Should Andrew Neil be the BBC’s main political anchor?

Should Andrew Neil be the BBC’s main political anchor?


    Surely it’s time for the curtain to close on the Dimbleby era?

Just under a fortnight ago I had a rant about the woeful inadequacies of the BBC’s election coverage and many others have joined the criticism. The antics of Jeremy Vine have been the main focus but these were singled out as an example that something is going badly wrong.

Since then we have two more impressive US primary election nights on CNN and the more you see their output that the more you realise how TV licence payers in the UK are being short-changed. This is an area, of course, where the Corporation’s public service role should be most apparent – covering the democratic process and elections.

Since then I have been pondering on how the BBC should go forward to provide coverage that it can be proud of and it struck me that a key figure is the anchor person – someone with the political skills and expertise as well as being an effective broadcaster able to think on his/her own feet.

There is one name that immediately springs to mind – Andrew Neil who currently anchors what I consider to be the best political shows on the BBC – “The Daily Politics” and “This Week”. He’s the one who could hold an election programme together and simply would not put up with the second, or even fifth rate that is now served up for us.

Neil is a former editor of the Sunday Times and is the editor-in-chief of the Barclay brothers Press Holdings group of newspapers.

Just watching his handling today of the follow-up to yesterday’s Ali D’s statement, PMQs and then Brown’s “pre-Queen’s speech” and you see someone with the competence and the political understanding who could underpin the big BBC political occasions.

The rubbish that the BBC currently serves up to us on election nights has to stop. They should appoint Neil now and plan for a different and substantially better future.

Mike Smithson

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