Friday, May 28, 2010

WTF Do They Think They Are?


By far the best QT ever

We try to stay off the BBC - no, really, we do - because it pushes our blood pressure into the stroke zone. Which is why we also steer well clear of Question Time.

But last night Newsnight led with the same lengthy tabloid report on the murdered prostitutes (sorry, "sex workers") we'd already seen about 20 times elsewhere. So we flicked across to QT. Just in time to see one of the Lord High Dimblebys passing judgement in a serious case of contempt of the BBC.

It seems the new government had had the temerity to refuse to provide a cabinet minister for throwing into the pit. Not unless the BBC replaced the odious and never elected Ali Campbell as the Labour fighter with a proper Labour front bencher.

Puffing himself up to his full height, Bimbleby intoned that that Question Time "expected" to have a government minister dancing attendance, and that it is up to "us on Question Time to decide who should be on the programme not Downing Street".

WTF?

These arrogant cosseted people are employed by a £3.5bn quango that increasing numbers of us simply do not want. Their agenda is unremittingly that of the Guardian and points left. They are a major statist roadblock to the kind of progressive reforms we would like to see.

QT itself - which incidentally normally attracts well under 3m viewers - is a bearpit with a packed audience of young lefties. Campbell is a notorious spinner of untruths who has done more to undermine confidence in our political system than any number of duck islands. WTF would any sane Tory cabinet minister volunteer to enter such an arena?

The Major has long argued that the next Tory government should deal with the £3.5bn pa BBC. Ideally, the whole shooting match should be broken up and privatised. Failing that, it should be hacked back to one TV channel and one or two radio channels, funded out of general taxation rather than a ring-fenced tax of their own.

Meanwhile, our new government should be much more selective in taking up requests for ministerial interviews. They should say yes to Sky and ITV - who are both far more balanced in their approach - and no to the ritualised abuse handed out by the likes of Dame Paxo. Let's see how the BBC likes that.

PS Apologies for no blog yesterday. I actually intended to blog Iain Duncan Smith's much trailed welfare speech. Unfortunately, the accompanying paper contained little that is a new - it's more a restatement of the problem. Instead, we'll take a look at the National Audit Office Report on Labour's Pathways to Work programme introduced in 2003/04 to cut numbers on incapacity benefits. The NAO reckons it's given “poor value for money”. It said that private companies and charities hired to deliver support to get people off incapacity benefits had “universally under-performed”, delivering results no better than those achieved by job centres. It said Pathways “had had a limited impact and, while a serious attempt to tackle an intractable issue, has turned out to provide poor value for money”. Getting ripped of by private sector welfare-to-work providers is a real issue with these schemes, so the full NAO report will be worth a read. We'll report back.

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