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Newsnight's Politics Pen

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Peter Rippon | 17:48 UK time, Tuesday, 7 July 2009

There has been some predictable criticism of Newsnight's Politics Pen experiment for being politically biased. I would urge viewers and critics to at least watch it before rushing to judgement.

Newsnight logoPolitics Pen is not a finely politically calibrated panel like Question Time or Any Questions. It does not need to be because we are trying to do something different.

However, Sir Digby Jones never joined the Labour party and was part of the "government of all talents". This is what he says on our website.

Left wing Labour luvvie? Really? Greg Dyke was a Labour donor, then a Lib Dem donor and is now working for the Tories chairing their review on creative technology.

Deborah Mattinson is employed by the Labour party - but her contributions to the Pen are not from a party political point of view - she is a pollster telling us what the likely public reaction would be to the ideas proposed.

Matthew Taylor is a former Labour strategist, but like all the panel, he understands the idea of the Pen is to make engaging TV and at the same time illuminate the issues and pressures that decision makers have to consider in choosing policy. It is not about expressing political views.

I note that those who accuse us of bias do not point to anything that's actually been said or happened in the Pen. Indeed the majority of those who have pitched have argued for spending cuts, hardly a left wing agenda.

We will be running the Politics Pen again later this year. If you have views on what you would like to cut do let us know. We may ask you to pitch it in the Pen.

Peter Rippon is the editor of Newsnight.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    I have been watching the 'Pen'.

    Matthew Taylor who is Labour through and through has not been beyond criticising his own party from time to time.

    Most of the ideas I've seen have had merit although they haven't always been projected in a saleable way. No cost cutting will ever be popular with the people so it has been so easy for the panel to reject these.

    I was extremely surprised that one of the ideas that was favoured was the four day working week.

    This would be equivalent to a salary reduction of 20% and I know of no one who could afford to take such a hit. Certainly at the lower end of the salary scale.

    This would certainly nor be a temporary measure as the forecast is for stagnation for the foreseeable future. This combined with predicted inflation could be disastrous and put us on the same footing as a third world country.

    Perhaps tax increases would be more appropriate but where?

    Personnally as a home owner so not biased profit on the sale of homes not ploughed back in to another home should be taxed as unearned income.

    Homeowners have benefitted most from this government at the expense of others and it is now time for pay back.

  • Comment number 2.

    a former Labour strategist, but like all the panel, he understands the idea of the Pen is to make engaging TV and at the same time illuminate the issues and pressures that decision makers have to consider in choosing policy. It is not about expressing political views.

    I can now see why so many in the BBC get the big bucks.

    They are, like so much about it... unique.

    It's not how things are, or even how they look that matters. It's what those in the bubble believe, and tell each other is 'the truth' that is the only way. Good luck with that.

    I await your weekend morning comedy 'nothing to see here; move along' slot on Newswatch with anticipation.

    Meanwhile, pulling the other one on a show funded by you, and you, and you...

  • Comment number 3.

    Dear Peter,
    Today!s -The Editors Newsnight!s Politics Pen is quite interesting.
    As per your words,Pen is a pollster,like political astrologer.
    Now, Britan wants a real,dynamic,New Leader for her country!s solutions.
    I am pained to note that,world famous Air lines,ie., British Airways is red.All its profits were gone with the wind. No concrete answers were found from any modern thinkers.
    More unemployment,over crowding in Bars,spending huge reserved or borrowed money to Entertainment, no new inventions,some scandle here and there,no serious debates in two houses of parliament all created a pathetic picture to outsiders.
    Great country,fine tourist spots in the world.
    But not much encouragements from Government or from any private tour operators.
    Always, British is siding with America in regard to Irag war, over focus on Iran!s internal outburst against present president =all forced us to think Britan is a strong partner to America.
    This tendency should be changed,and very immediate steps for economic revival,creating more employment avenues to unemployed,building a separate viable foreign co-operation with Middle East counries will pave the way for progress to Britan in forthcoming years.
    Britain has to get back her glorious past.

  • Comment number 4.

    To some extent Iain Dale has missed the point. If you had a panel of Tories and they were discussing spending cuts it would be 'Quelle surprise..' - it is the fact that within the Labour party they are still pitching the 'Tory Cuts, Labour Investment' canard, whilst outside the party those who have worked with and for them can see how ridiculous this sounds.

    One suspects that the Labour Party will wake up and smell the coffee soon - otherwise the bad news may, like MPs' expenses, leak out at the most politically inconvenient time possible, when the General Election date has been announced.

    p.s. Any whingeing from Iain Dale is surely nothing to do with him angling for an even bigger slice of the licence fee and more media exposure ? No, surely not, couldn't possibly be the case...

  • Comment number 5.

    p.s. one has to give the devil his due.. [from Mrs Dale's twitter feed..]

    # Just spoken at a really good event put on by Chime Communications. Had long chat with Deborah Mattinson, GB's pollster. Liked her a lot! about an hour ago

  • Comment number 6.

    First, we must try and ignore your sneering dismissal of a very fair criticism as "predictable". Has it not occurred to you that it is predictable because it is obvious?

    Second, let's try and dissect your statement. You actually admit that all four of your panellists have established links with the Labour party, and all four have, in some way, been EMPLOYED by the Labour government.

    Do you really, honestly, genuinely not seen any problem here? If not, ask yourself - why not?

    Why didn't an editor - just one editor - just one single editor - on Newsnight - say Hold on, this is wrong, we need at least a semblance of balance? Why didn't this problem of imbalance occur to you before?

    THIS is your problem. You are so mired in Establishment liberal-left groupthink you can't even SEE when you are being screamingly biassed.

    You need to change - before you are privatised. This privatisation will happen, unless you are very very very careful. In a climate of swingeing public sector cutbacks, under a Tory government, selling the BBC is a juicy prospect. Trust me, this is now a possibility.

    You are signing your own death warrant. Next time, THINK.

  • Comment number 7.

    Peter Rippon, your arrogance is breathtaking. You should be sacked for your pathetic defence.

    The bias is endemic at the BBC I should know, I hear it all the time many many times per day yet you still continue giving us excuses instead of stopping the rot.

  • Comment number 8.

    jcloncurry makes good points. You should heed them. I realise that you genuinely don't see any problem with your panel and think that the BBC really is an unbiased, fair and impartial broadcaster, but a little bit of common wouldn't hurt would it?

  • Comment number 9.

    If people want to attack this BBC "show within a show", why don't they criticize the views presented on the show, rather than attacking the people on the show. The show might be biased, but that can only be shown by seeing if the views presented are all to one end of the political spectrum, not coming out with these ad hominems like Iain Dale has.

  • Comment number 10.

    I complained about last week's Politics Pen because it was just rubbish, Newsnight jumping the shark with an almost total contempt for the license payer. The BBC has no competition, doesnlt have to work for its money and gets away with producing tripe like this with insolent ease.

