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Agenda pressure

Nick Robinson | 12:08 UK time, Thursday, 23 October 2008

Why, the Daily Mail's Stephen Glover demands to know today, are "the BBC's knives ..out for Osborne" while "Mandy is getting away with murder".

Simple, Stephen, they're not. Rather than rehearse the arguments myself let me refer you to a blog written by the BBC's head of news at Westminster about why we've taken the editorial decisions we have.

The Mail has also expressed some surprise that I told the Today programme that I'd resisted pressure from the Tory party and the Tory press to cover the Mandelson story. Let me explain. I get pressure all the time to cover things that suit people's political agendas and I'm paid to resist that pressure from wherever it comes.


Page 1 of 11

  • Comment number 1.

    Come on Nick, there are more valid stories than this.

    Please note my last post on the other thread about the power station construction.

  • Comment number 2.

    Just give in gracefully Nick, this whole non story has been an immense embarrasment and deeply damaging for both you personally and the BBC generally.

  • Comment number 3.

    Nick, you have every right to consider which stories to support and which to discount. You are the journalist, the Tories are wrong to start to smear Mandelson as it suggests they have nothing better to do with their time than try and destroy Labour rather than putting forward a viable alternative.

    They are the desperate ones, not you. The Conservative Party is increasingly paranoid, which is surprising given its lead in the polls; it perhaps knows that this is not a secure lead and instead of trying to put out genuinely interesting and workable policies it is becoming a nasty, lying bunch of lightweights who think they can spin their way into a 1997-style landslide.

    How wrong they are.

  • Comment number 4.

    Nick; is that Steve Mawhinney link some kind of spoof? It looks like it to me.

    The BBC's reply to the totally blatant/open bias is laughable.

  • Comment number 5.


    Having read the blog from Steve Mawhinny you refer to, I'd be far more worried about your own judgement than George Osbournes if I were you.

    I can only repeat Gordon Brown words yesterday "It's a serious matter, and the authorities should investigate" - only I'm referring to you and the BBC.

  • Comment number 6.


    since you're obviously in CYA mode, and looking for some other topic to hide behind, I refer you to the ongoing trial of the met in the menezes killing.

    Apparently, according to the latest witness, he was carrying a mobile phone and a paper, but could not be ruled out as a possible bomber. Wonder where that leaves over 90 perecnt of the population in future cases?

    So, this trial is going on because the "authorities" having over-reacted to events in 2005 are busy fighting a rearguard action, and this still threatens to engulf us all. I travelled out of terminal 5 yesterday and had to remove my belt and shoes as part of the security process, whereas at City airport that isn't necessary. Nevertheless, even with nothing metallic about my person, the arch still bleeped.

    The whole thing is insidious. There is no consistency between sites in the UK and sites around the rest of the EU. The whole government strategy is hopelessly complicated, and still they try to bring in 42 day, and still refuse to back down when the thing is kicked out by the upper house.

    The tragedy is that a human life was unnecessarily lost, not for the first time of course under this government, but nothing is allowed to stand in the way of what our political masters think is for the greater good.

  • Comment number 7.

    Lobby correspondents have a fine balance to play.

    They need to stay close to those in 'power' and yet deliver democratic reporting to protect Parliament and the people not just Government. If they are measured in this way the politically independent reporter will always flourish and be trusted.

  • Comment number 8.

    What you actually mean therefore is you only investigate what suits your agenda and the BBC's which is appalling. The BBC bias over this issue has been an utter disgrace. I know how angry people must have been, the BBC switchboard was jammed for several hours as I tried to get thro to complain, and didn't get thro till gone 9pm, and they werent ringing up about how woinderful strictly come dancing is or to congratulate the BBC that's for sure.......

  • Comment number 9.

    This topic is sure to be a red rag to a bull.

    Enjoy the show!

  • Comment number 10.

    I'm afraid your explanation doesn't really answer the charges of bias brought against yourself and The BBC Nick. There is no evidence of wrong doing on George Osborne's part. No money changed hands, no crime was committed and the serious nature of the complainants one of whom is banned from The USA is dubious.

  • Comment number 11.

    Nick - thanks for providing the short, concise response that this nonsense warrants. I really can't quite fathom why we as a nation offer such attention to the populist bandwagon-jumping typified by the Mail and its readers. I'm positive that the likes of "Mrs Helena Carter", "Robin Scott MA(Oxon)" and "Paul, stockton on tees" would not have even heard of Deripaska or Rothschild until now. So please spare us from your infantile, asinine bleatings until you have the nous to pick up a broadsheet and gain an ounce of knowledge on the subject about which you purport to be an expert. Rant over.

  • Comment number 12.


    Does not quite answer it really. The fact is that no alleged illegality took place w.rt. G Osbourne.

    As I understand it the 'storm' was over whether G Osbourne might have 'solicited' a donation. The Electoral commission made it quite clear that there is no law against soliciting donations, and see nothing to investigate. And indeed no one questions the fact that no donation ever took place full stop.

    So the BBC and yourself majored on a story about someting entirely within the law, and continue to ignore a story that on the face of it suggests an EU commissioner colluded to the benefit of a forigen (non EU) business man whilst enjoying his hospitality.

    I am not suggesting there is any truth to the second scenario, but I am suggesting that put side by side, the two are not alike, and that the second is far more serious and worthy of explanation and investigation.

    It is the appearance, whether intended or not, that you chose to ignore a story of potentially seriously inappropriate behaviour by and EU commissioner (now government minister), and enthusiastically pursued a story where no wrong doing is involved by a shadow minister in opposition that has cause such a reaction and raises doubts about the balance of the news agenda in this case.

