On Duncan Weldon at Newsnight

I should perhaps point out that I disagree with just about everything the man says, including the use of and, at and the. However, this is a very weird attack indeed:

The row over the BBC’s Left-wing bias escalated last night after it emerged that its latest recruit has written hundreds of blogs attacking Government policy.

Senior Tories are furious that Duncan Weldon, a former adviser to Harriet Harman and economist at the TUC, has been made economics correspondent of Newsnight despite little experience as a journalist.

Man employed to write political PR wrote political PR.

People are surprised at this? Jeebus.

65 thoughts on “On Duncan Weldon at Newsnight”

  1. It’s a reasonable suspicion that someone who not only has strong political views but has been paid by a party to express them might not be able to keep his bias out of the programme. If the new Newsnight editor was a known rabid tory, or member of UKIP, the leftists would be up in arms, also quite reasonably.

  2. I think the actual acomplaint is ‘has been made economics correspondent of Newsnight despite little experience as a journalist.’

  3. When paid to write polemic he wrote pretty good polemic.

    Perhaps when paid to be impartial he’ll be pretty good at being impartial. Perhaps.

    I hardly think a qualification for being a journalist should be “holds no opinions” – even on the BBC. Mind you, if the BBC doesn’t want to be a political football this was a funny appointment to make.

  4. I was surprised at the appointment but it should be noted that the recently appointed Policy Editor at Newsnight, used to work for Willetts and Conservative Party head office.

  5. @MBE ‘Mind you, if the BBC doesn’t want to be a political football this was a funny appointment to make.’

    The BBC has worked out that there will never be a Conservative government – even a nominally one – again in the UK. So why worry about what the Tories will say or do?

    These people set out on a long, Gramscian road many years ago, and they are almost at the finish line.

    Similar in the States. The job is almost done, comrades.

  6. Philip Scott Thomas

    Heh. Count on the Daily Fail not to know the difference between a “blog” and “post”.

    But then neither does the UK’s leading authority on tax evasion.

  7. The editor of Newsnight is Ian Katz, formerly of the Guardian and husband of Justine Roberts of Mumsnet fame. The whole thing is just a leftie sinecure.

    The BBC needs to be just closed down. It has festered in our midst for long enough.

  8. Why do I have this suspicion Duncan Weldon will turn out to be related to Hugh Weldon, former BBC bigwig?

  9. where does this idea come from the employers should never take a punt on somebody who lacks experience in the exact job in question? Yes it could turn out that Duncan hasn’t got the journalist knack, whatever that is, but despite is ideological leanings, he knows economics far better than most economics journalists and his analysis on blogs etc. has always been high quality. Definitely worth taking a punt on.

    And where does the idea come from the the BBC is going to find journalists who know economics but lack an ideological position?

    It’s not as if Duncan is a raving lefty – his left of centre, All the BBC needs to offset him is an equally sensible right of centre economics correspondent. I don’t know Stephanie Flanders (sadly departed) or Robert Peston’s politics, are they centre-right?

  10. ‘ I don’t know Stephanie Flanders (sadly departed) or Robert Peston’s politics, are they centre-right?’
    Do pigs fly?

  11. @Luis ‘I don’t know Stephanie Flanders (sadly departed) or Robert Peston’s politics, are they centre-right?’

    Ha ha, good one.

  12. I see – just googled Stephanie. So that’s another leftie then. Didn’t find much about Peston.

    obviously the preponderance of left-leaning economics reporters just shows us how hard it is to find presentable right wing economists – most of then are loons like you lot

  13. The BBC is ultimately an organisation that’s interested in it’s own security, and Labour are more likely to deliver that than the Conservatives as they are more the party of the big state. If Labour became more about looking after the working class (and with that, changing their policy so that poor people who watch ITV don’t have to pay for the BBC), the BBC would switch allegiance.

    In the longer term, the BBC is screwed anyway. The public that are watching DVDs, playing games and watching online video services just aren’t going to keep handing over the money when they’re watching less and less of its content. I like QI, the bloke who does the choir shows and Top Gear, but that’s about it. And that just ain’t worth £145 of my money.

  14. “just shows us how hard it is to find presentable right wing economists”
    Presentable as in: “Pushes the line the BBC wants pushed”?

  15. Luis Enrique: Loons like us?

    You cheeky bastard. You support left-leaning ie socialist scum who have murdered 150 million and ruin entire fucking societies–and we’re the loons?

    There are more and more Austrian economists about than ever–how come the fuckers at the BBC never “take a punt” on one of them.

  16. @Luis

    ‘obviously the preponderance of left-leaning economics reporters just shows us how hard it is to find presentable right wing economists – most of then are loons like you lot’

    Tee hee, you’re on form today.

