Wednesday, April 14, 2010


Liveblogging BBC 10pm News 14th April

“Tonight at ten, fair taxes and cleaner politics – the Lib Dem appeal to voters.”
For the first time in nine election days, the Liberal Democrats are given top billing – though, despite Labour and the Tories getting consistent main BBC headlines for their manifestos, the Lib Dems weren’t top during the day.

“Later” headlines: BNP given plug for later on. Two supportive quotes from public for them. None against. Unbalanced – as ever, media talk up the BNP way out of proportion to their support.

Liberal Democrat Manifesto Launch: Fairness

Click here to read the full Liberal Democrat Manifesto, with every policy paid for in figures you can read in full.

Liberal Democrat Manifesto launch – Nick Robinson sets the scene, as ever, by talking about a Hung Parliament.

Clip of Nick Clegg speaking – setting out the Lib Dem top four pledges about fairness.

Swiftly cuts to Nick Robinson speaking. Rattles breathlessly through some spending cuts. As ever, he has much more time than the real Nick.
“The figures are there for everyone to see,” says Nick Clegg – every penny’s accounted for.
Robinson voiceover misrepresents the IFS, then asks about tax avoidance figures in the big Lib Dem tax cut for low and middle earners: Robinson edits Nick’s answer to imply whole of £17 billion cut coming from tax avoidance – without even saying what the tax avoidance policy is (new legislation, not just an ‘aim’).

Robinson notes – with quote shots – that Cameron and Brown were being very nice to the Lib Dems today; links to Lib Dems voters, not Hung Parliament.

Huw explains all five ways in which Lib Dem £700 tax cuts are to be paid for according to our detailed costings – better late than never, but the misleading impression’s already been given.

Stephanie Flanders claims to fact-check the figures.

Poorest fifth of earners pay 38.7% in tax
Richest fifth of earners pay 34.9% in tax

She talks about the poorest families – not the poorest earners. This is comparing apples and oranges, but she doesn’t admit it. And never mentions marginal tax rates. Talk about added income from benefits – but ignoring that not all lower earners are entitled to tax credits, so they aren’t helped by them. Also ignoring that keeping your own money rather than have to apply to the Govt not only adds to self-esteem but means you don’t have to get involved in all the tax credit cock-ups – which they don’t mention.

Quote from IFS without facts to back it up. BBC at no point says that Lib Dem figures are from the Office of National Statistics – not from the Lib Dems. Implies all facts on the Fabian Society’s highly partial side, when in fact the UK’s largest factual body supplied the Lib Dem figures. Also doesn’t talk about who would gain – just singles out a few people who won’t. They do say it’s the biggest tax cut in modern times: so isn’t it strange that the BBC can’t bring themselves to say who all that money would actually go to?

Some of the poorest don’t gain, says Flanders – but doesn’t say that they won’t get income tax cuts because they don’t pay tax.

David Laws – it’s not a general tax cut. It’s all paid for by rises in other taxes. BBC treat this as if it’s some revelation they’ve unearthed, when in fact the Lib Dems have been saying almost exactly the same about a Green Tax Switch for three years: though the details of the policy have been updated, it has always been the case that for every penny Lib Dems cut taxes by, other taxes will rise on the wealthiest.
“The Liberal Democrats have got some credit today putting more numbers in their Manifesto than the other two parties, and they have much more ambitious tax plans.”
Misleading at best, deceitful at worst – implies other parties have supplied any costings figures at all. That is untrue. The Liberal Democrats have full costings printed in their Manifesto which you can see with a couple of clicks: the Labservatives have none.

Flanders flat-out states won’t help poorest – when in fact Lib Dems will help lowest-paid. Highly partial – seems to have been taken straight from Labour Party attack book that says the poor shouldn’t be allowed to benefit if it means the middle will too. Richard adds that she claims not to know who some of the tax rises will hit: in fact, we set out exactly where they hit, but she’d have to do something intelligent like explain how behaviour affects impact – such as how often you fly, and how the airlines fill their planes – which is of course the point of green taxes.

