Thursday, 27 May 2010

Sticking the knife in.

I wasn't going to make a post tonight, I was going to have a nice chill out now that all my Osce's are done. (It went great today if you're interested) But then this gem popped onto my screen and I would hate to miss out on any opportunity to stick one in the back of this Cameron government. Just for fun I'll give you the whole statement direct from the mouths of the BBC editors, enjoy:

"So here goes. This week, for the first time in my three years as executive editor of Question Time, we were told by Downing Street that a cabinet minister would only appear on the programme if another member of the panel was replaced. According to No 10, a senior member of the cabinet was available to do Question Time but only if Alastair Campbell was replaced by a member of the shadow cabinet.
Very obviously, we refused and as a result no minister appeared, meaning that the government was not represented on the country's most-watched political programme in Queen's Speech week - one of the most important moments in the Parliamentary calendar.

No 10 stated that the objection to Alastair Campbell was that he was not an elected Labour representative or a front-bencher. Not only is Alastair Campbell one of the most senior and influential figures in the Labour movement - an architect of New Labour - but Labour ministers regularly appeared on Question Time panels when the then opposition was represented either by someone outside of the front bench or by an unelected panellist - sometimes even a prospective Parliamentary candidate. It is not an argument or an objection that bears scrutiny.

It is a fundamental principle of our independence that politicians cannot dictate who sits on the panel. It is for Question Time, not for political parties, to make judgments about impartiality and to determine who is invited to appear in the interests of the audience. Parties are free of course to accept or reject those invitations, but they do not have a right of veto over other panellists. Licence fee payers rightly insist that the BBC must be free from political interference.
Gavin Allen is executive editor, Question Time."

Well well, looks like the 'new politics' we're getting really isn't that great after all. I mean, to lose a debate is one thing, but to refuse to take part? That's just poor. You can't claim you want to make politics transparent and then have these cheap tricks.

But I do thank them for it, I always enjoy a good Tory roast :)


Liam said...

I wondered if you'd pick up on this.

The government (both Lib Dem and Conservative, not just the Tories who you love to bash!) has the right to request what it wants, just the same as the BBC has the right to decline.

Question Time is supposed to be a politics show, why would the coalition want to send a proper politician up against two Labour media moguls, who can forget Piers Morgan's "interview" with Brown. Why does the BBC think it appropriate to even have Alistair Campbell on the show? He's a one man propaganda machine, he's not a politician, he's not a spin doctor, he's a professional "baiter" and wouldn't offer any opinions. QT is supposed to be a fair and open show not a show for the masses who want to see drama.

Chris said...

Ah, you can't be surprised that I picked up on it surely? ;)
I agree, its as much to do with the Lib Dems as it is the Tories. I'm also not going to say the leadership definitely knew about it (Although I'd be surprised if they didn't). But its a pretty shocking faux pas on the part of the coalitions comm's team.
No party has the right to decide who goes on the show, they can refuse to send a certain member of their party but they have no right to try and interfere with the independence of the BBC. And it wasn't just requesting Campbell wasn't part of it, it was the fact that they said unless he was replaced they would refuse to send someone. That isn't a request, its an ultimatum.
And Campbell might not be a politician but there are few who have as extensive a knowledge of Labour policy so to say he's not a suitable panellist is just wrong.
If the coalition wants to be 'open' then lets have them debate everyone, regardless of how much they dislike them, and show why they have the right ideas.