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Red tape reporting

Helen Boaden | 16:16 UK time, Tuesday, 14 August 2007

In a blog post entitled How BBC does Labour's dirty work, Iain Dale wrote that our coverage on Sunday of John Redwood's proposals to cut £14bn in red tape gave undue prominence to the Labour party's reaction to them. He writes: "[T]he BBC are starting all their news bulletins about John Redwood's Competitiveness Commission reports with the words...'The Labour Party has today criticised...' This has happened many times before. Instead of concentrating on the substance of a Tory policy announcement the BBC seem to revel in giving Labour Ministers the microphone to explain how whatever the policy happens to be is making the Tories more right wing than Michael Howard."

Voter X, a commenter to the same blog post, said that the use in a TV report of footage of John Redwood "failing abysmally to sing the Welsh Anthem" appeared to be "totally irrelevant and somewhat slanted". It's a line which was picked up in this morning's Sun, which claimed the BBC had made a joke of Mr Redwood's proposals. It also claimed that "the caustic bulletins could have been scripted by Labour ministers".

In retrospect we weren't right to use that footage again, which came from a long time ago. But as for the claims about the wordings of the bulletins, the facts just don't support Iain or the Sun. For the record, here are the opening words from each of our news stories:

BBC One/News 24, 6am: The Conservative leader, David Cameron, is considering radical plans to help businesses cut 14 billion pounds a year by cutting red tape and regulation. The proposals have been put forward by a senior figure on the right of the party, John Redwood. Labour says it's evidence the right had regained control of the Tory agenda.

Radio 4, 8am: "The Conservative leader, David Cameron, is considering radical plans to cut 14 billion pounds in red tape and regulation -- put forward by a senior figure on the right of his party, John Redwood. Labour says it's evidence the right has regained control of the Tory agenda."

Radio 2, 11am: "The Conservative leader, David Cameron, is considering plans to cut fourteen billion pounds in red tape and regulation, put forward by the senior right-winger, John Redwood. Labour says it's evidence those on the right are back in control of the Tory agenda. Mr Redwood wouldn't be drawn on specific details of his proposals."

BBC News website, Ceefax and Digital Text: "Tory leader David Cameron is looking at plans to cut £14bn in red tape and regulation for UK businesses. The plans have been put forward by John Redwood - one of the most senior figures on the Tory right - who called them "a tax cut by any other name". The focus is on easing regulation such as data protection laws, rules on hours, and health and safety regimes. Labour claims the proposals show the party is lurching back to the right in the face of disappointing polls."

Five Live, 11am: "Labour has condemned the latest review of policy carried out by the Conservatives as a lurch back to the right wing of politics. The review -- led by John Redwood -- identifies ways of deregulating business. The secretary of state for business, John Hutton, said the Tories were now more right wing than they had been under William Hague and Michael Howard.

News 24, noon: "The Conservative leader, David Cameron, is considering radical plans which the party claims could save businesses 14 billion pounds a year. The proposals would cut red tape and regulation, including data protection laws, and health and safety legislation.

BBC One, Lunchtime news, noon:
"Good afternoon. The Conservative leader, David Cameron, is considering radical plans which would cut fourteen billion pounds in red tape and regulations for businesses in the UK. They've been put forward by the former Cabinet minister, John Redwood. Labour claim that the right wing is taking control of the Tory party."

BBC One, 6.05pm: "It's being called a 'tax cut by any other name'. The Conservative leader David Cameron is considering a radical programme of cuts in red tape and regulation."

BBC One, 10pm:
"The Conservative leader David Cameron is considering a radical programme of cuts in red tape and regulation, especially for small businesses."

In addition, John Redwood was interviewed at length about his report by Peter Sissons on BBC One and News 24 on Sunday morning, on Five Live on Sunday, and on Radio 4's World Tonight on Monday. Naturally we included in our coverage the reaction from the Labour party, and also from the LibDems, the CBI and the TUC. There can be a temptation sometimes to present stories as merely matters of party politics, but despite what the Sun says, we believe that we gave good consideration to the substance of the proposals.

Comments

  • 1.
  • At 03:22 AM on 15 Aug 2007,
  • Mark wrote:

It's just one more of countless examples of BBC's war on the news trying every way possible to twist the reporting of it to serve a political agenda rather than just presenting the facts and allowing the audience to decide. Anyone in Britain who does not know who David Cameron is must have been living in a cave these years. And anyone who does not know that any proposal no matter how reasonable which could be of value to business will be attacked by the extreme left wing of the Labour Party as some kind of Fascist plot to destroy the working man by handing over the government to the capitalists must have been in a coma. So BBC is no different from the howling hyenas who put on a spectacle for the entire world to see every time Prime Minister's Question Time is broadcast. Using quotations of other people's characterizations of the facts as a disguise for expressing their own opinion and certainly never just letting the facts speak for themselves is another of BBC's many techniques. Comrade Boden can apologize for this one case because it is so transparently prejudicial, even a first year journalist student could not help but see right through it but who will apologize for BBC's other 999999999999999999 transgressions of objective journalism?

  • 2.
  • At 10:22 AM on 15 Aug 2007,
  • Ben wrote:

The message you are giving, load and clear is 'the tories are lurching to the right'.

For the BBC Conservatives are always 'Tories'.

Conservative ideas are 'right wing'.

Labour ideas are not left wing they are 'progressive'.

Also, why did you hide your recent programme on impartiality in a midday R4 politics programme? You certainly trail endlessly most of your rubbish output but not a peep out of you on that one.

  • 3.
  • At 10:31 AM on 15 Aug 2007,
  • Dan G wrote:

"Five Live, 11am: "Labour has condemned..." - and that's the exact words used by Five Live, the BBC's radio news service, throughout the day. I know, as I was listening.

So, actually, Iain Dale and the Sun were *right*.

BTW will you ever stop saying "we're sorry", "we apologise", "we shouldn't have done this or that" and instead say "we won't do it again"?

  • 4.
  • At 10:55 AM on 15 Aug 2007,
  • Elliot Spencer wrote:

Waste of time commenting here or anywhere else to the beeboids, they are biased to the core. Anti-British, anti-business, liberal fact-deniers and pro-EU, statist, socialist agenda-pushers to a man and woman. The sooner the biased BBC and the regressive telly-tax are abolished the better!

  • 5.
  • At 10:56 AM on 15 Aug 2007,
  • Robert Dimmick wrote:

Dan G thinks Iain Dale was right.
What Dale said was "The BBC are starting all their news bulletins..."
I don't know if the 9 bulletins quoted in the blog are a representative sample, but one out of nine is hardly "all".
Considering how damaging Redwood's ideas will be to the Tory party, perhaps they should be complaining about the other eight.

  • 6.
  • At 11:03 AM on 15 Aug 2007,
  • David murphy wrote:

The sooner the Bolshevik Broadcasting Corporation is abolished the better.

  • 7.
  • At 11:13 AM on 15 Aug 2007,
  • James K wrote:

Why do you include "The secretary of state for business, John Hutton, said the Tories were now more right wing than they had been under William Hague and Michael Howard" at all.

It has no relevance to the story whatsoever.

If John Hutton had said "The Tory Party is now the Fascist Party and also they beat their wives", would you have repeated that.

You are biased and you simply cannot ever see it.

  • 8.
  • At 11:19 AM on 15 Aug 2007,
  • Becky C wrote:

Dan G,

so across the 9 different services / programmes noted:

8 begin with 'the Conservative...' before any mention of Labour and 1 has Labour noted first. So no the Sun wasn't right.

All of them state the Tory proposals and the Labour reaction to them - what else are the BBC supposed to do? Say 'the Tories have said this but as the ruling party disagree we won't broadcast their reaction?

The BBC did what it is supposed to do, broadcast the new of the Tory proposals and the various (not just Labour) reaction to them.