    Party funding is a serious issue, but to aggressively pursue someone for considering and then rejecting a donation that may have been possible to make legal beacuse the party decided it would not be appropriate seems to me and many other to be perverse at best, and the B word at worst.

  • Comment number 13.


    "I'm paid to resist that pressure from wherever it comes."

    Good to have that reassurance. Some of us, not Tory supporters but devotes of fairness and accuracy, had begun to wonder.

    And I hope this episode causes you and your editorial colleagues to sit down and relect seriously on this issues your coverage of this story raises.

    But the fact remains that you were still suckered into over-egging a minor story because it was "sexy", and the rest of the media gave it so much prominence at least in part because you did - the BBC does still have the capacity to set the news agenda, rather than just reporting and commenting on it.

    And no word too on why Robert Peston hyped it up too, way outside his normal brief.


    Still no comment on why the Blair / Ecclestone story, involving what appears to be deliberate "misleading" of the House of Commons, has disappeared from the radar.

    How about a blog on that??

  • Comment number 14.

    What a laugh! Stephen Glover should be aware that no-one is fooled by Peter Mandelson who is, according to Norman Tebbit, as flea-bitten as George 'Bullingdon Bertie' Osborne (It comes to something when I find myself agreeing with Norman Tebbit!) Phil 'Wooly' Woolas must be counting his blessings after his dismal performance of the last few days! I understand he's been pulled from Question Time in favour of Jacqui 'You're free to be murdered in your beds by the massed ranks of the British Taliban' Smith.
    Gawd help us!

  • Comment number 15.

    Let's face it, it is not the BBC bias that is at the heart of this. It is, in fact, the bad taste that Osborne discussed something openly that was meant to be private putting Nat Rothschild in an embarrasing and difficult position both as a friend and as someone looking after a client. The question also hinges on Osborne's judgement if nothing else and on a political level, where the Conservatives claim they are squeaky clean, they obviously are not. That is what makes this a more interesting story than Lord Mandelson's friendship with anyone.

  • Comment number 16.

    Comment 2 referred to the moderators ????

    This blog is getting silly.

  • Comment number 17.

    And comment 5 to the mods as well.

    I am doing well today aren't I !

  • Comment number 18.

    Looks like BBC/Labour are out again in force moderating out all the criticisms against labour.

    Is that the new BBC policy? Flag/hide all anti-labour comments as referred for moderation until the topic becomes inactive, then you can unmoderate them once nobody's reading the topic anymore to fool your auditors into thinking that your moderation is balanced?

  • Comment number 19.


    You are a left wing apologist, that's why the mail did this story. Someone has to balance up your pathetic Non-story about something that didn't actually happen anyway.

  • Comment number 20.

    So, whilst resisting pressure to act on somebody else's agenda, you might ask some pertinent questions of government ministers, in an attempt to find out if there is any joined up thinking going on.

    Q1 to business minister, lord whatsisname, are we heading into a recession, as the PM and Governor of the B of E have stated?

    Q2, as follow up, what steps are you planning to take to ensure new businesses open in UK?

    Q3 to employment minister, how do you ensure that business in Uk offers jobs to current UK citizens?

    Q4, as follow up, since there seem to be 600, 00 jobs available, how do you propose to fill those vacancies?

    Q5 to europe minister, since it seems that jobs in the UK are being offered, in the first instance, to citizens of other EU states, is there anything we can do to avoid this?

    Q6, to immigration minister, can we prevent economic migrants from other EU states coming here to take jobs from the indiginous population?

    Q7, as follow up, how stringent are the rules to prevent economic migrants from outside the EU coming here to take up jobs when we have almost 2 million jobless people here?

    Q8, as corollary, to PM, is there a cohesive plan to limit the impact of workers from other countries, including the EU, taking jobs in the UK, and impeding the efforts aaimed at domestic economic recovery?

    Q9, to home secretary, if the number of crimes being reported is falling, why are our prisons full, and when will new ones be built?

    Q10, as follow up, how secure is the data the state currently has on the populace?

    Q11, to energy secretary, how secure are our contracts for fule purchases, particularly natural gas, and how vulnerable are we if they are impeded for any reason?

    That'll be doing to be going on with, after all governments aren't just about trhe economy, are they?

  • Comment number 21.


    surely any student of politics will know that one of the few powers open to the Prime Minister is to hire and sack ministers, and more importantly to set the agenda. He has actually very little power. He sets the agenda.

    The interesting story is about the minister who will no longer be on Question Time tonight. Could it be that he is out of favour because he is daring to tell the truth.

    It is very difficult being sane when all around you are mad.

  • Comment number 22.

    So you 'resisted' pressure when it came to the Mandelson story, but went gung ho for the Osbourne story? Odd that, makes me wonder why the Osbourne story was seen to be more important? Plus it was amazing watching you and Peston (why was he there?) going all out attack on it. You made the story out to be a major scandal, and whats happened? It's blown out. No-one will investigate as there seems to have been no wrong doing (despite your continued claims to the contrary).

  • Comment number 23.

    ITV are strapped for cash and so they cannot support a news organisation in any way comparable in range or impact to the BBC. The BBC therefore has something close to a monopoly of broadcast news.
    Regardless of the rights and wrongs of this Osborne issue - it is wrong that the BBC should control what goes out over the airwaves.
    If we can handle partisan and biased reporting in the printed media we can handle it over the airwaves.
    We are grown ups - we can handle a Daily Mail TV, a Guardian TV, a Times TV, a Mirror TV.

    We do not need "nanny" - the BBCs Head of News to decide what we can hear about.

    We urgently need a free and varied broadcast news.

  • Comment number 24.

    Yours is a difficult job especially when you have these spin thugs trying to influence you.

