Labour at war with `Today'
Saturday 13 December 1997
Requests for ministers to appear on Today could be denied by the party if John Humphrys persists in interrupting them and denying them the opportunity to put their views to the listeners, David Hill, director of communications, said in an exchange of correspondence leaked to the Liberal Democrats.
After an interview with Harriet Harman, Secretary of State for Social Security, on lone parents' benefit on Wednesday, Mr Hill wrote to John Barton, the editor: "We ... are seriously considering whether, as a party, we will suspend co-operation when you make bids through us for government ministers."
Although programmes make interview requests directly to departments, party headquarters acts as a clearing house and because of tight links between party and government, Mr Hill probably speaks for all ministers. He told Mr Barton the whole of Millbank headquarters was talking about the interview "when I got back from the 9am meeting" - the daily media co-ordination meeting chaired by Peter Mandelson, Minister without Portfolio, and attended by Alastair Campbell, the Prime Minister's Chief Press Secretary.
Mr Hill said that after the "ridiculous exchange" and the repeated interruptions no one would have been any the wiser as to Ms Harman's explanation of government policy - a point made by some Labour backbench critics after she wound up the Commons debate that night. Mr Barton said he was surprised: Ms Harman had not complained at the time and had answered questions at length. "I felt this morning that I was listening to a rigorous, fair- minded interview which illuminated an important policy issue."
Mr Barton said listeners would be the losers from any suspension of co- operation and that he was completely satisfied they would continue to have a good working relationship with Labour. "We have received full co-operation since the exchange of letters. The matter is now at an end."
A BBC spokesman said: "We take everything the political parties say to us seriously, but we are an independent public-service broadcaster and the remit for our interviewers is to ask the questions that we believe the public, our listeners, want answered."
They certainly did not perceive there to be a "John Humphrys problem. He is one of our top political interviewers. We believe he got it right." A source said a Humphrys interview with Gordon Brown, the Chancellor, the following morning had, if anything, been more robust than the one with Ms Harman.
- 2 Joan Rivers: 'Palestinians deserve to be dead'
- 3 Daily Show's Jon Stewart destroys Fox News for its Ferguson coverage
- 4 ALS ice bucket challenge co-founder Corey Griffin drowns, aged 27
Notting Hill Carnival: Woman shares selfie after being ‘punched in face for telling man to stop groping her’
YouTube video posted by Isis militants shows 'execution of 250 Syrian soldiers'
Joan Rivers: 'Palestinians deserve to be dead'
Daily Show's Jon Stewart destroys Fox News for its Ferguson coverage
Botched ice bucket challenge leaves man critically injured after plane drops hundreds of gallons of water
Exclusive: We share blame for creating 'jihad generation', says Muslim strategist
Robin Williams Emmys tribute led by Billy Crystal criticised for including 'racist' joke about Muslim woman
The Rotherham child abuse scandal is a tale of apologists, misogyny and double standards
Scottish independence TV debate: Pumped-up Alex Salmond bounces back in bruising second round against Alistair Darling
Do you realise just how foolish the UK looks?
Ukip Douglas Carswell defection: Tory MP jumps ship to join Nigel Farage
- < Previous
- Next >
£120 - £162 per day: Randstad Education Hull: Secondary English Teacher - requ...
£120 - £162 per day: Randstad Education Hull: Calling all science teachers! Ra...
£120 - £162 per day: Randstad Education Hull: Food Tech/Textiles Teacher We ...
£85000 - £100000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Marketing - Slough, Berkshi...