piece of pro-Cuban bias from the BBC News website over an unhappy piece of 'breaking news': http://biased-bbc.blogspot.com/2010/02/cuba.html and there's a fine bit of comparative analysis by Not a sheep, which demonstrates that even The Guardian is a far better source for such news than the biased BBC: http://notasheepmaybeagoat.blogspot.com/2010/02/not-whole-story-on-bbc-re-death-of.html
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EYE PEA PEA AAARGH!!

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Continuing this sequence of uncharacteristically short posts, I forgot to note that yesterday's Today featured someone from a think tank. It's a running 'joke' on this blog that whenever this happens 'it's always the IPPR!' Well, it was the IPPR (Ed Cox from the IPPR North to be precise)! For those unfamiliar with it, the IPPR (Institute for Public Policy Research) is a left-of-centre think tank, close to the Labour Party, and it's the BBC's think tank of choice.
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(P.S. The reason for the short posts isn't because of a new leaf being turned on my part but purely the result of having got my first laptop and being flummoxed by the absence of a mouse. As I like to colour-coordinate and put things in bold and italics, this is slowing me down to a snail's pace. And I keep deleting things by mistake and having to retype them! I will buy a mouse!!)
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IT'S WINTER STILL FOR THE ENG DEMS

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Did anyone hear anything about the English Democrats' spring conference on the BBC? Both Today and the BBC News website reported those of the Green Party and Plaid Cymru, and Today featured interviews with their respective party leaders. There's been nothing equivalent for the Eng Dems. This despite them winning a similar number of votes in last year's European elections as the SNP and more than twice the number of Plaid. As they are being comprehensively ignored by the BBC (as far as I'm aware) you could probably guess that they are a right-of-centre political party!

EUROCRATS BEWARE!

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Here's a headline on the BBC News website:

Tirade against 'damp rag' EU president shocks MEPs

You might not be too surprised to learn that it relates to UKIP, specifically an intervention by the glorious Nigel Farage http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/8535121.stm.

'Tirade' is an interesting choice of word, isn't it? The BBC writer hasn't put it in inverted commas. Is it a quote from an MEP? It doesn't seem to be. No, it looks as if the BBC writer has chosen the word himself. It's a word that could be considered technically correct in the context but, like 'harangue' and 'diatribe', has connotations of excessive bitterness/irrationality. (Or is that only because it usually comes in tandem with words like 'drunken' or 'wild'?)

The BBC website features a mere 45 seconds of Mr Farage's 'tirade'. Hopefully the full 7 minutes will pop up on YouTube soon!

WHERE'S CHARLIE?

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Today was very coy about reporting the Alistair Darling story, with just one very short bit from Nick Robinson at 8.23 and a short chat between Evan Davis and Norman Smith at 6.35. Smith offered up Damien McBride's name for mention (as someone already sacrificed he was an easy name to drop) but somehow 'forgot' to mention the other Labour spin-master named in the story, Charlie Whelan of Unite . Whelan is still firmly ensconced in the Brown bunker.
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CLEAN NAILS TODAY FROM NICK

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Credit where credit is due, Nick Robinson was masterly on today's Daily Politics in his handling of Labour spiv Sadiq Khan. His steely grasp of language enabled him to completely pull the rug from under all of Mr Khan's clammy spin. Sir Gus O'Donnell's cautiously-worded admission to a Commons select committee that he had had a word with Brown after all about the prime minister's behaviour towards junior staff ('breaking news' as the programme was on air) was set out by Nick with great precision and all of Mr Khan's many attempts to rebut him and twist the facts were swatted aside with deadly politeness. Of course it helps having Andrew Neil on your side!

AN EVAN-HANDED PROGRAMME?

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Evan Davis will be on BBC1 tonight with a programme about immigration. The programme was previewed on this morning's Today by the man himself, and two guests. One was free-thinking Labour MP Frank Field, the other was Labour-supporting economist and keen advocate of economic migration Philippe Legrain of the L.S.E. (of course).

As well as praising Labour's record on the issue during the last thirteen years (and having a dig at the Tories) - and bashing the bankers for good measure - Mr Legrain, author of Immigrants, Your Country Needs Them, praised Evan's documentary: "I thought the programme was excellent." He continued, "It was balanced", but in what he went on to say he seems to have been using the word 'balanced' to mean 'supportive of my position': "It presented material that contradicted many of the scare stories and prejudice about immigration and I thought your conclusion, which is that Britain wouldn't be able to cope easily without its foreign workers, was just right."

Mr Field immediately picked Evan up on his figures, saying that the presenter's statement that "hundreds of thousands of motivated foreign workers" had come to work in Britain was a severe underestimate: "I mean it's not, as you suggested, hundred of thousands, it's been millions coming in."

AN EYEBROW-BEATING FOR MR DARLING

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Yesterday morning's chat between Norman Smith and John Humphrys saw Smithie moving the bullying story on. He said that politicians, journalists and the general public were keen to move on from this uncomfortable episode. The phrase move on came up again and again.

