A Labour activist has ambushed Conservative Prime Minister Boris Johnson at a hospital and ranted at him about NHS cuts.
Using your skill and judgement see if you can spot the news story cunningly hidden in that sentence.
While you’re trying to work out, here is how the BBC promoted it:
"There are not enough doctors, there are not enough nurses. The NHS is being destroyed, and now you come here for a press opportunity"
— BBC Politics (@BBCPolitics) September 18, 2019
And here is how the BBC’s political editor Laura Kuenssberg chose to spin it
Another very, very awkward encounter for PM – taken to task by a parent on a children’s ward in London where he says repeatedly the ‘NHS has been destroyed’ – Johnson like rabbit in headlights pic.twitter.com/byRiXlD0ig
— Laura Kuenssberg (@bbclaurak) September 18, 2019
Have you worked out where the news story is yet?
Ha ha. Fooled you! There is, of course, no news story here whatsoever. It’s what used to be known in the trade — in the days when the journalistic industry maintained professional standards — as a ‘dog bites man’ story.
That is, it is a story so predictable, so workaday, so commonplace that no self-respecting journalist or imprint or licence-fee-funded state broadcaster would waste time covering it.
How times have changed, eh?
These days you can scarcely move for stories on the BBC and its ideological soulmates Sky News and Channel 4 News about Boris Johnson being heckled and harangued by political activists who disagree with him.
The other day, it was the turn of some nonentity from Luxembourg to have a go.
Brexit: What does 'podiumgate' say about chances of a deal? – BBC News https://t.co/PJTzbSyuNv
— Laura Kuenssberg (@bbclaurak) September 17, 2019
All right. So the nonentity in question – Xavier Bettel – happens currently to be Luxembourg’s Prime Minister. But, then in Luxembourg, pretty much everyone gets their turn sooner or later to be Prime Minister. We’re talking about a Duchy with a population of just 614,000 – so we’re looking at the equivalent, maybe, of the mayor of a medium-sized English city.
Would it be news if say, the mayor of Brighton organised a stunt designed to embarrass the Prime Minister?
Obviously not. No one cares what the mayor of Brighton thinks – if indeed that wind-farm blighted, seagull-infested, hellhole of woke even has a mayor.
And the same rule ought certainly apply to the Prime Minister of Luxembourg, a perfectly pleasant country – I went there for lunch once with my father and daughter during a tour of the Ardennes. It had a Sherman tank on a hill, leftover from the war. But that’s all I can remember – but not one that has made any significant contribution to Western Civilisation.
[Here is a list of the most famous people from Luxembourg. I guarantee you won’t have heard of any of them]
Yet the BBC decided in its wisdom that this non-story was of such importance that it deserved its own ‘-gate’ suffix. Podiumgate, it called it – as if it were some kind of major scandal to rank with, say, Watergate or Climategate. Which it wasn’t.
With its most recent non-story, the one about the heckler in the hospital, the BBC has been made to look especially foolish because the heckler has been exposed as a Labour activist who worked for Labour shadow First Secretary of State Lady Nugee (Emily Thornberry).
— Guido Fawkes (@GuidoFawkes) September 18, 2019
But the BBC deserves no sympathy here. Even before the activist’s identity was revealed it was perfectly obvious to anyone with an ounce of sense that this was not some ordinary member of the public:
— #Marcher (@MarcherLord1) September 18, 2019
How was it obvious? Because it’s what the BBC does (and what Sky News and Channel 4 News also do) all the time.
Sure it’s possible that on some occasions they are genuinely unaware that the father of a sick child/worried mum/anxious EU citizen worried about their residency status post-Brexit/food-bank-using nurse is a political activist and not a real person. But even when they’re not that’s still no excuse: left-wing protester harangues Conservative Prime Minister about their favourite left-wing protest topic is NEVER a news story because it’s a ‘dog bites man story.’ It doesn’t advance any objective narrative. It doesn’t tell us anything about anything that we couldn’t have already guessed. It doesn’t provide us with any cogent, worthwhile criticism of government policy.
It can be summed up in a classic English phrase, from the era when we were much more sensible about such matters:
“Well he would say that, wouldn’t he?”
What bothers me about this is the corrosive effect the constant drip drip drip of these leftist-biased non-stories has on our political culture.
Essentially, what it does is to shift the Overton Window relentlessly leftwards.
The BBC, Sky News and Channel 4 News – Britain’s three dominant TV news services – do not advertise themselves as left-wing media outlets. They purport to be more or less neutral. Yet when they run non-stories like these – as they frequently do – they are acting like left-wing propagandists.
Dangerously effective left-wing propagandists, too.
Boris Johnson, as we know, is famously averse to confrontation. He likes being liked. He is also quite sensitive, so his instinctive response when harangued by someone like the Labour activist pretending to be an ordinary member of the public is to furrow his brow, ‘um’ and ‘ah’ awkwardly, and wonder what he can do to avoid ever having to have such an encounter again – even, perhaps, to the point of deciding to spunk yet more taxpayers’ money up the wall propping up this moribund hangover from the Atlee era.
For Boris Johnson, see also: almost every right of centre politician in the country; almost every right of centre commentator in the country; almost every right of centre voter in the country.
Through its skewed reporting, what the BBC — and its leftist fellow-travellers Channel 4 News and Sky News — is doing is creating a media environment entirely inimical to conservative values and conservative thinking. This environment is designed to ensure that conservatives, classical liberals, libertarians, Brexiteers and so on are forever on the back foot – always being made to look as if they are on the wrong side of the argument because, hey, here’s another angry upset person on screen being angry and upset because people on the right just don’t care enough…
Listening to the squishier members of the conservative commentariat — my cucked chum Toby Young springs immediately to mind — you would imagine that this was just a mildly regrettable state of affairs which we have to accept because it was ever thus, and conservatives just have to work with the system as best they can.
The BBC is a blight on the body politic, a monstrous affront to democracy and a relentless betrayer of the people it is supposed, dispassionately and fairly, to serve.
Its left-biased influence on our political culture is not merely wrong but downright evil.
Permitting the BBC to carry on as it does with all its state-sanctioned (and anti-free market) privileges merely because that is how has always been is it is the equivalent of saying “Well why shouldn’t we have gone on letting Jimmy Savile sexually abuse corpses and underage kids? It’s just what Jimmy liked to do and always did do…”
I feel so strongly about this because I find it unforgivable that the interests of at least half the British population – and of quite possibly the majority of the British population – are being betrayed and ignored because politicians pay far, far too much attention to what the BBC et al are telling them to do and far too little to what British people would actually like them to do.
Can you imagine the BBC ever running a story about an angry taxpayer confronting a Conservative Prime Minister over the stupendous inefficiency of an archaic healthcare system which has some of the worst health outcomes in the Western world and badly needs reform?
Can you imagine the BBC ever running a story in which a worried Brexiteer confronts Boris over his fears that the Brexit he’s preparing to deliver won’t be hard enough?
You can’t. It would never happen.
Scrap the licence fee.