On the Today programme on Saturday morning, John Humphrys asked the then director-general of the BBC, George Entwistle, if he was going to resign. Entwistle replied, awkwardly, that he would plough on: he would find out how and why Newsnight had aired a segment repeating old, discredited allegations that a powerful Conservative figure from the 1980s and 1990s had abused children at a Welsh care home. Twelve hours later, Entwistle resigned.
Last week John Humphrys was seconded from the Today programme to present The Future State of Welfare on BBC2. He wrote a piece for the Daily Mail to promote the programme: ‘Our Shameless Society – How our welfare system has created an age of entitlement.’ Returning to his birthplace – Splott, in Cardiff – Humphrys found that ‘one in four people of working age in this area are now living on benefits,’ which he puts down to the ‘perverse incentives’ of an overgenerous welfare system rather than a lack of jobs. But in a piece for Left Foot Forward showing why ‘John Humphrys is wrong, wrong, wrong on social security’, Declan Gaffney points out that only 5.3 per cent of wards in Britain have such a high proportion of benefits claimants, down from 9.5 per cent of wards in November 1999.