January 28, 2004

A (Very) Big Day for Blair

It's a bit nippy in olde London town, but barely a cloud in the sky earlier this A.M. Indeed, it was a beautiful crystal clear blue sky early in the morn'!

And the skies are metaphorically clear too, especially for uber-survivor Tony Blair (he's giving Arafat a run for his money as a cat with myriad lives).

He faced down the ossified legions of Old Labour (brimming with Euro-sclerosis aficionados) by boldly pushing a vote on tuition top up fees.

He won that vote (though, in most of the British press, a win is, it appears, treated pretty much akin to a loss).

And now, if you believe this report, Blair looks to be exonerated in the Hutton report too.

From the Sun:

"But the document--top secret until it is published officially at noon today--is a devastating indictment of the BBC and its defence correspondent Andrew Gilligan. There was no dishonourable strategy to leak Kelly name.

Gilligan is effectively accused of LYING in a bombshell broadcast blaming Number Ten for 'sexing up' a dossier on Iraqi weapons of mass destruction.

Beeb bosses are blasted for failing to check the notes of the journalist, who was already under a cloud over his misuse of language.

And chairman Gavyn Davies, director-general Greg Dyke and the BBC board of governors are implicitly blamed for dereliction of duty to licence-payers."

The Beeb, of course, was spinning this A.M. They were in a tizzy over the overnight leak of the Hutton report.

News-readers, without a hint of irony, faux-anxiously queried: will Hutton demand an inquiry over the leak?

Memo to the Beeb anchors: The Hutton inquiry is over, not starting.

(Note: We'll link the full text here once made public and analyze in more detail).

Memo to Beeb chairman Gavyn Davies.

You once worked at Goldman Sachs.

Check out your old firm's website banner: "Complacency can lead to Extinction."

Memo to Tony B: Take the momentum from the top-up fees victory. Make accountable that atrophying gaggle of paleo rose socialists at the Beeb.

They've been stuck in a 70's warp for too long. They've been suckling on public funding for too many years. Unwean them from their pre-Thatcherite cocoon!

Privatize it already. I mean, it's 2004, didn't you know?

A final note. While Blair is vindicated by Hutton and busy pushing through painful but necessary educational reforms, what is Jacques Chirac, that avatar of international human rights (along with sidekick Dominique) up to?

Out hitting the EU hustings to persuade the Euro-zone to allows arms sales to China.

Who would you rather have leading your polity?

UPDATE:

When the Guardian writes this, you know it has been a bad day for the Beeb:

"Lord Hutton today delivered the worst possible verdict for the BBC, describing its editorial systems as "defective" and declaring that the board of governors led by chairman Gavyn Davies had failed in its duty to act as an independent regulator.

The judge lambasted BBC management for allowing the Radio 4 Today reporter Andrew Gilligan to broadcast "unfounded", "grave" and "false allegations of fact impugning the integrity of others".

Ouch.

Davies should do the honorable thing now (if he's capable of it) and resign promptly.

Here is a compilation of Hutton's key points.

Snippets:

Re Blair:

--No 'dishonourable, duplicitous, underhand strategy' by the prime minister
--There was nothing dramatic in Kevin Tebbit's evidence that Blair chaired the meeting that agreed to confirm Kelly's name, or any inconsistency in their evidence
--The desire of the PM to have a strong dossier may have subconsciously influenced John Scarlett and the Joint Intelligence Committee to produce a strongly worded document

Re the BBC:

--BBC editorial system was 'defective'
--BBC management failed to appreciate that Gilligan's notes did not support the most serious of his allegations
--The BBC governors should have recognised the desire to protect its independence was not incompatible with investigating Mr Campbell's complaints, no matter what their tone
--The BBC governors should have investigated further the differences between Gilligan's notes and his report, and that should have led them to question whether it was in the public interest to broadcast his report relying only on his notes

The third bullet is particularly damning for those who supported Davies' bull-headed and stubborn actions by chanting on about the Beeb's independence.

To be sure, Alistair Campbell's is a tough, 'strong player' as Blair once remarked--but none of his actions imperiled the Beeb's independence.

But Davies' arrogance has imperiled it's reputation. And in a big way.

ANOTHER UPDATE: He is capable of it--Davies has resigned. Frankly, given the scale of this disaster for the Beeb, there was no other choice.

STILL MORE: Yes he resigned, but, not surprisingly, sans class.

In his resignation statement he had the gall "to raise some important questions about the [Hutton] report itself."

As I said, not a class act.

Posted by Gregory at January 28, 2004 11:26 AM
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