Labour MP blames BBC for party's disastrous election performance

Will Taylor
·News Reporter
Embargoed to 0001 Wednesday March 20 File photo dated 06/09/17 of Shadow transport secretary Andy McDonald, who will announce targets within the transport sector to tackle climate change under a Labour government.
Shadow transport secretary Andy McDonald blamed the BBC for playing a conscious role in Labour's defeat. (PA Images)

A senior Labour MP has accused the BBC of “consciously” playing a part in his party’s election disaster.

Andy McDonald, the shadow transport secretary, said the corporation needed to “look in the mirror” with regards to its impartiality.

Appearing on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme this morning, Mr McDonald was asked about Labour’s defeat and Jeremy Corbyn’s role in it.

Mr McDonald said: “Don’t get me started on the media, Justin. I’m very worried about our public service broadcaster.”

Asked if the BBC was in part responsible for Labour’s loss, Mr McDonald replied: “I am saying that they played a part. I’m really worried about the drift. You’ve seen the catalogue of criticisms that we’re making.

“We’ve accepted that the print media are rained against us, but my goodness me. I’m going to look at us.

Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn leaves his home in Islington, north London.
Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn has blamed Brexit and the media for his defeat. (PA Images)

“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 they’ve really got to have a look in the mirror. We’ve got a lot to say about this.”

Asked if the BBC “consciously” played a part, Mr McDonald replied: “Consciously, yes.”

He added: “When you have a BBC presenter standing in front of a television camera saying ‘and Boris Johnson is on his way to a richly-deserved victory’.”

Webb said: “Oh, it’s a slip of the tongue. That’s absolute madness, isn’t it?”

Mr McDonald said: “How many slips of the tongue are we going to make until you accept it?”

He praised Mr Corbyn and said he had been “vilified”.

Criticism of the BBC included when political editor Laura Kuenssberg reported on postal votes ahead of polling day and a BBC reporter suggested Mr Johnson “so deserved” a majority - which Mr Webb said was a slip of the tongue.

Twitter account of Laura Kuenssberg - journalist and political editor of BBC News. (Photo by Dinendra Haria / SOPA Images/Sipa USA)
Laura Kuenssberg - journalist and political editor of BBC News - was accused of illegally reporting on the contents of postal votes. (Photo by Dinendra Haria / SOPA Images/Sipa USA)

Mr Corbyn is due to step down as Labour leader in the wake of his party’s disastrous showing on Thursday, which saw traditional red seats in the north turn Tory for the first time in decades.

He blamed the media and Brexit for his party’s defeat.

BBC journalist Huw Edwards, who anchored the election night for the first time since David Dimbleby announced he would step down, defended the organisation in a blog post.

Huw Edwards attending the Virgin Media BAFTA TV awards, held at the Royal Festival Hall in London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday May 12, 2019. See PA story SHOWBIZ Bafta. Photo credit should read: Matt Crossick/PA Wire
BBC journalist Huw Edwards rubbished accusations of BBC bias. (Matt Crossick/PA Wire)

He said: “I work in an organisation where thousands of journalists provide material for countless outlets on television, radio, and online (in all its forms).

“We are all committed to providing a fair service, but we sometimes make mistakes which we deeply regret.

“The most curious notion of all (promoted with great energy by the BBC's critics on both left and right) is that these mistakes are often 'deliberate', carefully planned to undermine one party and boost another.

“These critics imagine a world in which thousands of BBC journalists - of all backgrounds, nationalities, outlooks - work to a specific political agenda 'dictated' by 'a few powerful individuals' as one commentator insisted recently on social media.

“In the last week of the campaign, I was simultaneously accused (yeah, by The Sun) of being a Labour supporter, and (on Twitter) of deliberately facilitating a Conservative victory.

“I have been accused of being a Plaid Cymru voter (this is a difficult notion in London, I have to say) and in one spectacular zinger of a letter a few years ago, a 'vile Welsh neo-con'. Whatever.”

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