    Of course, the reply from the BBC told me I was wrong. It was superb! And there is always the bit where we are told that we just don't understand... I am no BBC-distrusting right winger, but their attitude can be insufferable sometimes.

  • Comment number 11.

    Even your opening sentence confirms your bias! You sneeringly say the criticism was 'predictable' - yet did nothing to ameliorate it or head it off.

    In terms of political bias, why not have people who are unashamedly Conservative, or unashamedly Lib Dem? After all, you have at least two (more probably three) who are unashamedly Labour.

    What exactly qualifies these hopeless mediocrities to comment authoritatively on spending cuts?

    Even better, why not get someone from Canada who actually managed to reduce spending? Or people from the early Thatcher years, who actually reduced spending? Or a former Treasury civil servant whose department actually reduced spending? Your casual contempt for relevance and experience is shocking.

    I can't wait until the Tories get into power. It's hilarious to witness the BBC institutionally wet itself at the prospect. A massive reduction in most government spending will be very tough for us all. When it comes to emasculating the BBC, though, it'll be an absolute joy. When Nick Robinson finally "decides to move on" after he loses his access, I'm going to treat myself to a bottle of bubbly.

    It's going to be absolutely fantastic when we get to see the expenses, salary and perks of people like Mark Mardell, Paul Mason, and of course, your esteemed self. You've seen what it did to the MPs... I'm having great fun imagining that media scrum outside your house at 6 in the morning.

    In the meantime, here's a hint. The sort of people who watch Newsnight aren't interested in these gimmicks. We want hard-hitting, forensic interviews, in-depth reports, a bit of occasional investigative journalism, and not much else.

  • Comment number 12.

    I'm more concerned that Newsnight is being dumbed down yet again. Politics Pen is an example of trying to create theatre out of serious matters. I notice Paxman doesn't seem too comfortable with the idea?

    Why is it that Newsnight needs so many presenters? Why is it that items are becoming more and more like sound bite items, even when the live debates have only just got started?

    I'd have thought that there was enough going on, both Home and Abroad, to warrant a 60 minute serious nightly news and political analysis programme on TV. By all means have a Politics Pen type of show, but let Light Entertainment run it.

    No wonder the BBC is held in such low esteem by all the people I meet when so much muddying of programme content is being allowed.

  • Comment number 13.

    Hmmmm. Regular listeners to Today have discerned an increasing tendency in said programme to hand the floor over to various Labour ministers to do Party Political broadcasts on behalf of the Labour Party.

    Here's it goes.

    Minister comes on, interview starts, within a minute minister starts to talk across the interviewer, and 4 or 5 minutes later they are done.

    There is never any opposition representative of any colour to provide an opposing view. Some interviewers try to give as good as they get, others just get steamrollered.

    Ed Balls a few days a perfect example of this.

    This is disgraceful.

  • Comment number 14.

    I don't watch this stuff and that's not on account of real or perceived political bias. It's because it's rot. There must be a gaggle of analysts at the BBC who could pinpoint the degree of overlap in their audiences between Newsnight and Dragon's Den.

    For my part, I would never dream of watching Dragon's Den so to see Newsnight borrow that format makes my heart sink and turn off the TV.

    I do not watch The Weakest Link but why not give that a try? How about getting the Cabinet doing the Weakest Link with Michael Crick as Anne Robinson.

  • Comment number 15.

    Peter,

    Whenever the BBC are criticised for this sort of thing, then someone like you comes out and tells us we are all wrong and imagining the problem. Nobody ever says - actually you've got a point - thanks for the feedback.

    If criticism of the balance is so "predictable", you would think that the BBC would go to some lengths to ensure that they give no cause for complaint.

    You admit that all 4 panellists have had more than a passing commitment to Labour. Doesn't sound to me that the BBC could give a hoot about ensuring that you are not on the receiving end of "predictable" criticism.

    The BBC needs breaking up - the overt London liberal bias filters into everything from entertainment to news.

  • Comment number 16.

    Jcloncurry makes the key point: the fact that you don't even see the point is a sign you are losing the right to be a publicly funded body.

    I'd hate to see the BBC dismembered or privatised but it's increasingly hard to justify why it shouldn't be.

  • Comment number 17.

    As others have said - if the accusation was "predictable", the bias was obviously premeditated.

    A clear breach of the BBC's legal charter obligation to impartiality then - and grounds for a complaint to OFCOM (Chief Exec £400k pa Ed Richards).

    Oh - I forgot Ed was previously Senior Policy Advisor to the Prime Minister (Tony Blair) for Media, telecoms, the internet and egovt and Controller of Corporate Strategy at the BBC - silly me!

  • Comment number 18.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 19.

    I guess its what spendings getting cut, reductions in military spending has been a left-wing agenda for years.

    I've caught the Politics Pen a couple of times, and other than Sir Digby Jones the 'dragons' are most definitely from a more left-wing backdrop.

    The bias accusation does get flung at the BBC far too often, but there are occasions where it sticks and this, along with the Andrew Marr Show and Politics show, is an example.

    Its sad that other shows, like This Week and Daily Politics, can offer a much less biased content than the flagship ones.

    Perhaps its more cockup than conspiracy, after all the swingeing cuts in the news departments has led to some to entertaining mistakes over the last year or so.

  • Comment number 20.

    the gentleman doth protest too much.

    let's just dissect this: a massive former labour donor and long-term supporter of the new labour project under blair ; a labour party employee; a former labour strategist and a former DG of the CBI with no public political affiliation. you're only nod towards someone not firmly in the labour firmament is Digby-Jones. Hardly balanced.

    if you think that such a panel is 'unbiased' then it just goes to show that you don't know what the word means and really don't care that much about compliance - because BBC news & current affairs is institutionally biased, as andrew marr openly admitted several months ago. you don't know you're doing it, ergo there is no problem. but no fraser nelson, no tim montgomerie, no iain dale, no simon heffer, no andrew pierce, no trevor kavanagh, no charles moore.

    no balance. if there is anything predictable here, it is your blithe dismissal Peter.

  • Comment number 21.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 22.

    No balance in the program, and no balance in your response. Why do I have to pay a licence fee for this?

  • Comment number 23.

    I'd rather see the ideas debated properly in a normal Newsnight fashion, the format of Politics Pen is a rather boring and predictable attempt to be "cool" and "edgy".

    Digby Jones could actually give us all some real insight into these issues that would be both informative and interesting but the format limits his input to that of an X-Factor judge.

    Greg Dyke shouldn't be on TV, please do us a favour and get him off the show as the second he opens his mouth I find myself falling asleep or turning over.

    The bias is nothing new and to be honest it is something I now expect from all BBC output, sucking up to the Labour Party seems to be your Prime Directive these days

  • Comment number 24.

