Sunday 31 May 2020

Did the BBC prevent John Sweeney from profiling Seumas Milne?

"posh, minor aristocrat Stalinist" Seamus 

I didn't know, until Sue informed me yesterday, that the famous John Sweeney now co-hosts a podcast called 'Last Call'. 

He presents it with an American journalist called Michael Weiss, and the pair of them call their double act 'Two Boozy Hacks'. (As far as John Sweeney is concerned, I think we can all guess why!) 

Their latest episode is called 'Labour Pains' and features former Labour deputy leader Tom Watson as a special guest. It last about an hour.

Unexpectedly, I must say that I enjoyed it. They all came across as rather charming.

John was on the pinot grigio, if you're wondering.

(In fairness, I did once write, "Do you know who I'd really like a night-out with? Yes, Panorama/Newsnight star reporter John Sweeney. He sounds great fun. I'd specifically like to be his all-expenses-paid-for guest", and I stand by that.)

The serious bit comes in the last quarter of an hour when they turn to Labour antisemitism. As you'd perhaps expect, having spent 18 years at the BBC, John Sweeney seems to have fully imbibed the general BBC resentment towards the State of Israel, and even has a Jeremy Bowen-like personal grievance against it, but was still distressed at the influx of the antisemites into the Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn.

Also interesting was their discussion of Mr Corbyn's director of communications, Seumas Milne. This was John Sweeney's boozy ramble on the subject:
I need to share with our three listeners my class hatred here in that I was brought up...we lived in in Manchester, and then when I was ten we moved down to Hampshire and I went to a grammar school. And Seumas Milne went to Winchester College. And it is comically posh. And its also where...most of the Cambridge spies when to Winchester. And then here's this almost comically absurd Stalinist who went to Winchester College. He is the voice of the Labour Party. And the problem I had when I was a BBC journalist was 'Can I please do a profile of Seumas Milne, in the way that I was allowed when I worked at The Observer, to do profiles for the BBC about Alastair Campbell and his shenanigans with Rupert Murdoch, blah, blah, blah, blah?', and it was impossible to get through. So, although Seumas was a posh, aristocratic Stalinist, people were afraid of him and it was impossible for me at the BBC to do a proper profile of the guy. 
Now that's very interesting, isn't it? The BBC didn't want to let John Sweeney do a proper profile of the avowed Stalinist-communist director of communications for the leader of the Labour Party. Was it just because they were afraid of Seumas Milne (and the Corbynistas)? Or was it also because, for some strange reason, the man's extreme politics didn't particularly worry them?

It's especially rum, isn't it, because the BBC hasn't shown any reluctance to 'properly profile' the Conservatives' director of communications. He was on the end of a full-length, thoroughly one-sided hatchet job earlier this year, fronted by Emily Maitlis. 

(What is it about his public antipathy towards the BBC and his role in winning the EU referendum for Leave and the 2019 general election for Boris Johnson that so excites the BBC's hostility towards Mr Cummings?)

Anyhow, cheers!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.