Dame Jenni Murray got into a bit of a Twitter spat today with veteran BBC colleague Hugh Sykes.
After her appearance on this morning's Broadcasting House (reviewing the papers with Nigel Farage and Terry Wogan), she took to Twitter, peering over her glasses no doubt (as ever), only to find that various left-wing twitterers were roundly slagging her off.
Why? Because, they said, she'd refused to slag off UKIP over the ex-UKIP 'negroes' lady, pleading that she was too "independent BBC" to comment.
Oh they weren't happy with her, they really weren't. And 'The True Voice of the BBC' (as I like to think of him), Hugh Sykes, wasn't happy either.
He shared their disapproval of Dame Jenni's failure to bash UKIP, and joined in the attack on her on Twitter, re-tweeting their criticisms and making it clear that - unlike Dame Jenni - he has no truck whatsoever with racism:
@ramblecamp @DaveSThompson @whjm I once said on air, "We've had lots of racist mail. I put it in the bin" Complaints! Editor defended me.— HughSykes (@HughSykes) February 22, 2015
Twitter, however, is (to put it mildly) not always reliable. Hugh, as we know, isn't always reliable either. And Dame Jenni took to Twitter again this afternoon to say that her critics (including Hugh) had it all wrong:
@HughSykes just to clear comment not on racism but Farage conservative defectors to UKIP assertion.— Jenni Murray (@whjm) February 22, 2015
And when you listen to BH you can see that Dame Jenni's comments could be taken either way but that she probably was saying that she wouldn't comment on the party political aspect of the story (which had just been discussed) rather than refusing to comment on racism. But I can understand why UKIP-hating people (like Hugh & Co.), who were hoping she'd denounce UKIP, could hear her comment as a refusal to denounce "UKIP's racism" and, thus, leap into Twitter action in the hope of generating a Twitterstorm.
If there's one thing you can safely say about Hugh on Twitter is that he's hardly "independent BBC". His dislike of UKIP (on Twitter) is undisguised. You will doubtless recall, however:
HughSykes @HughSykes 26 Jan 2013@4d2b Yes, Big If. But I am scrupulously objective when reporting - unlike some of my Tweets! I obey: "Hang up your opinions with your coat"
His reporting, however, has always seemed to me to belie that claim (as I've said several times before). His BH report today was plugging the need for government spending in Italy, mirroring his anti-austerity Twitter comments, and he largely critiqued the Blairite Italian PM Matteo Renzi from the left (as is his way with most things on Twitter).
Like many a true Brit (as we were saying the other day), Hugh overestimates his knowledge about things. Today he was coming across as a great expert on Italy and Italian politics, despite having only popped over for a visit.
And in a typical piece of Hugh Sykes' sleight-of-hand, he referred (for the sake of his argument) to Forza Italia as a "far-right" party - even though Wikipedia, and everyone else I can find who isn't "far-left", maintains that the relaunched Forza Italia of Silvio Berlusconi remains "centre-right" - and has recently rejoined the mainstream EPP grouping in the European parliament to prove it.
Now, by Hugh's standards Forza Italia probably is "far-right" (like UKIP) and Mr Renzi "Thatcherite", but that probably says much, much more about Hugh that it does about them.