The BBC wished to interview me concerning Afghanistan this week. I was very suprised to be asked why I had suddenly decided to be passionate about this issue and write and speak about it.
I explained patiently that I have been speaking and writing about getting our troops out for all too many months. Instead of apologising and accepting my word that this was not a new opinion, the interview became a discussion of why the BBC usually ignores these pieces on my website. A leading US newspaper went further and without any discussion with me, or clearly without any reading of my blogs, just asserted that I was a supporter of the war who was now calling for “early” withdrawal of troops.
I fully accept that the BBC is a powerful news medium, who can decide each day what they think the news is and who should appear on their programmes. They need to accept that I and others may have a different sense of what the news is each day. When they interview they should at least believe me if I tell them what my view is and when I formed it, where there is clear documentary evidence to back that up. I chose to highlight Afghanistan again on 30 August on this site, 17 days before their decision to highlight it. I then followed that up this week when opportunity presented in the Commons when it was at last back from its over long holiday. I had not suddenly come to this view.
The BBC interviewer said he did read my blog. Nonetheless they usually ignore the best stories. No-one has bothered, for example, to follow up the recent stories here of the £320 million of derivative losses at Network Rail, or the 5% plus increase in incomes for people on out of work benefits compared to people working. It took the BBC around 2 years to partially catch up with the public spending reality described here from the official figures, when the BBC wished to consistently present a false picture of the “cuts”.