Thursday, 16 November 2017

Open Thread (now even plainer)


Thank you.

Boom Bang a Bang



Has this ever happened to you? You're enjoying a nice nap at work when someone in your office suddenly shouts 'Boom!' and wakes you from your happy slumbers?

Well, it must be like that many a night at the BBC - at least according to The Sun who splashed today with the 'TV scandal' that BBC News Channel staff are snoozing the night away at BBC licence fee payers' expense. 

A BBC snitch told The Sun that "during a 12-hour night shift some staff do around an hour of work" and sent them a dozen or so photos of BBC staff 'sending exclusive reports from the Land of Nod', so to speak. 

Sir Peter Bone MP (and, one presumes, Mrs Bone too) is aghast.

The BBC hasn't taken this lying down - or slumped over their desks fast asleep either. BBC staff have taken to Twitter en masse to mock The Sun and the BBC Press Office has re-tweeted that poll graphic about trust again, with a Sun-baiting tweak: 


Alas, not one person (not even a BBC editor) ever bothered to shout 'Boom!' when I wrote a truly sleep-shattering piece recently about this very poll, but the fact remains that this BBC-commissioned IPSOS Mori poll is old - and some might say [see what I did there?] ' fake' - news. 


We've had an election in between then and now. Peoples views of the BBC might have changed over the last nine or more months. The BBC's stock could have plummeted. Who knows? 

Yet the BBC Press Office tried to pass the results off as a new poll with new findings earlier this month - like some dodgy restaurateur passing off last week's leftovers as 'a Chef's special'.

Right, you can all go back to sleep and watch the BBC News Channel now........

'Scary'



Some say she ‘resigned’, but never mind. It’s ‘good’ that the BBC reported it, even if they had to cast doubt on it even as they said it. 

Presumably the timorous use of ‘scare quotes’ is to indicate that it was ‘reported speech’ rather than an accidental ‘value-judgement’ on the part of the 'reporter'.
A potential Labour councillor has been removed from the candidate list after being accused of being anti-Semitic.
Nasreen Khan was hoping to stand in next year's Bradford council elections.
The party removed Ms Khan after investigating claims reported on the Jewish News website about comments it said she posted on Facebook in 2012.
The BBC has contacted Ms Khan for comment. Labour said it "condemns all anti-Semitism in the strongest possible terms”.

I can’t help noticing that the BBC is careful to tell us that the claims (of antisemitism) were reported on the Jewish News website, using the “distancing” framework:   
“about comments it said she posted on Facebook in 2012.”

Well, ‘it’, being the “Jewish News”,  ‘would say that, wouldn’t they?’ - as would the Labour Party when it said:
"it condemns all anti-Semitism in the strongest possible terms”.

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

And there's more...


Another lead story on the BBC News website this evening - though nowhere else - is this:


The musician in question will be apologising for Brexit (which he associates with "hate") across the continent of Europe.

Is this really one of the main stories in the world (or the UK) today?

Compare and contrast


I've given this one a few hours as I wanted to see if the BBC would change its angle or not, but as it hasn't...







It's as if the BBC isn't prepared to yield any positive ground to Boris Johnson.

Indeed, if you click into the respective reports, you'll see that this continues and that the contrast becomes even sharper.

From Sky News:


From ITV News:


From BBC News:


That's quite something, isn't it? Only the Foreign Office saying that the meeting has been 'positive' eh?

Why is the BBC News website refusing to report that Mr Ratcliffe said something positive and constructive about the UK's Foreign Secretary today? 

Huw's at Ten


On last night's BBC News at Ten, Huw Edwards could have introduced the Brexit segment like this:
The House of Commons has started to take a detailed look at the legislation designed to take Britain out of the European Union. The EU Withdrawal Bill will end the primacy of European law, but MPs have tabled some 500 amendments, including one which opposes setting a date in law for Britain's departure.
Instead he introduced it like this:
The House of Commons has started to take a detailed look at the controversial legislation designed to take Britain out of the European Union. The EU Withdrawal Bill will end the primacy of European law, but MPs have tabled some 500 amendments, including one which opposes setting a date in law for Britain's departure.

