Sunk Without Trace


Thanks to Guest Who for pointing me in the direction of Newsnight where (Labour supporting…apparently) Kirsty Wark trashed Andy Burnham, Labour’s Shadow Health Minister.




A fascinating interview that tore Burnham to shreds and showed him up as a one hell of a bluffer unwilling to commit himself to putting a figure on how much of NHS work could be contracted out to the private sector….Burnham stated that the ‘Market experiment was over…and the NHS was now the preferred provider’.…which is very slippy and disengenuous in its abstract non-committal.  The NHS might be the ‘preferred provider’ in theory but if efficiency or quality of care can be provided better by the private sector those in the NHS who are contracting the services will choose that…so it’s an open ended non-commitment to the NHS by Burnham…the private sector, in theory, could provide all the NHS services even if the NHS itself was the ‘preferred provider’ as Burnham will not say just where, at what percentage, he will stop further NHS work being contracted out.


Wark then holed Burnham below the water line with a BBC study of knee and hip operations in which the patients said that they received better quality of care and outcome from private providers.

The King’s fund also told us that Labour’s proposals were very radical which would lead to a fundamental change of the NHS….Wark didn’t take that any further but perhaps should have as it is another one of Labour’s attack lines that the Coalition’s reforms have been unnecessary and highly damaging….just the fact that they happened, not necessarily because of the reforms themselves.

Wark made a significant point that Labour’s electoral position was dependent on differentiating themselves from the Tories based upon the level of private provision they were willing to accept.

That’s very true, and very important to note because it is such an emotive and controversial issue with so many half truths and so much wilful blindness…. on any phone-in dancing around the subject of the NHS you will hear strident voices calling in to shout about the alleged  privatisation of the NHS…by the Tories….Interviews like Wark’s on Newsnight should dispel such myths about privatisation and remind people that Labour had a big hand in privatising the NHS as far as it has been.  However it is the usual story with the BBC…..did I hear a mention of this interview on the news today?  No, not a word…I had no idea Burnham had been roasted by Wark until I saw Guest Who’s comment….and yet it is utterly damning for Labour and highly damaging to their election strategy based on the NHS….why is the BBC not making this headline news?

As with Panorama’s investigation into ‘British Islam’ when the time comes to disseminate the information from such programmes out to the wider BBC, its call-ins, presenter led programmes and news bulletins, you find that all that good work is ignored and discarded, the presenters carrying on in their own little worlds ignoring anything that conflicts wth their world view…or so it seems.  The news bulletins either ignore the findings of the likes of Newsnight or so truncate a story and edit it down so much that the essence of it is lost and the real thrust and important points are completely lost…or worse, they actually change the whole story and totally alter our perception of what actually happened.

Yesterday the BBC interviewed Alan Milburn.  His critical comments in that interview about Labour’s health policies were plastered over other news media…but not on the BBC as I noted yesterday…and that’s despite it being a story broken by a BBC programme in an interview on The World at One, on Radio 4!

Wark did mention Milburn’s comments on Newsnight and stated that Labour was torn internally on this issue…so of significant importance…and yet otherwise ignored by the BBC with no major report based upon that revelation at all on its web site.

Guido suggests it might have been a highly relevant issue…one the BBC might have taken a deeper interest in perhaps?:

Perhaps Burnham’s bad mood was something to do with this morning’s front pages, which report Labour figures have responded to his big speech yesterday by laying into the party’s NHS strategy.

As Miliband centres Labour’s election campaign on the NHS, public satisfaction is at an all time high



And today we had another example of how BBC News can transform a story and turn it into something, that by using subtle changes of wording, can create a whole different perception leading listeners to the wrong (or right) conclusion.


The BBC claimed to have broken this story…

NHS guidelines for ‘major incidents’ spark political row

Mr Miliband pressed the prime minister on the news that the West Midlands NHS region has issued guidance to hospitals, GPs and Ambulance Trusts in their area – which includes Birmingham, Coventry and Wolverhampton – on declaring major incidents.

But Mr Cameron insisted that ministers had had no involvement in the guidelines.


As you might have noted it was the West Midlands NHS region that issued this new guidance to hospitals as to when they can declare a ‘major incident’….not the NHS as a whole, nor the Government.

