This morning's Broadcasting House began with a short discussion between Paddy O'Connell and BBC political reporter Louise Stewart about the latest UK and US statements on Syria. Somehow, it managed to transform into a 'government splits' story:
P O'C: This is a very divided [sic] issue, and in the government backbenches as well?LS: Absolutely.
Then it was onto the real main story - the David Miranda/Glenn Greenwald/Guardian story. (What still!?)
Paddy began by reading out a representative [/sarc] sample of comments from the papers - Simon Jenkins in the left-leaning Guardian attacking state surveillance in Britain ; Paul Routledge in the left-leaning Daily Mirror denouncing the "emerging police state" in Britain; and Nick Cohen in the left-leaning New Statesman warning against police and government's calls for more powers to protect us from terrorism.
Well done, Paddy, you couldn't have been more one-sided there!
Still, there was a discussion to follow. Left-wing lawyer Sir Geoffrey Bindman (a less-well-known version of Michael Mansfield QC), who is representing David Miranda, was the first guest. Next came solicitor Hamid Sabi, who fled Iran after the Islamic revolution. Finally, we heard from Lord Ian Blair, the former commissioner of the Met once labelled 'Labour's favourite police chief'.
Both Sir Ian and Mr Sabi denied that Britain is becoming a police state, in opposition to Sir Geoffrey Bindman, but Sir Ian was largely in agreement with Sir Geoffrey on most other things - as you might expect - and Paddy O'Connell's questioning tended strongly towards the perspective represented by Sir Geoffrey Bindman.
Next came a plug for Pink Floyd (like the one on Newsnight the other day). This didn't come at a good time for me as I'm personally boycotting Pink Floyd over Roger Waters's anti-Israel boycott calls last week. The BBC are obviously not with me on that and are plugging his band with some fervour at the moment (as here). Photographer Jill Furmanovsky expressed her love for Dark Side of the Moon in a personal report. (I'd link to the album on YouTube for you were I not boycotting Pink Floyd). The pretext here was a radio play by Sir Tom Stoppard to be broadcast tomorrow on BBC Radio 2, centred on the album. (I might have listened to that, but as I'm boycotting Roger Waters...!)
I note in passing that the news bulletin referred to Lord Sacks's interview with Edward Stourton on Sunday but said that the soon-to-ex-chief rabbi was saying that the increase in child poverty was due to "the breakdown of institutions" caused by "individualism". Yes, up to a point but Lord Sacks was very explicit that it was the breakdown on one particular institution - the institution of marriage - which was causing that rise in child poverty. Why was the BBC being so coy about that?
Ah, here's Shaun Ley to preview The World This Weekend!
Instead of previewing it, Paddy, Shaun and newsreader Zeb answered some GSCE questions instead.
Both Shaun and Zeb got the science question wrong [What is the mass number of an atom? 1. The number of particles it contains, 2. The number of protons it contains or 3. The number of protons and neutrons it contains] , with Paddy admitting he didn't know the answer either. Both, however, got the history question right [The 1833 Factory Act banned children under nine in the UK from working. What did it also state employers had to provide for young workers each day? 1. Two hours of schooling, 2. Hot meals for children working nights or 3. Safety clothes for children working machines.] Proof, if proof were needed, of the heavy humanities bias of the BBC!
An interesting tribute to American novelist Elmore Leonard from his son Peter came next. Elmore Leonard, who died last week, was the man behind the ten rules for novelists described in Sue's Back to the Drawing Board post.
Suddenly all hell broke loose.
Actually, no, it was only the paper review with Ann Pettifor of the left-leaning New Economics Foundation, Sheila Gunn, former press advisor to John Major, and the poptabulous Tony Blackburn. The topics? Fergie and Prince Andrew, the weakness of the UK economy, Syria, Andrew Marr and Jackie Ashley demanding rights for carers, the tripling of the number of over-65s in work (according to the TUC), Cheryl Cole's bottom and tattoos, and a footballer being sold to a Spanish club for a high price.
Finally came a fascinating segment on the important of the psalms to various people - namely writer and former convict Charles Hills (aka C A R Hills) and Sophie Lambrechtsen, daughter of the 'Angel of Arnhem' Kate ter Horst. This is the sort of thing I wish Sunday would do more often.
Do you regret not listening to this edition of Broadcasting House now?