A couple of weeks ago Heat magazine editor Sam Delaney appeared on Kate Silverton’s radio show as her sidekick for the day, and he left listeners in no doubt about his political leanings with a rant about Cameron and the Tories. I assumed at the time that Silverton would have a different “studio friend” each week, reflecting a broad spectrum of political opinion. That was pretty stupid of me, this being the BBC (and Radio Five Live in particular). As part of the station’s new year shake-up Delaney’s role on the show is actually permanent. No surprises, then, to read this in Monday’s Guardian:
Sam Delaney… was once a researcher for Harriet Harman and Gordon Brown…
In the 1990s, as a self-confessed “19-year-old stonehead”, he was passionately into Labour politics and one of his jobs as Harman’s researcher was to deliver her tuna sandwiches when she was in shadow cabinet meetings. His boss at Millbank was Ed Miliband. “Most of the people who were part of the research group, and would have a pint with each other or lunch in the canteen, are now cabinet ministers, whereas I am editor of Heat.”
Having listened to the mockney tones of the former Labour researcher, one can stay tuned for 7 Day Sunday, presented by Tory-hating Chris Addison. The Independent’s radio reviewer wasn’t impressed with the first programme:
Chris Addison, the comedian who plays the weedy Ollie Reeder in The Thick of It, has been given his own topical news show 7 Day Sunday.
As usual, there is a certain amount of “category error” in this choice. As Ollie in The Thick of It, Addison is hilariously funny, but this is because his lines are written by the comic genius Armando Iannucci. On 7 Day Sunday, however, Addison is writing his own lines, assisted by a studio gang who would laugh at a pig’s bladder on a stick. On The Thick of It there is snappy dialogue at a thousand miles an hour, but if you talk like that on radio without enough jokes or substance then the listener’s mind skitters all over the place trying to concentrate, before giving up. The show’s brief was to “pull apart the week’s big news stories”, but in the event the only news covered was snow. Weirdly for someone who made his name in a political satire there wasn’t any. Why not? The Gordon Brown coup should have provided acres of material, but it took ages to get round to, and then got a paltry two minutes.
This reluctance to make fun of the Labour government contrasts sharply with Addison’s attitude to the Tories. This week he joked about dancing on Margaret Thatcher’s grave. Classy.
Radio Five Live. Gearing up for the general election.
Update. In the comments Ryan reproduces an email from R5L controller Adrian Van Klaveren re Delaney.
I can add to this post … I’ve been in discussion with the 5Live controller, Adrian Klaveren about Sam Delaney — see my email as his response —
Sent: 18 January 2010 14:13
To: Adrian Van-Klaveren
Subject: RE: This Week in Westminister
Mr Van Klaveren, thank you for your reply.
With respect you have not address the issue of disclosure.
Do you think it is appropriate that;
(a) you do not disclose to listeners that Mr Delaney has previously worked for the two highest Labour office holders?
(b) you do not balance his opinion with an alternative view?
On these two specific points. Sam Delaney is appearing on 5 live as a freelance journalist who also happens to be editor of Heat magazine. As you say, whilst a teenager he worked as a junior researcher for Harriet Harman and Gordon Brown when they were in opposition – so over 13 years ago. I don’t think this is so relevant to his current contributions to mean that we need to draw attention to this each time he appears. If we went down this route, we would have to disclose previous political roles and affiliations of a very large number of 5 live contributors. His columns and articles since that very junior role have included many pieces critical of the Labour government. I do agree about the need to achieve a balance of views within a programme and this is something we always aim to do. If your concern is around Conservative voices, I hope you heard the appearance of Theresa May on this week’s Kate Silverton programme. We will of course continue to discuss these issues with the programme production team.
Adrian Van Klaveren
But Delaney is spouting left wing bias all the time with Silverton and it is relevany if someone once worked for the one eyed mong.
Ryan – just spotted that you brought this up in an earlier thread. Apologies for not noticing sooner.
