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According to the Media Reform Coalition, Corbyn was ‘systematically undermined’ and attacked by the British press as soon as he became leader. These damning figures show that sixty percent of the pieces involving Corbyn during his first seven days of leadership were negative. What is more surprising is that these figures do not even include one of the worst culprits of all: the BBC.
Shortly after Jeremy Corbyn’s election as leader of the Labour Party in September, the BBC were accused of an ‘anti Corbyn bias’ and challenged with a 61,000 strong petition demanding that they stop using the prefix ‘left-wing’ when reporting on events related to his leadership. But before he even won a stunning 59.5% of the vote, ensuring the largest democratic mandate of any Labour leader in modern history, Jeremy Corbyn was subject to what a source from his leadership campaign went as far as describing a ‘complete hatchet job’. The Panorama episode in question was alleged to have attracted a large number of complaints, but the BBC refused to release the figures.
Former BBC political editor, Nick Robinson, even wrote to his colleagues over concerns about the BBC’s bias towards Corbyn, and Channel 4’s Michael Crick issued a stunning rebuke to broadcasters referring to non-left MPs as ‘moderates’. Despite these protestations, as we begin a New Year, it is evident that the BBC has not taken any New Year’s Resolutions to become a little bit more balanced in the face of a broader, more inclusive political spectrum.
Instead, they continue to undermine Corbyn’s authority and position as Leader of the Opposition. It was bad enough when they were wheeling out former Blair advisors such as John McTernan at every possible opportunity, leading to satirical (or serious?) speculation that he was squatting in the BBC studios waiting for the inevitable call-ups.
But the so-called ‘revenge reshuffle’ has led to a shocking revelation, that BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg, Daily Politics presenter Andrew Neil and so-called ‘moderate’ Labour MP Stephen Doughty planned his live resignation on their program hours before it even began. The admission from an ‘output editor’ of the Daily Politics was made on a BBC blog but was shortly taken down afterwards (the cached version is available here). In this blog, they let slip that Andrew Neil floated the idea to Kuenssberg, who was reported to have thought “it was a great idea”. Knowing full well it would inflict maximum damage on the Labour leader resigning five minutes before Prime Minister’s Questions, both Kuenssberg and Stephen Doughty, MP for Cardiff South & Penarth, seemed more than happy to oblige.
Despite the fact that a live on-air resignation could be considered explosive, dramatic broadcasting, it beggars belief how it is the job of the BBC’s political editor to be of service to an evidently resentful shadow cabinet member intent on further weakening the Labour leadership. Or is it?
After all, in the first five days of 2016, Twitter had been subject to thirty speculative, often opinionated tweets from Kuenssberg about Labour’s reshuffle. Doesn’t seem so bad, right? Perhaps not. But this is in comparison to zero tweets on rail fares, zero tweets on the Housing & Planning Bill, one tweet on the floods which have ravaged the country and eight on the cataclysmic divide in the Conservative Party over their membership of the European Union.
It is baffling how relentless and incessant the coverage of Corbyn’s reshuffle was in comparison to the hundreds of reshuffles that have taken place over the years. Not only does the media orgy over the ‘revenge reshuffle’ accentuate the media are insistent on undermining Corbyn’s leadership, but more importantly, it makes a mockery of the problems that are facing millions of people up and down this country today. It is an unmistakable slap in the face to the vast majority of viewers who want to see impartiality, balance of opinion and an unbiased BBC.
You can complain to the BBC here.
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(Image from www.thecanary.co)