There has been an argument made for years that the BBC must be impartial because all sides criticize it. I’m not sure I’ve ever bought into that, you can be wrong twice and as my old nan was forever at pains to tell me, “Two wrongs don’t make a right!” Jon Humphrys has given us an insight but the kneejerk reaction to the Naga Munchetty comments about Donald Trump should perhaps be in this dispatch as madness. We don’t want bias presenters, and you don’t create equality just by giving both sides the same amount of time – Norman Tebbit used to have his stopwatch out and a few choice comments to make on that subject thirty to forty years ago! I find it insulting to be fed what are obviously lies in the chapel of politically correct balance. Whether the argument is left or right or even neither, when the interviewer is just making a point, often to make themselves look good, that ignores the underlying facts. Blinkered narrow questioning. As someone who receives a lot of compliments for my interviewing style, I want the discussion to inform, to bring out information and truth, not to be a head bashing confrontation! One of the best interviewers was not a so-called ‘heavyweight’ interviewer, but Jimmy Young!
Back to Naga and her comments. It is true that presenters are not there to peddle their own agendas or their employer’s agenda and the BBC must ensure that doesn’t happen. But George Orwell was right, “If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.” But does that apply? I don’t think Trump complained! You are not impartial by allowing obvious lies to balance proven truth. It is unworthy. We hear a lot at the moment about trusting the people and it was heartening that so many BBC staff were critical of the original decision, but I bet the cynics will be questioning their motives.
But I want to rise above all that. In an era when the boss is often too afraid to stand up and be counted, Lord Hall made his own enquiries and said the original decision was wrong. If the press is there to hold the executive to account, and that is a major part of its role, then it was perfectly reasonable for Naga to say what she did. I find Trump’s comments repulsive and am not alone. But that doesn’t make me anti Trump and nor am I pro Trump. I decide on each issue and often find myself quoting dear old Jimmy Young who would skilfully get something into the public domain and then say, “I’m glad I didn’t say that”! We weren’t that, damagingly, PC then!
Many of my roots and early experiences are around the greatest of all rivers, old Father Thames, and the London docks in which my family worked for generations. My home is on the river in Bermondsey and I have a secret and special place that I was taken to as kid for a treat. Unbelievably, it is still just about there between developments. So, it is with great delight that I see 53 acres of Rotherhithe being redeveloped at a cost of £4bn. It’s going to have everything, a far cry from the mess that Hitler created, and the sixties plastered over. New streets, a park, 12 acres of open public space, a million square foot of shops, two million square feet of offices and factories, and 3,000 homes - with a third of them affordable. It will create 20,000 new jobs. Heartening, but when it is all done and dusted we need to make sure that people appreciate and respect it. We must not allow it to go into decline the way so many developments did in the sixties.
I find myself drawn to Trump again, who as I say is not all bad, and there are many Americans who now have jobs they never expected to have who will sing his praises. We live in a different world from the one I was born in. Things are instant and while most people struggle to connect the immediate past with the here and now, those who aspire to public life, unlike members of the Royal family who are born into it and I could quote the Duchess of Cornwall on that from ten years ago, have to proceed with more caution than, say, Lloyd George did with his sex life! As I wrote a while back in admiration of Jean Trumpington after her death and she had a great story about Lloyd George and a tape measure! The question of whether a private life is a private life and whether it is relevant to the public will always be unresolved. Perhaps that is best, but when the leader of the free world talks about shooting people crossing illegally into America from Mexico we have reached a new low. Just in the legs to slow them down, he is reputed to have retreated to, or maybe build a water-filled moat and pack it with alligators and snakes, and seal it off on the US side with flesh puncturing electrified spikes.
So, where did I get this from? Border Wars; Inside Trump’s Assault on Immigrants, by Michael Shear and Hirschfield Davis.
I was born after the war and it was rarely talked about, but I have met many who experienced the atrocities of Hitler and others who have been exposed to more of the same since. But this is not tolerable anywhere let alone in the land of free. Back to my old nan… two wrongs do not make a right.
Words fail me on this. It appears that Boeing knew about the potential nose-diving issues with the 737 Max airline. They experienced similar problems with the 767, the military version. They fitted a new fail-safe system into the 767 but didn’t fit that into the 737. Two crashes later and 346 lives lost they’ve still not said why they didn’t upgrade the civilian version. Maybe they thought they’d solved it another way, but the silence leaves a bad feeling.
I cannot say that I have ever forgotten where I left my car, but I know people who have. I had a partner once who would often have to walk round the car park for bit, but this is something else. 19-year-old Connor Spear from Plymouth went to Bristol for a night out at a music festival. We have to assume that he wasn’t tipsy because he was going to drive home. But he couldn’t find his car! After two hours he gave up and caught a lift back with a mate. His mum took him back the following week and they spent 12 hours looking but to no avail.
In desperation, his mum put an ad in the Bristol Post offering a £100 reward and sure enough it was found, undamaged and unticketed a few streets from where they had spent 12 hours hunting.
Great to see the local press helping out, but what worries me is that this lad gets a vote!
I’m going to run a couple of things together here. Girls are not allowed to wear skirts anymore at Stowmarket High School because they have glass staircases, and skirts might give rise to upskirting! Firstly, I’m intrigued as why they have glass stairs and secondly how they got past the old ‘Elf and Safety’ geezer! Leave that aside, I’m taken to my interview with Emma Sayle where we talked about the simple issue of respect. As one parent commented when talking about the new, and disliked, school uniform, it can’t be about the glass staircase as the teachers still wear skirts! Food for thought there, but total madness - as is the police being called to a house in Walkergate, Newcastle, because two-year-old Elizabeth and her five-year-old brother, Stephen, were playing naked in a paddling pool in the back garden. Someone had anonymously tipped off the NSPCC, but the officers said they had no cause for concern and the matter is closed. There is probably more to it, but I wonder if whoever kicked off and tried to start a mad waste of time and resources, is one of those criticising the lack of police resources. Ummm…