However what we got from most news bulletins was the news that ‘new guidelines have been issued to parts of the NHS….’

Now that is highly misleading…there is no indication as to who issued those guidelines, you would naturally assume it was the Government, and ‘parts of the NHS’ could be taken to mean anything…most likely that it is a nationwide issue of relevance to certain major hospitals or medical centres.  Again misleading as it was only hospitals in the West Midlands….and the issue had nothing whatsoever to do with the Government.

The BBC’s Norman Smith loudly broke the story this morning….

bbc nhs 1

On the radio he proclaimed that there was ‘an almighty political ding dog over health’ and went on to talk about the political arguments…however he failed to inform us of anything useful…such as what the guidelines said and what the overall effect of them would really be and why.

Norman sent most of the time revealing the contents of emails sent between NHS staff discussing these changes…emails that suggested this was a government plot to stop hospitals declaring ‘major incidents’ and that was intended to ‘manage the news’.

Question…how did the BBC get these emails?  Let’s have a guess…a Labour supporting staff member saw these guidelines and decided to write an email that damned the government…and then sent the emails to Labour and the BBC.

Not as if NHS staff aren’t highly political….

Dr Jacky Davis

“This isn’t privatisation by the back door, it’s privatisation by the front door, and it is really putting patients’ lives at risk”   Dr Jacky Davis Keep Our NHS Public


The BBC, whilst pretty much ignoring Labour Big Beast Alan Milburn’s critical comments, then mobilises its resources and launches this half-story into the stratosphere…just in time for Prime Minister’s Questions.

Then it spends the day giving it plenty of coverage,  somewhat misleading coverage, and stirs the pot relentlessly.


All this perfectly illustrates a major problem with the BBC’s news management that I have frequently noted…the disconnect between information that comes into the BBC and what is then filtered and disseminated out  into the mainstream BBC system where reports such as Panorama get conveniently ‘forgotten’ and interviews such as last night’s  Newsnight are ignored or downplayed with any reports that do cover such stories deciding to emphasise, for example,  Burnham’s ‘stout defence’ of Labour’s policies and how he intends to change the NHS for the better whilst battling the Tories’ NHS sell off plans.


How many people watch Newsnight, Panorama or listen to the Today programme?  Not that many in the scale of things. How then do they get a full insight into events?  Watching the late night news is just as subject to the vagaries of the likes of Norman Smith’s initerpretations as his work on the radio was as he puts the emphasis on eyecatching ‘scoops’ such as the emails which are irrelevant and posssibly suspect but which make ‘good copy’ rather than trying to explain the complex ins and outs of the issues.

It’s a big problem that disconnect between what investigative journalism on the BBC turns up and what actually gets reported…rarely do those specialist, indepth reports change the ‘conventional wisdom’ of the institution that is the BBC.  Which means you and I don’t get the truth from the BBC…..whether that’s by design or is just a case of bad journalism, inept editing and a failure to recognise what is important in a story I’ll let you decide.






Bookmark the permalink.

20 Responses to Sunk Without Trace

  1. Jagman84 says:

    Mr Burnham. Mid Staffs. On your watch. ON YOUR BIKE!!


  2. stuart says:

    i know why and you know why the health service is in such a crisis,andy burnham and the lot of them just wont talk about what has brought upon this disaster on the nhs,ukip did and they was slammed as bigots,i dont need to explain why the health services at its knees,but the politicians will dare not use this word called immigration,bigger populations means more stress on the creaking nhs,now if me and you know that,why dont the ignorant politicians.


    • Merched Becca says:

      He’s a prime example of a “Flim Flam Man”.
      Vote UKIP.


    • I Can See Clearly Now says:


      But I’ve no argument with the immigrants; the problem is with our ‘leaders’. It’s made worse by the greedy bosses recruiting cheap labour overseas – they can offer lower wages by dangling the carrot of ‘free health service’. When the immigrants naturally avail of their perk, the state picks up the tab instead of the business. Sweet! Further, the attraction of free pregnancy care works hand-in-hand with the attraction of a British passport for the baby. Little wonder nearly half of new babies are born to foreigners.