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Snobs!


The BBC has gone way too far this time, plugging some luxury 'eco hotel' in the Andes and being snobbish about the UK's finest seaside resort in the process (h/t Peter).

Just look at the caption! The cheeky beggars!!



And, no, Radio 4 I won't 'Like' your Page!

At least the fine folk who visit Facebook are blowing richly-deserved raspberries at the BBC for this outrage:

  • Please note - Your guest house in Morecambe has a stunning view of the mountains of the Lake district, across Morecambe Bay. Save yourself the air fare and come here. No humming birds, but a great many overwintering wading birds on this important part of the North Atlantic Flyway.
  • Sorry, I fail to see how that can be 'Eco' anything as the first thing you see is a stack of air conditioning units and a satellite dish on the roof. And I'm sure the forest would have been far better off without that building there. Morecambe for me 😃
  • Great post, but why the nasty bourgeois snipe at Morecambe? Not everyone can afford these luxuriously expensive hols! Show some sensitivity caption writer for r4 posts.
  • Morecambe is home to the stunning Midland Hotel.
  • Why the snobbery about Morecambe? Had some great holidays there. Some people just want a nice view and a relaxing stroll along the promenade and what is wrong with that?
  • Your conspicuous consumption and selfish use of resources to get their means it wont be around for long
  • How does one get there? And back? Few more quick qus: The video... but cheesy... shot by them, or the BBC? The lodge... does the climate warrant a/c? If so, is it provided? Or fans? 5 star ratings tend to require certain features not too Eco. How is that addressed? How is the power generated and hot water? Just ask as there are no obvious panels. Or is it hydro or similar? Tx in anticipation

Indeed! A train to Morecambe will bring you to more delights and far fewer poisonous frogs and venomous snakes than any planet-destroying, exorbitantly-priced flight to and from the other side of the world.

Now please excuse me while I go and publicly burn my licence fee as a propitiatory offering in front of the sacred Eric Morecambe statue. The gods of Morecambe Bay are very angry at the BBC tonight.

(Not) In praise of Quentin Sommerville - an updated post


This post has been updated - as you'll see....

I've left the original wholly intact, so you can watch me falling flat on my face!


One BBC reporter I do admire is Quentin Sommerville. 

Yes, he's typically BBC in his views (as expressed on Twitter), but he strikes me as fundamentally decent and brave.

He's best known, of course, for getting high and laughing uncontrollably while reporting in front of a pile of burning narcotics. (See the attached link!)

His latest 'scoop', however, is a stonking 'exclusive': Dirty Secret, the deal that saved the Islamic State in Raqqa.

All credit to him.



Update: Alan at Biased BBC has a different point of view, and lots of other people have also been responding to Quentin Somerville on Twitter questioning how 'exclusive' this 'scoop' is and just 'secret' this 'dirty secret' was.

If it was such 'a secret' and if such 'great pains were taken to hide it from the world', then why did the BBC itself report it a month ago in its main news report announcing the fall of Raqqa?


And the BBC posted this report on 13 October, just before Raqqa fell, also claiming it as 'an exclusive':


In the report, BBC Arabic’s Feras Killani says:
The BBC has learned that local tribal leaders have made a deal to allow the safe passage of the remaining IS fighters who live in the city. In return the Americans would release all the civilians being held as human shields. Meeting with the Americans the elders from Raqqa say the agreement would stop the destruction of the city and save the lives of countless civilians.
The report shows the SDF, the Americans and the Raqqa elders discussing the deal and making no attempts to hide it from the BBC!

And, as Alan notes, the British newspapers at the time (mid-October) were also reporting the 'dirty' deal, eg, this from the Telegraph on 14 October:


Re-reading Quentin Somerville's report after all of this calls for the complete withdrawal on my part of my 'stonking exclusive' claim. (That will teach me to be so gullible). It appears to be more of a re-hashing of old news for what looks to be sensationalist, self-promoting reasons.

Yes, QS has obtained some exclusive interviews with people involved in the convoy but that's as far as his 'exclusive' really goes, doesn't it?