    Dear Peter, if I don't like horror movies I am not likely to watch one when it is advertised. Likewise, if I see the BBC with a Dragons Den takeoff on what was once a hugely important and serious programme (Newsnight) and see that the panel comprises labour and former labour supporters (including Digby, who must have supported labour to work for the government, surely), then I am not likely to watch the programme.
    So to say that you would rather people watch something before judging it seems rather odd. The whole point about the panel for you, presumably, is that these are well known people who will draw an audience? Then this means that you knew you would get a predictable clamour against the panel if they were all labour leaning (now or previously). So why do it? If you want to host intelligent debate then you must continue to honour the connection between viewers and BBC - we pay the licence fee because your charter says you are fair and unbiased. I might one day return to be a regular Newsnight viewer, but surely not if you continue to behave like this. And then think it is entirely acceptable to do so.

  • Comment number 25.

    Your smug response is predictable and in typical BBC fashion ignores genuine unease at your line-up.

    Mattinson and Taylor both operate in the Labour camp and are anti-Tory. Dyke remains a Labour sympathizer while, however you dress Jones up, he is an ex Labour minister.

    This sort of impartiality is not whats being paid for and you know it.

  • Comment number 26.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 27.

    LOL! Great comments all! Except for Peter's opening post, which was...predictable.

    P.S. I do hope that the above comments will be taken into account when you decide on what we "would like to cut".

  • Comment number 28.

    All you have to do is look at the approval ratings regarding the BBC. Labour and Liberal voters all have high approval ratings of the BBC while Conservative voters give dismal ratings to the BBC. Anyone on the right of the politics knows the BBC is bias. Of course this comes as a complete surprise to the BBC who profess to knowing their audience but just like when Frank Skinner asked the public about profanity on the TV the BBC where completely thunderstruck that the public didn't like the levels of profanity and obscenity in their output. The BBC live in their own world of self delusion and self deception where they believe they are always fair and balanced (any criticism of the BBC is "predictable" if it comes from the right). The problem is significant parts of the public think otherwise. Privatise the lot and get rid of the bloated champagne bills and 5 of the pension pots in the Top 10 of the public sector.

  • Comment number 29.

    But it's a panel of four! You couldn't find one right-wing nutjob to put on there? I don't think the BBC has a 'liberal bias', that accusation is just an old PR tactic of the right. To quote Stephen Colbert "reality has a well-known liberal bias". In this case, however, I think the BBC deserves the criticism.

  • Comment number 30.



    Ref 26. Diabloandco

    You are obviously unaware of the major flaws in your post. No one will be willing to explain it you with such a mindset; you'll have to think it through yourself. BTW I am not a BBC employee, nor have I ever been. ;-)


  • Comment number 31.

    Peter Rippon, you are having a laugh. This is completely disgraceful contempt towards the licence-paying voter. This is a "politics pen" and yet all four on the panel have extensive links with the Labour party above and beyond any other political institution. You failed in your duty to provide political balance and an apology is in order.

  • Comment number 32.

    Contrary to this left bias conspiracy nonsense, the Bourgeois Broadcasting Corporation has always gone with the flow of the establishament of the day. I remember when question Time in the 80's was filled with rightist opinion except for a token 'wild eyed Trot from the lunatic fringe' who everyone was encouraged to laugh at and ridicule when they were spelling out warnings about privatisation, PFI/PPP contracts, and the deregualtion of the financial sector. Nu Lab is not a left wing project, it is a centre-right one, so now we don't have any input at all of left wing opinion. This is what strikes me about The Politics Pen and it's 'blue sky thinking.' Also, there is no such thing as impartiality, people are not robots, the chosen starting point for any discussion, like any hypothesis, is a matter of bias and opinion. Political power is exercised by exclusion of certain viewpoints, not inclusion. All those who supported free market reforms and ridiculed alternatives are responsible for the mess the economy is in, and this will disproportionately hurt the poor, the disabled, the vulnerable. How predictable, and predicted by the left. This is the perspective from which to view half-baked, hypocritical ideas about spending cuts presented on this show.

  • Comment number 33.

    Please BBC look at the comments, there is obviously a problem. Too many people now say that the BBC has "Lost the Plot". The perception amongst a good proportion of the population is that the Corporation has moved from the political centre to a far more left leaning position. Bound up with that is an over the top enthusiasm for the fads of the day (we all know what they are so why repeat them), resulting in unrepresentative lineups and products. Play to your strengths and be fair (from a general not left/illiberal viewpoint). A truly British BBC will then be able to prove its worth, otherwise the future looks bleak.

  • Comment number 34.

    32. At 12:51pm on 08 Jul 2009, tinkagain wrote:
    Contrary to this left bias conspiracy nonsense, the Bourgeois Broadcasting Corporation has always gone with the flow of the establishament of the day. I remember when question Time in the 80's was filled with rightist opinion.....


    Ah yes! - I remember those QT's in the Thatcher years when the BBC supported the Tories...

    a quote from a prominent BBC employee during an earlier period of Conservative government:-

    "..But we were not just anti-Macmillan; we were anti-industry, anti-capitalism, anti-advertising, anti-selling, anti-profit, anti-patriotism, anti-monarchy, anti-Empire, anti-police, anti-armed forces, anti-bomb, anti-authority. Almost anything that made the world a freer, safer and more prosperous place, you name it, we were anti it."
    Antony Jay, July 2007

  • Comment number 35.

    Why should anyone be surprised at BBC bias towards the Labour party? it's endemic, as the following list of BBC employees/ex-employees shows. In the interest of balance, I'd be happy to see how many of the Conservative heirarchy have worked at the BBC.

    Former Chairman Gavin Davies (later Labour adviser)

    Chairman Sir Michael Lyons (previously Labour council chief)

    Former Director General John Birt (later Labour adviser)

    Former Director General Greg Dyke (previously Labour donor and candidate)

    C.O.O Caroline Thomson (previously Roy Jenkin's aide)

    Head of Political Research Bill Bush (later Labour spin doctor, previously Ken Livingstone's Chief of Staff)

    Deputy Head of Political Research Catherine Rimmer (later Labour spin doctor)

    Director of Strategy Ed Richards (later Labour spin doctor)

    Head of Corporate Planning James Purnell (ex-Labour Minister)

    Head of Northern Ireland News Tom Kelly (later Labour spin doctor)

    Scottish News Editor Tim Luckhurst (previously lLabour spin doctor)

    Political News Editor Joy Johnson (later Labour spin doctor)

    Political Editor Andrew Marr (student Labour organiser)

    Home News Editor Celia Barlow (now Labour MP)

    Head of European Affairs Chris Bryant (now Labour MP)

    Newsnight Producer Phil Woolas (now Labour Minister)

    Foreign Correspondent Martin Sixsmith (later Labour spin doctor)

    Current Affairs Reporter Ben Bradshaw (now Labour Minister)

    Current Affairs Reporter Lance Price (later Labour spin doctor)

    "Question Time" Editor Gill Penlington (previously Labour researcher)

  • Comment number 36.

    As many have pointed out, the arrogance of the answer is almost worst than the 'crime.'

