Sunday, 16 July 2017


For those keeping note, this morning's Andrew Marr introductions (on BBC Breakfast and The Andrew Marr Show) ran as follows:

7:30am: Well, I have been covering politics for 30 years, following it for 40 years, and I cannot remember a morning when Cabinet level briefings and poison and feuds in the morning's papers were quite as bad as they are today. And the guy at the centre of it all, the target of many other Cabinet ministers, seems to be the Chancellor, Philip Hammond. He will be among my guests, as will his opposite number, John McDonnell. I've got the great, great musician Daniel Barenboim talking about his wife Jacqueline du Pré, and other events I'm not yet at liberty to divulge, but it will be a busy and interesting hour I can promise you that. 
9:00am: Good morning, if the government is to deliver a decent exit from the EU, and talks start again tomorrow morning, the first thing it has to do is stick together. Precious little sign of that this morning. The Sunday papers are brimming with the most poisonous cabinet briefings and feuds we have seen since the Referendum result. And in the cross hairs of the worst of the sniping, the Chancellor. So I am pleased that Philip Hammond, Chancellor of the Exchequer, joins us this morning to talk politics, public sector pay, and Brexit. And if the Tories go on for much longer like this we may see this man in Number 11, John McDonnell, wouldn't that mean higher taxes and even more debt? And  the great conductor Daniel Barenboim, on his love of the Proms and how he is keeping alive the memory of Jacqueline du Pré. And since we are feeling classical, there will be some Mozart as well. Reviewing the news this morning, I'm joined the former Labour adviser and stand-up comedian, Ayesha Hazarika, the former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith and refereeing them both, Jane Moore from the Sun. 


  1. Maybe Rob Burley reminded him of the Blair/Brown years, and the coup plot against Brown. Or Thatcher's final days.

    Highly unusual sofa panel balance!

  2. The clip they showed of Barenboim and his East/West Divan band reveals exactly why I can't stand it, and how everyone supports relatively poor music-making for a political cause. I've heard enough of the B-level youth orchestra playing over the years, egged on by Barenboim. His overly-mannered interpretations are meant to gloss over or distract from the flaws in the playing.

    And here we were just told that the BBC doensn't allow the Proms to be a political platform. At least it's a really good group this year, his Staatskapelle Berlin. There are good reasons to watch both of his concerts.

    I just laughed out loud at Marr using the 'Complaints From Both Sides' meme with Barenboim being accused by Iran of being a Zionist, while others accuse him of being anti-Israel. It means I'm getting it about right, says the maestro. YCMIU.

    1. I've found a page on the BBC website that lists all the Proms appearances of the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra at the Proms over the years. It proves how enthusiastic the BBC have been about them.

      They were invited in 2003, 2005, 2008, 2009 (two concerts), 2012 (five concerts), 2014, 2015 and 2016.

    2. That's even more than I thought. The Beethoven cycle was mediocre at best, and my criticisms above were mostly drawn from that. And I recall rave reviews for some of them. Feh.

      Another example of a pure political statement at the Proms is Floppy-Hair Dudamel and his Simón Bolivar (Youth) Orchestra. Three appearances, with the most egregious being last year's concert. This is the BBC celebrating the wonders of Socialism while the people of Venezuela were @#$^ing starving because of it.

      Having said that, there is one incident of forcing identity politics into a concert that I didn't mind so much. I didn't see it at the time, but have watched on YouTube (several times) the Rameau concert which featured the Buskaid Soweto Ensemble. Now, the easiest thing would be to say they were invited because they is black. And it would be true. But they can play! It's a good band, period instruments, even (a major plus in my biased view). It was part of a larger Rameau concert with Gardiner and the OAE, which featured costumed dancers doing some authentic and some very inauthentic modern stuff. Mostly very enjoyable, although one could certainly snark at the regietheater crap, especially shoving totally unrelated African costumes into the mix. It was a wonderful concert all the same, with nods to the humor where appropriate, drama, martial aspects, etc.

      The point is that it was an obvious PC/political statement to bring in the Soweto players. But it makes all the difference if they can play. The racialists at the BBC can pat themselves on the back for broadcasting black faces at the knuckledragging racist English viewers, but if you close your eyes, it's good stuff, music wins in the end, screw the BBC. I don't care what race or religion any of them are if they make good music, and neither should a BBC claiming not to allow political statements. It's the lying about it that's the worst.

      Full concert is here (low res video is all that's left up):

    3. The BBC certainly did go with Dudamel's Simón Bolivar (Youth) Orchestra in a big way for a while. (3 appearances, including that very famous one). Just Googling, it seems that Dudamel has finally dared to speak out against Maduro. His 'too little, too late' criticism has had a mixed response. As you'll probably know already, one of his Sistema musicians was killed by the regime there.

    4. Dudamel is complaining only because they ran out of other people's money and he can't occasionally bask in the glory of El Sistema. He was fine with it last year.