John McDonnell slams the BBC for bias live on the Today programme

John McDonnell
Emily Apple

Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell called out BBC bias live on air on Radio 4‘s Today programme. Speaking to Justin Webb, McDonnell lambasted the BBC for spouting Conservative Party press releases as news headlines. And he accused the Tories of lying about economic figures.

A tax and debt bombshell

One of the lead headlines on the news bulletins was the Conservative Party:

claiming families would face a tax and debt bombshell under a Labour government. They say there’s a £45bn gap between what Labour has promised to spend and what it would raise in revenue.

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And while the reports also contained Labour’s dismissal of the statement as “nonsense”, this was merely a caveat. The “tax and debt bombshell under Labour” was the main message of the headline.

But McDonnell set the record straight during his interview:

Every item of expenditure will be fully costed and there will be a source identified.

And he said that all the economic changes Labour plans to make will be fully explained in the manifesto.

Lies and BBC bias

McDonnell went further, calling the Tory press release “lies”:

Let me just say about what’s come out this morning… To be frank, in common parlance people would call these, what the Tories have published today, lies. Absolute lies.

And he followed this by calling out the BBC for “repeating” a Conservative press release:

And I’m shocked that the BBC has just taken a Conservative press release and has repeated it all morning.

Webb attempted to interject:

That’s how these things work.

But McDonnell countered:

But you’re the BBC. You have to have some form of at least analysis before you put something on air.

He continued:

The BBC should be critical before they run with headlines.

Let’s have some honesty

McDonnell also claimed to want “honesty” from the Conservatives. He finished the interview by stating:

I want honesty from them… They’ve been telling lies about us. I want you as the BBC to put them on the spot now.

But he’s likely to have a long wait if he wants honesty from the party. Or if he wants any policies from the party. Because so far, May’s campaign tactics have centred around avoiding real people and turning out monotonous catchphrases.

As always, the devil is in the detail. And we won’t know fully how the Labour Party is costing its economic changes until the manifesto is published. But every indication so far is that it will be fully costed.

Labour is producing clear alternatives to Tory austerity. And while Theresa May is hiding, Labour politicians are out, banging on doors, talking to people, and letting voters know that things can be different. On 8 June, we have a chance to try and build a fairer society. Let’s take it.

Get Involved!

Register to vote in the 8 June general election. If you don’t have a national insurance number, a 5 minute phone call on 0300 200 3500 will get it sent to you in ten days.

– Discuss the key policy issues with family members, colleagues and neighbours. And organise! Join (and participate in the activities of) a union, an activist group, and/or a political party.

– Also read more Canary articles on the 2017 general election.

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