    The most difficult thing is trying to report accurately without someone accusing you of bias somewhere along the line.

    It's easy for us bloggers because we are not accountable to those influential masters at the top.

    Keep up the good work.

  • Comment number 25.

    Nick its OK youre Public Sector, we fully understand.

    Interesting article on Radio 4 yesterday.

    Channel 4 is pushing for extra 150 million of public funding. Then its announced that the CEO earns 1.2 million a year.

    Spose you couldnt get anyone for less. Eh?

  • Comment number 26.

    I'm not bothered about what stories to run: that's your business but when Peston wanders in saying I've meet the fella and he's probably not making this up is pretty poor.

  • Comment number 27.

    It is of course your perogative to choose which stories you cover. However you must agree that the coverage of this Osborne story has been hysterical and totally out of proportion. Whilst it is correct to question his judgement in being involved in a conversation regarding money, noone knows the context of the conversation,no money changed hands. This appears to be driven by malicious intent by a former friend over personal circumstances rather than a specific beliet of wrong doing. It also appears to have the black hands of Peter Mandelson behind it.
    This is not the same as David AbrahamS, Bernie Ecclestone etc yet is getting as much if not more media attention.

    I have read the blog from the editor you mention regarding the level of Osbourne versus Mandelson coverage. I do not agree with it at all. If Osborne is flawed at meeting this man then Mandelson is as well. You say that no allegation has been made against Mandelson, however the only allegation against Osborne appears to be based on a personal vendetta rather than any level of fact or evidence

    Nick - you normally report what is happening in an incisive and balanced way - your radar seems to have gone seriously into Tory bashing mode here. Please, please please - lets talk about the real problems in the country ( the economy, the dreadful financial crisis, the level of debt ) rather than this trivial nonsense

  • Comment number 28.

    Weasel words Nick, weasel words.

    Osborne has actually done nothing

    Mandelson ?...where do we start

    Its not the sort of unbiased reporting we deserve and fund. It all smacks of laying the foundations for the licence fee debate when the Torys get in. The BBC will point to this as the reason the next Conservative Government refuse to raise the fee.


  • Comment number 29.

    Example of BBC Bias - see the front-page story at the moment.

    Leading on the miscounting of violent crime in recorded crime stats.

    Spin to make the Home Office look good I say!

  • Comment number 30.

    Oh dear oh dear oh dear.

    We have (in no particular order) British jobs for foreign workers, serious violent crime figures massively under-reported for up to 10 years, sex education in schools, whether to cap immigration or backtrack on your statement hours later, the stupidity of wanting to return to 2007 lending levels, the government owned Northern Rock being the most aggressive repossessor of homes, and the list goes on and on.

    Instead of any of those, we get a half-baked attempted justification of the time spent on the Osborne story when compared to the Mandelson story.

    Incidentally, to summarise the BBC's head of news blog, it goes like this - with Osborne there were allegations but no actual checkable facts, with Mandelson, there were checkable results (the Russian billionaire DID hugely benefit from the tariff decisions) but no specific allegations. Moreover, that well known, free from corruption, organistion the European Commission says Mandelson did nothing wrong, so it must be true.

    I honestly cannot believe this particular blog is apparently the most serious political story of the day.

    The Daily Politics was only slightly better. It started with "5 yr olds compulsory sex education" (not true by the way), then went back to Osborne, with no indication they would even mention any of the problems listed above, in particular violent crime.


  • Comment number 31.

    This looks promising, or might do if I could read some of the preceding posts.

    However I apologise in advance if I'm repeating something somebody has already said, oh no, that's called quoting out of context, or off the record, or something similar.

    Unfortunately for messrs Campbell and Mandelson, trying a repeat of their 1994-99 tactics, they are faced with having to defend a government record, of their own making, with all its deficiencies.

    The ice they are skating on is thin, and trhe water underneath is cold, and very deep. We, the people, aren't stupid, and deserve better, and can't wait to get it.

    Eventually you'll all get the message.

  • Comment number 32.

    Having watched the News last night and then Newsnight, the coverage of this story seems very one sided.

    I am very disappointed as usually your covereage is far more balanced.

  • Comment number 33.

    Must be wonderful getting so many enthusiastic posts for a blog entry which is totally meaningless.

    Are you perchance suggesting that you take no notice of any of the views expressed in any of the postings on this thread, in case they can be considered as bowing to pressure, and you're far too principled for that? Or is it that you, and your "bosses", just don't care?

  • Comment number 34.

    And another thing, what about Mandelson's latest wheeze. Apparently, small businesses are facing problems because banks are refusing to lend where in the past they would have.

    Part of the bailout deal was this supposed "return to 2007 levels of lending". So now the banks are saying to businesses Yes we will lend to you, but the rates are higher and we need more collateral.

    Small businesses are complaining that this makes the loans unaffordable for them.

    So, do we act swiftly as this government likes to claim it has done so far, and bash a few heads together to bring forward a deal to help save viable small businesses, or do we dither and delay and not provide the lifeline they need, meaning many may close, meaning more job losses, making the recession ever deeper?

    Well, here's what Mandelson has to say: the forum (between bank bosses and representatives of small businesses) - to be set up in the next few weeks - would hopefully help ease tensions between the two sides.

    I'll type that again - IN THE NEXT FEW WEEKS.

    So, maybe by mid-November we'll have a few people round for a chat to see if we can begin to find some sort of compromise.

    Sorry, have I not understood this. Aren't we in some sort of financial crisis, facing an imminent recession? Isn't the web of small businesses the thing that actually holds most of this country together? Do (to quote CEH) these people really 'get it'?

    Wonder if Nick might like to investigate this? No, thought not.

  • Comment number 35.