The BBC News website would clearly like to do as Norm wants us all to do but can't, thanks to Alistair Darling's eyebrow-raising revelations about how Brown's inner circle unleashed the forces of Hell against him, not to mention immigration minister Phil Woolas's jaw-droppingly unpleasant comment about Mrs Pratt and enemy-of-the-people Max Clifford's surprise decision to represent Mrs P's interests.

The Woolas story is, in classic BBC fashion, buried away in an unmarked grave. The article is headlined 'Brown 'very upset' by bullying claims, says Ed Balls'. You will need to scroll down to Paragraph 25 (after lots of warm words about Brown from Balls, Mrs Brown and His Lordship Sugar) for three short paragraphs on the story. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/8529809.stm

What's almost funny about the article on the Darling revelations is the way the BBC writer keeps bringing in the Tories. Mr Darling himself brought them in, but the Jeff Randall interview and the way it's been reported elsewhere (from The Telegraph to The Guardian) makes it clear that the chancellor's mentioning of the Conservatives was pretty much a side issue. The BBC writer, however, wants to make it share centre stage with the main revelations about McBride and Whelan.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/8533168.stm

These are the opening pair of paragraphs:

Chancellor Alistair Darling has said 10 Downing Street and the Tories unleashed "the forces of hell" after he forecast the worst recession for 60 years.

He said supporters of Gordon Brown and the Conservatives had briefed against him on "a weekend you could have done without" after his interview in 2008.

Give this guy McBride's old job in Downing Street!

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

FAR FUNNIER THAN BRIGSTOCKE!

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Not a sheep features a very funny and very true piece of video satire on the subject of BBC bias:
http://notasheepmaybeagoat.blogspot.com/2010/02/how-bbc-treat-conservative-party-policy.html
Please look at look!
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If only David Cameron (and every other member of his party) would actually say that!!!

MR SMITH GOES TO DOWNING STREET

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Going back in time (as I have a habit of doing) and re-visiting yesterday's Today finds John Humphrys chatting to Labour-leaning BBC political correspondent Norman Smith at 6.32 am. Smith was in full 'Protect the Emperor' mode, presenting Number Ten's case without criticism. He reported the allegations - which he insisted did not come from Number Ten itself - that Mrs Pratt is nothing more than a Tory Stooge, on the extremely dubious logic that her office is "next door to" a Conservative constituency office (!!!!), that Ann Widdecombe is (now was) a chief patron of her charity (thus ignoring Labour MP Anne Snelgrove's crucial early support) and that David Cameron had just e-mailed her his support, without qualifying them in any way. (On the first point I used to live opposite a brothel!) That this just might have been nothing more than a disgusting and risible smear wasn't even entertained at this point by either Norm or John.
*
The Tory stooge accusation, later repeated by Lord Mandelson and others, remains completely unproven. Smith also reported the Brownites' allegation that Mrs P. had a personal animus against Gordon Brown, which was of course another completely unsupported allegation (i.e. another smear). Messers Smith and Humphrys again didn't think it worth raising even the merest whiff of doubt about it.
*
Smith then reported Labour's second line of attack on the credibility of her charity/business and then the third, that Mrs P. had breached confidentiality. I have to say I think she did, and shouldn't have done - but, in her defence (a defence not put by Smith of course) she didn't name any names, leaving the broken confidences anonymous broken confidences! Smith piled on the agony here, saying "and I have to say that is a criticism not just made by friends of the prime minister but indeed by other bullying helplines," "at least one" of which criticised her on their website. ("At least one"? What does that mean? How many exactly? Was there really only one at the time? If so, that would make it yet another smear.)
*
In conclusion Smith presented both sides of the issue, though one gets a more positive (and longer) spin (guess which one!) than the other: "Some people will conclude that his explosions of anger, his alleged bullying, do raise fundamental questions about the appropriateness of him in Number Ten. Others will say 'look, it just demonstrates he is a determined and committed character, he may get angry but it shows he cares about what he does and they may well argue that Number Ten, highly pressurised job, but what an earth do you expect?'"
*
From the beginning this was little more than Labour propaganda, served neat.

RESPECT MY AUTHORITY!

8
BBC Europe editor Gavin Hewitt provides a neat example of bias by labeling in one of his recent blog articles http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/gavinhewitt. Though mostly quoting Charles Grant of the Beeb's favouite European think tank, the Centre for European Reform, Gavin ends by giving us a pearl of wisdom from a man he calls "the respected economist Paul Krugman". I wonder if this is part of the reason why Gavin uses the word 'respected' about Mr Krugman: "Krugman describes himself as liberal. He has explained that he views the term "liberal" in the American context to mean "more or less what social democratic means in Europe. Krugman has praised Gordon Brown, the British Prime Minister, asserting that he "defined the character of the worldwide [financial] rescue effort" and has since urged British voters not to support the opposition Conservative Party, arguing their Party Leader David Cameron "has had little to offer other than to raise the red flag of fiscal panic." (Wikipedia)

Monday, 22 February 2010

I'M NOT HAPPY!


