Yesterday in TCW Michael St George brilliantly dissected the Salzburg summit shambles, naming the winners and losers in the Conservative Party.
I fear that the overall winners are neither Brexiteers nor Remainers but Labour. Mrs May’s latest ineptitude has opened the door a notch wider to a Labour shoo-in at the next election, whenever that might be. And if her party allows her still to be at helm, it will be a Labour landslide.
Obsessed with their internecine wars, the Conservatives have taken their eye right off the ball. While their membership has shrivelled, Labour have grown to be the biggest political party in Europe. While Labour send out armies of hardworking and brainwashed activists, the Tories have all but abandoned their ageing grassroots, have no effective local organisation, no energy or alternative conservative vision. No wonder membership is at an all-time low.
They can expect no help from the BBC. Labour need have no fear of being effectively confronted on their anti-Semitism, their far-Left nationalisation plans or their compulsory worker share-holding scheme let alone on the thuggery and intimidation within the party as the leadership plan to purge it of all but its Momentum supporters. In recent shadow cabinet interviews, how often have the BBC refused to let Labour off the hook over Frank Field? Never.
Then take Sunday’s and yesterday’s key party conference interviews with Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell. A piece of cake for Labour. Here’s how the Is The BBC Biased? blog describes Marr’s interview with Corbyn.
‘Andrew Marr failed miserably when interrogating the deceitful old weasel about antisemitism. There they sat, face to face, fish in a barrel. Lights, camera, action, and Marr snatches failure from the jaws of a sitting duck.
‘How could anyone elicit anything new by confronting him with the exact same selection of incidents that have been gone over a million times? We’ve heard the same old evasive answers and limp excuses a million times already. Well rehearsed. For goodness sake what does the BBC (we, the licence fee payer) pay you for, Andrew Marr? We need our interlocutors to be incisive and steely; to wrong-foot our weasels, expose their weaknesses and force them to confront their own shortcomings.’
On yesterday’s BBC Today programme at ten past eight, we were treated to Nick Robinson interviewing John McDonnell, who sounded like his best friend. Robinson began by describing the sense of excitement and ‘buzz’ at the conference ‘stemming from the belief that the Government’s agonies over Brexit could lead not just to a general election but to Jeremy Corbyn entering Downing Street with a mandate to lead the most radical government in decades’. Today then cut to Mr Corbyn in full revolutionary flow: the very richest in our society ‘are living on borrowed time’, he warned. In the frenzied response you could almost hear the tumbrils beginning to roll.
So far, so fair, perhaps. It was straight reportage. Though Nick could have used the start of the conference to summarise where Labour was at, in terms of the takeover of the moderates by the far – even Stalinist – Left. He didn’t. Then came the interview and Robinson seemed to get caught up in the excitement to the point of euphoria. Having forewarned the listener that McDonnell’s revolution was planned to take 15 years, Robinson said ‘and he’s here, alongside’ concluding jocularly, ‘and smiling at the prospect of it’.
You bet he was. Mutual laughter ensued. He had nothing to fear from Nick. If Mr McDonnell’s socialist transformation has any downside it is just that it seems a bit ‘ambitious’, in Nick’s words.
A friendly conversation ensued about Labour’s plans for state interference with business, which Nick helpfully compared to Margaret Thatcher’s share-owning democracy, and Mr McDonnell said were more like Germany’s. The worst he got from Robinson was a bit of joshing that this was a tax rise on business ‘hidden as something else’. Much jolly laughter ensued, and more sweet reason issued forth from the Shadow Chancellor about his idealised compassionate socialist utopia. Nick even helped him with the sums – the Exchequer could be better off by £45billion – no doubt music to the ears of Labour listeners. Whatever, the workers were going to get two billion pounds straightaway (some bribe!) though this actually would come via public services, McDonnell carefully added sotto voce.
The BBC delivered Mr McDonnell a platform that Labour’s PR strategists must have been relishing – an interview so totally on his oh-so-reasonable terms about the ‘grotesqueness’ of inequality: ‘We have got to tackle that’.
Many listeners would have been persuaded. It was an open goal. The Conservatives have done pitifully little to deal with the uglier face of capitalism, and nothing about the banks. As the interview drew to a close, and to Labour’s fudge over Brexit, came more laughter. ‘Oh, you are so cynical,’ John declared as Nick failed to pin him down on Labour’s policy. They just want an election, Nick. Get it?
Only in the last minute did Robinson ask about anti-Semitism in the party and Luciana Berger MP’s need for protection. He could have begun with it. Mr McDonnell was having none of it. This was the party nobly protecting her, he assured us, to protect her from the ‘far Right’. No damage done there. Since when has any MP required police protection from members of their own party, and what does that say about the party that the public must rightly fear? Nick didn’t ask and time ran out.
And despite this stain on Labour, how did the interview end? As it began, in a laughter love-in.