  • 9.
  • At 11:25 AM on 15 Aug 2007,
  • antifrank wrote:

Your message is very carefully worded. You conclude your piece by stating that "we believe that we gave good consideration to the substance of these proposals". Given that you accept that it was wrong to use the clip of John Redwood singing the Welsh anthem on television, this reader concludes that while you might have given the proposals extensive coverage, you yourself are not convinced that you gave fair coverage.

In the interests of clarity, could you comment directly on whether you believe that all BBC coverage of this report(including the Five Live coverage, and bearing in mind the use of the clip of John Redwood singing the Welsh anthem) was fair? As an aside, I would also be interested to know how many people were involved or consulted in drafting this piece.

  • 10.
  • At 11:27 AM on 15 Aug 2007,
  • James S wrote:

I've already made a formal complaint about the use of John Redwood's archive footage but haven't had a response as yet.

I think that you need to go into more detail on the reasons that this was used and how you are going to stop making these mistakes again.

My way would be to get rid of the lefty fluffists from the BBC but I'm afraid that doing that will leave a couple of cleaners running the whole show.

  • 11.
  • At 11:28 AM on 15 Aug 2007,
  • Donald wrote:

Seems a bit odd that when you report a new conservative policy and the labour party reaction to it you can be accused of bias. If any of the previous posters thinks John Redwood is not on the right of the conservative party then I guess they might have a case.

If what people want is the party line from any one group with no reaction, discussion or analysis I suggest they just log onto the party in questions website and get sppn fed propaganda. If they want to form their own opinion perhaps hearing all sides, even those you disagree with is a good thing.

  • 12.
  • At 11:30 AM on 15 Aug 2007,
  • steve wrote:

The BBC were criticising the Tories from a leftist perspective.

Why no mention of successful tax-cutting economies e.g. Ireland?

  • 13.
  • At 11:34 AM on 15 Aug 2007,
  • Duncan wrote:

Amazing. The Right always scapegoats the BBC in order to avoid coming to terms with the real reason for their unpopularity - themselves.

  • 14.
  • At 11:35 AM on 15 Aug 2007,
  • WL Shepherd wrote:

The news headlines that I heard on Radio 4 struck me as blatently biased - irrespective of what you say above, the main focus was on John Hutton's comments condeming the report, when it had not even been fully outlined or adopted as policy. How could Hutton's response be relevant in the circumstances? It was in clear contrast to the approach adopted when the government issues any proposals, at which point the BBC seems to simply accept everything that its been told and spin the line required.

Its so obvious that there is a bias within the BBC that I cant beleive its even questioned.

  • 15.
  • At 11:50 AM on 15 Aug 2007,
  • William Battersby wrote:

If I was a member of the Labour Party, I'd be entirely happy with the way you reported John Redwood's announcement, and I'd also be happy with seeing old footage of him making a fool of himself as that's waht I'd want to see.

But I'm not. I'ma Conservative Party member (or 'Tory') so I don't like any of this and the story to me was seriously biased.

And since I'm forced to pay you a large poll tax each year in order to own a television, I'd like to see you adopt an non-Party bias in your news reporting

  • 16.
  • At 11:52 AM on 15 Aug 2007,
  • Neil Sterrett wrote:

Every one knows that the BBC holds very biased left wing and liberal views including the vast benefits of multiculturalism which it has been constantly advocating for years.
Too often the BBC puts forward these views whenever it can rather than just reporting the facts even thought they are contrary to what the Corporation believes to be in the Public's interest.

Why are the Conservatives called "the Tories" by the BBC but the Labourt party is not called "the socialists" or "the reds" or somesuch?

  • 18.
  • At 12:08 PM on 15 Aug 2007,
  • matthew wrote:

>> the use in a TV report of footage of John Redwood "failing abysmally to sing the Welsh Anthem" appeared to be "totally irrelevant and somewhat slanted".

>> In retrospect we weren't right to use that footage again, which came from a long time ago.

This is more than a little weak isn't it?

Just brush over that minor issue: 'in retrospect we weren't right'.

It is impossible to imagine how a fair and impartial organisation could POSSIBLY imagine that it's appropriate to mock a politician while reporting serious policy proposals.

It's clear that there is an absolute culture of left-wing bias in the BBC, an enviorenment where a poster of George Bush as Adolf Hitler in a main BBC newsroom goes unchallenged.

But seriously.

Does anyone really believe that the BBC would EVER report on a Labour politician using a mocking picture?

How was this possibly even thought to be ok?

Even Prescott, who is a far less credible figure than Redwood, would not have been accompanied on a story about an anti-social behaviour with a picure of him unching a youth.

No chance or credibility is afforded to right-wing ideas by the BBC, no serious attention paid to whether cutting billions of red tape could actually benefit the country.

No, instead we get endless stories about climate change and other left-wing issues.

  • 19.
  • At 12:12 PM on 15 Aug 2007,
  • Jon T wrote:

I'm afraid I am also in the camp that says the BBC normally finds ways to slant their reporting to favour Labour and ridicule or otherwise decry the Conservative party.

Ultra-liberal, tree hugging, politically correct, 'Elf 'n Safety minded is what they are.

It's a great shame on everyone who works at the BBC in my opinion.

  • 20.
  • At 12:13 PM on 15 Aug 2007,
  • john sheppard wrote:

I don't object to your constant left wing pro Labour Bias as long as it carries a heath warning eg
" this broadcast was produced by a card carrying labour supporter and is being read by a labour toady "

Everyone would then be able to decide if the news was fact or labour fiction

Of course since the tories are consid
ering privatising the BBC is is very much in your interest to keep them
in office

  • 21.
  • At 12:26 PM on 15 Aug 2007,
  • Shay Leith wrote:

Helen,

It would be an improvement to the BBC's search for impartiality if your 'experts' informed the viewers or listeners if they were card carrying members of political parties before imparting their opinions.

  • 22.
  • At 12:44 PM on 15 Aug 2007,
  • Kieran wrote:

Given the hours of entertainment gained from endlessly typing the same old 'Bolshevik Broadcasting Corporation' rubbish into every available text box on the entire BBC site. I wonder if the wingnut brigade have ever considered what commercial value they'd place on that activity? You all must enjoy it, because you're here day in day out.

What kind of value would you place on the ability to publicly bash a bunch of ultra-liberal red lefty fluffists every day. 37p perhaps?

You're welcome.

  • 23.
  • At 12:44 PM on 15 Aug 2007,
  • A Kelly wrote:

What a surprise you would say that. The BBC (Brown Broadcasting Corporation, formerly Blair Broadcasting Corporation) is biased. There was no need at all to mention Labour's reaction in the lead. If mentioned at all, it should be at the end of the article, as a footnote almost. And showing that footage is just disgraceful. The fact that we the taxpayer fund this biased, liberal organisation that reports the news to their own agenda is utterly disgraceful.

  • 24.
  • At 12:49 PM on 15 Aug 2007,
  • Chuck Unsworth wrote:

A crass response from Miss Boaden which seeks to justify a poor performance and decision.

Frankly if Miss Boaden had any sense she'd offer a gracious apology and leave it at that. Instead of which she comes out fighting. Masterful tactics there.

How many people does she wish to antagonise in the course of 'being right', bearing in mind that this is a publicly funded body and she is paid - probably quite well - by the license fee payers?

Selective use of evidence is no evidence at all. Let Miss Boaden publish a list of every reference.

As to giving 'good consideration to the substabce of the proposals', perhaps Ms Boaden may care to explain what this actually means and entails.

  • 25.
  • At 12:52 PM on 15 Aug 2007,
  • John Brown wrote:

I gave up any belief that the BBC was unbiased when it reported so little on the 200000 people who turned up for countryside alliance rally in London got almost no mention - certainly less that the anti-foxhunting lobby did. It was as if the population of a medium city was less immportant than a marginal issue concerning humanely killing an animal that was going to die anyway.

  • 26.
  • At 12:56 PM on 15 Aug 2007,
  • George Anastasi wrote:

GOOD GOD PEOPLE CALM DOWN

Clearly, the BBC was in error to use the footage of redwood making a fool of himself- quite a big error if you ask me. However i doubt that this was used because he is a Tory (Sorry, a conservative), it was used because he is John Redwood.