    A nice defence there Nick " I'm not biased because someone at the BBC said so"

  • Comment number 36.

    Nick, I'd believe you - except for the fact that you're responding to this story. The BBC gets criticised all the time for "bias", but there isn't a constant defence as to its policy. Why is the BBC suddenly putting so much effort into defending its position - because it realises it doesn't have a leg to stand on?

    Let's look at how the BBC news reported on this "story". They interviewed (on TV) the following people:

    John Mann MP (Labour)
    Michael White (The Guardian newspaper)
    Denis MacShane MP (Labour)
    Norman Baker MP (Lib Dem)

    Are you trying to tell me that not a single Conservative MP, spokesman or slightly less pro-Labour journalist could be found to comment too? I doubt that very much. Clearly the BBC, at least on the TV, had an agenda to run, which was trying to make the Conservatives and Osbourne look bad.

  • Comment number 37.


    That doesn't even come close to answering the issues.

    Noone should have needed to encourage you to cover Mandlesons part in this - you should have been investigating it anyway.

    Osbourn meets someone who happens to be sharing a holiday location a few times over a few days.

    While Mandleson spends whole weeks specifically visting them and taking their hospitality.

    You can fein blindness to the differences, but it wont wash.

  • Comment number 38.

    ....This topic is sure to be a red rag to a bull.

    Must be the Hypocrisy

    Hypocrisy can do that

  • Comment number 39.

    robinson,the bbc are anti tory,once you got the osborne story,you and the man with great political knowledge robert peston,could'nt wait to lay into the tories.I just don,t blame you at the bbc ,I also think sky news are more like labour news ,they have a agenda of keeping brown in power,god help if caroline spellman is found guilty for some thing that happened 11 years ago.

  • Comment number 40.

    I'm a Scot so don't see much if anything of the 'tory' press as it seems to be known in England. Is it the case that the BBC is trying in some not so subtle way to redress the balance by seemimgly being in the pocket of the labour Party. I really have been surprised by the reporting of this and other recent stories as they do honestly seem quite government friendly to say the least.

  • Comment number 41.

    The News media smelt blood in the water over all this, but there doesn't seem to be any beyond holiday trivia and a little Dallas-style soap opera.

    You were probably right to go after the story in the first place, but wrong to try and keep it going so long, or to give it such prominence once it was clear that there really was no news.

    Now admit it, you invested in this story, overplayed its significance, and therefore have stuck to your "Guns" in trying to make it seem significant.

    OK - no donation, but this is really about "judgement",
    Ok - judgement wasn't disastrous, but it is about "how it looks",
    OK - how this looks doesn't really matter amid global recession, but it is about "posh tories not connecting with the public".
    OK - Tories still ahead in all the polls, but it "might not last".

    Reminds me a little of the whole Madeleine McCann phenomenon - the story itself grows much bigger than any news despite a dearth of actual facts.

    Fess up Nick ;-)

  • Comment number 42.

    The BBC has seriously pi**ed off viewers by
    pursuing a non event to its death.
    Ignoring that which might affect all our ordinary little lives in pursuit of George Osborne and some obscenely wealthy puppet masters.

    Please don't act all miffed and hurt, it is all down to not understanding the public and being so far removed from what the ordinary punter thinks important.

  • Comment number 43.

    So what's happening to moderation?

    A post on the preceding thread to this is still waiting after 1 1/2 hours, and this one seems to be up to half an hour.

    Are you being overwhelmed by the response?

    Are you surprised?

    Are you being overtaken by events?

    Answers on another thread please, with a more appropraite theme for the current dire circumstances, unless of course messrs Campbell and Mandelson want to continue with this one.

    In which case, we'll continue to bang a way at more appropriate targets. Eventually you'll figure out who's got control of the agenda.

  • Comment number 44.

    Robert Peston, BBC Business Editor, twice published blogs regarding the Osborne "story" on October 21st.

    Nick Robinson BBC Political Editor, similarly published two blogs on the same theme October 21st and 22nd. The first of these two had no less than three updates.

    My question is a simple one, what is Robert Peston doing involving himself with what clearly is a Political story?

    Whichever way you turn it, and this is simply my honest opinion, collusion between the two journalists appears to be an unavoidable conclusion.

    On both days equally newsworthy items on both themes were ignored.

    Nick Robinsons blog today "Agenda -pressure" still leaves me none the wiser, as does the embedded link to "Storm over Corfu" posted by Steve Mawhinney elsewhere in The Editors blog.

    In this instance I believe the BBC emerges with little credit and has done nothing to enhance it's reputation, such that it is.

  • Comment number 45.

    Steven Glover makes a compelling case.

    And your reasoning Nick is frankly pathetic.

    Whats Mandelson got on you?

    The Tories can't openly critisise the BBC without seeming churlish. I hope that once in power they will force root and branch reform of the organisation and make the licence fee optional.

    It is demeaning to have money extorted to support the PR machine of a political party.

  • Comment number 46.

    I'm sorry Nick. The explanation you refer to states:

    "The reason the coverage [of Mandelson] so far has not been at the same level as that of George Osborne is that up until now there has been no similar specific allegation that Lord Mandelson has broken any laws. Nor, in Lord Mandelson's case, was there a specific, credible complainant in the same way as there was with Mr Osborne."

    In previous (unprinted) comments, I've declared that I'm no Osborne supporter but this response is nonesense isn't it ? I will confess to be astonished and disappointed that Mandelson has found his way back to frontline British Politics which is bad for politics as a whole, so do have some bias. BUT what specific allegation is there that Osborne has broken any laws ? Even the PM made a mess of this yesterday. And since when do you need a specific allegation to be made to question a blindingly obvious conflict of interest ?

