BBC Complaints: The link you need!

Thursday, 18 March 2010


So it's been another Lord Ashcroft day at the BBC. The non-story that just won't die was back again, zombie-like, to stalk the studios of the BBC.
I clicked onto the Today website a couple of hours ago and listened to this morning's programme. It featured one of the most pointless and frankly tedious interviews I've ever had the misfortune to sit through - Evan Davis asking arcane question after arcane question on the issue to an infinitely patient William Hague. This nonsense went on for nearly thirteen minutes and was both preceded by and followed by some anti-Tory insinuations from Nick Robinson. (Where did it all go wrong for Nick Robinson?).
It came about because a Cabinet Office document about Lord Ashcroft was leaked to the Today programme this morning. With Labour in the mire over Gordon Brown's forced retraction of (some of) his lies over defence spending and the party's umbilical ties to the Unite union coming in for telling criticism, what could have been more convenient for Labour than a leak that puts Lord Ashcroft and the Tories at the top of the news cycle at the BBC? And what better programme to leak it to than the Today programme? The Today programme, as the leaker(s) would have surely have known, leaped on the story like a pack of starving hyenas.
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For a commentary on how Today handled this please click on the comments on the Biased BBC website: Starting at the beginning with It's all too much and Cassie King, you will read some angry and insightful reactions to it all as it unfolded.
I note in passing that the BBC's Anti-Tory Correspondent Norman Smith reported for duty in the programme's first hour. (Try keeping him away!) He blaahed on and on, adding "inevitably it will fuel Labour and Lib Dem demands for more answers as to when he (Mr Hague) knew what." Labour and Lib Dem demands indeed! What about BBC demands? They are at least as keen as Labour and the Lib Dems! Nowhere in this discussion between Norm and Justin Webb did either speculate as to who had leaked this official document or as to why it had been leaked today? A revealing omission. The leaker(s) may have been banking on Norman Smith. .
Not a sheep compares the BBC News website's enthusiasm for the Ashcroft story with its reluctance to dwell on the Brown/Chilcot story:
The World at One followed, leading with Lord Ashcroft. (Of the BA strike and Brown's lies, however, no time for discussion was found). Martha Kearney began "Just to remind you of the details of all this" before doing just that, boringly. Norman Smith was back, of course, playing us a clip from today's select committee meeting where a Labour baroness who was present when the 'deal' was done in 2000 was questioned by the committee's Labour chairman. (The Conservatives boycotted the meeting, regarding it understandably as nothing more than a political stunt.) Another attendee, the civil servant who brokered the deal, Sir Hayden Phillips "conceded", said Norm, that he "was - to put it mildly- very far from being a tax expert" (Norm is never sparing with superlatives) unlike the more "tax savvy" Lord Ashcroft and his Tory representative James Arbuthnot. The insinuation here, of course, is that the wicked Tories pulled the wool over Sir Hayden's eyes. "Now there was also criticism of the role of William Hague with Labour MPs (yes Labour MPs!) questioning how Mr Hague could not have have known about Lord Ashcroft's tax status since cabinet office documents released today ('released today'?! 'Leaked today' surely?) show that he'd been kept informed about the final deal reached by Mr Arbuthnot."
When the story was at its most feverish a week or two ago, I noted that the BBC seemed to be ringing around the Conservative Party to find any Tories who were willing to criticise Lord Ashcroft, finally alighting on Barry Legg and Elizabeth Peacock - both of whom lost their seats in the 1997 general election. Guess who followed Norman ('Don't mention the leak') Smith? Yes, Barry Legg again. Mr Legg did indeed criticise Lord Ashcroft, calling for him to be sacked, and - remarkably - defended the various Labour and Lib Dem non-doms against any defence of equivalence. At least he did also defend William Hague (so that's only two out of three for The World at One!).
In fairness space was also given to Ian Liddell Grainger, one of the Conservative MPs who boycotted the committee. He gave a very robust performance, and challenged the BBC to say when it received the leaked document, as if it received it "before 12.00 yesterday" then it proves that the government leaked it. The BBC, he said, could clear the matter up by providing just that bit of information.
The story has also led PM. Peter Hunt replaced Norman Smith. but said much the same sort of thing (just without the superlatives). Still at least this programme didn't fixate on the story, and Eddie Mair's discussion with Andrew Hoskins of ComRes about the public's reaction to all these sort of stories (Labour and Unite as much as the Conservatives and Lord Ashcroft) was an interesting one.

The leaker must be delighted at the BBC's obliging behaviour.


  1. Not one word on the BBC about Labour's money laundering scam with Unite.
    Since 2001 Labour has been in receipt of just under 30,000,000 from Unite and its two forerunners, Amicus and the TGWU.
    In return Labour has used over 17,000,000 of taxpayer money, in the guise of the "Union Learning Fund", to fund Unite and its forerunners. None of the money can be adequately traced. THAT STINKS!!

    And where is the BBC? All we get is wall to wall Ashcroft and the pension-stripping Labour non-dom has been airbrushed.

    Andy C

  2. The Sun had a front page on bbc bias this morning and in the Toady Programme Humphreys and Evan Davis made a poor joke on out of date ice cream and burst into hilarity.
    Shows the arrogance and dismissive behaviour of the bbc in its quest to get Brown into government and the country into total ruin.
    Stalin is very pleased.

  3. Yes, I've just listened to that now. They ignored the 'Sun' story in the first two paper reviews (6.12 & 6.40) then, as you say, turned its allegations of bias into an 'hilarious' joke during the third paper review.

    Shame 'The Sun' didn't use Naughtie as Exhibit A. I'd have liked to have heard them laugh that off!!!


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