Sunday 26 April 2015


Continuing to follow things through...

You may recall that we here at ITBB have been following Norman's Wisdom - an election feature on Radio 4's Broadcasting House starring dog-loving, hyperbole-prone BBC assistant political editor Norman Smith.

For newbies, the story so far is, basically, that Norman has used two out of his last three Norman's Wisdom features to have a go at one particular party, namely UKIP. 

His first talk was on Joey Essex not knowing much about politics, something Norman felt was a warning to all hacks and politicos, giving that most people don't live in the Bubble they live in. 

His second talk focused on the collapsing stage backdrop at UKIP's press conference, signifying how UKIP's vote appears to be collapsing now, given all the pressures and added scrutiny brought by the election. 

The third talk mocked Nigel Farage for criticising the BBC during the BBC One leaders' debate. (Politicians are unwise to criticise the BBC, he argued. Ed Miliband has shrewdly learned that less, he added). 

The question we left you with last week, therefore, was:
Anyhow, so who's Norman going to have a dig at in the final couple of episodes of Norman's Wisdom? Two unhelpful pieces on UKIP down, two more to go perhaps? 
Well, this week's feature focused on negative campaigning and, to be fair to Norman, UKIP weren't on the receiving end of most of his digs. That was the Tories. 

Four clips and a concluding passage citing the Tories' negative campaigning over 'Bad King Alex' and the SNP's possible influence over shrewd Ed placed the Conservatives firmly in his firing line today. 

And, to be even more fair to him, Norman did (very briefly) cite a couple of Labour examples (and I do mean very briefly). 

I, myself, would have placed Labour's 'cunning plan' over accusing David Cameron of causing the crisis in the Med as the starting point of this piece - though I could well be biased in the opposite direction to Norman. 

That said, Norman still managed, somehow, to make UKIP the centrepiece of his talk today! I'm classing that as three weeks in a row. 

A single poll has apparently shown that UKIP has conducted the most negative campaign of all. Norman illustrated that with a clip of Nigel Farage saying that UKIP is now being positive before listing a lot of negative things - doubtless before moving onto and dwelling on at length the positive...though Norm, naturally, cut off the clip before than happened, rather making Nigel look a little bit silly...

Oh Norman, anyone would think you're biased!

One more week to go. Will he be able to resist another dig at UKIP next week?


Lest I be accused of negative campaigning myself, let me add that I loved the rest of Broadcasting House today. It was a pleasure to listen to.

The 'Baroque concerto' featuring slowed-down bird song was absolutely magical (and something I could have listened to for much, much longer), and the regular election chat with Lord Peter Hennessy and John Sergeant was as entertaining as ever.

Today they discussed politicians' dread of appearing out-of-step with the national religion - the NHS - and there were some fascinating archive clips, including one from Clement Attlee (whose voice somewhat surprised me) and one from Winston Churchill (whose voice didn't) claiming credit for the Conservatives over the founding of the NHS...

...and, it turned out, with good reason: The NHS was envisioned by the war-time coalition (following Liberal Beveridge's report) and a Conservative minister draw up the bill to bring it into being. Churchill's Conservatives were ready to enact it if they won the 1945 election. They didn't win it, of course, and Labour did. And Labour - even during this election - have been claiming proprietorial rights over the NHS ever since. BH made it clear that the Tories (and Liberals) have just as much right to claim ownership of it.

And, gosh, there was also a delightful feature on old-fashioned swearing - prompted by Sir John Major's use of "merry hell" to describe the impact an SNP-Labour post-election 'understanding' might provoke.

Heavens to Betsy, some of the phrases they were laughing at are ones I and my family have used within recent decades.

One of the words they mentioned was "bloody". There was something of a scandal when Shaw first put it on the stage in the first decade of the Twentieth Century, but now no one bloody well seems to care about its use any more, which is a bloody shame...

...and which gives me the opportunity to share a story I've told Sue before:

On a coach trip to Harrogate twenty years or so back, me and my girlfriend were sat in front of two talkative old chaps from Barrow-in-Furness (lovely place, wouldn't want to live there - even if you paid me). Almost every sentence contained either a "bloody" or a "bugger". (You may think I'm exaggerating, but I'm not). Whether they were talking about the "bloody vicar" (who came very well out of the story actually, if I remember correctly) or the sheep in the fields we were passing - "Look at them buggers!", one of them said (no, really!!) - those two time-honoured swear-words were as natural to them as breathing. They were terms of affection. They even used them in connection with their kids. [It really tickled my funny bone at the time].

What other blog about BBC bias provides your with stories like that?

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