I’m sorry. Really, really sorry. Not for anything I’ve written (although maybe I should be). No, I’m sorry about the BBC, the organisation I was proud to work for. So much of what has gone wrong with its news judgement is a failure of effective management and the toxic public feelings now widespread have not been addressed by the BBC, leaving journalists to take the brunt of the opprobrium, mostly without justification – James Cook being a case in point.
But this morning I cringed as the main UK news programme, Today, rehearsed the Nicola-prefers-Cameron story by saying (words to the effect): The memo may by completely untrue and she may never have said any such thing, but could it be true anyway…!
In other words they know the memo was a fake and all participants have denied it and it could be a deliberate smear in an election campaign, but, hey, this is fun. So let’s stick it to them one more time. Nothwithstanding, it’s all rubbish, Stewart Hosie, don’t you actually prefer Cameron anyway?!
That is exactly how propaganda works – you start by floating the idea, put it in people’s mind and then contrive ways to milk the lie until it lodges. I wondered at first why the SNP was participating by putting up the deputy leader for interview but of course what else can the SNP do? Non-appearance looks like guilt and they’d run the item anyway only using someone whose message might not be what you want because by definition, it would outside the party.
Hosie did a straight and effective job denouncing the whole idea and proving that this SNP has never had so much political talent as it has today. The interview descended into a cringeworthy trawl for a sliver of anything to cling to including a question on what HE thought of Miliband as Prime Minister. He correctly answered it was up to Labour who led the party and if Ed was leader then it was possible he would be in Number 10. (Blindingly obvious)
The interviewer wanted him to admit he didn’t see Ed as PM material as if to confirm the leaked memo line – but who on God’s earth does think Ed is Prime Ministerial material? You might as well ask: when did you stop beating your wife?
We then got the Question of the Year so far that had me rolling out of bed in laughter. So out of touch are these London numpties that she was able to ask him (an SNP MP) who he thought should be leading Labour…eh? And would he prefer – wait for it – Jim Murphy! After ‘Sturgeon Prefers Cameron’, it’s ‘SNP prefers Murphy’…
I’ve been trying to unravel the purpose behind this Christmas cracker joke question and can only deduce that Poppy and Venetia in the Today planning team were left without an editor and had to come up with searching questions on their own for this ‘SNP-thingy.’ Poppy, whose dad goes fishing on the Tay once a year, thought Scots didn’t want Ed ‘because he’s from Hampstead’ and they didn’t like the English. Venetia suggested they’d prefer a Scot – like Gordon Brown – and they giggled. Who else did they know who was Scottish? Jim Murphy! He’s one of them. They’ll want him in charge so they can do business with him…they’ll be friendly because they’re part of the Tartan Mafia.
What mindset does it demonstrate that professional programme-makers could seriously ask an SNP MP if he’d like Murphy to lead Labour? I’m one of the kinder elements towards Jim who, as far as I can see, is deeply loathed not just by the SNP but inside his own party – the degree of contempt is eye-popping. Hosie laughed it off like an April Fool but could reasonably have delayed and then said: ‘Are you serious, Sarah? Have you any idea what you’re suggesting?’ (Also, can you imagine, say the Chancellor, being asked who he’d prefer leading the SNP? They wouldn’t dare)
Nothing daunted, of course, the Beeb then had an item in the subsequent news bulletin mentioning that the SNP has been less forthcoming about what they think of Ed as PM…What did the reporter Norman Smith expect them to say exactly? ‘We think he’s an outstanding candidate for national leadership. We disagree with every other commentator and opinion poll and Ed’s our man?’
You really are left feeling you live in a different country sometimes and how ironic that you discover that from listening to the national broadcaster.
(I’m glad to see the Scotland Office came up with a good answer to the leak. Carmichael says it was a mistake…that’s all right then)by