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Sat, 30 May 2020

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BBC 'played a part' in Tory election win, says Labour frontbencher

BBC 'played a part' in Tory election win, says Labour frontbencher
3 min read

The BBC's coverage of the general election "played a part" in Labour's crushing defeat, according to one of the party's most senior MPs.


Transport Secretary Andy McDonald accused the corporation of “consciously” favouring the Conservatives during the campaign.

Labour has previously complained about the BBC's political coverage, and Mr McDonald said their approach to the election was further evidence of bias.

Speaking to Radio Four's Today programme, said: “I’m very worried about our public service broadcaster...I am saying that they played a part, I’m really worried about the drift.

"You’ve seen the catalogue of criticism that we’re making. We’ve accepted that the print media are reined against us, but my goodness me I’m going to look at us, we’re the important part here, we got this wrong.

“But if the BBC are going to hold themselves out as somehow having conducted themselves in an impartial manner I think you’ve really got to have a look in the mirror. We have got a lot to say about this.”

The frontbencher highlighted comments from a BBC reporter who came under fire for saying Boris Johnson "so deserves" his election win.

When presenter Justin Webb said that had been a "slip of the tongue", Mr McDonald said: “How many slips of the tongue are you going to make?

“I think it's a distraction quite frankly I'm accepting that we got this wrong. But you asked me about Jeremy Corbyn, I’ll say to you quite clearly he’s a principled decent man and he was vilified…

“So he’s no longer going to be leader, the Brexit issue is going to be progressed, we’re going to be out of the European Union on 31st January, and we as the Labour Party have to galvanise round our core principles and make sure we deliver for our people, it’s as simple as that.”

However Mr McDonald faced a backlash from his own party over his criticism of the BBC.

Anna Turley, who lost her Redcar seat at the election, tweeted a video of Mr McDonald singing at a rally on the day before the poll and said: "Rather than blaming the BBC perhaps it would be better to ask whether it was a good idea to be doing this as part of a 3 hr rally the day before an election in a seat which now has an 11.6k Tory majority?” 

And Labour frontbencher Jonathan Reynolds said: "The media can be frustrating, and some of the tabloids at times just embarrassing, but blaming them for last Thursday is an abdication of responsibility."

Mr Corbyn has apologised for the party’s heavy losses at the snap election, telling voters that “I take my responsibility for it”.

But the Labour leader has also taken aim at Brexit and the press for its “ferocious” attacks on the party in the last four-and-a-half years.

“Anyone who stands up for real change will be met by the full force of media opposition,” he wrote on Sunday. 

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