Meet Michael Forsyth — ‘Baron Forsyth of Drumlean’…
Not that you ever would, of course — unless it was your job to shine his shoes or hold a door open for him: since being slung out of Parliament in 1997, this knighted Privy Counsellor and ‘life peer’ — a former member of John Major’s catastrophic cabinet — has lived the Tory post-Westminster dream by enriching himself in and around the so-called ‘City of London’. Flemings, JPMorgan, Evercore, NBNK, Secure Trust Bank, J&J Denholm, Safor … you name it, he’s had his well-connected Tory snout in it.
In other words, he is of literally no interest to the good people who read this blog. The only reason I bring up ‘The Right Honourable The Lord Forsyth of Drumlean PC‘ is that he’s on tonight’s BBC Question Time (which, as I keep reminding you, is bought in from an external production company, and isn’t actually made by the BBC).
For obvious reasons, the BBC Question Time team start ‘trailing’ their latest creation a few days before it’s screened — and one of the ways they do this is to reveal the chosen panel in an exciting series of Twitter messages…
Here’s how the show’s Twitter feed presented Forsyth the other day:
It’s worth noting, I think, that all the Magic Money Tree ‘financier’ stuff is neatly and cleverly avoided — in favour of a line that is guaranteed to endear Forsyth to every one of the screeching Europhobes with which the studio audience will almost certainly be packed. But even so, I’m not going to make a big deal of it on this ocasion — for this photo-graphic about ‘Baron Forsyth of Drumlean’ is here used only ‘for scale’, as they say.
Now let me introduce you to Chris Williamson MP. He’s a good friend and ally of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn — yes, the show is actually allowing such a person onto its panel! — and on the occasions I’ve seen him in action, he’s been a pretty strong performer. It is, therefore, of some interest to see how the programme will attempt to shape — by which I mean undermine — his contribution and its reception by means of the way he is treated during the show and ‘framed’ in advance of it.
For example, several significant political positions and even the odd interesting fact about Williamson’s working life might ordinarily be thought worth considering when it came to putting together an informative photo-graphic about a prominent parliamentarian with a previous history in local government…
That graphic, of course, was made by me just now: it’s not the one that BBC Question Time has been circulating.
The one that is being circulated in advance of the programme is this one — and, as you’ll see, it’s a minor masterpiece of manipulative information-management. Set it alongside the one they produced for Michael Forsyth … and see if you can tell which of these two participants the programme doesn’t want you to view as a capable individual or a fit and proper member of the elite, decision-making class.
Or, to put it another way, which of the two men do they want to look like a joke…?
Comment superfluous, I think.
(Although, on second thoughts, it might be worth pointing out that in their graphic’s ‘Stood down as Shadow Fire Minister’ line we do see a clue about why the show booked Williamson this week. If a Corbynite is going to be allowed on the programme, it has to be one who’s vulnerable to a distracting attack over something they’ve said or done: the one thing that must never be allowed is a level playing-field…)
What is defintely not superfluous is to remind the BBC’s management that if they think there’s ‘a way back’ for the Corporation — some path by which it could regain the (never actually deserved) position it once held as ‘respected national broadcaster and trusted source of news and comment‘ — they are kidding themselves. Disgrace to the airwaves though it is, BBC Question Time is just one of a whole collection of bent news and current affairs programmes — some of them produced ‘in-house’, some of them not — which, every single day, demonstrate to millions of voters that the BBC’s Tory-serving political coverage reached the bottom of the barrel and kept on digging…
[[For my previous analysis of BBC Question Time see here]]
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