Those seeing that Andrew Neil, who turned 70 earlier this year, has been given another show by the BBC, and wondering when the Corporation will finally see its way to promoting a new generation of interviewers and commentators, have some solace in the array of younger faces being given airtime elsewhere in the Beeb’s oeuvre. The problem there is not one of age, though, but one of fitness for purpose.
Far too many of those younger faces come from the New Conservative Right - from the lobby groups like the so-called Taxpayers’ Alliance, the IEA, the CPS, the ASI, and others of like mind. They also come from impeccably right-wing websites, and here we encounter the presence of one Tom Harwood, replacement teaboy to the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines at the Guido Fawkes blog, who is rapidly becoming a BBC regular.
This is despite Harwood being shamelessly dishonest, and politically clueless, with the former already noted by Zelo Street after he said of the leaked Yellowhammer document “This is a very old document … I agree with some of the suggestions that if we were to leave immediately with no planning, with no plan at all, there could be problems. But the point is that we’re assessing what those problems might be, planning for them so they don’t happen. This seems to be a storm in a tea cup because it’s entirely out of date”.
It wasn’t: worse, Harwood most likely knew it wasn’t, and lied anyhow. That by itself should have given the BBC reason to be cautious when extending invitations to him, but last Thursday, there he was in the Newsnight studio, demonstrating a level of political ineptitude that even Tim Montgomerie would find difficult to match.
Here’s the inept schtick, in all its glory. “We get into the recess, into the prorogued period, and actually Boris achieves a new deal. The EU knows he’s serious about no deal, knows the only way to avert it is to get a deal that’s credibly going to pass through Parliament. So that’s proposed by the EU, it returns, it passes through Parliament, and at that point we leave at the end of October with a deal, there’s a General Election, and a stonking Tory majority”. And, as Jon Stewart might have said, two things here.
One, the EU is a rules based organisation. It has thus far dealt with the Brexit negotiations by following, and applying, its rules - forget the press drivel about “bullying”, “threats”, “intimidation”, “intransigence”, and the rest. The idea that it will suddenly abandon that approach just to help out Bozo The Clown does not stand serious analysis.
And Two, any kind of deal struck with the EU will be instantly denounced by Nigel “Thirsty” Farage and his pals at the Brexit Party as “betrayal”. They will field candidates in opposition to every sitting Tory MP, no matter how Eurosceptic they are: in that General Election, they will split the centre-right vote and the outcome will resemble 1983, but in reverse. Whoever the winner is, it won’t be Bozo.
But that is not the point: Harwood is not there to participate in any kind of intellectual process - he is there to propagandise, and do so for Bozo. This should be no surprise - it is the openly admitted stance of the Fawkes blog. So the question has to be asked - how does a propagandist get invited on by the Beeb? Connections? Appeasing the right?
Whatever the reason, it doesn’t justify Harwood’s presence. Not a good look, BBC.
Enjoy your visit to Zelo Street? You can help this truly independent blog carry on talking truth to power, while retaining its sense of humour, by adding to its Just Giving page at