Drivel! Singer Accused of Filling Radio 4's Today with 'Leftie Tosh'
Byline: Jason Groves Chief Political Correspondent
THE BBC was under fire last night over claims that a celebrity edition of its flagship radio news programme had been dominated by 'left-wing claptrap'.
The Today programme on Radio 4 faced criticism from across the political spectrum after it gave editorial control to cult musician P J Harvey, who filled the show with polemics from left-wing activists and bizarre musical interludes.
Radical journalist John Pilger was given airtime to attack David Cameron and Barack Obama, and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who is wanted for sex offences in Sweden, was hailed for his 'great courage' and given a Thought for the Day slot, in which he attacked State control.
Listeners were also subjected to a poem from an inmate of Guantanamo Bay and a rant against the Olympics. Critics of the tone and content of the show included a former aide to Gordon Brown, the BBC's political editor and a Tory Cabinet minister.
Tory MPs suggested the programme - one of a series produced under the guidance of 'guest editors' - may have breached the BBC's duty of political impartiality.
Labour MP Ian Austin, a former minister who served as a close aide to Gordon Brown, said yesterday's show was the worst he had heard in 30 years of listening.
On Twitter, he said: 'Quick, the BBC need a guest editor to continue Today's balanced reporting of global affairs. Are Putin, Ahmedinejad or Assad available tomorrow?' Welsh Secretary David Jones added: 'Today's BBC Radio Today programme is apparently the work of a "guest editor". Have to wonder who extended the invitation.' Dover MP Charlie Elphicke said: 'The BBC has a duty to provide balanced factual report and analysis of the day's news - instead their flagship news and current affairs programme consisted of three hours of left-wing claptrap complete with conspiracy theories, monologues and folk music.' Public reaction to the show was divided, with some Twitter users branding it 'left-wing tosh', but others describing it as 'powerful and thought-provoking'.
One Tweet said, 'What has BBC Radio 4 got for us tomorrow? Some sixth form Debating Society leftie reject? Pitiful drivel today.' A comment left on the Guardian's website - where many posters were supportive - read: 'PJ Harvey - what an utter embarrassment to the BBC and the UK. It was like giving editorship to an angry sixthformer, desperate to impart their ignorant and facile vituperations upon us all.' BBC political editor Nick Robinson weighed in, criticising Mr Pilger's suggestion that the corporation should not have broadcast tributes to Nelson Mandela from Mr Obama because he had failed to close Guantanamo Bay, or from Mr Cameron because he had visited South Africa during the Apartheid era. …