12/05/2017 Newswatch


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At ten o'clock in Bruce will be here with a full round-up of the news.


First, here is news watch. Hello and welcome to Newswatch


with me, Samira Ahmed. She won't take part


in a televised leaders debate. Will the BBC do more to make


a head-to-head happen? And are the Green party being given


a fair share of airtime on the BBC's There has been a bit


of a phoney war feel Before the parties began


publishing their manifestos. Many questions had been fobbed


off with this answer, given to Laura Kuenssberg


by Jeremy Corbyn on Tuesday. Well, you will have to wait


for the manifesto for the details. Those manifestos will be


officially unveiled next week, but on Wednesday night we got


a sneak preview of what Somehow, an earlier


version had ended up I can't claim I've read it


all, but here it is. Stamped right through the middle


of the document, about 20,000 words In other words, they hadn't quite


anticipated me waving it But I can do, because we've


received this leaked draft. Well, he could leave it


around on the telly, Tim Grant was among several


Newswatch viewers who thought not, asking, if it's got confidential


written on it, is it right And David Gregory


elaborated on that. One report explained how the word


draft was on every page and that this report was not meant


for public viewing. Why, then, do the BBC take


the opportunity to make a moral stand here and not report


on what was in the manifesto? This is, in effect, a stolen


document, and therefore should have not been used in the way


that it was. We didn't discover much


about the Conservative Party's policy plans on Tuesday night's


One Show, but we did get a few insights into the personalities


and marriage of Mr and Mrs May. I get to decide when


There's boy jobs and girl jobs, you see.


Now, we're not leaving that as well, are we?


I'm tempted to say in current circumstances I'm not sure how


Alison Norcross found that a stomach churning interview,


it made uncomfortable viewing on many fronts, not the least


of which is the absolute obsequiousness of the presenters.


And one Twitter user wondered, how can this propaganda be


allowed when May runs from a face-to-face debate?


The format in which senior politicians appear in the set piece


election programmes only started in 2010, but has since become


In 2015 David Cameron refused to follow the example of his


predecessor as Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, and take part


in a head-to-head discussion on the BBC with other party leaders.


Five of whom appeared without him in a so-called challengers debate.


Theresa May has followed his example and Jeremy Corbyn has said


he won't take part in such a programme either, if she doesn't.


So this time round we were told this week the BBC will be showing


a debate featuring senior representatives from Labour,


the Conservatives, the Liberal Democrats,


the SNP, Plaid Cymru, Ukip and the Green party.


The press release also announced Question Time specials and election


questions programmes featuring separately the leaders


of six of those parties, but not the Green party,


to the annoyance of many viewers, including Christopher Corey.


I understand that the BBC in their forthcoming election


specials have invited Ukip to take part and have excluded


I think this is unfair and ludicrous, to be honest.


I am not a Green party supporter, and I am certainly not


a Ukip supporter, however, I do think that the Green party


should qualify far above Ukip to have their voice heard


Other viewers were annoyed about the absence of a televised


debate between the two main candidates to lead


Some comparing it to the long established tradition of American


presidential hopefuls squaring up to each other, a debate in March


between the two leading candidates to become Prime Minister


of the Netherlands, and the TV discussions before the recent


If those countries can do it, wondered Terry Pearson,


why should our potential leaders avoid that sort of scrutiny?


Isn't it about time the BBC took on the clearly prepared Conservative


strategy of not letting May face searching political questions?


The One Show "Who takes out the bins?"


I still don't understand why we will not see May


If the BBC had seriously threatened to empty chair her,


Well, let's discuss some of those issues with the BBC's


head of news gathering, Jonathan Monroe.


Jonathan, let's start with whether the BBC should have


done more to try to get Theresa May to take part in a leaders debate


by threatening to go ahead with her seat empty.


Well, we're really disappointed the Prime Minister's not


doing the leaders debate, we would have liked to have done


a leaders debate featuring the party leaders themselves.


The day after the Easter weekend the Prime Minister announced


Number one, there would be a general election.


And number two, she would not take part in television debates.


And our judgment was that wasn't a negotiating position,


So threatening to empty chair would have led to an empty chair.


Ultimately, the viewer doesn't learn anything from an empty chair.


She has paid no price for refusing the leaders debate.


In fact, there she is on The One Show sofa,


and viewers have said, whatever you say, they feel


that's wrong, and maybe she would have given in.


