Nick Bryant And The "Prevailing Wisdom"

(Further to Robin’s observations)

Ever since Tony Abbott challenged Malcolm Turnbull for the leadership of Australia’s Liberal Party at the end of last year the BBC’s Sydney correspondent Nick Bryant has, at almost every opportunity possible, dismissed the chances of the man he never fails to remind us is nicknamed the “Mad Monk”. From his smirking obsession with Abbott’s “budgie smugglers” to his quaint conviction that climate scepticism could lead to the dissolution of the Liberals, Bryant has reflected the sneering views of the Ozzie left.

When Abbott stood for Liberal leader Bryant said he lacked the “plausibility factor”. When Abbott defeated Turnbull, and immediately announced that he would oppose Emission Trading Scheme (ETS) legislation, the BBC journalist responded:

In what is already being billed as “the climate-change election”, most observers predict a lop-sided majority for Labor, if not a landslide… By electing Mr Abbott, many commentators think that the Liberals have entered a sort of twilight zone – that they risk becoming a fringe party… By installing Mr Abbott, have the turkeys just voted for Christmas?

Bryant anticipated a snap election to coincide with the end of bushfire season which, he said, would allow the global warming message to be driven home with greater impact. When it became clear that his beloved Kevin Rudd didn’t have the nads to go to the country Bryant posted an update saying it was wiser to wait:

It’s a smart political strategy, for it will highlight and possibly deepen the fissures within Liberal ranks between those who think the party has no other choice but to support an ETS – John Howard proposed an ETS, after all – and the climate change sceptics and deniers. Labor is hoping that a weak Liberal party will be even be even more fragile by the time that parliament resumes. And, remember, that trigger can be pulled at any time the government wants.

Labor backed off a snap election not, as Bryant’s spin would have it, because they hoped to capitalise on Liberal Party “fissures” but because opposition to ETS had given sudden momentum to the Liberals under its new climate sceptic leader.

Undaunted, and still with his finger firmly on the political pulse, Bryant began 2010 with a list of predictions, top of which was this:

1 – The election: If history is our guide, Kevin Rudd will win this year’s federal election. After all, not since the great depression has an incumbent government been turfed out after just one term in office. Ever since he became leader of the Labor Party in December 2006, Kevin Rudd has enjoyed an unbroken run of high approval ratings, and it will surely take some unforeseen, game-changing event or scandal to put his government in jeopardy.

A month later Nick, along with the rest of the Rudd-supporting media, was in shock:

For this week the biggest, and most surprising, political headline came from a fresh opinion poll which showed the opposition coalition had pulled ahead of Labor for the first time in three years…The prevailing wisdom has always been that Kevin Rudd would win what is already being dubbed the climate change election – and win it handsomely. But in the month or so since Copenhagen, the prime minister has been largely silent on the question of climate change, and the opposition has filled the vacuum.

No worries though:

While there appears to have been a shift in the politics, there is by no means a sea change.

By June, following a succession of political missteps from Rudd and his party, often relating to green policies (fatalities from a mismanaged insulation project, dithering over further ETS legislation, a high profile battle with Australia’s successful mining sector over a proposed super-tax) polling showed that the Mad Monk had become more popular than the PM. Shortly afterwards the Labor Party toppled its leader.

In December 2009 Bryant had suggested (somewhat optimistically?) that the new Liberal leadership’s opposition to climate legislation could lead to the party’s fracture and demise; eight months later it was Labor that polled lower in a federal election than any governing party since the war.

Perhaps Bryant should get out a bit more and meet a wider cross-section of the great Australian public. Alternatively, he could try a change of career: Nick Bryant and the Prevailing Wisdom is quite a good name for a Prog Rock covers band.

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30 Responses to Nick Bryant And The "Prevailing Wisdom"

  1. Martin says:

    Nice post, spot on as well.


  2. Craig says:

    You’ve nailed him down brilliantly DB! He should be blushing beneath that heavy tan of his!

    As Cassandra pointed out on Robin’s thread, BBC ‘reporters’ have a habit of letting wishful thinking get in the way of proper reporting. They keep being surprised by election results – though only when the Right wins.  

    Further to Cassie’s examples (and just from this year alone), they were surprised when the Left lost the last Czech general election (badly), shocked when Berlusconi virtually swept the board in the Italian local elections and wide-eyed with horror when Geert Wilders’s party nearly trebled its share of the vote in the Dutch election.


  3. Cassandra King says:

    What a great post DB!

