Much as I'd love to be sending Shirin Wheeler, presenter of The Record Europe, a Valentine's Day card today (and getting one back), I'm afraid I'm going to have to throw another brickbat at the lady instead. She was, yet again, on severely biased form again this week.
The first topic was the approval of the latest European Commission by the European Parliament. In Shirin's introductory report she played us back-to-back clips of the reactions of the leaders of the European Liberals, Socialists and the federalist EPP. Then her voice returned to lead us to the next clip from the parliamentary chamber, saying with a definite note of weariness, "In some quarters the opposition was predictable". Cue Nigel Farage (on fantastic form).
The usual studio discussion followed, with the usual results. I'll list the statistics first:
John Bufton (UKIP) - 3 interruptions, I.C. of 1.4
Timothy Kirkhope (Conservative) - 2 interruptions, I.C. of 0.9
Corlen Wortman Kool (EPP) - 0 interruptions, I.C. of 0
Alex Lambsdorf (German Liberal) - 0 interruptions, I.C. of 0
Stephen Hughes (Labour) - 0 interruptions, I.C. of 0
These results are pure Shirin Wheeler.
Stephen Hughes, like all her Labour guests, was not probed about Labour policy, was treated with friendly respect and was not interrupted.
Mr Kirkhope, who nearly always fares badly at the lovely hands of Shirin, was accused of 'sitting on the fence' and 'not standing up', was interrupted and contradicted over his support for President Barossa and later cut off again before he could finish his point.
Still, he fared a great deal better than John Bufton of UKIP, who got the full Shirin treatment.
Her first question to him was pretty extraordinary in itself, being laden with bias: "Now that for members of your party John (i.e. the idea of more 'leadership' from the Commission) is not going to come as great news. Mind you, nothing much does here. Nigel Farage, you know, had what some would say was a pretty extraordinary outburst about this. Do you agree with him?"
John's answer lasted just 19 seconds before the first interruption came. The interruption was the sort of interruption only Shirin's right-of-centre guests ever seem to be on the receiving end of - a telling-off: "But leave the labels aside and the, you know, emotive terms aside for a moment." Ouch! The question that followed was said v e r y s l o w l y , as if she were speaking to a dim child: "Isn't this about finding solutions to concrete problems that effect people's lives, like losing their jobs and things like that?"
In answer he complained that the people had not been consulted in a referendum, which brought Shirin crashing back in after just 13 seconds with her second interruption. This was a contradiction, delivered with a grin/grimace: "Well they do have a say because they elected you and that's fair enough!" 'Fair enough'? That's big of her! At least she doesn't want UKIP banned!!
John's answer to this was also interrupted (after 35 seconds) with another telling-off: "Oh let's not get bogged down by domestic politics!" she exclaimed.
In a later exchange between Mr Bufton and Mrs Worman Kool, where the former made the point that the European Commission are unelected and the latter started to quibble, Shirin intervened to disagree with him again, snapping "They went through a thorough hearing process as well. Let's hear from Alex now."
A classic Shirin Wheeler performance all round.
No set of interruption coefficients is more damning in its proof of left-wing bias than hers:
31/01/2010 Lord Dartmouth UKIP 2.4
21/09/2009 Timothy Kirkhope Conservative 1.9
11/10/2009 Timothy Kirkhope Conservative 1.5
06/12/2009 David Campbell-Bannerman UKIP 1.5
20/12/2009 Vicky Ford Conservative 1.5
14/02/2010 John Bufton UKIP 1.4
08/11/2009 Timothy Kirkhope Conservative 1.2
15/11/2009 Martha Andreasen UKIP 1.2
11/10/2009 Nigel Farage UKIP 0.9
14/02/2010 Timothy Kirkhope Conservative 0.9
01/11/2009 Paul Nuttall UKIP 0.7
08/11/2009 Charles Tannock Conservative 0.7
08/11/2009 Graham Watson Lib Dem 0.7
07/02/2010 Nirj Diva Conservative 0.7
08/11/2009 Derek Clarke UKIP 0.6
08/11/2009 Glenis Willmott Labour 0.5
06/12/2009 Lord Roper Lib Dem 0.4
17/01/2010 Glenis Willmott Labour 0.4
31/01/2010 Richard Howitt Labour 0.4
24/01/2010 Claude Moraes Labour 0.3
04/10/2009 Syed Kamall Conservative 0.3
06/12/2009 Richard Howitt Labour 0.3
20/12/2009 Arlene McCarthy Labour 0.3
17/01/2010 Geoffrey Van Orden Conservative 0.3
07/02/2010 Michael Cashman Labour 0.3
25/10/2009 Timothy Kirkhope Conservative 0.2
18/10/2009 Caroline Lucas Green 0
31/01/2010 Mary Honeyball Labour 0
22/11/2009 Cathy Ashton Labour 0
17/01/2010 Jean Lambert Green 0
31/01/2010 Kay Swinburne Conservative 0
04/10/2009 Graham Watson Lib Dem 0
11/10/2009 Fiona Hall Lib Dem 0
11/10/2009 Richard Howitt Labour 0
25/10/2009 Stephen Hughes Labour 0
20/12/2009 Sharon Bowles Lib Dem 0
06/12/2009 Michael Connarty Labour 0
20/12/2009 Chris Davies Lib Dem 0
04/10/2009 Arlene McCarthy Labour 0
25/10/2009 Chris Davies Lib Dem 0
15/11/2009 Derek Vaughan Labour 0
24/01/2010 Andrew Duff Lib Dem 0
15/11/2009 Vicky Ford Conservative 0
01/11/2009 Jean Lambert Green 0
07/02/2010 Richard Corbett Labour 0
14/02/2010 Stephen Hughes Labour 0
Her averages say it all:
UKIP (7 interviews) - 1.24
Conservatives (12 interviews) - 0.77
Labour (16 interviews) - 0.16
Lib Dems (8 interviews) - 0.14
Greens (3 interviews) - 0.0
Pretty extraordinary, wouldn't you say?