National politics

Andrew Marr paper review a farce

I didn’t listen to much news yesterday, on Sunday, I was more interested in getting out to Snakes and Ladders in Brentford to give the baby an outing. This morning, with the baby in nursery, I have a chance to catch up.

Yesterday’s BBC coverage of the Peter Watt revelations in the Mail on Sunday could only be described as a naked act of partisanship. The BBC, and the Andrew Marr show in particular, got this totally wrong. If you are a Conservative you have got to conclude that the BBC really is the enemy.

I have just been replaying the Andrew Marr show, see it here. The news bulletin was a very smart bit of editing (if your objective is to protect and promote the Labour party). The way they handled the Peter Watt story was to include it but only in a way that minimised its impact. The lead story was the snow. Fair enough. The second story was Brown’s own interview in the New of the World. The only substantial part of that interview was Brown’s comment that he would serve a full term. Surely it is not that news worthy that someone who has only been Prime Minister for two years and is intent on standing again will undertake to serve a full term?

The Peter Watt story came up third before the Togo football team ambush. The line they used on the Peter Watt story was he says that “it will be difficult for the party to win under Gordon Brown”. No reference is made to Watt’s claims that Brown lied directly over the election that never was in 2007, probably the most damming claim made by Watt. No reference to Brown’s lack of strategy.

The BBC website uses the same damage limitation technique. Their main website news story covering the issue leads on Brown’s “silliness” quote from the News of the World and refers to the Peter Watt story in the 3rd paragraph. Yes, suitably prominent but why? The line they use is so anodyne you have to question why it is the third paragraph.

But ex-Labour Party general secretary Peter Watt told the Mail on Sunday they were unlikely to win under Mr Brown.

The only answer can be that the BBC news editors want to be able to claim that they gave the story due prominence without doing any damage to Labour. You have to read through 600 words before they come back to the story:

Former Labour general secretary Mr Watt told the Mail on Sunday: “Gordon is a big political figure but he lacks the emotional intelligence required by a modern leader. If you cannot connect with people you will fail. Leaders like Tony Blair and Margaret Thatcher were fantastic communicators. Gordon just doesn’t have those skills.”

In his memoirs he said Downing Street was a “shambles” after Mr Brown took over and said that the prime minister had spent £1.2m on the “election that never was” in 2007.

Mr Watt resigned as the party’s administrative chief in 2007 after admitting he knew businessman David Abrahams had been donating cash to Labour through third parties.

Mr Byrne dismissed the Mail story as “a bit of innuendo and gossip” which related to events that took place some years ago. He added that Mr Watt was “a thoroughly decent guy but the chap’s got a book to sell”.

Even at the bottom of the article they fail to cover Watt’s most damning revelations and go to the trouble of quoting Liam Byrne to further mitigate the damage (to Labour).

Back on the Marr show if you scroll through to 6:40 you get to the most egregious example of damage limitation. Why does Marr choose to discuss the papers with two Labour supporters? Both actress Maureen Lipman and historian Tristram Hunt are Labour people. Lipman is an avowed Labour luvvie and Hunt even worked for the party. Don’t forget that Marr has described himself in his youth as a “raving leftie”. Naturally enough they manage between the three of them to refer to the Peter Watt story without dealing with its implication that our Prime Minister is probably unhinged, that he has no strategy beyond being in power for the sake of being in power and he is quite prepared to lie if it suits him.

14 replies on “Andrew Marr paper review a farce”

The BBC is biased towards Labour because they didn’t use this news to the maximum benefit of the Conservative Party.

You concede it hurt Labour – but not enough for your liking.

For those of us with a passing interest in politics – isn’t this the type of grubby bickering that turns most people off?


I agree totally. I could not even find the story on the BBC website. How can the paper review on the BBC TV flagship politics show be done by 3 labour luvvies when the PM has been called “a nutter ” over 6 pages of the Mail on Sunday by the GEN. SEC. of his party and they ignor it? The trouble is this has gone on for so long (the Now Show, News Quiz etc.) it is just normal service.
Then Cameron comes on and says “I love the BBC” !!!!!!!
Can you have a word?


I think it’s very fair criticism of TV programmes and news outlets to question the editors’, publishers’ media ‘owners’ choice of news stories and how the content is prioritised and dealt with.

I question every such choice on Ealing Council’s web site Home Page and every story in Ealing Council’s ‘Around Ealing’ magazine. I consistently conclude that the Ealing Council person who decides what is news and what isn’t news (for web site and 137,000 copies of monthly print circulation) is (to use your words about Gordon Brown) ‘probably unhinged’.

However you should probably stop watching The Andrew Marr Show – as it clearly upsets you – and I should probably stop reading the Council’s web site Home Page and copies of ‘Around Ealing’.


The BBC has a strange sense of what constitutes balance.
Shouldn’t the Trustees be keeping an eye on this kind of blatant partiality or have they also been stuffed with Fabian tools.


Recently Andrew Marr insinuated that GB’s sight might be hindering him from being effective. But now the BBC is the Tory enemy. We have heard that one for decades. Watch ITV instead.


Perhaps the BBC know that they are fire-proof. I’m afraid that Cameron isn’t likely to take them on! Dunno! We just cannot seem to get things done!


The most glaring mistake that Margaret Thatcher made was that in privatising the then public concerns she didn’t include the BBC. Get it done Dave – it will go some way(if only a little) to cutting the deficit.


Whatever the validity of concerns about BBC bias towards the left or the right or up-down-or-centre, anyone likely to be watching the Andrew Marr show is pretty likely to either already have a leaning towards one party or the other or be astute enough to see through it — it’s hardly like allowing a leading politician on a popularist show like a soap opera…..

To those that say “sell the BBC”, I think this is an area of the British landscape similar to the NHS in being an important part of what (people think) “is British”, and where both/all parties are damned if they do and damned if they don’t, so the best they can both do is claim the BBC is biased against them. Ironic really when – on the whole – it’s probably the least biased of all the media outlets that inform the British Electorate.


Watt got a complete slot to himself this w/e on the A Marr show.

What a sleazy opportunist. Don’t find his performance credible.



Why is this man sleazy? Gordon Brown robbed him of his livelihood by accusing him of criminality and sacking him. It is quite understandable that he sees telling his own story as a way of supporting himself and his family.

I assume he is protecting himself from libel suits by making sure he sticks to the truth. The story he tells is entirely plausible and fits with the facts. Don’t you like what you are hearing?


The impression I got is that the labour campaign fund or the labour party is tight or very tight on funds. If this happened to the Tories and then a Tory person doing the same job as Watt says he could have been more penetrating as to the source of funding, then I suspect the Tory leadership might get jumpy, and consider issuing brown envelopes. If then such person ratted on the Tory party, you can bet your bottom dollar that there would be a comment on the Phil Taylor Website.

I think it rather depends what Gordon Brown meant by criminal.

If a resident said that building skyscrapers in Ealing was criminal. then legally that would not be the case, but on other grounds you already know the strength of opinion.

Anyway I just felt uncomfortable with the bloke.


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