And that's not what he's claiming for his 'exclusive'. He's claiming something much bigger, that it's about uncovering a 'dirty secret' which lots of people have been desperately covering up.

What is Quentin Somerville playing at? What is the BBC playing at? 

Monday, 13 November 2017

The BBC finds Nick Bryant wanting





It's typical though that they only "partly upheld" the complaint.

The fine folk who reside in the desparate-last-ditch-effort sector of the BBC's complaints process (of what scientific pedigree or level of knowledge?) still judged the main thrust of Nick's report to be "soundly-based", even though they found him to be grossly inaccurate on that one specific point...

...which, I must say, is jolly nice of them.

Losing the plot



This was the lead story on tonight's BBC One News at Six:
Good evening and welcome to the BBC's News at Six. Ever since the Brexit vote MPs on all sides of the Commons have been demanding a greater say in how it's achieved. Today the Government appears to have offered a major concession. The Brexit Secretary David Davis says a vote on the final deal will be guaranteed by a new piece of legislation. Labour has called it "a climb-down". But the offer came with a warning: If MPs do vote against the deal, whatever it is, the Government says that Britain will still leave the EU, but without an agreement. 
And it wasn't just Labour calling it "a climb-down". The BBC's political editor Laura Kuenssberg herself openly called it "this climb-down" too - thus rendering the BBC's dubious 'degrees of separation' framing ("So-and-so has called it...") utterly redundant:
That's not what this climb-down from the government is really about. 
But was it "a climb-down" though? Or was it, in fact, nothing particularly new? 


I heard this story today and thought, "Er, isn't this old news?". I just couldn't work out why it was being presented as an earth-shattering piece of 'breaking news' that was bringing this tottering government tottering ever nearer to its total destruction. 

Yes, David Davis said a specific piece of legislation will be put forward to confirm Parliament's final say, but Theresa May said that Parliament would get the final say ages ago.

And, as Alan notes, the Brexit minister David Jones told Parliament in February that Parliament would get the final say on whatever Brexit deal emerged and that the vote would be either to accept the deal or to accept no deal (see the Guardian's account here). 

So what's exactly dramatically new about this story? And why are the BBC joining Labour in making such a big fuss about a Government climb-down here?

Help please! I really don't get it. Are me and Alan missing something? Or are the likes of Laura K (and Nick R) engaging in some kind of collective BBC reporting 'amnesia' (or something much worse)? 

Any answers from you will (as ever) be gratefully received. 

Sunday, 12 November 2017

More Holiday Madness

S’funny what people get up to on their hols. Colluding with foreign governments, drug-smuggling, trying to bring down the Ayatollahs’ government while slapping on the suntan lotion. They’re all at it. 

As Craig has rightly pointed out, Alan at Biased-BBC recalls a time - it seems like a lifetime, but it’s only about ten days ago - when no-one saw anything provocative in someone taking some holiday-time-out to do a spot of teaching.

One minute it was a harmless-sounding sideline during a family visit, next minute it was a pretext for the mad mullahs to up the ante and double up on the incarceration.

The bit about teaching journalists turned out to be a figment of Boris’s lack of imagination. However, even if she had been, teaching journalists is not exactly spying. 

I mean, isn’t accusing a visitor to Iran of ‘being a spy’ kind of par for the course? Especially when they hold  a British / Iranian passport. You know what they’re like. It’s okay, it’s their culture;  incarceration is the inevitable consequence of picking a bad holiday destination.

Charging her with spying and locking her up is still not actually Boris’s fault. The Boris-bashers disagree. Boris, they insist, should have foreseen that the mad mullahs would use his clumsy “misspeak” as a pretext for doubling the length of her sentence, barmy as this is.

They argue that “teaching journalism” (mysteriously upgraded to “training journalists”) was bound to infuriate the mad mullahs, and Boris should have known better; and they do have a point, even if we have to ignore the possibility that going to Iran for a holiday is a provocation in itself.


But so incensed with Boris are they that they’ve lost sight of the fact that, as Michael Gove reminded us on the Marr show, that whatever Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe was doing on her hols, she was neither spying nor trying to bring the Iranian government down. So charging her with spying and locking her up  at all, let alone for goodness knows how long,  is completely unjustifiable.