All this tripe about the BBC being biased toward the Left- please, calm down. The organisation is perfectly justified in presenting it in the way it did- If the opposition present a policy the opinions of the ruling party should also be displayed. In this case they were. There is no bias. At all. Just that in your own heads. Also, stop going on about the license fee, it covers more than just the BBC, who are a valuable institution we need to protect. One only needs to see how they were battered by LABOUR's charter renewal to see this.

  • 27.
  • At 01:01 PM on 15 Aug 2007,
  • Chavez for PM wrote:

The Brown Bush Corporation at it again, and we would have thought you'd like a hard right wing tory party, because you LOVE the right wing Labour party. Perhaps it has something to do with the FACT that the director of news at the BBC has a brother who is best friends with bliar - you are the laughing stock of world news. There is more balance at Fox News than the BBC.

  • 28.
  • At 01:05 PM on 15 Aug 2007,
  • Roland Deschain wrote:

Next time Gordon Brown makes an announcement, will you consider broadcasting pictures of him picking his nose?

If not, why did you consider showing these pictures of John Redwood?

I am afraid that it is simply not good enough merely to apologise for using the old of Mr. Redwood being wrong-footed over the Welsh National Anthem and not to address what its almost automatic use tells us about the BBC and its institutional leftism.

The use of this clip is how The BBC and its instinctively leftist editors operate: when faced with an articulate and reasonable voice of the right, you reach instantly, knee-jerkingly for the smear and the sneer. That clip set the whole tone for the BBC's reporting of this issue.

The BBC now makes no effort whatsoever to meet the requirement of impartiality, the requirement to give the Taxpayer (the licence being a Tax on broadcasting) a fair and balanced, non-judgemental account of the case for each side. I reckon that this bias is now so deeply ingrained that it is incapable of reform.

The proferred explanation is mealy-mouthed and weaselly: whilst it may, on paper, seem to deal with the complaint, it does not address for a moment what the tone of the BBC's coverage was, which was unblushingly pro-Labour and viscerally anti-conservative.

  • 30.
  • At 01:18 PM on 15 Aug 2007,
  • Robin wrote:

I suppose you have to defend this lot as you are theoretically responsible for their work?

I wouldn't worry Helen. The BBC is one of the last places in the country where you really do have a job for life no matter how incompetant you are. Does anyone EVER get sacked at the corporation? Or would that be insensitive to their human rights?

On the upside it means that if you wanted to you really could tell the truth about the blatant bias at the BBC - they couldn't sack you then could they?

I doubt you have the integrity to do that so I'll just wait for the blessed day when critical mass is reached and they break the whole thing up.

  • 31.
  • At 01:19 PM on 15 Aug 2007,
  • Peter Harrison wrote:

I think the most telling thing here is that Ms Boaden apparently thinks that the reproduced items prove that the BBC was reporting fairly. She clearly fails to see that the vast bulk of these reports depict the proposals as "right wing" and the Conservative party as "lurching to the right". This is unacceptable. The BBC is required to be neutral. It clearly is not.

  • 32.
  • At 01:19 PM on 15 Aug 2007,
  • Sean wrote:

"There was no need at all to mention Labour's reaction in the lead. If mentioned at all, it should be at the end of the article, as a footnote almost."

Yes, what a good point. The way forward for balanced, unbiased debate is to ignore all opposing viewpoints, or relegate them to footnote status. That'll show 'em

  • 33.
  • At 01:24 PM on 15 Aug 2007,
  • BenM wrote:

It seems that any time the deeply unpopular Conservative Party makes an announcement which bombs as spectacularly as this one did its supporters crowd threads like this one to whine about the messenger.

They do themselves no favours. the only people who buy this BBC is left-wing biased are Tories, and they only make up a third of the electorate. It makes the whole Party look desperate and petty. And it doesn't need saying that it makes them appear wholly unelectable.

  • 34.
  • At 01:30 PM on 15 Aug 2007,
  • David wrote:

The entire output of the BBC is biased towards New Labour's neo-communist hegemony.

But if I refuse to pay Comrade Boaden's wages, I will be imprisoned.

This once great country has become East Germany.

  • 35.
  • At 01:42 PM on 15 Aug 2007,
  • jeremy wrote:

Of course it is biased. It's not just a question of what leads the bulletin, it's the emphasis that is given and that fact and opinion are given the same weighting. So there is a detailed report from the Conservatives and the glib unresearched opinion from Labour is given the same time and emphasis. On a similar note, I have seen documents released by the Conservatives which very effectively give the lie to Gordon Brown's promises and proposals. I haven't seen any reference to that, why not, isn't it newsworthy?

If you you were wrong to have shown John Redwood singing (or not)the Welsh National Anthem because it was 'a long time ago', can we now expect the bbc not to show Kinnock slipping the beach which was even longer ago?

  • 37.
  • At 01:51 PM on 15 Aug 2007,
  • Charlie wrote:

Given that the BBC saw fit at the time (though not in restrospect, you understand) to show archive footage of John Redwood failing to sing the Welsh national anthem, might they also see fit to show the more recent footage of Gordon Brown picking his nose in the house of commons -perhaps the next time he makes a policy annoucement?

  • 38.
  • At 01:52 PM on 15 Aug 2007,
  • Steve wrote:

Guido Fawkes wrote: Why are the Conservatives called "the Tories" by the BBC but the Labourt party is not called "the socialists" or "the reds" or somesuch?

Guido - Conservatives have often referred to THEMSELVES as "Tories", whether they're far right, centrist, or in between. Not only have I heard it from TORY ministers, I've heard it from members of the local conservative club.

Whereas only far left Labour supporters/members tend to see themselves as "socialists". Even less, "reds". The terms you've supplied for Labour are far less representative of what the party now stands for. It sure aint socialism.

Your comparison is flawed.

Ben wrote: The message you are giving, load and clear is 'the tories are lurching to the right'. Conservative ideas are 'right wing'. Labour ideas are not left wing they are 'progressive'.

Also rubbish. John Redwood was identified as being to the right of the party. Not that the whole party was right wing. And the BBC *has* referred to elements of the Labour party as "left wing" or even "far left" when need be.

Are you telling us you don't think John Redwood is to the right of the Conservative Party (in the way that, say, Tony Benn is to the left of the Labour Party)? Perhaps you see Mr Redwood as a centrist, in which case it rather puts your opinion in perspective.

It's really quite funny how the usual kneejerk anti-BBC brigade only hear what they want to hear (or what their right wing rag tells them to hear), and bend and distort whatever they can to attack the BBC. As long as their imaginary version of events corresponds with their anti-BBC agenda, that's all that matters.

The funny thing is that it's their kind of reactionary screeching that does so much to put the rest of us off voting Tory! The person I genuinely feel most sorry for in all this is Mr Cameron who seems like a decent guy.

  • 39.
  • At 01:53 PM on 15 Aug 2007,
  • Chris Mumby wrote:

The reporting was biased against the Conservative party - and your inadequate review of it and lack of acceptance of the mistakes is mystifying.

  • 40.
  • At 02:08 PM on 15 Aug 2007,
  • partial observer wrote:

I believe Robin Aitken got even less of a hearing after stating his objections to the inherent bias that lives within the BBC.

The problem is that the comment at 11:52 is incorrect. There are a fair number of people who are NOT aware of the BBC's slant. A significant number of these individuals are floating voters. This fact is proven by New Labours desire to control the media, and shows how they must rub their hands with glee when news items are spun so advantageously for them.

  • 41.
  • At 02:20 PM on 15 Aug 2007,
  • Mark wrote:

Has BBC ever considered just presenting the proposals and discussing them in detail on their own merits with experts on all sides in business, government, and politics? No, I don't suppose it has. But that is what NPR and especially PBS would have done. Anyone who thinks British broadcast journalism is superior to the best of its counterparts on the other side of the pond does not know what is on offer there but I think even the likes of CNN, Fox, and MSNBC would have done a better job. BBC, you score F for failure on this one.

