Friday, August 14, 2009

Where Are the Female Right Wing Pundits?

Tim Montgomerie has an interesting post headlined "Which is more influential, Newsnight or Today"? He says he never turns down a slot on the Today Programme because of its influential audience. He also reckons it has an audience of 5-7 million at any one time. I don't think he's right on that. I think that figure is the weekly "reach" - i.e. during a week it reaches that number of people, rather than at any one time, but I may be wrong.

I do think the two programmes share similar audiences, which is underlined by the fact that they don't like having the same guests on. On Thursday I got a call from Today, after I had agreed to do Newsnight. As I have said before, if I have already accepted one programme I'll never withdraw to do another. The Today producer was very keen to persuade me to do just that but I explained my policy. In the end Fraser Nelson appeared on Today, leaving me to do 5 Live at the same time.

But do Today and Newsnight reach "normal" people? I reckon the Jeremy Vine Programme on Radio 2 is the best at reaching people who aren't particularly obsessed by politics. I have only been on it once, so you can imagine my anguish today when they asked me to go on but I couldn't because of my speed awareness course. That's life.

What this all illustrates though is the rather small gene pool of potential guests which all these programmes draw their guests from. In the right wing pundit role it is draw any one from the following: Matthew D'Ancona, Matthew Parris, Tim Montgomerie, Iain Dale, Michael Brown, Jonathan Isaby, Fraser Nelson or Shane Greer (apologies to anyone I have overlooked!) -all, as you will have noticed, male. I'm talking against my own interests here, but it would be good for this group to be expanded a little. If you compare that with the number of left of centre pundits who are used, it's a very small group.

So, who do you think the media should use? I'd suggest Jonathan Sheppard, Jo-Anne Nadler and Donal Blaney to start with.

What is quite clear, is that if a right of centre female started a blog which got any traction, she would be manna from heaven for the media and get quite a high profile in a very short time. So, who's going to rise to the challenge?

UPDATE: Janet Daley responds HERE. Here's a part of what she writes...

Like most political columnists, I receive an average of two to three requests a week for broadcast interviews or discussions, about three quarters of which I turn down (or, I’m sorry to say, ignore, as they generally come in the form of voicemail messages).

Sometimes this is because they are on subjects in which I have little interest or specialised knowledge (the current week’s crop included a request from NewsnightPM wanting me to talk about Hillary Clinton’s outburst). But very often it is simply that I am not prepared to push aside professional or domestic responsibilities at short notice for a six-minute spot on the air, which will involve roughly two hours of travelling and waiting-around-in-a-green-room time.

And I know that I am not alone among female journalists for taking this attitude. Whereas many (if not most) of our male equivalents will abandon absolutely anything – including their hapless colleagues at the office who must cope in their absence, or their own dinner guests – in order to appear on any television or radio programme that chances to invite them, women will not.

Those ubiquitous male pundits may have earned a reputation among the desperate programme researchers who spend their entire lives on the phone running down the list of possible participants, as being always available at a moment’s notice. Good luck to them. But remember that the person you are seeing on the screen was not necessarily the first one who was asked.

She makes some fair points. I certainly don't do everything I am offered - I suspect it's a 50-50 ratio in my case. On average I probably get between 10 and 15 interview offers in a week but it's unusual for me to accept all of them. Unlike Janet, I do not ignore voicemails. Even if I can't, or don't want to take part in a programme, I like to think I'd always phone back, even if it is to say no. The lesson is that if you constantly say no, you then fall off their lists. If I don't know anything about a subject I'll turn it down - as I did this week on three occasions. If I have a prior engagement (work or private) I'll usually, like Janet, turn it down unless it is something really important. Her rather sexist attitude in her penultimate attitude is bordering on the pitiful. Is that the best she can come up with? And, as Dame Edna would say, I say in a caring way!


Plaid Gwersyllt said...

We need a female Glenn Beck, or Ann Coulter, we could do with livening things up a bit with some controversial statements, but they probably get locked up for spouting hate.

Fresh said...

In my bedroom.

Stu said...

Well, Charlotte Gore is kind of a bit right wing (but liberal), and she's the highest Wikio-ranked female blogger.

But she's from Yorkshire, which disqualifies her from BBC radio appearances, doesn't it? :)

Eduardo de Aston said...

Strikes me as a sad reflection on todays media that we have to invite "opinion makers" onto this type of show at all.

With due respect what do I care what you or anybody else thinks on a specific news item?

I'm quite able to weigh up the pros and cons without having some professional nerd, male or female, give me their biased thoughts.

Just present the facts and allow people to think their own thoughts.


babapapa said...

