John McDonnell tells the BBC to its face that it’s ‘being played’ by Boris Johnson

John McDonnell
Ed Sykes

Labour’s John McDonnell has told the BBC right to its face that it’s “being played” by Tory leader Boris Johnson.

“The BBC needs to wake up”

On 29 November, McDonnell was on the BBC talking about Johnson chickening out of the Channel 4 climate debate the night before. Due to Johnson’s absence at the debate, Channel 4 poignantly replaced him with an ice sculpture. The Conservatives then complained to media watchdog Ofcom and threatened Channel 4‘s licence. But Johnson’s apparent attempt to avoid scrutiny is nothing new. Because only recently, he refused a debate with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn on Channel 4; and while Corbyn has already done an interview with the BBC‘s Andrew Neil, Johnson has yet to do the same.

On BBC Breakfast, McDonnell began by saying:

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Boris Johnson thinks he’s above everybody else – this sort of Bullingdon Club attitude that he’s not the person who should be held to account. He’s the prime minister. Of course he should’ve turned up.

He then turned to the BBC, stressing:

The BBC needs to wake up to this as well. Because I think you’re being played by Boris Johnson. He’s avoiding his interview with Andrew Neil. He’s delaying it beyond postal vote stage. So I think you need to start looking at yourselves about what you should be doing to hold him to account. He’s making sure there isn’t a proper debate.

BBC must hold Johnson to account

The BBC has faced criticism on a number of fronts recently for its apparently pro-Tory bias. And it does even seem aware that ordinary people are losing faith in its supposed ‘impartiality‘:

For this reason, McDonnell was completely right to hold it to account.

The BBC now seems to be taking some small steps forward. For example, it has reportedly refused to let Johnson go on its Andrew Marr Show until he has agreed to an interview with Neil.

No more excuses!

With its debate decision on Johnson, Channel 4 made the right call. Simply ignoring his absence would have been wrong. Because the Conservative government has been weak on the climate emergency. And Johnson’s record in particular pales in comparison to Corbyn’s:

With this in mind, and Johnson’s general uselessness when people hold him to account, it’s no surprise that he’s trying to avoid greater scrutiny:

One apparent Tory excuse for Johnson not turning up to the leaders’ debate on 28 November was that he was “out in the country campaigning – getting our message out there: to get Brexit done”. But even that’s dodgy. Because as The Canary has reported, Johnson’s Brexit deal will not ‘get Brexit done’. It will probably involve months and even years of extra negotiations. And even then, it may still end with ‘no deal’:

There are so many reasons to call Johnson out. But McDonnell’s right: it’s the media’s job to do so. And if they don’t do their job, we must do it for them.

Featured image via BBC Breakfast

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  • Show Comments
    1. The BBC isn’t being played, it is playing its crooked part to try and get Boris elected regardless of how little the British public dislike him.
      Tories are liars cheats and thieves.
      They belong in prison not parliament.

    2. The BBC is run by people like Boris Johnson who have a vested interest in keeping this social class controlling the social attitudes of the plebians, or peasants who are seen as barely bright enough to know anything about how the world really works.
      The BBC is played out on having anything creative to say while supposedly acting in the “public interest”
      When all the BBC does is look at the Billionaires newspapers for guidance shows how lazy the managers are to even imagine a different, interesting future all while collecting from your pocketbook the priviledge of pretending to uphold the BBC’s mandate.
      Their tune is played out I’d say.

    3. McDonnell’s comment seems to assume the BBC is innocent in the whole process; where on earth has he been the last few years in particular? In fact, it is the Labour Party which is being played by the BBC. The Labour Party’s response to the Tory strategy of implanting its supporters in the BBC has been as hopeless as its response to the campaign of defamation centring on accusations of anti-Semitism. In both instances, the consequences has been an intensification and deepening of the attack on the labour left and, frankly, the labour party leadership has been flailing and wrong-footed.

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