John Humphrys, about whom I wrote a few complimentary things recently, blotted his copy-book this morning by treating Christine Pratt, the head of the anti-bullying helpline, to an inquisition of the Spanish variety while (despite plenty of interruptions) giving Anne Snelgrove, Labour MP and member of Brown's inner circle a far less rigorous going-over. That Ms Snelgrove had handed over e-mails critical of Mrs Pratt and her husband to the Today programme while refusing to commit herself to any of the allegations they contain, and then accused Mrs Pratt of making unsubstantiated allegations against Brown, all the time refusing (like a petulant child) to share the same interview with her, tells you all you need to know about Anne Snelgrove and the sort of company the prime minister keeps. John Humphrys was lamentably weak in pushing these points. Not so though in his handling of Mrs Pratt. The senior politician was treated much better than the far less powerful member of society in this interview - how apt given the allegations against Gordzilla! The I.C. for Anne Snelgrove was 1.6, that for Mrs Pratt 2.1. Shame on John Humphrys! Then there was Sarah Montague's crack to Nick Clegg about many of our best prime ministers being bullies. Shame on Sarah Montague! The political class are a disgrace, aren't they?
*
Sorry for waxing a bit hot there. I'm not in a jolly mood. There's something of the mafia mentality about this government, and some of their media supporters. Coming in from work and seeing that disgusting, smeary Prescott interview really got me going. You just know that the likes of Mandelson, Brown, McBride, Prescott, Draper, Watson, Maguire, Snelgrove, Balls et al would stop at very little to stay in power. The Conservatives lack that killer instinct, which is probably why they won't win power. Funny old world isn't it?

Sticking the knife in tonight (though the crime figures won't show it) is BBC home affairs editor Mark Easton http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2010/02/bullying_helpline_under_scruti.html. Yes, there's no doubt about it, this lady is going to be destroyed.
Wo'
Worse may still be to come. Michael Crick must surely make an appearance on Newsnight. Surely somehow this will all be made to look very bad for David Cameron and the Tories. (UPDATE: I called that one wrong! Despite beginning his report with news of Tory support falling in the polls, he didn't attack over the story.)
*

YOU AIN'T HEARD NOTHING LIKE THE BIASED QUINN

*
Only Westminster Hour would choose to begin last night's programme with bad poll news for the Tories. On a day dominated by a deeply embarrassing story for Gordon Brown and the Labour Party, Carolyn Quinn kicked off the discussion between Mr Forsyth and Mr Smithson with news of the the shrinkage of the Conservative lead over Labour to just 6%.
8
This, however, was not the worst of it. Carolyn seemed deternimed to play down the bullying story at every turn. Her question to Mike Smithson, "Will they (the Labour Party) be helped or hindered by today's revelations?", was an odd one for starters. Then to James Forsyth came "James, there have been denials of course from Number 10 about the allegations. I've spoken to senior cabinet ministers who 'well my eye-witness account is not that he's violent, but then there are the charges that he's aggressive to more junior staff?" Then came "Mike, the prime minister's response, he's strong-willed, he's determined, isn't that a good response to this, that yes he gets angry, but he gets angry for a purpose, he gets angry with himself?" When the politics panel came (late) to the topic, there came this question to Conservative Douglas Carswell: "And if we're talking about anger, about anger management, I mean let's face it, there must be times when David Cameron and Nick Clegg have had a bit of a temper tantrum, haven't they Douglas? Have you ever seen David Cameron lose his temper?"
**
Last Monday I pointed out that, given that last week's panel featured only a Labour and Lib Dem spokesman, this week it would probably be just a Conservative and a representative from a smaller party. Well no. We got the Tory (Mr Carswell) but we also got Labour again (Tom Harris) and another Lib Dem (Matthew Oakeshott). I'm keeping count, and that means that the Tories are now behind and owed one. Lord Oakeshott had plenty of goes at George Osborne and David Cameron, and praised Gordon Brown. The Lib-Lab pact grows stronger by the week.
*
The sheer viciousness of the Labour Party, from the Smeargate Affair to the sickening bullying of the lady at the Anti-Bullying helpline today (I've just witnessed John Prescott getting particularly smeary about her on Sky), via all the myriad personal attacks on David Cameron over the last couple of years, might lead a BBC prcsenter to steer clear of pointing the finger at the Tories over the issue of negative campaigning. Of course not. William Hague's accusation that Brown is pushing the UK yet deeper into debt as a scorched earth policy to make life tough for an incoming Tory government lead Carolyn to ask "Douglas, are you happy with that tack?" and then interrupt him to ask "But do you like negative campaigning like that?" Carolyn Quinn has been engaged in negative campaigning against the Conservatives for years.
*

HALLELUJAH!!