  17. “You support left-leaning ie socialist scum who have murdered 150 million and ruin entire fucking societies”

    Mr Ecks that is the blog comment equivalent of hoisting a flashing neon sign with the words “I am a loony” above your head

  18. Bloke in Costa Rica

    Stigler: the Beeb is trying to extend the license fee to users of iPlayer. The bell-end in charge thinks this is a) desirable b) feasible. They obviously see their gravy train about to go over a cliff and they’re scared stiff. Were I to live in the UK again it would give me the greatest pleasure to not own a TV so I could tell the license Stasi to fuck off. If my current TV goes tits up it’s not being replaced.

  19. Does anyone know which right(ish) candidates were rejected? Not trolling. Just curious.

    Don’t forget, it’s got to be someone willing to work at 11pm.

  20. Bloke in Costa Rica,

    Sure, but it’s not going to stop the gravy train going off the cliff.

    The arrival of Sky, PVRs and various streaming video services as well as all the Freeview channels means that people aren’t using the BBC enough. Choice is far more accessible. And the Beeb aren’t good competitors. They mostly make dreck. The writing in US drama is just so much more sophisticated.

  21. @ luke
    “Does anyone know which right(ish) candidates were rejected?”
    Do you know where the job was advertised?

  22. If Labour win the next election you will need a TV license to own a PC. The BBC are already pushing for this, and Labour will reward them for their support.

    In reality, this Government should have decriminalised non-payment of this extorted wank on day one but of course lacked the balls. Bleating instead about a left wing organisation appointing people in its own image is just pathetic and completely ineffective.

  23. Luis Enrique:
    “Mr Ecks that is the blog comment equivalent of hoisting a flashing neon sign with the words “I am a loony” above your head”
    So–are you denying that socialism has murdered millions?. Are you saying that assorted socialist shitholes across the planet are the most prosperous regions of the Earth?. Or are you saying that none of the previous have anything to do with socialism?. Cause next to such shining sanity–I must be crazed indeed. Please let this poor old loony know.

  24. Mr Ecks

    hmm, can anybody think of any right-wing regimes that have murdered millions which we could equally accuse anybody with right-of-centre opinions of “supporting”, with equal justification?

    let me spell it out for you. My politics are left of centre. I do not support murderous socialist regimes. You twat.

  25. Luis Enrique, right-wing governments are nationalist socialists, left-wing ditto are internationalist socialist. Neither has anything to do with most of us here.

  26. @Luke

    BIS.
    No.
    Do you know who else applied? (I don’t btw.)

    How do we know anyone applied, apart from Weldonboy? The one thing BBC appointments aren’t is transparent.
    Maybe our Tim would have liked the gig. He’s equally qualified as Weldon. Was he asked?

  27. Edward Lud, you’re not going with the “national socialist” thing? Tell me it ain’t so?

    Like the DDR was democratic, because “democratic” was in the name?

  28. BIS, “Was he asked?” I don’t know. With respect, I have made that point before, because I don’t know.

    So, let’s find out.

    Tim, see BIS’s comment at 6.52. If you’re still reading/ interested, were you approached about the position as economics editor of Newsnight?

    As a supplementary question, were you aware that the position was vacant?

    I won’t be offended if you ignore this.

  29. @luke
    Something always worth asking a denier of the socialism of the German National Socialist Party. Have you ever read the book written by its leader? it’s quite well known.

  30. The only contribution I can usefully make to this debate is to reasssure BiS that Huw Wheldon is no relation to the lefty gob now propping up the Minitrue that is the BBC.

  31. So Much for Subtlety

    Didn’t the BBC employ some little sh!t from the SWP who was otherwise famous for writing a play about Thatcher and the Coal Miners’ Strike?

  32. BIS,
    “Something always worth asking a denier of the socialism of the German National Socialist Party. Have you ever read the book written by its leader?”

    No.

    Is it your practice to take at face value what is written by psychopathic mass murderers?

  33. Luke – Hitler writes socialist book, calls himself a socialist, effectively nationalised everything. Your argument is ignore all that, he was basically a libertarian or a conservative?

    The very definition of left wing is government control.

  34. Interested.

    Privatisation under Hitler

    http://marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2008/12/nazi-privatizat.html

    If you use the word “socialist” in the contemporary sense of being against inequality, favouring redistribution, favouring workers over bosses, there is no way the Nazis were socialists. They arrested socialists and Bolsheviks and put them in camps or murdered them.

    Yes the Nazi state took over much of the economy, if you want to use that as your definition, fine, but then you just admit that other than that in that respect the Nazis were nothing like today’s socialists and it is really very silly school boy debating to try and claim nazis were actually left wing any way we’d recognise today

  35. The very definition of left wing is NOT government control. See Chris Dillow, a small state Marxist, definitely a lefty, definitely against government control

  36. Luis Enrique, I specifically said that national socialists are right wing, not left.

    Luke, as it happens Ian Kershaw agrees with you.