    I don't really care about whether Osborne stays or goes. At the moment he's an MP and only a SHADOW chancellor. What concerns me more is that Mandelson has the more serious situation to explain and is getting away with it.

  • Comment number 47.

    So the Daily Mail is accusing another Media organisation of Bias.


    The trouble is the Mail editorial team, its readership and the majority of bloggers on here simply cannot recognise objective journalism.

    You expect everything to be of Littlejohn or Heffer standards, reactionary and right wing. If it isn't the all you can see is bias.

    NR and the BBC in general scrutinise Labour every bit as much as the Tories.

    What you seem to hate most is the SCRUTINY of Policy or judgement.

    You want to ask all the questions but answer none.

    The posts on here are nothing short of an attempt to bully the BBC into submission by claiming wrongdoing where non exists.

    IMO there is an organised and Orchestrated campaign , either by the Tory Party itself or a group aligned to the party which tries to dominate opinion on this blog. I doubt I'm the only person to be suspicious.

  • Comment number 48.

    It is all a consequence of admitting Mandelson back into any position of power on British soil. No doubt he was more conniving in Brussels and ran several rackets to his egotistical gratification. What he actually does of any use is still to be seen.

    The whole Osborne debacle is ridiculous and no one out of the press gives a damn.

  • Comment number 49.

    2 and 5.

    Mods - Thanks.

  • Comment number 50.

    Since someone doesn't like my post at #13 I'll put it more delicately:

    "I'm paid to resist that pressure from wherever it comes."

    Good to have that reassurance. Some of us, not Tory supporters but devotes of fairness and accuracy, had begun to wonder.

    I'm sure this episode will prompt you and your editorial colleagues to sit down and relect seriously on this issues your coverage of this story raises.

    But I still fear that you were suckered into over-egging a minor story because it was "sexy", and the rest of the media gave it so much prominence at least in part because you did - the BBC does still have the capacity to set the news agenda, rather than just reporting and commenting on it.

  • Comment number 51.


    Both stories deserve investigative treatment, surely.

    The problem is that it is easier to go for Osbourne since he is, quite patently, in the position of having met Deripaska with the Conservatives 'money man' and talk of a donation was in the air, while Lord Mandelson only met Deripaska and no such talk, as far as we know, took place.

    The troubling thing from the news consumer's point of view is surely that the ease of the target ought not to determine editorial choices. That way lies wall-to-wall celebrity news based on photo opportunities and press releases mascarading as news journalism.

    I know truth is messy, and that journalists are having difficulty discerning truth from fantasy in all of this, but surely we have the right to expect the BBC to judge each story based on full facts?

  • Comment number 52.

    How much longer will this so-called story drag on? Do you really expect us to believe, Nick, that there are not some rather more significant political events to investigate and report: dodgy Home Office statistics, the end of 'no boom and bust', the 'R' word - now grudgingly coming to you courtesy of our Great Leader, even the mysterious disappearance of P. Woolas from Question Time panel ... Oh, I give up, you know about all these far more than I do; after all, that's what you're paid for.

  • Comment number 53.

    This must be more contentious than i thought, since I can't yet read 2/3 of the posts.

    DCome on mods, let's all see what's gpoing on, then we can respond, and help Nick with his agenda setting.

    Perhaps he could dig up something about a tory politician heading back to his consitituency this weekend and meeting some local people with concerns about jobs and mortgage payments and health and national security.

  • Comment number 54.

    SimonGeorge, did you not read the Editors' blog? Mandleson's relationship with the aluminium magnate was ruled 'not inappropriate' by the EU itself, but Osbourne's alledged 'actions' would have put him in breach of a law passed only 8 years ago. The information came from a close friend of the shadow cabinet, not a New Labour supporter by any means! No wrongdoing by anyone as it turns out, but the BBC were right to go with Osbourne.

  • Comment number 55.

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

  • Comment number 56.

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

  • Comment number 57.

    If young Osborne aspires to be a future inhabitant of No11, then it is perfectly reasonable for the BBC to investigate the story, such as it is. (There would be no point further investigating Mandy as everyone expects such behaviour from him). It was stupid of Osborne to get himself into the whole predicament. The fact he did, does actually raise pertinent questions about the judgement of a potential future Chancellor. (Can someone please give Cameron David Davis' phone number?)

  • Comment number 58.

    "I get pressure all the time to cover things that suit people's political agendas and I'm paid to resist that pressure from wherever it comes."

    Clearly not paid enough to resist the pressure from the Labour spin machine to run the Osborne non-story. Not angling for a pay rise, are you Nick?

  • Comment number 59.

    This latest blog is just feeble Nick. It's just a very weak piece of self-justification.

    Any half decent journalist would quickly have dismissed the allegations against Osborne as being tittle-tattle at best. There is nothing 'illegal' about soliciting donations, nor against accepting them from a UK company, which weakens your arguement for running with this story even more.

    Please, go out and find us a real story- do some investigative journalism, rather than just being spoon fed 'stories' like this.

  • Comment number 60.

    #18 getrid

    Yes, you're right.

    Out of comments 1-18 (your post), a grand total of 1 has been referred.

    "Out in force"

  • Comment number 61.

    I notice that on the Radio 4 News at 1pm today the BBC are still trying to make a story out of the "Osbourne affair" by commenting on the disclosure of member's interests, and whether Mr Osbourne broke the rules. Evidently this is a very grey area.

    This was a very weak piece and was really "clutching at straws" in an effort to keep the stoty running.

    As for posters who comment on bloggers criticising Nick Robinson and the BBC, please remember that it is we who pay the bills and his salary, we who "own" the BBC, and we who have the right (even though the freedom of speech rights have been eroded by this government) to say what we like, within the laws of slander (or is it lible), about thye BBC, either in this blog, or elsewhere.