  • 42.
  • At 02:24 PM on 15 Aug 2007,
  • George C wrote:

Actually I think any bias is primarily in the excessive amount of coverage given to these proposals, which are not even going to be Conservative policy, at this stage anyway. The report isn't being published until Friday, when, no doubt, it will get substantial coverage again.

I suspect, under analysis, the proposals will prove to be no more obust than the similar claims of red tape savings made by the Conservatives in the last Parliament.

  • 43.
  • At 03:19 PM on 15 Aug 2007,
  • Gearoid O'Connor wrote:

I'm curious why do the BBC felt it necessary in many of the reports to provide the "context" that John Redwood is from the "right" of the party etc? That reference in my mind appears to load the report unecessarily. If I hear a policy from someone and I believe it to be reasonable or unreasonable without knowing their media pigeonhole surely that allows a more considered appraisal of the substance of any actual proposal without people attaching their preconceived notions.

  • 44.
  • At 03:36 PM on 15 Aug 2007,
  • J.G. wrote:

Again, you have had to make an apology and admit to biased reporting. But, hey, never mind, message has been got across so Labour spin masters can rub their hands. This is very similar to the 'mistake' you made last week when reporting 'Two black MP's criticise Boris' which you later had to change to the correct 'Two Labour MP's criticise Boris'.

The 'mistakes' are always the same way aren't they Helen? And the Labour spin is always got across, and even if corrections are made they are buried away in places such as this, where most people will not see them.

Job done, Labour spin imparted, pats on back all round! Shameful.

I also notice that the change you made to the Boris story did not even register in the last edited time stamp on the story. Another stealth edit. Where have the standards gone at the BBC these days?

  • 45.
  • At 04:01 PM on 15 Aug 2007,
  • Anthony wrote:

It isn't the BBC's fault that the two most easily recallable pieces of file footage featuring John Redwood are:

a) his unconvincing rendition of the Welsh national anthem, and

b) the footage of him standing with all the other hard right wingers who were challenging Major's leadership (Tony Marlow in his zany blazer etc)

Given that he looked a bit of a fool in both of these (and a lot of his other appearances) I think it's a bit harsh blaming a young researcher for going with the one most familiar to viewers.

Is there any footage of Redders looking statesmanlike?

Also, fellow bloggers, I do enjoy reading your increasingly rabid criticism of the licence fee as tantamount to communism.

I can almost feel the imminent embolism. How do you get through the day?

  • 46.
  • At 04:11 PM on 15 Aug 2007,
  • Chris wrote:

I can't comment on most of the BBC coverage of John Redwoods policy review, I switched over to another channel the minute I heard the presenter start a question with "this lurch to the right by the Conservatives"

That to me was an excellent example of the worst kind of bias. Your job is to report the facts not put a headline/questioning spin on the subject before you even analysis it.
This type of journalism can be expected from the independent media not the tax payer funded BBC. The bar of impartiality is set much higher for you, and at the moment it is not even being attempted.
I do not expect to see the kind of misleading on line headline we saw regarding the reaction of *two* Labour MP's to Boris Johnston's bid for London Mayor. I also find articles which look like they are just copied MOD statements with a bland paragraph added at the end a poor excuse for something devoid of hard analysis of the statement or facts on the ground.

  • 47.
  • At 04:16 PM on 15 Aug 2007,
  • D.Vaux-Nobes wrote:

As a member of the public with no links to the media, I used to, up until a couple of years ago believe in the BBC's impartiality and the quality of their programming.

It seems this reputation has nosedived, so much so, I can no longer bear to watch BBC news programs.
The Pro-Labour, Anti-Conservative spin is a real turn off.

To be honest, I've wondered for quite some time why we pay the License Fee at all, the BBC is not impartial, seems to be almost tangibly anti-British, in some ways. And it's not as if the entertainment side of things provides value with the constant dumbed down reality style shows and repeats.

Helen,

As Director of BBC News do you really think that you can be impartial about the material you produce, and thus be the right person to judge if it is biased? It looks from the comments here, and elsewhere that most people thought the Redwood coverage was biased so why not admit it and see where you are going wrong?

  • 49.
  • At 04:54 PM on 15 Aug 2007,
  • TC wrote:

John Redwood is obviously a bit of a joke in the BBC newsroom who decided to make the story about him rather than his proposals. To treat him in this way was grossly unfair.

He is clearly not a charismatic person however he has a strong intellect and he deserved to have his ideas discussed on their merits without all the 'right wing' baggage being attached or the archive footage of his singing skills.

BBC yet again acting with impunity and zero accountability.

  • 50.
  • At 05:04 PM on 15 Aug 2007,
  • greg wrote:

The BBC seems to have been taken over by Labour ever since Sir Michael Lyons was appointed as head of the BBC trust. For those of you who dont know Michael Lyons he is a long standing friend and colleage of Gordon Brown, and i was apsolutely amazed that the BBC can let someone that influential in Govenment become the CHAIRMAN of their trust.

its not just me though, a recent influential Lords committee has criticised the way the BBC chairman was appointed and concluded that government ministers have too much control over the recruitment process.

Although the procedure followed the Nolan rules for public appointments, the Lords communications committee said it was still far too opaque and open to influence by ministers.

"What is clear is that this process gives ministers considerable opportunity to influence the selection," said the report.

"Ministers appointed the selection panel, ministers were allowed to change the shortlist of candidates and ultimately ministers were able to choose between the four candidates who passed the interview process."

"government ministers have considerable powers over the selection of the chairman of the BBC. We think these powers should be limited."

This sets a very dangerous precedent and i very much hope that the BBC reviews the very large amount of political influence most of its editors, trustee's and directors have on its reporting, before the BBC becomes yet another Yellow-belly media outlet.

  • 51.
  • At 05:14 PM on 15 Aug 2007,
  • Elizabeth wrote:

Having now told us it was a mistake to use the footage of John Redwood- would you please tell us why it was used?

  • 52.
  • At 05:27 PM on 15 Aug 2007,
  • Jon wrote:

I have no sympathy for the Tories as many of their problems are self-inflicted. However, it is apparent that much of the BBC's output of late seems designed to cast them in a bad light, while verging on the sycophantic towards Gordon Brown.

A little more balance, and perhaps some criticism of Brown are long overdue.

  • 53.
  • At 05:37 PM on 15 Aug 2007,
  • Workaholic wrote:

If there is any wrong-doing by the BBC at all it is in giving coverage to this crackpot's opinions and policies that, please God, will never see the light of day.

For if they do, none of us will have time to watch or listen to the BBC News because we'll all be chained to our desks waiting for our maids to bring us our ready meals whilst a stranger puts our kids to bed (assuming we found time to have any).

Please, BBC, stick to real news and not the idiotic ramblings of a madman.

  • 54.
  • At 05:46 PM on 15 Aug 2007,
  • Charlie wrote:

Methinks Iain Dale should lighten up a tad. Redwood 'singing' is a classic moment in British politics, right up there with Prescott's left hook. For the BBC to fulfill its public service mandate surely requires that it be wheeled out at every possible opportunity?

  • 55.
  • At 06:03 PM on 15 Aug 2007,
  • MTK wrote:

"In retrospect we weren't right to use that footage again"

Just give us the truth! You were in clear breach of your obligation to impartiality by taking the mickey out of a senior Conservative politician. That is clear to everyone, but could have been an accident.

That you think hindsight is necessary to spot this shows that your organisation is either incapable of or unwilling to discharge that obligation. It has to be one or the other and whichever it is, a biased BBC is much more dangerous to political debate than biased commercial radio/television/newspapers.

That is why people are angry. Not so much because Auntie disagrees with us but because she tells *us* she doesn't have any opinions at all while indoctrinating those who don't use other sources.

  • 56.
  • At 06:29 PM on 15 Aug 2007,
  • dmatr wrote:

The next time we hear from Ms Boaden should be when she announces the wide-ranging reforms urgently required to make BBC News impartial.

