I thought I'd begin my listening experience of this morning's Today programme with Justin Webb's interview with shadow Northern Ireland secretary Owen Paterson over the UUP's attitude to the devolution of policing and justice. I chose it because I guessed there would be a fair few interruptions (knowing of the tried-and-tested scientific formula Justin Webb + Conservative spokesman = lots of interruptions).
Still, even I was surprise at just how soon Justin Webb interrupted Mr Paterson. Please take a listen: http://news.bbc.co.uk/today/hi/today/newsid_8557000/8557147.stm.
4 seconds - that's how long it took for Webb to interrupt him. Eight more interruptions followed in an interview that lasted under 4 minutes. The initial frenzy ebbed as the interview neared its end but even so the resultant I.C. was a whopping 2.5.
Talking of 'whopping', had I been Mr Paterson I'd have verbally whopped Justin Webb for carrying on in such a rude manner. Sadly he, Owen Paterson, did no such thing. He took it on the chin. They always take it on the chin. Compare that to Labour's Phil Hope (yesterday), who moaned after being interrupted just twice in four minutes!!
If Conservative spokesmen don't go into the Today studio fired up to fire back at the slightest provocation they will always be treated like this. Some of the Today presenters are out to get them. They will, consequently, not get their case across and they'll lose the argument by default. The Tory Party will lose the election (and we'll all be lumbered with the Lib-Lab pact) if the likes of Owen Paterson don't take the fight to the likes of the biased presenters of the Today programme.
It can be done, as DB points out on the Biased BBC blogsite (though note that it's done by a Tory backbencher. Promote that man!):
Conservative MP Graham Stuart appeared on the Victoria Derbyshire show this morning to discuss Lord Paul after the non-dom Labour peer had chickened out of an interview at the last minute. Stuart took the opportunity to have a bit of a go at the BBC (his segment begins approx 12.30 in - available for 7 days):
"Imagine a Tory donor who'd bought a company, run its pension fund into the ground, bought the assets back for pennies in the pound, who became a privy counsellor even though he wasn't qualified while personally funding the leader's leadership bid - they (sic) would be a massive story and yet somehow the BBC runs day after day on Lord Ashcroft, who as far as I can see has done nothing wrong, and gives Labour an easy ride. It takes me back to the tales we had of the champagne bottles in 1997 and I'm afraid the BBC remains biased and fails to ask the proper questions of those who are currently in power."