Possibly the most shameful TV programme ever broadcast

Shane Richie’s Jim’ll fix it Boxing Day special 2011.

It is simply shameful that the BBC broadcast it, knowing, within their organisation, what they knew, based on Newsnight’s investigation.

As mentioned by Kevin Marsh, former BBC editor, in Panorama last night, George Entwhistle was “damned if he did and damned if he didn’t” over the Newsnight programme. He kept at arms length from it as Head of Vision. He was told about it in a 10 second conversation by Helen Boaden, Head of News. In one sense that was a highly proper move. He was keeping out of it. (Mind you apparently an email trail amongst senior bosses was left out of the Panorama special).

But the monumental failure, after the decision not to broadcast the Newsnight Savile piece, was not, apparently, to share it amongst BBC executives so they could take the necessary decision to cancel the sickening, quite disgusting Jimmy Savile tribute on Boxing Day.

Stove pipes. Organisational stove pipes. That is what characterised the abysmal BBC response to Savile’s crimes. Radio didn’t tell TV of their suspicions. Nationwide didn’t tell Top of the Pops. Tops of the Pops didn’t tell Clunk Click. Clunk Click didn’t tell Jim’ll Fix it. Somehow, Vision didn’t find out the full seriousness of the Newsnight allegations.

And what I find breathtaking is that Peter Rippon took the decision to pull the Savile Newsnight piece before actually watching the interview with Karin Ward, which, for my money, was a staggeringly convincing series of allegations against Savile.

I don’t think George Entwhistle should resign over this. I think the whole bloody BBC should resign!

Why does David Rendel bother?

Photo: Two of the nicest Newbury Liberal Democrats – Barbara Peel and David Rendel – on the steps of Newbury Town Hall. Some rights reserved by Martin Tod.

The news has recently come through that David Rendel is not re-standing to be PPC for the Lib Dems in Newbury.

If memory serves, David came to Newbury in 1984. (He came round to my house in Thatcham to sign me up for the Liberal Party in early 1987. I then moved nearish to him in Newbury and started campaigning for him and the local Lib Dems in earnest in early 1992.) Since then he has been PPC or MP for us, as well as being a councillor for us for long stretches both in Newbury and Thatcham.

So, this is the end of a long era, in one sense, although I am sure David will continue to be omni-present in West Berkshire Liberal Democrats, particularly as a leading councillor.

But it seems appropriate to offer some reflections on the man.

The first thing is that David is incredibly nice. He always is. Beyond that, though, he frequently shows tremendous kindness, particularly to those who are ill or grieving.

My second and over-riding impression of David is that he genuinely actually loves the minutiae and the mechanics of politics at ground level. I am talking about the level of whether Mrs Muggins at number 8 Acacia Avenue is a supporter and whether Mr Bloggs at 59a Station road will deliver for us. All during his years here in Newbury and West Berkshire, David has spent countless hours out on the streets doing football cards, canvassing, delivering, getting postal vote sign ups etc etc. and he is incredibly good at it. And he has been doing it for donkeys years. And I have often asked myself “Why?”. “Why hasn’t he taken one of the many cushy numbers he has been offered? – why does he still go out in the cold?”.

There are two answers. One is that David loves that stuff for itself. But secondly, and most importantly, David and his family are committed to serving others. That is what their whole lives have been geared towards – to making other people’s lives better. There is no other explanation for why David puts himself out so much for the Liberal Democrats. It’s a bit of a cliché, to say “he has spent his life serving others”, but all those hours and years pounding the pavements are testament to its truth.

Jimmy Savile was formally challenged by Radio 1 bosses about his behaviour with young girls

Derek Chinnery was on Radio 4’s Broadcasting House this morning. (You can hear the interview here at 7’00”).

“Who, he?” I hear the reader cry….

Well, for those of us of a certain age who were Radio 1 fans in the late 60s and 70s, his name is very familiar. He was the programme controller of Radio 1.

Now aged 87, he sounds a delightful old boy with fond memories of leading the One Fun factory.

The BBC inquiry into Jimmy Savile will talk to a lot of delightful old boys and girls like Derek Chinnery.

But, as those with relatives of the same age can attest, one can say that their memories are not what they were.

Derek Chinnery said he confronted Savile about the rumours about him and young girls. He related what sounded like a rather casual conversation. However, for me, the significant snippet of information followed the interview. Sima Kotecha (the reporter who did the interview) reported that another Radio 1 executive said that Savile had been told to report to Chinnery’s Controller’s office at a specific time and on a specific day to be challenged on the subject. It was added that Chinnery had ensured that there was another executive present at the meeting to act as a witness. I’d call that a formal challenge/interview myself.

Bear in mind that Radio 1 employed Savile to travel around the country at will, recording interviews for a programme called “Savile’s travels”, aired at Sunday lunchtime.

For a more general description of the Radio 1 set up in the 80s, read former deejay Mike Smith’s blog here. I found it fascinating. But then again, I would.

