Wednesday 25 January 2017

John Humphrys isn’t all bad

Who was it that said John Humphrys  is not all bad? I know I read it somewhere recently.

Hmm. I tapped “John Humphrys’ into the search engine over at Biased-BBC to see if Alan had said it, but the first thing that came up was from September 2011 by someone called Sue.  (!)   (It made quite a good read, if I say so myself).

Anyway, I think I recall complaining about his hectoring style, which emerges on days when he’d obviously got out of bed on the wrong side. You know, when he comes across all bullying and irritable, and interrupts people he dislikes, so that they can’t finish important points.

Well, this morning he was the model of a very modern gentleman. He was even-handed and rather patient, although Shami Chakrabarti, shadow Attorney General or whatever her title is these days, might beg to differ.
The case for insisting that parliament is given a vote on the government’s Brexit strategy is pretty weak in my ill-informed opinion, and I think that her claim that the Labour Party doesn’t wish to ‘imperil’ Britain’s chances of getting a good deal while arguing that there should be transparency and that parliament should have the chance to ‘vote’ on tactics does amount to dancing on the head of a pin. 

If I’m quoting Michael Howard a lot, it’s because I think he was right and Shami was wrong, and I also think she knew she was wrong. 
Her faltering protests “It could be included in the bill” was the desperate cry of a drowning shadow Attorney General grasping at straws; one who jolly well knew she was on a sticky wicket (but who was never going to back down).

Not that I would have particularly chosen to trust Theresa May to handle things on my behalf, but negotiating is just like poker, isn’t it? Don’t show your hand. Keep your cards close to your chest. Poker Face. Lady Gaga wrote a song about it. Bluff, counter-bluff, don’t blink first and all that. And, if we’re forced to reveal our hand in the open and transparent fashion that certain MPs think we should (though they will keep dancing on a pin to deny that is what they’re asking for) then all 27 countries need to do the same. 

John Humphrys was a little ratty with Shami, and I kind of sensed his response to Michael Howard was more respectful, (with good reason, if it was) but he did listen to both sides, and put the gist of each of their arguments to the other in a professional manner.

The BBC forbids its staff to make value judgements, but some of them just have judgemental voices. I'm no fan of Mishal Husain, as you might imagine. When she is dealing with the Israel/Palestine conflict or anything related to Islam, the tone of her voice gives away more than she might wish. If she’s taking someone to task on any topic at all, she comes across all schoolmarmish and harsh. 

Not so this morning. She sounded positively syrupy while indulging in a little light banter with a couple of wimmin, discussing shoes. Emma the podiatrist and Emma the designer.

The ‘news of the day’ concerns The Women’s Dress Code and the sexism of being told to keep up appearances in the workplace. In particular, being compelled to wear high heeled shoes, hence the podiatrist. "Wearing very high-healed shoes cripples you," is what the BBC wanted to hear, so that they could be even more indignant at wimmin being forced to wear them.  But the podiatrist was in two minds. It all depends, she said. People with the right architecture (Doric columns are handy) can wear them with impunity. 

Perhaps the designer was there to make darkly meaningful remarks about Donald Trump, whose ‘wimmin' were wearing very high heels at the inauguration. (Does Donald Trump force his womenfolk to wear them in the workplace?) To augment this confusing innuendo, she said the protesting wimmin wore trainers or bovver boots.

Her own high heels are good high heels because they don't force the toes against the sides. I’m not sure what her point was. Was she for or against? No-one knows, especially not her.

Personally I’m in the “Steel toe-caps for receptionists” movement. Surely it’s people like the confused designer who profit most from the fashion victim industry. It’s in their interest to keep wimmin wearing their stuff, even if it’s uncomfortable. They are always telling us to do all sorts of unnatural things to our persons to ‘look good’. You can’t just blame men. 

I don’t think Mishal Husain was listening very attentively to either contributor or she would have called them out for being silly.  John Humphrys would have done a better job.

