Late last night BBC’s Newsnight hosted an unbalanced GB News bashing panel where both Adam Boulton and Caroline Nokes called for the channel to be taken off-air because Laurence Fox was rude. Ofcom, when it ruled against GB News over impartiality, reminded broadcasters:
“The Code is clear that when programmes are dealing with matters of major political controversy and current public policy, the heightened special impartiality requirements apply. Specifically, Rules 5.11 and 5.12 require that an appropriately wide range of significant views must be included and given due weight in such programmes, or in clearly linked and timely programmes.”
Calling for the shutdown of a broadcaster because a presenter has behaved badly is an extreme stance. Despite the BBC’s roster of presenters including the likes of Russell Brand, Jimmy Saville and John Peel – all of whom behaved far worse than Laurence Fox – their misbehaviour has not resulted in calls for the station to be shut down. Newsnight’s panel did not constitute the required “appropriately wide range of significant views” as required by Ofcom. If co-conspirators want to make a complaint to Ofcom about Newsnight’s lack of impartiality they can do it here.
Over on Sky News earlier last night Guido’s editor was part of a more balanced discussion with Gina Miller where he derided the idiocy of Laurence Fox whilst defending the upstart station’s output and journalism:
Rival channels have a self-interested motive to protect what Adam Boulton phrased as the “delicate and important broadcast ecology” from the upstart channel which is regularly beating them in terms of ratings. Ava Evans herself opposes any move to close the channel. The calls for Ofcom to sanction the station come from politicians opposed to the political skew of the channel and the self-interest of rival broadcasters.
UPDATE: A co-conspirator points out Ofcom will only investigate a BBC-related complaint once the BBC complaints procedure has been exhausted. Complaints can be directed here…
Suella’s Illegal Migration Bill is up for its second reading in the Commons today, and while Downing Street had hoped to pass it without a hitch, Tory agitators on both the left and the right are kicking up a fuss this morning. For the wets, one brave Tory voice has joined the resistance with Gary Lineker and Alastair Campbell: Chair of the Women and Equalities Committee – and May-era Immigration Minister – Caroline Nokes. Speaking to Times Radio, Nokes claimed she was “horrified” by the Bill and planned to vote against it:
“I’ve made that clear to my whip, I can’t vote for this. I didn’t vote for the last one, I won’t be voting for this one. I might be an outlier in my party but I think we have an absolute duty to treat people humanely to keep people safe. I have absolute horror at the prospect […] I didn’t vote for the last nationality and borders bill, that hasn’t achieved its aim in reducing crossings. In fact, we’ve seen them increase, and I fail to see what this legislation is going to do to act as a deterrent.”
Nokes’ rebellion isn’t exactly surprising, given her record. One MP joked to Guido she’s “Conservative in name only” and “if it’s just her then it’s a good excuse for the whips”. Luckily for Nokes, however, she might not be alone after all. Reports of a rebellion from the Tory right to back an ECHR amendment could lead to a more significant challenge to the Bill. This morning the I reports at least two PPSs could quit in an effort to force the government to disentangle from the ECHR, joining “dozens” of backbenchers forcing a tougher approach. Over the weekend, the Telegraph also reported that moderate MPs were grumbling over the lack of “safe and legal routes”, although as one MP said to Guido this morning, with the likes of Damian Green on-board, the rest may now fall in line. Stay tuned as the Commons debate presses ahead this afternoon…
UPDATE: Chris Skidmore says he is “not prepared to break international law” and will not vote for the Bill tonight…
It’s a bad morning to be Nadhim Zahawi. On Question Time last night, his predecessor as Conservative Party Chairman, Jake Berry, publicly called for him to stand aside. After prefacing his comments with “I know Nadhim Zahawi very well, I’d consider him a friend”, Jake didn’t waste any time in throwing his mate under a bus:
“The government needs to find a mechanism for ministers and MPs who are under investigation in this way to step aside, to clear their name, and then to come back into government if that is appropriate. I think for Nadhim, great individual that he is, that would be the right thing to do now”
Berry insisted this was a long-term and consistent position, which he reinforced by confirming his view that Dominic Raab should also stand down. This just days after semi-detached-Tory Caroline Nokes publicly called for the same. With friends like these…
The morning papers would hardly have provided any relief for Zahawi. The Guardian splashes with calls for an inquiry into an unsecured £30 million loan for his wife’s company, whilst Bloomberg reports how Nadhim triggered a government security alert on a trip to Iraqi Kurdistan. This all comes as The Times details how the Prime Minister’s ethics adviser has been given access to the Zahawi’s complete tax settlement. Watch this space.
A cabal of left-wing MPs have, predictably, smelt blood and are going after Jeremy Clarkson. For anyone waking up from a four-day coma, Clarkson is under siege for writing a Sun column railing against Meghan Markle. One paragraph parodied a Game of Thrones scene:
“At night, I’m unable to sleep as I lie there, grinding my teeth and dreaming of the day when she is made to parade naked through the streets of every town in Britain while the crowds chant, ‘Shame!’ and throw lumps of excrement at her.”
Given Markle is the least popular member of the royal family bar Prince Andrew, Guido guesses many Brits may have been inclined to broadly agree with the sentiment of the piece. Instead the London-centric Twitter-sphere is apoplectic; getting the column taken down and forcing Clarkson into a sorry-not-sorry climbdown.
Oh dear. I’ve rather put my foot in it. In a column I wrote about Meghan, I made a clumsy reference to a scene in Game of Thrones and this has gone down badly with a great many people. I’m horrified to have caused so much hurt and I shall be more careful in future.— Jeremy Clarkson (@JeremyClarkson) December 19, 2022
For some reason, lefty MPs feel that this important issue is today’s national priority. Rather than the strikes, the economy, war on our continent, or at the very least just logging off ahead of Christmas…
Tory-in-name-only MP Caroline Nokes has spearheaded a letter on behalf of those “hurt” by Jezza’s “#NotAnApology”, demanding he instead issue “an unreserved apology… to Ms Markle immediately”.
“We further demand definitive action is taken to ensure no article like this is ever published again.”
The letter is signed by 64 MPs, mainly Labour and SNP. Guido notes that whichever of Nokes’s staff formatted the letter isn’t particularly savvy, given the top name of the second column is Clive Lewis. An MP whose primary contribution to feminism thus far was telling a woman to “get on your knees bitch”.
Guido’s no stranger to defending Clarkson in times of career trouble. The BBC, despite dismissing him for a fracas in 2015, often stood by him during rows about things he’d said or written.
Guido’s not so confident that the likes of Amazon – American distributors of his brilliant farming show – will have the same backbone this time around…
UPDATE: Meanwhile, the official letter from MPs accusing the Sun of editorial sloppiness includes signatories spelt as follows:
This afternoon, Caroline Nokes repeatedly grilled Boris over the government’s sexual harassment strategy – just two days after she accused the PM’s father, Stanley Johnson, of groping her in 2003. In the excruciating exchange, Nokes pressed Boris over the possibility of “making public sexual harassment a specific crime“, and the efforts to increase rape prosecutions across the country. Not an easy watch…
For reasons not entirely clear to Guido, Fathers for Justice have sent Caroline Nokes, and other members of her Women and Equalities Committee, white feathers. They want her to support the establishment of a Men’s Committee and the appointment of a Minister for Men. On their ten-point wish list is making misandry a hate crime. Guido has already celebrated International Men’s Day… by taking out the bins.