    FWIW, in my view, they key to understandingthe ddifference between left and right is not free/unfree, it’s nationalist/internationalist. That’s the prism through which the socialism is refracted. It gives rise to different priorities, to some extent,but also different ways of championing the same rhetoric.

    I think it’d be very helpful if we, and I include the learned prof Kershaw in this, started to look beyond a left/right divide. It’s not very informative, but merely describes different hues of the same thing.

  37. Luke, as to taking at face value that which is written by psych. mass ms, I have a copy bought by my grandfather in 1938. I’ve never read it, but I seem to recall it being a trope that if only our betters had read the the tome in the twenties and thirties, they might have had a rather better understanding of the bloodthirsty guttersnipe.

  38. Interested
    “Hitler writes socialist book, calls himself a socialist,”

    I refer you to my previous answer/question:

    “Is it your practice to take at face value what is written by psychopathic mass murderers?”

  39. FWIW, I don’t consider myself socialist. For BIS and Imterested, that is conclusive proof that I am not.

  40. EL, sorry, posted without seeing your comment. I don’t disagree that we should read what odd people say.

    But that is as a guide to what they might do, not as a guide to the purity of their souls, or moral judgment. As a lapsed Catholic, I’m more interested in what people do than with their motives, particularly their professed motives. Works not grace.

  41. So Much for Subtlety

    Luis enrique – “If you use the word “socialist” in the contemporary sense of being against inequality, favouring redistribution, favouring workers over bosses, there is no way the Nazis were socialists. They arrested socialists and Bolsheviks and put them in camps or murdered them.”

    Sorry but if that is your measure of socialism, the Nazis were socialist. Yes, they arrested some socialists. Not many it is true, but some. Stalin arrested a hell of a lot more and no one denies he was a socialist. Some Trots aside. The fact that socialists have sectarian spats is not news to anyone. Nor that they would use the power of the State to murder each other if given half a chance – ten minutes dealing with any Student Union Trot ought to convince you of that.

    So by your definition: being against inequality? The Nazis were against inequality within the racial community. That is, among Germans. Favouring redistribution? They certainly did this too. The Nazi state was a heavily re-distributionist state. Favouring workers over bosses? That too. Bosses were only tolerated if they did what they were told. Those like Thyssen who resisted ended up in Auschwitz.

    By your own definition, the Nazis were socialists.

    “but then you just admit that other than that in that respect the Nazis were nothing like today’s socialists”

    Actually the Nazis mapped out much of the post-war socialist state. The European social model, down to the idea of the EU, is not based on Social Democratic ideas, but on Nazi plans. The German welfare state especially undid little that the Nazis did. Admittedly they are not Nazis and they did not continue to support hatred and murder. But the social programme of the Nazis was socialist and profoundly influential.

  42. Hmmm…

    Despite the input of people like Glenys & co (and hence the obvious errors and bias), conceptually I find this far more useful in terms of the discussion of left vs right and authoritarian vs libertarian…

    http://www.politicalcompass.org

    Not that difficult to spot the fascists (or authoritarians) of left or right…

  43. So Much for Subtlety

    Luke – “Is it your practice to take at face value what is written by psychopathic mass murderers?”

    The West has a long history of not believing what psychopathic mass murderers write. Not that any of them were psychopathic mass murderers. Mass murderers, yes, but rational ones. No one took Mein Kampf seriously. But they should have. As they should have taken Marx, Lenin, Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot seriously. It is not that any of them hid what they intended to do.

  44. 1. the conventional, one dimensional left-right political spectrum is near useless if not totally useless.

    2. righties complain BBC is left-biased, lefties complain BBC is right-biased.

    3. People on BBC complain BBC never invites people like them on BBC or discusses the topics they’re discussing.

  45. LE–
    ““socialist” in the contemporary sense of being against inequality, favouring redistribution, favouring workers over bosses,”

    Against inequality–such very equal societies are the socialist paradises of the Earth–GUM shop anybody?. Favouring redistribution=theft. Favouring workers over bosses–and look how well those workers do–why the Venezuelan toilet paper industry could not even spell thrive until the selfless worker-supporting forces of socialism took over.
    How socialist bastards love to flatter themselves.

    Hitler was a National Socialist–all classes under the heel of the state instead of class warfare and some wiped out as Karl Puke decreed. Nazi’s knew their rival socialist power-seekers and killed them because they were rival gangsters. Fascism is a socialist heresy. If there had been no socialism there would have been no fascism. Two turds from the same arsehole.

  46. @luis ‘it is really very silly school boy debating to try and claim nazis were actually left wing any way we’d recognise today’

    Sorry Luis but I’m a lapsed Tory – I spent the 1980s and 1990s having my then party equated with the nazis so I won’t cry you a river.