    How dare we mere shareholders/taxpayers question whether the BBC is right to choose certain panelists. What matter that at least one is a close personal friend of the PM; the lack of balance is that I don't see any close personal friends of Mr Cameron or Mr Clegg in there.

    That the debates then ignore any radical solutions in favour of a cosy status quo and 'aren't decisions hard to make?' is just pathetic.

    Newsnight was the last show I watched on the BBC. No more from now on, now justify to me why i should pay your tax when your provide no service?

  • Comment number 37.

    To those saying that it being predictable means that it should have been changed befoer hand.

    Why should the BBC actually care about any of that?

    My only gripe with it is that the idea is wasted completely as it stands inside newsnight.

    If it is an attempt to represetn the issues in a different way, a more entertaining way then it's a good idea, because it may draw some people into the idea of actually thinking about politics, the sort of person who votes labour becasue they are working class (and for no other reason) or Toey because they have a pony. Unfortunately the only audience it will have at the mometn are those already watching newsnight, it is preachign to the converted.

    Instead why not stick it on for 15 minutes before Eastenders, get some people that the general public actually recognise but who also have some political acumen (not career politicians of course) and get them to discuss a topic or two in an open way. Anythign that can be done to actually educate the plebs in this country to go beyond the voting by class/tradition/what the sun says manner of current elections in this country has to be a good thing. Be it 4 labour, 4 tories or 4 nazis I dont care as long as it gets people's interest.

  • Comment number 38.

    On Newsnight's own blog yesterday I commented on this event in part writing:

    "since UKIP got more votes last time than Labour, we may expect the next discussion the BBC broadcast on the EU be between a UKIP supporter, a supporter of UKIP, a UKIP MEP & for a change, somebody who voted UKIP.

    Any bets?"

    This is far from the only instance of obvious BBC bias - reporting on "catastrophic global warming" is equally one sided, as Newsnight have indeed publicly admitted & the decision to give tens of thousands of times more coverage to the 1,100 Gazans killed by Jews in the recent war, mostly Hamas fighters, than to the kidnaping & dissection, while still alive, of at least 300 & probably more than 1,300 Serb civilians by NATO Police (formerly KLA) is even more difficult to reconcile with a commitment to impartial journalism.

    Perhaps Mr Rippon might like to reply & cover that bet.

  • Comment number 39.

    "the idea of the Pen is to make engaging TV and at the same time illuminate the issues and pressures that decision makers have to consider in choosing policy."

    In that case, get Guido Fawkes, Iain Dale, Derek Draper and Peter Mandelson on the next panel. Now that would be engaging viewing....

  • Comment number 40.

    Mr Rippon, could you elaborate on why you think the criticism was predictable?

  • Comment number 41.

    If Peter Rippon does not even think the 'Pen' should be politically balanced, then he doesn't understand his role or that of the BBC. Not about expressing 'political views'? What are cuts in public spending about then ? It's obviously intensely political. If the 'Pen' is meant to 'illuminate' us on issues going into the election, then it's failing dismally - the format is incapable of delivering it. Get back to trying to make a decent analytical programme which challenges Government policy and tries to make a serious contribution to political debate rather than producing a naff imitation of other programmes (or is original thought not encouraged at the BBC these days ?).

  • Comment number 42.

    So my post listing all the BBC execs with links to the Labour party was referred to the mods. If you click on my username you can see I posted pretty much the same thing during the Corfu/Osbourne/Mandelson episode. It's very illuminating.

  • Comment number 43.

    Foxgoose
    All your comment proves is that you have to go back to the 50's for evidence of left wing BBC bias. Also the 'anti' list you quote as the things the BBC were supposedly against can be more compellingly argued overall as making the world less secure, more unequal and a more dangerous place.

  • Comment number 44.

    I've watched Newsnight for over 25 years now.

    It's an expensive programme to make, relative to its audience.

    I'm disappointed.

    The truth is, you need to struggle extra hard against what psychologists call 'group think'.

    Radically revisiting your embedded biases might help.

    Somehow, I doubt it - there's a smugness and arrogance to your response which suggests you're extremely comfortable with your way of doing things, have difficulty seeing alternative points of view, and generally believe, in a dismissive way, that those who disagree are "predictable".

  • Comment number 45.

    jcloncurry is right. If you think that was a balanced panel, Peter - and it should have been - then you are unfit to be a BBC editor.

  • Comment number 46.

    Peter,

    If you really didn't think that creating a panel solely consisting of people closely associated with the Labour Party would create accusations of bias then perhaps you are in the wrong job. Your response to those inevitable accusations is a study in self importance and disregard for the viewers.

    That said I can put up with the biased format (one has to do that a lot on Newsnight nowadays) but not how dreadful the segment is.

  • Comment number 47.

    Peter,
    Rather like some MP's you clearly don't get it! Your defence of the selection of these blatantly Left leaning panellists is akin to the "WITHIN THE RULES" defence we have so routinely heard from the Westmister troughocracy. You finish with an invite to appear on the programme to present a spending cut initiative as if this will in some way level the playing field! I lost all respect for this panel when they rejected the TPA suggestion to abolish regional development agencies.I think it is a shame that although I and every other TV owner in the UK pays your salary and expenses we do not have the ability to hold you or your BBC colleagues to account through the ballot box.
    kind regards

  • Comment number 48.

    Accusations of bias by others make me (and others too, I'm sure) more sensitive to the possibility of bias. I posted earlier to say that I never got as far as considering the lack of balance on this wretched panel, I simply didn't want to watch an "entertainment" in lieu of a current affairs programme and so I turned off.
    The accusations of bias in other posts strike me as pretty compelling and not just as they relate to Newsnight but regarding BBC news output more generally. Why, I found myself asking, did Martha Kearney (R4, World at One, July 8th) interviewing a panel of politicians so pointedly avoid using Lord Adonis's title?
    I dare say that the answer is innocent enough but this minister has been reshuffled out of his ministerial job at education to which he was appointed because he was supposedly an expert in that field and he has now washed up at transport for which he had no special previous gift. More importantly, of course, he is also yet another unelected member of a government rich in unelected members and by calling him 'Andrew Adonis' I felt that Martha Kearney was perhaps trying to deflect us from this uncomfortable reality.
    All of which is to say that there is the risk of a cumulative effect for the listener or viewer when a bit of intentional BBC bias here combines with a bit of BBC editorial sloppiness there. Where the crticism on a blog such as this tends to be predominantly all in one direction, a little rethink by executives is in order and an apology would not go amiss either. Failing that an admission that the majority view might have some validity would be a compromise.

  • Comment number 49.

    it was on the bbc, of course it was politically biased.

  • Comment number 50.

    " You need to change - before you are privatised. This privatisation will happen, unless you are very very very careful. In a climate of swingeing public sector cutbacks, under a Tory government, selling the BBC is a juicy prospect. Trust me, this is now a possibility.