BBC Trust - please tackle this issue. It's quite clear no one in the BBC News dept is capable of admitting to, or even recognising, the unacceptably biased reporting we have to pay for. For anyone who does not share the BBC's worldview it stands out like a sore thumb.

Ms Boaden - you will have to tackle this issue sooner or later, I suggest sooner would be the better option for all concerned.

  • 57.
  • At 06:39 PM on 15 Aug 2007,
  • michael m wrote:

You say that "naturally" you included comments from the Labour/Lib Dems etc
However, why does not the opposite "naturally" apply when you announce Government/Labour Party policies?

  • 58.
  • At 06:56 PM on 15 Aug 2007,
  • louise wrote:

I am not a tory or a labour leftie supporter but i have to agree with the blogger that you are biased. The fact that the bbc feel it has to defend itself from a blogger and also that it admits it was wrong to use the footage of john redwood is kind of defending the indefensible. The sooner the bbc gets back to reporting facts instead of opinions the better. Learn some impartiality for gods sake.

  • 59.
  • At 07:30 PM on 15 Aug 2007,
  • Les F wrote:

You say: "In retrospect we weren't right to use that footage again, which came from a long time ago."
Are you saying it wasn't right because it came from a long time ago?
What do you mean by 'in retrospect'. Why did anyone at the time think it was right?

  • 60.
  • At 07:37 PM on 15 Aug 2007,
  • richard wrote:

i am sorry is not good enough. In any other industry consistent flouting of the rules would end up with a withdrawal of the right to practise for either the organisation or the individuals concerned. The BBC think it is OK just to say i am sorry and just move onto their next left wing love in. Will it take labour to run this economy into the ground again(which is happening despite a strong global backdrop) before the BBC approaches anything close to impartiality?

  • 61.
  • At 07:44 PM on 15 Aug 2007,
  • Andrew Jones wrote:

I tried posting a note of complaint about the John Redwood report and bias against the Conservatives on Laura Kunnesburg’s blog - My message was ignored.

I have complained about Laura’s bias previously and logged a complaint with the BBC. The last notable instance was the boundary commission report where Laura claimed that the reduction in Labour’s notional majority from 66 to 48 was a “change in political direction, without a vote being cast”. It was still a Labour majority – how could this be a change in direction? More importantly she neglected to say that the boundaries made the electoral system fairer and that Labour got 55% of the seats with just 35% of the vote in 2005. Labour even under the new boundaries would be massively overly represented in terms of the numbers of votes per seat with the other parties.

In reference to the John Redwood report, I think this is a very serious and potentially damaging event for the BBC. I think a full broadcast apology should be made to John Redwood (Without the singing footage) and the Conservative Party.

As other people have commented previously you didn’t show 1980’s footage of Neil Kinnock falling into the sea or Gordon Brown picking his nose and eating it just a few months ago, when the Prime Minister is announcing something. So why was it necessary to do this with John Redwood?

I also think that the BBC uses biased words in reference to the Conservative party and MP’s derived from that party.

  • 62.
  • At 09:54 PM on 15 Aug 2007,
  • Robert wrote:

If I were a Conservative I, too, would be very annoyed about headlines announcing that ANYONE in the tory party hails the prospect of "£14billion of tax cuts in all but name" - especially if the Shadow Chancellor has given the policy his blessing.

Irrespective of the context. Irrespective of the medium.

  • 63.
  • At 03:05 AM on 16 Aug 2007,
  • John Finigan wrote:

Bandar Seri Begawan, 16th August

When viewed from afar in South East
Asia, it is only sad that the BBC Board of Governors fail to appreciate the enduring damage which such self exculpatory rationales (dominated by their transparent personal political bias)does to the pristine reputation which the BBC formerly enjoyed across the globe as a broadcaster of unimpeachable objectivity.
Now, alas, it would seem to view its mission as being no more than that of a policy counterpart to the much derided Fox News!

  • 64.
  • At 03:18 AM on 16 Aug 2007,
  • Miko wrote:

What the defenders of the Beeb above are saying amounts to "You Tories are always complaining about the Beeb but those of us who are not Tories and don't like the Tories actually think the BBC is fair and impartial, we like how the BBC reports the news".

You see how this looks? People who are not Tories aren't saying "Oh for heaven's sake I don't know what you Tories are complaining about, the BBC is always criticizing left wing parties too, they always give Labour and lib Dems a bashing over their "left wing" policies too you know" for the obvious reason that this never happens at the BBC does it?

You never hear BBC reporters challenging ministers for overspending tax payers' money or for employing too many civil servants or for raising too many taxes or for imposing too much legislation on businesses or for being too subservient to the EU or for not cracking down on illegal immigration or for being too soft on Islamic extremism. No, the Beeb challenges the Tories from the left, fine, but how come they always challenge the Labour government from the left too.

Why are all the "mistakes" (admitted quietly months after the event) always one way? The Beeb never accidentally makes a Euro-sceptic mistake, or pro-George Bush mistake, or favourable to Ulster unionism mistake do they?

The soft-left, global warming evangelist, pro-EU, anti-US, statist mentality is so deeply ingrained that they really cannot see what us Tories are making all the fuss about.

The BBC must drop its 'politically correct' attitudes and be governed by common sense instead.

  • 66.
  • At 07:22 AM on 16 Aug 2007,
  • Anthony Walker wrote:

Contrast the Redwood treatment with the Chavez treatment: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/6948872.stm

"Venezuela head outlines changes" is the headline, the unattrubuted comment from the opposition is in the penultimate paragraph.

This is how many dictatorships start, you don't seem to be bothered by it.

Had Chavez been right wing, would the headline have been so benign?

  • 67.
  • At 07:58 AM on 16 Aug 2007,
  • Elliot Spencer wrote:

One wonders who these few souls who continually pop-up on these comments defending the BBC actually are, their supportive comments don't seem to match the thoughts of anyone I know. Everyone I know thinks the BBC is a left-wing agenda pushing organisation force-funded by a population that has greatly different values and views to the BBC - so who are these people defending it? Do they work for the BBC, or are reliant on the BBC for income indirectly? There must be some reason why their views seemingly differ from the rest of the country. I do think, for honesty's sake, that if you post here you should declare whether you are involved with the BBC. Obviously, I am not.

Is the BBC biased? In the BBC newsroom - how many read a middle ground paper like the Times? How many read a right-of-centre paper like the Telegraph, or further right, the Daily Mail? And then, how many will be reading the Independent or the Guardian? I suspect most of them will be reading the left-wing papers. Most will have been recruited though job ads in the Guardian.

If you asked for a show of hands at the BBC newsroom, how many would vote Conservative and how many would put their hands up for Labour? I don't think you can be impartial if you only recruit from one political viewpoint. Everyone knows the BBC is left-biased - everyone knows it.

  • 68.
  • At 08:11 AM on 16 Aug 2007,
  • Marie wrote:

The BBC appears to have a totally biased left-wing agenda throughout it's entire News and Current Affairs. My husband used to work there and he even confirms this! If we don't want to be subjected to this publicly-funded impartiality then we should just switch it off!

I happen to believe that the Tories have, over the decades, done a great deal of harm to this country. I happen to believe that it would unwise to give any power to a man like John Redwood.

I have a right to those opinions, and to express them. The BBC do not.

It's not so much that the BBC are a bunch of lefties - it's that they think they're in the business of commentating, rather than in delivering the news. There seems to be a dreadful fear that if they don't caracature someone every few seconds, if they don't throw in a few emotive epithets - we'll all switch off.

But we're switching off anyway. I can't trust the BBC News - on any subject.

When the government announce a new policy, it's fair and appropriate to give other parties right of reply. It's quite right that the reverse should happen when the opposition make an announcement.

For years there was discussion as to whether a possible Gordon Brown premiership would see a lurch to the left. It was repeatedly discussed as a possibility during the leadership election, and new policy announcements from the government are often viewed through the left-right/centre prism.

Why should opposition policies be viewed any differently? If reporters can ask whether a new government policy is a return to the left, as often happens, why can't they ask if a new opposition policy is a return to the right?

