Dimbleby outraged as Tory minister attacks him, but happily lets her smear Jeremy Corbyn

Tory Claire Perry next to David Dimbleby on BBCQT
Joshua Funnell

BBC Question Time (BBCQT) host David Dimbleby expressed his outrage when Tory minister Claire Perry seemed to imply he was sexist. But viewers quickly pointed out that Dimbleby failed to show the same concern when Perry explicitly accused Jeremy Corbyn of being an “antisemite”.

Perry: an insufferable class warrior on the side of the rich and powerful

The Mirror described Perry, a former banker, as “another unacceptable face of the Tory party” in 2010, adding that:

There is something particularly objectionable about wealthy Tories who add insult to injury when scrapping payments and services to those much less well-off than themselves.

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Activist Rachael Swindon, meanwhile, has pointed out Perry’s clear record of class war:

Perry also has a record of unbearable media appearances, and her latest invitation to Question Time was no exception.

Her appearance came in a context where her party’s shambolic Brexit soap opera had embarrassingly imploded through the national media in front of the British public. And Perry seemed visibly rattled. She lacked composure, compelling excuses, respect for other panelists, and she lashed out at her opponents with smear tactics.

As Labour MP Chris Williamson noted:

One member of the public who attended the live filming of the programme felt compelled to phone in BBC Radio 5 Live to express her contempt for Perry’s performance:

Perry targets Dimbleby

Fairly early on in the programme, Dimbleby attempted to rein Perry in. But her petulant response took him and the audience by surprise:

Dimbleby didn’t find much humour in the situation.

Interestingly, Perry has previously implied that other men who challenge her are sexist. We can see this below during a confrontation with Labour’s John McDonnell on the night of the local elections in 2017:

And also here during another exchange with Labour MP Barry Gardiner:

Or during a previous appearance on Question Time, where she called the BBC “fake news” and again referenced “men shouting at each other”:

Perry just warming up for her final “antisemitism” smear

But Perry seemed to deliberately save her most outrageous smear until the end – almost as though it was pre-planned.

And her accusation against Jeremy Corbyn caused an uproar in the studio audience and from viewers at home:

Others noted the hypocrisy of Tories ever trying to take the moral high-ground on the subject of racism:

Dimbleby’s terrible response

But others felt that the BBC didn’t fulfill its own obligations after Perry’s outburst. As Evolve Politics commented:

And others have consequently complained to the BBC about the incident:

Ultimately, only Claire Perry is responsible for her words on TV. But it is notable that, despite Dimbleby’s own discomfort with Perry, he did not offer any counter-argument or legal clarification to her charge against Corbyn.

The incident echoes Carole Cadwalladr’s recent protests that the BBC did not offer her a right of reply after she felt Brexit supporter Arron Banks smeared her on the Andrew Marr Show:

The BBC urgently needs to clarify which legal procedures people should follow when it becomes a platform for guests to smear their opponents. Because the current situation is totally unacceptable.

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