BBC BLOGS - The Editors
« Previous | Main | Next »

Texting Tony Blair

Rod McKenzie Rod McKenzie | 13:57 UK time, Thursday, 1 June 2006

When, if ever, is it right to tell the prime minister to FCUK off?

Radio One logoThis is the dilemma that faced us after a tidal wave of texts hit us when we told listeners that we were interviewing the PM. Judging from the texts and other interaction we received, they're fired up about the state of the government: "Useless", "pathetic", "crap", and "incompetent" were four of the more common and most printable words associated with the recent stories over the Home Office, Education, the deputy PM's trousers and more.

So when we rolled in to do the PM off the back of the pensions story we wanted to reflect some of this dis-satisfaction. Our audience uses vernacular and slang language and it's something we feel pretty comfortable reflecting on air and in the way we talk, too.

One texter put it succinctly: "Tony Blair when are you going to FCUK off?"

Our interviewer put the very quote to him, along with context - sourced to the listener. Blair was stunned, muttered "that's unhelpful" and moved on - he sounded genuinely, we thought, wounded for the rest of the interview.

Many listeners thought we'd gone too far and clearly felt sorry for him - he's the prime minister after all, we should be more respectful. Lots were angry, while on 1Xtra (where the interview was also broadcast), there was a more supportive reaction. You can hear the interview for yourself by clicking here.

Dun-D-Man wrote to us: "I was impressed 1Xtra would have the guts to put such a graphic question forward to the PM that reflects the views shared by some listeners". Another wrote: "Fair play to her for asking dem questions."

It was clearly a section of our large audience that we'd offended, which we can analyse by age and background. It's interesting stuff and gives me food for thought in future - on how we do context, set-up and impact of the 'real listeners' questions' - but I'm convinced we need to keep robustly reflecting the audience back to those in power.

That's our job after all.


  • 1.
  • At 03:42 PM on 01 Jun 2006,
  • Niamh wrote:

If it's OK to swear at the prime minister, does that mean you have to tell Cameron to f**k off too - just for the sake of impartiality? And don't tell me just because you had muddled up the letters it wasn't swearing.

I am astounded that you really think there is anything to "analyse" here. While I happily swear at my friends and family, I don't think it is acceptable to tell a stranger to f**k off. Regardless of his position in life.

  • 2.
  • At 04:37 PM on 01 Jun 2006,
  • Wilfred wrote:

If you are going to tell the PM to FCUK off, wouldn't it be a good idea to have a good follow up question up your sleeve? Certainly one that is better than: "Some of the texts we got this morning were asking about immigration and the Home Office. You can't deny cock up after cock up recently in the papers. Ummm. What are you going to say about that?"

Well the tone of the language would understandably throw someone - but it's a view and someone is entitled to it. Any Prime Minister (in my opinion) should now what people think of them. Sometimes it will be nice. Sometimes it won't.

It's not really a view is it.

It's simply an insult.

Was asking this question in this way useful? Did anyone learn anything as a result?

  • 5.
  • At 03:39 PM on 28 Jun 2006,
  • Elwyn Jones wrote:

If the person who sent the text was the relative of a British soldier killed in Iraq, or an Iraqi civilian killed by coalition forces, some might say they were justified.

  • 6.
  • At 04:44 PM on 28 Jun 2006,
  • Tim Dennell wrote:

A little diplomacy would have been in order. Just saying many questioners are asking 'when are your going to stop being PM?' or 'when will you step down?' would do the same.
Bear in mind that people who feel most strongly about something are those who are most likely to contribute to your 'questions' or go on a demonstration etc.
Imagine the same request for questions for Margaret Thatcher at the height of the miners strike!

Otherwise, putting it the way you did sounds like your trying to 'get down wid da kidz'.
If you want listeners to have a voice, then arrange the opportunity for them to speak directly with the PM.

I assure you many of us have far harsher things to say to our beloved leader:

  • 8.
  • At 10:59 PM on 07 Sep 2006,
  • Sally Crookes wrote:

Please will the media stop hounding Tony Blair,these last few days have shown them up to be hypocritical and backstabbing. He has been a very sincere P.M. admitted that mistakes are sometimes made, but he deserves our respect.

  • 9.
  • At 09:00 PM on 12 Sep 2006,
  • Former Lib Dem Parliamentary Candidate wrote:

Why do so many people hate Tony Blair? He's our Prime Minister and, as someone who has never voted for him or his party, I say that he deserves our respect. He'll be gone soon - as will his party of course. He was the only reason that a Labour government had any attraction to those of us not automatic Labour voters. Internationally he gave us clout and credibility, notwithstanding his error in supporting Bush. Which UK leader would have said "no" to Bush in their hour of need anyway?
Brutus and his cronies have killed him off politically in this country, long before he should have gone. I think they'll rue the day.

This post is closed to new comments.

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.