      Standing back from the health issue, the calibre of LibLabCon ‘leaders’ is pretty grim in my opinion. Burnham, Harman and Abbott considered themselves Prime Minister material. That says it all. Old Callaghan and Healey were a class above, not least in their willingness to speak truth to the left. Norman Tebbit acknowledged that recently in the Torygraph:

      Norman Tebbit

      The current crop are pathetic.


      • Merched Becca says:

        I Can See Clearly Now …
        With exception to Nigel Farage, our political leaders are schoolboys and schoolgirls.
        Where, oh where, are our Statesmen of old ?
        Cometh the hour cometh the man.


      • Laska says:

        I think that you can judge people who receive money and free resources. Everybody knows that nothing is free that requires economic recources. Philip Roth in a Dying Animal had Cuban refugee family, once they had set themselves up, sending a cheque to compensate the U.S. government for its financial support. The point here is manners and values. When you take you enter into an ethical and moral problem. When you receive something and you know that others have paid for it there is a corrosive effect. It is not good for the moral development of people to not require them to provide a justification of why they should not pay for what they receive. Let’s not forget that when somebody receives something somebody pays the real cost in not receiving that service or good. This shameless consumption without payment is harmful and is a type of theft. I genuinely wonder at what ethical calculation goes on in the minds of people who take and do not contribute. And I wonder more about those that contribute more than they receive and not seem to mind. Do they think that they are good? Well they don’t. Even children know this.


        • I Can See Clearly Now says:

          I fear you seriously misjudge the ability of the left to convince people that they are ‘victims’. Huge numbers of people take it as read that they have been ‘disadvantaged’; they reason that if they’d only had a chance they would have been top-earners. Consequently, they have no shame whatsoever about taking whatever they can get. If they ever think of the providers, it’s only to despise them for not giving more.


          • I Can See Clearly Now says:

            Sorry; I thought you were referring to UK-born subjects. Foreigners feel no shame at all, because our government and companies recruit them, tell them how much we need them and what a wonderful job they do. That’s OK; but there’s no recognition of how a dozen generations built the country and made sacrifices for their own descendants.


            • Laska says:

              Apologies for not been clearer. I do distinguish between the domestic and foreign indigent. The reason is that the wealth of a nation is built over many generations so the former have ancestors that will have contributed. Further, the creation of the welfare provision was always predicated upon a “closed society” so that the provision was through a shared cost and risk over generations which allowed some not to be required to contribute. The welfare system was not built for an “open border” situation because of the obvious problem of people presenting themselves for provisions. This was exacerbated by the government in the 1980s – the courts held out for a while but the activism opening up entitlement came in in the 1990s – changing provision of welfare from “contribution” to “needs” basis. At that point Marx would have laughed as “from each according to their ability, to each according to their need” kicked in. As a consequence the economy got distorted and welfare costs – education and health, particularly – increased dramatically. And we will never have a proper accounting by the BBC. The magnetic attraction of “needs based entitlement attracted people from all over the world and this was perfectly rational behaviour though, of course, only the relatively wealthy could afford the journey from Africa and Asia. Those that didn’t make the journey, couldn’t afford it.


  3. Number 7 says:

    Burnham was on Sky News this afternoon (about 3.00pm) pushing the guidelines story and how he could not disclose the “recent” document or his source.

    Kay Burley (of William – Billy Wizz – Hague fame and hardly a Tory supporter) then put said document up on screen and stated it was in fact dated January 2014. I think the expression “twisting like a speared fish” would be appropriate to describe Burnham.

    There then followed an interview from a West Midlands doctor who confirmed that it was local guidelines BUT, intended to cover major incidents/emergencies, such as motorway multiple pile ups. Where all hospital staff and consultants would be mobilised – as opposed a large influx of patients into A&E.

    Needless to say this was not picked up/ignored by the world class tweeters in the BBC as they were still pushing the “Party” line this evening.

    Bias? What bias?


    • #88 says:

      2014? Are you sure about that?

      BBC Nationally or Midlands Today who were stoking this, this evening, didn’t make this clear. The bit about real major incidents came out in an interview but that wasn’t clear, either. The BBC went on, simply suggesting that the Tories will not want stories like this with the election 99 days away and Labour will love stories like this.

      That the Labour Party, through it’s union affiliates passed this to their colleagues in the BBC, makes this sound like an ambush.