Her husband is adamant that she was merely visiting family, which invites the Rice-Davies response, but the government’s (and the BBC’s) official line (that his word must be taken at face value) equally qualifies for a robust “They would, wouldn’t they.”

Obviously Andrew Marr deliberately tried to force Michael Gove into a no-win corner with his carefully phrased question:  “What was she doing?” and obviously if Gove had said he knew she was on holiday it immediately throws Boris under a bloody great red bus. He had little alternative but to say, quite truthfully, that he didn’t know, (How could he know?) Seemingly cornered; but with one bound he set himself free. He said her husband is the person who should know, and he has said she was. Nimble thinking macht frei.

The next thing we know is that the BBC has plucked an honest answer to a tricksy, intentionally  provocative question from its proper context and headlined with it mercilessly all day.  

As for the three-way Twitter conversation that Craig has highlighted - (has James O”Brien been dumped? ) having a go at Andy Marr sounds like sour grapes.

Tom Newton-Dunn takes a swipe at Boris and Gove, bagging two for the price of one. 

As for Marr’s failed attempt to force Gove to denounce either Boris or the government, Craig’s bf. Rob Burley plays “innocent face”. 

Oh dear. The response was 'surprising to many'? To the BBC, maybe. They should have known that Marr is no match for Gove. 

No matter. The BBC took it out of context and ran with it anyway.

Sarcasm, passive aggression and the BBC



Donald Trump's sarcastic tweet about the big-boned North Korean god-dictator...


...has been described by Sky News, quite rightly, as "sarcastic". 

(It's the sort of thing I'm rather prone to too).

BBC News, however, calls it "passive aggressive" - which, surely, isn't quite le mot juste here. 

Both terms however - "passive aggressive" and "sarcastic" - fit neatly together in a new article on the BBC News website tonight by BBC reporter Aleem Maqbool:


The whole thing is quite breathtaking (so please keep your inhalers close at hand before you read it).

Seriously, please read it and prepare to gasp at its lack of impartiality. It's absolutely saturated in sarcastic passive aggression.

If any passing BBC editors take up my request and, after reading it, really think this piece is an example of 'impartial BBC reporting' then may I very humbly suggest that they should urgently request an emergency appointment with an occupational therapist (for starters)?

It's an op-ed, pure and simple. A sarcastic, passive aggressive, one-sided op-ed.

You will, of course, either agree with or disagree with his opinionations. But, regardless of what you think, 'impartial' this Aleem Maqbool piece most certainly ain't

Nazanin



Alan at Biased BBC has ferreted out a 1st November report from the Independent that, in the light of everything that's followed on the Boris/Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe story, makes for fascinating reading. 

It shows how uncontroversial and widely-welcomed Mr Johnson's remarks were until, a few days later, they suddenly became controversial and widely-reviled. 

The game-changer was an Iranian judicial decision (if it can be dignified with such a term) to bring her back to court on the basis of Boris's remarks. 

Partisans here are getting fired up, and - weirdly - Brexit seems to be the dividing line. 

Michael Gove has now found himself attracting flak too for his comments about the case on this morning's Andrew Marr Show. Mr Gove was defending Boris Johnson and, in doing so and in responding to a question from Andrew Marr ("What was she doing when she went to Iran?"), replied "I don't know". And when pressed ("You say that you don’t know what she was doing. Her husband is very clear that she was there on holiday with her child") replied, "Well, in that case I take exactly her husband’s assurance in that regard". And when Andrew pressed again ("So was she training journalists?") replied, "Well, her husband said that she was there on holiday, and her husband is the person who should know."

To some he was merely being honest; to others he was compounding the lie about Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe. 

The fired-up Brexit Partisan brigades then began amplifying it all - "You're jumping on an anti-Brexit bandwagon", "No, you're a bunch of nasty right-wingers determined to protect Johnson at all costs", etc.

And the BBC, whose lead reporters have been vocal and unequivocal (especially on Twitter) in their criticism of Boris Johnson over this, splashed their news website for a while today with:


Ah for the days when the likes of Lord Palmerston could order in British forces and daringly rescue distressed damsels like Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe from the clutches of foreign tyrants!