The use of old footage of John Redwood appears to have been a mistake & there needs to be an accounting for that, but the only objection I have to the substance of the reporting was that so much prominence was given to a 'news' story about so little. John redwood's report seems more like an attempt by the Tory party to grab some easy headlines. It's not even party policy, after all.

Let's analyse and discuss it should the Tory party adopt it as policy, but until then it's pie in ther sky aimed at reassuring their traditional supporters that they're still the same party they've always been - without making a single policy commitment. Such a strategy - used by all parties - is cynical and depressing.

  • 71.
  • At 10:38 AM on 16 Aug 2007,
  • Mike wrote:

The BBC clearly demonstated their bias
in giving such prominance to Labour's
comments. As admitted by John Hutton on Sunday Labour had not even seen the
proposals he was attempting to comment on and therefore it was premature to quote Labour at all.

  • 72.
  • At 10:56 AM on 16 Aug 2007,
  • Andy Hepburn wrote:

A very interesting debate, but as full of the same bias and commentary as the reporting of Redwood's proposals! I'm afraid that there is rarely such a thing as cold fact: John Redwood's plans will surely contain many unconsciously biased right-wing assumptions, just as the culture of the BBC permits ridicule of Conservative politicians when they are trying to present new proposals based on months of hard work and deliberation. I think the REAL problem is not that the BBC is anti-Tory (which it is), but that its idea of intellectual debate is partisan confrontation. The left-right debate thus rapidly descends into party political squabbling, leaving us, the voters, distracted from considering the important theoretical, practical and philosophical implications of any given policy. We know what Labour's reaction will be (!) so why not concentrate on making them JUSTIFY their reaction on the basis of REASON AND EVIDENCE, rather than just giving ministers a platform to slag off their rivals.

  • 73.
  • At 11:07 AM on 16 Aug 2007,
  • Gerry Forke wrote:

... it's that they think they're in the business of commentating, rather than in delivering the news. There seems to be a dreadful fear that if they don't caricature someone every few seconds, if they don't throw in a few emotive epithets - we'll all switch off.

Absolutely right. Television news used to be read by people who did appear to be unbiased and neutral. Nowadays, the BBC gives the impression that it thinks that we want to know the opinion of the newsreader and by extension those of its editors - hence the newsreader's less than subtle expressions of disapproval or approval when reading a particular news item.

  • 74.
  • At 11:25 AM on 16 Aug 2007,
  • Martin wrote:

Helen

Why is it when these 'mistakes' are made they are always pushing a liberal/left agenda?

  • 75.
  • At 11:46 AM on 16 Aug 2007,
  • Robert Sierra wrote:

You say that "John Redwood was interviewed at length by Peter Sissons" and you "gave good consideration to the substance of the proposals" BUT that is irrelevant in this soundbite age.

A very large section of the public are not interested in details but headlines and that´s why your coverage is damaging.

  • 76.
  • At 11:54 AM on 16 Aug 2007,
  • Bryan C wrote:

"In retrospect we weren't right to use that footage again..."

Just what exactly changed between the original decision to use the footage and the realisation after broadcast that it wasn't appropriate? Speaking as a former BBC World Service news journalist, I must say that this sort of judgment is not rocket science. It goes directly to a simple comprehension of the requirements of impartiality and objectivity.

I am increasingly appalled by the deteriorating judgment being exhibited at BBC News. What has happened to the organisation? We already know that thousands of BBC staff members are now deemed actually to need training on the difference between right and wrong!

Incidentally, I am still waiting -- as are many others, it would seem -- for the deputy editor of Newsnight, Robbie Gibb, to address the issue of the manipulation of video chronology in that "report" attempting to depict Gordon Brown as trying to avoid the media. Gibb invited comment, and was told comprehensively in blog responses that his assertion that the editing made no difference was plainly nonsense. His response has been silence. Meanwhile, we are expected to go on paying the licence fee on pain of punishment. The BBC cannot continue like this.

  • 77.
  • At 12:23 PM on 16 Aug 2007,
  • Patient Realist wrote:

The BBC are being being repeatedly exposed as guilty of bias to the left but nothing appears to happen.

I would like to know who is accountable for this at the top.

Forced insincere apologies by BBC jounalists from the ranks achieve nothing and are worth nothing. Someone in authority should have his/her knuckles rapped for this regular licence abuse and required to explain how this will be monitored and prevented in future.

  • 78.
  • At 01:10 PM on 16 Aug 2007,
  • arthurM wrote:

The Scots are getting quite used to Newsnight bias against the SNP from Paxman and Wark. They are marked by discourtesy, emotionally charged raised tones, an 'I am the right, wise and sensible one here' arrogance and body language with questions slanted not to inform the viewing public but to attempt to irritate the interviewee into saying something that they will later regret. It is horrible to behold.

The examples are right there on youTube for all to see. So BBC you cannot just expect a 'here today gone tomorrow' attitude from the public. The means to assess this bias is out there on the internet. These examples of are staying put to be revisited and assessed by the public at their leisure.

Redwood and the SNP are recent targets. Whose next? Believe me buddies this HAS to stop or your license fees and jobs that now seem so secure might go right down the pan overnight after an election. Just because you work in the 'luvviedom' of the London centric BBC does not make you better or wiser than the general public. Learn some humility and honesty.

  • 79.
  • At 01:11 PM on 16 Aug 2007,
  • Adam wrote:

OK, maybe the footage of John Redwood attempting to sing the Welsh national anthem wasn't strictly relevent, but let's remember that as well as bringing us the news, the BBC is there to entertain us. Politics really doesn't get any more entertaining than this! I love the opportunity to see the clip and I hope you'll see fit to repeat it whenever Redwood is in the news.

BTW, I find it really strange how many of the other commentators in this blog seem to accuse the BBC of a left-wing bias. Personally, I think the BBC does an excellent job of reporting political news impartially. Could it be that these people are used to getting their news from the Daily Mail or Fox News, and that the BBC just appears to have a left-wing bias in comparison?

  • 80.
  • At 01:15 PM on 16 Aug 2007,
  • Terry wrote:

I am pleased to say that Auntie has come quite some way from the days when Tory Government policy was torn to shreds on news programmes by a Labour, Liberal and Trade Union spokesperson, and a concerned member of the public too; it became all the more ironic when Labour actually adopted Tory policies similar to the ones they criticised later on. However it still remains clear as day that the Beeb has a bias in its reports against the Tories. Opposition spokespeople are generally treated with contempt in studio interviews. The past is always being brought up to injure them, along the lines of "well, 18 years ago you said ..."; however this doesn't happen with the Government. Do you remember talk back in the early days of the Labour Government saying how flood defences would improve? I do. But this was not referred to in the recent crisis - but by all means drag up an irrelevant 14 year clip of John Redwood! Generally speaking, when the Government announces policies, no opposition spokesperson is invited to comment; there may be a comment by the newsreader, but that's about it. At some point, someone in the Beeb needs to sit down and compare how the news was reported under John Major and then compare it to today. It's a world apart. But then again, we don't have a Tory Government.

  • 81.
  • At 02:37 PM on 16 Aug 2007,
  • Tim Porter wrote:

“In retrospect we weren't right to use that footage again, which came from a long time ago.”

Fourteen years, according to various news reports. So let me get this right; it was only with the benefit of hindsight, that the BBC considered it wrong to re-use this clip in this way? No one involved in this debacle thought at the time ‘hmmm, is this really the most appropriate clip to be shown with this story?’

If there had been an attempt to explain why the clip was used, I might have had more sympathy for BBC News on this one. That said, I’ve long given up on BBC television news and prefer C4 News in every way.

  • 82.
  • At 03:17 PM on 16 Aug 2007,
  • Phillip wrote:

Let us look for a moment at the heart of this complaint. The BBC is being accused of being biased because it included one party's proposals in its headline and the other party's response also in the headline. I fail to see how that is bias on any account - it is the very definition of impartiality. Stop and think for a moment - how many stories start 'the government came under fire today...' and how many times do the people commenting on this story complain?