    You are signing your own death warrant. Next time, THINK."

    Dear oh dear, I think you need to get a grip on reality. The Tories would not privatise the BBC in a million years. In fact, I am willing to lay a sizeable sum as a wager if you would be interested in putting money where your mouth is.

    To any intelligent observer, the BBC and Political pen is unbiased and objective. Anyone that listens to the Today programme, This Week, Question time et al knows the the so called political bias in the BBC is nothign more that bluster from right wing idiots throwing their toys out the pram because the BBC refuse to become the Daily Mail.

  • Comment number 51.

    Must be an overwhelming majority of uninteligent people out there then Pete. Perhaps instead of bluster you could have tried to give us some factual explantion of how choosing 4 guests out of 4 from government supporters was so obviously wholly & completely impartial.

    Then you could address your judgemental eye to all the other instances which have been mentioned here.

  • Comment number 52.

    Imv, we are all political animals and our urges will out, no matter the topic.

    Once a 'mind' comes between the fact and the listener, then that fact is poitically changed, no matter the shade.

    So do Editors change the landscape. So do pundits.

    I've often thought editors and pundits (I include reporters and presenters) should be duty bound to declare their political bias after a piece.

    Joe Bloggs
    BBC Newsnight
    Labour

  • Comment number 53.

    PeteBrant wrote:
    "Anyone that listens to the Today programme, This Week, Question time et al knows the the so called political bias in the BBC is nothign more that bluster from right wing idiots throwing their toys out the pram because the BBC refuse to become the Daily Mail."

    The bias is nothing to do with Left or Right, for several years now the BBC has been so overtly biased towards the government that much of their factual output is not worth watching.

    The BBC is supposed to be independent from the government, not its official propaganda agency.

    With a few notable exceptions, the BBC these days seems to regurgitate whatever the government press release is and often does a very poor job of analysing the implications of their policies.

    I have never voted (and probably will never vote) for the Conservatives and would never buy a copy of the Daily Mail but even I have been getting increasingly frustrated at the way the BBC deals with party issues. The Conservatives are the official Opposition, not the government, this means they are not required to provide specific policy details to show how they would deal with any particular issue, their job is to question the governments policies and make sure they stand up to scrutiny yet whenever a Conservative MP appears on the BBC these days all you ever get from the presenter is "Well what is your policy for this ?" instead of analysing the governments policies.
    The time for the Conservatives to give details about their policies is in the run-up to a general election and for the BBC to keep using this line of questioning is, in my opinion, a rather poor attempt at journalism.

    If they're going to do a segment like the Politics Pen (personally I'd prefer it to be a stand alone show instead of being part of Newsnight, but that's another issue) then they have a duty to provide panellists with a variety of political backgrounds and affiliations, not four Labour party members/supporters.

  • Comment number 54.

    What I find most strange about this segment is that the next election looks unlikely to return a Labour government, so the opinions expressed by the panellists are largely irrelevant. An incoming Tory administration will have to make significant cuts thanks to the severity of the economic situation (many times worse than in 1979) and dismantling the something-for-nothing quangocracy which got our country into this mess in the first place is likely to be a high priority.

    If you were interested in being truly different, as you claim, and not just following the path of political least resistance in the left-liberal BBC bubble, you'd be much more interested in finding out just how deep those cuts need to go to rescue our economy and develop an interesting way of presenting the unvarnished truth of that. You know, like the ethical man purports to do with climate change... or are you so caught up in trying to emulate more popular programme formats that you've forgotten the whole point of Newsnight?

    Just accept that your viewing figures aren't going to increase because of gimmicks like this, your refugee song contest or 'ethical' man's trip to the USA and give your existing core audience what they actually want: hard-hitting interviews and discussions where Jeremy Paxman eviscerates ill-conceived policies and third-rate politicians of all stripes with his usual acerbic wit.

    Because let's face it, the audience for Newsnight already comprises the people who give enough of a damn about politics and current affairs to watch BBC2 at 10:30pm, and there's little you can do to increase their numbers except encourage them to let their children stay up and watch it.

    As for the arrogance of your defence, it says much about today's BBC that someone with your blatant disregard for both the essential need for balance in public service broadcasting and absolute contempt for the criticisms of your viewers can become the editor of what was for many years the Corporation's flagship current affairs and politics programme. The sooner you are removed from this role, the better.

  • Comment number 55.

    Secratariat you shouldn't knock the Daily Mail. Particularly since you say you have never readit :-)

    In fact, with the arguable exception of the Morning Star it is the only British newspaper consistently willing to say things the government & political establishment don't like (some of the others do so occasionaly) & occasionally publish letters on subjects which & indeed have been blatantly censored by the BBC. You may choose not to read commentors who say government unapproved things but you are nonetheless more free because so do say them.

  • Comment number 56.

    neilninepercent:

    I said I didn't buy it, not that I didn't read it, there's an important difference mate ;-)
    Some people at work do buy it and, to be honest, whenever I read it I find myself laughing at some of their ridiculous claims. Some of which can be found here:
    http://tabloid-watch.blogspot.com/search/label/mail

    I'm sure they do print the occasional good article or letter but I find it a chore having to read through the hysteria & paranoia to find them.

    To be fair though I stopped buying newspapers a few years ago and these days I normally only buy Private Eye & New Scientist. The mainstream press seem to be filled with little more than opinion and it's hard to find an article that gets close to the truth about any subject.
    If you know the right places to look there's also lots of good stuff available on the net.

  • Comment number 57.

    If the very worst you can do is a blog article complaining not primarily about what the Mail said but about a COMMENt by a member of the public on a very minor point about a relatively small amount of money then I would say that proves my point.

    I suggest this http://a-place-to-stand.blogspot.com/2006/05/bbc-wont-deny-being-genocidal-nazi.html blog about BBC censorship trumps any Mail bias several, hundred thousand times & as you can see the BBC's own PR department can't even deny they did this censorship of genocide.

    I never held the Mail up as infallible (let alone that all its reader's are) merely that they are far & away more honest than most of the rest of the MSM.

  • Comment number 58.

    Oh, neilninepercent, you really need to read 'Flat Earth News' and allow the scales to fall from your eyes...

  • Comment number 59.

    Peter Rippon,

    I didn't watch your "Politics Pen" but I lost respect for Newsnight after the extraordinary lefty bias you showed going after Tory MP Caroline Spelman over the ten-year-old story of her nanny's salary, while there were far more serious and current issues re fraud by Labour staring you in the face. With your obsessive coverage of Spelman, one would have thought she was at least guilty of selling state secrets to Britain's enemies. Now of course the daily Telegraph has revealed that fraud is widespread across the political spectrum with the snouts of the Labour party deepest in the trough. Where was the BBC while the Telegraph was breaking this story? And would the BBC ever break a story which would put Labour in a more unfavourable light than anyone else?