*
The day has come at long last. I can now add a Conservative-supporting journalist from a Conservative-supporting magazine to my list of the all-seeing journalists on Radio 4's Westminster Hour!
*
Here's that list again, with its newest member.
*
21/2/10 James Forsyth of the Spectator
14/2/10 Jean Eaglesham of the Financial Times
7/2/10 Nick Watt of the Guardian
31/1/10 George Parker of the Financial Times
24/1/10 Kevin Maguire of the Mirror
17/1/10 Andrew Grice of the Independent
10/1/10 Nick Watt of the Guardian
3/1/10 Michael Savage of the Independent
27/12/09 no programme
20/12/09 no journalist
13/12/09 Andrew Miller of the Economist
6/12/09 George Parker of the Financial Times
29/11/09 Toby Helm of the Observer
22/11/09 no journalist
15/11/09 Nick Watt of the Guardian

That said, it must be pointed out that, unlike every single one of the left-leaning journos on this list - with the sole exception of Kev Maguire on 24/1 - Mr Forsyth was not alone with Carolyn Quinn. He had the Lib Dem-supporting pollster Mike Smithson for company. One consequence of this was that James got much less time to speak that all those other left-wing journalists. How typical is that!!! You wait weeks for a Conservative-supporting all-seeing journalist to appear on the programme, then when he turns up he's chaperoned by a Lib Dem and, therefore, isn't even allowed to be all-seeing!!!
*

Sunday, 21 February 2010

GENETIC BIAS

*
The Politics Show today featured a discussion about the D.N.A. database between Alan Johnson, Chris Grayling and Chris Huhne.
*
Now I'd have expected the BBC's left-liberal instincts (especially the latter) to come through and lead to wholesale questioning by Jon Sopel of the idea of keeping any innocent person's genetic information. Not a bit of it. None of his questions came from that angle. He interrupted Chris Grayling twice (I.C. of 0.8), which was expected, but he always interrupted Chris Huhne twice, and tried to interrupt him more times as well (also an I.C. of 0.8), which I wasn't expecting. Only Alan Johnson, returning from an earlier interview on 'Bully' Brown, emerged relatively unscathed (I.C. of 0.3 here).
*
This followed a short introductory package by Sopel in which he featured a chief constable, Chris Sims, who supported the government's position, as well as the mother of Sally Ann Bowman, who also supported the government's position - though she wanted it to go even further. Where was Liberty? They always ask Liberty usually!! Only supporters of the Labour government's position then, oddly. Just before the end of his introduction, Sopel said of the Scottish model (pictured) "This is the system the Conservatives would like to see in the rest of the country but there's a warning from the police", at which Mr Sims returned to give that warning. So not just only supporters of the Labour government's position, but a warning about adopting the Conservatives' favoured approach!
*
That must be why The Politics Show denied its Guardianesque instincts and embraced the government's illiberal position on the DNA database: There's an election due! Every other consideration must be set aside until after the election.
**

TRY A LITTLE BIAS

*
Time for me to mount one of my favourite hobby horses again, so brace yourselves!
*
Today's Politics Show Scotland confirmed (again) my oft-repeated observations about the biases of its Labour-friendly presenter Glenn Campbell. He interviewed 4 politicians - one from Labour, one from the Conservatives and two from the SNP. Here are the statistics:
*
Douglas Alexander (Labour) - 8 minute 3 second interview - 5 interruptions - I.C. of 0.6
Kenny MacAskill (SNP) - 6 minute 56 second interview - 7 interruptions - I.C. of 1.1
Richard Lochhead (SNP) - 5 minute 51 second interview - 6 interruptions - I.C. of 1.1
Bill Aitken (Conservative) - 2 minute 20 second interview - 2 interruptions - I.C. of 1.0
*
Since I began recording interruption coefficients back in June last year 69 of Glenn's interviews have come my way. What are his averages (as of today) for each of the political parties:
*
Conservatives (12 interviews) - 1.13
SNP (21 interviews) - 0.90
Labour (26 interviews) - 0.43
Lib Dems (6 interviews) - 0.32
Independent (1 interview) - 0
Greens (1 interview) - 0
*
The evidence is conclusive. Interviews for the SNP are twice as tough at those for Labour - which confirms objectively how it feels subjectively. The Conservatives, of course, fare even worse, nearing three times as tough.
*
Glenn's Top 10 looks like this:
*
1. 28/6/09 David Mundell (Conservative) - 2.9
2. 14/6/09 Bill Aitken (Conservative) - 2.0
3. 11/10/09 Nicola Sturgeon (SNP) - 1.8
4. 2/07/09 Angus Robertson (SNP) - 1.6
5. 21/06/09 Richard Cook (Conservative) - 1.5
6. 29/11/09 Annabel Goldie (Conservative) - 1.4
7. 11/10/09 Ruth Davidson (Conservative) - 1.4
8. 4/10/09 John Swinney (SNP) - 1.4
9. 4/10/09 David Mundell (Conservative) - 1.3
10. 11/10/09 Willie Bain (Labour) - 1.3

TINY KOX

*
Going back in time again to yesterday's PM saw Carolyn Quinn baby-sitting the programme in Steady Eddie's absence.
*
The programme reported the latest speech from Gordon 'Typists beware!' Brown. BBC political correspondent Iain Watson went to the Labour marginal of Nuneaton. His vox pops suggested that Labour would not only re-win the seat at the general election but increase their slim majority substantially. Why? Because of the three voters sampled, two were going to vote Labour and the other, a so-far-life-long Labour supporter was not going to vote for them this time. That's 66.666etc% for Labour. We'll see on election day!
*
The war in Afghanistan was also discussed. First we heard from a German anti-war demonstrator, who didn't want Western troops in Afghanistan - on the principle that war is stupid and people are stupid. Then Carolyn interviewed a Dutch politician on their coalition government's collapse over the issue of Dutch troops in Afghanistan. Who did the programme ring up? Tiny Kox (the 'Tiny' is, sadly, pronounced 'tinny'!!) of the far-left Socialist Party. (It was founded in 1971 as a Maoist party!). This is not the first time I've heard Tiny Kox on the BBC in recently months.
*
Then the programme reported from an Afghan restaurant in London, to guage British Afghan opinion of the Afghan War. Guess what? All the people BBC reporter Christie Tucker (pictured) talked to were critical of the war. Indeed 100% of British Afghans are critical of the war, if this report is to be believed.

