Saturday 25 May 2019

The reason Andrew Neil is stepping down

A kindly Jeremy Corbyn supporter tweeted Andrew Neil the other day to say, "Who watches this crap?", in response to a Twitter ad for BBC One's This Week (my favourite of the BBC's politics shows). 

This naturally provoked Mr. Neil, who replied, "Over 1m. At midnight. Four times audience share of Newsnight. But they are forced to. Or their licence fee is doubled". 

Those figures, if correct - and, given that it's Andrew Neil, they very probably are -, don't reflect well on Newsnight, do they?

A Brexit-supporting Twitterer then sent Andrew his warm regards, along with a suggestion: "Brilliant Andrew! Please don't go but instead lobby to move program to 7pm BBC2. Then see how many tune in!"

Andrew replied: "That’s a very good idea. But the reason I’m stepping down after 16 years and regularly getting 1m audience at midnight (no other show gets that on weekdays) is that the BBC didn’t want to move it to an earlier time. BBC2 at 7pm would be fine with me. We could get 2m!".

What a good idea! Scrap Newsnight and put This Week on a 7pm each evening instead.

Anyhow, in honour of Mr. Neil, here's his intro to this week's This Week - some two hours after the polls closed in the UK this Thursday. It contained some decent jokes:
Evenin' all. Welcome to This Week, on the day Britain voted in the European elections. We won't get the results until Sunday. But the polls have closed, so we can  now go back to saying whatever we want. Except that word came down from various BBC Yentobs and Ofcom jobsworths pointing out that the rest of Europe had still to vote - I mean, who knew? - and that we had to be careful not to say anything that could swing things "sur le continent". Now, I bow to nobody when it comes to estimating the influence of This Week. But really? I mean, really? For a start, it's already a quarter to one on the European mainland. Sensible folks are asleep. Second, we're really not big in Estonia. Or the Czech Republic. Or Luxembourg. Actually, nothing's big in Luxembourg. I wish it were, but it's not true. Now, we do have a viewer in France. But I don't think Molly the Dog has a vote. As for Slovakia and Slovenia? Well, we don't do well in countries beginning with S, as our Scottish ratings illustrate. But before we move on let me just say this - London Calling Lithuania, London Calling Lithuania. The Blue Cow Jumped over the Yellow Moon. There, that's fixed the voting in Vilnius. 


  1. So let's have a look at how partisan "Registered Democrat" Anthony Zurcher reports (finally - took him some time) on developments in the US.

    "Now comes the counter-attack"

    Is it a "counter-attack" or is it a justified investigation into extremely concerning conduct by the CIA, FBI and DoJ, who appeared to have deliberately targeted and spied on the Trump campaign, off the back of unverified "opposition research" and then leaked info to the media. Zurcher seems not to realise how serious this could be for a democracy. A Government needs to show restraint in how they use these powerful agencies against their political opponents. Acting on hunches and rumours brought together in opposition research is simply not good enough.

    1. (continued)

      Then there is the issue of whether helpful overseas agencies were aiding and abetting this evidence by creating mischief - honey traps and the like - to create cause.

      And there was a context - one in which the Democrat candidate, Clinton, was mired in scandal over her use of unauthorised servers.

      "For nearly two years, Donald Trump was buffeted by an investigation into his presidential campaign conducted from within his own justice department. Now that the Robert Mueller inquiry has concluded, the administration's investigatory powers - heralded by the attorney general - are being directed at those who began the investigation."

      Zurcher uses the word "buffeted" as though it were some minor political squall. His Presidency has bene under complete threat. More than that, there is a strong suspicion that Mueller, though he knew there was nothing there, delayed his report in order that maximum political damage could be inflicted in the mid-terms.

      The powers are not being directed at investigators but against the conduct of investigators which was suspect, unusual and problematic to say the least, especially when compared with their approach to Hillary Clinton (e.g. giving nearly all her staff immunity before they had been interviewed).

      "The president has long railed against the Russia inquiry as an illegitimate hoax designed to "spy" on him and his associates. On Thursday he stood by his accusation that senior intelligence agency officials involved in the investigation had committed "treason" - even after being reminded by a reporter that the punishment for treason is death."

      Zurcher attempting to have fun at Trump's expense. Trump actually referenced v. long prison sentences for treason. He is not calling for the death penalty. I think he was perfectly entitled to reference treason because there is circumstantial evidence that there were a succession of plots to (a) prevent Trump being elected (b) prevent his inauguration and (c) remove him from office, plots which involved governmental officials.

      "Just what, if anything, Attorney General Barr will unearth with his newly granted powers to request and declassify intelligence agency documents is an open question. He speculated during recent congressional hearings that what the public knows about government surveillance of members of the Trump 2016 campaign team may not be the whole story."

      You've no idea of the sort of thing Zurcher? Well, you're not much of a journalist then are you? Mark Steyn could explain it to you.

      "At the very least, however, the president can now claim that he has turned the tables on his long-time antagonists. His supporters will be thrilled. Democrats will call it a distraction. And the political battles rage on."

      The President has never claimed he has "turned tables" on his long-time antagonists. And is Zurcher saying that people like John Brennan and James Comey were "long term antagonists"? If so, then he is rather making the point for Trump isn't he? Why should they have any antagonism towards a duly elected and constitutional President? That's not in their job description. And Democrats are not calling it a "distraction" - they are reacting with telling hysteria calling it "Unamerican".

  2. I shall miss Andrew Neil & Co - this Week has been my antidote to the weekly Remainerfest that QT is nowadays; I used to totter up to bed feeling restored & having learned a lot and laughed quite a bit!


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