    The BBC appeared to unanimously fall in love with Barack Obama, reporting on him as though he were the messiah. And when Sarah Palin appeared on the scene, Newsnight gritted its teeth and set out to demolish her from her very first appearance on the world stage. Any threat to your hero was simply not to be tolerated. This is journalism?

    Newsnight is not merely coloured by left wing bias. It is positively pickled in it. I have a great deal of sympathy for those forced to pay for the BBC's one sided and unbelievably poor journalism on pain of imprisonment.

  • Comment number 60.

    neilninepercent:

    There's an almost infinite number of websites dealing with the Daily Mail, that one is just one of the more "family friendly" ones (got to be careful what you link to on here these days).
    If it's what you like then that's ok but any claim about their honesty is going a little far in my book. At its best the Daily Mail is a right wing magazine parading itself as a newspaper, at its worst it is a hate filled organ of racist, nationalist, homophobic & xenophobic rubbish.

    If you want to see some BBC censorship in action then I'd recommend typing "SpEak you're brains" into Google, there's a good collection of comments on there that have been moderated off the HYS boards over the years.

  • Comment number 61.

    #35 Hedley_Lamarr

    Thanks for a great post. It was shocking to read. I knew things were bad at the BBC. I knew they were in denial. However the stark facts are an eye opener.

  • Comment number 62.

    "Secratariat wrote:

    If you want to see some BBC censorship in action then I'd recommend typing "SpEak you're brains" into Google, there's a good collection of comments on there that have been moderated off the HYS boards over the years."

    I don't think anyone needs to go to the site to imagine what type of comments it would contain - probably rabid right-wing comments where you can imagine the writer spitting venom as they type.

    I seriously doubt it would contain samples of the perfectly valid comments that have been removed from the BBC HYS site without any reason - and it certainly won't contain perfectly valid comments which were stuck in the moderation queue for days and never published.

    Like all sites it will display the posts which best represent the point of view they are trying to portray.

  • Comment number 63.

    How interesting Sectariat - an entire blog dedicated to rubbishing comments on BBC after they have been removed from the public view.

    So I assume it is run by BBC employees or whoever the BBC allow free run of their private records to.

    And you are advertising them & presumably one of them.

    SO THE ONLY WAY THE BBC CAN GET PEOPLE ON HERE TO SAY THE BBC IS HONEST & ATTACK THE NEWSPAPER THAT REPORTS SOME OF THE THINGS THEY DON'T IS TO HIRE THEM. I trust me writing this does not offend the BBC code. I suspect if I were to accuse the BBC or anybody they support of being a "hate filled organ of racist, nationalist, homophobic & xenophobic rubbish" as you have done, that would be considered defamatory under their code & censored. In fact I have been previously for lesser statements backed by undisputable & indeed undisputed evidence. Point proven I think.

    And I note you cannot actually dispute that the example of censorship I gave earlier is indeed several hundred thousand times worse than anything you can accuse the Mail of.

  • Comment number 64.

    neilninepercent

    A friend of mine told me about the site after he read one of my comments on there, there's a strange collection on there and some of them don't seem to break any of the moderation rules. Although many obviously do.

    You could always e-mail the guy who runs the blog, I think he originally started it up as a way to make fun of a regular poster called Topsy Turvy who was considered by many to have multiple accounts as he always used to be the most recommended post on any topic, even when his post was disagreeing with all of the other top recommended comments.
    He then started to post others he found funny, ignorant or hypocritical and a few that had been removed.

    There's a few other sites that are dedicated to showing deleted posts from HYS, if you know how to do it you can see previous editions of a web page and then compare them with the current one to see what had been removed.


    I wasn't trying to dispute your example, in fact I agree with you on that point.
    I think we may have crossed wires slightly here mate, I was never trying to suggest the BBC were in any way unbiased, when I mentioned earlier that I didn't buy the DM it was in response to a specific post, I wasn't trying to suggest I believe everything the BBC say so therefore the DM are wrong.

    I didn't even know the Morning Star was still being published, I haven't seen a copy of one for years :-)

  • Comment number 65.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 66.

    Sorry Sectariat it was just that you looked like the person closest to saying BBC News reporting was trustworthy on here. Glad to find you are more sensible than that even if you do have a fetish about the Mail.

    The Morning Star gets virtually no distribution & less advertising. It is possible this is bad management on their part but I suspect if they got distribution & the sort of government advertising the Guardian does it would easily outsell it. One of the ways in which our "free press" is less than free. As you can see I am not calling merely for a more"leftist" media or a more "rightist" but simply for more freedm of opinion - rather than the monolithic "official" opinions & censorship of inconvenient facts about genocide the BBC are so adept at.

  • Comment number 67.

    I have to say that the BBC seems to have scored an own goal with it's choice of panel, it must have been obvious that inviting four people with such strong ties to the Labour party would have upset a lot of people.

    Labour should have been represented on the show, so should the Conservatives and the Lib Dems, any other approach would leave the BBC wide open to accusations of bias, the BBC have been accused of Bias, and in this case they deserve to be accused of showing an unfair advantage to one political party.

    The actual show itself sufferd due to the ideological makeup of the guests, does the BBC really think that people who viewed the show really want to listen to a free Labour propaganda show?.

    Lets hope that rather then rush to defend the indefensible, that Mr Rippon goes away and ensures that the BBC follows it's own guidelines.

  • Comment number 68.

    This is a good article for viewers of British politics.
    Now,the time has come for more lively discussions on Labor,Conservative and Liberal Party!s saying on current topics of some,famous media tycoon!s purchase of some journalists for his interests,economic mis-management,un-employment,speaker!s election,very poor in airlines sector and from tourism sectors.
    And a latest burning issue of heavy British army people losses in Kabul war.
    There should free and fair reports from BBC editors.

  • Comment number 69.

    I am not automatically convinced we should have 4 speakers, one from each of the main parties, on every panel. I know it used to be 3 but with UKIP in 2nd place at the last election it certainly qualifies. The problem with this particular panel is that they all represented 1 party with a very limited viewpoint where at least 1 other viewpoint is clearly reasonable. My preference would be no party monopoly rather than a shared monopoly (oligopoly) of 3 parties that have a vast area of mutual agreement.

    My preferncec would be for BBC (or ITV) to broadcast regular formal debates on political subjects. The structure of formal debates (3 speakers a side speaking in tuirn followed by audience points over at least an hour) has worked over centuries because it is informative & entertaining. I have no doubt such a series would be cheap & think it would be popular. I was in the audience a few years ago when they did their "Scotland's Energy Debate," pitting 2 speakers (1 LibDem, 1 Labour)supporting more windmills against 2 wanting nothing but windmills. That's the BBC for you.

    This shows the only weakness - that broadcasters would choose anodyne subjects that the "great & good" have only gentle disagreement over. I would prefer the subjects polled by public opinion & suspect the public would be more interested in an energy debate on a full range of options, or on global warming or on EU membership than the BBC are. Indeed some time ago I did email all 5 terrestrial broadcasters with this very suggestion & am expecting a reply any decade now. I agree with Euan that this would make us better informed, more interested in the issues & more likely to vote.

