Jeremy Vine and falling standards at the BBC…

Jeremy Vine (Jeremy Vine Show, daily, Radio 2), is surely in the running for some sort of scurrilous journalism award.

On his show, today, he’s putting forward the hypothesis that a woman (why a woman, why not just a person?), defaults on her mortgage, is threatened with eviction and repossession, and, as the government now owns a large part of her lending bank, she writes to the chancellor, appealing for leniency, and is told she won’t be evicted even though she’s badly in arrears and has little prospect of paying.

Vine extrapolates from this to come up with the suggestion that, surely, it would mean that no-one has to pay their mortgage ever again, and will never be evicted in consequence.

Let’s just leave aside, for now, the questionable sanity of such an idea (and that it would never happen in the real world), and ask ourselves why Vine, at a time when the entire world is still teetering on the edge of financial meltdown (with the possible exception of China), is stirring the shit like this? Isn’t it rather immoral, unprofessional and plain, old-fashioned fuckwit-stupid to be stirring up anti-government feeling in this way? And, I wonder, would he do the same thing were the Conservatives in power?

Vine’s listeners, thoose who phone in to the show, at least, are very often intolerant rednecks (the British version thereof), based on my previous experience of the show, and are probably incapable of understanding that this is a hypothesis. Very likely they’ll be calling for the impeachment of the chancellor before the show is over. And, seriously, isn’t Vine’s proposition, hypothetical or not, that the chancellor would be willing to participate in such a (probably) illegal matter, bordering on the slanderous?

Vine, of course, rarely lets the truth get in the way of a story, as is witnessed by his ongoing campaign waged against users of mobility scooters and, by extension, the disabled. In the past he has misled his listeners and allowed callers to compound the untruths unchallenged. The story of the Milford Haven to Gloucestershire gas pipeline springs to mind, when he said that the pipeline, for the benefit of the English, would devastate the Brecon Beacons in Wales, by driving a trench through the mountains which, of course, triggered a torrent of anti-English phone calls from Welsh listeners who, from a position of complete ignorance, swallowed Vine’s fiction whole and, in some cases, added their own distortions to the pot.

For the record – and the details, including maps, were on the BBC News website that day, so Vine has no excuse whatsoever – the pipeline was part of the British national grid, and the English would benefit from it no more than the Scots or Welsh. As for trashing the mountains, that was completely untrue – the pipeline merely clipped the northern tip of the national park, running through farmland of little or no scenic value (and no doubt the land-owner was well recompensed for the inconvenience), and going nowhere near the mountains.

I emailed the show during this segment, pointing out where Vine was wrong, directing them to the BBC News page, and fully expecting a correction (an apology would have been nice, too), either during the show or the following day. Never happened. Then, as now, fiction is passed off as, or at least thinly disguised as, truth.

I’ve long since stopped listening to Vine, as my tolerance for total bollocks is limited, but sadly he gets to plug his bullshit during the previous show, hosted by Ken Bruce, which is where I heard him banging on about mortgages today. Bruce, himself, has been known to pull Vine up on air over some of his more absurd flights of fancy, though he let him get away with today’s without comment, for some reason – perhaps he didn’t appreciate how thoroughly egregious the idea was…

Vine is also – strangely for a current affairs journalist – remarkably ill-informed. I well remember one show in which a segment was devoted to a discoussion of, of all thing irrelevant, scythes. After 10 minutes of rambling drivel he finally admitted he knew  nothing about scythes, having no idea what they looked like or even, with any degree of accuracy, what they were for, a staggering level of ignorance that extends, as we’ve seen, to gas pipelines and to who knows what else?

That makes me wonder why, for pity’s sake, he is allowed to get away with it by the BBC. I really, really, don’t understand it…