I do hope this turns out well for her and her family. And soon.

*******

Meanwhile, on the 'complaints from both sides' front, here's James O'Brien - occasional Newsnight presenter - complaining about The Andrew Marr Show, and the programme's editor (as he does) then responding to that criticism:



James O'Brien doesn't strike me as the sort who'll ever let someone else have the last word, so this is bound to go on until even Rob loses the will to live and gives JO'B the final say. 

"Nobody said it would be his hard"



This past week saw Radio 4 broadcast the second series of former BBC Brussels correspondent Chris Morris's Brexit: A Guide for the Perplexed

I found the last series to be heavily anti-Brexit biased - as you can read here - so I'll admit that I wasn't expecting something particularly neutral or particularly nutritious (mentally-speaking) this time round either.

And, yes, this series followed on - in more ways than one - from the last one. 

But if you really want to study BBC bias in action then please listen to the episode on immigration

If there's one subject guaranteed to bring out the worst of BBC bias other than the EU it's surely immigration, and when the two are combined then the bias is pretty much bound to rocket towards the outer spiral arm of the Andromeda Galaxy and beyond.

As is so often the case with this kind of biased programme there was a sop towards impartiality. 

Here it was the presence of Lord Green of Migration Watch - the organisation that has most accurately forecast the massive shifts in the UK's population over the last couple of decades. Chris introduced him as an "ardent advocate" opposed to mass immigration.

In contrast, Madeleine Sumption of the Migration Observatory - whose record of prediction is woeful in comparison and who is pro-immigration - was introduced as a disinterested expert.

Lord Green was challenged by Chris Morris with long, contradicting questions, and Madeleine wasn't - quite the reverse (Madeleine being asked reinforcing questions instead). 

And who else did we get? A pro-immigation lawyer, a Polish businessmen running Expat Exit ('stealing' high-powered EU workers - the ones who boost our economy - from the UK) and a small businessman who relies on EU workers and desperately wants the free movement of people to continue. 

And crisis, nasty surprises, etc, are all on the cards, apparently.

"Woe, woe and thrice woe!" again. 

This isn't impartial reporting. It merely pretends to be impartial reporting. 

And has the BBC fact-checked this too?



Honest Reporting has a post today about a BBC Travel article headlined Israel's ancient underwater treasure. 

They say, quite rightly, that it's an interesting piece, but they note something peculiar about it: there's a missing word that begins with 'j'. 

The BBC piece focuses on the discovery of 2,000 gold coins in the sea near what is now the Israeli city of Caesarea but avoids the word 'Jews', merely (and bizarrely) calling the 1st Century inhabitants of the area "the native people". 

Isn't that quite something (he says, putting it mildly)?

I have to say though that Honesting Reporting may only have scratched the surface of the historical perversity of this BBC article. 

The BBC piece says that Caesarea was "the capital of Roman Palestine...by 6AD", even though it was actually the capital of Roman Judea at the time. It was only in the 2nd Century AD that Hadrian changed the name of the province from Judaea to Syria-Palestina. 

And that's just for starters. The author - one Breena Kerr - also wrote this: 


The bit about the city coming under Cleopatra's control "sometime after 96BC" immediately aroused my suspicions as it's suspiciously vague, and Cleo was only born in 69BC. 

Plus, I'm not at all sure about Breena's "the infamous Roman emperor" bit. She doesn't name the 'infamous' Roman emperor, and I'm guessing she means Julius Caesar, who wasn't an emperor. Herod the Great actually named it after the actual first emperor Augustus (Caesar Augustus), who - by the standards of Roman emperors at least - was one of the least "infamous" emperors. 

Does she actually know what she's talking about?

Has the BBC fact-checked this?


This morning's Sunday on Radio 4 marked Remembrance Day by, among other things, featuring an interview with Hayyan Ayaz Bhabha, secretary of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on British Muslims. 

That's a very 'Sunday' thing to do!

