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The biggest problem is that the most powerful media of all is the BBC. And it is anti Conservative.

The point that struck me was that Trollope's fiction showed how little had changed - maybe the language used is different but the politician's view of the press as loose cannons, unelected critics with their own agends remains.

A free press is the last defence we have against tyranny - with all the biases and the muck raking that involves. Neither Hurd or Major seemed to accept that much of the onslaught they and fellow members of the government endured was deserved - Hurds foreign policies helped the Yugoslav civil wars desend into ethinic cleansing and Major's failure to take firm action after the ERM crisis showed all to clearly he didn't have what it takes to be a Prime Minister.

As for Muck raking that only works in the end when there is some muck to rake.

When it comes to the media and getting the truth of what's happening the most important thing is to get different angles on the story. Back when the Katrina disaster engulfed New Orleans, if I'd only been watching the always anti-Bush BBC I would not have been able to tell whether the Bush administration really was screwing up, or if it was just BBC propaganda. Watching FOX News on Sky and the desperate pro-Bush spinning of their studio anchors (often flatly contradicting the accounts of their field reporters) I could see that the Bush administration really was screwing up horribly! In the UK we have a mix of political views in the newspapers, but the uniformly leftist bias of almost all the broadcast media means that only one side of any story is told - you won't get much difference between BBC News 24 and Channel 4 News - Channel 4 might be a bit more aggressively leftist, the BBC more patronising we-know-best, but they cohere very closely. We desperately need political plurality in broadcast media in the UK.

I would agree with that Simon.ITV news is alright but a bit tabloidy,the problem is people don't watch it in large numbers since they moved it from its 10o'clock spot.

The real difficulty is that the BBC pretends to be unbiased, and people assume that it is impartial, when most of its personnel subscribe to a casual Guardianista view of the world. I have no objection to the existence of leftwing media (although I am impatient with paying much more for it) but it enrages me that there is no acknowledgement that the BBC portrays a leftwing view of the world, and a position particularly opposed to the Conservative perspective.

What is going to be fascinating is, when we hold that big lead, and increase it, Will the BBC act like Comical Ali ? All is well folks, that is not a yankee tank in the background, its only smoke and mirrors! Bets on?????

"What is going to be fascinating is, when we hold that big lead, and increase it, Will the BBC act like Comical Ali ?"

Well I think a core party of Cameron's strategy is to neutralise the BBC by looking so cute and fluffy (to a Guardianista), that they're dissuaded from campaigning strongly against the Conservatives and for Labour the way they've done at least since 1980 (I was too young to remember the 1970s much, but I do remember the Falklands War, and the BBC's view that sinking enemy battleships during wars constiutes a war crime). He's aided in this by BBC disillusionment with Blair, whose neocon foreign policy is unsurprisingly unpopular.

Simon Newman - The trouble is that the BBC really was unbiased once upon a time, and I think that quite a number of older people (and I don't mean OAP's, younger than that) who have 'always' watched BBC news, don't realise how they are being 'lead by the nose' nowadays. It may sound fanciful, but I am not so sure that it is.

I find ITV news is about as unbiased as it gets. I used to watch Channel 4 regularly, but I never do now I just got sick of their rudeness to some people that they interviewed whom they arbitarily categorised in some way.

The problem is the biases aren't conscious. I've argued with friends employed by the BBC and they just don't see that there is a bias. It's about language used, about importance given (so US news is given more airtime that Scots, Wesh or regional UK) and about projecting opinions into News.

The BBC doesn't seem to recognise the difference between current afairs and News. So Today is about what will happen, moderated through correspondents, rather than what has happened or is a known fact.

'This kind of hidden but still conscious glory suited the nature of the man'

This is a good portrait of Hurd himself, who set himself up as the 'eminence grise' to John Major. At heart he remained a Foreign Office mandarin and was never entirely at home in the vulgar world of democracy, preferring to operate in the Whitehall corridors of power with an anti-Thatcherite and pro-EU federalist intent. He managed to enlist the forces of the Foreign Office in his futile attempt to maintain the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia long after it was obvious they were both doomed, even flying to Kiev to try and persuade the Ukranians not to declare independence. Perhaps his finest hour was the campaign of intimidation and bullying of Tory backbenchers which led to the passing of the Maastricht Treaty. But his advice and policy was uniformly disastrous, and his epitaph will be his appalling comment about the 'level killing-fields' of Bosnia.

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