  • Comment number 62.

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

  • Comment number 63.

    Since you obviously can't grasp the point, let me try to explain:

    1. Mandelson is a Government minister and was on the same boat and has history of having to resign over his financial dealings, yet you believe everything he says and don't see an issue when he was taking hospitality from a man who directly benefited from changes mandy made to the Aluminium tariffs;
    2. You think that a major story is when someone may or may not have asked for money on the same boat, but didn't take any either way and would not have a conflict of interest even if he had.

    Now do you see why we are tired of your pretence at impartiality?

  • Comment number 64.


    So what, you've been tricked by Mandelson, into feeding the flames of this story. He's a spin doctor - that is what he does. There is no point in trying to justify it.

    Peston is more guilty of being hoodwinked by the spin doctors and also straying from his brief.

    The BBC's head of news comments convince me to repeat my proposition from the previous blog.

    It is time for the Conservatives to 'reform' the BBC when they win the election.

    i.e. Lets break up the BBC and give other media companies the opportunity to produce BBC branded content which is funded by the licence fees.

    A good pilot to see how well this proposal works would be to compete the opportunity to produce 'BBC Branded' news between the following:

    1. Channel 4
    2. ITN
    3. The current BBC team.

  • Comment number 65.

    Is this what you call a old fashioned duel Nick?!

    I'll pay for both your and Stephens ticket to France if you'd like?

  • Comment number 66.

    Sorry Nick, but:

    No money was sought or received by the Conservatives.

    The Electoral Commission aren't investigating saying there's been no breach, not reported by the BBC

    Labour MP Tony Wright, has said; 'We are not talking about corruption here, we are not talking about law-breaking', not reported by the BBC

    So why has this 'non-story' dominated BBC news for almost 3 days and Mandelson's relationship with the same Russian Billionaire has remained ignored.

    Especially when there has been other far more serious news items released i.e. the recession, economy, significant drop in the Sterling, today's dodgy crime figures etc.

    Thou protest too much me thinks

  • Comment number 67.

    It's all becoming clear. Once we're through the moderation process our will to continue will be diminished, and we won't question the agenda that's laid out for us.

    It begs the question. The British Broadcasting Corporation is paid for, as far as I understand it, by the British citizenry through the medium of the Licence fee. The government's role in this is to provide a statutory body, who know where we live becuase it's all in their database, as they keep telling us, to administer the finances and the government kindly renews the charter periodically.

    As far as I know this, the BBC, is not a government organ, or tool, and should have editorial indepencence. So, on whose behalf do you, Nick, and your unelected editors, profess to set the agenda?

    Us, the taxpayer and funder of your cosy little world? Your editors, free to display whatever kind of bias they can dream up in their little world? You, acting really independantly and not swallowing unciritcally any message you get from government offices anywhere?

    You work almost exclusively in the Westminster village. How can you have any feel for what thinking voters consider to be important? Platitudes won't cut it in the real world, where house prices are falling, costs are rising, jobs are disappearing with no new ones one the way, and peoples savings are ever more at threat.

    Try getting that in the agenda somewhere.

  • Comment number 68.

    A very defensive BBC today. Clearly a nerve has been touched.

    I don't find Nick's coverage generally biased but he has been on this issue, if only because of the easy ride he has given Mandelson, Rothschild and Deripaska.

    Who'd have thought the good guys would turn out to be the hedge fund manager, the Aluminium wars billionaire and the twice-sacked government minister who has such trouble with mortgage application forms?

    Time to move on. How about something on the government's spin of the latest crime figures?

  • Comment number 69.

    I'm sure that Nick's main motivation for the new blog was to give us a clean space to play before the other one hit #500 again.

    We should be grateful - it shows he's a considerate person.

  • Comment number 70.

    If only the Mail had a record of fairness in dishing out the dirt they might have a good case. However they went to town over the Blair's freeloading on holiday but omitted to even mention that Osborne was having a free holiday with a hedge fund financier while Camoron was going on about the damage such people were doing to our economy. I seem to remember they were part of the Neal Hamilton Fan Club until even John Major gave up suporting him.

  • Comment number 71.

    See, what's so frustrating is that I'm itching to refer one of the unposted items to the moderators, and can't, because its in moderation already.

    My inalienable right to behave in a stupid fashion is being denied to me.

  • Comment number 72.

    So Tory posters you are happy with a shadow hancellor who wastes his time smearing people when there is a financial crisis going on. Osborne is like a Public School Bully keeping out of sight while spreading his poison. Why didn't he post it on a Tory website with his name.? He's just a sneek.

  • Comment number 73.

    I do hope that one of the questions on Question Time tonight is 'Where is Phil Woolas? Has he been pulled because The Government are afraid that he might drop them in it? This is a great deal more interesting than the Cor Phew story.

  • Comment number 74.

    Good for you BBC.

    The Tories want it all their own way. God forbid if we are to consider any of their problems. Most posters seem to want you be the opposition not report on them and the government. Perhaps Cameron would prefer a Ministry of Propoganda to an independant BBC. The same BBC which nearly brought down the Government with the Kelly saga is now their best friend...

    I don't think so.

    Osborne has a lot of questions to answer, if he does so, in full, we can all move on.

    And one question I'd like the BBC to ask him is:

    "Mr Osborne, if you cannot be trusted by friends to keep a confidence why should you be trusted by the electorate to keep the public purse?"

    That single question, more than any other is what makes it a story....

  • Comment number 75.

    So, now that the BBC knows there is a great and genuine public interest over the Mandleson allegations, will the BBC be devoting as much time to investigating them as they have with those made against Osbourne...?