THAT WAS A PARTY POLITICAL BROADCASTING HOUSE ON BEHALF OF...

*
Not even the BBC could ignore Observer columnist Andrew Rawnsley's revelations about the sheer unpleasantness of Gordon Brown. They can, of course, try to take the sting out of it though.
*
Paddy O'Connell on 'Broadcasting House' (Radio 4 at the same time as Marr) interrupted Lance Price, who was telling us about Brown's behaviour towards secretaries, typists and drivers, to say "I should say that, as I've read it this morning, the book says he's also got a softer side, being incredibly solicitous at times of family emergency and bereavement".
*
He then tried to dismiss it all: "I wonder if the fair-minded listener thinks here's a book, here's a new look newspaper, here are the chattering classes chattering".
*
After the next piece (on the Irish economy), O'Connell read out an e-mail from "Simon Gough, who's our listener", saying "This is a media obsession. The electorate are more interested in politics than in personality". That was the only e-mail he read out.
*
The programme's paper review ignored the story completely. The guests must have been told not to talk about it. Or, given what a left-wing bunch they were, they chose not to talk about it.
*
*
The section on the Irish economy took the form of an interview with Irish finance minister Martin Mansergh. It was prefaced by remarks from O'Connell that are absolutely in keeping with the BBC's narrative on this story.
*
I've noted here before - in fact every time I've heard the BBC report on the strong actions taken by the Irish government to tackle their economic disaster - that they frame the debate in such a way as to present the Irish government and its actions in the worst possible light. Several of these reports have only featured critical voices and voices from the Left, especially the trade unions. Why? Because the Irish government's resolute cutting of public spending and its urgency are not something that the BBC (or the Labour Party) wants to present in a good light. Paddy said that the Irish government "has already instituted a package of tax rises and of spending cuts that union leaders say is a charter for exploitation. One said 'take one job at any price or emigrate'."

*
The interview went so badly that at first I really did think it was a spoof! Mr Mansergh, however, mustn't be used to being interviewed by the likes of the BBC. He even got told off by Paddy O'Connell. Paddy brought up the conflict between our economists over the issue of when to start cutting in earnest. When Mr Mansergh said, "Yes I read read the Financial Times this morning..." and began laughing, for some reason, O'Connell interrupted and said in a very disapproving tone of voice "Yes, and you're laughing. It's no laughing matter, is it?" "No it isn't", replied Mr Mansergh contritely. "Let's just run through the cuts that you made...", Paddy said and moved on to do just that.
*
*
This whole edition of the programme stank with bias. After reading out that e-mail about the listener's request for serious discussion of policy (i.e. leave off Brown), O'Connell brought up David Cameron's Woman's Hour interview with Jenny Murray and the Conservative leader's statement that 'a broader conservation at home' is the best kind of conversation. This was followed by an actual spoof on what Cameron had said - though not a very funny one - from Helen Lederer and Howard Ward.
*
And this wasn't the only dig at the Tories. More subtle (and interesting) was the programme's Who Do You Think You Archive section, which featured transsexual Nina Smith (formerly Nigel Smith), who wanted to hear a clip from the 1970 Conservative Party conference where Nina, then Nigel, spoke out against the Conservatives' proposal to lift the arms embargo on South Africa. This reminded BH listeners of the Conservatives' past transgressions over apartheid. Nigel Smith left the Conservative Party in 1972.
*
Then came the paper review. We had Susannah Clapp, doyenne of left-wing critics at The Observer (who attacked Boris Johnson), Kathy Lette, an avowed Labour supporter and all-round self-parody of a mouthy Australian feminist comedienne ("I think Cameron's a charisma wrap in a vacuum, so I'm glad Labour is doing well", she said) and, finally, left-wing journalist and novelist John Lanchester, who also had a dig at the Tories. What a balanced crowd that what! A Labour election rally couldn't have contained more lefties!!
*

MARR PROSTRATES HIMSELF BEFORE THE GREEK KING

*
David Vance, guiding genius the Biased BBC website, describes this morning's Andrew Marr interview with George Papandreou, socialist Greek prime minister (and third king of the Papandreou Dynasty), with characteristic pithiness, as "fawning". http://biased-bbc.blogspot.com/2010/02/greece-not-so-bad.html#comments. Marr let so many questions go begging that a new vagrancy law should be brought in just to deal with this man's interviewing technique. Then came his interview with Peter Mandelson, which result in a high I.C. of 1.4 but let so many questions go begging on Labour's astonishing mishandling of the economy as to constitute a whole army of missed opportunities. As well as David's post, the comments are very well worth reading - as they form a fascinating mini-debate on how best to take the battle to the BBC. (And you get to read Martin's latest comment about 5Live as a bonus!)
*

