Thursday, September 8, 2011

Question Time “Paranoid” at Unpredictable Audience Tonight

The Question Time audience is often derided for being out of touch with mainstream public opinion and clapping contradictory arguments, but sometimes they cross the line. Back in 2001, just four days after the attacks on the Pentagon and the Twin Towers, the BBC was hit by one mighty PR disaster when their carefully selected, and oh so balanced, audience almost reduced a former US Ambassador to tears by repeatedly blaming America for the attacks, while the ruins were still smouldering. Director General Greg Dyke said at the time:

“…despite the best efforts of David Dimbleby and the panel, there were times in the programme when the tone was not appropriate, given the terrible events of this week. I have today spoken to Phillip Lader, the former US Ambassador to the UK who was on the panel, and apologised for any distress the programme may have caused him.”

Well we are ten years on and Guido hears that the BBC’s paranoia around tonight’s anniversary episode is intense. Producers are said to be particularly worried about the audience reaction to Reagan and Bush defence advisor, and the spiritual godfather of neo-conservatism, Richard Perle. Insiders say the audience has been “softened”. The programme’s production-company Mentorn declined to comment when Guido put it to them that there had been a significant re-jigging of audience members today…

The BBC press office are looking into the matter…

UPDATE Friday 09:00: The BBC got in touch over night to say usual practice applied to audience selection last night.

Couldn’t Organise A…

Rather optimistically this email has just gone out to Tory and LibDem MPs:

Dear Colleagues

We will be sending you an invitation to Labour Party Conference Events shortly.

Most grateful,

From the Office of
Geoffrey Robinson MP
Chairman
New Statesman

Omni-shambles…

UPDATE: Why is Geoffrey Robinson MP using his taxpayer funded parliamentary email address to send emails out for a commercial organisation in which he has a financial interest? One for the Sunlight Centre to investigate methinks…

Huhne Ally Grasping at Straws

The Mail’s Ephraim Hardcastle diary had an interesting snippet about Huhne this morning. It appears his defence lines are already being acid-tested. A source said:

“It’s very rare for a minister, while in office, to be charged with a crime. It’s also a very unusual case in that the man accused – and the wife accusing him – might both be prosecuted.”

It’s rare for a man purported to be of noble standing to hide behind his family in such a way, so Guido is unsure of the point there…

However it was the final line that really caught his attention:

“Huhne’s lawyers could argue there was an abuse of process in the way the case was brought to court.”

Er, how exactly? The CPS are being meticulous before they pull the trigger – going backwards and forwards to Essex Police. If they charge him it will all be by the book…

UPDATE: He’s got some cheek too:

The Yanks Know Marr is a Soft Touch

Another interesting snippet from Wikileaks’ State Department cables proves that Andrew Marr’s reputation as a patsy is global. In preparation for Hilary Clinton’s UK visit in 2010, the US Embassy in London noted that the Secretary of State should take time out of her schedule to do a pre-record with Marr. The reasons why are hardly a ringing endorsement for the BBC’s flagship interviewer:

“On the public diplomacy side, I hope you can take some time out to tape an interview with leading British journalist Andrew Marr, to be broadcast on his Sunday morning BBC TV talk show. The program, which reaches 1.5 million live and millions more on the web, is essential weekend viewing for Britain, often setting the week’s news and political agenda for the nation. The program could be taped at your hotel, at my residence or at the BBC studios in West London. It would be a powerful way for you to set out our priorities for Afghanistan/Pakistan, and underline our premier partnership with the United Kingdom. Marr is a congenial and knowledgeable interviewer who will offer maximum impact for your investment of time.”

Congenial? In other words a walkover…

Via News UnSpun

The Many Faces of George Osborne



Given his “crash and burn” joke at the GQ Man of the Year Awards the other day,  it’s unfortunate timing that a certain website has been spreading like wildfire around Treasury civil-servants today. Enjoy…

UPDATE: And it’s not getting any better for Boy George today:

Son of Brown Appoints Another Brownite to the Team

Miliband has appointed Tim Horton, the Research Director of the Fabian Society, to be his new senior policy advisor. It seems that the Son of Brown just can’t kick his addiction to his old master. Guess where Horton used to work? He was a policy analyst in the Treasury. Under Gordon...

Horton was so keen to defend the then Prime Minister he even took to Iranian State Television in 2008 to spin away. His output for the Fabians matches Ed’s big state, big spend mantra. It seems former Brown advisers like to keep it in the family…

Idiot Quote of the Day

You can tell LibDem conference is only eight days away, as the usually more sensible elements of the party don their sandals and grow their beards to play to the grassroots. Danny Alexander, who has defied expectations at the Treasury, is playing to the gallery this morning came out with an absolute corker in this morning’s Times…

In regard to our relationship with Europe, apparently:

“…we should be redoubling our effort, not looking at this as an excuse to further an agenda of weakening our ties.” 

It seems Beaker is still spinning for “Britain In Europe”…

Bell Doesn’t Ring True

Sir Stuart Bell is calling everyone else liars about his disdain for his constituency, his uncontactability and general B’stardish behaviour. He has form for such bluster, during the expenses crisis he acted as the trougher-in-chief and shop steward for MPs via the shameful Members Estimate Committee, doing everything in its power to frustrate meaningful reform and discovery of the truth. Night after night he would deny there was anything untoward in regard to MPs’ expenses, like a Comical Ali in pinstripes.

It has long been rumoured that Bell keeps a flat in Paris where he used to work as a lawyer. It is said that on Friday, or even Thursday afternoons, instead of getting the train north to his constituency he catches the Eurostar east to Paris for the weekend. Far away from the tiresome demands of his constituents. He admits to having written four novels and numerous short stories in Paris, where does a supposedly busy and dutiful MP find the time? Francophile Bell the boulevardier is secretary of the Franco-British Parliamentary Relations Committee in the Commons and a recipient of the Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur, presumably for services to the Paris restaurant trade.  No doubt he will claim that his weekends in the City of Light are parliamentary business…


Seen Elsewhere

Why Are Radicals Like Carswell Leaving Tories? | BBC
Danczuk: Rotherham Abuse Imported From Pakistan | Telegraph
Ashya King Case Shows How Authorities Get it Wrong | ConHome
The Carswell Show | Jon Craig
Cops Seized Journalist’s Phone to Out Whistleblower | Press Gazette
Chuka’s £2,500 Tax Avoidance Donation | Times
Another BBC Stitch Up? | David Keighley
Divided, Pessimistic Tories Expect Defeat | Alex Wickham
Labour Suspends Rotherham Council Members | Sky
PM Used Terror Crisis to Deflect From Carswell | Rachel Sylvester
Scotland Surges for Freedom | Times


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George Osborne rejects the Ice Bucket Challenge from Ed Balls:

“I’d rather pay the money to charity and pour cold water on his policies.”



Owen Jones says:

We also need Zil lanes.


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