By Craig Murray, former British ambassador to Uzbekistan and Rector (i.e. president) of the University of Dundee. Craigmurray.org.uk.
“Professor” Rob Ford of the University of Manchester was a member of Professor John Curtice’s election night results team at the BBC. But he is also a very active anti-Corbyn and anti-SNP propagandist.
Indeed just the day before the election, which he was covering for the BBC as a “neutral and independent psephological expert”, Ford posted this nasty caricature of Nicola Sturgeon. Please note that this is not a retweet – the slogan “All Hail Supreme Dear Leader, Daughter of Great Helmsman Sal-Mon” is all Ford’s own brilliant witticism.
It is of course a free country, and if this puerile behaviour makes Ford happy it is his business. If the BBC want to interview him as a right wing Labour man that is also their business. But for the BBC to employ him as an “independent expert”, to interpret the electoral results for us, is beyond a joke. Many of us already do not trust Curtice. That the right hand man on his BBC team is this anti-SNP and anti-Corbyn bigot is an outrage.
I had never heard of Ford until he foolishly decided to attack me on twitter over my coverage of the fake Nuneaton research designed to rubbish Corbyn. Ford had lovingly tweeted the details of this fake research, and retweeted uber-Blairite John Rentoul’s vicious article based on it. Ford suggested I criticised it because I am a conspiracy theorist who believes in lizard people and the Illuminati.
Ford rejected angrily the argument that the Nuneaton “research” was orchestrated anti-Corbyn spin prepared by the Blairites. It was legitimate and ethical focus group research, he said, rather heatedly. His refutation of accusation of disingenuous PR spin was, I felt, perhaps slightly undermined by the fact that he chose as his own twitter profile photo a picture of himself with Peter Mandelson! I think that probably says all you need to know about him.
Except that by attacking me on twitter he inadvertently caused me to notice something else extremely important. I had published that the Nuneaton “research” that made front page news, stating that voters found Corbyn “scruffy and old-fashioned”, was based on interviews with just 16 people. Those people were all Tory voters. There were no gays, no unemployed, no retired people, no tenants, nobody under thirty, no singles and no ethnic minorities. None of the media coverage – including the New Statesman article by the report authors – made those parameters clear. What is more they distorted the views of the respondents and did not make plain that 2 of the 16 said they will vote Labour next time.
The simultaneous publication in the Blairite outlets of this fake Nuneaton research – Guardian, New Statesman, and John Rentoul in the Independent – was plainly coordinated by the Blairite lobby in anticipation of Labour losing Nuneaton. (In the event to the bitter disappointment of the Blairites, Labour held the council). And here is the new information – looking through Ford’s twitter stream, I found tweets by BBC political correspondent Norman Smith. On results day, out of scores of councils contested, Smith had tweeted about only one single council – Nuneaton. And what he tweeted was specifically “Corbyn critics flagging up swing in key Middle England seat of Nuneaton.” So the day before the co-ordinated publication of this fake “academic research” in Blairite media, “Corbyn critics” were pointing out Nuneaton and only Nuneaton to the BBC.
It stinks to high heaven. What stinks still more is the refusal to state who paid the extremely expensive Greenberg Quinlan Rosner for the research. And why.
Oh, and the BBC employing Ford as a neutral expert. If they had any political credibility left, that would destroy it.