Saturday 10 February 2018

Groundhog Post

I really didn't want to post this post, as I feel as completely exhausted by all of this kind of absolute drivel as the BBC's Rob Burley must surely feel about it...


This week's line-up for The Andrew Marr Show consists of Penny Mordaunt MP, Andrew Gwynne MP, Henry Bolton, Anna Soubry MP, Chuka Umunna MP, Ayesha Hazarika, Julia Hartley Brewer and The Spitfires. 

That's a decent balance of guests, isn't it?

For those happy few of us who are really interested in politics, there's somebody for almost everyone here.

Corbynistas ought to be happy. So should pro-Brexit Tories. And anti-Brexit Tories. And pro-EU Blairites. And UKIP supporters. And fans of The Spitfires.

Even on Brexit, the balance works out well, and everyone's a winner.

Hmm. A reasonable person would surely think so...


'Over And Over Again' is the title of The Spitfires's most high-profile song (and very likeable it is too), and the phrase 'Over And Over Again' - or 'Groundhog Weekend' - sprung to my mind when reading the usual onslaught of tweets to The Andrew Marr Show's editor Rob Burley, and I bet you can guess what's been happening today, Twitter-wise... 

Yes, rampaging hordes of politically-engaged people have been complaining, sourly, about BBC bias simply because The Andrew Marr Show has had the temerity to invite on someone they don't like.

UKIP's Henry Bolton, Julia Hartley Brewer and Anna Soubry seem to be especially objectionable to the Twitterati (especially the latter pair of female political opposites on the Brexit issue).

UKIP, Julia HB and Anna Soubry are all on the BBC far too much, apparently, and they jolly well shouldn't be!

Rob tweeted:

I agree with Rob (which probably won't help him)...


...earlier came a sarcastic tweet from Tim Montgomerie about a different BBC programme...

...which draw a response from Anushka Asthana, the Guardian journalist presenting that programme this week.

An interesting exchange ensued:
Anushka Asthana: It’s about the Week in Westminster in a week that Anna Soubry has made news, and her interview came after an interview with strong Brexit supporter Anne Marie Trevalyan.
Tim Montgomerie: There's always a good reason for individual appearances but the multitude of slots...? So lazy and rewarding of her extravagant, made-for-Milbank remarks.
Anushka Asthana: People who are outspoken tend to get aired a lot. I’m pretty sure I quote Jacob Rees Mogg as much as Anna S, if not more, and we’re the Guardian. BBC will be actually counting to make sure balance.
Tim Montgomerie: That's your justification?! JRM is a SLIGHTLY bigger deal than AS. He leads the @ConHome grassroots poll for next leader. Soubry might even struggle to get her papers signed by a couple of colleagues and (twice) couldn't get elected to the Brexit select ctte.
Anushka Asthana: If anything the news amplification of Tory MP voices (I appreciate this may not be same for membership) is disproportionately in favour of those wanting hardest break.
Tim Montgomerie: That is also true but doesn't excuse us having to endlessly hear her insisting she respects the ref outcome while dissing it in her every action. ENDS! 
Wasn't Tim Montgomerie falling foul of Rob's Golden Rule, 'So, here's the thing, people you don't agree with will sometimes be on TV', here?

Well, even if he was (and he probably was), he certainly wasn't wrong about Anna Soubry being on the BBC an awful lot, including over the past week.

After her appearance on Monday's Newsnight, she was on Victoria Derbyshire on Tuesday and This Week on Thursday, as well as today's The Week in Westminster. (Yes, I've done my homework).

And, via Rob Burley's Twitter feed, I subsequently spotted something that probably wouldn't go down too well with Montie either. Yes, as mentioned earlier, the (in)famous Anna will be on The Andrew Marr Show tomorrow too:

Is she on because she's made the news this week (with Newsnight's help), or because she's outspoken and outspoken people tend to get aired a lot? And, if the latter, is that lazy journalism which amplifies a marginal voice disproportionately and distorts the news? Or is it good journalism that grabs a news-leading maverick and makes the most of her?

I really don't know what I think about this, so if you can help in the comments below please do.

Incidentally, as regular readers will know, Anushka isn't correct about the BBC "actually counting to make sure balance". (In)Famously, the BBC publicly disapproves of "bean counting" as a way of monitoring bias.

Update: Fresh in -


  1. but will AS be sober ?

    1. Good question. I know I'm not tonight.

    2. AS will be AS sober AS a judge who 'as a liking for multiple G&Ts and a visceral hatred of Brexit.

  2. Does Anna Soubry have anything NEW to say? Surely the point of news and current affairs programmes is to give us new developments not to keep playing the sour Soubry over and over again?

  3. It would be interesting to know how much the appearance of certain regulars is due to the fact that they are more willing to make themselves available for the programme. Of course, I doubt many politicians would admit that they are desperate to appear, so we'll never know if there are those who are regularly overlooked or if there are professional seat-fillers!

  4. What is puzzling is why they keep inviting Anna Soubry on rather than any of the other Tory hardcore remainers?
    Do the others like Heidi Allen and Nicki Morgan turn down appointments?


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