A few weeks back I blogged – http://notasheepmaybeagoat.blogspot.com/2010/01/bbc-5live-limber-up-for-general_06.html” – about the new weekdat 5Live schedules and their incredible pro-Labour bias. 5Live is clearly limbering up for the election and unlike Radio 4 there is not even any pretence of impartiality.
I think the point that AVK is missing is that Delaney is avowedly and openly pro-Labour. That does not preclude him from being on the BBC or presenting a show. However, it’s the BBC’s duty to be balanced and that is not achieved by, from time to time, having guests on the BBC who are from the opposing camp. Delaney as the BBC’s representative remains whilst guests come and go. Far better for the BBC to have someone on with Delaney to balance his views.
The BBC just does not get it does it?
One more thing, dismissing Delaney’s political leanings by saying:
“As you say, whilst a teenager he worked as a junior researcher for Harriet Harman and Gordon Brown when they were in opposition”
is stupid. It’s not like he was just doing some canvassing as a kid. He was working for the PM and Chairperson Harperson, about as central to this government as it is possible to be.
I’ve written another note to Mr Klaveren today —
Forgive my continued litigation of this matter, but you will understand it is election year and issues of bias are even more concerning at this time.
I have a final important issue to raise and I am very grateful to you for personally addressing this.
Mr Delaney is a known partisan, he has a history with the Labour party. We will have to agree to disagree that disclosure is warranted.
I am also deeply troubled about Mr Addison. He is another partisan. Let me draw your attention to these remarks,
“It’s very difficult, if you were brought up as a child during Thatcher’s period, to ever contemplate being a Tory. There is no way I can physically bring myself to vote Tory. That will stay with me till I die.” — http://www.politics.co.uk/interviews/culture-media-and-sport/interview-chris-addison-$1321521.htm
“My political leanings are decidedly liberal.”
“I am fiercely pro-European. I would very much have liked to see this country join the Euro a few years back. Not least because it would greatly annoy the kind of people that I don’t generally like.”
There are unhelpful remarks for a radio station who are obliged to maintain impartiality, but of course he is a “comedian”.
Both men have weekly appearances on 5Live and provide unmoderated unbalanced commentary.
Mr Delaney expresses opinions on the week in parliament as a freelance journalist, not himself bound by the BBC guidelines. He is free to express his partisan view.
Mr Addison, as a BBC employee, uses the pretext of “comedy” to express opinion. You have previously dismissed my concerns over bias by using the comedy defence. This is a trojan horse. It seems if it is “comedy” balance is irrelevant.
Balance across all forms of output is important. You may wish to reflect also on the Indepedent’s view here, http://artsandentertainment.independentminds.livejournal.com/989104.html, hardly a bastion of the hard right, but even they are starting to scrutinize.
Finally, now I have illustrated the clear and unambiguous support for the Labour party/anti-Tory views of two regular contributors to 5Live who furthermore have commentary roles, could you please provide a list of the Conservative voices who appear weekly on your station who also have commentary roles? I can’t think of any.
Ms Theresa May is not a regular, nor was she offered carte blanche to say whatever she wished without rebuttal, or was her prejudice not disclosed prior, as she was introduced as a Conservative.
It is disingenuous to compare Ms May’s appearance on with either Mr Delaney or Mr Addison.
Good luck on getting a reply but in my experience the BBC don’t like being questionned and the correspondence will fizzle out.
Surely the BBC should disclose the political backgrounds of all contributors, whether journalists or not, together with their remuneration or fee from the BBC ? That way the licence fee payers can judge whether there is likely to be any bias or not. All in the interests of balance, transparency …. blah, blah , blah !!!
How typical of the BBC. They can have 10 labour supporters on and then point to one Tory and claim balance. Thereby proving that they are biased ! Idiots.
Good work and , of course, each left-wing “comedian” should be balanced by a right-wing comedian !
