The BBC just gave viewers a lesson in deselecting ‘unwanted Labour MPs’

BBC logo and an image of a facepalm
Steve Topple

One of the BBC‘s flagship political programmes has given viewers a useful guide to deselecting Labour MPs. But, being the BBC, it couldn’t help but pour a decent helping of scorn on what is a serious, but standard, political process.

A storm in a tea cup?

On Monday 11 June, the BBC‘s Daily Politics ran a short segment on the news that activists had produced a WikiHow guide to deselecting Labour MPs. It describes in detail four ways in which members can remove a candidate from the selection process for becoming an MP. HuffPost UK reported in detail on the guide and the in-party divisions it represented, noting how it:

has been hailed by leftwingers as a humorous way to spread democracy and information… But it has been condemned by centrist MPs and campaigners as a ‘Lady Bird Guide’ that ‘highlights the petulant animosity a tiny cadre of members have towards Labour’s elected representatives’.

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So the BBC helpfully introduced the piece as a Deselection guide to get rid of unwanted Labour MPs:

An online guide has been designed to help Labour activists get rid of their current MP if they want a different candidate.

Continue reading below...

Daily Politics reporter Greg Dawson looks at the four methods offered in the How to Deselect Your Labour MP article.

BBC production values: that sinking feeling

Dawson’s piece used the well-worn ‘gallery music’ from late kids’ TV artist Tony Hart’s Vision On. It’s the kind of ‘plinky-plonk-reserved-for-a-journey-in-a-lift’ vibraphone music best used for patronising, vapid Channel 5 documentaries – ones about house cleaning or pets that get married, not serious political issues:

But it wasn’t just the music that was condescending. Dawson attempted to interject some dry, mocking humour into his commentary. But he failed miserably. He noted that the guide said: “If you’re not already a member – join!” and commented: “And then have an intense-looking boardroom chat…”, taking the piss out of the accompanying illustrations, ignoring the fact that they’re not the author’s but part of WikiHow’s standard software.

Daily Politics heavily implied this was just another chapter in the ongoing rift between Jeremy Corybn’s side of the Labour Party and the others. An excuse for a dig at Corbyn’s expense, of course.

Mandatory reselection. Now.

But in reality, by not using “mandatory reselection” (or “deselection” [paywall] in this context), Labour is behind most of the UK’s main political parties. Also, why should MPs who intentionally plot and brief against Labour’s democratically elected leader and its shadow cabinet keep their season ticket for the Westminster gravy train? Maybe they should face the possibility of being ejected at the railway station called ‘Not-Welcome-Here’?

And while HuffPost UK reported one anonymous Labour MP saying the WikiHow guide was a ‘distraction’ from ‘beating the Tories’, anti-Corbyn MPs are doing very well at creating distractions themselves; not least the ongoing rifts over Brexit. Not that the BBC took any of this into account.

Mandatory reselection should be a serious political policy, one that Labour needs to consider. But if you believe the BBC, it’s just another chapter in the ongoing rift in the party.

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Featured image via Inverse – screengrab and John Bot II – Wikimedia

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