    My fear is that the broadcasters also believe it would.


  • Comment number 70.

    Seeing as I have no other place to complain about this I am going to complain here. I do not care what the topic is. When the hell are you 'editors' going to check your 'journalists' grammar?

    Today was the last straw, after reading this "A Foreign Office has spokeswoman confirmed the death" from "Teenage boy sucked into pool pump".

    I keep seeing it on this website. Glaring mistakes. The complete inability to spell and grammar check.

    shocking.

  • Comment number 71.


    This Might be off thread a bit, but is there any chance of the BBC journalists telling the UK taxpayers how much the War in Afghanistan is costing the taxpayer we can all see how much it is costing in human lives at the moment, It seems the journalists of BBC are very good at telling taxpayers how much the Banking Crisis has cost the UK, but when it comes to Wars the silence is deafening !

  • Comment number 72.

    35 Hedley~Lamarr

    Quite an eye opener but I would like to know how many conservatives and liberal supporters work for the BBC too.

    Only then will we be able to see if true impartiality on reporting does exist.

  • Comment number 73.

    Sectariat having previously here denounced the Daily Mail as something which, though he barely read it, he knew lied all the time, may wish to explain the article by Peter Sissons, who is retiring & thus free to speak. In it he says that the BBC lie & censor to promote the catastrophic gllobal warming lie. Perhaps Sectariat would like to say whether he believes this BBC reporter found it necessary to go to the Mail to tell the truth?

    I would not, of course, wish to accuse the BBC of dishonesty in the "hate filled" manner Sec uses merely to let the facts speak for themselves.

    'The Corporation's most famous interrogators invariably begin by accepting that "the science is settled", when there are countless reputable scientists and climatologists producing work that says it isn't.

    'But it is effectively BBC policy... that those views should not be heard.'

  • Comment number 74.

    Perhaps the most significant contribution I can make to this debate is to point out how easy it is for "political animals" to flit from one party nest to another. Perhaps these creatures desire the best income they can get, no matter where the job may be, and are better described as "mercenary political animals". Or perhaps they have continued crises of political idealism whereby every party seems to somehow be more convincing from a distance and less convincing close up - or perhaps it is the other way around.

    Or perhaps it is simply that all the parties talk the same language with just a hint of regional accent here and there, and it is this brogue that encourages these animals to think they are, at last, at "home".

    Truth is they probably never, ever left "home" in the first place. Certainly they would rather stay "home", than stick to their principles and leave.

  • Comment number 75.

    @ neilninepercent

    I thought we'd cleared this one up mate, but let's try again:

    1. I do not buy the Daily Mail but I do read it, not every day but at least twice a week in work.

    2. I am not supporting the BBC, read my previous posts, particularly No 53 and you'll see I have as much contempt for the BBC as you or anyone else.

    3. Regardless of what the BBC does, it has no bearing on the Daily Mail or its output. Just because one person lies to me does not mean I automatically believe what someone else has said on the subject. Equally, just because the BBC lies about certain things it does not mean I automatically believe what the Daily Mail, or any other media organisation says on that subject, or any other.



    My comments regarding the Daily Mail are based on the fact that they spread fear, hatred & ignorance.
    As an example, every year, without fail, they print several stories about Christmas decorations being banned because of immigrants, normally Muslims.
    Not one local council, regional or national government has ever had a complaint about Christmas decorations from anyone, including Muslims or a request to not display them.

    Muslims do not object to Christmas decorations and the Muslims I know have no objection to anyone celebrating their religious festivals.
    Several councils have decided not to have Christmas decorations, opting instead for Winter Festival (or Winterval) decorations so that all people are included in the festivities or because they, wrongly, think that Muslims or other immigrants would be offended by Christmas decorations but the DM loves making out that Muslims are trying to stop British people celebrating Christmas.


    Another example would be the anti-EU propaganda they print that quite often borders on the absurd. From straight bananas to safety glasses for children playing games, the DM prints them all as gospel truth when mostly they are nothing but outright lies, quite often they are jokes made up by people in the EU to see how much rubbish the British press will actually print.

    Could this be because other EU countries have rules about who can own newspapers and other media groups and the introduction of such laws across the whole EU would result in the group that owns the DM, and others, being split up ?
    One thing is for sure, it has nothing to do with wanting what's best for our country.

    I'm not pro-EU but even I can see through their lies & hyperbole whenever they report on anything to do with Europe.

    You can guarantee that whatever the subject, they'll always find a way to blame the EU or immigrants for any problems and if they can't then it's all the fault of teenagers or benefit recipients.


    As I said earlier, if you like it then by all means carry on buying it but please don't try to make out they're some sort of bastion of truth and honesty just because they print a story from Mr Sissons about BBC bias.
    BTW if Mr Sissons really cared about BBC bias then why did he wait his entire life before coming out and saying it ?
    The bias regarding MMCC is obvious to anyone with eyes & half a brain so why has he stood buy, collecting his pay cheques for so many years, before coming clean ?

    Is this anything to do with journalistic integrity or just another way to make a quick buck before his official retirement ?

    As I said earlier, I don't believe anything written by any MSM organisation, they've all got a vested interest in keeping the truth hidden.

  • Comment number 76.

    BTW if Mr Sissons really cared about BBC bias then why did he wait his entire life before coming out and saying it ?

    Not to weigh in on any other aspect, but I'd rather suspect it is for the same reason that a few Generals suddenly get all gobby once they have 'retired' on a nice, guaranteed public pension.

    Usually at worst it's because on top of this little earner they likely have a book to push, and at best some semblance of conscience at their complicity in a fairly sordid system's antics.

    I don't think history has shown 'younger' whistleblowers to be subsequently well looked after by those that employed them, those they went via or even the public they may have better served.

    And, let's face it, unless you are one of a rather select club that either knows people or the people know of (exposure to 60M a day can confer certain useful attributes), once you're in it's best not to rock Aunty's cradle lest she sets a compliance officer on you in one of her rare moves to cast you out of the pram.

    Depending on whether you are J. Ross or 'work' for the One Show, it can... vary in severity, mind.

  • Comment number 77.

    Sectariat I don't think I ever implied that the Mail & the Morning Star were both in every way accurate, indeed I think it that would be difficult to maintain bearing in mind the fairly obvious differences between them. What I maintain is that they both can be trusted toreport facts which the political establishment including the BBC simply censor*.

    Regarding your examples it is undoubtedly true that various councils have indeed engagde in the sort of banning of Christmas/calling it eintebles nonsence reported. And that they said they were doing this to stop Muslims being offended. You are also right that no Muslim groups are known to have called for this & it looks very much like our Nomenklatura, who feel good banning things, using Islam as an excuse. Nonetheless it happened &if I do not agree with the way the Mail reported it it better than the way the BBC largely didn't.

