Why was the Beeb so quick to apologise?
Having spent ten years in my early career as an editor with BBC News it strikes me that the quick apology that has been made for parts of the corporation’s coverage of the Tory competition proposals is something of a watershed and might suggest that Brown’s media honeymoon might be running out of steam.
The BBC does not usually react so quickly – especially when the initial source of the complaint was a blog, in this case Iain Dale’s – that even the partial apology is quite a step. Dale’s argument started to gain force when the Sun took it up stating “the caustic bulletins could have been scripted by Labour ministers”. Ouch! That sort of comment in the UK’s top selling paper sends BBC bosses, who pride themselves on their impartiality, into a tizzy. Desk editors like I was will quickly get the message.
For the narrative of the six to seven weeks has been almost totally about how well Gord has been doing and, in Michael White’s phrase in the Guardian yesterday “kicking Cameron”. The BBC’s weekend coverage of the John Redwood plans certainly fitted into that pattern.
This is what White wrote: “It was bound to happen. By mid-August, the media realise that they have been nice to a new prime minister for a whole six weeks and decide they’re fed up with kicking David Cameron to bits. Suddenly Gordon Brown is no longer the modest, hands-on crisis manager he was a week ago, but a fretful workaholic who can’t even take a few days off, for heaven’s sake.”
On Tuesday I highlighted the Guardian‘s coverage of Brown’s 39 billion pound’s worth of expenditure announcements which did not seem very helpful to the government.
All of this could have an impact if Brown is considering an October election. The media is fickle and the narrative can turn very quickly. The question is what is the impact on public opinion? Could we start to see an easing of Labour’s polling margin in the coming weeks and, if so, could that add to the risk of a 2007 election?
For weeks I’ve been convinced that he will not dare to go this year and these latest moves reinforce that.
Betfair currently have 5.2/1 against a 2007 general election.