ABC Spinning

Apr 6th, 2008 | By | Category: Cross Channel

Just because I’m paranoid, it doesn’t mean everyone is not out to get me. The graffito came to mind reading a BBC news report this afternoon. Ostensibly a balanced piece on the tendency for everyone to refer to the Tory MP Boris Johnson, simply as “Boris”, it provides a very subtle platform for a Labour attack on the Tory candidate as mayor for London.

If I were a member of the Tory party, I think I might be crying “foul” that my man had got two just two paragraphs, compared to rather more for his critics – or would that be paranoid?

The BBC realises it must present the names of all the candidates, or be charged with bias. So it lists them in alphabetical order:

Alan Craig Christian Choice

Boris Johnson Conservatives

Brian Paddick Liberal Democrats

Gerard Batten UKIP

Ken Livingstone Labour

Lindsey German Left List party

Matt O’Connor English Democrats

Richard Barnbrook BNP

Sian Berry Greens

Winston McKenzie Independent

But, hold on, this is a piece on not referring to people by their first name, yet the BBC’s alphabetical order is not that of the telephone directory or the electoral register – it is an order derived from first names.

What happens when the candidates are listed alphabetically?

Richard Barnbrook BNP

Gerard Batten UKIP

Sian Berry Greens

Alan Craig Christian Choice

Lindsey German Left List party

Boris Johnson Conservatives

Ken Livingstone Labour

Winston McKenzie Independent

Matt O’Connor English Democrats

Brian Paddick Liberal Democrats

Might there be just a hint that the BBC negates the thrust of the report by listing the candidates as it does in order to shift the far right BNP and the anti-EU UKIP down the list?

The way to deal with extremism is surely to act with openness? The Bible talks about the truth setting people free; if we are confident in what we believe, then the truth need have no fears for us.

If we must resort to spin and nuance to try to promote our beliefs, then the battle is already lost.

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