Sunday 30 November 2014

Another Miscellany for Advent Sunday (afternoon)

What did we learn, bias-wise, from the previous post then?

That Evan Davis may have been pushing his pro-EU bias at us on Newsnight, that Andrew Marr's show was pretty much OK, that Radio 4's Sunday was its usual liberal-biased self, and that Hugh Sykes still doesn't like UKIP (and ain't afraid to show it on Twitter)... other words, biases (where found) from the usual, expected direction. 


It's not always like that though (and I refuse to be the sort of blogger who refuses to admit that). 

Take today's The World This Weekend with Mark Mardell, which rather surprisingly (well, it surprised me) focused on the severity of the UK's budget deficit. 

It asked election candidates from the two main parties - and their think tank counterparts (from the centre-left IPPR and centre-right CPS, both properly labelled) - to spell out their thinking on how the next government should reduce the deficit.

On a day when the big political news is that George Osborne is trying to outbid his political rivals over extra NHS spending, focusing on our national indebtedness and how drastic the steps required to tackle it are going to have to be, this isn't the sort of thing I expect from the BBC. 

The programme, incidentally, made use of the FT's deficit calculator and its editor, Nick Sutton, has asked us to give it a go too. So I have done, and all Radio 4 listeners and Is the BBC biased? readers should too.

It's eye-opening. No wonder the politicians interviewed didn't get anywhere near the target. They wouldn't dare spell out just what needs to be done. I, not needing any votes, cut everything, except defence (how right-wing of me!), and still didn't get there. (Must try harder next time).


George's extra (vote-buying) NHS spending pledges, incidentally, formed the main subject of last night's extended paper review on Radio 5 Live's Stephen Nolan show, hosted by (Peter Allen) Stephen Nolan and, unusually for a BBC programme, one of the guests spoke from a non-pro-NHS position. 

This programme isn't something I normally listen to but I'd read (at Biased BBC) that Biased BBC/A Tangled Web editor [and non-NHS fan] David Vance provided good value on it so thought it might be fun to listen to. [It comes in the last hour, if you've clicked on the link above].

It was fun. And he did

It wasn't the kind of debate you get on Radio 4. After a brief appearance from a David at the Sun on Sunday, David Vance and another David from the Daily Mirror locked horns, and Biased BBC's David came out on top - even reducing the Mirror's David to stunned silence at one stage (following by a Damascene acceptance by the Mirror man of his unquestionably fair but somehow-rarely-heard-on-the-BBC point). 

And (David No...) Stephen Nolan got his horn stuck in too from time to time, occasionally trying to gore David Vance. 

Now, I know DV and SN go back a while (Radio Ulster, and all that), but from what I've heard of their encounters before, Stephen always seems to go for him more than his left-wing opponents. SN tried a particularly sharp move here, trying to entrap his guest with suggestions of snobbishness or racism (I'm not sure which as DV deftly batted it away before he could spell it out). Far be it from me to step into their relationship, but that suggests possible left-wing bias to me on the part of the BBC host. 

I do like paper reviews, especially when the reviewers come from different perspectives. 


Returning to The World This Weekend...

After a depressing report (and interview) on the present situation in Afghanistan, where (pace the BBC) Islam and violence in no way go together, the Islamist Taliban has embarked on yet another intense killing spree, the programme lightened up and took us to the UK's very first Jewish Comedy Festival...

...where were found such jokes as:
I went home the other night, found my best friend in bed with my wife. I said, 'Lenny, I have to. But you?' (Saul Bernstein)
I'm a reform Jew, which means I go to synagogue twice a year: Yom Kippur and Christmas. (Josh Howie)
Another comedian, Raymond Simonson, made a couple of important points:
One of the biggest differences between the Jewish community here and in the United States is in our size. We're under half a percent of the population in the UK, 275,000 Jews. There are five and a half million of us in America. So Jewish comedy there, the Jewish community there, out, loud and confident, and  the Jewish community here have been quite quiet, kept their heads down.
I think whenever there's a time where anti-Semitism has been on the rise - and this summer there was the highest ever levels of recorded anti-Semitic incidents in the UK, so the Jewish community shrink further down - so what we're saying is, no, we're going to stick out heads further above the parapet and we're going to have people - Jewish, non-Jewish - laughing with us. That's so important.
And the best of luck to them.

And well done to The World This Weekend for broadcasting that.

And if you click on the link to the programme you'll also find two bonus jokes.

1 comment:

  1. The Jewish comedy festival item was pathetic and annoying. It gave the impression we have never had loud Jewish comedy in this country. To which I say: go interview Sacha Baron-Cohen (never what you would call a shrinking violet), Marty Feldman (oh yeah, he was v. quiet), David Baddiel (Wembley - remember?) , Maureen Lippman (she doesn't exactly hold back does she Ed?) ...

    Dan Read


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