NOT WAVING BUT DROWNING

*
The Record Europe's main topic this week was 'Climate Change', specifically how the EU could speak with a common voice on the issue in the wake of all the acrimony at Copenhagen.
*
Shirin Wheeler's introductory report (complete with icebergs, but thankfully no polar bears) featured just one 'talking head' - Sonja Meister of Friends of the Earth Europe. That's par for the course.
*
The studio discussion featured five guests, only one of them a sceptic - Roger Helmer.
*
Not unlike this post (!), things took a predictable path. Here are the stats:
*
Length of time each guest got to speak
*
Rebecca Harms (German Green) - 3 minutes 35 seconds
Dan Jorgensen (Danish Social Democrat) - 3 minutes 15 seconds
Sirpa Pletikainen (Finnish Centre Right) - 2 minutes 59 seconds
Chris Davies (British Lib Dem) - 2 minutes 28 seconds
Roger Helmer (British Conservative) - 2 minutes 20 seconds
*
Despite that the only uses of the command 'Briefly!' by Shirin were directly at the sceptical Tory (twice)! (That's as it always is on this programme!)
*
Interruption Coefficients
*
Roger Helmer - 0.9
Sirpa Pletkainen - 0.8
Dan Jorgensen - 0.3
Rebecca Harms - 0.3
Chris Davies - 0
*
So the centre-right comes of worse, yet again.
*
The only politician to be contradicted by Shirin was Mr Helmer.
*
When he argued that "everyone from the Maldives to China sees this as a way of getting money from the West", she interrupted to say "But I mean we've spoken to the prime minister of Tuvalu, who travelled all the way to Brussels to say that his island is drowning. And we've seen pictures of it! He's not making it up!" Her point is perhaps weakened by the fact that Tuvalu is a chain of islands, not a single island. Moreover, the rise in sea level around the nine islands is not, as she assumes, necessarily caused by 'global warming', even according to our old friend Wikipedia: "This concern is compounded by the effects of subsidence which causes the islands naturally to sink into the sea, and non-natural land use (such as farming) which causes soil compaction. And to further complicate matters, it has been difficult to accurately measure to what degree each of these causes is affecting the observed rise in sea level. Global warming may not be the primary cause for the rise in local measurements." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Climate_change_in_Tuvalu. Mr Helmer was having none of it anyway, and discussed the case of the Maldives.
*
Behind the Green lady was a window and through the window snow-flakes fell.
*

WHO DOES LABOUR VOTE WITH IN EUROLAND?

*
The Record Europe introduced what sounds like a very detailed piece of statistical research into voting patterns at the European Parliament. Professor Simon Hix of the L.S.E. explained that political parties from across Europe are voting with their European groups far more than they are voting on national grounds. So a British Liberal will vote with Spanish and German liberals far more than they will vote with their national colleagues from other political parties. (I think I could have guessed that, if asked!)
*
Professor Hix of the L.S.E. (who recently worked in the UK cabinet office) is one of the founders of a non-partisan website called VoteWatchEU, along with fellow L.S.E. prof and former policy advisor at the pro-European think tank the European Policy Centre Dr Sara Hagemann (pictured), Doru Frantescu of the pro-European Young European Federalists and Brussel-based prof Abdul G. Noury.
Their website is at http://www.votewatch.eu.

Saturday, 20 February 2010

PAXO STUFFS LORD ADONIS

*
Following in the footsteps (or tracks) of Today, Newsnight discussed the Tories' decision to pull out of Labour's 'consensus' on high-speed rail. Reporter Matt Prodger outlined the story, featuring Tory critics Norman Baker of the Lib Dems and Kate Henderon of the Town and Country Planning Association (about whom see http://uk.linkedin.com/pub/kate-henderson/13/845/a26). No Tory came onto the programme, so Lord Adonis (pictured) was invited to face Jeremy Paxman instead (big mistake!). Where Today refused to, and Matt Prodger failed to go, Jeremy Paxman went and gave Lord Adonis a good going over. For the first time, thanks to Jeremy, I understood why the Conservatives refused to go along with the 'consensus' yesterday. It was a Labour trap! Naughtie's failure to even hint at what Jeremy Paxman pointed out shows just what a biased piece of work James Naughtie really is. *

*

DON'T LEAVE US AGAIN EDDIE!

