Corbyn supporters rage at BBC over on air Labour resignation

Posted On: 
8th January 2016

Supporters of Jeremy Corbyn have hit out at the BBC for encouraging a Labour MP to announce his resignation from the frontbench live on one of its programmes.

Stephen Doughty revealed he was quitting as a Shadow Foreign Office minister on Wednesday’s edition of the Daily Politics.

Laura Kuennsberg, the BBC’s political editor, helped to secure Mr Doughty’s announcement and was sitting next to him in the studio.

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A glut of Labour supporters took to Twitter last night to criticise Ms Kuennsberg and the BBC.

Eoin Clarke, a prominent Labour activist, said it was a “smoking gun as far as BBC bias goes”.

Several others tweeted links to the BBC’s complaints page and called for Ms Kuennsberg to resign.

The Political Scrapbook site quoted a senior Labour source as saying: "These events question credibility of all involved ... raises questions at the heart of democracy."

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A now-deleted blog posted on the BBC’s site by Andrew Alexander, the output editor for the Daily Politics, revealed how events unfolded.

He wrote: “Just before 9am we learned from Laura Kuenssberg, who comes on the programme every Wednesday ahead of PMQs, that she was speaking to one junior shadow minister who was considering resigning. I wonder, mused our presenter Andrew Neil, if they would consider doing it live on the show?

“The question was put to Laura, who thought it was a great idea... Within the hour we heard that Laura had sealed the deal: the shadow foreign minister Stephen Doughty would resign live in the studio.

“Although he himself would probably acknowledge he isn't a household name, we knew his resignation just before PMQs would be a dramatic moment with big political impact. We took the presenters aside to brief them on the interview while our colleagues on the news desk arranged for a camera crew to film him and Laura arriving in the studio for the TV news packages.”

An official BBC statement said: “The shadow cabinet reshuffle was a major story this week and many MPs from all camps had strong opinions which were fairly reflected across BBC output. Stephen Doughty had already decided to resign and willingly chose to make his announcement on the programme.”

Mr Doughty himself dismissed the furore, saying he was worried about “smears and lies” about the reasons for his resignation.