After the Murdoch goons at the Super Soaraway Currant Bun claimed that the BBC exhibited bias in the way they selected guests for Sunday programmes like The Andy Marr Show (tm), and raised very little interest, even from their fellow travellers in the right-leaning part of the Fourth Estate, their cause needed someone to make a suitably pointless gesture in support. They did not have long to wait.
Yes, you've fouled up yet again, Monty
The inmates of the Baby Shard bunker were duly rewarded: cometh the hour, cometh the clueless pundit, as Tim Montgomerie performed his customary party trick of shooting from the hip without doing his homework, and ended up covered in rather more than confusion. His first mistake was to take the Sun’s claims as data, which as any fule kno, is never a good idea. But off he tweeted anyway.
Showing the Sun’s graphic, Monty sneered “BBC ‘balance’”. The Marr Show’s long-suffering editor Rob Burley attempted to reason with him: “I can believe, Tim, that you endorse this. It counts Benedict Cumberbatch as a Remain supporter. He was talking about acting. It's nonsense”. No, that didn’t impress: “That’s one person, one stat. What about the tens/hundreds of others?”. David Aaronovitch then joined in.
“That’s for you to answer Tim. Have you seen the breakdown? Is it reliable?”. What say Monty to that? “I watch #Marr. It’s the same pre-referendum, anti-Brexit types, still dominant”. Kevin Schofield of Politics Home joined the fray. “Like Richard Tice, Chris Grayling (and John McDonnell!)?” And then The Great Man sold the pass: “Anecdote is not data Kevin”. YOU JUST USED ANECDOTE YOURSELF. Doh!
Meanwhile, Gerry Hassan had an interesting point: “For these figures is John McDonnell counted in pro-EU or Brexit groups? Really should be a dont know [group] for likes of him & Corbyn”. Burley replied “The Sun count McDonnell - who argues for Brexit now - as Remain”. Monty blundered in: “Correctly. Since the elxn, Labour is attempting to play politics above the #euref instruction”. What “instruction”? A non-binding referendum?
Aaronovitch had seen enough. “If McDonnell is counted as anti-Brexit then the whole exercise is utter bollocks, Tim. Whoever did it should be ashamed”. All Monty could do was to fall back on quoting from the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog - that Corbyn said he would vote Remain now. But Corbyn was not the subject of the discussion - McDonnell was. Aaronovitch had one last try.
“The question concerned McDonnell. [And] you willl have seen Dennis Skinner’s recent unequivocal assertion that Corbyn will have been for Brexit”. The Sun’s selective use of information was not convincing Monty’s fellow pundits and writers. But perhaps this was nothing more than The Great Man getting tetchy at not having been invited on the Marr Show paper review as often as he believes is merited.
Whatever the reasoning, Tim Montgomerie has once again proved himself to be the Austen Chamberlain of the punditerati: “He always played the game, and he always lost”.