The curse of the Miliband Mix-up, episode 329

Posted on February 13, 2012

This blog has long followed the Great Mili Mix-up, the tendency of even the most accomplished commentators to mix up David and Ed Miliband, almost as if the universe itself is trying to set right the error made when the wrong brother was elected Labour leader. So far it’s struck the BBC website, the Today Programme, the Telegraph, the Mirror and even Google Image Search.

The latest in this longstanding tradition is City AM, who illustrate the findings of today’s Voice of the City poll with the wrong Miliband:

The poll finding illustrated with David’s photo reads “69% Disapprove of Ed Miliband’s performance during the NHS reform debate”.

It’s hardly City AM’s fault that the Opposition Leader is apparently one of Britain’s most forgettable men – or were the picture desk just trying to imply a solution to the problem?


Lookalikes: an occasional series

Posted on October 21, 2011

Every now and then a famous face you’ve been looking at for years (not continuously, obviously, that would be weird) suddenly emerges as a lookalike that you hadn’t previously noticed. So it was for me, watching the news last night.

I’d never clocked it before, but it turns out the BBC’s North America Editor Mark Mardell bears a remarkable likeness to Family Guy’s Peter Griffin:








Spooky, no?


BBC gives phone hacking 7 times more exposure than the Euro crisis

Posted on July 20, 2011

The BBC are obviously smarting from the growing number of allegations that they have covered the phone hacking scandal so much that crucial issues like the increasingly likely collapse of the Euro have been neglected.

Of course many of those allegations are made by people who are themselves uncomfortable politically with the embarrassment being caused by the hacking issue, and of course the phone hacking scandal is absolutely rightly big news. However, if the Euro was to fall over next week with catastrophic economic consequences I suspect much of the public would be wondering how it all happened so suddenly, when in reality this crisis has been brewing for months and years.

The BBC’s Foreign Editor Jon Williams (who is, by the way, well worth following if you’re on Twitter) just said:

Surprised at claim #BBC covered #hacking to exclusion of other stories. Arab Spring, Italian Euro crisis & #eastafrica drought all prominent

It may be an exaggeration to say that other stories have been excluded entirely, but if you look at the evidence it’s pretty clear they’ve been eclipsed by the hacking coverage. Here are the results of searching the BBC News site for references to “hacking”, “euro” and “libya” over the last week:

Libya: 23 mentions

Euro: 32 mentions

Hacking: 246 mentions

As I say, hacking is a huge story and it does deserve large amounts of attention – but it’s hard to claim the BBC hasn’t taken its eye off other major issues while it’s been going on.

Unlike others I don’t necessarily think that’s solely because the BBC is threatened by Murdoch; it’s also because hacking is a media-village story taking place within the world most journalists inhabit. However the BBC in particular has a Charter responsibility to consider the public interest. That isn’t served by neglecting to cover the Euro crisis properly.

The Ed/David Media Mili-Mix-Up Part III

Posted on July 18, 2011

Despite the big impact he’s generally recognised to have made on the hacking issue over the last fortnight, it seems Ed Miliband is still having some serious recognition issues even among the political media. After the Today Programme and the internet itself mixed him up with his brother David, and the Telegraph did the same, the effect is spreading.

Guido picked up on the Daily Mirror’s Mili-mixup:

Now the BBC website has managed to follow suit in their live coverage of  PMQs:

This is quite funny, but it leaves Labour with a serious question: if even now, at the height of his performance, journalists mix up Ed Miliband with David Miliband what hope is there that the public know who he is?

A simple way to annoy lefty comedians

Posted on June 27, 2011

Work has been quite hectic lately, hence the very limited blogging over the last ten days. In all the whirl, I missed this report about The Freedom Association securing an apology from the BBC.

Back in December, Alan Davies and David Baddiel used a 5 Live slot to smear The Freedom Association as a “posher version of the BNP” and liken TFA’s founder, Norris McWhirter, to “Oswald Mosley” and Hitler’s Brownshirts. Sadly this was just the latest instance of lefty comedians forgetting that being good at jokes doesn’t make you the fount of all political truth.

Had Baddiel and Davies bothered to check the facts before slinging mud, they would have known that the Freedom Association – which I worked for 2005-2007 and on whose governing Council I am proud to sit – is dedicated to the seven principles of a free society:

  • Individual Freedom
  • Personal and Family Responsibility
  • The Rule of Law
  • Limited Government
  • Free Market Economy
  • National Parliamentary Democracy
  • Strong National Defences

In short, it is a libertarian organisation which is about as far from the oppressive, racist collectivism of the BNP or Oswald Mosley as you can possibly get.

As for Norris, he served tirelessly in the Royal Navy helping to defeat fascism in World War II and spent the bulk of his adult life supporting the fight to free the peoples of Eastern Europe from Communist totalitarianism. But apparently too long under the studio lights (or perhaps too many licence-fee-funded lunches) have blinded Alan Davies and David Baddiel to such inconvenient facts.

It’s good news that after pressure from Robert Halfon MP, criticism from DCMS Secretary of State Jeremy Hunt and complaints from many listeners, the BBC has acknowledged it was in the wrong. It would be better news if Davies and Baddiel were made to apologise personally for the lies they told on air with no attempt at balance, but that seems unlikely.

Perhaps the best way to fight back against their smears, and the best way to annoy some lefty comedians, would be to join The Freedom Association. You can do so here.

