Home > Politics > What’s the real story?

What’s the real story?

Thirty years ago, I worked in politics. Back then I believed that the BBC’s coverage was institutionally biased, not necessarily against one party but against the perceived favourite in any situation. Looking at its coverage this morning of the Eastleigh by-election, it seems to me that nothing has changed.

BBC reaction to the LibDem victory has been neutral, UKIP’s second place being the big story. The Tories on the other hand, have been ‘humiliated’, according to its political correspondent.

Really? Presumably Robin Brant is experienced, or he wouldn’t be standing in front of the camera with a microphone in his hand. In that case he should have taken a closer look at the numbers. They suggest that if ‘humiliation’ is being alleged, both the coalition parties stand accused, but it seems that the concept of a humiliating victory is beyond Mr Brant’s comprehension. It seems so, but there’s a greater story in play.

Let’s look at the numbers. While beaten into third place, the swing against the Conservatives was actually less than that against the winners, and the margin between the two coalition parties was less than Chris Huhne’s LibDem majority at the 2010 general election. While acknowledging that the turnout was only 52.8%, the numbers are still spectacular. The LibDems polled 11,624 votes fewer, while the Tory vote fell by 10,543. Its majority over the party in second place was cut from 3,864 to 1,771. On the face of it it won only because it started from a  higher base than the Tories. The UKIP leader Nigel Farago (I know, it’s Farage, but isn’t my version a far better name for a politician?) suggests that his party may have polled more votes than anyone else in the ballot box, losing only because  of postal votes cast ten days before election day. He may have a point; 20% of Eastleigh electors voted postally in 2010 and for yesterday’s by-election  over 14,000 postal ballot papers were issued.

Where did I get these numbers? From the coverage by  Sky News, which in my humble, left the BBC lagging behind years ago in the quality of its political analysis.

What will all this mean in two years, come the next General Election? Nothing directly, but what does it mean now for the party leaders? It means we will see a lot more of Mr Farago from now on. It means that Nick Clegg is absolutely secure. Most significantly, it means that the nail holding Dave Cameron’s jacket has become very shoogly, and that is the real story that the BBC is seeking to advance, through its florid, if unsupportable language.

Categories: Politics
  1. Patricia (Pat) Wright
    March 2, 2013 at 1:46 am

    In this country, so many , if not most of the media have strong political preferences which are seldom too disguised. But unlike as you perceive the BBC, not so much status quo but left-leaning. Now, I know, “left” in my lexicon might still be a little “right” in the UK, but a balanced and neutral stance on the part of the press,et al, would be unexpected-tho, most welcome! Are you on your way to La Scala???

  2. March 2, 2013 at 11:14 am

    You’re absolutely right, as usual. However the BBC is publicly funded, and trumpets its impartiality. However it doesn’t always live up to it. No, we’rw not going back to Spain until April.

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