Today, I had an alarming but ultimately life-enhancing experience

This morning, my hair (singular) was cut by a barber of Turkish extraction.

At the end, he produced a long stick with cotton wool at the end of it, asking:

Would you like the hair in your ears burnt?

Well, I’m game to try anything once, so I said “Yes”.

He then poured some lighter fuel (or something similar) on the cotton wool, lit it with a cigarette lighter, and proceeded to burn the hair off my ears – the bits inside and on the outside. I have to say it was a bit alarming. He really did burn my ears, it felt.

Has this been checked by health and safety?

– I joked

I have to say, it worked a treat and I won’t scream so much next time. The guy in this video, which demonstrates the practice, seems to take it remarkably calmly. I’m afraid I failed the “cool” test!

Julia Gillard kicks proverbial posterior

During a recent holiday I read The Australian. Cue: H.M.Bateman-style cartoon: “The Guardian reader who read The Australian”.

Anyway, one episode, which I enjoyed through the pages of that organ, was J.Gillard’s press conference stymying The Australian’s attack on her past legal history.

The girl from Barry certainly knows how to kick proverbial posterior when the occasion rises. She has done extraordinarily well to keep her government afloat on a wafer thin majority, thanks (“but no thanks”?) to the support of all sorts of odd-bods including the “Three Amigos”, aka the “Mad Hatters”.

Of course, Australia is a wonderful country of vast, vast resources – particularly space. Some might say it’s wasted on Australians (excluding the Indigenous population, of course) but I would disagree with them. If it wasn’t for the Australian rough and tumble society and that edgy sense of humour, we’d have to invent it.

And what else would get your average YouTube watcher looking at 15 minutes of parliamentary footage other than this priceless, skilful piece of personal skin-saving by Julia Gillard?

But then, isn’t that what women are often criticised for? That they can’t get “down and dirty” when the occasion requires it? Well, this is one hell of a woman who can certainly get down and dirty…

This is a classic. Enjoy (if you haven’t already).

Lord Forsyth gives me a headache

Lord Forsyth was on Today about giving 16 and 17 year olds the vote in the Scottish referendum.

There should be some sort of law to prevent him appearing on radio so early.

He’s against it because people will realise what a good idea it is and those kill-joys in Westminster won’t be able to stop all this joy spreading.

That’s it basically.

When do you actually get an oxyacetylene torch and melt someone's name off a plaque?

With the denaming of several Savile memorials, the questions arises…

When I was in Australia I was intrigued by a plaque at Rex Lookout in Queensland. It is made of brass. Someone has taken an oxyacetylene torch to the name of the person who unveiled the plaque and actually melted their name, so you can’t read who it is.

It did say that the person was the Member of the local parliament for Barron River in 1982. A quick Wikipedia search showed this to be one Martin Tenni.

Further quick searches revealed that his “sin” was to have been investigated by the Fitzgerald Inquiry in the late 1980s.

Wikipedia states:

The Fitzgerald Inquiry (1987–1989) into Queensland Police corruption was a judicial inquiry presided over by Tony Fitzgerald QC. The inquiry resulted in the deposition of a premier, two by-elections, the jailing of three former ministers and a police commissioner who was jailed and lost his knighthood. It also led directly to the end of the National Party of Australia’s 32-year run as the government of Queensland.

Mr Tenni still stimulates anger to this day.

So now we know what motivated someone to go all the way to Rex Lookout to melt a name off a plaque…. It seems doubtful that the name melting was officially sponsored. It looks like the plaque has been subject to other vandalisation, now rubbed off.

My photos show the plaque and the beautiful, nay breathtaking, view from the lookout.

Tory burglar bashing: The singer has changed but the song remains the same

Re:Chris Grayling on Today.

It is not often I can simply repeat a blog post I wrote in January 2010 when Caroline Spelman said exactly the same thing as Grayling (very fishy) said today:

The law allows “reasonable force” to be used by householders, outlined here in elaborate detail by the Crown Prosecution Service. There was a lot of talk on Question Time last night about the word “reasonable” not being clear.

Codswallop. Claptrap. Hogwash. Tiddlyfart.

“Reasonable” is the most clearly defined and well established term in English law. Juries know instinctively what it means after a few moment’s explanation.

And now we come to the Conservative position as spelt out by Caroline Spelman on Question Time.

O-H      M-Y      G-O-O-D-N-E-S-S.

Pass the sickbag, Alice.

Spelman said that the Tories want to change the law so that householders are in the clear as long as they do not use “grossly disproportionate force”. I see. So that means that they can use force that is somewhere between “reasonable” and “grossly disproportionate”. So that means that they can use disproportionate force but they cannot use “grossly disproportionate force”.

It’s worth savouring that. The Tories say that they want householders to be able to use disproportionate force in warding off burglars (as long as it isn’t gross). Disproportionate force is by definition “unreasonable”. So the Tories want people to be able to use unreasonable force to fend off intruders. Unreasonable force. Brilliant. That’s force, as in NOT reasonable.