Anyone listening to Radio 4‘s Today programme this morning could be forgiven if they started choking on their cornflakes. Because the supposedly neutral broadcaster turned part of the programme into a Theresa May love fest, with two Conservative-supporting women allowed to speak uninterrupted about May’s virtues.
‘Well, she’s just wonderful, isn’t she?’
Camilla Cavendish, the former head of Downing Street Policy Unit, and Rosa Prince, author of May’s biography, spoke about the Prime Minister’s appearance on The One Show with her husband.
The cosy chat started with interviewer Sarah Montague stating:
It was love at first sight. He takes the bins out and her prime ministerial red boxes are never brought into the bedroom. That’s what we learnt from Philip and Theresa May’s outing on The One Show last night.
And a question about gender politics was about as hard hitting as the interview got. Prince’s response was:
I thought she wouldn’t want to wade into gender politics on The One Show. I think she probably thought it was lighthearted and harmless. But it was definitely an eyebrow raiser, yes.
And Cavendish’s response was gushing:
I thought she did very well. I thought she was remarkably relaxed actually.
Cavendish followed this with:
I think Theresa May knows that the Conservative Party’s biggest vulnerability is the perception that they govern for the few, not for the many. And Labour is trying to exploit that. And although it’s not true, that has always been a problem…
Go challenge something, please
And Cavendish continued her eulogy unchallenged:
I think an awful lot of her policies and the stories she’s telling are very much about trying to put the Conservative Party at the centre ground, governing for the many.
Prince wasn’t much better when asked whether she thought the appearance was a success:
It was a pleasant enough middle-aged couple who were sharing their stories… I think it was designed not to frighten the horses… I don’t think there was anything fake about it… they showed themselves to be what they are, which is a nice couple who clearly adore each other.
And it only got worse. Price continued:
For her it’s very much about, I think, egalitarianism… it’s very much about levelling the playing field… She is a red Tory, I think is the phrase now, because she believes in helping everyone to have the best start in life. Even something like grammar schools is about that.
Surely there’s got to be a rebuttal…
Throughout the segment, Montague continued with simpering questions and allowing her guests to praise May. Asked about May’s support for fox hunting, and whether that fits in with a new ‘Mayism’, Cavendish replied:
Ism’s are a bit tricky… people are human and she has her own set of beliefs.
And then she went on to praise what the Conservative government is doing, saying that May would be continuing a lot of David Cameron’s policies:
Universal Credit, you know, the reduction of corporation tax which created, of course, a huge jobs boom. More free schools than grammars.
An unbiased public broadcaster?
This interview was yet another example of the shaky ground the BBC is on with its reputation as an unbiased neutral broadcaster.
To allow statements about May being an egalitarian and a red Tory, alongside wholesale praise of low corporation tax, to go unchallenged is a joke. But not a very funny one. Many would not describe May in these terms. And if her loyal fans want to go on the radio and do so, an unbiased broadcaster should be challenging these statements.
Under the Conservative government, the NHS is being destroyed, schools are chronically underfunded, and the welfare state is being stripped from the most vulnerable people in society. Experts in the field, such as NHS workers, have said it is our “public duty” to get rid of the Tories to save the NHS. And headteachers have given Jeremy Corbyn a standing ovation.
The BBC is supposed to be a public service. It is supposed to provide an unbiased and neutral perspective. This segment was essentially a party political broadcast for the Conservatives. And that’s not good enough. It has to stop.
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