BBC Complaints: The link you need!

Sunday, 4 April 2010


How has Gavin Esler's Dateline London been getting on these days?
Though it faces the world, it also faces election-ready Britain. This week it again discussed the Conservative Party and, as so often, the British voice on the panel was a voice from the Left - Jahann Hari of The Independent. Also on were another left-winger Marc Roche, the Tory-baiting French journalist from Le Monde, and one of the programme's many liberal Americans Michael Goldfarb. Finally, there was the CBC reporter Laura Lynch. Except for Laura, who, though unquestionably liberal, mostly spoke like a careful reporter thoughout, it was just another hot-house left-liberal gathering.
First up for discussion though was the Catholic Church with Hari letting rip at "Ratzinger" (aka The Pope) and Goldbarb complaining that "every time there's some burst of progress in human emancipation...the political part of the Catholic Church acts as a drag on that. It pulls people back. It's a deeply conservative force in the most malign sense of what 'conservative' means". Then Roche let rip at this "very conservative" pope. Even Gavin Esler felt a twinge of conscience (or heard alarm bells ringing) here that this was all a bit too much, feeling obliged to say (after another of Hari's outbursts - he wants the pope arrested for crimes against humanity. Yes seriously!) "I'm conscious that people watching this who are believing Catholics will say 'Here are four secular journalists talking about this...". Hari leaped in and ranted again against "Ratzinger" and Esler did not complete his thought or return to it.
Then attention turned from one malign conservative force to another - the Conservative Party. Esler's first question on the subject, concerning their tax 'goodie' on national insurance (as he put it), went to arch Tory-basher Jahann Hari. Laura Lynch then got loud approving laughter for saying that she doubts the British public "is in love with the idea of taking their advice from business leaders." What a comment! Why the hell not take advice from business leaders? Give or take some bankers (a very, very small proportion of businessmen), they have done nothing wrong. They do much that is right. I'd prefer to listen to them than to this crowd of reality-averse lefties.
At least the cosy consensus ruptured for a while over Ireland as Hari (who wanted to believe that Ireland is not coming out of recovery and that its strong economic medicine is not working) and Roche (who says it is and it is, and that you Brits don't want to accept it because they're Irish) clashed. Business as usual swiftly returned. Hari babbled that the business leaders backed the Tories this week because they will be financially better off personally as a result. They are "very rich and very selfish". Roche bashed the "Anglo-Saxon model" again, as he always does, and then bashed the "nasty Tory anti-Europeans who sit with the horrible people in the European parliament, the extreme right. They are the toxic party." Cue delight from Hari and the rest.
The last topic was Obama and Afghanistan. By then I'd lost the will to live and switched off.
Since I began recording the programme's guest-list here are the Brits from British newspapers chosen to appear have been (with appropriate colour-coding). Things used to be bad, which is why I started listing the guests, they then improved perhaps coincidentally when I used to text them every week to complain (before I started blogging), then they have got worse again:

20/6 Polly Toynbee
27/6 Yasmin Alibhai Brown
4/7 Janet Daley
11/7 Isabel Hilton
18/7 Ned Temko
25/7 Steve Richards
1/8 Adam Raphael
8/8 Ann Leslie
15/8 Yasmin Alibhai Brown
22/8 Janet Daley
29/8 Bruce Anderson
5/9 Ned Temko
12/9 Michael White
19/9 Michael Gove
26/9 Polly Toynbee
3/10 (no programme)
10/1o Jahann Hari
17/10 Steve Richards
24/10 Ann Leslie
31/10 (Dubai edition)
7/11 Janet Daley
14/11 Adam Raphael
21/11 Yasmin Alibhai Brown
28/11 Isabel Hilton
5/12 (Washington edition)
12/12 Janet Daley
19/12 David Aaronovitch
26/12 Polly Toynbee
2/1 Peter Oborne
9/1 Michael White
16/1 Isabel Hilton
23/1 Yasmin Alibhai Brown
30/1 David Aaronovitch
6/2 Polly Toynbee
13/2 Janet Daley
20/2 Ann Leslie
27/2 Ned Temko
6/3 (Dubai edition)
13/3 Yasmin Alibhai Brown
20/3 Adam Raphael
27/3 Isabel Hilton
3/4 Jahann Hari
And that's just the Brits (or anglicized North Americans, like Janet and Ned)! There is always a large left-wing majority on any panel. So far this year no panel has featured more than one centre-right guest at a time (usually set against three left-wingers and Gavin Esler), and the majority have had no right-of-centre guest at all.
Dateline London is a rare glimpse for many of us living in the UK into the output of BBC World. It doesn't bode well at all.

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