Hayyan is also associated with Muslims in WW1, a group dedicated to investigating "the global allied Muslim contribution in the First World War", and Sunday invited him on this morning to tell Radio 4 listeners about the group's startling claim that the number of Muslims fighting for the allies in World War One has been massively underestimated. 

The traditional figure,  Ed Stourton informed us, is 900,000, but Hayyan reckons it's more like over two-and-a-half million - and that, he says, is "just scratching the surface" and that the actual figures will be "much higher". 

It emerged, however, during the course of the interview that Muslims in WW1 is including labourers as well as soldiers to achieve these high figures. Ed asked if it's right that that's "not traditionally been done" and Hayyan replied, "I'm not sure" - which doesn't exactly inspire me with confidence.

One for More or Less or the BBC's Reality Check maybe. (As if!)

Also, as the interviewed closed, Ed asked him why the number of Muslims serving in the British Army now is so "tiny" (just a few hundred, a mere 0.5% of the total). Hayyan replied that Muslims in the UK aren't comfortable with some of the UK's recent military interventions, especially in Muslim majority countries. And guess what his solution is to that? Yes, he wants the Government to listen more to Muslim concerns. And Ed then closed the interview. 

I'm wondering what the 'true' Hindu and Sikh numbers are? Is anyone investigating that?

Mark Mardell goes too far



It always amazes me how Mark Mardell has managed to get away with years of biased broadcasting without ever getting his comeuppance. (No offence!)

Today, however, the effluent may have finally hit the apparatus with rotating blades that creates a current of air for cooling or ventilation. 

Yes, he went too far even for Radio 4 audiences, who famously know their punk. 

On today's The World this Weekend, Mark described The Clash as "probably the most important punk band ever". Oh dear! "No, that was The Sex Pistols", went up a cry which shook the world. 

This is the biggest bias allegation he's faced since he said the Rolling Stones are better than the Beatles - and, worse, that the Beatles are rubbish. 

P.S. I hope that Mark paid for that ticket to the Clash tribute concert himself (if it cost anything). I do hope it didn't come out of the BBC licence fee. 

Frequent licence-free funded trips to Lake Como are bad enough but expenses-paid Clash concerts would be so beyond the pale that the pale (whatever that is) would be lost from sight forever. 

Marr matters


Mr. Marr's Sunday Morning Service didn't open with the words "Polyphiloprogenitive/The sapient sutlers of the Lord" but with this reassuring homily instead:
Good morning to you. Remembrance Sunday. A day for many of us to reflect on relatives killed in war, but also a day, perhaps, to look around us at the somewhat scary-seeming world we're living in now, and to reflect over many decades past, the outlook for Britain was much, much more perilous.
Amen.

*******

No caption needed from me

There was an exciting bit of (pre-watershed) BBC-on-BBC action on the Marr sofa this morning with James 'Scoop' Landale acting as one of Andrew's paper reviewers. I was particularly taken by this exchange, which neatly punctured a line that hardline Remainers are pushing today (via the Observer):
Andrew Marr: James, can I ask you about Northern Ireland? That is another really, really important hard-edge political story today.  
James Landale: Really important story, which hasn't been sorted yet.  What I thought was really interesting in this piece in the Observer is just the scale of the robustness of the briefing that the EU... We always forget ...We kind of think that this is just a...that only the Brits brief. Actually the Europeans brief very hard. There's one fantastic quote here where a senior EU official is quoted as saying, "My impression is that this issue of Northern Ireland isn't a priority for the UK". I mean, if I was a UK negotiator, I'd find that deeply offensive. There's also an amazing quote from Sir Andrew Duff, an incredibly powerful pro-European MEP, who accuses...who says that Britain is experiencing "a Weimar collapse", which is overstatement to say the least!  
Andrew Marr: Absolutely. There is a lot of very aggressive briefing coming from Brussels, and we shouldn't forget that.
I have to say though that I don't think I've ever thought that "only the Brits brief". I - and I bet you - have never been guilty of "always" forgetting that the EU engages in "very aggressive briefing". I think it's a revealing little insight into BBC thinking that this very obvious thing seems like something of a revelation to James Landale. 

