Today’s first letter comes from our correspondent Geoff Lazell. It is self-explanatory:
Following Friday’s “Politics Live” show on BBC 2 [Ed: you can watch it here] and the atrocious performance of Ms Coburn, the presenter, I submitted the following complaint to the BBC. As with every other complaint I have ever made about their legendary lack of political impartiality, they offer not one word of apology nor even a hint of contrition. Why do we continue to pay the licence fee, I wonder?
Respectfully, Geoff Lazell
Here is Geoff Lazell’s letter and the BBC’s response:
UKIP leader Gerrard Batten was invited on to the show, ostensibly to discuss the live and nationally crucial issue of Brexit. Instead, he was ‘ambushed’ by presenter Jo Coburn in an unnecessarily hostile manner on the issue of Mr ‘Tommy Robinson’. She launched a personal attack on Mr Batten and gave him little opportunity to counter her false accusations, displaying a level of bias outrageous even for the BBC!
At one point, she even shouted “NO” at him when he tried to explain himself further on the very point upon which the interview was constructed. Indeed, this was less of an interview and more of an opportunity to verbally attack an individual – aided and abetted by other guests of apparently similar political persuasion.
Ms Coburn’s association with the Labour Party (through marriage) clearly renders her incapable of conducting a balanced and impartial interview and she should immediately be sacked as the presenter of a political programme. As Mr Batten rightly pointed out, she has abused her position in order to not only publicly vilify the leader of a political party, but by association, also its members.
Many of us do not agree with him on the issue of whether or not Tommy Robinson should be allowed to join UKIP – and thanks to the democratic principles under which our party operates, have been free to tell him so. We do not however agree with him being blatantly ‘set-up’ in order to become the target of a vitriolic attack by a known ‘Leftie Media-Luvvie’ and assembled acolytes.
Was this a cheap way of shamefully paying him back for announcing at the recent party conference, UKIP’s intention to abolish the BBC licence fee if we were ever elected to government? I might disagree with Mr Batten on the Tommy Robinson issue but I am with him 100% on that one!
Geoffrey H Lazell
Dear Mr Lazell
Thank you for contacting us regarding Politics Live, broadcast on Friday 12th October. We note you felt that Jo Coburn was too aggressive in her interview with UKIP leader Gerard Batten.
This was a tough interview but it came at the end of a period where Mr Batten himself has spent a great deal of time talking about Tommy Robinson and Islam, controversial issues the emphasis upon which marks a significant change of direction for the Party. The interview was an opportunity to hold the UKIP leader to account for his record as leader of the party, as he is receiving strong criticism from colleagues like former leader Nigel Farage, and was necessarily challenging.
Mr Batten suggested in the interview that he had actually been invited onto the programme to talk about Brexit, and that he was in some way ‘ambushed’ with questions about Tommy Robinson and Islam. In reality, while we never provide guests with an exhaustive list of the areas we are likely to cover, especially a party leader who can expect questions on a very wide range of subjects, we did give Mr Batten an idea of the topics we would be raising in email correspondence in which we listed only two: Tommy Robinson and Islam.
This interview was robust, as it should be on a political programme. Please be assured that Jo’s questioning wasn’t indicative of taking a position on the matter. Jo will pursue difficult questions with guests from all the parties on a range of issues. That is her job and is what politicians expect when they come onto Politics Live.
Thanks again for taking the time to get in touch.
Kind Regards, BBC Complaints Team
The next letter today is a response from David Challice on Catherine Blaiklock’s article (see here):
Catherine Blaiklock is absolutely right that “Leave Means Leave” performs a very useful function, and UKIP has no problem with that. But “Leave” is a pressure group. UKIP is a political party concentrating on exerting political pressure by fielding candidates, and that is where we must focus our scarce resources.
As Gerard Batten has said many times, the only thing that really makes our politicians sit up and take notice is when their seats are threatened. That’s why David Cameron conceded the Referendum in 2016.
Pressure groups are fine but I’m afraid they are only a small part of the picture. One million people marched through London against the Iraq War, and we went to war with Iraq. 750,000 Countryside Alliance supporters demonstrated against the Hunting Ban, and Hunting was still banned. They even turned the heavy mob onto the marchers, despite the fact that many of them were quite elderly and would never dream of being violent to the Police… but obviously they were given encouragement to wield the baton against Farmer Jones.
Please remember that “Leave Means Leave” quite deliberately do not push any Party political message. I attended the recent rally in Torquay with Tim Martin, Nigel Farage, and Jacob Rees Mogg. It was excellent, a really great upbeat meeting, but Nigel didn’t mention UKIP once, nor did JRM mention the Conservatives. It is an a-political grouping, united by a burning desire to see a proper Brexit worth its salt. But they avoid pushing a “party” message. UKIP on the other hand is all about exactly that. We want folks to VOTE UKIP. There will be no Leave Means Leave candidates, but there will be UKIP ones.
I happen to know that Nigel also forbade any EFDD “Fishing For Leave” hessian bags to be used at the Torquay event, because it would detract from the cross-party nature of Leave Means Leave. I can see their point. Brexiteers are united in opposing the EU… regardless of their own individual political stance at a general election. I don’t agree with George Galloway (former RESPECT MP) on virtually anything, but he and I are as one on leaving the EU, and I suspect the same applies to all UKIP members.
Respectfully, David Challice
Finally, a reminder from our contributor Rob McWhirter:
A certain person has just started trial, accused of doing naughty things in a place where Nigel was busy arguing with the Pub Landlord about his, erm, inventive book promotion methods.
A certain other person will go on re-trial next week, accused of doing naughty things outside a court that could have impacted other trials.
Can I urge enthusiastic Kippers not to do the sort of naughty things the second person (allegedly) did outside the first person’s court, lest the case derails and Freddy chokes on his popcorn in dismay?
Alles Klaar?, as we say over here!
Respectfully, Rob McWhirter