Don’t let Gordon be forgotten or forgiven

Posted on May 23, 2011

Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs is a national institution. Since 1942, celebrities and famous figures from Debbie Harry to David Cameron have been nominating their eight music tracks that they would want to ake with them to a desert island.

As part of a new feature, the BBC are looking for people to nominate their eight discs, to produce a show of the nation’s favourite picks.

On the Today Programme this morning, Kirsty Young invited people to run a campaign if they wanted to. So here it is – in the spirit of remembering exactly what Gordon Brown did to our finances and our economy, overinflating an asset bubble, generating a financial crash, selling our gold at a massive loss, running the national debt up to crippling levels and more, let’s all nominate classic ’70s track “Gordon is a Moron” by Jilted John.

All you need to do is click here, type in the song and the artist along with your other favourite songs and you’ll have done your bit to ensure Gordon Brown is never forgotten or forgiven for what he did. Obviously, if you could send this suggestion on to your friends as well that’d be great.

In the meantime, here’s the song itself:

Finally, here’s the link again – go and nominate it now!

EXCLUSIVE: Ed Miliband “told BBC he knew nothing about Tunisia”

Posted on March 08, 2011

The question of whether British politicians have got a good enough handle on the uprisings in North Africa is increasingly occupying the minds of political commentators. Against that background, I was recently told a fascinating snippet from someone inside the BBC which casts further doubt on whether Westminster is up to speed.

It goes a little something like this…

When Ed Miliband appeared on the Andrew Marr Show back on 16th January, he arrived for makeup beforehand, plonked himself down in the chair and announced “By the way, what’s been happening in Tunisia? I know absolutely nothing about it.”

A slightly shocked silence ensued, with the BBC staff present dually wondering a) how on earth he hadn’t been briefed for a major interview on unrest that by then had been running for a month and had in the previous two days led to the Tunisian President fleeing into exile, and b) whether they should prep Marr to grill him on it as a weak point.

As it turned out, for whatever reason Marr didn’t ask about the topic at all – but it hardly inspires confidence that Ed didn’t know about the topic and, more worryingly for Labour, just merrily announced that he didn’t to the staff of the BBC’s major political chatshow.

I should say at this point that this is single-sourced (albeit from a person who was apparently there at the time) , so it’s further to the tittle-tattle end of the news scale than the hard-copy-leaked-document end, but interesting nonetheless.

The odd tale behind the Barnsley by-election Honey Badger

Posted on March 01, 2011

There’s a typically perceptive piece out today by the BBC’s Brian Wheeler – one of the nice guys in political media – about the Barnsley by-election.

One of the background bits of colour he reports brought a smile to my face; the slightly unusual codename the Labour candidate has chosen for his campaign. It is called “Operation Honey Badger”.

The name has quite a few undertones. For a start, the Honey Badger sounds like a lovely creature but is actually notoriously vicious (find out more from the engrossing with a sweet name, but packing a nasty punch if you get too close.

The thing that it particularly brought to mind, though, was one of the weirdest incidents in the history of war reporting.

Considering that the Labour candidate in Barnsley, Dan Jarvis, recently left the Parachute Regiment, you may not be too surprised to learn that the Honey Badger’s most recent brush with notoriety was in relation to the British operation in Iraq.

Back in 2007, the Army was forced to go the remarkable length of publicly denying a rumour sweeping Basra “that UK troops had introduced strange man-eating, bear-like beasts into the area to sow panic”. What one Basra housewife referred to as a creature “as swift as a deer…the size of a dog but his head is like a monkey” later turned out to be – you guessed it – a Honey Badger. Presumably Mr Jarvis heard the story at the time and it’s stayed with him.

It’s an odd little tale, but whatever his other political sins Dan Jarvis certainly can’t be accused of lacking a sense of humour. Presumably he is hoping that his campaign spokesmen won’t end up having to put out a statement as weird as that the British Army released last time a Honey Badger graced the media:

UK military spokesman Major Mike Shearer said: “We can categorically state that we have not released man-eating badgers into the area.

Andrew Neil launches a cheese?

Posted on February 13, 2011

We’ve all become accustomed to celebrities extending their personal brand into unexpected markets, but did anyone anticipate the Daily Politics’ Andrew Neil launching a cheese? When I stumbled across this in a shop I couldn’t be certain from the brand name that it was definitely one of his enterprises, but once it turned out to be “matured in wine” – well, that clinched it:

I gather Private Eye may have a photo demonstrating his personal involvement with the “jugs”, too…

The divine right of Devine

Posted on February 10, 2011

The jury have just announced that Jim Devine is the latest politician to be found guilty of false accounting in his MPs’ expenses. Even before they had made up their minds about his criminal behaviour, though, it was clear that at bare minimum he was guilty of being a massive, massive hypocrite.

BBC Scotland’s Tim Reid, who has been livetweeting the trial, reported that Devine’s defence QC came out with this appeal to the jury yesterday:

Even by the often pompous standards of Westminster, that’s a laughable claim.

This Jim Devine who claimed yesterday he wanted “no special treatment” for having been an MP was the same Jim Devine who wasted public money and court time over the last year by first bringing a case and then an appeal to argue that he could not be prosecuted at all on the grounds of Parliamentary Privilege.

He was demanding special treatment for MPs to the absurd degree that they should be above the criminal law and untouchable even by the courts. That dodge didn’t work for Charles I when he pleaded the “divine right of kings”, and I’m delighted that it hasn’t worked for the divine right of Devine, either.