Sunday 29 April 2018

In Praise of David Lammy MP

To be sarcastic or not to be sarcastic, that is the question....

We don't often complain about Radio 4's Profile

Speaking for myself (and, so, not presuming on Sue!), I find it to be generally very engaging and pretty scrupulous when it comes to questions of balance and bias.

This week's edition, however, took me by surprise - so much so that I'm now posting (and strongly moaning) about it.


It profiled a prominent UK politician. 

Now, Profile often profiles politicians and, I'd say, usually succeeds in giving a fair and balanced view of them. 

Not this time though. 


Seriously, O Dear Reader, please listen to it for yourselves and see if you agree with me that (this week) Profile came far, far too close to sounding like a puff piece for the politician concerned.

Even presenter Mark Coles (a very engaging presenter) dropped his trademark John Peel-style deadpan irony. 

Indeed, listening to it, I thought of it as being a radio version of one of those notoriously hagiographic Wikipedia entries which turn out to have been edited (on the sly) by the very politician in question!


The politician profiled by Radio 4's Profile, if you were wondering, was Labour's David Lammy. 

Every voice featured -
his godmother Auntie May; his sister; Alastair Campbell; his school friend Patrick; his fellow choir member Kate; his former deputy head Trevor; his former Harvard professor Alan Stone; and Huff Post editor Paul Waugh 
- had only good things to say about him, and defended him against the very rare mentions of criticisms of Saint David of Tottenham featured in the programme...

...(including a fleeting mention of his, ahem, slightly embarrassing Mastermind experience).


I was genuinely taken aback by this Radio 4 Profile. (Should I have been?)

I expected (from past experience) to hear at least one or two dissenting voices - (that's what Radio 4's Profile usually does as far as profiling UK party politicians goes) - but there were no dissenting voices...

...and that is very unusual for Radio 4 Profile.


What got into the BBC here? Why didn't they dare to bring balance and irony into their profile of David Lammy? Why the near hagiography? Did the excellent Mark Coles cringe whilst reading out this script? What were they up to?


If you think I'm in any way exaggerating, please listen for yourselves and feel free to to disagree (and I'd love to hear an attempted defence of the BBC here).

Meanwhile, in the wake of this programme, I'm off to pray at the premature shrine of Saint David of Lammy, as he makes our present saints (on the evidence of Radio 4's Profile) sound like sinners.


  1. They even managed to make growing up near the Broadwater Farm Estate seem like a confirmation of virtue. The brutal murder of PC Blakelock was skimmed over as if it was of no significance.

    1. The attempt to cut off poor PC Blakelock's head is one of those things which the BBC would prefer we didn't dwell on, along with the attempted decapitation of Lee Rigby. There are lots of such things. How often do you hear the BBC refer to the fact that the UK lost 67 of its citizens in the 9-11 attack, which I think makes it the worst ever terrorist attack on UK citizens? Not very often...but Grenfell?...they are only too happy to mention those avoidable deaths.

  2. From the Book of Lammy:

    "Yea, and then David of Lammy when he heard of the travails of the Windrush Generation did sorely keen and rent his clothing, and went unto the chamber of the commons where he did mightily blast the Rudd of Amber, calling down the wrath of the BBC upon her head. Whereon his praises were sung lustily by the multitude of the media and soothsayers went through the land saying, "but surely here is a future Prime Minister". At which prophecy all the wise men did titter or roll about the floor laughing and clutching their sides."


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