Saturday 25 August 2018

Mark Mardell gets his facts wrong (again)

The (2008) crash brought down banks but did so much more. It added fat to the fire, poured petrol on the glowing embers of resentment - resentment of conventional politics and of politicians who couldn't get a handle on the crisis, who were too busy trying to deal with it to reflect the rage and resentment which bubbled up seeking an outlet. The time seemed ripe for UKIP. (Mark Mardell, The World at One, 25/8)

The penultimate episode of Mark Mardell's epic Brexit: A Love Story? was broadcast on yesterday's The World at One. His odyssey had finally reached Nigel Farage.  

As we discussed on the Open Thread, the item was heavy on Nick Clegg, treating him almost like the oracle, and (as MB put it) Mark Mardell "felt free (by none too subtle use of allegory) to accuse a mainstream party - UKIP - of being aggressive, violent and criminal in intent". 

It also included a clip of David Dimbleby presenting the 2014 local and European elections and saying, "And, of course, the party with most to talk about and the biggest mouth in politics at the moment, Nigel Farage's UKIP". The drawling derision with which he pronounced "...the biggest mouth in politics..." was quite something. Has he even talked about another UK party leader like that before (or after)?

Plus there was also a glaring factual error from Mark Mardell too when he said:
Douglas Carswell's defection and by-election victory gave UKIP their first ever MP.
That was actually Bob Spink who defected from the Conservatives to UKIP in 2008.

As MB put it, "that's a pretty gross error for someone whose job it is to follow all things political and parliamentary, and who no doubt as researchers to hand, free to use as far as he is concerned...and then the producer presumably read the script".

What's the betting though that Brexit: A Love Story? eventually wins Mark Mardell an award of some kind?

1 comment:

  1. Because Mardell has that soft radio-friendly tone, and what appears at first sight to be that typically English ironic humour (sorry to bring that up Jeremy), it's easy to be lulled into thinking there is nothing too wrong here. But a moment's reflection and it is clear this is truly "Fake News", for the following reasons:

    1. This is a "personal viewpoint" series that has been inserted into a News and Current Affairs Programme. Of course the BBC have been doing this increasingly and the bias is always to the liberal left view of the world. But I can't think of another example of where they have done this on such a scale. In this case, not only is it a "personal viewpoint" it's a single personal viewpoint that is in effect taking up a mammoth amount of radio time in what purports to be a news programme (must be something like 4 or 5 hours by now).

    2. The Mardell segment doesn't own up to it being a personal viewpoint. Nowhere does he say "I think..." "In my view..." "I feel that..." Nope, it purports to be an objective historical survey,albeit one lightened with touches of humour, of our relationship with the EU and its predecessors.

    3. Mardell's morsels are obsessed with narrative rather than truth. One example I gave on the other thread: Clegg is allowed to expand at length on his narrative about how absurd and dangerous it was to offer an "in-out referendum". He makes it sound like this is clear and uncontestable. What 99% of the audience won't know or recall is that Clegg himself campaigned in 2008 in favour of a simple "in-out referendum"! I don't believe that someone as close to politics (and no doubt an avid reader of the New Statesman) as Mardell doesn't know this. But he is prepared to mislead the audience because Clegg's narrative is essentially his. You can see Clegg's leaflet here:

    4. The title...what on Earth can it mean? "Brexit: A Love Story?". The EU and its predecessors has always been an object of suspicion or dislike - or at best tepid acceptance - across the political spectrum in the UK: Empire loyalists and then Commonwealth enthusiasts who wish to retain ties with Australia, Canada and the rest of the Commonwealth saw it as destroying their hopes; believers in Parliamentary sovereignty like Powell saw it as viper bound to kill our independence in the end; moderate trade unionists saw it as a threat to their trade union rights (until their dislike of Thatcher brought them into a marriage of convenience); those on the socialist left saw it as a capitalist club which would impede progress towards a socialist society; as mass immigration from Eastern Europe took hold, millions of working class people began to see it as a threat to their welfare and access to services; and from the late 80s onwards the Thatcherite wing of the Conservative Party (liberal free traders) took against the EU. That's hardly a "love story". One of the most remarkable aspects of the Referendum campaign was just how luke warm the Remainers were about the EU. Nearly every Remain spokesperson began a speech or intervention by saying: "Well I'm no fan of the EU but..."

    In truth the only people in the British polity who have really loved the EU consistently have been the Liberals and their social democrat near-cousins, plus a few left wing Conservatives - probably no more than 20% of MPs at most and perhaps 10% of the population. So why of all things call this "A Love Story"?

    So there you go - Fake News, folks. Very Fake News.


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