    Your other case - well yes the EU have introduced a lot of silly bans & floated a lot more - if this were not evidently so the exagerations would never work & in fact they are not exagerations though they may be personalisations. The fact is that EU regulations, even according to its "Enterprise" Commissioner, cost the continent £405 billion which, by now, means about £80 billion a year in Britain. By comparison the Mail's examples are hardly overplaying the cost yet that is a figure & admission I have never seen mentioned by the BBC who are supposed to be reporting impartially.

    So in both cases you chose the mail come out as closer to accurate.

    As regards Sissons I think I have already answered your question as to why he waited - it is because he is now retiring. It is a well known phenomenon that scientists willing to put their heads above the parapet over the warming scam are heavily disproportionately emeritus (retired) professors. This clearly suggests political pressure is being brought to bear to maintain the lie. We now see the same applies to newsreaders.

    Who knows - perhaps Mr Sissons will also decide to speak out on the BBC's censorship of the dissections of living people carried out under our authroity by NATO police in Kosovo among the numerous other examples of lying & censoring we have seen over the decades in a way which clearly promoted racial genocide.


    * Incidentally I seem to have made such a stir among your Speak your Branes pals that they have felt it necessary to censor all but 1 of my comments, though not censoring their own replies ;-) A somewhat charmless bunch of Hooray Henrys.

  • Comment number 78.

    They're not my friends, in fact it sounds like they've given you the same treatment they gave me :-)

  • Comment number 79.

    The politics pen offers some interesting opportunities and potential for bringing issues into public awareness and debate.

    The process of offering a what would you cut is of itself going to suit one persons bias if you have reached a certain age and have no children cutting education may be an easy option. If you have a family history of living long with little health problems or can afford private health, cutting the NHS bill might be your choice. If you are a pacifist then cut the defence budget etc. In other words the topic will nearly always be driven by a bias.

    On the other hand taking in how we might improve systems and processes and increase efficiencies delivering a better life style all round may create an opportunity to debate the issues of where are we heading, what do we want and how do we get it rather than what can we do without.

    The world has changed dramatically in the last hundred years and the advances that will be made in technology, communication and health over the next hundred years are mind boggling yet these have to be set against a finite resource the citizens of the world have to live eat survive on a known mass of earth, surrounded by a known mass of sea, with a known quantity of fossil, fish and food resources and a known value of fresh air cocooning us.

    How do we manage those resources against the expectations of a developing society what are the systems process and life style balances that we need to invest in that will sustain the maximum amount of the population at an acceptable standard and provide opportunity for all to fulfil their ambition.

    Will the social political and economic tools and mechanisms we have evolved since 1960, that have brought us here to 2010 be fit for purpose in the next fifty years and do we need to remedy, repair or replace them

    In short what should be our socio economic policy and how should it be managed for the future world we want to live in. what type of future will the political animals in the pen invest in.

    Indeed in the modern political world, is the pen still mightier than the sword?

  • Comment number 80.

    #79

    Stirring stuff hack-round, but somehow I don't think much of it has ever really played a role in determining our political direction, if indeed, it ever should.

    The last time this Nation arguably did anything of real long term intent politically and economically was in joining the Common Market. Since joining we have seen a massive changed in this union with a lot of bickering on jobs, migration, agriculture, fishing, defence, economies, constitutions etc without Jo Bloggs on the street feeling he or she has really been consulted or even asked what he or she thinks.

    Political life exists in batches of five years, not long enough for anyone to have anything other than a gesture at significant change. Even bias (to which you refer) is transient and changing as people move through their various experiences. But one thing is quite uniform throughout and that is the comfort zone that exists amongst the chattering classes i.e. the people most likely to be discussing these things. They tend to have reasonably comfortable lives judging from their concern with house prices, mortgage rates, car "scrappage", expenses etc.

    So I judge the political pen as a kind of big brother for those who have big exhaust requirements because all their mates are saying things and they don't want to be left out. I prefer Jo Bloggs to be in the media pen delivering a few home truths about how the exhaust gases of the chattering classes are suffocating us all, climate change or no climate change.

    Can we have some polemic in politics please - you know Passion....?

  • Comment number 81.

    Well, I'm glad to see you standing by your principles by not allowing a meaningful discussion to get in the way of entertainment.

    There has been some predictable criticism of Newsnight's Politics Pen experiment for being politically biased. I would urge viewers and critics to at least watch it before rushing to judgement.

    I did watch it and I thought it just seemed to be an unimaginative opportunity to copy somebody else's successful format and shoehorn it into Newsnight in order to wheel out a few political celebs and dumb it down even further. I didn't like it. I don't like Dragons' Den either.

  • Comment number 82.

    Let me see, people - listeners, viewers, licence fee payers, criticise you for not being even handed. You dismiss this as predictable - sorry you're so upset by public opinion. Meanwhile, in your defenc eyou make clear that each one of your panellists has links to or is part of Labour.

    This from the BBC, which no longer has a politics section on it's News website.

    Signing off forever, in disgust.

  • Comment number 83.

    Ben Bradshaw was waxing lyrical about the BBC on Five Live yesterday afternoon. Like a true politician there he was sitting on the fence both airing public criticism of BBC extravagance, and defending its tradition as "the best media corporation in the world".

    So the BBC is in bed with New Labour but the honeymoon is most definitely over and the pillows are more strategically positioned. Mark Thompson has liberally immersed himself in one of those odours that the opposite sex cannot resist but the olfactory mechanism of New Labour is a doing overtime dealing with the stench of its own incompetence, extravagance and greed. The romance is off. Of course talk of divorce or separation is a little premature, at least it is in the interests of the public forum. There may be no children to consider but there is the Family. And Mark Thompson knows better than anyone what happens when the Family get upset.

    But hey what about the punters who pay their protection money all the year around? Don't they deserve something a little more resilient when it comes to defending them from Big Daddy? You can't compete with him Mr Bradshaw so what are you going to do about your failed "marriage" and the angst that it is causing the victims you are supposed to be protecting?

    Spare us the Politics Pen. Can we have a little more razor sharp dissection of Mr Red's and Mr Blue's policies so that we can hereinafter refer to them as twins in the purple party? Oh, and can we have a reduction in the protection money - at least until you get this odious situation back under control.

  • Comment number 84.

    Stalin thought the soviet broadcasters were "the best in the world" too. Since they didn't report his genocide in Siberia & gave only one viewpoint over Lyseko's scientific nonsense (in very much the same way as the BBC censors the genocide our "police" in Kosovo do & reports only favourably about "catastrophic global warming" I guess both Ben Bradshw & Josef Stalin were right, by what they want from news broadcasting.

  • Comment number 85.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 86.

    Does Anyone want to help me?
    I want to start a new political party and i need people to give their support. if you live in the UK
    Logon to UKProtestParty.co.uk and become a memeber, contact me and let bme know if you are willing to stand as a candidate in your area

    Thank You

 

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