But she hasn't paid a price for saying no.


We don't know she's not paid a price.


Some viewers may decide that they're going to change their vote


as a result of the strategy of the leaders of the election.


But it doesn't help anybody to say that because the Prime Minister


is going to appear in one format she can't therefore appear


in other programmes, whether it's Question Time


or election questions or Andrew Neil interviews.


Or The One Show or Jeremy Vine or any of the other programmes that


actually had leader debates, and people thought we were going


It's a shame that we're not getting them.


Basically what happened in 2010 is that all the main party


leaders at the time, by which I mean just three of them,


we didn't include the seven in 2010, they all felt, for whatever reason,


it was in their interest, it was the right moment to say yes


That changed by 2015 with, as you say, David Cameron not


A very complicated negotiation then followed about exposure of parties


We didn't have Nick Clegg in the TV debate either.


And it has changed again this time round with the Prime Minister


Let's hope we can get them back again in future elections.


The BBC is going to run these special Question Time format


programmes with individual party leaders and studio audience.


At the start of this week the BBC said the Greens


A lot of viewers complained to Newswatch.


And they complained to us, too, and I've heard the comments your


Let me explain the formula we use, not in too much detail.


We are obliged by our regulations to take into account the electoral


support over two election cycles, that means two general elections,


in other words back to 2010, and all the elections that happened


Lots of local elections in that time, obviously,


If you take all those figures, the Ukip support over that period


is significantly greater than the Greens.


The Greens have been stable but very low.


We saw, as you know, a week or so ago, they didn't do


But over the seven-year period we are obliged to count,


But when you apply that format to the schedule,


the programmes we are actually going to make, we do think


in retrospect, actually, that the gap between what Ukip


is getting and what the Greens are getting is too great,


so we're going to make a change and we've invited the Green party


in the last 24 hours to take part in an extra programme


in the elections questions format in the last weekend


They've accepted that and we're really pleased to have


that extra programme going into the BBC One schedule.


So you've either caved in to pressure or you got it wrong.


We're not going to cave in to pressure from political parties.


We looked at the schedule in retrospect, what we'd lined up,


and the differences between the parties.


There were two differences, effectively, that the Greens


One was the Question Time elections questions programmes,


The other was the series of Andrew Neil interviews,


which are going out the week after next on BBC One.


So what we've done is we said to the Green party, we think


the gap's too great at the moment, but you can't have equivalents


to the other parties because of that electoral support issue.


So we've given them, we hope, a good compromise


and an offer I'm really pleased to say they've accepted.


Away from the election, shock were created this week


by President Trump's sacking of the FBI director James Comey.


The White House has said he was fired because he'd


mishandled the investigation into Hillary Clinton's


Here's Jon Sopel on Wednesday night's News at Ten.


But if it really is all about the way the FBI conducted


the Hillary Clinton investigation, why sack him now?


Why not do it when Donald Trump first came to office?


And how do you reconcile it with the praise that was


Roger Witt from Poole felt there was a lack


of balance in the reporting of Mr Comey's sacking.


I'm struggling to understand why the BBC should imply that the reason


behind it is the fact that the bureau were closing


Yes, it's what the Democrats say, but without any evidence.


In months of investigation, Comey has produced no evidence either,


so I'm curious as to what facts the BBC is privy to.


Or is the corporation merely reporting selective rumour?


Finally, Alexander Blackman, known as Marine A, was freed two


weeks ago after serving three years in prison for killing a wounded


An incident recorded on a helmet camera.


On Tuesday, Clinton Rogers met the former Royal Marine


To be fair, you can put quite a few different spins on what's said.


And unless you were actually there, you don't know the full story.


Obviously, I told my version of events when I was at trial.


Hindsight is a wonderful thing, and given especially what's


happened to us in our life, if you could go back,


One viewer was watching that and the her response for us on camera.


I have absolutely no sympathy with the allegiances


of his Taliban victim, but allowing the man who breached


the Geneva Convention and killed and injured prisoner of war


to justify himself in this way is disgusting.


He was provided with a platform and allowed to minimise his actions


and suggest there was justification not known to the general public.


Thanks for all your comments this week.


If you want to share your opinions on BBC News and current affairs,


or even appear on the programme, you can call us...


Do have a look at our website for previous discussions.


We'll be back to hear your thoughts about BBC news


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