      Nationally, the controversial Norman Smith, still went on about the document without offering any of the context that was offered by the PM.

      Back to BBC Midlands, they have for some time had a reputation as an easy route for union activists to get their stories into the public domain. A family member of mine said that when they were having difficult union negotiations, they would always watch BBC Midlands today, to find out what the Union’s position really was or as an early warning that trouble was in the way.


  4. Billy says:

    That video just demonstrates what lying scum Labour politicians are. The anti-English filth party!


  5. Jerry Fletcher says:

    I’ve noticed Newsnight shows interviews almost every week night. I’ve also noticed most aren’t headline news the next day.

    What is to be read into this?


  6. ChrisL says:

    “How many people watch Newsnight, Panorama or listen to the Today programme?”

    When I and others have posted links to BBC web pages to show that it has reported something, it is often said that far fewer people read them than watch BBC TV or listen to BBC Radio and that therefore it doesn’t really count as covering the story properly. And now you’re saying that a senior BBC presenter destroying a Labour Shadow Minister isn’t giving it enough coverage, even though it was broadcast on one of its major TV and radio programmes?

    If Wark quoted Milburn’s comments on Newsnight, how on earth can that be “pretty much ignoring” them?

    “there is no indication as to who issued those guidelines, you would naturally assume it was the Government”

    I wouldn’t naturally assume that. My first thought would have been that it was the NHS as a whole which issued the guidelines. I don’t think that this was deliberately done to try and blame the government, if that’s what you’re saying.


    • Guest Who says:

      ‘When I and others have posted links..’

      It is usually by you… ‘and others (though for most it has been mostly drive-bys)’ in response to a foolhardy absolute.

      However the BBC ‘reporting something’ is surely not comparable to when the BBC clears the decks and gets Stuart Hughes to coordinate dawn to dusk campaigns across every news broadcast and social media avenue that can be found for a week, or more.

      Two (don’t forget Mr. Neil) senior BBC interviewers did indeed allow a desperately inept Labour Shadow Minister to utterly fail to explain or defend a totally incoherent policy beyond it being weaponised to grab power by any means. On relatively niche political wonk specialist programmes.

      If a pol of less favoured political fealty had crashed and burned in such a wonderful ratings gold manner, it would have been across the board.

      But wasn’t.

      Now, as we all know, senior BBC management, including such ‘leave your politics at home’ luminaries as Lord Hall and James ‘Ben Bradshaw and I go way back’ Purnell, would never interfere with the editorial process, so it just must be another one of those amazing coincidences, like the Mirror vs. NoTW, where things went from ‘news’ to ‘not news’, even when originated at home.

      Read the Pollard Report, at least the unredacted bits, to see how that all works, via a mixture of astounding uncuriosity and selective Alzheimers along the whispering corridors of the sack of rats floors.



    • I Can See Clearly Now says:

      now you’re saying that a senior BBC presenter destroying a Labour Shadow Minister isn’t giving it enough coverage

      Stand back and look at the big picture. The election kicked off at the start of the new year. Labour made it clear there would only be one issue. That’s unusual, and implies they are weak everywhere else. They can only get away with a one-issue campaign if the broadcasters allow it. The BBC have obliged. Events – the Paris shootings – disrupted coverage for a few days but, apart from that, the NHS coverage, national and local, has been non-stop.

      Wark didn’t ambush Burnham with any unexpected questions. She and her team would surely have expected him to have prepared stock answers. Being seen to be so willing to major on Labour’s chosen battleground, they can’t then fail to be a little forceful.

      Burnham wasn’t destroyed. Labour can depend on a core 30% support. If they can secure another 5% from the rest, Miliband is in Downing Street. Even allowing for a few banana skins, four months of round-the-clock coverage of the ‘NHS crisis’ could well deliver the votes required. Any publicity is good publicity.


    • Ralph says:


      There is a big difference in the impact of an interview if it is on Newsnight or on the 6 O’clock News. Perhaps I’m a cynic but if Burnham was a Tory that interview would have been played and replayed on the BBC to be followed by a Mid Staffs horrors documentary bringing in somehow the ‘so called bedroom tax’.


    • Jerry Fletcher says:

      It doesn’t really count as covering the story properly unless it suits Alan to. Then it does.

      Simple really.