Emma Supple is a consultant podiatrist in College of Podiatry, Emma Hope is a shoe designer and here is a Doric column.


  1. There's no legal requirement for Parliament to vote on triggering Article 50, never mind getting to approve of any negotiating plans. There was some bill passed in 2008 (can't find it now) along with others about claiming certain powers for the 'royal prerogative', which doesn't require Parliament's approval. But obviously that's not the Blair Court judgment, which was created to give the facade of UK law not being subservient to EU law. But I did find something else, which I would think should piss off a lot of people.

    It's the intro to one of the 2008 Acts of Parliament about redefining certain power and terms. I suspect they all start out with this boilerplate, and it gives the whole game away:

    In accordance with section 1 of the European Communities Act 1972(1) a draft of this Order was laid before, and approved by a resolution of, each House of Parliament.

    Accordingly, Her Majesty, in exercise of the powers conferred by section 1(3) of the European Communities Act 1972, is pleased, by and with the advice of Her Privy Council, to order as follows:

    In other words, the Queen has no powers outside of those granted her by the EU. British national sovereignty is a myth until further notice.

  2. Couple of observations. The newsreader on Radio 4 at 2pm today managed to pronounce "wall" (Trump's wall of course) with a very meaningful tone of voice which I would interpret as "How pathetic!". But as others have pointed out we spent millions on a wall in Calais to keep out illegal migrants...without newsreaders getting all uppity about it.

    Then on the Archers...they're always slipping in snidey anti-Brexit stuff...this time it was a severe warning about how you are going to have watch currency exchange rates. Could have been "This new low pound is providing marvellous opportunities to expand our international tourism and sales of Borchester Cheese to mainland Europe." But that's pretty unlikely isn't it?

  3. BBC Reality Check Check Up...

    What could the latest Reality Bend check up relate to?

    Media claims that 25 year olds are 15 year old unaccompanied refugees? Jenny Hill's claim that nearly the whole of Germany was wildly welcoming a million undocumented migrants back in 2015? The Fake News predictions of the OECD, IMF and Treasury about a post Brexit vote recession?

    Well hepdiggety! No - it's an investigation focussed on a Trump claim!

    "The claim: Donald Trump would have won the popular vote in last year's US presidential election had it not been for people voting illegally.

    Reality Check verdict: There is no evidence to support the assertion that at least 2.86 million people voted illegally."

    As usual from BBC Reality Bend, a really sloppy analysis. My comments:

    1. The source of the claim is unclear. There is a quote from Sean Spicer, Trump's press spokesperson, but that is entirely different from the claim under investigation. There is a statement that "the president was reported to have claimed in a closed meeting on Monday that between three and five million unauthorised immigrants had voted for Hillary Clinton." However no citation for the BBC's claim is given so it could well be Fake News.

    2. There are nearly 12 million illegal migrants living in the USA according to the Pew Centre. The BBC give no estimate for the overall number. But if we assume that 9 million are adults, that gives ample opportunity for the claim to be true. It would mean just under one in three were registered to vote and voted. If you are an illegal migrant I would think you want to get as much official documentation as you can...getting on the electoral register probably opens a gate to other forms of documentation so there may well be an incentive to register. Then, in this election, you - as an illegal migrant - had a very strong incentive to stop the candidate who is threatening to deport you and your family.

    3. The Reality Check analysis seems to rely on assertions and recitals of voting laws, as though illegal migrants would not circumvent those. The BBC appears to be expecting us to believe that illegal migrants do not put their names on the electoral register (wouldn't that arouse suspicion?).

    4. While claims supporting Trump's concerns are criticised, the analysis reports uncritically : "The CCES published a newsletter that disputed the findings and said "the likely percent of non-citizen voters in recent US elections is 0". " Are the BBC really expecting us to believe that the percentage of non-citizen voters is zero?! So desperate are the BBC to bash Trump that they appear to have become detached from reality.




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