Cameron says TV debates might be dull and boring and, oh, God, don’t tune in, please, don’t watch, you won’t enjoy it, just listen to the Tory spin the day after which will say I’ve won even if I fuck it up completely.
I may have paraphrased.

Tiny clips of Brown and Clegg on debate, then lots on the process, behind scenes at ITV for tomorrow’s debate.

Robinson says Brown and Cameron are both saying the other will win – and that both (again, excluding Lib Dems) have people from Obama team in to help.
All parties practicing. He names the Labour and Tories playing the opposite numbers – doesn’t bother naming the Lib Dems.
Afterthought: “The big difference here is Nick Clegg.”

Moves on to hopeful genetic medical breakthrough. This was the lead at 6pm.

Short item announcing there’s no evidence of wrongdoing in climate change inquiry. Richard snorts, quite rightly, that if there had been it would have been the top story!


Moves to Barking with James Landale to talk about the BNP.
Shows BNP hand on BBC camera.
Griffin talks about immigration.
Man who wants face hidden says Griffin’s a racist. Griffin laughs unconvincingly and denies it.
Other vox pops in doorways.
Landale talks about economic migrants in last ten years.

Hodge admits Labour has ignored the area. “What we haven’t done is listened hard enough to the fears…”
Labour claims that everyone has to vote Labour to stop the BNP – unbelievable chutzpah. They ignored the area, they let down the area, then demand to be rewarded for causing the rise of the BNP!
One sentence from Tory, one sentence from Lib Dem (the BNP have no substance, just riding on fears).
“Barking is a testing ground for politics.” Hardly – talking up the BNP. They have one chance out of 650, and that’s only because Labour and the media talk them up.

Move onto the return of Hair to the stage. Hippie shit it may be, but I like the songs (and the nudity, obviously).


London news – and on Brown’s apology for getting it wrong on the banks. After thirteen years in power, he finally realises you have to make decisions “in the whole national interest.” So a macroeconomic story is “London,” yet Barking is national? Strange.

Good opening on actual policies, though: “When it comes to tackling bankers, the Liberal Democrats are the most radical.” With clip of Matthew Oakeshott, then just report for Labour and Tories (clips of them later). This is the first news item (aside from the one above that’s specifically a Lib Dem story) all election where the BBC’s given the Liberal Democrats the best coverage, and that by about five extra seconds. Are BBC London editors less biased?
Mike Ramsden on Brown:
“The Conservatives say this is an extraordinary admission. The Liberal Democrats say, in effect, ‘we told you so’.”
And still more Paul Whiffen. He’s shouted vile racist abuse, but he’s actually been sacked as a UKIP candidate for being critical of the Queen.

Baby Peter story with Ed Balls.

Tories Split

Tory split story – Cameron’s written to everyone in Croydon Central to say ‘Don’t vote for Andrew Pelling,’ the sitting Tory MP. Pelling attacks him for extreme negative campaigning.
The Tory candidate is a former aide to Lord Ashcroft. He denies taking any Ashcroft money. He looks very nervous, and denies the party’s given up on him.
Labour “big hitters” have been in the constituency. Labour candidate gets a line, then a very brief bit from the Lib Dem.

All told, easily the best coverage of the Liberal Democrats since the election began – despite patently partial and misleading economic “analysis”.

Note – neither Richard nor I are feeling physically up to helping out at Lib Dem HQ tonight (I’m not too well, he’s been doing it too much and is knackered). I am, of course, still pro-Lib Dem, but still edited and instructed by no-one.

Incidentally, I was Chair of my party’s youth wing for a year, some time back. So was Nick Robinson. I always make it clear I’m a Liberal Democrat: he is, of course, strangely reluctant to mention his high-flying Toryness, despite the fact that I don’t talk from Lib Dem press releases, while he often gets his lines from Tory ones.

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