Following Guido’s reporting of ERG outrage at BBC Today’s Jim Naughtie slurring the ERG as far-right types equivalent to the French Front National he apologised last night:
“I was wrong to say in a live discussion this morning that members of the ERG would be happy in a far-right party. That was not my intention, because I don’t believe it. I was trying to make the point that if our parties fracture in some way after Brexit – on Right and Left – we could see a political landscape emerge that looks more like the rest of Europe than it does at the moment. But my words were ill-chosen and I’m sorry for any offence caused”.
The ERG’s Andrew Bridgen responds “I was grateful for Jim Naugthie’s ‘almost apology’, as the referendum demonstrated the ERG’s views are those of the mainstream majority.” Quite.
Tory MPs are absolutely livid after BBC presenter Jim Naughtie said on Today this morning that the ERG would be in the Front National if they were in France or the AfD in Germany:
“The ERG, Jacob Rees-Mogg’s group, in France would be in the National Front because that’s what they believe and in Germany they would be in the AfD. It’s only because of our system that the carapace of this party keeps them in…”
Former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith has slammed Naughtie’s “outrageous” comments and called for him to withdraw his “misleading and untrue” remarks:
“It’s outrageous for a supposedly neutral BBC commentator to suggest the ERG represent an extremist view. They are in fact representing the majority view of the country – that the UK should leave the EU and its institutions. Conservative politicians who feel strongly about Brexit are decent, tolerant, and completely opposed to racism in every form. Mr Naughtie needs to withdraw his remarks. They are misleading and untrue.”
No wonder people think the BBC is biased against Brexit when they come out with claptrap like that…
UPDATE: ERG whip Mark Francois said that if Naughtie doesn’t “completely and utterly” apologise he should be sacked.
“That is an appalling and disgusting slur on around 80 members of Parliament, I think that Mr. Naughtie should completely and utterly apologise, and if he doesn’t he should be sacked by the BBC. If they don’t sack him it shows what many of us have known all along, that the BBC is an utterly biased Europhiliac organisation.”
After 21 years, this morning was Jim Naughtie’s last time presenting the Today programme. John Major paid tribute:
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“I’ll miss you. Generally, you’ve asked the right questions, and mostly, you’ve listened to the answers.”
This will always be Guido’s favourite moment:
Ed Miliband was talking Corbyn on the Today programme this morning:
— BBC Radio 4 Today (@BBCr4today) November 23, 2015
Miliband: “I’m not gonna be a back-seat driver.”
Naughtie: “Well having crashed the car it’s difficult to do that.”
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Asked five times by Jim Naughtie if Labour would pay back a donation if it emerged the money came from someone who had avoided tax, two-faced Chuka wouldn’t give a straight answer:
JN: Can we take it as an absolute given that if you discover that anyone who’s given money to the Labour Party has been involved in aggressive tax avoidance, you give the money back?
CU: I think the Labour Party would think twice about accepting money from people who fit the description that you give…
JN: No, simple question: If you’ve taken it, from somebody who is discovered to have been involved in aggressive tax avoidance, will you give the money back?
CU: Well I’m not aware that we have taken money from anybody who’s engaged….
JN: No, but if it emerged, nor am I, but if it emerged that, are you going to be as good as your word? If it emerged, would you give that money back?
CU: Well as I said, I think the Labour Party found out that somebody was engaged in aggressive tax avoidance, we’d think twice before taking the money…
JN: But if you had taken the money you’d give it back?
CU: Well I’m not, I mean, you’re asking me a hypothetical question, because I’m not aware that we have taken it…
JN: Well most questions in the run up to an election are hypothetical. You’re talking about hypothetical questions about what you would do with business if you became a government. You aren’t a government. Therefore that’s hypothetical, this is hypothetical. Answer the question. If the money came from a tax dodger, would you give it back?
CU: Well I’m not aware that it has, that we have received any monies from people engaging in aggressive tax avoidance.
Well they wouldn’t want to give back those millions of pounds of cash from tax-avoiding Unite, would they? On Thursday the Electoral Commission releases the next donor data dump. Almost as if Chuka knows Labour’s backers aren’t as pious as the party’s leadership…