    All the BBC spin laid bare, all the ridiculous wishful thinking destroyed by reality, the BBC actually think with their political ideoloogy rather than with the facts.
    The BBC comes unstuck yet again, yet again they fall down and are made to look like rank idiots.
    The BBC have yet to learn that wishing dont make it so, you can wish upon a star(red)but that doesnt mean the fairy will make their wishes come true.
    The ALP lost the election, they lost an election they were supposed to win and still the BBC cannot admit it, as Nick Bryant said in his report “the australian electorate didnt vote in any party” apart from voting in the conservative liberal alliance of course!


  4. Craig says:

    I’m fed up with that revolving clip of Nick Bryant at the Coalition’s post-election party shouting “Just six months ago Tony Abbott was seen as something of a joke figure”.

    He was to Nick Bryant and his left-wing associates, but when the beeboid in the studio stated as a fact to Richard McGregor of the Financial Times that “Mr Abbott was seen as a bit of a joker”, it was revealing that Mr McGregor corrected him: “Tony Abbott, not quite a joke figure but a maverick.”


    • hippiepooter says:

      Hi, is there a clip of Bryant saying Abbott was seen as a joke figure?  Maybe Mr Bryant has confused trying to make him one with him actually being one.  Who looks like a joke now?


  5. Framer says:

    Great research on Bryant. I hadn’t realised his form.

    To me Abbott seems like an Australian which rather explains his victory.


  6. David Preiser (USA) says:

    This reminds me of a much milder version of how the BBC treated Sarah Palin during the election.  Everything focused on negatives, constantly telling us that she was a train wreck of a candidate, including Justin Webb stating on air that she was unfit for public office because of one misinterpreted religious belief that he didn’t like.


  7. Martin says:

    This is the problem with the BBC today, they’ve replaced factual reporting with opinion lead crap (left wing opinion at that).

    What is an even bigger joke is the away the BBC attack Fox News for opinion related output, but of course Fox make it VERY CLEAR when a show is about opinion (opinion based shows are not presented by reporters) and when it’s factual.

    We know Sean Hannity for example is right wing, but Hannity doesn’t do reporting, he’s a commentator.

    The BBC simply use reporters to write comment pieces and present personal opinion as facts.

    Time to scrap the TV tax and let the BBC turn itself into a leftie Fox news, so long as I’m not funding it.


    • David Preiser (USA) says:

      Fox News is not the official national broadcaster of the US, either.  Nobody grew up under the gentle glare of Fox News children’s shows, light entertainment, and documentaries.  Nobody’s grandparents remember listening to FDR on Fox News Radio keeping the nation’s spirits up during its darkest hour.


      • JohnW says:

        This is a very important point. The BBC appropriated the mass of goodwill generated from the inception of broadcasting and through the most momentous years in our nation’s history and shamefully abused its privileges. From this unique position of trust, it has injected its odious Gramscianism into the lives of millions, subverting the indigenous culture at every turn. All financed by the very people it seeks to control.


        • David Preiser (USA) says:

          This is why I keep saying that the Tories are never going to scrap the license fee and dismantle the BBC.  Even if Cameron and the entire Cabinet are secretly seething at the bias of the News division, they cannot separate in their minds that from Blue Peter and the orchestras and Radio 1 and all the costume dramas and David Attenborough, and their childhood memories, and that trans-generational connection to the BBC itself.

          It’s also why the BBC’s bias is far more dangerous than any other network.


          • hippiepooter says:

            It’s precisely because I do have fond childhood memories of the BBC – of its news programmes as much as ‘Andy Pandy’ (although not at the same developement stage!) – that I am so horrified at what it has become, of what a bunch of preening subversives have done to it.  It is precisely because I am very pro-BBC that I am very anti-BBC bias.  The lefties who claim to defend the BBC aren’t in favour of it, they’re in favour of its bias.  If a Prime Minister of the day appointed Val Singleton and Peter Purvis to conduct a wholesale purge of the BBC that might gain traction!


  8. Craig says:

    For a very different, more balanced take on Tony Abbott try this from Australia’s The Age:

    His sharp positioning dragged Labor to the right, forcing the government to descend on unfavourable policy turf. His communication skills were in part responsible for the demise of Kevin Rudd, whose language looked opaque in comparison. (That’s something you won’t hear from Nick Bryant!!)

    Mr Abbott’s growth in the top job has been genuinely fascinating to watch. There is something picaresque in the Liberal leader. He is both warrior and romantic, and both of those qualities have been on display throughout the contest.

    Some of his evolution has been simply smart styling. But much of it has been genuine. The candidate has a considerable instinct for narrative.


    • Chairman of Selectors says:

      The Age, and its sister paper the Sydney Morning Herald are in essence, Guardian spin-offs. Indeed, the Age is more accurately refered to as the “Daily Climate Change”. If you think the BBC has an agenda, try 2 days of reading this rag. Offensive drivel, that many Aussies are sick and tired of (just like the Guardian, The Age circulation is falling off a cliff).

