A Timely Reform by Ian Ridley

Blog & web site of Ian Ridley

PMQs: The Distracted Media

Whilst the new Tory leader grabbed the headlines trying to out-do Blair on selection for schools, an under-reported exchange took place between Charles Kennedy and the Prime Minister at PMQs yesterday (video feed – go to about 8 minutes in to see this bit) :

Mr. Charles Kennedy: …..to what extent, therefore, have the Government co-operated in the transport of terrorist suspects to Afghanistan and elsewhere, apparently for torture purposes?

The Prime Minister: …..The practice of rendition as described by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has been American policy for many years……However, it must be applied in accordance with international conventions, and I accept entirely Secretary of State Rice’s assurance that it has been.

Mr. Kennedy: Given that assurance, can the Prime Minister therefore explain why the published evidence shows that almost 400 flights have passed through 18 British airports in the period of concern? When was he as Prime Minister first made aware of that policy, and when did he approve it?

The Prime Minister: In respect of airports, I do not know what the right hon. Gentleman is referring to…..”

Am I the only one worried by this? Furthermore:

Bob Russell (Colchester) (LD): Why?

The Prime Minister: …..It is as well to remember that we need to detain some of the people we are talking about for reasons of action against international terrorism. Some of those people are highly dangerous, and some of them can provide information that is of fundamental importance in preventing terrorism. Of course, there should be proper treatment of anyone who is detained…. “

So why are these suspects being flown around the world, possibly to countries with questionable judicial processes and human right records? Something is not quite right here and if the UK is allowing these flights to use our airports then we are an accessory to human rights abuses.

Back to the C*m*r*n media love-in. I am astounded at what some of the TV channels are getting up to on this one. OK, so the above story got a spot on C4 news but they didn’t exactly make it clear that the Lib Dems had asked the question at PMQs – even though Kennedy was interviewed about it.

I tried to watch the repeat of PMQs usually available on BBC News 24 interactive or Sky News but all they had was the Blair-C*m*r*n exchanges. Back to the nice and easy imaginary two-party world that journalists like so much because it means they don’t have to think as much.

The item on PMQs during ITV’s “News” at Ten-something was so slanted to be biased in favour of the Tories that I’m sure it qualified as a PPB. Let alone the awful shallowness of the reporting.

I am more and more convinced that Chris Morris invented ITV News a decade ago. It was called “The Day Today”.

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