*
While Eddie's away the Quinns will play! Yesterday's PM, presented by leftie lassie Carolyn Quinn, was one of the worst I've heard for ages.
*
It featured an extremely soft interview by BBC economics 'guru' Nils Blythe of Peter Mandelson in the wake of Brown's right-wing-bashing speech at the Policy Network conference. Three easy questions and no interruptions from Nils, lots of Brown-nosing and attacks on the Tories from Mandy.
*
A report by Andrew Harding from Argentina on that country's posturing over the Falkland Islands saw Andy neglect to mention that Argentina's posturing (but beautiful) president is a socialist. Had the fair Cristina (pictured with all the inevitability of a Paxman sneer) been a right-winger you can bet your bottom peso he'd have thought it worth mentioning - especially as there was criticism of her from various Argentinians.
*
The programme then mounted the green platform and spent what seemed like an eternity discussing a row between the government (represented by Lord Hunt) and an electricity generator that wants subsidies to transfer from coal to renewable 'biomass' energy. Green Party London Assembly member Darren Johnson stuck his oar in here. Carolyn's questions tended towards Darren's position while she was interviewing the Labour lord.
*
The programme stayed on the same platform for a report by BBC science correspondent Palab Gosh on electric cars in America, and how they could save us from our gas-guzzling cars, which are "pouring carbon dioxide into the planet's atmosphere." He talked to a broccoli-juice drinking (no, honestly!) Californian couple who believe their solar-panel fitted sports car points the way to the future.
*

ENOUGH ALREADY!

*
Though finding myself again a bit overwhelmed by the sheer amount of BBC bias at the moment I think I must make time just to put on record a few more examples of the BBC's brain-defying obsession with Israel and the Palestinians (zzzzzzzzzzzz!). (For more on which always see Sue on the Biased BBC website).
*
Tuesday's The World Tonight had a report on how the 'age-old' ways of Palestinian fishermen in Gaza are being destroyed by wicked Israeli restrictions. The reporter spoke to some of those fishermen and to a Palestinian economist, who denounced Israel.
*
Yesterday (before 7.00am) the BBC's Lucy Williamson (pictured) reported from the West Bank on a British charity's donation of olive trees to Palestinians in Nablus. The Palestinians were angry because Israeli restrictions (specifically an electric fence erected by settlers) made it hard for them to plant the olive trees.
*
I've said it before and I'll say it again, zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz!!!
*

THIS WEEK'S DIMBLEDATA

*
Here is this week's Dimbledata for Thursday's Question Time:

**
18th February 2010
*
*

Who got most time to speak?
*
1. Roy Hattersley (Lab) - 10 minutes 30 seconds
2. Rory Stewart (Con) - 7 minutes 35 seconds
3. Ruth Lea (economist)- 7 minutes 20 seconds
4. Lynne Featherstone (LD) - 5 minutes 51 seconds
5. Tom Conti (actor) - 5 minutes 51 seconds
6. A trade unionist in the audience - 2 minutes 52 seconds
*
*

Who received the most interruptions from David Dimbleby?
*
1. Lynne Featherstone (LD) - 3
2. Ruth Lea (economist) - 3
3. Roy Hattersley (Lab) - 2
4. Tom Conti (actor) - 1
5. Rory Stewart (Con) - 0
*
**

Who scored the highest interruption coefficient?
*
1. Lynne Featherstone (LD) - 0.5
2. Ruth Lea (economist) - 0.4
3. Tom Conti (actor) - 0.2
4. Roy Hattersley (Lab) - 0.2
5. Rory Stewart (Con) - 0.0
*
*

Who was asked the most supplementary questions by David Dimbleby?
*
1. Ruth Lea (economist) - 7
2. Rory Stewart (Con) - 6
3. Lynne Featherstone (LD) - 5
4. Roy Hattersley (Lab) - 5
5. Tom Conti (actor) - 0
*
*
It's not every week that the Tory scores the lowest I.C.! Note though that this was one of Dimbleby's most restrained performances, with no-one scoring a high I.C., and that the two right-of-centre guests, Ruth Lea and Rory Stewart (with Ruth closer to the right and Rory much closer to the centre!) were the most closely questioned by Dimbleby.
*

THE WORLD TONIGHT'S TYPE OF ACADEMIC

*
The tendency of The World Tonight to tilt strongly towards the Liberal Left makes it the Leaning Tower of Pisa among the various Radio 4 current affairs programmes -though Today can of course make a strong case for the same status too. (Though in saying that said, this week has seen two Conservative politicians appearing on the programme. That doesn't happen very often!)
*
When last night's programme discussed the coolness between China and the US over Obama and the Lama, Robin Lustig talked to two American experts. The first was Ken Lieberthal, former advisor to Bill Clinton and now a senior fellow at the Brookings Institute. The second was George Perkovich, a former aide to Joe Biden who now heads the Nonproliferation Program(me) at the liberal-learning Carnegie Institute for International Peace. Both sounded like serious figures, but both come from the same place, politically-speaking.
**

THINK TANKS AGAIN

*
Last night's The World Tonight discussed the reasons why the Eurozone is deep in the mire at the moment.
*
Reporting on the subject was the programme's economics correspondent Jonty Bloom. His report featured three talking heads:
*
- Olaf Cramme, "director of the international think tank 'Policy Network'"
- Otmar Issing, a former board member of the European Central Bank and founding father of the Euro
- Charles Grant, "director of the Centre for European Reform"
*
What sort of international think tank is Policy Network? It's a centre-left one, "dedicated to promoting progressive policies and the renewal of social democracy" - i.e. the BBC's sort of think tank. Its president is one Peter Mandelson.
*
The Centre for European Reform is a pro-European think tank.
*
No Eurosceptics were invited to Jonty's report.
*