      The media in Australia is even more flagrant than the BBC. The ABC is prepostrous, absolutely dreadful and it has ben highly amusing watching the endless stream of right-on monkeys slagging off Abbot, essentialy a very nice, honest bloke (very un-politician like), picking on his every word and twisting it to suit this stupid “mad monk” narrative. Byrant is an idiot. I have dealt with him once, early last year and he was classic BBC – dishonest, scheming, pushing a blatant anti-capitalist, global warming agenda.


  9. Cassandra King says:

    A few months ago the BBCs Nick Bryant thought he could afford to treat Tony Abbot as a joke, he was treated like the village idiot because he was simply not seen as a threat to the ALP.
    The BBC dismissed him and the Liberal coaliton sure that the Australian people had chosen the ALP, they were wrong of course. It brings the BBC narrative home in sharp relief, they laughed at Abbot, then they tried to ignore Abbot, then they tried to attack Abbot and then the BBC lost, yes folks the BBC lost just as they lost other elections where their socialist leftist prefered candidates lost.
    The BBC campaigns for and on behalf of its own chosen political candidates, it offers its political candidates a planet wide media platform, it actively attempts to poison its own candidates enemies and it uses all of its huge resources to influence the outcome of democratic elections in foreign countries.
    Now there used to be an empire with similar political beliefs that tried to do the same thing…now who were they and what became of them I wonder… they were red and flew the BBCs prefered symbol of a hammer and sickle…just cant remember the name of that failed state corrupt anti democratic ideology…anyone help?


    • Cassandra King says:

      Sorry but just an added thought,

      The BBC is spiteful and they do not forgive their political enemies, the Italian people made a democratic choice and elected their most popular leader of modern times.
      This leader is Berlusconi and the BBC hate him like no other, they have attacked him in poisonous reports for most of his time in office, the sheer weight of poisonous smears that issue forth from the BBC is nothing short of a broken sewer pipe.
      Spurious accusations based on heresay and rumour, nasty and spiteful reports that could have been written by Berlusconis political enemies. The BBC even stoop to delving into his private life with a spiteful glee, yet all the BBC determined efforts to spread their poisonous smears have come to nought. I saw with my own eyes on the night of the first Berlusconi victory just how shattered the BBC were at the news, they had the vast bulk of their people at the socialist victory party ready for a celebration and a short straw skeleton crew with the enemy. The faces of the beeboid scum was a sight to behold, they have spent their time since then trying to take their spiteful petty revenge.


  10. John Anderson says:

    Sadly, Australian politicians lack the stature and gravitas of earlier years :


    • hippiepooter says:

      I think most at the BBC would prefer Sir Les Patterson to ‘the Mad Monk’!


  11. Craig says:

    Another day and the same sort of thing, beginning with the Tony Abbott section of Nick Bryant’s latest report …

    “The fitness fanatic Tony Abbott is often clad in lycra early in the morning…”

    Then, spotlighting the power of endless repetition in propaganda, Breakfast‘s paper reviewer Sally Bercow picked up on Bryant’s much-repeated phrase and said “It’s amazing really, because this time six months ago the..Tony Abbott was just seen as a joke figure”.

    Presenter Louise Minchin replied, “I know!”

    Shortly after, Louise went on to describe BBC hero Julian Assange (of Wikileaks) as “quite an extraordinary character…and what he’s done is groundbreaking”. (They really do like Assange, don’t they?) “Sally Bercow agreed he was “amazing”.


  12. John Anderson says:

    OK,  as the BBC is falling down on the job,  here is a stab at which way the wind is blowing on the OZ election :

    1  It looks like the “still in the air” seats,  Lindsay and Corangamite are tending Labor, while Boothby, Brisbane and Hasluck are tending towards the Lib Coalition.   This would leave each side with 73 seats – short of the 76 outright majority.  But Labor may end up with only 72 seats.

    2 The Greens say they have not committed to working with Labor.

    3 Three of the four independent MPs look essentially conservative – it seems unlikely they could get in bed with Labor and the Green member in any stable manner.

    4  The bookmakers give odds in favour of Abbott forming the next Government.   (Maybe this is because his party looks far more united,  compared with all the backbiting going on in the Labor party)

    5  One “trick” will concern who to make Speaker.  A cruel move would be for Abbott to offer the job to the Kevin Rudd, still disgruntled about being shafted by Gillard.   I liked Abbott’s line about the nation’s distaste for power being decided by a midnight knock on the door from Labor grey figures. 

    6  The election has been so close that neither side can put together a “solid” majority.  Abbott has the slight edge, maybe,  but he might prefer to let Gillard limp along for a while, twisting in the wind.


