Many of us already know the BBC’s attitude to the reporting of political stories is less than objective. The Daily Politics, the corporation’s flagship politics programme on BBC2 has long been the subject of a great deal of ire. Since Jeremy Corbyn became leader of the Labour Party, the overall tone of the programme has been increasingly anti-Labour but more specifically, anti-Corbyn. Any story that can be spun to cast Labour and Corbyn in a bad light is often seized upon with both hands.
Today was no different. The show’s host, Jo Coburn, pursued the Jared O’Mara sexism story not once but twice. First, she asked Nu Labourite, Chris Leslie, then she asked Dawn Butler. Why is that? Because it’s pretty obvious that The Daily Politics, far from being impartial, is at the forefront of a pro-Tory propaganda exercise in which any anti-Labour story, no matter how trivial, is promoted above any other. In this case, to make matters worse, Coburn even cited her source: Guido Fawkes. Really?
One important story The Daily Politics decided to ignore is this one in which Tory MP and whip, Chris Heaton-Harris, had written to university vice chancellors requesting they provide him with details of “the names of professors […] who are involved in the teaching of European affairs, with particular reference to Brexit”.
And yet, a story this important was completely ignored by The Daily Poltics? If a Labour or SNP MP had made a similar request, you can almost guarantee the story would have been covered on the programme.
This isn’t the first time that Heaton-Harris has been involved in controversy. Heaton-Harris, a self-styled ‘Eurosceptic’ was secretly filmed advocating support for James Delingpole’s anti-wind farm candidacy. The story appeared in The Guardian in 2012.
Chris Heaton-Harris, who is campaign manager for the Tories in Corby, was recorded saying he encouraged an anti-wind farm candidate to join the election race against the Tories, adding: “Please don’t tell anybody ever.”
The footage, covertly recorded by the environmental group Greenpeace, captures the MP saying the independent anti-wind farm candidate, James Delingpole, had announced his candidacy as part of a “plan” to “cause some hassle” and drive the wind issue up the political agenda.
He is also filmed claiming he helped Delingpole by providing him with “a handful of people who will sort him out”, including the deputy chairman of his own constituency party, who had stood down and then became the anti-wind candidate’s campaign agent.
Surely offering campaign advice and support for a candidate that isn’t in your party is a cause for having the whip withdrawn? For the Tories, not a bit of it. Delingpole’s views are shared by many Tories.
The Daily Politics, rather than report political news, takes an active role in making the news. Remember Stephen Doughty’s on air resignation?
Then there’s John Mann’s infamous ambushing of Ken Livingstone as he arrived at the BBC’s Westminster studio where The Daily Politics is produced.
The confrontation was repeated on the programme itself.
In August of this year, Open Democracy reported that Tory MP for Moray, Douglas Ross, made racist comments about travelling folk. The story wasn’t covered on the corporation’s television or radio news bulletins and appeared on the website only. Now, maybe that’s because The Daily Politics was off the air for the summer. However, if a Labour or SNP MP had made similar remarks, it would have been covered.
Scottish Tory councillors who made racist and sectarian comments were suspended and then quickly reinstated by the party. Still, not a peep about this from the Tories or the BBC.
The BBC’s website reported that Robert Davies, a Tory councillor on Stirling City Council, had left the party over his racist comments. Again, this wasn’t covered by The Daily Politics.
Robert Davies was one of two Tories who were suspended shortly after being elected to Stirling Council in May.
He had tweeted racist posts from a Twitter account in 2013 which was subsequently deleted.
His colleague Alastair Majury, who was also suspended and then reinstated by the party, remains a Conservative councillor after making an apology to the council.
When Mr Davies and Mr Majury were reinstated by the Scottish Conservatives in August, the party insisted they had both offered “unreserved apologies for any offence caused”.
Contrast this with the calls to have Ken Livingstone expelled from the Labour Party. See the difference? Tories are given a slap on the wrist and then welcomed back with open arms, and their reputations are magically rehabilitated.
When a national broadcaster fails to report the really important stories and concentrates its efforts on smearing an opposition party, it is selling voters short. The Daily Politics is transparently biased in favour of the Tories. The programme’s editors may deny it, but the evidence is there for all to see.
Tim Fenton at Zelo Street has unearthed some interesting information on the Jared O’Mara story. You can read it here.