The Daily Mail loves to find fault – any fault – with the BBC. And one of its favourite targets is Question Time, still going under the wise moderation of Dimbleby Major. If panellists fail to show – the Salford Quays episode, where two pundits were delayed by a lineside fire in the West Midlands, was meat and drink to the Dacre doggies, and typical – it’s the Beeb’s fault, not the rail network.
What's f***ing wrong with kicking the BBC, c***?!? Er, with the greatest of respect, Mr Jay
And when guests are not of the kind that meet with the approval of the Daily Mail, this is a sign of the programme “hitting a new low”. This category was revisited after Thursday’s show, broadcast from the newly rebuilt Terminal 2 at Heathrow Airport, after footballer Joey Barton made an unsubtle comment about UKIP. But the Mail jumped too soon, and therefore made itself look foolish.
Barton “said last week's outcome - when UKIP won 27% of the overall vote - was far from a ringing endorsement of the party, since only 34% of the eligible electorate had voted. Describing UKIP as the ‘best of a bad bunch’, he added: ‘So if I am somewhere and there were four really ugly girls, I'm thinking, ‘Well, she's not the worst’, because that is all you are, that is all you are to us’”.
The Dacre hackery was incensed! How dare a mere footballer talk about “ugly girls” [that’s their job, of course]? Dissenting views across Twitter were duly trawled. The first moderately well-known Tweeter to utter the key phrase “a new low” was deemed the voice of authority. The Corporation was “accused of turning Question Time into ‘a joke’”. Otherwise anonymous Twitter users became the fount of all knowledge.
Sadly for the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre and his obedient hackery, this was not how the rest of the press saw it. Not only did Barton swiftly and unequivocally apologise for his remark when prompted, he also garnered good reviews for his candour and directness. At the Telegraph, even Tim Stanley observed “Joey was pretty eloquent on Chilcot, on Heathrow’s runaway runways, and on Ukip”.
The Guardian noted that “Barton's performance was also widely praised”, citing Tory MP and Fred Scuttle lookalike Rob Wilson, who told “Not making any judgements, but interesting that when Joey Barton spoke like 'a real person' the Ukip woman howled him down”. Katie Hind at the Mirror said “he is a very smart man who appeals to the general public so much more than a stuffy MP”.
But the Mail could only focus on dredging up as much dirt on Barton, and the BBC, as it could find, right down to whining that the Lib Dems were not represented on the panel. One might have thought that the party would be grateful for a week off, following the ruckus involving Lords Oakeshott and Rennard. Sad to say, then, that the Mail was so keen to put the boot in that it called this one wrong.
Still, Question Time will be back next week, and the Dacre doggies will be waiting.