    I look forward to seeing every news and current affairs broadcast, every website and blog devoting days of headline coverage to investigating whether or not Mandleson has broken any rules, or is guilty of corruption in any way...

  • Comment number 76.

    judging from the recent tag lines and stories coming from the bbc and others it seems that the government are perfect and can do no wrong.
    its sad when reporting becomes so biased to one side i expect it from newspapers but not the bbc etc.
    the osborne story having been blown into a megga story.
    wouldnt it be great to have a neutral news agency that will give both sides of stories and leave the truth to tell itself.

  • Comment number 77.

    There is a lot more from this story, Rothschild will spill the beans if Gideon gaffs again, you watch! A non story which has the plotline of a movie, come on Giddy get up Nat's nose and let us all hear what you've been up to!!!

  • Comment number 78.

    I find it tragic that the BBC censors about 40% of the comments made on this blog.

    What ever happened to free speech?

    What ever happened to the right to disagree with the BBC?

    Poor show BBC, you've let yourself and the nation down.

  • Comment number 79.

    What a laughably hypocritical article.

    I find it rather absurd that the Mail should see fit to criticise any media entity for institutional bias.

  • Comment number 80.

    Is this a case of "not letting the facts get in the way of a good story", even when in this case it isn't a good story.

    Sorry, but celebrity raises its ugly head again, when celebrity commentators, Robinson and Peston (I wouldn't buy a used car from this firm!!!) team us to try to make the story run.

    Pretty pathetic journalism, if you call it journalism.

    Perhaps the BBC should return to giving us, the public, the FACTS and let us make up our own minds.

    It would be much more effective. We hate being told what to do and what to say. We can start our own band-wagon without the help of Messrs Robinson and Peston who seem to want to set the agenda.

  • Comment number 81.

    A media organisation such as the BBC will always suffer agenda pressure from various interested parties.

    Most notoriously, and successfully, in recent times from Alastair Campbell, with a tragic outcomes for both individuals and the BBC, especially for its morning radio toady programme.

    Those who follow Nick's link to the head of news will find a perfectly acceptable explanation of why Osborne rather than Mandleson has been the focus of attention.

    In my opinion, Mandelson is a complete master of his trade, that is, the darker arts of politics and it was extremely foolish, in this context, of the inexperienced Osborne to attempt to out-maneouvre him.

    I suspect that 'Dave' will get rid at the earliest possible opportunity.

    Leaders have to be ruthless at the appropriate time and simply cannot afford to carry any baggage, especially in such a rough and unforgiving trade as politics.

  • Comment number 82.


    You are accused of bias on a daily basis and never normally comment.

    Your attempted defence today, combined with the head of BBC news, makes it seem very, very plausible that the BBC knows it has a case to answer to.

    Why not fess up and move on?

  • Comment number 83.


    I've read Glover and I've read Mawhinney and I just don't get how you reach your conclusion.

    This from someone who wouldn't even buy the Mail if there was a toilet roll shortage and who thinks that Osborne's a twerp.

    The very fact that this blog has morphed over the last few days into the launching of a defense of your organisation's position on this story really says it all.

    Let me explain. I get pressure all the time to cover things that suit people's political agendas and I'm paid to resist that pressure from wherever it comes.


  • Comment number 84.

    Perhaps the question we should all be asking ourselves is: Was George Osborne chosen to be shadow chancellor in spite of his background and connections or because of it?
    And if he were selected for the position in spite of his background and connections how would he perform in the economic downturn were there to be an election and he took office?
    But if he were selected for the position of shadow chancellor because of his background and connections whose interests would he be first to protect when, and if, he took office?
    May I suggest these are the reasons the "gossip" in Corfu is being discussed by the media. As a potential office-holding MP, his ideas, motives and intentions matter.
    Lord Mandelson, on the other hand, is now beyond our vote. Entertaining as his private life may be, it is now of less significance politically than George Osborne's.

  • Comment number 85.

    Ooh, this is good.

    I think we've all got the idea now. Put up an anodine post, not admitting anything and not denying anything, leaving no trail to be picked up on, and have awkward questions asked about at a later stage, whilst leaving behind a suggestion that someone else may have done something untoward.

    Seems reminiscent of somebody, but I just can't put my finger on it, because they keep slithering away.

  • Comment number 86.

    #29 - um, how does the news that police have been under-reporting crime show BBC bias or make the home office look good? It's surely a negative thing for the government that crime stats are higher than official figures show?

  • Comment number 87.

    I've been reading the non-controversial report on crime, and the under-reporting of statistics over recent years.

    It seems to me, that like so many other problems, it's all our fault, because, as human beings, we do not readily organise ourselves into the statistics that enable the form fillers to complete their tasks.

    Obviously, Nick, this is why you are experiencing some difficulty in organizing your agenda. we keep popping up with the wrong questions.

    Shame on us.

  • Comment number 88.

    In my opinion you have made an error of judgement over this issue Nick.

    The key issue in this story is Mr Mandelson's relationship with a an aluminium tycoon who subsequently negotiated some very lucrative opt outs.

  • Comment number 89.

    re: 34 Grawth

    I'd like the BBC to investigate what the government's doing (or not doing) to help reduce the depth/length of the recession too.

    Like you, I also believe that "in a few weeks we might do something" is not good enough. The official statistics are running a couple of months behind what's really going on in the economy.

    From what I can see, the real economy is teetering on the edge of total collapse because there's a pending spiral about to happen; if we don't do something to make people feel safer with money physically in their pockets in the next week or 2, then we're finished.

    If the status quo carries on without any adequate help, then I think we've got about 4 weeks from now before we reach the point of no return, at which point the downward spiral will make the current problems look like a tiny blip.

