Showing posts with label BBC. Show all posts
Showing posts with label BBC. Show all posts

Sunday, 31 March 2013


by Colin Bloom

The polls are all suggesting that the Iain Duncan-Smith's welfare reforms are not only extremely popular with the British people, but that the British public would like the Coalition to go further in reducing the size of welfare spending.

These are popular measures with the vast majority of the public, but to the broadcast media you might be forgiven in thinking that everyone was against them.

This weekend neither Sky News, nor the BBC have given balanced coverage of this debate. They have given far too much airtime to people against the cuts and not enough to, if the polls are to be believed, the majority view which is these measures are sadly necessary.

Do the BBC and others have such low regard for Her Majesty's Opposition that they feel they have to do their job for them?

Earlier today the Conservative Party Chairman Grant Shapps upbraided a BBC reporter who kept using the term 'Bedroom Tax' for swallowing the language of the left and doing the Labour Party's job for them. I hope this more dynamic, robust approach continues when challenging journalists who are at best lazy or at worse politically biased.

The magic money tree doesn't exist, we need to reduce the size of Government spending and these are facts that the broadcast media have ignored this weekend.

Saturday, 30 March 2013


by Colin Bloom

According to the BBC website, an Indian restaurant in Surrey has created a "not for bunnies" Easter egg using three of the hottest varieties of chilli pepper.

Using a ghost chilli, a scotch bonnet and a habanera in the egg, it is said to be up to 10 times hotter than a vindaloo or equal to 400 bottles of Tabasco sauce. It is so hot that diners must wear protective gloves before touching it.

Regular readers will know about the Curry Union, an adventure into creating relationships with some of societies most marginal people via the medium of spicy food.

Some of our guests are street drinkers and rough sleepers, and knowing them as I do, this chilli Easter Egg would be treated as a palate cleanser! If anyone would like to buy one of these eggs and donate it to the Curry Union, let me know!

Thursday, 28 March 2013


Earlier this week I heard somebody describe the contrasting interviewing techniques of Radio 4's Eddie Mair and Newsnight's Jeremy Paxman. They described the softly spoken Mair as like a quiet assassin whose preferred method of dispatch was a stiletto knife, whereas Paxman was like a fox on a chicken.

The imagery of a stiletto knife is a good one. Discreet, slender, perhaps benign, it is not an energetic slashing hacking implement. The stiletto knife is designed to smoothly stab, to go in deep and to be extracted with as little friction as possible. Oh yes, that's Eddy Mair; he's a deadly smiling avuncular assassin.

Jeremy Paxman, BBC2 Newsnight's heavyweight has made his name by savaging his guest. Paxman's style of journalism is often like a pub fight, pint glasses and bar stools being smashed into the hapless victim, leaving the interviewee looking like a Friday night in Croydon.

Jeremy Paxman is still an incredible journalist and presenter, and I don't wish him an early retirement, we still need him and his kind propping up the fourth estate and news media.

With Mair, the victim leaves the interview looking the same as they did when they left make up; but somehow knowing something isn't quite right. Their discomfort horribly confirmed when  they look down to see the puncture wound leaving  a larger and larger crimson patch just between ribs four and five.

There is a sense that there is an important shift going on in British political journalism. The Paxman playbook is well rehearsed, the lines to take are practised and role played to the point that the snap, crackle and pop has mostly gone from Newsnight. The tipping point has passed, and their falling ratings [I'm told] back my argument up.

If I am right and this shift is taking place, I for one would welcome it. I certainly won't miss the vulpine savagery and nightly chicken shredding, it's not edifying or informative, it's just bloodsport. It's turned the important job of politics and good governance into entertainment. We still need journalists who can ask penetrating questions that will keep our politicians on the edge, but more stiletto knife and less fox on chicken.

Tuesday, 26 March 2013


by Colin Bloom

This morning the BBC are reporting that the NHS are going to insist that newly qualified Nurses will have to first practice as Health Care Assistants (HCAs). Here is the quote:

Nurses will have to spend time as healthcare assistants doing basic tasks such as washing and dressing before completing their degree training, ministers are proposing.


Language is so important, how we use language is usually a good indicator of our feelings toward our subject. Let me put it like this, would you rather have someone feed you, or would you rather be assisted in eating a meal? If you are an older person with poor mobility, would you rather be helped to get changed or do you want someone dressing you? It might have the same outcome, but the attitude is totally different.

It is about dignity, respect and personal assistance. Mechanical terms like 'feeding' 'dressing' 'cleaning' conjure such distant, dis-empowering images. We need a renaissance of caring for, not doing for.

At the Curry Union we enjoy meals with street drinkers, rough sleepers, rent boys, prostitutes and crack addicts; people on the outer fringes of our community  We don't 'feed' 'them' like animals at a zoo; we enjoy a meal with our guests. The language we use is important because it humanises the person we are with, it doesn't break them down to a task.

So, I fully support Jeremy Hunt's plans, they will be good for the NHS. However, I'd like to see the BBC and others choose their words more carefully.

Monday, 25 March 2013


by Colin Bloom

On the eve of a BBC documentary about Boris's 'Irresistible Rise', the Andrew Marr show's quiet but deadly Eddie Mair tries to eviscerate Boris Johnson, London's brilliant Conservative Mayor. Click here and scroll in about twenty five minutes. 

After asking the Mayor numerous embarrassing questions about things that had happened in his past, Boris tousles his hair and squirms, but like a skilled swordsman he manages to effortlessly parry the embarrassments away. Eddie Mair is no Russell Harty - listeners to BBC Radio 4's PM Programme will know that he's a tough journalist. But then Boris knows that too.

For the past week the documentary about Boris has been trailed by the BBC with snippets here and morsels there. It seems that whenever Boris is mentioned it is always linked to whether he has ambitions to succeed David Cameron as Conservative Party Leader; on this the man himself remains deliciously ambiguous.

Boris knows that there is no vacancy, and a vacancy soon is so infinitesimally unlikely that you might wonder what is going on. Look, the duel is never going to be a head to head against David Cameron, Boris is too smart for that.

Boris knows that in politics what doesn't kill you usually makes you stronger. If you don't believe me, consider how our siblings in the USA select their Presidential candidates, through their brutal Primary system. Frankly, whether it is Barack Obama vs Hilary Clinton, or Mitt Romney v Rick Santorum v Newt Gingrich v Ron Paul, there is nothing about any of these candidates' past that isn't squelched through and amplified to inflict terminal damage. What doesn't kill them, just makes them stronger.

If there are things in Boris's past that might hurt him in the future, the logic follows that it's in his interests to get them out of the way now. By the time he has finished squirming and parrying, he'll be  hoping that he is the strongest candidate from who is left.

Thursday, 21 March 2013


by Colin Bloom

It's been said for while that BBC's Question time has been dumbed down. In recent months though, it is fair to say that there have been fewer z list comedians on, and more serious commentators.

However, in my view the audience is rarely representative of the people I know and meet at school gates or in the Smugglers' Arms. I put this video up because it is so true that it hurts...