  13. George R says:

    BBC -NUJ branch, on its Labour Australia.

    However many updates on BBC-NUJ site, there’s only a picture of its only candidate, Ms. Gillard.

    Is Tony Abbott, who has apparently won most seats, invisible to BBC-NUJ branch?

    A typically biased presentation:


  14. RCE says:

    From the BBC website’s main article:

    Ms Gillard, a former lawyer who called a snap election shortly after coming to office, is hoping to be rewarded for the government’s handling of the economy, which weathered the global recession remarkably well.

    Indeed it did – but not because of Labor. It was because John Howard didn’t run up massive debt in the preceding years.  Can anyone think why the BBC don’t want you to know that?


  15. Umbongo says:

    From the 8:00 and 9:00 Radio 4 News bulletins and Broadcasting House we did not learn how many votes – or what proportion of the votes – had gone to each party.  Paddy O’Connell’s interview with an Australian commentator who had at some time in the past advised both the Conservatives here and the LibNats in Australia – who had to keep repeating his denial (apparently not accepted by O’Connell who kept asserting the opposite) that he had not advised the Conservatives in the 2010 election or the LibNats in yesterday’s Australian election – was a masterpiece of “it was Labour wot really won it!” BBC spin.

    The glorification of the Green triumph – that the Greens, through an electoral accident, apparently and deservedly have become kingmakers although only getting one MP elected – is the BBC leitmotif this morning.  O’Connell obvious dismay that the other independents all have conservative policy backgrounds was evidently too much for him to bear as he commented that the “other ones” ie the non-Labour LibNats, might benefit thereby in the upcoming negotiations.


    • Craig says:

      Breakfast‘s take at 8.30 was:

      Australia’s prime minister Julia Gillard says her party has won the most votes in the country’s general election.

      Well, due to Australia’s voting system she both has and hasn’t:

      The coalition outpolled Labor on the primary vote by about  400,000 votes but fell behind the government 49.3 to 50.69 per cent after the distribution of preferences.

      As things stand Ms Gillard’s claim to have won most votes is, therefore, just spin. The BBC should be telling us this. Instead they lead with her statement and then later say that Tony Abbott “insists” that Labor has lost the right to remain in power. Ms Gillard “says”, Mr Abbott “insists”.


      • Craig says:

        Of course, winning most primary votes (nearly half a million more) is the thing that give Tony Abbott the moral edge here.


      • hippiepooter says:

        In a 2nd preference system with an outcome like this, both parties can claim to have ‘a majority’, although its not for a BBC presenter to try to rubbish the claim of one over the other.  Interesting how despite a 2nd preference voting system the Aussies have still got a hung parliament!!  It looks like the 3 independent conservative MPs do give Australia a conservative majority, but we’ll have to wait and see. ..

        Oh, pity Peter Costello is no longer available to be Treasurer for the Liberals, ‘Abbott and Costello’ would have made a great team!


    • Craig says:

      Umbongo, Paddy O’Connell’s interview with Lynton Crosby was full of basic mistakes.

      Paddy introduced him as an advisor to Tony Abbott, “who previously advised the campaigns of Boris Johnson, who won outright, and David Cameron, who did not.”

      Well firstly, as Mr Crosby was forced to point out, he hasn’t been an advisor to Tony Abbott. He advised the former conservative prime minister John Howard in four (successful) elections. So Mistake No.1.

      Then, as Mr Crosby also had to say, he wasn’t an advisor to David Cameron either. Mr Crosby pointed that out early on in the interview but Paddy obviously wasn’t listening and soon repeated his mistaken view that Mr Crosby had advised David Cameron. So Mr Crosby had also to repeat the point that he hadn’t!! Lynton Crosby in fact advised Michael Howard in 2005. Mistake No.2.

      Did you also hear the dismissive tone in this, when he quoted ABC’s forecast for seats: “72 for Labor, the others”. “The others”!!


  16. Umbongo says:

    The 2 hours on Sunday morning on Radio 4 from the 8:00 news to the end of Broadcasting House is a regular object lesson in BBC partiality.  The sermons in the church service or any special prayers rarely omit “our” responsibility for climate change, for all the mayhem in the Third World and any outbreaks of community unrest in areas of recent immigrant settlement in the UK.  “A Point of View” (my comment on today’s programme is the last one on the previous Open Thread here ) is pure BBC-approved cant.  Today’s Broadcasting House is the usual mish-mash of anti-coalition bias and incompetent journalism.


    • John Anderson says:

      I always avoid Radio 4 like the plague on Sunday mornings.  LBC has a useful political programme from 8 till 11am,  then there is an excellent travel programme for the next 3 hours.  All fulfilling what the BBC’s remit used to be – to inform, educate and entertain.