The problem here is the BBC Trust. If you write and complain to the BBC about bias (in particular 5 Live) I guarantee you will get a reply back from a drug addict saying something along the lines of “the BBC aims to provide a balanced output ACROSS the network”
Thing is ask the BBC for proof. I’ve written to the BBC Trust (never had a reply) and the BBC several times asking HOW they audit political balance. The truth is they don’t, they don’t keep a list of guests, journalists, airtime for political views, callers or anything else. In fact on numerous occasions the drug addicts have gone totally against the views of the public only reading out views that go with the BBC view of the world when most people are opposed to that view. The BBC’s statement about political balance is simply a lie.
I also object to the way the BBC does Vox pops and the BBC claim that this was a representative view. How do we know that? I think that the BBC should be forced to display on screen a number that represents what number that member of the public was in their vox pop list. So for example, if they do say three interviews and we see that they are numbers 13, 17 and 25 out of 30, the question I’d ask is why no views from the first 10. The BBC should be forced to make all of this far more transparent than they do at the moment.
BBC bigging up the so called drop in unemployment. Can anyone remember the rise in unemployment making the top story, or even getting much of a mention?
How about just comparing the extensive coverage of a small, albeit surprising, drop in unemployement with the minimal covergae of the horrendous rise in inflation on Tuesday – http://notasheepmaybeagoat.blogspot.com/2010/01/bbc-reporting-of-economic-news-depends.html
As soon as you see Toenails on the 6PM news you just know he’s had his orders from Mongy.
I’ve switched off. Campbell and Fogarty in the morning. Switch off to avoid the dreary Victoria Derbyshire and the self-regarding Richard Bacon.
The BBC will probably bring on Derek Draper and Damian McBride for election commentary but I won’t know because my radio is OFF.
Actually I seem to recall a fair bit of coverage of the inflation increase, yesterday. Lead story on Working Lunch, lead news Item or second after Hoon’s denying anything wrong with his part in the build up for war.
I wasn’t aware the political doings of weekend 5Live staffers was so important. I don’t tend to take much notice of the BS they might spout, either those of left or right. Does Sky have a left winger counteracting Iain Dale or Kelvin Mackenzie
Are you suggesting that Kate Silverton shouldalso have BNP, Liberal and Green voices on every topic, as well as a Tory? If so, do you think the Daily Dacre would take kindly to the costs involved?
OK, you can plead ignorance of the Radio 5 bias. But you cannot deny it on the examples detailed above. The BBC is under a charter duty to avoid bias. Clearly they are ignoring that duty. Just like they do on virtually all their “comedy” output.
I don’t see why we should be forced to pay for a broadcaster that behaves like that. No-one expects every party to be represented on every prtogramme. All we want is for the BBC to stop its endless tilt to the left.
Sky and the Mail are irrelevant in this – we are not forced to pay for them.
It would appear that if you’re looking for bias, you’ll find it. Ok so the editor of Heat constantly ups his former employers? How many right-leaning folks get to do their spiel with no similar backlash from those to the left of Maggie? Are we thought of as so stupid as to suggest that because Chris Addison, a standup comedian who got lucky, has a show on 5Live, then we should have the modern day equivalent of Stan Boardman and his ‘chippy bombing Germans’ rip-roaring comedy should be on too?
How many pro-govt jokes are heard on News Quiz, or Now Show, both hosted by those left of centre, pretty much?
Notasheep”How about just comparing the extensive coverage of a small, albeit surprising, drop in unemployement”.. with the complete blanking (as of 2hours after release) of today’s public sector borrowing figures. The deficit of £15.7 BILLION for the MONTH of December is a mere bagatelle, better for the BBC to get excited about the growth of the Chinese economy – soon to exceed Japan’s they gush. Meanwhile The Times views UK figures as serious – “Darling under pressure as public borrowing hits high”
I have Radio 4 on in the background all day. I’ve heard nothing about that appalling December debt figure – until I read your posting.