The BBC is possibly the only news organisation in the world which attempts to be impartial. It doesn't always succeed - not least because impartiality is in the eye of the beholder and it is pretty clear that the likes of the Sun and Ian Dale have their own slanted view of what is and is not 'impartial' - but compared to the print media, to Channel 4, to Sky news, Fox news, CNN, Italian television etc etc it is miles and miles ahead.

It would be a tragedy if we lost one of the country's great assets because some people aren't big enough to watch news that doesn't support their world view all the time.

  • 83.
  • At 03:20 PM on 16 Aug 2007,
  • James White wrote:

Elliot Spencer (post 63) wrote: One wonders who these few souls who continually pop-up on these comments defending the BBC actually are, their supportive comments don't seem to match the thoughts of anyone I know.

Similarly, one wonders who these tragic souls are who come on here time and time again to screech and harrumph about the left-wing conspiracy that governs what they watch. Poor things. For this particular blog entry, they couldn't be Times readers now could they? Or perhaps people working for Murdoch's machine - now there's a conspiratorial thought to throw back at you.

Hmmm. I wonder where all these people are really coming from? Because I encounter very few people with such views in daily life, and I encounter and socialise with a wide mix of intelligent people (though no-one from the BBC, to my knowledge).

  • 84.
  • At 04:34 PM on 16 Aug 2007,
  • Elliot Spencer wrote:

James White (post 83). My post was 67 for those who want to look it up, not post 63 as James states.

James is similarly inaccurate with his other comments, though clearly I struck a nerve. I'd be very happy for the BBC to examine the IP of the posters to these blogs, so that they can determine if we're all Rupert Murdoch in disguise, but let me save the BBC some telly-tax payer cash by predicting that they'll find that the vast majority on here are simply normal people fed up with the institutional left-wing bias forced upon us every single day by an organisation that has long left behind the people who actually pay for it.

Perhaps James, we're not all blessed with your allegedly intelligent social circle. Or perhaps we'd all be better off without the dubious left-wing biased BBC.

  • 85.
  • At 07:20 PM on 16 Aug 2007,
  • James White wrote:

@Elliot (post 84 - at the time of writing) - come now, I'm only giving you a taste of your own medicine.

The bottom line is that it was puerile of you to suggest (even indirectly, under the guise of questions, as you did) that those people here at odds with your view and defending the BBC may either be working for the BBC or in their pay. The point - which seems to have completely escaped you - is that a similar argument could quite easily be made in reverse.

Methinks it was you who was a little defensive in your response to what was clearly a tongue-in-cheek reversal!

  • 86.
  • At 08:29 PM on 16 Aug 2007,
  • Anthony Walker wrote:

Those (e.g. post #13 and 33) who justify the BBC bias by calling the Conservatives "deeply unpopular" (as if popularity were the arbiter of bias!) should remember that in the popular vote Labour garnered merely 35.3% of the votes, opposition parties tallied 64.7%.

I wouldn't call Labour popular on that basis.

So an organisation with a left of centre bias is actually flying in the face of the majority. If we believe that market forces will ultimately win, I think the days of the Licence Fee are numbered - that will sort out the bias like a dose of salts.

  • 87.
  • At 08:47 PM on 16 Aug 2007,
  • David Prodger wrote:

I don't know why there is so much fuss here. Everyone knows that the BBC is packed full of urban liberal lefties and that is the slant that all their news reports have - I no longer trust the BBC to give me impartial news programmes. Why we are still obliged to fund this dinosaur through the TV licence fee is beyond me - privatise it and let them get their funding from the Labour party and the Guardian

  • 88.
  • At 08:54 PM on 16 Aug 2007,
  • Nick wrote:

It's amazing how many people use any excuse to attack the BBC. It might not be perfect but BBC News is many times better than ITV or Sky.

The license fee may be a tax but it's probably the best value tax we have.

  • 89.
  • At 09:02 PM on 16 Aug 2007,
  • IgnorantPleb wrote:

How many times has the BBC re-shown that clip of John Redwood fluffing the anthem? A hundred?
How many time has the BBC re-shown the YouTube favourite of Gordon Brown picking his nose in Parliament? I guesss 0 times, but would like a definitive answer.

  • 90.
  • At 09:18 PM on 16 Aug 2007,
  • Elliot Spencer wrote:

James White (post 85).

On the contrary James, I thought you had a very good idea. I think it's an excellent idea to see a breakdown of which of the posts to these blog sections have an IP originating from the BBC versus how many originate from a Murdoch owned company - I think that would be highly illuminating. Perhaps we'd then see how many supportive comments actually come from ordinary members of the public and how many are self-serving.

All of which is besides the point I was making in post 67, which I reiterate - if the BBC only ever recruits from those who support a left wing perspective then it can never be impartial. The facts are very clear, time and again the BBC omits facts and stories with which it ideologically disagrees and distorts the news through a progressive left wing prism.


  • 91.
  • At 10:16 PM on 16 Aug 2007,
  • Ashley wrote:

I will only start believing the news is balanced when I hear reports starting with "The Green Party..." - The Greens get a significant percentage of the vote where they stand, without any of the big corporate and/or union funding of the other parties. The media find it easier to cover a two horse race between personalities than to properly look at the underlying issues.

  • 92.
  • At 10:45 PM on 16 Aug 2007,
  • Rivi wrote:

Helen Boaden seems to have succumbed to newspeak. In retrospect we weren't right to use that footage again....

How about using the word wrong! That's what you're admitting, so why not say it!

Double plus ungood!

  • 93.
  • At 11:31 PM on 16 Aug 2007,
  • Michael wrote:

Interesting list of quotes. Please supply statistics for ALL broadcasts on the day and how many of them led with Labour's reaction or the actual news of the proposals themselves.

Also, how many Labour policy announcements have had the Conservative's reaction unerringly mentioned in the first sentence of every broadcast?

The use of the old footage itself is proof of editorial bias. What other explanation can there be for dredging it up???

  • 94.
  • At 08:51 AM on 17 Aug 2007,
  • Andy wrote:

Sticking with the matter of John Redwood's report. I thought that the piece on BBC News at 10pm last night was excellent. Exactly what others were calling for above which was an analysis of what the report contained (not from what was leaked but from an actual copy of the report that the BBC had obtained). I tend to agree with the less vitriolic posts above that the original reporting was not as balanced as it could've been but if the piece yesterday was a result of the BBC learning the lesson then fair play to them in my view.

  • 95.
  • At 09:13 AM on 17 Aug 2007,
  • Bryan wrote:

As always, the BBC takes one step forward and two steps back on its never-ending journey to acknowledging its bias.

Let's try to translate the following Newspeak mentioned by rivi at no. 92 back into the original English:

In retrospect we weren't right to use that footage again, which came from a long time ago.

Translation:

Our fault here has nothing to do with bias but with using old footage.

Up is down and down is up in BBC cloud cuckoo land.

  • 96.
  • At 09:24 AM on 17 Aug 2007,
  • Stuart James wrote:

Interesting that you chose only one Radio 4 bulletin - and that at 8.00am which was before the interviews with Peter Sissions. After the interviews all news bulletins on Radio 4 began with 'Labour has condemmed.....'. I know as I heard it. If you say I am wrong, print the wording of every hourly Radio 4 news bulletin after 10.00am that day.

  • 97.
  • At 10:38 AM on 17 Aug 2007,
  • Steve wrote:

Oh dear - another day, another right wing furore on the BBC Editors blog. I guess at least it provides an outlet for some!

For my part, I would simply like to express my gratitude to the BBC for being transparent enough to offer this platform for everyone - including members of right wing lobby groups and rival media companies - to come on and air their opinions about the BBC, however nasty, and with whatever vested interests the posters have: political, commercial or otherwise.

Try submitting as much as a polite criticism of Sky News, ITV or the Daily Mail, and see how much they value free speech. What a difference.

