Saturday, 1 July 2017

Background checks

Project Fear

I did wonder why, on first getting up this morning, the story of James Chapman criticising Theresa May for being too inflexible over Brexit was the second story on both Today and the BBC News website. 

As the various reports mentioned that his comments were featured on today's The Week in Westminster, I assumed this was the BBC getting in a dig at Mrs May and Brexit whilst simultaneously plugging an upcoming BBC programme (as the BBC are wont to do in their news bulletins). 

The name James Chapman only rang a very vague bell (thinking back though I now recall it from his Daily Mail days), but as the BBC only described him as a former advisor to Brexit Secretary David Davis and he was appearing on TWIW, I assumed - as I suspect many others would also have assumed - that he's a backbench MP. 

Until I read Alan's piece at Biased BBC tonight ("So who is James Chapman?", Alan begins) I'd no idea at all that Mr Chapman's background has much more to it than just being "a former advisor to David Davis", as the BBC kept on described him today. 

For yes, there's definitely much more to Mr Chapman than him being a former aide of David Davis. 

He was also a former aide to George Osborne and one of the key architects of 'Project Fear' for the Remain side in the EU referendum. ("The man who helped run Project Fear is now a key figure in Brexit negotiations. Exclusive: Bizarre twist sees former Osborne aide take top job with Brexit Secretary David Davis", as the Independent put it at the time).

And yet here he was, via the BBC's The Week in Westminster, all across the BBC panoply of platforms today, getting next-to-top billing for his pro-'flexibility' views regarding Brexit - and all without the BBC thinking it worthwhile filling in its readers, listeners or viewers on the other highly relevant details of his recent past. Shouldn't they have done so?

What was he doing there? Who at the BBC invited him? Why did they invite him? 

Answers on a postcard to Lord Hall.

Mr Chapman himself is not happy about this kind of reaction though:

That doesn't let the BBC off the hook though. Those questions remain: What was he doing there? Who at the BBC invited him? Why did they invite him? 

To which can be added: Are the BBC still engaged on Project Fear?

(No answers on a postcard to anyone for that one!)


  1. What the BBC considers deserving of "main news" headlines is sometimes mind-boggling. Earlier today the lead story mentioned what was written on placards by certain demonstrators complaining about austerity or something...anyway the placards were conveniently getting across the message the BBC wanted something like "Filthy rich uncaring Tories obsessed with Hard Brexit let poor people burn to death." Is this a new trend for radio news - reading out the placards that on TV are always lovingly lingered over (May Burn In Hell or similar).

  2. The trick does work. We were having a cheese toasty, half chatting, half watching the news. As we cleared up, this story came on. Accompanied by pictures of Davis striding with purpose to a sandwich bar, the pick-up was that he was unhappy with May. Offering the dog a crust, Mrs.Enough said "him as well?"
    The answer is no, but unless you concentrate, the job is as good as done.