Meter Blown

On this episode of BBC Hardtalk with Christine Lagarde, the current managing director of the IMF, the journalist who was interviewing her had this to say on the subject of Brexit (at around 11 minutes)…


“Are you comfortable with the idea that the IMF is now making statements which clearly play a huge political role in an internal, democratic, British debate? What right does the IMF have to play that sort of role?”

That is actually a reasonable question, but wait a minute, I think we need to use the hypocrisy meter again…mmm, seems like a high score.

Anyone who can stomach thinking back to their behaviour around the indyref time will know that the BBC didn’t seem to have such a problem groups intervening in that particular “internal, democratic, British debate“. In fact, they seemed to make a show of it every time someone wanted to stick an oar in.

Let’s have a brief look. This was a short search, have a look yourself and you will find many, many more…

What business is it of the USA?

BBC Obama

Or Spain?


BBC Spain

Should supermarkets really be trying to influence democratic votes?

BBC Supermarkets

What about Deutsche Bank? Are banks to dictate democratic processes?

BBC Deutsche Banl

And what about the IMF itself?


As I said earlier, I don’t believe that his question to Lagard was unfair, far from it, but I don’t recall Obama, Rajoy, Barroso, Deutsche Bank, the IMF and many more being told to keep their noses out of it back then. Or even being asked “what right they have” to give their opinion on it.


  1. To see double standards in play, you need look no further than the reporting on the President Obama and Prime Minister Cameron Joint Press Conference, in Brussels on 05Jun2014 (see from 25m38s in

    On the evening of Barack Obama’s comments, a lot was being read into his words “strong, robust, united and effective partner”. Absolutely clear backing for the UK unionist case, according to Mark Urban on BBC who was so excited by this that he seemed no to notice anything on Britain-EU. Sky’s reporting was enthusiastically right on the same message. Obama’s remarks on UK and Europe were hardly worth a mention.

    One might demur on this – “united” could be interpreted as united in purpose, in commitment to NATO etc, and if he had said, for example “united, strong Europe”, nobody would have imagined that to equate to more centralisation of government function in Brussels. His comments also included some qualifications. The observation “decisions .. to be made by the folks there” is such a trusim that he didn’t need to say it – so, its inclusion implies some emphasis. And “from the outside at least… pretty well” could be construed as saying no comment to how well things have worked from the inside. In short, his words could just about be spun in the opposite direction.

    On Sky’s press review, one guest, Anastasia de Waal, seemed to be going to mention some qualification to the general view – but we will never know because as soon as she seemed to be going off message from the thought that Obama had delivered a clear blow to the Yes campaign, she was interrupted, more than once, by Anna Botting insisting on what was the pretty clear message. Well, on the balance of probable intentions of Mr Obama, the mainstream intention might be right. But if there was any counter-opinion, I’d like to have heard it.

    Compared to what he said about Scotland-EU, Pres Obama’s remarks on Britain-EU were more unequivocal: “….it’s always encouraging for us to know that Great Britain has a seat at the table in the larger European project….. it’s also hard for me to imagine that it would be advantageous for Great Britain to be excluded from political decisions that have an enormous impact on its economic and political life.”

    Now, if commentators had at the time condemned Obama’s Britain-EU remarks as “interference” it might have looked rather obviously hypocritical to simultaneously warmly embrace and headline views on Scotland-UK which could be used to criticise the independence case. Since this was only Scotland, principles on external political views could be waived (just like civil service impartiality) provided these views fell in with the Westminster political consensus. Principles would be things that might come back into consideration as and when the issues are important to the UK as a whole.

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