Iain Dale is Presenter of LBC Drive, Managing Director of Biteback Publishing, a columnist and broadcaster and a former Conservative Parliamentary candidate.
John Simpson has never been one to shy away from his own sense of self-importance. After all, he single-handedly took Kabul, I seem to remember. On Tuesday he decided he was a big enough name to totally ignore his employer’s guidelines and took to Twitter to denounce Brexit.
He wrote: “MP wants details of anti-Brexit univ teachers. Decent folk deported on technicalities. Daily hate in press. Doesn’t feel like my country now.” Well in “my country” a respected BBC news journalist would have dreamed of (and would have known the consequences of) editorialising like this. He is the BBC’s World Affairs Editor. It says so on his Twitter profile, so it’s not really possible for Simpson to explain this away as just a personal account. His job is to report the news around the world, not give his personal opinions on it.
He knows that, and it’s almost as if he was challenging the BBC to discipline him, which he could no doubt put forward as further proof that this is not “my country” any longer. And if we deconstruct what he says, yes, Chris Heaton-Harris’s letter was oddly worded to say the least and I still can’t work out what he hoped to achieve by it, but I suspect it was written by a 21-year-old researcher who didn’t quite understand what he/she was supposed to be doing.
Simpson talks about decent folk being deported on technicalities. Really? Where are the details? Don’t you think we’d have read about them in the press? Yes, some letters were mistakenly send by the Home Office to 106 people, but Brandon Lewis, the Immigration Minister, has explained that and apologised to the people concerned. I know of no-one who has been deported. He then talks about the “daily hate in the press” as if hate in the press is something that has only occurred since 23rd June 2016. It will be interesting to see how the BBC respond to this flagrant breach of their impartiality rules, or whether they’ll take the view of ‘move along, nothing to see’. What a pity the series W1A series has finished. They could have got a couple of episodes’ worth of material from this.
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One of my listeners described Mark Carney on Wednesday as an “unreliable boyfriend”. Another described him as a “tease”. I think he omitted the word ‘prick’ deliberately. Since his appointment he has barely got anything right. Virtually every one of his predictions has been way out. Recently I was left scratching my head when he declared that an interest rate rise was imminent. He has one of nine votes on the Monetary Policy Committee. He didn’t even have all the latest economic data available to make that judgement. So why did he do it? He loses no opportunity to talk the economy down and predict doom and gloom after Brexit. Carney’s term was supposed to end next year but I gather he’s extended it by a year. He’s been a disaster and been far too political. We need shot of him.
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Talking of central bank governors, I suspect Mr Draghi of the ECB is going to be Mr Unpopular soon. We’re constantly told that we have a weak growth rate and we’ve fallen behind the Eurozone countries. Factually, that is true, even despite the last quarter’s better-than-expected growth figure of 0.4 per cent. But the Eurozone economies are only doing better due to the €60 billion every month that the ECB is pumping into their economies. That, I hear, is about to come to a shuddering stop. When it does, it’s highly likely that not only will Eurozone growth figures start to fall, but inflation will catch hold. We currently have a higher inflation rate than those countries. In part it’s due to the lower value of the Pound (although that’s gradually changing), but could it be that the QE chickens are now coming home to roost?
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Jared O’Mara’s political career seems over before it has really started. He is one of only two MPs yet to make his maiden speech, and I suspect that will now be quite some time in coming. The internet has brought down MPs before, but his defenestration at the hands of Guido Fawkes has been on quite a different scale. Every day there are fresh revelations about his rather colourful comments on various message boards.
He’s getting a free pass from some on the left on the basis that they were written many years ago. Hang on a cotton pickin’ moment. He wasn’t 13 or 15, he was in his 20s. And some of the more lurid comments were written when he was 28.
Even so, I can’t help feeling a bit sorry for him. He clearly didn’t expect to win his seat in June, and nor did Labour, otherwise they might have actually interviewed him rather than just appointed him as the candidate in Sheffield Hallam. But even if they had done so, none of this would have emerged at the time, so a lot of cant is being talked about selection processes. When a snap election is called so early in a Parliament all parties will end up selecting candidates who in other circumstances wouldn’t have seen the light of day. Given some of the other incidents reported about Jared O’Mara’s behaviour, one can’t help but wonder if he has broader issues that he needs to deal with. He’s rightly being traduced for his comments and previously held views and it can’t be easy for him at the moment. I hope the Labour Party is looking after him, because anyone caught in the headlines of a national feeding frenzy is in a very vulnerable position.