The BBC reported on a potential 15% rise in council tax for Surrey residents on 19 January. But in its News at Six programme, it also presented Jeremy Corbyn’s views on the matter in a very particular light.
Recently, the BBC received a scolding for misrepresenting the Labour leader’s views. But its take on Corbyn’s latest intervention suggests that misrepresentation is still alive and well at the BBC.
BBC: should locals pay?
The BBC interviewed Surrey locals in its report to find out the public’s views ahead of the vote. Some said the rise should not go ahead. Others thought it acceptable. One man explained:
Clearly, it’s a national cost. I mean, a sign of a civilised society is one which looks after and cares for its older people responsibly. And I think it’s a problem that’s going to escalate over the years. It’s not going to go away. And we have to address it.
Then, the BBC’s Deputy Political Editor John Pienaar introduced Corbyn’s ‘views’ on the subject:
The Labour leader also agrees all taxpayers should bear the rising cost of social care.
Read on...Support us and go ad-free
So the BBC asserted that, in Corbyn’s view, it is the “taxpayers” who should “bear the rising cost” of providing these services. But the next clip revealed what he actually said:
It’s not right that we should thrust the social care crisis on local authorities, all of whom have different levels of income all over the country. It is a central government responsibility. And the central government should face up to its responsibility.
In reality, Corbyn urged “central government” to bear the costs of social care. And while it is technically correct that taxpayers’ money is what the government uses to pay for what it funds, saying Corbyn advocated burdening the British public with these “rising costs” is suggestive of one particular outcome.
The people will ALL have to pay
And Pienaar’s concluding comment for the segment from Surrey hinted at exactly what that outcome might be:
Local MPs here include the Chancellor and the Health Secretary. And they’ll be watching closely. If Surrey votes no, it could mean more cuts to local services. But it could also force ministers to confront difficult, maybe unpopular choices, about the long-term future funding of social care that many say government after government have avoided for far too long.
What possible “unpopular” choice would the government be “forced” to carry out? Could it be making taxpayers “bear the rising cost” of social care through increased taxes? That very solution the BBC just suggested Corbyn endorses?
Raising taxes would likely be an unpopular solution. Much more so than reversing cuts in corporation tax or not dropping bombs for a little while. And Corbyn, in fact, explicitly referenced one of these solutions in November 2016. Speaking to Theresa May at Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs), he said:
Next year this Government is handing back £605m in Corporation Tax cuts, rising to £1.6bn the year after that – and £7.5bn over the next five years.
So could the PM explain to the more than 1m elderly people not getting the care they need, to the 4m on NHS waiting lists, to the millions of pensioners worried about losing the protection of the triple lock, why there is not one penny extra for the NHS or social care?
Just what is this Government’s real sense of priorities?
So when Corbyn talks about “central government’s responsibility” and social care, this is his already thought-out solution. But in this report, the BBC made it look like he was advocating raising taxes.
Perhaps this misrepresentation is merely down to a poor choice of words. But the BBC is a respected, treasured, and far-reaching public service. So it needs to do better if it is to provide the standard of reporting the public deserves.
– Read more Canary articles about the BBC.
– Support The Canary if you appreciate the work we do.
We need your help to keep speaking the truth
Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.
Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.
We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.
In return, you get:
* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop
Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.
With your help we can continue:
* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do
We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?