Agree about Joanne Nadler. She was all over the place a few years ago, but haven't seen her for 2 or 3 years. If there is a gap re female commontators, Donal Blaney is hardly the answer. Anyway, he comes across very badly (well, he did on 18 DS, in my view).

DespairingLiberal said...

I note we seem to be avoiding the big story this morning of Daniel Hannan's attacks on Britain and the NHS in the US media.

Do you still consider him to be the Tory champion you did not long ago?

He really does illustrate the extremist nutjobbery that typifies many Modern Conservatives of the New Right.

all the things she said...

There are some excellent women in the right-of-centre think tanks. What about Susie Squire of the TPA or Elizabeth Truss of Reform?

Michaela said...

Fraser then made an appearance at 9am on Radio 5 (Your new best friend Shelagh F )

Squiffy said...

I'll put on a dress, if it helps.

JuliaM said...

"What is quite clear, is that if a right of centre female started a blog which got any traction, she would be manna from heaven for the media and get quite a high profile in a very short time."

Pure tokenism!

Frankly, as long as the chaps are saying the right things, I could care less if there's someone on screen that happens to be the same sex as me.

It's about time we gave up on this sort of pointless identity politics, isn't it?

canvas said...

female right wing applicants = 0

Women are far too clever to be marginilised by white over weight middle class men.


LMO said...

That the BBC selects from a small pool of Tory commentators should suprise none of us.Clearly these are the only Tory people the BBC finds acceptable because they are to the left of the party membership and probably the public, and therefore just a tiny bit like most who work at the Left wing BBC.

What better way for the BBC to influence both the public and the Tory party leadership than by giving disproportionate airtime to this narrow band of brothers.

What a suprise the BBC finds many many more Left wing commentators it likes the sound of.

Botogol said...

rachel from north london?

Pete said...

speaking as a leftie, I would LOVE to see more of Donal Blaney on the telly. He is exactly the kind of swivel-eyed, dyed-in-the-wool fanatical tory that Dave is desparate to convince us is no longer representative of the tory membership. More of him please.

See also: Dorries, N.

Anonymous said...

As long as they keep Esther Rantzen off the box - she has the knack of being irritating before even beginning to speak.

Anonymous said...

So Shane Greer is in the "premier league" of right-wing media commentators. That's news to me. Iain, sometimes you would do well to look outside your own little incestuous bubble.

Iain Dale said...

Anonymous, if you judge this by the number of times someone appears on the media Shane would indeed qualify to be on that list.

Jonathan Sheppard said...

Very flattered by the mention. Am I the token gritty Northerner?

Simon Gardner said...

Umm Iain. Where’s the comment on Danial Hannan having dumped Cameron in the deep doo-doo over the NHS?

Jonathan Purle said...

Or perhaps they ought to come from other Univerisities? I mean, Michael Brown, Isaby, Shep and Jo-Anne Nadler are all ex York Uni Tories :-)

Simon Gardner said...

“We need a female Glenn Beck, or Ann Coulter...”

Are you mad. Nobody in Britain needs Beck or Coulter. Way to put voters right off.

canvas said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
canvas said...

@despairingliberal - yes, it's strange how Iain Dale is not defending the NHS like David Cameron is.


The crazy loony right wing US Republicans are slamming the NHS and spreading misinformation and fear all across the USA. Sarah Palin appears more demented than ever. There will be the most almighty backlash ever against the GOP. wait and see.

David Cameron is slapping down all the right wing loonies, DC is out there standing up for Britain and the NHS - yet Iain Dale wants to talk about TV appearances?

go figure.

Osama the Nazarene said...

Both Shane Greer and Tim Montgomerie on the Today this morning. First time I heard Shane Greer and he didn't disappoint. Still I guess that goes to prove your point.

Though I am surprised at the number of bloggers appearing recently on the radio and TV. Is this because its the silly season and all the journos are on the beach? Will the journos reclaim their places in September?

Or maybe its because that jumped up NuLiebor luvvie Humphries is away. He really should be put out to grass. Evan is far more competent.

Despairing Liberal typical of the BBPravda to give us just a headline of what Dan said to the Republicans. This can then be used by Mandelslime's spin machine!

Pogo said...

I find it tragic that Mr Hannan should be criticised as a "traitor" for simply telling the truth.

Much of the NHS is shite and it won't get any better without a radical rethink and restructure, plus a massive "downsizing" of its insanely byzantine "management" structure.

no longer anonymous said...

"He really does illustrate the extremist nutjobbery that typifies many Modern Conservatives of the New Right."

That must make most of Europe nutjobs seeing as they don't have a health system like ours.

Jim said...

