Posted by: John | August 28, 2009

The BBC offer an apology and will offer a correction on `The Westminster Hour`

Readers may remember that I wrote to the BBC regarding the fact that on `The Westminster Hour` they mistakenly said that the Liberal Democrats `hold the balance of power` on Newcastle and Sheffied Councils. This was to do with their item `Dave’s friends in the North` about Dave Cameron’s efforts in the North of England.

You may think `why  bother`? Let me set out the reasons:

1. If Liberal Democrats make the gargantuan efforts to gain and keep Councils this should be reflected in reporting.

2. It’s important that the Media is kept on its toes when it comes to key facts about the Liberal Democrats.

3. The difference between `hold the balance of power` and `hold power` is important. The programme was about potential Conservative gains in the North. It’s been reported that where we hold Councils we find it easier to gain seats particularly if we are seen to be efficient in local Government. This is the case I think in these two Councils. Thus, this provides fresh perspective as to not just whether the Conservatives can gain seats in the North(they can’t and won’t in Sheffield and Newcastle) it’s also  about whether or not they can even squeeze votes from us to stop us gaining seats in the North that we target.

4. It’s important that we fight for our right to representation in the media. Media outlets don’t take much notice of parties that soft-pedal when they are under-represented. Otherwise Alistair Campbell would have been known for his charm and sweetness.

The fact that I had to follow this up (I was so annoyed that peoples efforts on the ground were being downplayed) with a second complaint is intolerable. Perhaps I should make another complaint!

Anyway, here is the reply:

Dear Mr Abrams

Thanks for your further e-mail regarding ‘Westminster Hour’ broadcast on
the 28 June.

Please accept our apologies for the delay in replying and for the first
response you received.

We forwarded your concerns to the programme editor who explained that Anne
McElvoy was indeed wrong and that the Liberal Democrats definitely don’t
hold the “balance of power”.

He added that he’s genuinely sorry for this error and has also confirmed
that they’ll run a correction on this Sunday’s programme and clarify that
Anne was mistaken to say the party held the balance on power on both
councils – they have a majority on each.

Thanks for taking the time to get in touch with feedback on this item, it’s
very much appreciated.


Gemma McAleer
BBC Complaints



  1. […] other thing that concerns me is the worrying amount of BBC slapdash research. I extracted an apology myself on `The Westminster Hour`. On that programme they made the real schoolboy error of saying that `the Lib Dems held the balance […]

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