Not least after reading the introduction to the piece: “Boris Johnson is seeking to rebuild bridges with the BBC by appointing as its new chairman a prominent figure from the right, who does not want to “blow up” the national broadcaster … The prime minister is drawing up a long list of possible leaders, understood to include the former cabinet ministers Nicky Morgan and Amber Rudd and the television interviewer Andrew Neil”. Yeah, right.
But do go on. “All are seen as credible figures with both the BBC and the Conservative Party … Johnson has also held preliminary peace talks with Lord Hall, the corporation’s outgoing director-general, after a year of fractious exchanges”. So what form have these supposed “peace talks” taken? “The two men had a brief phone chat in the past few weeks and are expected to meet face to face soon”. So there haven’t been any peace talks.
Leaving aside for a moment that none of the names pitched should be allowed anywhere near the role - Neil for his unapologetic misogyny and leading the Spectator magazine as it indulges in virulent racism, hate mongering, far right appeasement, climate change denial, Europhobic bigotry and Trump boosting, and Ms Rudd and Ms Morgan for their lack of broadcasting or leadership experience - there is a problem with the article.
And that is, once again, that we are being asked to take those “sources”, or perhaps even “senior sources” or “sources close to the BBC” (which could mean “someone standing outside All Souls Church in Langham Place"). The objective of the piece is clear: soften up the Beeb by telling them “at least your new chairman won’t lay waste to your organisation - unless you want us to appoint someone from the TPA, IEA, CPS or ASI”.
Hence the predictable response to the news, with World’s Most Inept Form Filler Darren Grimes dribbling “Andrew Neil would be a phenomenal appointment” and former UKIP MEP Margot Parker adding “Andrew Neil would be excellent restoring vision & balance”, as if she could tell “vision and balance” from a hole in the ground.
But then reality intervened, with one Tweeter reminding us of “Andrew Neil telling furloughed civil servants to go back to work from his villa in St Tropez”, with Nick Tolhurst noting “After ‘resting’ Mary Wakefield for over a month after the Spectator columnist & editor was found to have used the magazine to publish false stories to benefit her husband Dominc Cummings … Andrew Neil has now given Wakefield the go-ahead to continue writing for the magazine”. And Gerry Moore was left to ask the obvious question.
“But would Andrew Neil turn up for the interview with Boris or would he duck it?” Another of those in the category of “you might wish to ask that, I couldn’t possibly comment”.
This story is a proper green one. Not in terms of politics, but because it’s a plant.
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