Susie Squire from the Taxpayers Alliance.

Easy on the eye too.

(Unlike say Melanie Phillips, Janet Daley etc)

Tim Montgomerie said...

Definitely agree with you on Jo-Anne Nadler, Iain.

I'd recommend my friends Jonathan Isaby and Stephan Shakespeare.

In terms of women I think Jill Kirby of the Centre for Policy Studies deserves more and more of a platform.

Scott said...

Donal Blaney?

Good Lord above.

I think we've heard enough from the climate denying, radical free market fringe this week already don't you?

anyone would think you wanted to lose the election.

The best thing the Donal Blaney's and Dan Hannan's of this world can do if they want to see a Conservative government is stay the hell out of the debate.

Adrian said...

Plaid: "We need a female Glenn Beck, or Ann Coulter," LOL

The *world* doesn't need Glenn Beck or Ann Coulter, tyvm, although the latter does show signs of mellowing at last. Such people don't "liven things up a bit", they spread fear and lies among impressionable people.

Anyway, thank god that women tend to be less reactionary than men. The world would be unbearable otherwise.

waddell said...

I'm not a fan, but what about Melanie Reid, Janet Daley?

Dave said...

Iain the lovely Melanie Phillips would be perfect. Her blog is a real insight into how some of the right think.

jafo said...

It's what people have to say and how they express themselves that matters, not what sex they are.

That being said, persuading the BBC that they should look further than The Guardian for journalists to appear on radio news programmes would be a good start.

The other day they wanted a football journalist and he came from - The Guardian, naturally! I'm not a Guardian reader and I'm not interested in football, but somehow I think that a newspaper with a somewhat larger circulation might be a better representation of what the average footie fan thinks........

FRWP said...

Given the amount of stupid vitriol that was poured on Sarah Palin, do you think that any smart lady who has things going for her is going to get involved this this silly sandpit and play the masochist target for the lunatic left and the lily-livered right who are afraid of their own shadow?

Besides that, the conservative line of thinking has turned into a part socialist hotchpotch, immigration, the war on drugs aka monopoly for the mafia, unquestioning support for the lefty POV of marriage as a 'private hobby' just to mention three 'minor' little problems that go against the grain of any principle driven conservative... and so, not many frwps will actually agree with the Conservative party on many things either, in fact, there isn't much to agree with either other than that there is a dire dearth of clear ideas and lucid concepts and above all, a spirit of unity (just observe the current row about Hanan skewering the NHS, who needs enemies if one has such disloyal leadership?)

So all in all, blogging about cooking and plants is more interesting and than arguing the toss with that unprincipled and shrill left-wing club of the class of 1968 who calls themselves 'Conservative Party'.

DespairingLiberal said...

As you are normally very, very quick to comment on top stories Iain, I find it puzzling that we haven't yet had a response on HannanGate.

I've noticed before several times that when there's a major news item that makes the New Tories look like the mildly bonkers, self-serving, confused tosspots they in many ways are, there is a longish delay before you comment. You obviously will comment, but it won't be for a while.

You always claim to be fully independent, that all of your views are your own, etc.

Yet what can possibly account for this delay other than the obvious? That you are engaged in briefings and policy discussions with other key Tories as to how to respond?

That the Montgomerie Cabal is in overdrive mode trying to come up with the correct New Right-On spin, which you are obediently awaiting or else co-concocting?

DespairingLiberal said...

Thank you for that Tim. Does this friendly little chatette between you and your fellow head-bangers in any way distract attention from your little Hannanite crusade against Britain and the NHS on Fox?

Er, no.

Anonymous said...

Canvas / Osama - they are trying to figure out how to respond!

Absolutely bizarre on Fox last night - Hannan was laying into the British system - and the Fox pundits were lapping it up, talk of how dangerous we are, that it's all just some sort of British Imperialist plot, that we are all mad, that British people lack all moral scruples - Hannan just sat their nodding and smirking.

Does anyone know how Hannan lives? Does he have a massive spread in Berkshire or something? Or is he living in the lap of luxury on the taxpayer in Brussels with easy access to fully socialised Euro-medicine? Does anyone in his family have any medical conditions requiring treatment and have they had those on the NHS?

All useful information gratefully received!!

Iain Dale said...

What accounts for this delay is that I have a job. I have to work. I fit in blogging in between my other commitments. Unlike Tim Montgomerie I am not always to do "instant analysis". I wish I was.

And also, this is not a blogpost I can write in 5 minutes. I intend to discuss a number of related issues.