A DATE FOR THE DIARY

*
We've heard in the past week on the Today programme from two Spring Conferences (even though it's still winter) and the respective party leaders - those of the Green Party (Caroline Lucas) and Plaid Cyrmu (Ieuan Wyn Jones). I'm pencilling in my diary the date March 19th. That's when UKIP's Spring Conference begins (much more logically!). Will the Today programme interview Lord Pearson? And if it does, will it be as nice to him as it was to those left-wingers, Ms Lucas and Mr Jones?
*

HUMPH

*
Wendy's brother Douglas Alexander was on 'Today' this morning talking to John Humphrys about the election. Labour's new slogan is 'A Future Fair for All'. http://news.bbc.co.uk/today/hi/today/newsid_8525000/8525831.stm
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Wouldn't that make a great slogan for the 'Today' programme itself? Whenever James Naughtie faces a Conservative spokesman and a Labour spokesman in the same studio, he could look up to a large poster on the wall of the 'Today' studio and think to himself, 'Yes, I will be fair to all, today and for ever more! I will mend my ways!'
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Well you can hope!!
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He already has an example to look too. John Humphrys is, like Naughtie, a known leftie but he rarely features on this little blog of mine as he's clearly conscious that it's his duty to try to be impartial when interviewing. Yes, he may sound off sometimes (usually about bankers!) and certainly can let his opinions shine through his questioning (as tends to happen whenever Iraq and Afghanistan are under discussion!) and, yes, he does on the whole interrupt Conservatives more than Labour politicians, but against all this can be set such interviews as this morning's with Mr Alexander. He asked a lot of tough, spot-on questions about the economy and scored a high interruption coefficient of 1.8 against him.
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That's the way to do it Jim! It's called professionalism!
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DEJA VU

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Wednesday's Today heard Evan Davis chatting to John Wadham of the Equality and Human Right's Commission (and former director of Liberty). Then he whinged about body scanners at airports, specifically the Muslim Community's fears of discrimination. Well, he was back on the programme this morning, this time talking to John Humphrys. Now he wants an inquiry into allegations "that the government knew of the torture of Britons being held abroad." (That would assumably exclude an investigation into the case of the Ethiopian Binyam Mohamed).
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WILL 'ALWAYS HAVE WORK AT THE BBC' HUTTON AND CO.

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Back into the Tardis again for a trip back to Wednesday's Newsnight.
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As has been pointed out here and elsewhere, the BBC's unique take on the latest set of economic figures (which even The Guardian didn't put a positive spin on) led to this generally favourable introduction from Gavin Esler: "The unemployment rate actually fell a little in the last month and even better news the percentage of British people out of work is lower than that in other relatively wealthy countries in the Eurozone, but the number claiming benefits has gone up to the highest since Labour came to power in 1997."
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The BBC's obsession with left-wing think tanks was much in evidence in what followed. A report by Terry Stiastny (pictured, with friend) not only featured Dr Anna Coote of the red-green New Economics Foundation but also Ian Brinkley of The Work Foundation (formerly chief economist of the TUC from 1996-2006). Then, as if one Leftie from The Work Foundation wasn't enough, on came the omnipresent Will Hutton from The Work Foundation, to discuss the matter with Esler and James Caan of Dragon's Den. As ever, neither think tank was labelled as 'left-wing' by the BBC.
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When Mr Caan interjected a note of realism into all the Panglossian, pro-Labour (and anti-Tory) guff flowing from the mouth of Mr Hutton, saying "I think we're making too much out of these statistics. When you actually look at the statistics , we've only had a drop of 3000. When you've got a workforce of 20 million let's not get too carried away. I think when you're looking at temp...", Esler interrupted to say "It's better than going up though, isn't it, which we all agree?" Many of Esler's questions came from this same 'things are getting better' perspective.
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PITCHING TO THE LEFT

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Thursday night's Newsnight discussed the elderly care issue. Gavin Esler asked three people to pitch their favoured schemes to the government's egalitarianism-loving independent advisor Joan Bakewell and Emma Soames of Saga magazine.
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Who were the three 'pitchers'?
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1. James Lloyd, of the Blairite Social Market Foundation. He wants a national voluntary insurance scheme.
2. Stephen Burke, of the charity Counsel and Care, who tried to become the Labour Party's candidate for Scunthorpe in the 2010 general election. He favours the 'Death Tax'.
3. Dr Anna Dixon (pictured) chief executive of The King's Foundation (formerly of the L.S.E.), who acted as a policy advisor to the government from 2003-4. She wants it largely paid for out of taxation.
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Gavin Esler had previously interviewed Andrew Lansley, scoring a high I.C. against him of 1.9.
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When attention turned to Sino-American relations, who did Gavin Esler turn to for an American point of view? Nina Hachigian of the liberal Centre for American Progress. That think tank keeps cropping up in my surveys. It must be the American equivalent of the IPPR!
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You could never accuse the BBC of ignoring the Liberal-Left!