Two jaw-dropping minutes in a BBC interview were the best gift Labour could get

BBC Radio host Emma Barnett

BBC radio host Emma Barnett interviewed Labour MP Lloyd Russell-Moyle on 31 October. And the discussion contained two absolutely jaw-dropping minutes after the MP raised one of his party’s key messages in the election: that it is on the side of “normal working people”, not the tax-dodging billionaire class.

What followed was an absolute gift to the Labour Party:


Don’t exterminate the billionaires! Don’t exterminate the billionaires!

In the interview, Russell-Moyle said:

Are you on the side of the tax dodgers or of the billionaires, or are you on the side of normal working people?

Barnett responded:

The tax dodgers or the billionaires? Some people aspire to be a billionaire in this country. Is that a dirty thing?

In short, the first thing the BBC host chose to do when faced with that question was stand up for billionaires by rushing to the defence of “some people” who want to be one.

Then, after the Labour MP explained that Britain should have a system where “everyone is able to live well and wealthy” rather than having billionaires, she said:

You don’t think anyone should be a billionaire? How are you gonna stop that?

And on and on it went. Barnett was incredulous at the idea of a billionaire-less Britain. No championing from Russell-Moyle of building a country that doesn’t “work for billionaires” but for “ordinary and normal people” could remove the derisive look from her face.

It looked like she just couldn’t believe that anyone would want to ‘remove these tax-paying aspirational beings from our shores’.


But the billionaire picture isn’t as rosy as Barnett made out. Yes, billionaires are liable for big tax bills because of their wealth. But as the Times reported earlier this year, around a third of Britain’s richest people have moved to a tax haven over the last 10 years, enabling them to avoid a hefty tax bill. Because their businesses are still located in Britain, though, the Times pointed out:

The Exchequer is denied billions a year but many of the bosses still reap the benefits of British assets.

Furthermore, as Labour is making much of in its election campaign, billionaires are often made on the backs of poorly paid workers, badly treated tenants, and reckless gambling with ordinary people’s finances. Billionaires are also literally costing us the planet. Because fossil-fuel behemoths continue to ravage the Earth to make more cash, even in the midst of a climate emergency.

So it isn’t incredulous for politicians to take aim at them – especially those who are placing themselves on the ‘side’ of the masses. And this played really badly for the BBC, something a number of people tried to point out:

This is just day one of the BBC‘s reporting on the election campaign. If it keeps churning out stuff like this, it won’t hurt Labour’s chances.

Featured image via Twitter

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  • Show Comments
      1. Billionaires!, they like to wrap them selves in the Union flag and say they love the UK, just don’t want to live there and pay taxes that support the NHS etc that supports the majority of the country, keeps them fit, so they can contribute to the country’s wealth through employment.

    1. After the first few hundred million, what do Billionaires do with their money? Hide it overseas, spend it on property overseas, spend it on aeroplanes made overseas, spend it on yachts made overseas, spend it on Caviar, champaign, automobiles, from overseas, etc., etc,. ad nauseum.

      Personally I’d removed their British nationality and make ’em move overseas as they like it so much. See how much they can earn when they can’t use Britain as a base of operations. Kick them out. They’re doing squat for the British public as it is.

      1. Fact is majority of Billionaires don’t have billions in cash or anywhere near that sum. Majority of their wealth is held ins shares of companies they own. What do you propose doing to someone who sets up a successful fintech company which creates thousands of jobs, but the company becomes so valuable it makes them a billionaire.

    2. Aspiration to become a billionaire is worryingly shallow yet it, along with empty ‘celebrity’, is lauded within mass culture. Ambition worthy of support entails wanting to do something non-trivial, preferably innovative, very well indeed; reward rests primarily with personal satisfaction and recognition by peers; beyond a certain level additions to personal income meet diminishing returns in terms of opportunity offered and joy accrued.

      That is not to say accumulating a billion pounds from honest endeavour (that excludes banking, associated financial ‘services’, and rentier behaviour) is immoral or anti-social. Neither is it automatically meritorious when viewed outside the context of the activity concerned.

      What totally lacks merit is acquiring immense wealth through inheritance. That leads to dynastic sequestration of capital. Such capital (‘buried talents’ in Biblical terms) denies opportunity to others.

    3. And she was brought up so nicely too. From

      “Her father Ian, a businessman who was ostensibly involved in commercial property, was jailed for three years in 2008 after he admitted keeping brothels in Greater Manchester with a turnover of more than £2.5million.
      A judge at Manchester Crown Court branded him “evil and immoral”. His wife Michele, a teaching assistant, was also convicted of laundering cash from his illicit empire and given a suspended term.

    4. I could wish, however that Russell-Moyle – who is, so far as I can tell, a thoroughly decent man – could have been more articulate. He did somewhat let Barnett off the hook. Compare his response to that of the Addenbroke’s nurse talking about Boris Johnson’s visit to her hospital.

    5. many of teh super rich hold vast expanses of land.
      My landlord is one such. yet he screws me for incresed rent in spite of teh fact that my pension is worth less now than 10 years ago.
      Has i everccured to any of these people that if they throw tehlike of me out of my house we could die in a shop doorway in teh next winter.
      However if I take an iron bar to the greedy git I will get free bed and board for life.

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