It was painful to watch a professional journalist degenerate into the pub bore on the Daily Politics show.
I refer of course to the once respected Andrew Neil, for many years the Editor of the Sunday Times.
That was in his glory days, now he is reduced to acting the part of ‘shock jock’ titillating the jaded public appetite for politics, by sensationalising those who he can afford to offend. He picks his targets carefully.
This week he picked on Chris Mounsey, current leader of the Libertarian Party.
Mounsey was never going to get an easy ride from an interviewer who emerged from the sewer of Glaswegian political interests – Neil’s Editorship of the Sunday Times was one of marked opposition to anyone Oxbridge educated; so within seconds we had been reminded that Chris was educated ‘at Eton’ in dismissive tones.
An unwise crack for the current state of corrupt and intimidatory politics in Glasgow is such that I would not have thought anyone who acquired their political education in Glasgow would want to be defined on the basis of where they were educated; so be it Andrew, If Chris is defined by Eton’s reputation, then yours is defined by Paisley Grammar School’s.
Neil carried on bludgeoning Mounsey in Paisley intimidatory fashion by saying that the Libertarian Party was a ‘one man band’ – and then played to the gallery with a cheap joke about it being a ‘five man band’ – told that there were 450 members Neil said that amounted to ‘nothing then’ – if that is the BBCs idea of balanced air time for all political parties then it is little wonder the public have lost their appetite for politics.
His next line of attack was to say that ‘if’ the Libertarian Party ‘had pretensions to be a proper party’ – it is a proper party Neil, and as such should have been accorded the same respect as any other political party – then ‘do you think you should blog in the way that you do’ and proceeded to rake up comments Mounsey had made on his Devil’s Kitchen blog long before he became a political leader.
Oh dear! Was this Andrew Neil, the man who has pretensions to be a proper journalist? The man who the BBC had to pull an entire edition of This Week from their archives after he called Diane Abbott a ‘chocolate hobnob’? The man who famously said that some of our most senior and respected judges had ‘gone collectively bonkers’ when they upheld the right of the Daily Mirror to spoil a Sunday Times exclusive ‘in the public interest’. Was this that Andrew Neil now hauling Chris Mounsey over the coals for things he had written long before he became a political leader?
Indeed it was; not only unbalanced interviewing of a political leader but crass hypocrisy on display here.
Andrew Neil was always an ‘alternative journalist’. He came up through the hard school of Glaswegian politics and broke into main stream journalism at a time when it was dominated by old school types such as Sir Peregrine Worsthorne. The chip on his shoulder was always understandable. What is less explicable is the antipathy he showed towards an ‘alternative politician’, apparently believing that you have no right to break into this ‘market’ unless you follow the mores and norms of those already in the profession. Neil certainly didn’t do that – why should he ridicule Mounsey for founding a ‘different’ type of political party?
I am no fan of the foul mouthed rant, it tends to turn me off reading some of the blogs that may indeed be full of wisdom – I will never know. So, unlike some of the other Libertarian bloggers today who have been saddened by the quite understandable loss of the Devil’s Kitchen blog because it had started to impinge on Mounsey’s ‘day job’, I am not writing in support of that particular type of blog, but rather in criticism of a very poor standard of impartial journalism on Neil’s part which has had the consequence of forcing Chris Mounsey to close down his original Devil’s Kitchen blog.
There is currently a fashion, started by Nick Hellen of the Sunday Times, who outed ‘Belle de Jour’, and continued since by other faux journalists who vent their jealousy of the community spirit on the Internet by confining their investigative journalism to the easy task of ‘outing’ bloggers and attempting to trash their reputation – there have been a string of such posts recently rehashing readily available information on Guido Fawkes as though it was some sort of revelation. It is the worst kind of gutter journalism, on a par with the NOW and their ‘vicar’ revelations. How sad to see the BBC descend to that level.
Classic Andrew Neil T-Shirts available HERE for the Libertarian minded.
- Letters From A Tory » First Class posts on Thursday
- April 15, 2010 at 20:23