Crispin Flintoff runs Stand Up for Labour, a touring stand-up comedy show that aims to raise support for the Labour Party.
He states in his blog that “Stand up for Labour travels all over the country with the aim of energising people who support the Labour Party, promoting political activity and a sense of community”.
So when he was invited to appear on the BBC’s Daily Politics, a show he now says is “firmly based in Westminster and promotes division between political parties and within political parties; makes politics seem cliquey and often misrepresents good ideas in order to suit its – frankly, very negative – agenda”, he was right to expect the worst.
This Writer saw the spot in which Mr Flintoff appeared and it seemed to me that he had been set up by the show’s editors – and by presenter Jo Coburn – possibly to make the forthcoming ‘Labour Live’ music festival seem ridiculous. After all, it was labelled ‘Jez Festival’ on their running order.
He had clearly been invited under false pretences. Whoever was responsible for the booking should be facing disciplinary action from their BBC bosses – but that seems unlikely in the Tory-dominated news hierarchy. Perhaps they were toasted with champagne instead.
I have a friend who would find this behaviour very easy to explain. As he told me after I appeared on LBC’s breakfast show and gave presenter Nick Ferrari short shrift on Monday, “Do not interact with the right-wing controlled media – they are all a trap and you cannot win on their battleground.
“I urge you – and all fighting this evil empire of right wing extremists – not to engage with those who seek your or our destruction. No good can come of it.”
Here’s Mr Flintoff on the frankly appalling behaviour of the BBC’s politics primer programme. It is clearly time for that bastion of the “evil empire” to change:
On Monday morning, I received an email at half past eight from the BBC asking if I would come on ‘Daily Politics’ to ‘chat about how Stand up for Labour tour makes politics more accessible and what these events can bring to political parties’.
I found out that the promise of a discussion about how Stand up for Labour can make politics more accessible was nothing of the sort.
When I saw the board outside the studio, I found that the title of the short spot on the show in which I would be featured was called ‘Jez Festival’. This was clearly a reference to a music festival that the Labour Party were gingerly suggesting may happen in June in North London. The ‘Jez’ bit was an attempt to make it seem like a celebration of a personality cult, whereas the Labour Party press release was talking of something called ‘Labour Live’.
So the ‘Daily Politics’ had made a press release about a possible music festival for Labour that would engage people through a mix of music and speeches into a personality cult story and it was in their ‘fun’ slot at the end.
I was rushed into the room just before the last segment of the show and the presenter, Jo Coburn, asked me: ‘What is the aim of this festival?’
I was a bit dumbstruck.
‘I don’t know anything about this festival’, I had to reply. I then tried to make light of this by saying that ‘this must be another BBC blunder’.
While Coburn tried to laugh this off, it was actually true.
Coburn never seemed to listen to anything I was saying and always seemed to be on the point of cutting me off. She even started asking the Tory MP on the show what he thought about Labour Party festivals.
At the end of the show, as I went to leave she said: ‘see you soon’ and then turned to me and said ‘I don’t mean you. I won’t be seeing you again’.
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