Just FYI, because you keep hurling these insults around, I do bot consult others - either within the party or without - when I write a blogpost unless I am seeking some sort of clarification on someone's position. I don't care if you don't believe it because it doesn't fit your narrative, but it has the benefit of being the truth.

canvas said...

Well, Iain, hope you manage to form an opinion soon because every second that 'conservatives' don't defend Britain and the NHS is crucial.

Read> How To Lose an Election Quickly.

Read > How to drop in the polls dramatically

Read> Let's hand Labour a golden gift

Read > Does the Conservative Party support the NHS?

Well done to David Cameron for his strong stance about supporting the NHS. But I feel sorry for DC when he has to deal with Loonies (sorry, 'eccentrics') like Daniel Hannan. Hannan is cashing in on being a media tart - shameful.

Cameron is fully behind the NHS - are you?? How long does it take to answer that question?

Simon Gardner said...

“Given the amount of stupid vitriol that was poured on Sarah Palin...”

Sarah entirely-fictional-death-panels Palin? Hahahahahaha. Give me a break.

Anonymous said...

"Despairing Liberal"

The answer's obvious mate, stop being a Liberal and you will feel better..

Anonymous said...

Donal Blaney? Seriously?

The guy is an embarrassment and liability.

Norton Folgate said...

"Simon Gardner said...

“We need a female Glenn Beck, or Ann Coulter...”

Are you mad. Nobody in Britain needs Beck or Coulter. Way to put voters right off."

Amen to that!

The last thing the Tories need to do is to play up to the likes of Fox news and those two rabid loons.

There is precious little to look up to in British politics as it is but at least it hasn't sunk that low.

Quietzapple said...

I thought you were both embedded with them both, together with the Daily telegraph journos who sem to inhabit some permanent hospitality lounge at the BBC.

And to think I used to complain when Paddy Ashdown was the only inhabitant . .

The Yorkshire Terrorist said...

Please please please please please please please please get Nadine Dorries and Donal Blaney on TV and radio more. They cannot fail to convince the voters of the Tories' 'niceness'.

Anonymous said...

This is off topic I know, but I am getting so totally sick and tired of DespairingLiberal.

It seems like every single story that that Iain posts - there is DespairingLiberal with the same old message - and it is so boring.

Either Iain is lying, Iain is taking orders from Conservative Central Office, or Iain won't talk about whatever topic DespairingLiberal thinks will embarrass the Conservatives.

Why oh why does he have to come on every single story and post the same things over and over again.

I think that I am starting to develop a phobia to DespairingLiberal.

Am I the only one who feels like this?


Anonymous said...

Well if you want to talk up the NHS as the greatest thing since sliced bread - yes canvas and your mate - I'm talking to you; then you can't have used it recently.

Got private have you? 'cos that's the only one who go dewy eyed over socialist medicine; those of us who have to use it aren't impressed and actually agree with what Alan Duncan said. So take your visceral hatred of Iaia and go and haunt the graveyard; you'll find a lot of NHS mistakes there.

Alex said...

Melanie Phillips
Janet Daley
Ruth Lea
The girl from the TPA

JuliaM said...

"Am I the only one who feels like this?"

No. One thing I'M sick of is the wat DesperateLiberal and CanvAss pop up whining that Iain isn't writing about something they want to talk about.

Perhaps they should get their own blogs?

Anonymous said...

Janet Daley - speaks really well, used to be great on the Moral Maze (R4)

Jill Kirby

JuliaM who blogs at Ambush Predator - unusual name for a female blog.

Natalie Solent of the eponymous blog

Ophelia Benson of Butterfiles and wheels, talks sense despite being a Godless infidel. Perhaps too cerebral for R2 or 5L.

Anonymous said...

Guido Fawkes surely would be the most appropriate voice of the right wing- the rest are merely party types who are more concerned with their careers than the truth

Anonymous said...

This really puzzles me.

A Tory euro MP makes statements in the USA about the NHS and the BBC goes into meltdown. As I was driving home the Today programme was vox popping NHS workers who were predictably expressing their outrage.

Hannan is a minor figure and his views are not at all indicative of Tory NHS policy.

So what's going on here?

Jo-Anne Nadler said...

Iain, thank you for recommending me. I am delighted to be considered an interesting commentator first and foremost - regardless of my gender - though there is at least one thing that differentiates me from male writers and it is the small matter of childbirth. In my case this explains why I have taken a lower profile over the last 18 months or so as I have been concentrating on being mum. However now that normal sleep patterns seem to be returning I will be updating my 2000 biography of William Hague, as you know, for publication next Spring and look forward to adding my voice to the conservative commentariat.

Anonymous said...

There may well be centre right bloggers out there, but they are not apparent because they use a gender neutral pseudonym.