Facebook petition to sack BBC’s Nick Robinson

Facebook campaign to sack BBC Political editor Nick Robinson

Facebook members call for BBC to fire political editor for ‘Tory bias’

BY Rachel Helyer-Donaldson LAST UPDATED AT 16:05 ON Fri 14 May 2010

A campaign to persuade the BBC to fire its political editor Nick Robinson is gathering steam on Facebook. The group claims the election coverage by Robinson was "too biased" towards the Conservatives and in four days it has attracted almost 1,600 members. One member writes that Robinson was "unable to hide his glee when Cameron finally walked into Number 10".
 
The group, which is called 'Nick Robinson should not be the BBC's political editor', claims that Robinson is "consistently unable to disguise his bias in favour of the Conservative Party". Led by its creator Peter Tennant, it insists that this is not a personal attack on Robinson but wants to "addresses a specific concern regarding BBC objectivity".
 
Tennant plans to take a dossier of complaints to the BBC in order to get Robinson, 46, removed as its political editor, a post he has held for five years. On Facebook Tennant lists examples of "clear bias", including:
 
a) Comparing Cameron to Disraeli before he's even taken office;
b) Talking about Downing Street as a 'Labour free zone';
c) Talking about Gordon Brown as the 'unelected prime minister';
d) Talking about the Conservatives as having 'won' the election;
e) Talking about a rainbow coalition as a 'coalition of losers’;
f) The clear pleasure on his face when the Tories returned to power.

One of the group's main beefs is the fact that, as a student, Robinson was president of the Oxford University Conservative Association. In 1986 he spent a year as the National Chairman of the Young Conservatives.
 
Before taking over from Andrew Marr at the BBC in 2005, Robinson insisted that his Tory past was not an issue.  "Just think what you were doing 20 years ago," he told Wired magazine. "I was still, sadly, going to Genesis concerts and listening to the Human League."

One former member of the BBC political staff, who preferred to remain anonymous, told The First Post today: "There are two things to bear in mind. One, it's true Nick was a Tory, but he never a 'nasty Tory'. He was against Thatcher. Secondly, his history as a Conservative means he has more insight into the subject. It makes him a better political correspondent."

However, during the early Blair years, when Robinson was still ITV's political editor, before succeeding Marr at the Beeb, he developed a reputation for hectoring the Labour government. In 2005 he confronted Labour over a controversial election poster and challenged the party over the all-white audience who gathered to hear Blair make a high-profile anti-immigration speech. Such antics earned him the sobriquet "fucking pillock" from John Prescott.
 
It remains to be seen whether Robinson will challenge the new Conservative-Lib Dem coalition in the same way.

In the meantime, there is an even bigger Facebook campaign to oust Robinson’s opposite number at Sky News, Adam Boulton. A Facebook group opposed to Boulton for using his job to "present his own ideologies" has almost 1,800 members and was motivated, in part, by Boulton's astonishing on-air tirade with Labour spin-doctor Alastair Campbell earlier this week. · 

For further concise, balanced comment and analysis on the week's news, try The Week magazine. Subscribe today and get 6 issues completely free.