And before the inevitable response - yes I realise they're not publically funded in the same way. But that doesn't alter the fact that, for the most part, the BBC is far more transparent and open than just about any other broadcaster or newspaper in this country, and while it's not perfect, I consider it a darn site more trustworthy than just about any other news outlet.

Just a shame that most of the reactionary right-wingers that flood these boards will only realise that once it's gone.

I think there are lots of people who think like me but just don't bother posting here because they're not angry about the BBC. People who don't wish to complain often don't make any noise at all.

For those who say the BBC censors or refuses to publish their anti-BBC comments - well you just need to look at the comments that do get posted to see that that's complete bunkum. But still, people will tag lines onto their posts, like, "I don't expect this will get published" - as if the BBC filters anti-BBC comments out!

I've not always posted comments that were kind to the BBC, some have been quite critical. But I do recall two particular occasions when I submitted posts to two different columns, that were singing the BBC's praises... and neither got published!

I hope this one will.

  • 98.
  • At 12:51 PM on 17 Aug 2007,
  • Mark E wrote:

"The license fee may be a tax but it's probably the best value tax we have. "

I would have to disagree, there is little difference between the annual cost of the licence fee and for road tax (sorry Vehicle Excise Duty).

And I spend a lot more time in my car then watching any the BBC channels. The only BBC service I use regularly is this web site - but if it was gone I would just use browse elsewhere - the web is not lacking for content.

  • 99.
  • At 01:24 PM on 17 Aug 2007,
  • John Anderson wrote:

The Redwood incident is widely seen as an example of endemic leftie-liberal bias within the BBC. This incident is then made to sound like an unfortunate slip. We then all wait for the next blatant example of bias - knowing in our bones that it will be leftie-liberal. Or rather - we watch the steady drip-drip-drip of news slanting against favourite BBC targets, or in favour of BBC bien-pensant attitudes.

I think the Redwood incident pales into insignificance when compared with some of the tricks the BBC's World Affairs Editor, John Simpson, gets up to. In his latest piece on Iraq he claims that most of the killings and bombings in Iraq are by mainstream Sunni Arab insurgents - rather than by Al-Qaeda-in-Iraq or by Shia militias.

I think this is a clear error of fact. It contradicts the briefings by Coalition forces in Baghdad, eg as in General Petraeus's statement in the Washington Post on Tuesday. It totally contradicts the reports from eg New Ypork Times journalists and from all the embedded milbloggers in Iraq.

Why does Simpson advance this argument - to the extent of implying that the Yazidi massacre was just as likely to be by Sunni insurgents of the saddam-supporting variety rather than by Al Qaeda. I think he is deliberately trying to play down the extent of Al Qaueda atrocities.

Worse, Simpson claims that George Bush is playing a cynical political game in promoting the "surge" - putting US troops' lives on the line so that he can find political cover to start a withdrawal next year. The mostly-liberal newspapers and TV channels make plenty of attacks on Bush for strategic or tactical misjudgments over Iraq, but at least they do not stoop to Simpson's level of character assasination of the President.

Simpson's article looks to me as bad as the Gilligan accusations of bad faith. His anti-Bush bias shines out. He should be ashamed of himself - and the BBC should be ashamed of keeping him on as World Affairs Editor.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/6949121.stm

  • 100.
  • At 03:30 PM on 17 Aug 2007,
  • Keith wrote:

In post 94 Andy wrote in reference to the 10pm News last night 'but if the piece yesterday was a result of the BBC learning the lesson then fair play to them'

Hm the one thing that annoys so many of us is - just how many times does the BBC need to learn the lesson before we stop seeing this kind of unthinking bias in what is supposed to be an impartial observer?

As has been pointed out many times the bias only ever appears to be one way and even if you agree with the general thought pattern of the BBC surely this should concern everyone, after all who knows when the bias might move in the other direction? Not very likely I know given the make up of the BBC but bias should be everyones concern not just those who feel biased against!!

  • 101.
  • At 02:34 PM on 18 Aug 2007,
  • David wrote:

In post 12 'steve' asked why there was no mention of "successful tax cutting economies" like Ireland. There was plenty of mention of this on Thursday's 'Today' programme. Sadly there was no mention that the standard rate of VAT in Ireland is 21% (compared to 17.5% here), or that you pay 41% of income tax on earnings above approx £23.5kpa in Ireland (compared to 40% on earnings above approx £40k here), or that the health service in Ireland is not free at the point of use, or the boost to inward investment because they are the only English-speaking nation in the eurozone or the lower interest rates by being in the eurozone. Yes, corporation tax may be lower - but hey it's so much easier when you only present the fact that support one side of the argument.

  • 102.
  • At 08:23 PM on 20 Aug 2007,
  • M wrote:

If the rabid right wingers can link to their criticisms of certain media being too right wing, they may have some validity and interest in impartiality.

  • 103.
  • At 11:18 AM on 21 Aug 2007,
  • Elliot Spencer wrote:

M (post 102).

Other media are privately owned, make their allegiances quite clear and unlike the BBC/Ch4, have no mandate to be impartial. You either pay for them or you don't, it is your choice.

Telly tax payers are forced, on threat of imprisonment, to pay for the BBC - I'm sorry if you can't see the difference.

The BBC should reflect the values and people of this country, which pays for it. The BBC has many problems, but the one being discussed here is that the BBC is reflexively and institutionally leftist, the BBC view is a monotone left-liberal group-think which is never internally questioned. I'm sorry M, but the opinion of some that the BBC is somehow sacrosanct and it should never have its unthinking leftist viewpoint challenged does not make those who do challenge it "rabid right-wingers". The BBC is a gargantuan sloth, dominating the British media and sucking in the vast majority of media effort and people in the UK, the BBC needs to be broken up and exposed to competition, only a very few elements of the current BBC are "public service" and they could be farmed out to other broadcasters quite easily.

  • 104.
  • At 03:09 PM on 22 Aug 2007,
  • William Lack wrote:

Are you surprised that the BBC decided to play the man not the ball? Watch for more as the election draws near...

  • 105.
  • At 08:25 PM on 22 Aug 2007,
  • M wrote:

To Elliot Spencer (103)

The ¨rabid¨ label was unfair. I should have said ¨unreasonable¨. So, for me the absence of any criticism of right-wing media for being too right-wing means that many of the people here are just lobbying and not really interested in forming a balanced view.

To suggest you have a choice in media representation is false. When you buy food e.g. a loaf of bread, do you make sure that the advertising budget (a proportion of the cost) goes to a media stream that you agree with and represents your views?

Which elements of the BBC should be kept as public service departments?

  • 106.
  • At 11:44 PM on 22 Aug 2007,
  • Elliot Spencer wrote:

M (post 105).

I don't see the analogy with bread, but to carry it further - you go into a supermarket and a big one will have 200 lines of "bread", big/small/cheap/expensive. You pay your money and take the one you like and / or the one you can afford. There is choice.

I am not forced to go into a supermarket and buy the bread I actually like, then pay a regressive bread tax on pain of imprisonment before I can leave!

The print media runs from the independent through to the Telegraph - that is choice, you pay for the one you like and not the others. Regrettably I suspect the Guardian and Independent are the only papers in evidence at the BBC news room.

It amazes me that so many so-called lefty idealists waffle on about equality and fairness and see no logic issues supporting one of the most coercive and regressive tax impositions you will find in the western world.

There is no part of the BBC I would keep. Sky and ITV produce at least as good a product (not always, but mostly) for a fraction of the budget and a tenth of the staff. I would give the public service elements to them. When the BBC turns up anywhere they are mob-handed, hundreds of flunkies and a dozen presenters - a ludicrous waste of money. ITV will turn up with ten crew and a presenter and produce a better product.


  • 107.
  • At 04:35 PM on 23 Aug 2007,
  • M wrote:

To Elliot (106)

I`m am trying to examine the issue of representation:

When you buy food e.g. a loaf of bread (e.g one of 200 choices), do you make sure that the advertising budget (a proportion of the cost) goes to a media stream that you agree with and represents your views?

I believe your answer is no.

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