    Not to mention, they were socialists. Socialists who wanted big houses for the leaders but from Lenin to Scargill to Chavez to Fidel etc it’s never they that live their experiment, is it?

    Re Chris Dillow, yeah… And how will Chris’s small state Marxism work out without big state guns behind it? I mean, we can all be theoretical.

  47. @Luke & Luis
    So you haven’t read the book. Yet without reading the book, you’re quite content to pronounce on the lack of socialism in its content. Is this how you approach all judgements?

  48. No, I didn’t know the job was vacant. No, I didn’t apply nor was I approached. If approached I would not have applied and if offered the job would have declined.

  49. Luis, you show extremely poor knowledge of socialists and socialism (typically schoolboy in fact) if you think that the fact that Hitler murdered Bolsheviks is a reason to believe he wasn’t socialist. How many bolsheviks, trotskyites, mensheviks, and others of the socialist tribe did, for example, Stalin kill ?

    I would suggest that in fact it is possibly a sign of socialism that one kills lots of self proclaimed socialists. It seems a pretty common occurrence.

  50. “This thread is a fine example of Godwin’s Law.”
    It is indeed.
    if one follows the dialogue, it’s a classic pattern.
    Firstly we have the accusation, anyone not supportive of the left is both “right wing” & mentally deficient.
    There is a natural response, to point out the historical cost of socialism.
    Countered by the conflation of presumed “rightwingery” with the bete noire of the C20th.
    Until someone calls Godwin.

    It’s the standard defense pattern of socialists.

  51. UK liberty is correct, trying to cram N dimensions into 1 is daft.

    Yes it’s true Stalin also murdered socialists, which rather under cuts the claim that socialists must be Stalinists.

    If you want to say Stalin and Hitler and moderate left-wingers are all “socialists” then you have just defined the term so broadly that it contains people who are very much unlike one another, so saying things like “you are a left winger therefore you support Stalin” is every bit as stupid as saying “you are a right winger therefore you support Hitler”.

    I recognises small government left wingers are rather thin on the ground, but if you want to claim large government defines the left wing then you end up calling the Tories and the Republicans left wing.

  52. What is the difference, pray tell, between the tories and the left wing nowadays?

    Overt statists vs unassumed statists? There is a common thread there, I’ll let you find it.

  53. no wonder these arguments are fruitless, when we have some people using the words “left-wing” to describe the Tories and others using the words “right-wing” (or neoliberal capitalist pigs) to describe Labour, “socialist” to describe everybody except anarcho-libertarians

  54. @Luis ‘if you want to claim large government defines the left wing then you end up calling the Tories and the Republicans left wing.’

    Of course they are left wing.

    You’re right, it is fruitless. But I have to say, most of the left/right insults come from what I regard as the left.

    The minute you try to define yourself as belieing in small government/personal responsibility, you are derided by ‘the left’ as a ‘right winger’ (or ‘lower than vermin’ etc).

    I just play them at their own game, for lols.

    You still haven’t answer the question: how is Chris Dillow’s small state Marxism even remotely possible without big state guns?

    And that is the issue with socialism/leftism/communism/statism, really.

    None of what you/they want to do is possible without coercion.

    In fact, I think ‘supporting state coercion’ – beyond a certain point, which would be hard to define I accept – is the definition I’d adopt for ‘left’.

  55. Interested,

    yes people who advocate small state socialism still need the police to enforce whatever rules that small state imposes. Same goes for small state libertarians, small state of all flavours.

    I think you have given yourself definitions of these terms that almost nobody else would recognise.

  56. Surely, there’s a fairly easy definition of socialism. Socialists believe a measure of involuntary wealth redistribution, from those with more to those with less, is a worthwhile activity in its own right. Those not socialists regard such redistribution as possibly necessary, but not intrinsically virtuous.

  57. For anyone seeking a significant political faultline, that key distinction that creates thebasis of ppolitical division, it seems to me that it’s to be found between those advocating true freedom (not the artificial variety beloved of lefty agitprop types) and those who care little for it. Alternatively, it’s between those with an urge to boss, harangue and control, and those who feel no such urge.

    Plus, I don’t think this thread is genuinely Godwinnish.

  58. “yes people who advocate small state socialism still need the police to enforce whatever rules that small state imposes. Same goes for small state libertarians, small state of all flavours.”

    There is a major difference in the kind of rules being enforced. On the one hand, they are rules that need to be enforced because otherwise the system does not work, ie what is yours is not yours but the state.

    In the other, it is to enforce the contracts freely entered into and to provide redress. Under “the my freedom stops where yours start” concept.

    I would be perfectly happy to have a classical liberal governement/small state, and have part of the population living voluntarily under big state rules. I do not think the latter would accept that for long though. But theoratically, it is possible.

    The reverse is just not true.

    I summarise, but if you do not get the difference in concept to start with, it is indeed fruitless. I go back to my initial point.

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