As you can imagine, as a radio presenter I do like to keep an eye on the opposition, so it was with more than a passing interest when I read this tweet from BBC Radio London’s Drivetime reporter Anna O’Neill.
We are talking about #bedwetting on Drive
BBCRadioLondon</a> tonight. We'd like to hear personal experiences-you don't have to give your name</p>— Anna O'Neill (Annareporting)May 24, 2016
Radio London has a budget several times that of LBC, so I’m told, yet its audience is a fraction of ours. Their entire weekly audience for all their shows added together is less than my show on its own. Looking at their tweet you can see why. Perhaps it’s due to the “unique way the BBC is funded”. So while we talked about Brexit, Putin and Syria, the BBC were discussing ‘bedwetting’. Public service broadcasting at its best.
The very same day we took a call from a lady called Marianne who works for B&Q and had attended the event in Eastleigh where the Chancellor and the PM turned up the volume on Project Fear. She met the Chancellor afterwards and had a selfie taken with him. The result of their conversation? She decided to vote Leave. Have a listen. It’s quite entertaining!
On Monday night I flew up to Edinburgh from London City Airport to do an interview the next morning. I left Leicester Square after my show at 7pm. By 7.45 I was through security at City Airport having a bite to eat. That’s why I love that airport, in as much as one can actually love an airport. I’ve never had a bad experience there. On the return journey we landed at 12.20. I was in a cab by 12.30. But, ssshhh. Don’t tell anyone, otherwise everyone will be travelling from there.
It’s very easy to look at the EU Referendum campaign and say who’s ‘had a bad war’. It’s less easy to discern who has emerged with any credit. On the Leave side I’d point to Andrea Leadsom who has represented her cause on the media with understated assurance and impressed everyone with her calmness under fire. In a campaign where female politicians have struggled to make their voices heard, she has, in my opinion, become something of a star. She’s also avoided too much ‘blue on blue’ action and manages to make her points without making it personal. Indeed, I don’t recall her making any overt criticisms of the PM. It’s something some of her more well-known colleagues might do well to emulate. The broken pieces of the Conservative Party have to be put back together again when all this is over, and too many politicians on the Leave side have made the mistake of turning all this into a personal vendetta against David Cameron. It is certainly true that his ramping up of Project Fear and the misuse of the government machine has been provocative, but sometimes people should think before they launch the next insulting attack. Sometimes you just have to rise above it.
Last night I was looking at a football website and clicked on a video. Before the video started up came a government advert encouraging people to register to vote in the EU Referendum. Nothing wrong with that, of course, it’s what you’d expect. However, what followed left me openmouthed. “Register to vote, or it could cost you up to £4300 if we leave the EU”. On what planet is that an appropriate thing for a taxpayer-funded advert to say? I have no objection at all to a voter registration campaign, but when it gets to the point that it becomes government inspired propaganda, questions need to be asked.
So the Prime Minister refuses to debate any of his opponents during the EU Referendum debate. His former ideas guru Steve Hilton has criticised him for that and he’s right to do so. Instead he will do Q&A sessions on the BBC and, next Thursday, with Sky News. The following night – Friday – Michael Gove will do the same for the Leave campaign. The PM has already won that particular encounter because frankly, who watches Sky News on a Friday night? He should have followed the PM on the Thursday night but no doubt Downing Street vetoed it. Frit. The Leave campaign should have refused to play ball.
The latest EU Referendum polling from Lord Ashcroft makes for fascinating reading . It shows the Leave vote hardening. So far in the polls, the Remain side have been shown slightly ahead. I may mix with the wrong people, but virtually everyone I know who is not directly involved in politics or the media is intending to vote Leave. Maybe I mix with the wrong people, but I really wonder whether the pollsters are yet again getting everything completely wrong. In many ways, no poll can get this binary referendum right because no one really knows what the turnout will be. The conventional wisdom is that the lower the turnout it, the more likely Leave is to win. Possibly, but in the end it depends on which side gets its vote out best. And that’s where Leave has an advantage, because people who want to vote for change often have something of the zealot about them. It’s far easier to persuade them to turn out to vote on a wet Thursday, than it is to persuade people to turn out for the status quo. At least, that’s the theory.
So the Leave campaign is going to spend the last month of the campaign ramping up the arguments about immigration. Because that kind of approach worked so well for Zac Goldsmith, didn’t it? #facepalm.
When I was doing the Sky News paper review on Wednesday I was regaled with how Brussels regulation dictate that they have to go to an advert break on the dot of the half hour, and that Brussels also dictates the length of their advert breaks. I’ve never heard this applying to radio, but why on earth should Brussels have any role in telling UK broadcasters when they must break for adverts, or the length of the break? It’s just this sort of regulation that gives the EU a bad name.