    They really do need to do something desperately soon; from what I can see the government have no idea just how bad things really are on the ground.

  • Comment number 90.

    3rd blog on same damn subject.

    Really is there nothing else happening politically. I heard Brown was close to addmitting we're entering a Recession, is that not news any more?

  • Comment number 91.

    So this thread is running about an hour behind. I've noticed that the UK politics page has been severley revamped, but I looked and looked, and there's no mention of anything associated with the R word.

    What happened? Are we out of it already?

    I note that our esteemed home secretary is reported as offering a minsiter more in accordance with jobs and the economy (wonder who that might be?) to QT instead of the hapless Woolas charcter, but that the BBC have asked for Lord Hattersley.

    Shum mishtake, shurely.

  • Comment number 92.


    Here is an example of 'investigative journalism'.

    Whoever wrote this has dug further than the story planted by the spin doctors.

    Investigative Journalism

  • Comment number 93.

  • Comment number 94.

    It's hilarious when a non story breaks
    about the Tories to see the same old Labour faces racing to the studios to get their faces and non opinions over on TV

    The only one I didn't see last night was Keith Vaz.
    Oh! Of course we had him all of last weekend.

    I think most of us are intelligent enough to see through them all

    After all we have lived with this government for 11 years and there cannot be many people left in the whole country who have not been negatively affected in some way or another by their time in office.

    11 years of incompetence. That's too tough to spin out of.

  • Comment number 95.

    I have been intrigued by BBC coverage of the Osborne business - as it seems have many others.

    I have no time for Osborne, I think he is smug and arrogant, however I have even less time for Mandelson - also smug and arrogant. BBC have chosen to pursue the Osborne business with a vengeance which is good but they have almost completely ignored Mandelson whose track record indicates he is a selfish person quite lacking integrity and whose associations in the current matter demand a lot more scrutiny. why no BBC investigating? Osborne is a mere grass snake to Mandy's rattlesnake.

    Digressing slightly, whilst the UK is possibly in recession. BBC news24 is not helping the country by its repeat news process - every 30 minutes it tells us we are going into recession, possibly worst ever, etc. If it is possible to talk a country into recession then surely BBC news24 are going to manage to do so.

    And while I'm here, BBC reporting which irritates me is a newscaster introducing a topic defining it and transferring to 'our chief reporter/editor/whatever' who tells us just what the newscaster has told us and passes over to 'our special correspondent/whatever' who more or less tells us what the previous two have told us. No wonder the licence fee keeps going up. 3 'reporters' and who knows how many support staff to give us a one-liner.

    Have a nice day.

  • Comment number 96.

    Oh look!!!!

    There are some naughty people saying that the government didn't fix the roof whilst the sun was shining and carry some of the blame for the recession:

    Welcome to reality Labour fans. P.S. Open your eyes and minds and think. Will you blindly give your vote to Labour again?

    Or do we want to ignore the pain of the recession and just chat more about George Osbourne not securing a donation on a yacht? If so I'm sure the BBC will oblige and give us more 'Osbourne' comments to blog against.

  • Comment number 97.

    re: 60 balhamu

    They're getting "reinstated" again afterwards by the ministry of truth at the bbc, but only after enough time goes by so that people won't read them afterwards.

    People generally skip the comments they've already read, so they miss the ones that get re-instated because they think they've already read them as the reinstated comments are further up the page than the latest comment they last read.

    So, to the auditors (and to you) it might look like it's not getting moderated, but in practice a lot of the anti-labour comments are getting temporarily hidden until enough time goes by that the BBC know most people won't be seeing/reading those comments.

    It's a psychological tactic which the BBC seems to be doing much more now than it used to. I think they know they're in trouble, so they're doing everything they can to divert attention away from their bias.

  • Comment number 98.

    47. "IMO there is an organised and Orchestrated campaign , either by the Tory Party itself or a group aligned to the party which tries to dominate opinion on this blog."

    Well, I'm not part of it if there is one. I've never posted to a blog before and I'm not a member of any political party. I'm just FURIOUS that my licence fee is supporting such unbalanced reporting. Before this incident, I had started switching between BBC and ITV news to obtain more balanced information, and I was frankly tired of seeing Robert Peston keep popping up with gossipy titbits. Is he being paid per story?

  • Comment number 99.

    The fact that you and the BBC feel the need to explain, says it all. The BBC are still terrified of Nu Labour, after backing down to Alistair Campbell and Tony Blair over the Kelly affair where funding, or the threat of losing it carried the day. The whole Osborne, Rothschild, Mandelson affair stinks to high heaven, and I'm afraid the BBC and your goodself will not come out smelling of roses. Somewhere along the line the big stick was waved and once again the BBC toed the Nu Labour line in abject surrender.

  • Comment number 100.

    Dear Nick,
    I don't actually think you are biased at all. I believe you are a very very good reporter who does his absolute best to tell it as he sees it. I defend the BBC at most times. On this occasion you might choose to see, however, that there are amazing forces at work on the labour/money side. Peston should NEVER have become involved. That is what gave it toxic potential to reasonably impartial observers(together with the breathless (not from you) coverage on all the BBC channels (You have to consider the total coverage not just yours).
    The moment it became clear that there was no allegation (even from Mr Rothschild) that actual soliciting ever took place, this story should have gone down umpteen notches. Are the BBC proud that the "take" is Osborne luxuriating on this billionaire yacht (for an hour or so) whilst the labour!! Govt minister stays on said yacht a week! Love to know the Liz Murdoch/Matthew Freud/Rupert Murdoch issues in all this...
    The BBC (and I accept you did your best but have been somewhat dragged along) did itself no favours in all this.


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