*******

Camilla Tominey

Another interesting exchange during the paper review this morning was between Andrew and the Sunday Express's political editor Camilla Tominey:
Andrew Marr: Before we get to that, I just want to ask you one thing. I've noticed over the last few weeks and months that the Sunday Express, your paper, is putting politics much more often on the front page than it used to. It's politics, politics, politics, which is not what we used to get from the Sunday Express. Why?  
Camilla Tominey: Well, to be fair, we've always splashed on hard news stories. I know the Daily is sometimes associated with health stories, but we've always gone for the news of the week. Politics is selling for us, and that's really good, and I think we always do the kind of 'Sunday lunch test' when we think what we're going to splash on - what are people talking about? - and I think our readers have felt vindicated by the Brexit vote and want to read more about it. Fisheries is a particularly emblematic story, which is why we put it on the front page today.
By coincidence, I was just thinking that I'd noticed that Camilla herself was being invited onto the BBC more - and certainly more than her recent predecessors. She's been on Question Time and now she's been on The Andrew Marr Show. And I think that's really good. 

*******

An intense moment with Michael Gove

As for the two main political interviews - with Sadiq Khan and Michael Gove - well, my old interruption coefficients show that Mr Khan (1.0) was interrupted more frequently than Mr Gove (0.8) but my subjective impression is that Mr Gove received the tougher interview. 

Sadiq Khan was questioned on (1) Boris and Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, (2) transport fares, (3) housing, (4) Uber, (5) clean air, (6) Trump and (7) Brexit. 

Michael Gove was questioned on (1) the Green-Left lobby's praise for him, (2) Boris and Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, (3) Boris again, (4) Brexit, (5) the environment post-Brexit and (6) clean air. 

"Are you an Uber man?", Andrew asked Sadiq. 

"With respect that is not good enough", Andrew scolded Michael. 

"It's part of democracy when we point out democratic mistakes, I would argue", Andrew also reprimanded Michael. 

And "Dig for Victory!" Andrew chimed in when Mr Gove was outlining the post-Brexit future for farmers. Hmm.

*******

Guess who?

Of course, no Sunday would now feel wholly complete without some Rob Burley Twitter action, and the Andrew Marr Show editor has been busy again this morning defending his programme from all manner of interesting people.

Yes, I know there's something of old Bedlam (where the public were permitted to laugh at the mad inmates) about my presentation of all of this, but unlike that horrible spectacle from a bygone age, this is actually funny. 

And this week's selection features some bonus sane people for good measure.

So please purchase your popcorn and take your seats, ladies and gentlemen. Let's begin!...


Rob Burley: Team news...Full #marr line up: (3-5-2) Landale, Hinsliff, Tominey, Khan, Gove, Peach, Bell, Bening, Parker, Dyson, Rock. Kick off 9am tomorrow BBC1.

Tim Fenton‏: The Sunday Express has a real political editor? 
Rob Burley: Yes, she's on the telly.
Tim Fenton: Seen her - just a surprise that the Desmond press needs anyone to edit what they put out.
J-P. Janson De CouĂ«t‏: #SackBorisJohnson

jeane macmillan‏: I'm be interested to know how you justify the lack of female representation on the show this morning.
Rob Burley: Hi Jeane - fair point. Last week the opposite was true, just one man. But to an extent we are dependent on who the parties put forward. So I agree, the balance today not as I would have it.

Scott Reid: Almost all of this interview should be on Sunday Politics London.
Rob Burley: Well he is the mayor of London...
Chris Peatfield‏: So please rename Marr to this is London Politics
Rob Burley: Relax, it's not really a problem. I'm sure people outside London care about Trump and Johnson stories.
Craig Duncan: When scripting #Marr s question why not just ask him - “What’s your prepared answer on this contentious issue I won’t press you on?”
Rob Burley: Just a load of old tosh that one Craig.
Craig Duncan: I know you think that… or it wouldn’t happen - but interviewees are being let off with so much. Maybe it’s just the style of the sort of show your bosses want and your hands are tied.
Rob Burley: No, the idea of bosses dictating to me is a fantasy. We ask tough questions and pursue them but we're not rude and hear people out and time isn't limitless.
Craig Duncan: I think that enroute in the cab politicians would view an interview with Marr a breeze while dread an interview with Neil. That’s the difference. However I REALLY do appreciate and respect you not ignoring complaints like mine and others Rob.
[Rob Burley liked.]

