Sunday | July 27, 2003
More Bad News for Blair
By Steve Gilliard
Niger hits back over uranium claim
"Would we really send material to somebody whom we had fought against and who could destroy half the world with a nuclear bomb? It's unthinkable"
Ooops. Seems Tony's being asked to place his cards on the table. Nudged by the French, of course, who own the Uranium consession. But this isn't getting any better for him.
The fight between the BBC and the Blair government has exploded over the death of Dr. David Kelly.
Greg Dyke, the Director-General of the BBC, and Gavyn Davies, the corporation's chairman, have both cancelled their summer holidays as they fight a rearguard action to save the BBC's reputation before the Hutton inquiry into the suicide of Dr David Kelly
In a taped conversation with Newsnight journalist and science editor Susan Watts, Kelly is believed to mention the name (Blair Press Spokesman Alastair) 'Campbell' three times unprompted.
Downing Street made no complaint about the Watts broadcast, which went out on BBC2 less than a week after Gilligan's original reports on the Today programme. She did not name Campbell in the report.
The BBC is ready to fight to preserve it's independence
Davies, using unusually strong language, said the BBC would not be cowed and that Government-backed attacks on the corporation amounted to an attempt to undermine the organisation's integrity and the work of the BBC governors.
'Our integrity is under attack,' he said. 'We are chastised for taking a different view on editorial matters from that of the Government and its supporters.
'Because we have the temerity to do this, it is hinted a system that has protected the BBC for 80 years should be swept away and replaced by an external regulator that will "bring the BBC to heel".'
Blair seems to think he is free to impune other countries reuptations and attack Britian's second most treasured institution (the first is the National Health Service). When the right tried to go after PBS, the good will created by Sesame Street and Barney the Dinosaur prevented their attacks from gaining steam. The BBC is vastly more popular and important than PBS. It not only provides entertainment (Teletubbies and Changing Rooms) but the world's most important news programming (BBC World Service) as well as UK regional radio and TV serivces. It is immensely powerful and disdained by both the left and right for "bias". But it is the tool by which underpins the British media. There is hardly a successful actor or musician working in the UK today who did not get a pay check from the BBC at one point.
Attacking Auntie Beeb, a nickame which hints at the general esteem it's held in, is ultimately suicidal for Blair. Too many people have too much fondness for the Beeb and its works for any politically based attack to work. The only institution in American life with anywhere near that level of esteem would be its large public universities. It would be as if the state legislature of Michigan wanted to force major changes on UMichigan because it didn't like a study they did.
Blair backs himself into a corner every day he fights the BBC. He's lucky the public campaign on behalf of the BBC has been limited to reporters and politicians. If famous people, the true arbiters of the people's taste, join in, Blair is finished.Posted July 27, 2003 03:00 PM