The BBC just blocked Labour MPs from two of its shows

The BBC News Logo and a facepalm image
Steve Topple

CORRECTION: The original version of this article mistakenly claimed that Kate Andrews works for the IEA. In fact, she has left the IEA and now works for the Spectator. The article was corrected accordingly at 11.50am on 3 March.

People have accused the BBC of “censorship” after it stopped Labour MPs from going on two of its programmes. The move seems to be in response to the Tories boycotting some of the broadcaster’s shows. But one shadow minister said the BBC is ‘denying’ his party a voice.

BBC blocking

On Friday 28 February, Labour Press Team tweeted that BBC Radio 4 Today ‘refused’ to let a Labour MP on its show:

Soon after, Labour’s shadow transport minister Andy McDonald revealed that Any Questions, another Radio 4 show, had ‘stood him down’ too:

In both cases, the BBC looked like it was using the impartiality card. Because it seems to be in response to the Tories not sending anyone on either shows. In the case of Any Questions, the BBC replaced McDonald with former Labour MP candidate and director of the Class thinktank Faiza Shaheen.

And the Today programme’s saga with the Tories then became even more peculiar.

Trumpian?

As PoliticsHome reported, it started after the 2019 general election. The Tories refused to let government ministers go on the Today programme. Number 10 reportedly said at the time:

The Today programme is irrelevant, it is not a serious programme any more so we are not going to engage with it – it is far better for us to put people up on BBC Breakfast and Five Live.

This seems to still be the case. Hence why the BBC refused to let a Labour MP on the Saturday 29 February episode of Today. That was until late on 28 February.

As the Times deputy political editor Steven Swinford tweeted, the Tories appeared to partially lift the ban:

So, a government minister did end up appearing on Today on 29 February:

And yet, still no Labour MP was invited on. Meanwhile, the Tories will only talk about the coronavirus. As Bath Labour Party pointed out:

Media dystopia

It seems ridiculous that just because the Tories boycott the BBC, the BBC should in turn block Labour MPs. This guise of impartiality that the state broadcaster hides behind is in no way in the public interest. If the BBC was doing its job properly, it would, like Andrew Neil and Sky’s Kay Burley, ’empty chair’ the Tories. Because surely it’s in the public interest to know that the government is boycotting the BBC? But in the dystopian world of our state broadcaster, anything is possible.

Fear not, though. If you’re right-wing commentator Kate Andrews from the Spectator, the BBC will let you on twice in one day:

The Canary asked the BBC for comment. But it had not responded at the time of publication.

Featured image via Dominion War – YouTube and Wikimedia 

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