Peter Kirkham‏: Met police collapsing in the #CrisisInPolicing. Police stations closing all around. Commissioner  giving unprecedented warnings over more cuts to come... And when @AndrewMarr9 @MarrShow has @MayorofLondon on he doesn't ask a SINGLE question on. Policing! Why not @RobBurl 
Rob Burley: Fair point. We had a very short period of time because he was leaving for the Cenotaph.

Rob Burley‏: @Dyson announces new electric car with driverless element. . .
WWICK: Brilliant, fewer unchallenged politicians on #Marr please, more entrepreneurs and business leaders (not associations or federations).
Rob Burley‏: If you think Sadiq Khan was "unchallenged" your telly is on the blink.
.Ah Magners‏: Don’t watch it any more because it’s basically a vehicle to allow Tories to spout their pish unchallenged.
Rob Burley: Pish backatcha. Your telly must be faulty too. Actually watch the show and you will see - as with M Gove today - the challenge is present and correct.
.Ah Magners: Be too much time out of my life I’d never get back. How many right wingers you have on this morning.
Rob Burley: If you can't be bothered to watch - because let's face it you're a massively busy person who just happens to be arising around on Twitter - I can't be bothered to answer your stoopid questions!
Rob Burley: Sorry, I meant "arsing" nor "arising".

Rob Burley: Get your tellies on. ... #marr
Minnie rolfe: I have got my telly on and I'm staggered by the differential, sycophantic tone of #Marr towards tax dodger Brextremist, Dyson compared with his Punch and Judy badgering of @SadiqKhan, can @MarrShow editor check the footage and respond.
Rob Burley: One of them is a politician with a record to defend, the other a businessman hence the tone difference. I note you don't like him, or Brexit, but that's not really how we approach interviews.

Pie Thagoram‏: Again Marr doesnt challenge Gove on £350m "gross" figure, needs to clarify the rebate to viewers
Rob Burley: Oh come off it.
Pie Thagoram‏: sorry Rob, you are reaffirming the view as the Brexit Broadcasting Corporation #unacceptable
Rob Burley‏: I see what you did there. Amazing.

Stewart Lewis: I'm afraid it was as you feared, and a bit worse.  Not a whiff of challenge to Dyson, but strong pushback on Sadiq Khan.  Makes you wonder a bit...
Rob Burley: Makes me wonder whether you missed the Gove interview Stewart.

And finally...


Rob Burley: Wow! You go to a lot of trouble to announce you aren't going to watch #marr and, at the same time, quote the show you say you missed, almost as if you didn't miss it. There are even pictures!
Damon Evans: I took screenshots from the start/line-up of the programme. Switched off immediately after. Gove is enough to put anyone off their breakfast.
Rob Burley: Honest, I put it on, took some screen shots and then turned it off straight away! I think you want to watch it really. Don't fight it.
Damon Evans: Haha. I usually do watch it (and often defend @AndrewMarr9 against the masses who accuse him of Brexit bias). However, I really couldn’t stomach it this morning. Hopefully next week the line-up won’t be as nauseating.
Rob Burley: It's Philip Hammond and John McDonnell? How's the tummy with that?
Damon Evans: Turning.

*******

P.S. The interview with Sir James Dyson is well worth catching up on. As was the Stanley Spencer bit and the closing song. You can't beat a bit of Butterworth and Housman. 

Trouble with Twitter Tribbles


Veering wildly off-topic (even though our blog's sub-heading allows us to go as 'off-topic' as we like), why does my Twitter feed keep on recommending William Shatner for me to follow in my 'Who to follow' suggestions? 

In Memoriam



In Memoriam (Easter, 1915) by Edward Thomas (3 March 1878 - 9 April 1917)  
The flowers left thick at nightfall in the wood
This Eastertide call into mind the men,
Now far from home, who, with their sweethearts, should
Have gathered them and will do never again.